One of my hobbies is making greetings cards. I’ve been doing it for so long, people get very upset if they receive a bought card. You can get assorted sentiments to rubber stamp on a card, one of my favourite platitudes in this area is: Life is not about waiting for the sun to come out but learning to dance in the rain.
It’s annoying but true, which is, of course, why it’s a platitude. If you wanted to seem wise you could talk entirely in greetings card platitudes, providing you were willing to be battered by listeners on a regular basis.
My mother’s 90th birthday was absolutely, for all concerned, an exercise in dancing in the rain. It went so splendidly I’m amazed Gene Kelly didn’t waltz past the window. It was a triumph for care at home in every way possible. First because the previous day local friends were able to visit my mother at home. Three lots arrived with flowers and cards, so there were already both items there when we arrived on the day. In the morning two more friends had been and in the afternoon a neighbour popped by. We went taking the lunch and the S&H and his bride arrived and stayed all afternoon. Every carer, all week, had brought a card and many had brought flowers and small gifts.
All of which was fantastic because there were family and friends who had either forgotten, didn’t know what to send or couldn’t face it but that didn’t matter because the sitting room was filled with flowers and cards. That is so important. It looked as if lots of people cared, because they did, but it wouldn’t have looked half as good if every carer from every shift hadn’t joined in, absolutely God bless them all for doing it. When you get to 90, whether you have all your marbles or only some, the quality of the gifts is not important, by then you know if you’re going to get the Rolls Royce in life or not. What really matters is that it looks as if a lot of people care that you have reached 90.
I had a feeling that the going-out-to-a-restaurant option was not going to happen and a very observant carer said my mother had been talking herself out of it all week, explaining that if she died in a restaurant it would be a disaster. I actually think that was unlikely to happen and, given the amount of food she managed to get on the outside of at home, not really in the running. Replete and champagned she sat at the table and for once did not complain. She rambled on about the wider family and how well they were doing, quite often mixing them all up, but it was all benign and essentially cheerful.
Once the S&H arrived all the talk was of him, carefully skating round the job issue, talking instead of nice places to live and bring up families and that sort of hopeful thing. She did fall asleep a couple of times but woke up cheerful, which is in itself an unusual blessing, in one whose initial daily greeting has been about her headache and assorted sins of omission in the listener.
At six we all departed. The OT and I were back as usual on Wednesday and she was still happy.
It all crashed on Thursday, however, when I got three early phone calls to say she was refusing all medication and just wanted to sleep in the chair. I explained three times that I wasn’t at all surprised (in fact I was trying quite hard to catch up on sleep myself). So they left her, she slept and after a couple of days was less tired and still happy.
It wouldn’t have happened that way if they’d sectioned her, it wouldn’t have happened that way in a care home or hospital, it couldn’t have happened that way any way but in her own home.
It’s a compelling argument for care at home because when you think of your own 90th birthday, where do you see it taking place?
And now Gene Kelly and I will get back to the card making and a bit of sitting in the garden, when the sun comes out.
JaneLaverick.wondering how long the cheerful will last.