I love my Mum to bits, but she is a strange one to put it politely.
When I was preparing for moving up to Scotland, when I met Hubby (to be), she had a couple of options about what to do. My childhood home was a council house, and when my Dad died, I bought it so as to keep a roof over mine and my Mums head, so in effect, even though it had been my Mums home for 40 years, it was my house. She couldn’t afford to keep the mortgage going by herself, and we couldn’t afford to pay it for her!!!! She therefore had to either move with us, or with my brother. Well, he made it very clear, that his lifestyle wasn’t suitable for have an old person about, and so she had little choice but to make the move.
She was hospitalised as soon as she arrive in Aberdeen, having had a fall and broken her hip – she already had replacements having suffered from arthritis from middle age. She therefore didn’t have the best of starts to her time here.
Once she got up and about, she chose to become house bound. She would only go out if one of us took her, which wasn’t very practical as at that time I was working long hours. Hubby’s Mum tried to encourage her to meet her in town – the bus is almost door to door, but she always gave and excuse, and still does, despite everyone involved knowing it’s a lie. How can somebody who does so little always be too busy?
When the boys were born, I used to make her go out walking with the push chair, just to get her out of the house for a wee while. The thing is the boys grew up, and so her exercise stopped! She has one of these toning massage belts, and she believes that is exercise!
In over ten years she has made no effort to meet new people, let alone make new friends. I know it’s not easy, but human contact is needed by us all.
Her greatest hobby is baiting the boys, and she can be a nasty bully sometimes. She forgets the boys as they grow are becoming wise to her ways, and when she tells lies, they will openly challenge her about it, and then she always denies things, even though she knows the boys find it difficult to fabricate things. D gets very upset when she threatens to leave because Hubby dares to put football on the telly he paid for!
All she does around the house is the ironing. She has a steam press iron, so she can do it sitting down. The whole lot of ironing for the week takes a couple of hours, but to hear her talk, you’d think she was having forced labour, as the huffing and puffing goes on and on! I am however extremely grateful for her doing this task, as I really hate ironing – whoever came up with the ridiculous idea that flat fabric was better should have been shot before mentioning it! She had to ask me how the washing machine worked before we went on holiday in the summer, despite us having had it for over a year. Ask her to venture to the kitchen and you get the most peculiar of looks of defiance.
The rest of her day is spent watching rubbish on telly. By rubbish, I mean copious hours of property shows, and 20-year-old game shows. Hubby foolishly showed her how to record things on the satellite box, and we often have to delete hours of soaps, recorded because the boys dare to be in the living room when she wants to watch her programmes!
Now, there must be more to life than this for her. I have tried encouraging her. I buy her magazines with puzzles in them to try to keep her brain active. I refuse to post things (by accidentally forgetting to pick them up) so she has to take the 5 minute walk to the post box – she has one of those rolling walkers so it takes the strain for her.
It does however get tot he point when you are parenting the parent that you just want to scream. There is no reason for her demise in activity, both physical and mental, other than her choosing not to do things. It is so infuriating.
Then yesterday two unrelated things happen that may yet be a turning point – I am ever the optimist.
She received a letter from one of her old chums. I lady she worked with almost 70 years ago, and they have been friends ever since. Her friend is now 90, a couple of years older than her, and her letter talked about the fact she went line dancing every week, and belonged to various different clubs and activities, as well as travelling to California for her Great great grand daughters wedding! My Mum commented on how busy her friend always was. I responded with the fact she chooses to keep herself active and therefore is capable of keeping going. I made several comments about it was a lifestyle choice to do nothing.
Then, the town magazine was delivered. It is a really newsy tome with information about what is going on in and around our little corner of the world. In it was a write-up about the club for the older residents, and it sounded like they had quite a lively social life. I decided that again I would bring it up with her. She has always been resistant to this sort of thing, because she doesn’t like old people!!!! I have to remind her, that she will be 87 in a few weeks. I showed her the article, and said, after what she had been saying about her friend then it sounded a perfect step to keeping active. She read what I gave her, and responded with a snide comment about how it all depended who was there! Well, of course it does, but if you don’t go once, then you’ll never know if you actually can still have fun! She has agreed to telephone the number in the book, so see what it’s about. I am staying hopeful she will make the phone call but I am not totally optimistic, I know what she’s like – why do anything when you can moan instead?!
I think my Mum infuriates me because she used to be such a lively thing. Yes she has metal hips and knees, but it wouldn’t stop her getting out and about, even if she took it gently. She needs stimulation and she’s not going to get it unless she makes the effort. There is only so much nagging I can do to encourage it!
But, as I say, I do love her, and most days, it’s a good job I do!