Granddad

Just under four months ago, my Granddad died. I think the official cause of death was pneumonia but the real cause of losing Granddad was dementia. We had slowly been losing him, his playful, jokey character, over a few years. What started out as being a bit forgetful – mixing up names, going out without a coat etc, soon turned into more dangerous territory – getting on the wrong bus and finding himself in unknown places, attacking a paramedic who was trying to help him after a fall. It got bad enough that he was a danger to himself and couldn’t live alone.

Then we were in nursing home territory, which was heartbreaking – he seemed to shrink into himself in the unfamiliar environment, would get both physically and verbally abusive, believing that everyone was out to get him. Visits were a bit like Russian roulette – you didn’t know which Granddad you would get and always hoped you would get the one that sang along to Matt Monro and wanted to look at family pictures asking again and again ‘Who’s that?’.  There were bright points like when we arrived for a visit and found him chatting up the staff members twirling her round the dining room but they were soon few and far between.

Watching my Granddad deteriorate was hard and it was just as hard watching my Dad and his sisters try to cope, always worrying whether they were doing the right thing. We were lucky in some ways as even at the end he was still Granddad. On what was to be my last visit to see Granddad in hospital he stuck his tongue out at me before I left – it was lovely that even though he probably knew he was dying that there was still a bit of his old self shining through. I like to think that even though he couldn’t tell you our names in his last days, he knew that we were family and that we loved him.

Today I did the Alzheimer’s Society’s Memory Walk in his name. I didn’t walk that far – just four miles and I didn’t do it alone – as well as many people walking in memory of others, there was my sister and two of my cousins walking alongside of me. And we were cheered on by other members of our family – the first time we had all been together since the funeral. So today was a day of celebration, a celebration of Granddad’s life and our family.

Here’s to you Granddad – you may not be with us any more but you still hold us together

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identity crisis

Last week was a bit of a milestone for me, as it would have been the week I returned to work after maternity leave. As it is I am no longer gainfully employed having been made redundant so last week was when I properly became a ‘stay at home’ mum. On the whole I am glad about the redundancy as it would have been tricky to combine commuting to London with school and nursery pick-ups and it has given me the time (and cash) to complete my MBA. On the downside though I have had to reconsider my identity as work has always been such a huge part of my sense of self and place in the world. So for a while I felt a bit lost and a bit unsure as to how to describe myself. As with any change I have come through the different stages – denial, anger etc and (I think) I have finally reached the nirvana of acceptance. It still says internal communications on my Linked In profile as I feel I should have a ‘professional headline’ and I keep up with blogs and Twitter so that I still feel in the loop. It’s hardest when I see roles advertised that I think I would be good at and enjoy – I am usually tempted to apply just to see but luckily the effort of doing the applications stops me.

I know this is only for a short period of time in the grand scheme of things (the money will run out sooner rather than later) and I should just get on and enjoy it rather than worry. I love the time I get to spend with my children (apart from the temper tantrums) and know a lot of people would swap with me in a second. So I shall say it loud and say it proud “I am a stay at home” – just don’t have a go at me if I occasionally have a moan about missing the world of work.