I spoke to Aunt this afternoon. She sounded well, cheerful, very together. We talked about the weather, the gradually lengthening days, hyacinth bulbs, the promise of spring. We wished each other a happy new year.

We didn’t talk about the fall she had a couple of days ago and the bruise on her head. We didn’t talk about the phone calls she made to my mobile and my landline from half past four this morning until the noise of the ringing phone finally woke me up to listen to a series of scared and disorientated messages. I’m glad I heard the messages before she called me again, as disturbing though they were, they gave me some insight into what was going on in her mind.

I know she knows about the fall, because she talked about it with Linda this morning. I am less convinced she remembers the ‘phone calls and her fear that she ‘had spoiled everything’, that she had lost me and could not find me, however much she searched.

I wonder if her belief that I had been with her and then had unaccountably disappeared was triggered by yesterday’s conversation when I said I should be visiting just as soon as I get three days off together. So today I said nothing about looking at the possibility of coming up by coach one evening and going home the next.

Linda and I talked for a long time tonight. Aunt called Linda when she fell and Linda, still in her pyjamas, raced to be by her side, to dial 111 and get paramedics out to see her, staying with her from midnight until four in the morning. Aunt doesn’t want me, or anyone to know she fell, but the bruise on her head is apparently very obvious, so I will notice. She told Linda it was to be their secret. This makes me very uncomfortable. I am glad Linda tells me, because these ‘secrets’ help no one, and I could almost be cross with Aunt for leaning on Linda in this way. It’s not fair.

Aunt is still refusing carers. She tells the community nurses she’ll think about it, then as soon as they have left, she says no. Linda is visiting her and spending hours and hours with her. It can’t go on. Linda is already stressed, and torn by her deire to respect Aunt’s wishes to keep her independence and her fears of what could happen to her. And now even Linda is saying carers are needed. She suspects Aunt is sleeping in her clothes, too tired, too weak to face changing into pyjamas at night and to dress herself again in the morning.

Aunt’s stubborn determination to do things her own way has probably brought her this far, but now it’s undermining her wish to stay in her own home. She told me yesterday, when I tentatively suggested trying carers for a couple of weeks to see how it was, that she is too tired now to have strangers in her home, too tired to explain to them how she wants things done. I can see her point. I should hate it too.

But without carers she may be forced to do that thing which she dreads so much, to leave her home and spend her last days somewhere else.

Little wonder then that both Linda and I have concluded that we hope her death is soon; that she can keep the control she has fought for so hard, so doggedly; that one day in the coming weeks she will simply lean back in her chair, close her eyes and breathe a quiet and peaceful last breath.


13 thoughts on “Aunt

  1. I hope she is able to pass on in peace and in her own home. It’s a tough situation. My Mom refused hospice at her home and I couldn’t do it all. I quit my job and moved her in with us for the last 3 months, she hated being out of her own little home. She fell one night and broke her leg and died during surgery. Maybe when you see her Isobel you can sway her towards the carers coming… fingers crossed.

    • I think when you are involved with someone as their life draws to a close it is never easy. We make the wrong decisions for the right reasons. How to balance a person’s needs and wishes without compromising seems and insurmountable problem.
      We adult children, nieces and nephews can’t do it all. we do what we can, but sometimes it falls short of what we would wish.

  2. This is almost too close to home to even read to the end. Goodness I sympathise Isobel. It’s exactly what we are dealing with too. The ‘I’ll think about it’ is the worst bit. I have slightly forced mum’s hand on the carer bit, and there is now someone going in 2 – shortly to be 3 days a week, just for a couple of hours each tine, but it is working wonderfully so far. I hope you may yet be able to convince your Aunt that carers are the surest way for her to KEEP her independence! Good luck with it all. It’s such a worry though, and yes, just like you, I find myself praying for the ‘Heavenly Taxi’ to stop by one night for my father (their expression, not mine!)

    • The big problem is the memories of some very poor carers Mother had. They respected neither her privacy nor her dignity. They had their ways of doing things and that was that. Aunt was horrified as was I. They gave both of us a rather jaundiced view of carers as a group, although some of Mother’s carers were outstanding, others good and the majority adequate. It doesn’t help that carers are underpaid and expected to egt things done in a ridiculously short amount of time and apparently to have mastered teleporting so that they can be with the next client in the twinkling of an eye. It inevitably leads to niceties and corners being cut.

      I doubt if she could afford to pay for private carers, though would allow more screening and control. The only way I can see her agreeing is if she sees Linda is getting worn down.

      It feels dreadful to say I hope she dies sooner rather than later. Of course I want her to live, but it’s about the quality of her life. So yes, let the Heavenly Taxi stop by and allow her to live her last days as she chooses.

  3. Oh dear, she sounds a real fighter…so distressing for you and Linda although I am sure you will between you manage to help her in the short term…do keep us posted as to how she is…

    • She is a fighter. All Mother’s siblings had tough childhoods and none were pushovers. I am at a distance, so it is Linda who bears the brunt of this. I understand Aunt called another elderly neighbour this morning at 6.30. It can’t go on like this.

  4. Really feel for you and Linda trying to handle this situation with love, patience and compassion, Isobel. It must be so distressing and stressful for you both. Hopefully, you can persuade Aunt that accepting carers is the best way for her to stay in her own home. It sounds as though Aunt is deteriorating rather more rapidly than has been the case up until now, so I hope with all my heart that your wish for her to go quietly and peacefully in her sleep comes to pass.

    • i think you have hit the nail on the head. She had deteriorated but plateaued. Now it seems she has suddenly slid down a few more notches and we and she are floundering. She can’t get up, and we are not coping. I shall try to speak to the specialist nurse on Monday and ask for some advice.

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