My mother on her wedding day. Weirdly, she had written 6/6/31 under the photo. Weird, because I born on 6/6/32. And she died on 6/6/93.
Circumstances compelled Lady Arabella Cunningham Smythe to start taking interest in life, instead of trying to die, after her granddaughter was abducted. And I plan for her to have a new and dreadful adventure every year (her year). And she will outwit the villains every time. That’s the lovely thing about being a writer of fiction. Lady A won’t ever be whacked in a ‘home’ or starved in a hospital, because I say so!
Today I got an advert from India for a ‘Marigold Hotel’ kind of old folks home. It sounds wonderful. You could expect to have more fun there than you had ever had in your life, according to the advert. But India is awfully far away. And people are even smacked and starved here, with relatives nearby and inspectors and the NHS on the guard.
When my mother got dementia my husband and I moved next door to her and there was an interjoining door between our houses. I cooked all her meals and she popped into our house, sometimes at two in the morning, shouting, ‘Lunch is ready!’ The arrangement worked pretty well, though I would not say it was perfect. In addition to us there was an elderly man who lived in a downstairs room and who had been there so long that he and my mother had got used, even dependant on each other.
When Mother was eighty four we had to go away for Christmas. I had the feeling that this would be her last Christmas and I wanted it to be really fun for her, so before leaving I bought crackers, and cooked a whole Christmas lunch, turkey, pudding, brandy butter, sprouts, the lot, and left it for the relative, who would be taking my place, to warm next day. My husband gave my mother and Colin, the elderly tenant, a bottle of vintage champagne I told the relative to make Mother’s Christmas really jolly and noisy. His only task was to set the table and warm the food.
Alas, we got back to discover that the relative had not given Mother or Colin any of the things we had left for them. They had had no Christmas lunch at all. The relative had sat watching tv till it was so late that Mother got tired and went to bed, then he took everything, even the champagne, to amazed and grateful friends and spent Christmas evening with them. So it would seem, sadly, that when you are old there is nobody, not even family, with whom you are safe.
Is there an answer? Was there ever one.