Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Looking for inspiration

I've been struggling to think of what to write about lately. I can't think of anything to say about 'me'. Everything is fine, my job is good, my social life is great and my RA is only an annoying buzz in the background. I don't go back to the rheumatologist until December so unless something happens I probably won't be writing about it much. I could write a long whiny post about my slightly swollen thumb tendon which has been annoying me for the past week but I doubt anyone would want to read about that.

So instead, I'm going to write a post about someone who's very dear to me and whose fate lies heavy on my heart at the moment.

My great aunt is 86 years old. She is the oldest living member of my family (which is very very small) and unfortunately she's not long for this world. In the last year her health has deteriorated horribly and she's now in and out of hospital and unable to do much for herself. She's living at my mother's house now who has to take care of her. It kind of breaks my heart. Especially since I know what she used to be like.

She was a very successful architect, and travelled the world. She built schools in North Africa and lived in Paris. She speaks 4 languages, including Arabic learnt from her days in Tunisia and Algeria. She married in the 60s but eventually divorced and had no children. My mum was her 'child', and they were great pals. She took my mum travelling with her in the 70s and 80s. My mum remembers my great aunt at her greatest so it's that much harder for her to see her now. I worry about my mother and the strain this is taking on her but there isn't much I can do apart from listen.

My own memories of my aunt in her younger days are many, but they are a child's memories. Her picking me up from nursery school, looking after me on many sunny afternoons. Going round to her house was always an exciting event as I looked forward to exploring the strange objects she'd brought back from abroad and decorated her house with. She was also one of my favourite playmates, despite her age. We used to build forts out of the sofa cushions in the living room. She satisfied my every childish whim because I was her only 'grandchild', in effect. The past few years her mind had started to go a bit, so she wasn't the aunt of my childhood but she was still a lovely old dear who I could have a nice wee chat with and who told me about her travels and would rejoice in my various achievements at university and beyond. I'll miss her dearly.

I'm trying not to feel too sorry for my great aunt. She's had a brilliant life, seen the world and until this past year or two she's been in great health. It's just really difficult to watch someone deteriorate and know that there's nothing you can do. At least I can take some comfort in the fact that she has her family around her in her final months and that has to mean something.

Old age is no joke. I've known a few people who've died but most have died suddenly. This drawn out long process of 'shutting down' of the body and the mind is horrible to watch. It really breaks my heart. It makes me want to (eventually, when I'm old) die of a heart attack or something, at least then my loved ones won't have to go through this. Maybe I should start eating more fried food.... Just kidding obviously.

It sounds terrible but I dread going to my mum's to visit at the moment. I want to forget this stage once she's gone and just remember the woman she used to be. Is that possible?


  1. My great grandma passed away about twelve years ago. I made the decision to go and visit her in the nursing home before she passed. I always try to forget that day and try to remember all of the wonderful moments that we did have the chance to share.

    You won't be able to completely forget this, but you can make the choice to celebrate the wonderful woman that she was instead of to remember these hard final months.

    Good luck honey

  2. Dearest Squirrel,

    Life sucks sometimes. And your great aunt sounds absolutely lovely — like someone out of a novel! I'm glad you and your mum have had her and I'm sure she is glad to have had both of you and is glad to have both of you now, at the end of her life.

    The best I can wish for you (and really all of us!) is that your life is filled with as many varied experiences as hers must have been, and the kind of loving people she has had in hers.

    My usual smiles,

    :) L

  3. Thanks guys, it is hard but that's life eh? Thanks for the wishes and for dropping by x