Monday, 7 April 2014

Moving a Mountain

Two years ago, I posted on this blog that my big sis and I were trying to persuade my elderly mother to move out of her house, which is now far too big for her to manage.

She doesn’t want to. It is the place that she moved as a young wartime bride to live  her new husband and in-laws. It is where she had her family and we grew up us children. It is where she has laughed, loved and cried. It is the keeper of her memories. It is more than just a house.

In spite of two lengthy spells in hospital and the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult for her to cope on her own, she refuses to leave her home.

I understand, really I do.

Mum is 90, or thereabouts (she keeps changing her date of birth so we are not sure of her exact age). The next fall could well see her having to go into a home. Unfortunately, there is no room for her at either of our houses (as you know, mine is full of teenagers). As a compromise, we have suggested sheltered accommodation. Mum won’t hear of it.

“They’re trying to put me away you know,” I heard her say to a family friend recently.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

When I was little my mum protected me. She kept me safe and warm and fed. She looked after me and now, I would like to do the same for her.

“Why don’t we just look at some places?” I suggested.

“No! This is my home.”

“If you lived a bit nearer to me, we could all pop in more often and you’ll have company.”

The look she gave me was warning enough to back off.

The strength that I have always admired in her has, in old age, turned into inflexibility and an unwillingness to consider change. You cannot move a mountain. Are we right even to try?

My mother-in-law lives in a self-contained flat in a very well organised, warden controlled senior living complex. There is a canteen where she (and any visitors) can get a low cost hot meal and there is always someone around for a chat when she feels like it. She has her own front door and can close it when she doesn’t. There are trips and quiz nights aplenty. 

Mum-in-law is safe and warm and happy. I want the same for my mum.

So, are we wrong in asking her to move?

Maybe, I really don’t know anymore.The truth is that the matter may soon be taken out of our hands and that will be a sad day for us all.

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