My time away from blogging has been interesting, to say the least, in both hilarious and shocking ways. After I finished painting my kitchen green, I decided to take my mother 120 miles away to visit friends and family, family she hadn’t seen in many, many years. While the trip was successful overall, there were a few mishaps.
Hiccup #1: Forgetfulness. Thirty-something miles into our outward bound journey a light bulb switched on in my head. We had forgotten Mum’s meds. Going back was a must. If this trip proved to be a negative experience for her there would never be another. I still managed to forget my phone and tablet chargers and my decaf teabags, though.
Hiccup #2: Driving to my aunt’s care home was a mission in itself. This part of town had changed drastically. A one-way road system had been implemented. A badly signposted one-way system with a chronic traffic problem where cars and the tram compete for the same road space. Take a wrong turn and you’re screwed.
Hiccup #3: I fail to recognise my aunt. It’s been ten years, give me a break. She looked radically different, nothing like what I remembered. Mum’s shock at her appearance seemed like it was going to be a new traumatic moment to recount to anyone who’d listen. I always expect the worst so it didn’t affect me quite the same way.
Hiccup #4: One has to fine-tune their bullshit-o-meter when dealing with my aunt. I had forgotten this. She has always craved attention, attention she never received as a child. But it’s the nature with which she gains it that has proved detrimental. Aunt is perpetually suffering from some ailment (or twenty) to gain sympathy. Generally, she’s a bad liar. She doesn’t know when to quit while her stories still have a ring of truth to them.
Aunt said she was getting over a chest infection – TRUE, you could hear it in her voice.
“I have bowel cancer.” – PLAUSIBLE, that’s what killed her mother.
Mum looks worried.
“I have bone cancer. I have stomach cancer. I have back cancer.”
“So you’re full of cancer,” Mum says, catching on and playing along.
There’s an open can of Diet Coke on the bedside table. Aunt points to it, “that’s my morphine.” Mum makes her repeat that several times, obviously not believing her ears.
Aunt has never been truly loved or cared for in her life. Mum’s tried many times over the years but Aunt is exhausting in her frustrating resistance to anything vaguely different. She’s always been fragile and vulnerable, never fully participating in life. At least she’s being well cared for in the home, despite a couple of great escapes.
Hiccup #5: Witnessing an attempted murder. We decided to drop by my uncle’s place to see if he would answer the door. We hadn’t had any contact with him since he badgered Mum into signing away her rights to her share of Grandmother’s estate, so he would get everything. I left Mum in the car to run up the stairs to his flat. He didn’t answer. I left a note with our contact details. On my way out of the building I heard two loud fireworks-type bangs then saw a car purposely ram into the back of another and chasing it to ram it again. I knew this was a bad part of town but not quite this bad. I calmly walked back to the car, reassured an anxious Mum and drove away in the opposite direction. I wasn’t actually sure it was gunshots until it was reported in the local news. No one was injured. Neither has anyone been arrested.
Here endeth the first day of our weekend break. Sigh.
Hiccup #6: Trying to find a pub or restaurant that serves food Aunt will eat. Three’s usually the charm; this time it was four. We’d actually tried to take her to lunch at a pub she liked visiting. Due to that pesky one-way system, I made that wrong turn I was talking about earlier and I couldn’t face driving around that particular circle of hell again. Far too stressful. When Aunt finally got to eat and drink she didn’t eat much of her meal. We guessed it didn’t taste the same as what she was used to. As for drink, I don’t think the care home allows residents to consume alcohol because Aunt’s brandy and coke answer came so fast and without hesitation from this quiet as a mouse woman that it shocked us all into silence, followed by laughter.
Hiccup #7: Struggling to comply with the speed limit and stay alive. On the long journey home we encountered a reduced speed limit of 50mph on the motorway as the dividing barrier was being replaced on a 50-mile stretch of it. Sheer boredom of the slow pace affected my attention span. I had difficulty not only keeping the car in the lane but keeping a good distance between our car and those in front and stay under the speed limit. Cruise control was useless due to congestion. Since replacing old speed cameras over the last few months with new and improved ones which adjust to variable speed limits thereby increasing the number of tickets issued, this journey was stressful. It was the most dangerous drive I’ve ever made. I was incredibly thankful when the speed limit went back up to the national limit. In fact, I woke up at that point and felt a whole lot safer as traffic dissipated.
Despite the mishaps the trip was surprisingly successful. Mum had been avoiding her hometown for too long but she was happy I forced her into visiting, and actually wants to return in a couple of months time.