Thursday, 10 June 2010


Jesus, they run you ragged, old people. So demanding, Special, expensive food and often. Medications for this, that and the other and none of them are cheap.  Incontinent, flatulent and grumbling.  If looks could kill:  I don't want that there, I want it over here. Help me to the settee. Help me down from the settee. Never a minute to myself. (Thinks: once upon a time, you could get up and down quicker than me)  I need to go to the toilet, take me, please.

And then there's taking him out in the car.  He used to love it but he's not so keen, now, may as well not bother but I just like to get him out of the house and up to the town, meet some people his own age, maybe, have a chat, stimulation, you know. We have driven the length of the Kingdom a score of times, just him and me and he's kept me company but now it's just an imposition on him and even with the roof down on the car, something he used to love, he'd still rather be asleep.  These old blokes, they are a handful. He still enjoys his life but sometimes, when he wakes up, it seems he doesn't know who he is, or anything really, and so I have to hold him tight and say lots of familiar words and phrases, until he's logged-on to himself again.

It's better now that it's summer, he's always loved gardening and now he still manages to dig a hole or two, alongside me, as I'm planting the spuds. So I know he's still in there and we just have to recognise that age limits him a bit, he's ninety-five, after all.  He did his cruciate ligament a  while back but that's mostly healed up, he doesn't have all his teeth, but who does at that age, and he takes heart medication,  His doctor says he's the best ninety-five year old she's ever seen and so, after his last check-up, we gave him a bit of a makeover, a trim;  have to make sure he has thick pyjamas at night because it's still a bit chilly up here, Lord, when the Sun go down. Here's his new look:


a young anglo-irish catholic said...

Aye, all my family much prefer pets to humans, as well they might considering the lives they've had.

I might be tempted by man's best friend meeself.

A damn sight less trouble than the flower of England's womanhood, mind scrambled with half-baked feminism, gnawing self-doubt, insecurity and the IQ diluting pleasures of BiogBrother and Masterchef.

lilith said...

Darling Buster! 95. He is a handsome old chap.

Dick the Prick said...

Ah, I love grumpiness and generally being grumpy (only if I can get away with it – bit rude otherwise) and with such a devoted companion as your good self, who can blame Mr Buster? All the best to the old fella.

PT Barnum said...

The point at which the always-previously shunned litter tray became absolutely necessary was the point where we crossed from sharing the house with a cat to caring for an elderly feline. She's the perfect catalogue of geriatric illnesses, and sometimes, yes, as Buster does, forgets where or who she is, or what her back legs are for, but still she goes on contentedly, ever more assertive about her needs. When, on a hot day, she rolls around on her back in the dust, while scolding her tail, that's when you can see she's still herself. And it moves me almost unbearably.

Elby the Beserk said...

My dad blew up at the tender age of 68, in 1987. Overwork, overdrink, over prescribed. Mum went into a collapse (they adored each other) which only death relieved her of, some 18 years later in 2005.

In between, my older brother and I look after her from afar; he in London and I in Bristol, she never having moved out of a circle some 3 miles in diameter, would not move South.

So, as she hit the bottle, and had fall after fall, we would be flying up and down the motorway sorting out care, cleaning the house, and seeing what could be done for her.

All to no avail, as she just got worse and worse. A few years before she died, she had a stroke, which she pulled out of (iron constitution - a consultant dealing with drying her out from the DTs in 1990 told me her cirrhosis was so bad she would be gone by the end of the year.

Fuck you, thought Mum, and grabbed another 15 years.

However, she was not demented - she always recognised me - she was doo-lally. I drove up to Stockport one day to see her in the "rehab" (actually, the waiting room for the final train); she looked at me, said

"I'm not talking to you. I'm shocked at you, taking up with a Sheik's daughter and leaving your family like that".

Snapped the Telegraph open, turned away from me, so after half an hour in which she refused to talk to me or look at me, I left, and drove straight back to Bristol. 360 miles, a day, a fortune in petrol, an unpaid day off work. Thanks Mum.

She took a long time to go, had another stroke they said she wouldn't survive, but did. Being Mum, she had it on a Friday evening, so there was no consultant there to see here. Brother and I can see she is in a mess, and seems to be having regular convulsions.

Consultant arrives Monday morning, and says - Oh look, she's having seizures. (Smart guy). Prescribe her anti-convulsants.

Wahey! Immediately, her demeanour changes. Some visits she would be ok, but often confused, angry and distressed.

From that point on, she was never distressed; confused at times, but only by her senility and drink abuse. They were very fond of her at her nursing home, as she had a wicked sense of humour, a huge relief when some of the inmates would end up with their heads in their food at meals, so life free were they.

I will confess, I was relieved when she went. I'd done my grieving a long time back, and it is hard to see someone you love, who would have in many ways been better off had she died when Dad did, having such a hard time.

My mum-in-law, died last year, aged 91, a fine woman, all there to the end, who made no issue of me leaving her daughter for Lilith. Her, I DO miss.

And now it's our turn to deal with this - all my "older" generation have now moved on. Bless them

Time spent with old people and the very young, is, it seems to me, rarely unproductive.

jgm2 said...

My parents grew up on farms and fled the hard life in their thirties. In my dad's case actually in the thirties. When I was a kid at school I used to beg my parents for a pet like all the other kids but they refused.

What do we want one of them for? We've no space for one of them. We've no use for one of them.

Now I'm all growed up and my kids are begging me for a pet and I've become my parents.

'What do I want one of them for?'

Cows just over the fence looked after by some other bugger. Fields full of rabbits, deer, pheasant and partridge for them to look at (and eat). Garden full of birds and hedgehogs.

What the fuck do I want worrying about the bills? Whole aisles in the supermarket that I can safely ignore.

My brother pointed out that feeling the day you were in the supermarket and could walk past the nappy aisle without having to squander another twenty quid.

And he's right. I remember the day. Really put a spring in my step. The little fuckers are getting more independent. I don't need to spend every second doing their thinking for them.

Same with a pet.

We can (and do) just drop all and leave the house for the whole day on a whim. No worries booking kennels or catteries when we're away on holiday.

And the best bit - because I'm a softy at heart, is that I won't be pining like a dog when the fucking thing runs out under a car.

My kids hate me for it.

Particularly my daughter.

But that's why I get paid the big bucks. Taking the tough decisions like that.

Well done for being able to grow anything in Fucking Scotland. I could only manage several acres of grass and nettles.

mongoose said...

The wife's great aunt had a fall at home in London. "Can't cope" etc etc. The powers that be shipped her fifty miles to a nursing home, away from every bastard she had ever known or cared about. It so happened that it was - completely by accident - three miles up the road from us.

Ancient, old stick insect of a woman, "like a bird she was". She ate nothing to speak of but liked playing bridge and drinking whisky. (Famous Grouse, the savage old mare.) If she was running low, and we hadn't visited, she would ring us up hinting politely. Whisky bought, one of us would drop round to see her. (Every single time, she tried to pay for it. Every one.)

Eventually, the staff decided that she was drinking too much and we were forbidden to bring her her drop. I am afraid to say the mongoosian politeness was suspended for a few seconds. "It's not a fucking prison camp, is it? She is a free woman, isn't she?" They won, the bastards. Files, references, guidelines... Done. Another victory for the monotonous brigades.

She, and in very short order, turned up her 90-odd-year-old toes. Fuck 'em all.

call me ishmael said...

I am always a little surprised to hear peers and near-peers deacribing the observed deaths of their parents; mine died long ago, prematurely and suddenly, although separated by a decade. I know nothing, therefore, of the decline and loss you both mention, having observed it only in my little warm brown friends; as mr ptb so elegantly puts it a propos his own experience, ours is a debt of poignancy; all of mine have been what we call rescued dogs, who rescued whom is a moot point.

I hate dogs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mrs narcolept said...

That picture of Buster rolling: pure delight.