I'd threatened (if that's not too harsh a word) to anna mr that I would do a stream-of-consciousness post after she did one, a few weeks ago now. So here it is. It seems a good idea to do it right now because, following the previous post I wrote, and the wonderful responses it got from everyone, I've remained deep in thought about the whole blog-thing in relation to what I do and don't reveal. This has moved on to reflecting on what I choose to reveal - or not - about people around me.
I really don't want to think about it too much or it will stop me from writing about anything whatsoever. It would prevent me from writing about my mother, in whose company I've spent the weekend. It would also prevent me from writing about my grandmother, who lives close by to my mother and who will soon, all being well, reach the rather fine age of 92.
Again it feels like a question of motivation: I shouldn't really have any worries about privacy issues since no one here knows that much about me apart from what I've written, and anyone who does know more about me certainly doesn't know any of my family.
So where's the problem?
I tend to worry about these things, that's where the problem is.
But I want to write about how twisted my mother's hands are from arthritis. Not that arthritis is restricted to her hands (to understate the hold that the condition has on her): but they are, maybe, the area that I focus on other than her face. Hands are pretty crucial things after all. I'm used to seeing hers as they are now. I can't imagine the pain and frustration.
I used to feel guilty for not helping her out more. I go back home every so often and get mothered, and for a good while I used to think, I should be cooking for her, I should be offering to help out with whatever needs to be done. I changed my opinion, though, or came to a point of realisation: whenever she wants something done, she will ask. Otherwise she'll damn well get on with doing it herself, and she keeps as much independence as she possibly can.
She had an operation on one of her hands some time ago, to try and get the individual joints realigned to a more manageable degree. I rang her regularly and offered to go and see her at weekends if she needed help with anything at all: she responded with a list of jobs which needed doing, and she then described her frankly ingenious methods of getting round the problem of each individual task with the temporarily-limited means at her disposal . In other words, she didn't need my help or anyone else's, thank you very much: or if she did, as mentioned, she would ask.
My grandmother is becoming increasingly dependent on her: but at her (my grandmother that is) remarkable age, the fact that she still lives in her own home, the one she moved into when married, is quite something as far as I'm concerned. She's getting more unsteady as time goes on, and not just physically. At the end of each visit I say "I'll see you soon" or words to that effect. I'm increasingly conscious that there's only so many more times I'll be saying that: while that sounds like a sad thought, it's tempered by the fact that whatever happens, (to resort to a necessary cliche), she's had a damned good innings.
I'm often reminded of something my late grandfather said one birthday in the final few years of his life. He had a lengthy spell of illness and was clearly ever more aware of his own mortality, and one of his apparent coping strategies was to specialise in a fine brand of gallows humour. For a birthday present I'd bought him a new shaving kit. As he opened the box and saw what it was his eyes lit up, he smiled at me and said with enthusiasm, "Thanks! This will just about last me!" I remember bursting out laughing though being highly aware of the the truth behind the humour.
Note: I have to be honest (well I don't, but I'm going to be), this wasn't completely stream-of-consciousness, I had to stop and think and change a couple of things, but it's a lot more off-the-cuff than most of what I've written previously. It's a lot more spontaneous than next Thursday's post is shaping up to be, put it that way.