Grandchildren

I had X yesterday – you can’t take your eyes off him for a minute – even when he’s ‘asleep’! His father put him to bed when they came the other day – after 1/2 hour I said I could still hear him talking so Y decided to get him up. He’d turned on my bedside light and I suddenly saw what looked like strips torn off the wallpaper – then we smelt my new large pot of hand cream. He’d put the lot all over his face and hands and a square yard of the wall, 3 pillow cases, sheet and my candlewick bedspread. We scraped it off with a knife – fortunately it was a washable paint on the wall and it doesn’t show!!

The infants v. good – X is a really delightful and responsible little boy and Y is much improved though I gather a constant source of worry to the parents as to what she’ll say or do next! She was cut off sharply once or twice before I could gather what she’d said – maddening!!! Z is a nice cuddly little thing and ties her mother round her little finger.

There’s a constant whirl going on from 5.30 a.m. on. One morning at this time X crept into the family room where I slept and excused himself in a penetrating whisper, as he wanted his song book. He crept back to the room they all three share now and they quietly shut the door and went to it, the lot, but the lot, from Yellow Submarine to Lily the Pink in a really wall shattering chorus.

We had X to stay over the weekend a week or so ago, which was interesting. We hadn’t seen her apart from one or two hours since before she went to Canada, and she has grown up a lot; in fact she is a very different person from the rather whinging schoolgirl she was ten years ago. Now she knows it all (with admittedly more justification than most nineteen year olds, for she has got herself around a great deal). She is planning to go to Vietnam, on some sort of biological research team, to work in the forests next January, together with her boyfriend. I would be heartily glad if the whole plan falls through, for it seems to offer a variety of dangers: but I suppose one can only just express an opinion and leave it at that. She is a nice affectionate child (young woman).

She is the oddest baby. Her mother said she wasn’t at all what she expected – and she looked just like her g’mother! I think she looks like a cross between Grumpy of the 7 Dwarfs and Queen Victoria. Enormous dark eyes she turns on you in a very critical way, dark brown curly hair – lots – and she ruminates all the time with her mouth well turned down and pokes her tongue out and licks her lips. She has a little round bullet head and long fingers and lovely nails.

[Outing with young grandsons] The lunch was super and we all ate hard for 2 hours! … We played racing demon until it was time for tea – ‘We’re really not hungry – just a small piece of pizza please’ all the boys said – but it was remarkable how hungry they felt once more after all – and went on happily to drop scones, flapjacks and burnt house cake most in the plural: an outstanding performance after the lunch they ate!

Praise be X is now really friendly and very sweet and actually knows me – I couldn’t cope with Y – we just don’t ‘take tea’. I laughed and laughed last week – he came for 2 hours whilst his mother went to the hairdressers. He seemed v. chatty and was in fact being quite pleasant and friendly – and all in the same chatty voice said to me, ‘mummy says I mustn’t say I don’t like granny’!!

We had X up here for a couple of days this week. She is most exhausting, and delightful, though with a frightful accent and not very usual table manners, which she has acquired from her flatmates, I suppose – they both work in the builders trade, so eating becomes rather like feeding a concrete mixing machine. But X is determined to find some sort of vocation in life: and it obviously ought to be concerned with people, as she seems to have a way with her.

We’ve had X here from Thursday evening until this evening. He is a great giggler (in a raucous way reminiscent of his mother at his age) and very quickwitted – with quite a facility for making Limericks, for instance, which I thought surprising for his age. He has also got much more agile in recent months – runs quite fast and far. We did a few jobs, like planting out the strawberry bed and visiting the water supply and went a long walk up a new track the neighbour has had bulldozed right up to the far end of his hill, on which he was setting the pace most of the way. He got himself soaked 3 times (in the stream, filling the watering can and finally slipping and sitting down on the walk in a very wet patch of grass which he said very indignantly was ‘camouflaged’!!!). I think he enjoyed it all.

The puddle was camouflaged

X wanted to tell us his news! And of course, I couldn’t get a word of what he was saying! However Y then suggested he tell me what he had done at the play centre this morning. I was duly surprised to hear he had played with some gold dice, but Y enlightened me when she came back to close down. It was cold ice they had been playing with! But when I think that I was quite frightened of the telephone until the age of about fifteen, I marvel.

Talking of the way professional families are turned out, do you remember the photo of my family on holiday circa 1920 – scruffy wasn’t the word for us. And come to think of it, X tends to appear in jeans which are more hole than cloth, and all the boys wear terrible gym shoes all the time.

I think we shall have to give up offering meals to her brood. They all came in to tea yesterday on the way back from their parish weekend, although to begin with X just stayed in the car apparently asleep. Y came in and managed two or three ham sandwiches (very ladylike – no crusts) before we eventually produced the biscuits, and then he did quite well on them. Later X wandered in, and of course got the choice straightaway: he managed two nibbles out of a cream cheese and pineapple sandwich, and deserted it for a chocolate biscuit. We had all the crusts for supper!

He gave X a big polystyrene surfboard and Y a recorder – Y burst into tears and said, ‘I want a BIG present too’! All was saved when a swimming ring was in Y’s parcel too and his mother quickly blew it up – BIG!!

Change

I note you are going to X for a lunch – did you know I spent most of my childhood there? It was a lovely, sleepy little place in those days, but when I last went back, it had become all touristy and horrible – and, apart from the fact that both my parents are buried there, and I still have friends there, I wouldn’t mind if I never saw the place again – it has changed beyond all recognition! I’ve always said that one can’t go back in life, only forwards, but I sometimes wonder if I’m even doing that!

It is a big gap and suddenly one realises – at least my sister and I did – that with both our parents gone horror of horrors we are now the ‘older generation’!!

One person from our section resigned recently, and that is allowed to be filled, but it has to be by someone redeployed from another area. This is a bit of a worry, as I expect we’ll get someone who someone else is pleased to see go.

getting rid

Am I nuts? I’ve really stopped being able to see any more whether this really is what I’ve wanted for years or I’m off my rocker. Maybe I’ll be able to think more clearly at my own place.

I asked after the ‘little boy’ born whilst we were there only to find he’d topped 6 foot and had finished a philosophy degree but sadly like so many of them had got a dead end job.

To begin with, I called it ‘Aphorisms and Illustrations’ but on the whole that seems bit pretentious, so it is now called ‘Pointers and Pictures’!

I could have wept over your would-be purchaser opting out – I hope it means there’s a better offer coming your way – any offer coming our way would be something, but so far we’re just 1,200 down the drain in advertising. What is particularly maddening is the first estate agent has a man WITH MONEY looking for something like this, but we’re tied for a month to the auctioneers. He poohpoohed the idea of sharing the commission in spite of my suggestion that ‘half a loaf was better than no bread’ – stiff necked, I call it.

Early in the morning and after 5 p.m. it’s getting nippy. Tho’ many plants have got really muddled up and are flowering for the second time, it’s been a mad season, no really settled weather. I’ve worn a summer dress about 4 times, and my new white sandals the same, and now out must come the old drearies.

Ageing (3)

I really need to keep a diary: the days get all mixed up in one’s mind, and most of their contents disappears into the rubbish bin of Forgetfulness, more or less without trace! I really don’t recommend the 80s!

I gathered he did his faint in the course of trying to pull up a bush he was transplanting, having dug all round it. It sounded as though X had left him inert in the hole while she went for the doctor, but perhaps it wasn’t quite like that.

fw 002
pulling up the rose bush

 

Poor old X – when we came here [14 years before] he and his wife used to make themselves responsible for the little church, mowing, cleaning down the walls and windows, etc. – and only two years ago he was still mowing a quarter acre of grass around his house, and walking every day to his son’s house, about a mile each way for his evening meal. Now he’s just about blind, and progressively slower on his feet and finding great difficulty with his vocabulary (aren’t we all?). He was very worried today when we got into church because he had lost his collection envelope, and kept feeling for it. Eventually when we got him home we went and searched high and low but it was nowhere to be found, in drawers or pockets, though everybody said that his son would have got it ready for him last night. After lunch the son rang up to thank us and it appeared that two months ago, to save the problem of losing the envelope, they started a bank order transfer – but X had forgotten that.

Poor dear seems to have completely lost his marbles, it’s very putting offing hearing the queer things people here do and say as they get beyond their years.

I don’t mind how long I live, I’ve lots I want to do, so long as I’m not beholden to someone else for decisions and have to be looked after (and I’m sure the family feel the same!!)

I’ve just been to wake him up – 2.45 – when he eventually came to he said, ‘What day is it?’ I said Monday but he decided we had Monday yesterday!

I shall be able to take my daily walk – which is already having a remarkable effect on the evening size of my ankles!

Our next door neighbour was brought home for Christmas, and we popped in to see him. He looks better than I expected physically, but just can’t get his words together, poor dear – even when she gives him half a chance, and she can talk the back leg off a donkey.

Children (2)

X as awkward as ever. I fear he dreads coming into our house, and there’s a free fight even getting him out of the car – really most shaming for us. I don’t know what started it all off – no, I haven’t spanked him or even shouted at him once!!!

unwilling visitor

 I’d love to know about all the other misdoings at her school her daughter got up to, do tell me more.

X is a real delight – gets handed round like a parcel and beams on everyone. She could only go backwards then – and was trying to pull her leg up by holding her clothes – but a few days after she was off – so now the gate has to be locked by the stairs.

X has been elected form captain which was v. good for her morale – I have a suspicion that she’ll be unbearable – in the nicest possible way!!

She’s having a rough ride at work. I don’t think she’d realised how completely unstructured the school is. If her little dears (8 year olds) get bored or cross they go walk-about and come back when they feel like it. Also several of them can’t read…

I asked X (re that couple) about babies a while ago and she made it sound not to be mentioned.

The children fell upon her as though they had suffered tortures during the fortnight (when grandmother and great-aunt were in charge), but needless to say they had been well and truly spoilt really and got away with a lot of minor sins without reprimand – and with a great deal of demanding favourite food and more ice-cream etc. that no doubt mum would have dealt with much more severely than grandmother did – although even she rebelled when the youngest tried to get away with putting golden syrup on a chocolate wheaten biscuit! Ladling it on to a scone was one thing and licking the spoon with a ladleful of treacle in it just passable, but the idea of it on expensive choc bics was too much!!

Adult learning

At last I have found a good class to go to. My  85 yr old tutor finally gave up, so this was a relief, as none of us liked to stop going. The teacher I now have is full of enthusiasm and telling us to try every type of medium and painting with cloth, sticks, fingers etc., gouache, that I’d never tried before. Quite a change from my ‘primp-sy’ watercolours.

I have not been to many dancing classes very much at all this year. It has been too much what with everything else. I think I have been rather stressed. The last class for the year should be tomorrow night, so I will go to that, and give myself the idea that this is what I am to do next year. I do enjoy going really, and it is nice to see the others who go, so I must make the effort.

I’ve managed to find time to do a wild flower course one evening a week, mainly because a friend wanted to do it and I went to keep her company. Most of it was far too technical for me (memories of school biology lessons flooded back!) but I enjoyed seeing all the slides the lecturer showed us, and the field trips were good. One beautiful summer’s evening, we went to see a preserved wild flower meadow. After about an hour of being told all the Latin names of everything we were seeing, my brain just seized up! So while all these really enthusiastic botanists were crawling around on their hands and knees examining every last petal and leaf, I just sat and admired the wonderful views.

day-dreamer

Operations

[Child’s new word – will all the staff being trained need an operation, I wonder?] Apprenticitis.

…a pleasant visit to X who was recovering from a hysterectomy; recovering very well actually, which she is putting down to using a couple of arnica tablets before and after the operation – she said it felt a lot better than when she had any of her Caesars.

I’ve had a series of operations, some major, most minor. I have more in prospect. It has left me rather weak and I have no idea when I shall be able to return to work.

One of my many symptoms, as yet undiagnosed, is that both hands are in an arthritic condition, still and painful. So you’ll understand that I can’t write at length.

X eventually ended up in Ward 3 of the District General Hospital, with the prospect of some mysterious cross between a replacement hip and a pin – it is a prosthesis of sorts and the houseman could only describe it to me as half a hip-joint, which sounds very queer. The surgeon is said to be clever but brusque and pretty unapproachable, but as long as he does it well we shall be happy.

I was thrown into confusion last week by the surgeon’s secretary offering me a bed this Friday! I will do a phone call when I am back with another new lens and all ready to see out life with just one more pair of glasses I imagine.

Cattaracts [sic] – Yes, both done now and spot on so far.

cattaracts

The surgeon is frightfully busy this summer I gather (what with a long holiday and such like!) and she seems to think it may have to be in about September if she misses June, but is resigning herself to this by degrees and it will be his verdict when she crawls in to see him at the beginning of next week – by then I hope she will be able to face the walk from the hospital car park to outpatients!!

Holidays 2

In April X and I went to the Hong Kong Sevens and really enjoyed the excitement and ‘foreign-ness’ of H.K. X travelled home from there but I went on to Sydney and had 10 days with Y. It was a wonderful holiday and has definitely given me ‘itchy feet’.

X has been on her travels nearly a year now – current trekking in Nepal area – I think – having seen a lot of India and worked with Mother T. in Calcutta. Her money is holding out as she’s been living so cheaply.

I went the real tourist route, and X took me to see Niagara Falls. I was overwhelmed with the immense power and volume of the thing – and it wasn’t over commercialised with hotdog stands and all that – a pleasant surprise.

aching posterior

I finally made a short trip to Lesotho in March, and even then it was quite cold. I went about on a pony for a few days, except when I just had to get down and use my legs to ease the aching posterior…I later went to Madagascar again and met up with my friend who is still living with his Tandroy family in the south… I caught up on the complicated family tree and visited the old man who sacrifices zebu at ceremonies who is now over 100. My Mozambique travels were only in the south… animals sighted included several baboon troops along the road from Chimoio to Tete, and a hippopotamus not much below eye level in the Buzi estuary whilst travelling along it in an overloaded boat.

I have never been to Durham so a friend and I are going to look at the Cathedral and have lunch! In April I’m going back to Skye for a week – before the midges arrive.

Care home 2

Tomorrow I’m going to X for a cataract op on the second eye and there for a couple of nights. After that I hope to drive better but doubt I shall dare take on the motorway. Impossible to enjoy Y [care home] but it’s a huge relief to have Z [partner] reasonably well looked after by exceptionally nice overworked carers… Sorry such a dull letter but life here is fairly limited!

The VIP went to our old people’s home. No one seemed to recognise him, so he approached one of the more alert-looking old dears sitting around the walls. ‘Do you know who I am?’ he asked. ‘No, dear,’ replied the resident, ‘but don’t worry. Just ask at the desk: they’ll tell you.’

The Mayor’s visit

X has Alzheimer’s and, thankfully, is blissfully unaware of his wife’s death. He’s as happy as Larry in the nursing home, and isn’t, thank goodness, at all difficult to look after. He loves having visitors, especially when they bring him sweets and biscuits!

Life in this place becomes more and more of a horror story – about 90% of the inmates senile and the rest have given up interest in much other than their health and the food. Lucky old X jumped ship in good time to avoid all this… Awful as old age is I can escape into books, libraries and pubs – so far!

His memory is alas extremely short-term but it helps in that he no longer remembers long enough to worry.

I hate the story about your aunt – old age is terrible. Our turn is coming and I’m dreading it.

Herewith new address – a sort of old people’s home with extra nursing care. Rather a drear thing but the lesser of two evils as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cope with X’s problems here. We are there on a month’s trial so may well get chucked out as X is not good at cooperating with nurses.

Oh dear – Xmas – what a bore – I can imagine paper hats at the home. My bed-sit in the home is 12×12 so you can imagine I can’t take much other than a bed and 2 chairs!

I am around elderly people a lot and although most of them are interesting and wonderful I sometimes find myself thinking about old age. I have had some absolutely hysterical lunches with X, when I have visited her at the [care home]. It really makes you think when you see how people are treated in these homes and the amount they cost is horrendous.

Medicine

X is looking v. frail and tires so easily – he takes umpteen pills which seem to keep his ulcer and heart ticking over and his nice young doctor assures him he’s doing well.

I gathered from X that they did take some scrape or whatever and results from that were to come back later – haven’t heard about that yet. I guess the question that remains is why the results of the original blood test or whatever were so strange, if it wasn’t what they thought it was.

X [new baby] is an enthusiastic drinker and managed to nibble a couple of holes in me early on, which then apparently got thrush, so we had a jolly week or so there. Finally, they seem to be healing up thankfully and we’re building up toward full breast-feeding again. What would my La Leche friends say? Yesterday I went out to the hospital to have warm ozone blown on me which was very pleasant and may have been helping the final healing – what funny things they think of ! Better than being microwaved, which was also on offer!

On the boring subject of my indisposition last year, I had a brush with the dread disease (not bosom) and some major surgery by the most super surgeon who recently arrived here – lucky for me. He was 6ft 3ins, bearded and could be described as the gentle brown giant. Couldn’t have had anyone kinder, gentler or more skilful…

on steroids

He wanted me to start the steroids that day – which I duly did after dinner… I found I had no headache and felt fine – I can even open my mouth properly! BUT the other side effects sound almost worse than the complaint. Getting heavy over all trunk and weak in the muscles – arms and legs – and a round face. ‘Walk tall, sit on firm dining room type chair’ and so on.

I seem to remember she got allergies by the score when she was with you before and had to use an ioniser or some such to purify the air! I am sure they are splendid devices but I am always a bit of a cynic and want to see something for my money.

… there was a general gloom anyway as one Partner had died in the week and the husband of another had ‘pulled a muscle in his chest’ – he died suddenly the next day, heart attack of course.

 

Voluntary work 2

How is your adult literacy student? Last time you wrote you said you were rather concerned about her as she was in hospital cheerfully accepting all sorts of dreadful things without question. Mine is young and quite healthy but not interested. I think Father is the prime mover in what is supposed to be voluntary, and makes sure that poor X is here on the dot of 7.30 p.m. … The rest of the family is quite successful: only X seems to have missed out, and I think he feels he is the family failure. Father sees me as someone to bring him up to scratch. Altogether a bit of a pickle.

A nice friend sometimes asks me to go over and help with typing for a ‘tapes for the blind’ charity, and I enjoy going but feel an awful fraud as I type so slowly and badly on a manual machine now that very little gets done in an afternoon. But he is always very grateful so I suppose I get down to it better than some of regular volunteers. A good thing to keep in with, as I may want the service any time myself- but I have read most of the books they can offer I think!

I am enjoying doing the library trolley once a week at the new general hospital…. we do our best and giggle a lot and lose our way frequently as it is a most confusing hospital. The corridors have little coloured men on the walls to guide you the right way. Gynae is pale green and where the trolley is kept there are 5 little men showing, so one goes on until it is only one little man disappearing into a door and that is the ward!

a strange direction system for the book trolley
follow the little men

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