I have just had two different days. The special ingredient was I got to mind my grandchildren over night on Monday and Tuesday night from 3pm – 7am so I had to concertina everything else up and keep that time free. With three children aged 11, 6 and 5, I need to make sure I can concentrate on them 100%. Tori is good and does oversee the two little boys but she has just come from a tiring day at school so I make sure it is me that does the real work and let her rest awhile.
It was the grief counselling appointment on Monday my fourth appointment and as I am now ready for it it always surprises me that what we talk about is nothing I planned. This week's big issue was the death of my father. In December 1999 I had Mum and Dad with me, put them in for some respite so I could get through Christmas. Dad had a fall in the shower at the nursing home/hostel and shattered his left side and died five days later. I did the wrong thing and took Mum back home thinking I could comfort her. I did the funeral planning, arranged the catering, even read the eulogy. It was traumatic for all of us and I never had time to mourn Dad's death as I still had Mum and Ray to look after. In a way that is adding to my grieving now so I am glad we are working on that at last.
I think the counselling is removing some of the roadblocks I had erected in my life, I had erected barriers for good reason, it is one of the ways caregivers cope, to say “yes” to this, and “no” to that, to limit what has to be done rather than do everything the world expects us to do. Now as a widow I need to dismantle some of those barriers and return to where I would have been if none of this had happened. I am a single person now and I need to act the way a single person acts. Or as close as I can get to being that way.
Back to the grandchilden. On Monday they were dropped off here and we had an outside afternoon. I have a trampoline and a swing out in the backyard, a sandpit on the front verandah and various ride-on toys so there is plenty to do. The little ones love to water the plants too so little watering cans make good water play. Tori has an iPod and bops to her own music, sits out in the sun and enjoys being here, The little boys are fascinated with the building which will become the house next door which is now to the framing stage. At least some of us enjoyed the banging, sawing and other noises made by tradesmen coming from the site.
After dinner it is a children's video or DVD. Always a bit of a fight about that and threats about straight to bed before they decide on one. Then hopefully after that it is bath and bed. I let Tori watch another DVD if there is time as she is so much older. Of course sometimes the little boys think that is very unfair! It is probably more of a weekend style bedtime but I just hope they cope with school the next day. I know: "Naughty Granma."
My DIL had to work a couple of afternoon shifts as they were switching calls to another centre and taking down the computer where she works. This spoilt her babysitting arrangements and that is why I had the children. It was good for me as it got me out of my routine and showed me a wider world as kids always do open our eyes to what we take for granted and what is important in their lives. And I am glad to be able to help her from time to time.
Yesterday I had the church Friendship Club in the morning, I am a pick-up person, only one passenger this week and then it was coffee and refreshments in a park overlooking the lake at The Entrance. On a very nice autumn day it was lovely to sit outside and there was good conversation and relaxing company. These are all people in their 80s and 90s, only a couple of them still driving and up to 12 of us and a good two hours of chat and companionship. I was glad when I was asked to join the group as one of the drivers as it is an extension of my nurturing role.
That afternoon I drove over and picked up my grandchildren, then stopped at a local Lagoon and silly me! told them not to go in too deep! Of course I finished off stripping the little boys down to their underwear and they splashed happily and were then joined by another little boy who goes to their school also over for a sleepover with his grandmother and of course then I stayed a couple of hours. It was a good afternoon and I guess tired us all out as they were reluctant to get out of bed this morning.
I have been better at sleeping the last couple of weeks and I am pleased about that. It is almost six months since Ray died, four since Mum died and I think I am getting back to my real self. I am starting to make life decisions again. Actually forced to as my refrigerator is rattling, one of the light fittings is blinking on and off and the track on my garage door has disintegrated. Lots of expenses and lots of decisions to make. I will handle it, I have to now. The grief counsellor said I need to look at all of this as something I am doing for myself. I think that is good advice.
I was sick most of last week, my old complaint bronchitis come early this year. Probably getting wet and cold the week before at the Robertson Show did not help. I didn't go to the doctor, just used a stockpile of over the counter medication that will fix the milder cases. Leave the antibiotics for winter when I really need them. If I can do it without all the better.
The grief counsellor asked me to start looking to the future now. I haven't been able to do much of that while I was a caregiver but I need to now. It is hard to see what I could do that will bring my life back into balance but I will give it some thought. I am going to have to change and accept my single status. It is my “new normal”.
I had a phone call from my daughter tonight. My grandson finally got his cast off (after nine weeks!) and the wire pin in his arm removed. Took two trips to the hospital to do it so exhausting for the family. Shirley said she took the day off today and even had an afternoon nap! She works so hard and I was glad she took time to relax. I need to learn how to do that too now.