Emptied of expectation. Relax. (tinyjo) wrote,
Emptied of expectation. Relax.
tinyjo

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The end of the line

The saddest thing I have done, probably this whole year, but certainly recently was visit my grandparents last weekend for the festive season. Nan and Grandad (my mums parents) are both very frail now. Both coming up on 90 they've had multiple heart attacks / strokes each. They're on enormous cocktails of drugs, about half of which are to counteract the side effects of other drugs. They're both very restricted in what they can eat and drink, and Nan also has a colostomy bag, which she hates. Neither of them are really strong enough to do anything more than just shuffling around the house the minimum necessary amount. They are visited by a nurse twice a week and the neighbours and my aunt do their shopping/library visits and so on. So basically all they do is sit in their chairs in the living room with their dogs and snooze, read a little or watch TV.

As you can imagine, this makes them both pretty depressed. They have both expressed a wish, repeated by my Nan this visit, to just go to sleep and not wake up. They're tired. They don't get anything out of continuing to be here and they feel ready to go. They're waiting to die. I really wish that I could give them that as a Christmas present; let them go. We could all gather and enjoy a lunch with all the family and then perhaps we'd stay and all chat while they slipped away, or perhaps they'd rather go with just each other for company. But they can't make that choice - they're not allowed. I can't give them what they want.

So, that being the case, I find visits to them terribly sad and very depressing. Grandad was in a lot of pain most of the time we were there, due, it turned out, to having taken slightly too much of one of his medicines. Nan was alternating between being worried about him and being cross that he was "spoiling the visit" to the extent that she burst into tears at one point. We chatted desultorily but it's very difficult to find topics; they don't get out to see very much and we didn't want to make them feel too frustrated by talking about all the exciting things we'd been up to. It's hard to see them like this, particularly because they don't look very different on the outside to how they were in their 70s when they were very active and used to bring my cousins to stay with us every year in the summer. We would have fun and go to the beach and all sorts. They would laugh with us and play, in a careful way, and let us walk their dog, who also used to come along. That's how I want to remember them, not like this.

Every year, for the last few years, Mum has said "I don't expect they'll be here next Christmas". When she first started saying it, she was upset, not wanting them to go, but we've got used to the idea, and they've got worse and now, we say it in tones somewhere between resigned and hopeful.
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