I had good intentions. You know when an event is coming up and for once you’re organised? Each day leading to the event is planned? That’s how I was with Christmas this year. I knew what I had to do, I had most of what I had to do done.
But then I got a phone call on Monday morning.
It changed all that. While Christmas still happened (like such events have a habit of doing regardless of what we have happening in our lives), Christmas changed. The days before, and the days afterward changed. I think I’ll remember this Christmas.
I had already come to the conclusion that Christmas this year would be about family. For once, I was actually looking forward to the day. I don’t usually. I’m one of those people who would rather ignore the day. Usually I grudgingly do the things expected of me, but mostly detest this celebration… for a number of reasons. This year was going to be different. Somehow my mindset had changed just a little.
Early Monday morning I got a phone call to say my almost-87-year-old mother was not well. I wasn’t yet dressed but threw on the nearest clean clothes I could find, and drove over to Mum’s flat in a nearby retirement village. And there began a search to get help for her.
To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to do to begin with. We are all fairly new to all this. Thankfully I was able to get some quick advice and then acted on it. Many phone calls later, Mum had an emergency appointment with her doctor in a few hours. That followed with more appointments.
I can tell you that a few days before Christmas is not the time to seek help from health professionals. Everyone wants to see them, but luckily those involved made room for mum. Unfortunately the problem wasn’t solved and the conclusion was eventually that family would have to provide the care Mum needed. That basically meant me!
What followed was three nights on Mum’s couch. The most uncomfortable sofa bed I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to sleep on. I have now spent seven days with Mum, although we agreed that she didn’t need me so much at night and that because my back was now extremely sore, I have been home at night. I only live five minutes away and I can easily jump (if my body lets me) in the car and go back (as I have had to do).
Nearly a week on, Mum is doing better although is not herself. I wonder whether I will ever see that ‘herself‘ again. I don’t know. That’s the nature of the illness.
I will continue to spend days with my mother, and then on Wednesday she will move to a rest home, providing residential care for the elderly. This is something that was already planned. This past week we tried unsuccessfully to move Mum early. It didn’t happen because… well, I won’t get into that here.
That is the short story. The purpose of sharing it here, as well as to simply write out for myself what happened, is that it very much fit with what I had already been thinking of for Christmas, and what I had intended to post about on Monday. Obviously it didn’t happen.
I am sharing this image firstly because I love Penny’s blog. Somehow, without my involvement (obviously… it is not my blog) she illustrates what I am thinking. Amazing! I also love images of giraffes. I’m sure I would love giraffes themselves but there are not many in this country.
For some weeks I have been thinking about what is important for me at Christmas. My thoughts came from a disappointment that I simply wasn’t going to be able to give my nieces and nephews gifts this Christmas. I had no money as a result of not only a very small income but also because of some recent very large and unexpected bills.
I started (a few weeks back) to feel pretty down about this, not to mention embarrassed. I had to shift my thinking somehow, and I started to do that with Penny’s statement in this image. Remember what is important.
What is important is that I am alive and can be with at least some of my family. The niece and two nephews who I would be with were really what mattered. But that doesn’t exclude the other family members I would also be with.
When my mother got sick this week, it gave me a new appreciation of the fact that I still have her, and that regardless of her illness she would (and was) with us on Christmas Day. Who knows how long she will be with us? I had to take her presence on Thursday as another thing that mattered.
It’s been a long, hard week. And it’s not over yet. My fibromyalgia is screaming, as are side effects of a new medication which made it almost, but not quite, impossible to get down on the floor and do jigsaws with four-year-old niece L. Getting up afterwards was even harder. But it was fun, and that was what was important.
Hey, life goes on and I have a new appreciation of what’s important for me. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t given gifts. I suspect the teenagers might have objected a little, but they didn’t to me. We just had fun together, with their Grandma quietly looking on. I wonder what she was thinking. I know I’ll never know
But that’s what’s important to me right now.
“My dear young cousin, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the eons, it’s that you can’t give up on your family, no matter how tempting they make it.”
― Rick Riordan