family matters

I returned from Paris to find that my Grandpa’s health had taken a turn for the worse. We’ve all been taking it in turns to stay with my Gran and take her to visit him in the hospital.

Last night I got on the tube after work and went to the hospital, where I met my Gran, mum, uncle, aunt and cousin. We stayed for a couple of hours, then my mum and I brought Gran back to the house and we ate fish and chips in front of the TV together.

Gran’s memory isn’t what it used to be, and she needs someone to look after her, so we don’t yet know what will happen or where they will live in the long term. We don’t know how long Grandpa will be in hospital or what he will be capable of when he comes out. It looks as though this is probably the end of life as we all know it, and there will be challenges ahead for our family.

But for now, I’m hanging out with my Gran, in the house she and Grandpa have lived in for nearly 60 years, in the bedroom where my uncle, aunt and mum were all born. My mum and aunt shared this bedroom until my mum left home at 18. Their 14 years of bed-sharing, squabbling, fighting, clothes stealing and secret swapping still rise to the surface every time they are together. There is so much family history in this house. The photos on the walls tell the story of the last 60 years of our family, and when I walked in through the front door last night I was met with the same old, familiar smell I’ve associated with this house since childhood.

Some things never change. And other things do. As I tucked Gran in last night, she said, “I used to put you to bed when you were a little girl, and now you’re the one putting me to bed!”

Later we will go back to the hospital to see how Grandpa is doing today. He’s in a small, quiet ward with three other old men. Yesterday Grandpa had six visitors and none of the others had any, so we’ve decided to get cards and chocolates for them all.

Old age is such a cruel thing. I remember both my grandparents being so fit and healthy, but now they are so frail. But whatever happens to them, at least they are surrounded by family, which is more than some people have.

All this is making me feel strangely broody. It’s at times like this that I realise the true value of having a large family. It almost makes me want to go and have a baby, to start the next generation off and cheer everyone up a bit!

Anyway, if I’ve been a bit quiet lately, this is why. Hope you’re all having a lovely weekend.


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