I have another friend who is in her early 80’s. I have known her since I was about 10 and completely coincidentally she lives 5/10 mins away from my new school. (My sister often jokes that I should open an old-people’s home, which I could fill with my friends!)
I love Ethel. She is sparky, good fun to be with and intellectually I enjoy her company. She is also extremely opinionated and bossy! The beginning of term has been busy at my new school. I had to make an early conscious decision that getting through work and trying to sleep were pretty much going to be my sole priorities for a while. Survival, especially of the physical kind.
Ethel made noises of support and understanding regarding this. She would say things like she knew I was busy, not to worry about seeing her… I had lots on etc… but of course, not only was this true, but I was also going to Thelma the caravan at weekends. I was feeling guilty and Ethel began to make noises of discontent.
As some of you know I’ve been in this position before. I also know that a ‘quick’ phone call or ‘popping in and out’ just isn’t good enough. If it’s quick, I get in to trouble for that, and if it’s not very frequent I get in to trouble for that!
I didn’t tell Ethel about the caravan. I want to get to a point where I don’t always feel I have to tell everyone everything. One of the reasons I like blogging is that I am in charge of what I do or do not say. Blogging feels like a precious gift in that respect.
I rang Ethel from school seeing if she wanted to come and meet me for lunch. She couldn’t make it. But I literally couldn’t offer another date in that moment, I just didn’t know when I was going to be able to see her for long enough. She asked about the weekend, but of course I wanted to go to Thelma. I said I would ring back with an alternative. She replied, “Don’t make it too far away, I might be dead by then- you haven’t got me around for much longer, so get a move on!”
She was partly joking but I also know she was serious. She however, would not have known that every time I see or speak to anyone at the moment, Im slightly anxiety-ridden that they are going to die on me and that will be my last dealing with them. I’ve been like this for years with my brother. Every time I leave his home I think I might never see him again. But I’ve noticed recently I’m doing that with most people. The reality is that at some point, it will be my last interaction with him or anyone, but I don’t find it very liberating to be panicked by imminent death. Ethel is elderly. But her saying that was difficult for me.
I feel like I am having to choose caravan or Ethel, caravan or Maud. The challenge is to choose me. And I find that so difficult, I can sense my heart rate increasing even writing this. I have to manage myself to know that if Ethel or Maud die while I’m at the caravan (or doing anything that doesn’t include them) I can manage the potential guilt. Thelma the caravan is bringing it’s issues!
Thanks for listening.