Monday, December 23, 2013


I got some takeaway Chinese tonight, and the kid in the restaurant taking orders was utterly adorable. He chatted to me sweetly in a voice that was a deep and cultured with a beautiful overtone of Chinese accent that spoke of bilingual ability. I hope that those who straddle two cultures these days get the benefits of both instead of feeling like they don't belong anywhere. He was sweet - I mentioned my son had just had a haircut and had cold ears, and he said 'Well, I feel him, I just got mine cut two days ago. But at least I can see, now, and eat without getting hair in my mouth.' He had a Santa hat on over his new hair cut and the happy cat had a big white Santa beard on. I admitted that I'd never actually had trouble avoiding hair in my mouth when eating if not out in the wind, and he hummed for a second and allowed that maybe Asian hair is different - it doesn't stay tucked behind your ear, for example, it's all about the silky. I felt proud of this young man, this new Irish generation. It's good.

I took my grandmother out on Sunday, with some trepidation. She likes to go for a cappucino and a shared dessert in her old haunt, where she knows everyone and knows where she is. I made the mistake of asking my father about her wheelchair, instead of her carer, and he gave me misadvice, which made the trip harder than it should have been. She gets utterly floored with exhaustion and the walker-seat he was sure would be enough is not made for using like a wheelchair, she slips off it and it doesn't steer. He doesn't bring her out either, but as is his wont, he presents his opinion with such insistent confidence that I always, always fall for it and do what he tells me. Ah well, now I know.

She informed me she was peeing herself when I got her out of the car - I assured her she had her pad on (well, it's an adult nappy, if we're being less tactful). Oh, no she didn't, she said, and I had visions of Little Britain... but she did, thankfully. 'That's the first time I've done that!' she said cheerfully. It isn't. Sometimes senility is a blessing, I suppose.

I gave her a Christmas card when I came in. 'Is it my birthday?' she asked. I told her it was Christmas in a few days, and she was delighted, 'that's the only card I've got'. The nurse laughed, and said her room was overflowing with them, which it was. My granny knows generations of people who all send her Christmas cards. Nearly ten decades worth of friends, relations and well wishers.

She said she didn't want a dessert, but I bought one warm chocolate brownie with cream. Her eyes fluttered in pleasure when she tasted it, tiny amounts trembling on the tip of her fork. I had to get her a smaller cup so she could hold her coffee, those giant boob-cups are not made for arthritic hands. But she enjoyed it so immensely - her nursing home is nice (though they keep losing her socks and complaining about their lack, despite aggressive labelling) but their coffee tastes like shite, in truth.

Danielle called nursing homes old people dumps. He told me an old lady used to come into the tattoo shop he worked in looking for lavender. They finally worked out she was lost from the nursing home, and had Alzheimers. They started getting some to give to her, and he started visiting her. He said by the time she died, she didn't know he wasn't part of her family. It's so difficult, this thing. Having aged, incontinent granmothers who need 24 hour care was for a time when women were at home all day, could clean and chat and cook around the old lady by the fire. You can give up your life to them. Should we? Maybe. I know my father is wracked with guilt for moving her in there, but he kept her at home a long time. He's in his early sixties now - he should get some time free of responsibility before he's aged himself.

There are two things from my week. Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future. 

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