Well, it the night before the big day and I am in a hotel room with 2 snoring and farting gents, trying to be as quite as mouse. Must admit it been a long and short week.
Hard to say it but I am not my father-in-law biggest fan however then I could say the same for my parents for other reasons, I think its an age divide mostly and language (he has a very broad Ayrshire accent) 🙂 Unfortunately I have been baby sitting him for the last few days as Gordon has used most of his vacation/sick leave days this year. Nevertheless, I will admit to feeling sorry for Jim as we have been occupied with one other big event this week which has left him sitting in front of the the tv for most evenings, baseball at that! As he is not really interested in TV apart from the news, he has been been quite bored although he wont admit that, you can just see it in his body language. The sighing, the hands on his head, the slouching on the couch, not the normal Jim at all. At 86, he is also not willing to admit that all this travelling is bit hard on him physically.
There have been times this week when I could have happily have strangled him to be honest. Is that bad? I feel bad for feeling that way. After all he has come all this way to celebrate the wedding of his eldest grand-daughter and it is probably the only wedding he is going to be able to attend due to his age and distance. My kids in the USA and my brother-in-law’s kids who are even younger than ours, in Australia. So yes, I am bad! We had told him not to come as to be honest, we were scared stiff he would fall ill or worse (this is the US, even if you have good insurance) but once he has idea in his head, there is nothing that will stop him, age be dammed!
It has also made me think I really don’t want to get old. When I said I have been ‘babysitting’ I really meant that because its like having a toddler but with attitude because he still has the knowledge of his last 86 yrs. With a toddler, you can hope to change its attitude but you really can’t with an elderly person. Unfortunately I see traits like that in me and Gordon. God! we are going to be unbearable when we are older.
Yesterday for instance, I need to do some things for the wedding. I couldn’t leave him in the house so I had to take him. First stop, have my hair trimmed. Get to go out the car and he says, I’ll sit here and wait. But it might be a while. It OK, I will stay here and he just refused to get out. Fortunately, I was the next person to served but if I hadn’t I would have had to forego the trim as sitting in a car with 70 degree heat is not a good idea even if you are young but even worse when you are older. Next stop department store, I was going to get my face made up, not important but I thought ideal place as he could go at his pace to look for the jacket he said he wanted to get. Anyway, explained I might be a while and he says he will looks in the adjoining dept, jewellery and perfume for a gift, for his neighbour who always helps him out. Fine, that’s good. Anyway, I see him wandering around as the girl explains what products she is using but then I notice he is not around any more. At first I wasn’t concerned, just thought maybe he has gone up stairs to the men’s dept as I had told him where it was. The girl finished and as she got all the stuff together for me to buy, I went in search of him. Not in jewellery/perfume and not upstairs. Now I was concerned. Maybe he had wandered off into the shopping mall but that was unlikely. I put out a call for him over the PA system, nothing. As I thought to myself I would need to call Gordon and say I have lost your Dad, it occurred to me that maybe he had gone to the car. Sure, enough as I approached the exit, I saw him sitting on a bench outside. Not a concern on his face and big grin. I have been looking for you all over the store. Another big grin, Oh, I thought I would enjoy the sun. Did you get a gift? Not, I’ll do that next week, couldnae be bothered, plenty o’ time. I’ll do that with Gordon next week. GRRR. That is just 2 examples in the space of 3 hrs.
The other thing is the loneliness of old age, especially in these days of ever widening disconnection of family due to work and movement. Jim actually admitted to me that he was lonely this week. Jean, his wife and my mother-in-law died nearly 13 years ago. At that time we still live in Scotland and although we lived on the other side of Scotland we could visit him on a regular basis and he got to see the grand kids, his pride and joy. He had been able to see them grow up unlike his other pride and joys, the grand kids in Australia. How he wished he could see them more. Then we moved to the USA. He was left with his 2 sisters who lived in the same town. One sister he got on really well with but the other , he sometimes he did but most of the time not. That sister died about 2 yrs after we left Scotland so he was down to his beloved elder sister. He would do her shopping for her, drop in on her every day but the about 2 yrs ago, she became ill, had to go in a nursing home and last year she also died. He still has some friends in the town but nothing like the relationship he had with his wife or sisters. Of course, as he gets older, the more his circle is shrinking and with age, despite his efforts, the less he able to do. A keen walker, now a quarter of mile seems more like a mile but he is still remarkable fit for his age. Compare to my parents, he’s a marathon runner and he is 10 yrs older than my Dad. However, I think the biggest enemy now, is loneliness and not necessarily the usual infirmities of old age
Its all kind of depressing. Its not all bad though as he is loving all the sun and is out in the back yard every afternoon, getting that vital vitamin D he misses out on in Scotland where the weather has been particularly bad this year. Then there’s the food, for an older person, he is very adventurous and willing to try lots of new foods, despite his diminishing appetite (or so he likes to tell us as he finishes his meal) . So hopefully with the wedding tomorrow, seeing all his grand children (on our side at least) together, the sun and the good food, he will see this as an excellent adventure for an old codger as he calls himself.