Yesterday, I took my 3 children to go and visit my nan in her Nursing Home.
Everything about it made me want to cram as much living into my life as I can. It is a lovely setting and the staff are caring and great, but all I could think was that it was a waiting room for death.
There was a flower arranging workshop taking place, with 7 residents creating beautiful displays in oasis, using roses, carnations and other beautiful blooms. they were finished off with chicks and butterfly decorations. I went over and admired them all, and then they took their creations off to their rooms. The ladies, and one man, who took part, were happy and very alive, and are obviously enjoying their home and most likely made the choice to be there themselves.
The rest of the room however, was filled with pensioners who were mostly staring into space, or sleeping. My nan has Alzheimers and I suspect quite a few others do too. One lady was hugging a large teddy bear the whole time we were there. I looked at my eldest daughter and said to her, “Don’t let me be the one in the corner with the teddy bear please….Take me to Switzerland and I’ll drink the death drink at Dignitas.” (or maybe there’ll be a wider choice of places if I get to that point!) Or maybe I’ll be hit by a bus at some point, saving the dilemma, which could be convenient.
My children do not owe me anything though, and I would never expect them to look after me when I become like a baby again. It’s lucky that I don’t have any expectations because many people who do, will find themselves put into homes by their children. Maybe because they are too busy living a full life to be bothered to look after an elderly parent. Maybe they have other commitments. I do not judge.
What I find interesting though, is when the son or daughter says they can’t care for an elderly parent because they have to work. I find it interesting because it costs around £1000 per week to stay in a home. Surely most jobs do not earn this amount of money, and it would be better financially for a sibling to take this amount and do the caring, even if they pay for a carer to share the load at home. Who knows. If there’s more than one sibling they could share the care, and the money, plus, they are spending time with a loved one whose days are numbered. I find it amusing when an old person dies and everyone cries and acts sad when they didn’t really have much time for that person whilst they were living (or dying) their last years on this earth.
These elderly people have most likely owned a home that has had to be sold to pay for their care. A home that was bought so that their children would inherit from them. Money that could have been spent whilst the parent was able bodied and of sane mind, on experiences, holidays, or anything they desired. They chose not to do this though, purely so that their children would benefit. There is usually no other reason. Instead, it will be spent on their basic needs when they don’t really know what is going on. They probably wanted their offspring to benefit from their life savings, not strangers. It is what it is though, and is one of the reasons that I live how I do. In the moment, doing everything I can to experience life to the full.
I do not sacrifice my happiness for my children. I would rather look after myself physically and emotionally so that I am a great example of how to live happily, than to slave away, doing a job that makes me not very nice to my nearest and dearest, just so that my children can go to a private school or have the best of everything that money can buy, in the hope that they will be set up for life. I’ve seen this happen, and some children are pushed down these lucrative roads and their souls are destroyed. They end up depressed and maybe suicidal because of the expectations their parents, and society have for them. Our children need to be encouraged to do what makes them happy. We all have a gift, it must be used or a truly happy life will be beyond reach, but I digress (as usual!).
I took my children to the Maldives last year, I wanted to show them this magical place, and to do it whilst I could run around and play with them. I noticed a few people there who were obviously dying. They were there because they knew they didn’t have much time left. It had been on their bucket list. I felt happy that they were experiencing the beauty around them, but also sad that they couldn’t run into the sea or do all the extra things that they probably could have done a few years before, when they were in good health.
My son said a few weeks ago that he wants to go to Hawaii, then we watched the film Moana which is set on an island in the Pacific and, 2 days ago, I had my monthly flowers delivered and the theme was “Aloha” and featured Hawaiian flowers. This synchronicity was all I needed. As we walked out of the nursing home, I turned to the children and said, “Shall we book to go to Hawaii?”
We all need to visit a nursing home. We need a wake up call sometimes and will definitely get it in there. Or maybe not, but for me, seeing the contrast between my children, who are so full of life, and these human beings, whose quality of life is deteriorating rapidly, was very powerful. I am not planning to own a house, and I want to give my children the tools for a happy life, not an easy one. I will definitely not be sitting in a home waiting to die. I wondered whilst I looked around, did all these people do what they wanted to do in their lives? Did they conform to what they ‘should’ do instead, abandoning their dreams? Did they have any regrets? The thing is, any conversations would be very limited. One man was telling a carer that he had the wrong shoe on and she was telling him that it was the right shoe, that both feet matched.
When we walked down the corridors we saw residents in their rooms, just sleeping or staring at TVs. They will never leave this place. The view is wonderful and there are bunnies hopping around the grounds, but when I mentioned this to my nan once she said “yes, there are lots of monkeys in the trees..”
I was trying to talk to my nan about the flower arranging and she told me that “They are learning to take chickens out of the oven..” When she asks us a question though, it is always to do with love and happiness…”Are you happy?” or “Do you have a boyfriend?” This confirms to me that these are the most important things in life. Not having a boyfriend, but being happy and having various forms of love in our lives.
Today I will be looking at holidays to Hawaii, and thanking my lucky stars that I am healthy and can still do anything I put my mind to. And I will.