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Once a man, twice a child


There is an old saying:“Once a Man, twice a Child” which has returned to me lately as I am the sole carer for my 90 year old mother. She moved in with us in 1998, a couple of years after my father died. As she live about 2 hours away and I had 3 young boys to take care of and a full-time job, it was not possible to give her the attention she wanted and the emotional blackmail took its toll.

The first couple of years with us seemed fine and she had a wonderful 80th surprise birthday party with all our friends making a fuss and showering her with gifts; then she decided that the boys were too much competition for my time.
The excuse was that she was “over 80 now” and needed more help.

Gradually the manipulation increased until I wanted to run far away – the garden kept me sane.
Now, at 90, my mother can/won’t do anything for herself without my supervision. It is like having a small child again; give her a small job that will keep her busy while I do the cleaning. “Don’t touch the fire” I tell her, "it’s hot and you will burn yourself. “Don’t forget your hat, it’s cold outside”. Remember all that?

Oh well, you say, it’s just repaying the care she gave you when you were small. Sadly, that is not the case and I frequently wonder at the difference in childcare these days when I spend all my waking hours fetching and carrying for the boys and worrying about their every move in what often seems like a very hazardous world. No more do children roam all day, banned from the house until tea-time!

Mind you, my mother has an afternoon nap now – remember that, when the children were small and you had a couple of hours to yourself before they woke up. Time to catch up on the housework and have a well-earned cup of tea – I am now enjoying that for the second time round; it is just as sweet especially if the weather is fine and I can have my cuppa in the garden!

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Bless you,enjoy your time in the garden.........

4 Apr, 2009


Hi Gardenmad. Been there. Done that. You have my sympathies. Guilt is a terrible feeling, along with "damned if you do and damned if you don't." I , too, was torn into pieces with my mother when it seemed that no-one could offer any help unless I shelled out approx. £1,000 a week, then Mum had a small stroke, but enough for people to sit up and take notice. She spent the last year of her life in a wonderful care home with wonderful staff, but still I look back and feel the guilt of when I "stole" a couple of hours to crash out my anger at the Gym, or had coffee and tears with a friend. Remember the good times, take time for yourself when you can and enjoy your garden. Plants mend us just by being there. :o)

5 Apr, 2009


Hi Gardenmad.
I can totally sympathise with you. It's very difficult to care for an old person.

My mother has been here with me for over 2 yrs now and she has practically no mobility and poor memory. Even long term memory is failing now. Very stubborn and won't try to think for herself - probably can't anyway. And on and on I could go.

It's enough to drive you mad isn't it. ? Do you have help to care for her. ? I'm going to try and get help now because I have my own health problems to deal with aswell, and my friend/partner also isn't well which makes it even more difficult.

Take care and think of yourself aswell. It isn't selfish although your mother might think so. Mine isn't too bad with the emotional blackmail actually so I think I'm lucky there. Try to be positive.

It makes you feel sad doesn't it ? Good job we have our gardens where we can escape to.
All the best, Hywel.

5 Apr, 2009


Gosh, yes, know what you mean. We have similar experiences here.
My Father died last July, he had been bedridden for at least two years and had Alzheimers. My Mother was incredible, she took great care of him but was virtually imprisoned in the house partly because she couldn't leave him and also he had been the driver. When he died she was able to focus on herself, have the cataract done in her good eye and rebuild a social life. However, a recent chest infection followed by sinusitis and the appearance of a wet patch with no obvious explanation has brought it home to her that she is 'on her own' now. Since Christmas she has stayed with me for three separate weeks. She is 86 and will not be able to live independently forever. What to do ?
My partner's mother died two and a half years ago, his Dad was in the early stages of Dementia then and was diagnosed with cancer last autumn. He is 87 and lives in sheltered accomodation but is it sheltered enough?
Thank goodness for the tranquillity of the garden.

5 Apr, 2009


Oh dear, life can be tough on us. I have been in a similar situation and, so it seems from here, we are not alone in this. I also worry about my 'old age' as I do not want to be a burden on my children, yet don't have the money for private care, should it be needed.
Some recent stressful situations have seen me tending my pots and walking in woods, there is indeed something very soothing about being out amongst nature.
Remember to look after yourself as well GM1.

5 Apr, 2009


We're all here for you when you need to 'let off steam'. Between the lot of us we should be able to muster some broad shoulders for you. Same as Potty, look after yourself !

5 Apr, 2009


I am really uplifted by your kindnesses. It is a help to know you are not alone. My garden is a great solace and I love to be out there with a cup of tea just pottering and listening to the birds. Last year my mother "helped" me by cutting down all the clematis that was about to flower - she thought the stems looked dry and dead??
When ever I see her coming into the garden I am reminded by that saying "Grows by the inch and killed by the foot!" Still she is 90 and can't help it. Must remember to keep taking the tablets!

5 Apr, 2009


I feel for you Gardenmad. I think I am just at the starting point with my parents. They are 83 and both are losing their sight. Mum is finding it difficult to walk and my Dad has had a few small strokes. I try to do as much as I can from here in Kamloops but I'm 120km away from where they live. It is hard to get over there more than once a week. Ah know what its like.
Any time you want to vent, I'm sure everyone here would be happy to listen. PM me if you would like. I get so much support from everyone on GOY, I would love to give some back.
Hugs ~ Gilli

7 Apr, 2009


Oh Gardenmad how i feel for you! My parents are still independent but i can see the day arriving when not, and not being well myself i feel guilty at not being able to 'do more', my mother is 82 and cares for my father who is 84 this year, she has arthritis in her knees but won't have them done as who will look after dad!! Dad has a few problems but they are both wonderful parents and are determined to take care of themselves as long as possible. At least they are still mentally fit which is something i thank God for everyday.
I do what i can when i can and they say i do enough but do i?
My garden is also my solace, what would we do without them?

11 Apr, 2009

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