Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dear Diary - A Care Giver in England

22nd June, 2011.

For two days last week Molly was in extremely good humor.
At first I had to tip-toe around her, just in case I caught the sharp edge of her tongue.
Then I realised that she was not going to be waspish because her daughter who lives in the main house on the farm was back home for the weekend from business in London.
Conclusion made…Molly did not like to be apart from her lovely daughter.
So, when feeling lonesome, Molly makes game of the latest Carer!
In fact she reminds me of a wiry Siamese cat, highly pedigreed and spoilt, but happy to purr if everything is comfortable and running her way.
For someone who is about to turn 90 years old, Molly is as bright as a button, sharp as a blade, and has a tongue that is razor sharp when she feels the “help” must be brought down a peg or two!
I have resorted to visualising myself walking along a long stretch of beach with the waves crashing down on it when I am getting a tongue-lashing.
It’s calming…
Thank goodness Wimbledon tennis is on telly this week.
I have a slight respite from her badgering. She loves tennis and understands the game well.
There is a fantastic all weather tennis court in the gardens here and it is often used by the family and their friends.
By yesterday evening Molly was becoming a shrew, - her daughter is away again, but thankfully her son is coming to visit her for tea this afternoon, so all is not lost and I am able to skulk in the background getting on with my various chores.
Believe me, Caring is not a breeze, I am up and dressed every day by 7am and if I am fortunate, get to bed at midnight.
Apparently I am meant to have a breather from 2 to 4 pm, but it hardly pans out that way and I find an hour, stretched out on my back and looking at the back of my eyelids is as lucky as I’ll get in an afternoon.
(And I thought being an Associate Auctioneer working on Cruise Liners was relentless work, at least it was more glamorous and I got to sail the high seas seeing exotic places around the world!)
No use reflecting, I am presently in the here and now and certainly not sipping good Dutch East Indian coffee at a side-walk bistro in Amsterdam, or some such location.
In retrospect, I guess a Care Giver must consider that they are coming into a person’s home and usually that person is close to a century old.
They have been around a while and seen a thing or two along the way.
I maintain the most important thing is to treat a Client with as much dignity as possible, understand the environment and surrounds in which you find them is their domain, and that often, (that’s if they are lucid, of course) they somehow resent having some stranger doing things for them that they can no longer do for themselves.
However, I draw the line when I have just scrubbed someone’s old bottom, cleaned poop up off the floor or fixed a blocked toilet and am later spoken to like a peasant over something absolutely absurd.
It simply does not work for me.
So I have learned very quickly to hold my council for a few days, and once I have understood just where the person I am looking after is coming from shall firmly draw the line.
This I did with Molly yesterday.
I was in the middle of ironing a pile of sheets and she and her walker trundled into the kitchen.
Head moving from side to side, eyes darting around like ferrets, Molly was looking for trouble.
“Oh-oh,” I thought to myself, “something’s about to go down and it’s now,”
Grandly she addressed me in her beautifully modulated English:
“Well you don’t look as if you are busy, go and dead head the roses,” with a belated afterthought, she added, “Please.”
I was tired. I had had enough of being the unpaid gardener for the past eleven days and besides, I was ironing and I intensely dislike ironing.
“No” was my monocyclic retort.
The Gates of Wrath opened before me.
Molly was not being obeyed…
Switching the iron off at the wall, I took a deep breath and turned around to face Molly.
Very calmly in a low voice I said, “Molly, I have had enough of your bullying.
From now on, every time you are unreasonable, I am going to go for a walk so you can reflect on how nasty and unkind you are.”
With that said, I left the room and the house at a fast pace, partly out of relief that I had finally said what was on my mind, - but also thinking,
“I’d better get out of here before she tries to have the last word whilst scuttling after me like a water-beetle on her walker!”
When I got back she had decided to change tact and went for me about the iron,
“Iron’s should always be flat when you are ironing, not made to stand on their end!”
Looking at the iron I queried, “How so Molly?”
“It’s bad to leave them like that and also I watched you, you put too much water in it. This should only be done about once a month!”
Clearly dear Molly hasn’t a clue about steam irons.
In fact I should think has not done much ironing in her privileged life.
I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing and I just could not stop.
“Enough Susan, this is serious!”
I laughed even more and I simply could not stop.
The more she bellowed about the iron the more I giggled until the tears were streaming down my face…
I couldn’t look at the iron any longer and put it away.
By then Molly had high tailed it out of the kitchen and back into her favourite sitting-room chair.
I heard the telly being switched on and Nadal grunting on Wimbledon centre court.
Peace, well for a short while anyway…

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