Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Beth’s new home.


Some time ago I received a round robin from the daughter of a friend to say that Beth, her mother, was no longer able to cope on her own and was now settled in a local care home.  We were never close friends but enjoyed each other’s company and sympathised with each other’s creative efforts  We once took a play to Western Super mare which she had written; the male parts were played by two girl friends and I was the heroine - on crutches, as I had -  carelessly- actually broken a leg a week before the performance.  The audience assumed it was part of the play.


She had great parties whilst her husband was still alive and barbecues which were such fun, it didn’t matter that you couldn’t see your partner for smoke – indeed it added to the wild hilarity.  It was at one of these parties that she told me a secret which I kept for over 20 years until our old quartet of friends were having coffee with her one morning, and she told them.  They couldn’t believe I had known all that time and I realised I could keep secrets.


There have been disquieting items about care homes recently but the outside appearance was attractive, full of character and with a lovely view from the car park.  We were ushered into a very large room with a TV and seating arrangements at one end and a dining area at the other and there was Beth seated at a large round table and holding court with her daughter and grand-daughter.  Over the years we had heard so much about them (Beth once went to Italy with her grand-daughter) it was lovely to meet them in the flesh.  We offered to come back another time but they insisted we joined them.


We were greeted with a dazzling smile from Nell when Joy reminded her who we were, and there were warm hugs for both of us.  Most of the staff I saw came from warmer climes and emanated a relaxing calm and good nature.  The time passed pleasantly – there was much to talk about – experiences we had shared and exchanging past memories with Beth’s family.  I could see through the large windows a vast, lovely garden but Beth had a Zimmer frame near her chair so it was better that we stayed put.

Tea was served with wicked looking cakes but Joy and I felt we should abstain and enjoyed watching the grand-daughter –with no figure worries- tucking in.


Joy was interested to see at the far end of the room – it was out of my sight- an elderly gentleman being hoisted by a machine, from his wheeled bed to an arm-chair.  In her retirement she worked in a care home and now pays the price with a painful back – things have improved in some ways for carers.


When Beth’s family had to leave we decided to stay a little longer to avoid an exodus from Beth.  Soon we noticed that she was completely engrossed by something at the far end of the room.  She has always been an animal lover and soon we were approached by a tall rangy, woman with a brown and white, silky-haired cocker spaniel looking much younger than her 7 years.  From then on we were superfluous and there were doggy hugs and kisses.  Apparently she is a regular visitor and probably the most loved.


Soon it was time to bid an affectionate good bye to Beth – the whole afternoon had been cushioned with genuine warmth.  As we were being shown out I asked the meaning of a notice at the bottom of a stairway saying:

AUDREY STOP.

It seems Audrey used to have a bedroom on the first floor but then she became a bit unsafe on her feet so now has a ground floor room and the notice is to remind her as she approaches the stairs.


I really pray that MTL and I can end our days in our own home – large as it is, but at least we know there is a safe, happy place nearby.

18 comments:

The Unbearable Banishment said...

I never knew you tripped the lights! Have you mentioned that before? Crutches = method acting.

I'm never really comfortable visiting rest homes. I'd better get over it as I'm due for one any day now.

Pat said...

UB: way back - was a better director but I loved playing Beatty in Wesker's 'Roots'.
My favourite play which I directed twice was 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
So you won't be visiting me then?

rosneath said...

me and my family visit my father nearly every day between us so I have got very used to the processes and protocols of a care home.

Sadly my father's memory is such that he would not remember who visited him yesterday or even an hour ago but he still welcomes me with a bright smile and a 'hello, dear'.

Yesterday we played a couple of games of dominoes but it was me that chose the pieces to lay down for him. Having said that he did win one game!

The home is a cheerful place and nearly everyone there speaks Aberdeenshire Doric so you have to be on your toes to understand 'fits gaein on'.

It is a last-dtich solution though and far, far better to try and manage in your own home for yourself ... fingers crossed.

Pat said...

Rosneath: sadly I don't think Nell wouldremembereither. This is happening to so many of us now.
It's great that betwen you visit him often. I know how stressful it can be.
Fingers crossed indeed:)

About Last Weekend said...

Nice to meet you, came over from Macy, Jody here. I once kept a secret told to me by my great Aunt (she had a baby in a former life as an air hostess) which is incredibly because I'm always been the first to spill the beans...

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Like you, dear Pat, I not on;y hope I can end my days right here in my own home---but, I am planning on it!
It is good that there are some very nice places---we know there are many NOT so nice, too....It sounds like your dear old friend Beth is in a good one.
I LOVE the idea of the visiting Doggie...So GREAT! And so very important, too....!

Macy said...

What a relief to read about a good care home for a change! I have the (very small) consolation that at least I didn't have to move my mother into one.

kenju said...

I wish I could know that we would be able to live out our years at home, but I already know that won't be possible for us both. We do have several good places here to choose from, though.

Pat said...

Jody: hi and welcome. I'm glad you kept the secret also. It's good training:)

Naomi: you have good support and so do we so hopefully we'll manage.
I dread to think what that care home would cost.

Macy: and also a big consolation is that she didn't have the long drawn-out suffering.

Judy: we can only hope for the best and that we have the strength to bear whatever life throws at us.

Mage said...

That's so wonderful it is there for Beth and you two if you need it. The one near us had several hidden drawbacks. The clothes washing machines broke down almost every day, and seeing our friend with no sheets was ugly.

LL Cool Joe said...

My parents are getting very frail and live in a large house and I do worry what will happen when one of them dies, particularly my Dad because my mother couldn't cope with the house on her own. She'd hate to be put in a home or even downsize but I can't honestly see what else she'd be able to do. I worry about it. It's nice to know there are some nice Homes out there anyway.

Pat said...

Mage: that must have been so upsetting.

Joey: it is a problem for so many families. My grandmother came to live with us(at my invitation - aged 17). But times change and I would not want to live with any of our children - much as I love them.

Guyana-Gyal said...

This blog is my safe and happy place.

After being off-line for weeks [due to wonky wireless card], you can't imagine how good it is to be back online, to read your posts.

I'll catch up this evening, no work tomorrow.

Hello Pat and YTL. Hi everyone. It's good to see you all here.

Pat said...

GG: we always miss you and welcome your return. Are you back from Florida? My granddaughter goes there next month and her parents go with her, see her settled in the University of Florida and then have a holiday.
Lucky them:)

Guyana-Gyal said...

Pat, if your granddaughter gets lonely, she can have a second gran'ma, my mother would love to talk to her, maybe they can meet. I will email you.
I'm here, tutoring away, planning to start up a writing business, and to get my craft biz going again.

Eryl said...

Is Nell another name for Beth, or is that someone else, I got a bit confused?

It's sad when someone needs the kind of looking after that requires them to leave their own home. But reassuring that there are good places they can go. I reckon you and your TL will be fiesty enough to live out your days in your own house, and you have years yet to do so.

Pat said...

Eryl: you have been paying attention. My fault - just to protect privacy. Keep mum!
I hope you are right. We would rather spend money having people help us in our own home.

Pat said...

GG: thank you for that. I'll tell Alice the next time I speak to her.
Good luck with your exciting plans.