Whilst home during last summer, I didn't get to see my grandmother. She happened to be ill on the day that we'd organised to go down there and so we postponed at the last minute. Therefore, one of the priorities - from my point of view - was to go and see her.
My grandmother is now 89. She's been a widow for almost 10 years; my grandpa died in 2000 (I can't believe that it has already been that long). Generally she has been compos mentis but in the last couple of years she has started to become more forgetful. It has now got to the stage where her short-term memory is appalling; her recollection of events further back in time is getting weaker and weaker.
Fran (Mum's sister) kindly acted as hostess, so Nataly, Mum, Dad and I went down. David and Roger (Mum's brothers) also came. David is now a well-established part of the local community since his retirement a few years ago and is enjoying a different approach to life. Roger has come back into the family after almost 20 years with minimal contact. He's been running pubs in London, Essex and elsewhere in the south of England; trained as a chef at the Grosvenor; been married twice; and doubtlessly other things that we don't know about. He's now very ill and has a terminal condition, which means that he cannot work. He is therefore living with my grandmother again, which is improving the quality of her life enormously as it means that she has someone there to help with cooking, cleaning etc. It is also confusing for her as she can't work out 'who are all these Rogers?' and she thinks that he's Grandpa from time to time. This is also difficult as the older Roger has become, the more he looks like Grandpa.
One of the reasons that the family as a whole hasn't seen much of Granny is that some days she just doesn't get up. Roger said that you just have to tell her - she didn't want to come out to see us but he had to tell her she was coming, and she was fine about it once she was there. It's almost like having a child again.
It was lovely to see Granny when we walked into Fran's house. Fair enough, she didn't remember who I was five minute later, but she's still my Granny. She wasn't quite sure who Nataly was and didn't remember being at our wedding, so we had to walk her through it - to no avail. What do you do? It's just part of what happens to some people when they get old. Auntie Mary was the same and ironically, Granny always used to tell her off about it - she retired and didn't have a focus. Granny had Grandpa and a daily routine - he insisted on keeping to a routine. Once he died, she found it hard.