I’m guilty of posting a highlights reel a lot of the time when it comes to life with Jenson. Although I’ve discussed the reality of miscarriage, life with a newborn, colic and c-section recovery, most of the photos you see focus on the good times rather than the tantrums that occur seconds before or after the photo is taken. Today I want to talk about the reality behind some photos – but it’s not what you’d expect.
Last Sunday Luke’s parents took us to look at some Christmas lights in the grounds of a nursing home. It really was a Christmas wonderland and Jenson loved it. When we were about to head back to the car, one of the nurses asked us if we’d like to come in and look at more decorations. Some of the residents were sat watching TV together and I was worried that we were disturbing their evening but they loved watching Jenson run around and marvel at the tree and toys. The smiles on their faces made my eyes fill and they even sang us a Christmas carol.
It made my heart ache a bit to see Jenson make so many people smile and it was lovely to see them talk to him. Most of my previous experiences of nursing homes have been with two old and poorly family members going into homes and dying the next day. They didn’t want to go but weren’t able to be cared for in their own homes and it upset me to think that it wasn’t worth the stress of moving them.
Having met these lovely residents it reminded me that nursing homes are actually fantastic places which can give elderly people a new lease of life – and an alternative family. And it doesn’t take much to bring a bit of joy into someone’s life.
My gran turned 86 last week and that’s hard for me to fathom. I’m no spring chicken myself these days (yes, I’ve still got a bit of a ‘just turned 30’ complex) and can clearly remember her being in her 60s. Until about a year or two ago she never seemed to age to me. My grandad passed away a few years ago and she’s been living on her own since – independent and able to care for herself.
When I was little I told her that I’d look after her when she got old and when she reminded me a few years ago I told her that she’s not old yet; she’s more mobile than some people a decade or two younger. But, y’know, she’s 86! We’re popping in to see her on Christmas morning before she heads to my aunt’s for dinner and I’m going to make more of an effort to spend time with her in the new year.
In her birthday card I wrote a variation of the following:
“Thanks for the car boots and sandwiches, for taking me to Brownies, for letting me stay up and watch The Bill when you babysat and for always having biscuits in the house.”
I wanted her to know that I remember and appreciate everything that she’s done for me. My grandparents were always there when I was growing up and I have fond memories of going to car boots with my own little packed lunch and being able to pick out a new toy. And my gran always let me stay up late when she babysat. She would also take me to the theatre and we’d go out for the day together.
It’s easy, when you get older, to lose that connection with your grandparents because you rely on them less. But that doesn’t mean you love them any less. Seeing my gran’s face light up when I take Jenson round is one of the best feelings and one of my goals for the new year is to spend more quality time with her.
I watched Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds at Christmas earlier this week. The original mini-series completely passed me by and when I spotted the ad for the Christmas special on Twitter I knew I’d have to watch it – with tears in my eyes.
Please look after your loved this Christmas – and new year. If you have an elderly neighbour who’s on their own, check in on them, or even invite them around for dinner, like a friend of mine has. No-one should be alone at Christmas.