My husband has been away since Thursday, with his mother and sisters, as his father is very ill in hospital. He keeps calling and texting to ask how me and Joshua are and I know that he will feel torn between his family responsibilities. I have tried to reassure him that we are doing OK and that his mum needs him more than we do, at the moment. Joshua keeps mentioning ‘Daddy’ and I explain that he is with Nanna and Grandad, but he does not understand the concept of illness or the prospect of death.
Almost a year and a half ago my father died, in the same hospital where Grandad is now, and so I have been reflecting a lot on that time. My husband looked after Joshua, with Yorkshire Grandma’s assistance, for about three weeks, as I slept beside Dad’s bed, with my sister on lounger cushions on the floor on the other side and my mum, in a luxury camp bed at the end of his bed. We became part of the scenery on the dementia ward of that hospital and I think the Doctor regretted his invitation for us to stay ‘as long as we needed to’ – nobody expected Dad to last as long as he did. Every morning we would have a little joke with the doctor that we were still in residence, but it was very precious family time and I would not have had it any other way.
Now it is my husband’s turn to support his family, and I am encouraging him to stay as long as he wants or needs to, there is no pressure for him to return to us. Unfortunately from first hand experience, I understand some of the emotions that he will be going through. Family always comes first in my book and his ‘original family’ , his parents, must take priority over us at present.Eventually we swap from being the cared for, although mums never stop worrying about their grown up children I am sure, and we step up to become the ones who care for our parents and we put their needs and happiness above our own.
Very sad, but this is the natural order of things and we are getting to that age now when these crises are going to arise in our lives. And then of course, my mind also reflects painfully on the reality of what will happen to Joshua when we die? He will not be capable of sitting at our bedsides or taking care of the widowed parent. Who will take care of Joshua when we have gone? What will become of him? But that is hopefully too far into the future to worry about today, but it is something that we need to address in our wills and something that thus far, has been too painful to face.
But for now, one issue at a time….