WE put Granny in a home, but she escaped.
It never occurred to us that she could, much less that she would. All the stuff you read; all the advice people chuck at you about whether to do the unthinkable and coax Granny into a home, always ends right there – with granny and your conscience comfortably settled.
You agonise for months; you argue, possibly; you perform a few mental gymnastics; and you do it. And in no time the old lady becomes a place you visit now and then, like Magnetic Island but much less attractive and not so… petite.
You don’t expect a phone call saying she’s escaped.
It’s then that you realise you have a lot less control than you thought.
I should have realised it would be like this with anyone related to my wife.
She just went home (Granny, not my wife).
“I didn’t like it,” she said. “I was miserable.”
“But you’re miserable at home.”
“Yes, but if I have to be miserable I’d rather do it where I know how to turn on the television and where people don’t pat you on the head with their voices.”
“But you keep falling over, and setting fire to the toast.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
And she’s right, dammit. I should have realised she would be, being related to my wife.
I mean, no one can prevent her falling over from time to time (unless they don’t her stand up again, of course).
And the only way to stop her trying to set fire to the house is to stop her cooking things. She’d be utterly and completely safe, come to think of it, if we just tied her up, or had her shot.
But what she wants is to make her own mistakes in her own way — and in her own home — without people fussing.
“But you could die!” we protested.
“Oh, and you know a way to prevent that, do you?”
“But it might be… well, painful.”
“Yes, I suspect it always is.”
So she’s back home. Her home, that is, not mine. I’m not entirely crazy.
And she’s got the cat back. The cat’s older than she is, in cat years. Don’t ask why we didn’t get rid of it. All it does it sleep and leave turds behind the armchairs, but when it came down to the wire we couldn’t even take the cat to the vet, let alone Granny.
I suppose we could go to the welfare people and tell them she’s not the full quid, except I don’t believe that myself. All she’s doing is refusing us the opportunity to salve our consciences as painlessly as possible.
She says we don’t have to bother visiting; but of course we do have to bother. It’s not exactly Magnetic Island, either, unless you know of a place on Magnetic Island where it smells of cat turds and burnt toast.
And I know what you’re thinking; but I did. I very, very tentatively suggested that maybe, if there really was no other option, and so long as she promised to die quite quickly, she could come and live with us.
“Are you mad?” she retorted. “I’d sooner go to a home.”
I should have known she’d say that, being related to my wife.