“By the way, I’ve been meaning to have a word with you, Mum,”

 …..said my son as we travelled down to Birmingham together on the train,
He had asked me to meet him on this evening train and spend the weekend with them, but I knew something was on his mind.

 “Oh dear” I think this is going to be one of “those” conversations”

  With a sinking feeling in my stomach I smiled and said “Oh yes love, what about?”

“Well I know you said that you want to enjoy life while you can, before you get too old and too ga-ga to enjoy it ….and you are living for today and are not bothered if you need to go into a care home, because by that time you will be too ga-ga to care….WELL,  I just want you to know that me and Sunshine (his sister) WILL be bothered”

I am puzzled, ……and when had I (probably flippantly )said this?
  What does he mean?  does he think I am already getting ga-ga?  I know I have been a bit forgetful lately, but I am not THAT bad!
 Does he mean he thinks I am being selfish, taking that attitude because, he and his sister don’t like the thought of me going into a less than 5 star care home?
   Or did he mean that he didn’t want me to spend all my money before that time came? because the burden  might fall on him?
Or did he mean that he and his sister didn’t want me to go into a care home at all?
I stare at him and thought about what he said…..  and I don’t like the thought..  The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach suddenly becames a large stone. DOES he think I am already showing signs of do-lallyness?
I am not sure what you mean” I said.
“I just want you to consider that  what you do,  will have an impact on me and Sunshine”

Even more puzzled……  thinks…”Yes, darling,  it’s going to have a big impact on ME too!”
I say..”Well, would you not be happy in the knowledge I had enjoyed my later years in the way I wanted and I am not bothered about where I go when I am too ga-ga to care?”

Thinks.. I am only 62!..and in my head I am 32! why are we having this conversation?

I continue  “Well nobody knows what will happen,
  hopefully I will just die peacefully in my sleep in another 30 years, having been completely compus mentus till that day and continued riding my bike.

thinks……”all he women  my family have all gone ga-ga in thier 80’s”

I shift the conversation slightly to rail against  the social injustice of British people like my generation. Baby Boomers, children of the Welfare Sate, who happily paid their taxes and national insurance to look after other  people, in the expectation that when WE got old, we would be looked after ,  because that was what we were led to believe.. That was how the system worked.
Now of course, Capitalism is collapsing, the county is in debt, the older population has exploded, thanks to the good healthcare we receive and they just cannot afford to keep looking after all the older people who need care.  So people are forced to sell their properties to pay for it all.  
The Coilition government have suggested various schemes to get around this problem, including a one off payment of £30, 000 at age 65 and  are supposed to be introducing legislation to cap the contributions that people are force to make, but publicity this week shows they are dragging their heels.
I really, really resent the fact that, even though I have worked hard all my life, paid taxes and national insurance, never claimed any benefits,   I eventually may have to sell my home to pay for care, when I have paid a lot into the system and will get nothing back.  I would rather sell my house, and spend the money while I can enjoy it  rather than it go to the government.

Well anyway” I say brusquely “I have written it all down and it is in a large envelope in the wardrobe”.

Sensing my irritation, he changes the subject and we continue the journey to his house where I am visiting for the weekend and we go to bed.

But the conversation has disturbed me. It is one thing putting your will and funeral arrangements down on paper, but to actually discuss it, is a different matter, it becomes a possibility, the reality becomes nearer and I toss and turn a bit during the night.

The next morning I ask my daughter in law, what this is all about.  It turns out that three of his friends have lost a parent recently and the friends had never had a conversation with the parent about what they wanted, which had upset the friends.

So we had “the discussion I told them how I felt about everything  I felt from euthanasia to suicide to inheritance,  to the cost of funerals ( as cheap as possible!) and I also pondered the question of care homes.

If I am really honest, I don’t want to go into any home.( does anybody?)  My hope would be that one of them would take me in and look after me.  But if course I know only too well how difficult that can be, how that can affect family relationships, marriages, jobs and children.  How siblings can disagree about care for parents and how the burden often falls on one or the other. So of course I don’t want to be a burden.

On the train back home I pondered why this had upset me so much and realised that it brought back all the pain of having my mum needing care.

When I was their age, I never thought I would be able to care for my mum, but when the time came I just knew that I had to take my mum into my home and care for her in her last  years.

I am not making any judgements about anybody else, everybody is different  and people have to do what is right for them.

But also it made me aware of my own mortality and reminded me that one day, somebody else will be making decisions about my life!

Meanwhile……life is for living.  three more sleeps till I go to the US.

Bring it on.

Love Denise.

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  1. Denise, I couldn't write a comment about this post after I read it yesterday because I couldn't believe that your kids are already talking about "what to do with Mum". My first thought was, "Denise is much too young" and then I realized that we had similar discussions with my mom in her 60s because my father died in his late 50s. I guess that it's always best to have "the discussion". At least you've got it out of the way and can get on with enjoying your life! Safe travels to Boston!PS. I love that photo of you, too!


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