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Harnessing Percy. Saturday October 8, 2016

No, I have not taken to driving a horse and trap round our French town. Although it would be fun. 'Percy' is family-speak for 'perseverance', almost another commandment for us.

Last Thursday's quote was from Gandhi 'Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will'. Leah's same day blog 'How much is too much?' is also horribly apt for my current situation - looking after my husband who has dementia.

Everything that can go wrong has done so, workmen, the house sale, grief and finances.

The grief was for a co-grandmother, who died yesterday of a massive cancer on her liver – she had not been well for years. I told my other half – it didn't make much of an impression – feelings die with Alzheimer's.

Then the radio was banging on about the working class and deprivation. My husband asked if we had suffered it? I clung to my reason. My early life was rough – his with no pot-holes.

He had a good middle-class upbringing and education. No war suffering even, his father too old, he too young, his brother in a reserved occupation. We've never suffered lack of food, roof, comfort, travel or entertainment.

My difficulty now is due to a sudden crescendo of problems. My husband is cosetted and looked after from morning to night. Illogically, as I listened to a welter of world sufferings, I resented his acceptance of all this.

So, I have to interpret Gandhi by using my brain. If I worry I'll get stressed; dangerous, so I look for rest and peace during the day. Insolubles go on to the back burner.

Gandhi's 'indomitable' will I am reckoned by friends and family to have already. But if not controlled it will be a stubborn and bloody-minded will. Nobody can do everything.

Listing priorities is vital. Avoiding confrontation wherever possible (not let a situation get out of hand, or get too tired to cope with it). So, one step/day at a time – trite, a cliché – but well worth studying.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Duma Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 1:26am

Hi Leah.

Self discipline.

Mithril will, worn and growing sleek, like the skeleton of my mind.

Taking the path of MAXIMAL resistance, just to see what they really don't want me to learn.

A life long pursuit. Impossible is so banal a word.

Take care.

Duma, out.

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 8:53am

Don't understand Mithril, Duma?

Duma Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 11:46am

Sorry, being a Tolkein nerd, there. The highest of steels. Also what I call steel made from Fe60 isotope. I was thinking of the latter.

Duma Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 11:48am

Sorry Gardener, thought it was Leah's blog. Again. Sorry.

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 5:10am

Dearest Gardener,

I am for ever amazed at your incredible will and spirit. You just keep on keeping on( as they used to say on advertisement here). Your comments and blogs are so rich and diverse and I always feel I have travelled in time and place after reading your words.
I think clichés become clichés because they make sense so we repeat them.
Hugs and Peace
P.S. I am smiling here wondering if your knowledge of Australia goes as far as slang! Percy has a very different meaning in Australia. I am sure Hopeful One would appreciate the joke.

Orangeblossom Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 8:20am

Thanks Gardner for your example of Perservance & the humour of your blog. Love Zareen

Brum Mum Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 8:27am

I don't want to sound patronising but your strength in the face of diversity is remarkable. Go easy on yourself. We can be our harshest critics. Sending a hug from Brum

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 8:52am

Dear Gardener, how I feel for you. It is an impossible situation for you...and for him, of course . The words that stood out for me most strongly were " feelings die with Alzheimer's ". And I suppose, that's the very nub of the question, isn't it ? It is empathy as well as desire and love that bring us together as a young couple ("finally someone who understands me and gets it!") and with the progression of Alzheimer's , this pretty much goes as "feelings die"
The reason I feel for you is this one perhaps: we brought up our son who has profound autism and complex learning disabilities for 19 years at home, and as a consequence, each family member in turn burnt out due to the lack of help, impossibility of the task and emotions one felt which were so tangled regarding our family member. Until eventually, at age 19, we had to admit defeat and let him go / let go. He is today housed in a very nice small home with 5 others, and care and support administered round the clock by a team who are NOT emotionally drained, dog tired, and sad.
So it may well be with you, dear Gardener. You are not as young as we were then , 13 years ago now, and you often sound so alone with it all, though not utterly defeated. Fortitude you have in spades, believe me! I have taken my hat off to you on many occasions as I have read of the impossible strain on you. It is a burden at any age but with advancing years?
My son will always be my son, we will always care deeply for him, we grieve for the loss of him at home, but ultimately, for his sake as well as for his, we reached a crossroads and had to set down the family burden. He is today happy. He wasn't any longer at home and we weren't . We were totally exhausted and at our wits end as challenge after challenge presented itself. We began to be short with him and resent the physical demands we had ( he was and is still doubly incontinent).
Now, when we see him, we are not sleep deprived and tired out. We can give him quality time and appreciate him for the lovely young man that he is, limitations or not. No, he can't express his gratitude , speak about how he appreciates our efforts or share a joke or lots of things with us, but we have learnt to reduce our expectations to an absolute minimum. It helps. Anything he "gives back" is a bonus. So it must be with you perhaps? But of course, so easy for me to articulate. I am not in the throes of it as you are. Your creative juices are all but dry in your efforts to make the day -to -day bearable for you both.

I send you best wishes and love. I hope you will read this in the spirit in which it is intended, and not see it as coming with patronising thoughts. Because it really isn't meant that way. It is just meant to sympathise with you in your plight, and to say I can visualise a little, and do feel for you.

Finally, what help are your children being in this situation? Are they involved? Could you involve them more? Just a thought...most people like to feel helpful.
Lots of virtual hugs winging their way to you,dear Gardener.

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:31am

Thank you for your honesty in sharing your story. I used to teach children with special needs and I have the greatest admiration for the parents. Your compassion for Gardener touched my heart. Hugs and love Leahxx

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:39am

Oooh, thanks very Leah! That I didn't expect. :-) People who teach S.N. children have my greatest admiration. Xx

The Gardener Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:37am

Thanks Brum Mum and Sally. I think you, Sally have had it much rougher. So many years of loving attention to a child and no joy - I've had my life - and there are good bits - the blog this a.m and a beautiful morning. You also say, Sally, anything 'given back' is a bonus. This sounds self-pity, it is not. There IS no bonus. 11.30 last night he was 'terribly ill' with a mysterious illness. Gave a paracetemol and got a nights sleep - till 6.a.m. Then 'I feel terribly ill' checked, calmed, he went straight to sleep. I could not. At that hour the acute financial problems down to Brexit and failure to sell house means I've GOT to stick it out. I know he ought to be in hospital, but dare not, in current financial climate, commit me or the family to 2,000 euros a month - once committed to hospitalisation that must be final. Family help where they can - but as I've said so often here, we moved AWAY from our family, choosing France with our eyes open, and never regretting it. Circumstances beyond our control have caused the current crisis. Age naturally makes life more difficulty - also removes any hope of finance like re-mortgaging house. Treatise on economics! daft news abounds - experienced economists at the LSE are not to be used for BREXIT as they are not British. Is that not called insularity? Are we condemned to quarrelling politicians to cope with the complexities of it all?

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:45am

You have my sympathy, dear Gardener, as I at least had a financial bit of a cushion...not that we were ever well off!! Yes, Brexiteers may have been congratulating themselves on the day....but read Jonathan Friedland article in the Guardian, and realise why the process and impact have not yet impacted fully. Already though, acquaintances of ours have packed their bags and left Britain ....not wanting to risk full impact of Brexit. Good luck today. Take it be step at a time and accept offers of help if they seem OK. :-)

The Gardener Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:44am

Leah, I won't enquire about Percy. I have a book on insulting words in 11 languages - none would pass the politically correct exam

Sally Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:47am

Meant "one step at a time" ... (Note to self " edit! Before sending")

The Gardener Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 1:15pm

Sally - did not mean to turn this into an economics lecture. But during the day the title has become more 'meaningful'. I listened to Money Box and the news. We've often been short of money, not 'blaming' others - but banks lent like mad in the 70's 80's then would panic and pull the rug out from under small businesses to whom they had said 'Bless you my children'. I managed our business finances - church treasurer for 10 years and turned their finances round. I got a travelling scholarship in Europe on my ability to budget. Now I am at the mercy of a decision made by an electorate who voted with their hearts with no idea of the repercussions - my liberty of choice, to act on my own, to weigh up making vital decisions is lost in a total mist of uncertainty. Uncertainty does not suit my situation of my temperament.

Mary White Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 1:57pm

That's what I tell myself everyday. One day at time :-)

Sally Sun, Oct 9th 2016 @ 8:19am

Exactly. That's the way ! :-)

Janet Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 3:29pm

My heart goes out to you. I too struggled with my husbands`s Parkinsons & Dementia until he died this February.

Now hard to rebuild my life without him - I do so miss him after 53years of marriage.

Nicco Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 3:45pm

I feel for you, dear gardener. Finding the right words to express is so hard as your situation sounds intolerable - one I, myself, have not had to endure (so far). I think Sally's comments are amazing, and I feel for you, too, Sally. One thing struck me especially - the reducing of expectations - yes, helpful, but oh so hard - I have had to learn to do that. I send my condolences re the loss of your co-grandmother, too. Sending a gentle hug across the ether. Nicky.

The Gardener Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 6:43pm

Thank you all for your sympathy - and to those who have lived through it. Just been to mass - acute struggle to get Mr G into wheel-chair - his refusal to do anything physical over last 2 years has resulted in muscle atrophy. People were nice, welcoming, admiring of my courage. One very old friend (I sang in the choir with her 20 years ago) said 'You're not managing on your own?' No choice. If only (harking back to RATG blog yesterday) somebody would say 'I can pop in for half an hour when I come in to the town on Thursday, whatever, or before I pick the kids up. The value of that, just a walk. But people just don't want to know. I don't know whether Janet got help. So many people say 'give us a ring - moving table, whatever' then they're always 'too busy'. I am not proud, or, now, too independent, but you get fed up with telephone messages unanswered, rebuffs. that my friend Percy turns into bloody-minded 'I can manage on my own'. Janet, we have been marred for 61 years - the 'severance' is, I am told, worse than death - you've lost your companion, but cannot mourn that loss. A group hug (eldest son's (it's his mother-in law who has died) cure-all. Curious, our family friendly enough - but hugs and kisses only really started when we came to France.

Tutti Frutti Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 6:56pm

Just to say I am thinking of you Gardener. You have shed loads of perseverance which I really admire. I understand that the financial situation isn't good but I wonder whether continuing to care for Mr G yourself is really your only option. Do they have anything like the citizens advice bureau in France where you could check this out or have you done all that already?
Love TF x

Jackie Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 7:03pm

Sorry to hear this im thinking of you. Im not having a good week i am the nan whose granddaughter was taken for adoption and we fought our case in court but lost. Im feeling very sad i think its the time of year coming up and not being able to see my little grand daughter at xmas or until shes 18 if at all. I have been having nhs therapy for you my last one is Thursday. Its so hard to face life sometimes i dont have many friends

Leah Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 9:35pm

Jackie, I am sorry you are not having a good week. I do think about you and how you are going. Please write in here and let us know how you are going.Sending hugs, take care Leah xx

Jackie Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 10:03pm

Thankyou hugs back. I find it hard reaching out to people xx

Tutti Frutti Sat, Oct 8th 2016 @ 10:46pm

Jackie sending love and hugs TF xoxo

Jackie Sun, Oct 9th 2016 @ 12:10am

Thanks xx

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