Being a Daughter, Too

I’m having a break from caring for dad.

My lovely sisters have taken seriously the struggles I have had in coping with things, and are supplying back-up as well as keeping the airlines in business almost single-handed!

Currently dad is sunning himself (hopefully) in southern France where sister number one lives. To achieve this entailed my brother-in-law flying over to the UK to collect him, then packing everything he needed, depositing the dog at the kennels, and accompanying dad back to France. The same will be necessary in reverse to bring him home. Nothing is simple when you are dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s, partial sight and bladder cancer.

Dad loves a holiday. After he and mum retired they went into overdrive and booked about three holidays a year. Eventually they got addicted to the convenience of cruises and spent many happy weeks travelling the oceans to visit interesting places and watch the Northern Lights. After mum died, dad found it hard to accept that his ability to have regular holidays was affected. We have managed to give him various breaks over the ensuing years, but much travel is needed to get to Dorset where he lives before a holiday can even begin. He is not capable of going alone.

So dad is in France and I do not have to worry about phone calls that uncover unexpected needs and crises, or whether dad is managing with the newly increased care package and the interruption of his morning routine.

I also don’t have to worry about financial stuff. Sister number two is busy sending out Powers of Attorney and asking the financial institutions dad has dealings with to communicate via her. This has not been easy as she lives in Australia and she needs to provide evidence of her identity to every organization she contacts. The level of proof they require has varied, and she has had to make visits to solicitors and notaries to have her identity sworn to. One company has insisted on all three of us signing to say sister number two can take over – something that is completely unnecessary as we are allowed to act independently under the Power of Attorney we hold. So now their form is winging its way from Australia to France to the UK and back to Australia again, just so that they have three signatures in one place. The airlines are in heaven.

Dad’s finances have been a big headache for us. He has been unable to manage his paperwork for a long time, and correspondence goes unanswered or missing. Because of the distance between us it has been hard to keep on top of what needs doing, and what has got into a muddle. Recently dad has decided he needs to do a big clear out of his paperwork. This is something he has steadfastly refused to do for years, but all of a sudden it has become an obsession. I wonder whether it is a bit like end-of-life spring-cleaning – the urge to tidy up your affairs at a certain point as you get older. Certainly the pile of paperwork next to dad’s shredder is impressive. The problem is that he is no longer able to see or think well enough to know what should be kept and what should go. A few months ago he dismantled the file containing his passport, will, and EHIC health card, and it took us many days to locate the key items and hide them away somewhere safe.

After dad comes back from France, sister number two will take over the ‘Rescue-Anne’ operation and make a month’s visit to the UK. She will take dad to his next cancer check and sort out more of his finances and his Tax Return. She will try to identify once and for all who the ‘mystery stockbroker’ is. Dad swears he has a stockbroker, but cannot remember names and we cannot locate a file. Never having had to deal with stocks or shares, this is all a mystery to me – but not as much of a mystery as the stockbroker’s identity!

I hope to catch up with sister number two while she is here – Australia is a long way to travel otherwise. And even though it is tempting to have her visit me and share some wonderful Peak District walks, I may well go down to see her at dad’s. The thing is that I miss him if I don’t see him for a long time. It is like the song from My Fair Lady – I’ve become accustomed to his face.

It is good to remember sometimes that it is not just about being a carer, but being a daughter, too.

MAD MOMENT…

Attempting to use the interesting 6” screws the Timber Merchant sold me to join together the sleepers to create my new raised beds. A friend came to help, but the drill wasn’t up to the job. Eventually I gave up on my attempts to find someone with a big enough drill and bought some brackets instead. Does anyone need some unused super-sized wood screws?

2016-04-23 14.04.59 2016-04-23 14.04.01

MARVEL MOMENT…

After all my troubles trying to see out of my new glasses and worrying what the optician would say when I took them back (again!), it turns out that there was a fault with the coating and the manufacturer have replaced the lenses free-of-charge. I can see at last! Phew!!!

© Anne de Gruchy

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