Hotel Mama

To all intents and purposes, I left home at eighteen when I went off to university, although at the time none of us realised it. I came back during vacations, but never really lived at home after that. I remember a conversation with my father, who thought I was too immature to get married (he was right, of course) when I pointed out that fledglings have to fly the nest. He retorted that they usually had more sense than to throw themselves out before their wings were working.

Fast forward fifty years and suddenly I’m living back home. Like most of the events with far-reaching consequences in my life, this has happened by accident, with no deliberate careful planning on my part. I came to England for 3 months, with my return ticket in my purse, intending to get my mothers situation sorted here, and go home to my regular life in Switzerland. Circumstances and the way things work in the UK turned out to be very different from what I expected, and more than 2 years later I’m still here, living in the house where I was born, with my mother. It is her house, and although she is rapidly approaching 98, and no longer quite the capable woman she was, she is still in charge.Image0781

It’s a strange feeling, after fifty years of independence, suddenly finding myself in the daughter role again: and sometimes, as far as my mother is concerned, I am still the ten-year-old who needs a firm hand and a good scolding. “Oh, do go out and play!” still rings in my ears. She accepts that I am here to help her, though she is not so secretly convinced that she really could manage quite well on her own, as she did till she was 95. We provide reciprocal support. I have had more to do with doctors and the hospital in the past 2 years than she has in the whole of her life, so she still sees her purpose as looking after me, too. It’s an interesting evolution in our relationship, which has always been good: not exactly a reversal of roles, but a more fluid exchange of responsibilities.

No, I haven’t come in and taken over: that wouldn’t work with a self-reliant person like my mother. She is certainly no tyrant or domineering matriarch, but she was used to being the decision-maker in all household matters for 75 years or more, and that fact cannot be disregarded. One of the saddest things I notice about people dealing with elderly people is a lack of respect: it irritates me intensely when I hear that patronising tone from someone talking to my mother as if she were a semi-imbecile, just because her thought processes are no longer as rapid as they were.  I am not of a diplomatic nature, and have to be very cautious about treading on sensitive toes. Yes, she has passed the reins to me in certain areas, but woe betide me if I overstep the mark! Pardon me for changing my metaphors yet again, but she is still the Captain of this ship and I am no more than First Mate!


9 thoughts on “Hotel Mama

  1. ‘One of the saddest things I notice about people dealing with elderly people is a lack of respect: it irritates me intensely . . . ‘
    Sadly maybe not a lot of people have the patience to show elderly people the respect they ought to get not matter how slow they may have become.
    It’s great, Cat, that you have such a good relationship with your mother.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  2. My mother has been my greatest ally these past two years and she is 87… so iam glad your Mum is still there for you.
    My Mum is still mentally 100% and very strong and opinionated with it (yet compassionate at the same time). I cannot imagine what would happen to the person who EVER tried to talk down to her. ….. I would run 100 miles rather than see the outcome of that event.
    We are so lucky to still have our mothers.. 🙂 .

  3. Well, it will flip on and on from generation to generation, though who will be “in charge” of whom is probably not going to be quite the same LOL 😉 But I don’t think any of us will be patronising, we all have too much respect for each other!! xx
    And yes, it is shocking how many elderly people are treated and the tone they have to endure, it makes me very sad indeed.

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