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Monday, 7 February 2011

One Personal Sensation Story

The below could be construed as a rant but as it's a situation that's probably replicated all over the country I feel vindicated in sharing it.

Picture this: an elderly woman is being coerced into moving somewhere cheap and not-so-cheerful by her money-hungry daughter and son-in-law who plan to leave her there to rot and collect the inheritance when she dies, something which may well be hastened by the move. It sounds like it could be a plot from a novel by Wilkie Collins or Mary Elizabeth Braddon; a tale brought about by the greed and selfishness of other human beings.

Nope, it's just British society in the current climate.

My grandmother is still quite independent, even though my grandfather died a few years ago. She's not overly mobile (due to an accident while on holiday with her daughter but we won't go into that), but she can walk with the aid of a stick and me and my dad take her out every week for a meal and supermarket shopping trip. We also speak to her every night and generally help her out when she needs something checking or getting or whatever. Conversely, the daughter and son-in-law talk to her maybe once a week and are spasmodic in their appearances. It usually coincides with them needing something from nearby.

Now, my grandmother does need to move somewhere smaller and closer to amenities. It would've been cruel to move her before she was ready (though don't think they didn't try) and so we allowed her to come round the decision herself. She's made up her mind she wants a change and, since the house won't sell, the plan was to rent her very nice bungalow out while renting a flat, perhaps in an elderly complex so she'd have the support she needed. Good idea? We thought so.

However, a few weeks ago my aunt decided to put my grandmother on a list (before telling her about it) for a collection of tiny flats. I know the type intimately: a couple of small rooms and not enough room to swing a cat. Taking somebody from a tranquil cul-de-sac to a place where you may be able to hear your neighbours going to the toilet is beyond cruel if they're not ready for it. And she really isn't. All right, it's in a nice area, but it's at the top of a hill which she won't be able to climb up and down, thus leaving her as dependent on other people as she is now. The flat she'll be looking at is one that another woman is leaving to move a few doors down because she doesn't like it. That doesn't scream 'comfortable and nice' to me.

The worst thing? She desperately doesn't want to go. When my aunt told her she'd put her on the list she was horrified. To add insult to injury, my aunt reminded her that as she'd been on this list before (straight after my grandfather died) and turned it down, she can't turn it down again. Can't. They're desperate to get her in there at any cost and, as my grandmother herself put it, 'you can't say anything against them'.

I'm disgusted with them. We haven't ever had a good relationship but their downright neglect of my grandmother since my grandfather died is shocking. Plus, it's not as though me and my dad see her out of some sort of obligation: we've recently realised there's a lot about her we don't know and we're happy to learn. Apparently tonsillitis changed the course of our history: if it hadn't have been for that operation she would've gone abroad with the Wrens during WWII. I've lost one grandmother knowing too little about her; I'm not prepared to let it happen again.

So what do I do? Well, provided they give her due warning, I'm going to tag along when they go to see it. That way, she's got someone on her side. I would hate for her to feel so pressured that she signs for something she's clearly not happy with. But, if by some chance, they do pressurise her into this, I'm not sure what I'll do. I honestly think it'll be the beginning of the end for her, and that's unfair when you've still got things to offer and you're enjoying a comfortable life.

Let me just add, although I criticise my aunt for being money-orientated, I am indebted to my grandmother for my study fees. However, it does come from the inheritance I would have eventually anyway and I don't ever forget that I've got something to thank her for. There's a reason, though, that the situation has never been mentioned to my aunt: I'd be labelled as the money-grabber.

But, unlike them, I'm interested in her as well as the money. In fact, she's a much greater priority.


Mockingbird said...

Hunny, you have my sympathy. I live with my 83 year old mother. Unlike your grandmother, who I suspect has a gentle, yielding personality and does not want a fuss; my mother has a very short fuse and speaks her mind at every opportunity. I would definitely go with her, in fact, insist upon it. It is clear that your aunt and uncle have no interest in your grandmother's welfare. It might be possible to get assistance from the Social Services for the Elderly.

CharmedLassie said...

I wish my grandmother was more like your mother!

We've just had a look at the place on street view and it's horrible. Backs right onto a notorious council estate which definitely isn't something she's used to. It's not a happy retirement place.

If I go with her there's a significant chance I'll blow my own fuse and cause some problems - but I think it'd be worth it.