Thursday, 1 July 2010

None Of My Business

What I am about to write here is not really a very good post. You might say, that none of it is any of my business, but I want to get it off my chest, because the whole thing is making me very sad.

One of my old ladies had what she and others like her would call 'a bit of a turn', probably a small stroke.
Her 88 year old husband called the ambulance and she was promptly taken to hospital.

This is where it gets complicated.

Let's call the old lady Margaret and the husband Richard. Richard was due to go on a trip to Europe with a younger friend of his within two days of Margaret being taken ill. Margaret, who has not been well for some time, was due to spend the time of his absence with her daughter, who lives in another part of the UK.

Margaret falling ill was really most inconvenient and she upset a lot of plans.

Margaret has other family living in the valley, nieces and great nieces, who have been very good to Margaret's sister during her last years. Margaret's sister had no children to look after her and the nieces more or less took over. Margaret's sister had let it be known that she had made a will in which she would thank them for their kindness towards her.

Margaret and Richard have two children, a daughter and son, both living a long way away.

With Margaret taken care of in hospital, Richard decided he would stick to his plan and go on holiday.
The evening before he left, he rang round a few kind ladies living in Valley's End and asked them to visit Margaret in whatever hospital - there are several possibilities after the acute stage is over -  she would find herself. Margaret's and Richards's daughter, who had been called to come over for the emergency, also left again for home and work.

The nieces decided they couldn't possibly do for Margaret what they had done for Margaret's sister.

Which left the three kind ladies, who got in a huddle and debated what to do. Nobody had been left in charge. The three kind ladies had no idea what, if anything, Margaret had taken into hospital with her, whether she had clothes and underwear available, simple things like soap, towels, tissues, etc.

In the end it was left to the three kind ladies to find out these things. They got in touch with the daughter and  the hospital - who were rather curt and unwilling to give out information to strangers.

Finding out where Margaret was, what needed doing and getting permission from the daughter to do it, all took time.

Margaret was admitted on Friday, husband and daughter had left her by Sunday. The following Wednesday the first of the three kind ladies finally managed to visit her in hospital.

She found Margaret much improved, but desperate for company, and for all the small bits and pieces that make a stay in hospital bearable. Luckily, the kind ladies being practical souls,  had anticipated Margaret's needs and were able to supply everything necessary.

None of this is any of my business, it's family business, nobody else's. Nobody was ill treated, nobody was seriously neglected. The daughter will be back at the weekend and the niece has actually relented and paid a visit herself since.

And yet . . .  . . . .
I am one of the three kind ladies. Even though we don't want to sit in judgement, we can't help but feel
a little sad.

Do you understand why?


  1. I understand. It does seem a bit sad that her husband, her daughter, her niece had no problem having her drift along on her own. thank you for caring.

  2. All I can say is thank God or Goddess or Whomever for the kindness of ladies. The world would be a sad place without them.

  3. I sure do. It sounds like a strange family dynamic. Not too many of us would leave our spouse for a vacation when their spouse is in the hospital. And odd that the daughter is not forthcoming to facilitate your visits with her mother. Thank you for being one of those kind ladies.

  4. friko there's a subtle feature of what should be happening that's missing here - i call it care. she's so very fortunate to have you and your two friends. so fortunate!!! steven

  5. Thank goodness for kind ladies.

    What a curious and revealing tale of family life though. There does seem to be something missing in all of the relationships. I don't want to use the word 'duty' but care, love and compassion certainly seem to be absent.

  6. I think cancelling a trip and interrupting one's life for emergencies such as these are part of life!! Now, if your dear friend died and there was a quick funeral service...then they could all take off! The thing that is missing is the ability to understand how frightened, confused and depressed this women might feel with all her family to far away and she thinking about the end of her life in the future.

  7. Also, since the husband called you, asking you to interrupte your IS now your business.

  8. Tabor took the words from the tips of my fingers. This was made your business when you were approached and asked to act in loco familias (sorry if I've messed that, Latin was never my strong suit!)
    Sadly, while this may reflect the dynamics of a specific family, it also reflects a culture (world wide, I must add) of 'I need to get my.....time/holiday/money/share and you are in my way.' On the other hand, the willingness of you three to step in reflects an encouraging retention of older values. I think that if husband, daughter or nieces bring the situation up in conversation, you should speak your mind.

  9. Family dynamics are odd things. I certainly understand your feeling sad about Margaret, and I'm more than curious about how a family gets to be so dysfunctional. Were the offspring raised to be thoughtless? Is the husband just old and tired and worn out as caregivers of chronically ill spouses can be?

    The part that bothers me most is the curtness.

  10. I definitely understand why. I lived a mile from my mother at the end of her life and quit my job to be a more active participant in her hospice care. My husband would spell me on his weekends off work, staying with her so I could be home for some respite. My sister lives half-way across the country, and visited once in the early stages of our mother's cancer. After that, no more visits, not even a call until two days before her death. My sister did not come for the memorial service....which under the circumstances I think was best.

    It's great of you to be there for "Margaret" and I think her husband is just horrible for going on the planned vacation. He sounds like a jerk to me!

  11. It is sad and outrageous that a husband would go off and leave his wife alone in the hospital while he goes on vacation ... and then have the nerve to ask others to look out for her.

    I'm glad there are such caring women such as you in your valley.

  12. Friko, of course you are one of the kind, and very caring ladies. It is truly wonderful for your friend in hospital to have had the good fortune to have met you.

    The holiday escape of the 88 year-old husband is the part that both horrifies and intrigues me. Since I do not know either of them, I won't try to think of a plot line ... but admit that my mind might just be working on such a tale on its own.

    You know a bit about my own family's dramatic possibilities, and I expect that many other families have many layers that only the participants know.

    All the same. I hope that your friend will get great treatment in hospital, and will soon be able to return home and will continue to have contact and care from you and those other two lovely ladies. xo

  13. I think Tabor and Pondside were accurate in saying when you ladies were asked to look in on Margaret, that it became your business...

    I also think that it reflects the difference in personalities of caregivers and non-caregivers. It has been my experience that today (this society of families living in various parts of the world) most families have a caregiver who "normally" takes care of the others. I'm guessing that Margaret is the caregiver in her family. I would venture to say that probably Richard, the daughter and even the nieces - really don't understand caregiving because it's a part of your personality, versus doing for the result it will bring you (as in the sister's will).

    Margaret is fortunate to have such good friends who are caregivers by personality!

  14. That husband must be a cold fish indeed, to go rollicking off on holidays while she lies sick in the hospital,dependent on the kindness of [relative]strangers. Although, if I were Margaret, and my family were so unconcerned about my welfare, I'd be happier to see you coming through my hospital door than them!

  15. Another example of the fact that this is a world divided into "Them" and "Us".
    Maybe the husband gets a pass if he is oblivious to reality at his age? Not so for the other family members.

  16. I'm inclined to give Hubby the benefit of the doubt because of his age - it's entirely possible that his sense of judgement is no longer what it was, and this isn't always easy to determine unless you're very clued in to his everyday behaviour.

    Depending on the daughter's circumstances, it may be that it was quite difficult for her to remain with her mother - seeing that there was no longer an emergency, going back home was not necessarily a selfish act.

    Admittedly, my point of view might be quite different if I was in your shoes, Friko, and saw the situation from a first-hand point of view. I am reluctant to condemn any of the principals for not dropping everything to care for Mother for the reasons stated. If Margaret was at death's door, or in a really bad way, or traumatized by her experience, I cannot believe that the children would not come to be with her. The daughter must have some major obligations and would possibly have had to make quite a difficult decision whether to stay or not - she is coming back as soon as she can and that says something, I think.

    It's very hard for children of ageing parents to be in the middle - and if the situation is not a crisis, that only makes these decisions more difficult. (Daughter might have done better in the communication department, certainly, by letting the hospital know that you and the others should have access to info about Margaret condition and wherabouts)

    I can only add that you and your two friends are very good-hearted indeed, and that Margaret is very fortunate to have you there. And I do understand why you wrote this. No criticism of your feelings is implied in my comment.

    PS I found 'Reflections' comment to be quite wise and balanced.

  17. also ich sehe die allgemeine Entrüstung hier und so oberflächlich gesehen, ist es sehr traurig, vor allem wegen Margarets Ehemann, weil er trotzdem wegfuhr, aber mit der Zeit habe ich gelernt, dass es sehr gefährlich ist, ein Urteil über Dinge zu fällen, von denen man nur einen Bruchteil kennt.
    Etwas will ich nur sagen, nämlich, dass es für die Ladies spricht, dass sie etwas sehr Schönes tun und dies ist allein ihre Sache, damit möchte ich sagen, dass ihr entschieden habt zu helfen, dies wird euch selbst helfen und ihr werdet das Gute irgendwann einmal zurückbekommen, davon bin ich überzeugt! Und ich selbst freue mich, dass ich eine dieser Ladies kennenlernen durfte!
    Ich wünsche Dir einen erfüllen schönen Tag, liebe Friko!

  18. p.s. und zu Deiner letzten Frage: was das Essen angeht, so sind die Luxemburger vor allem französisch eingestellt und ein voller Teller gilt wohl eher als unschicklich. In Luxemburg kommt das freie Buffet aber immer mehr in Mode. Die Leute bezahlen einen festen Preis und nehmen sich soviel sie möchten. Ich habe aber noch niemanden gesehen, der übertrieben hat. Ich denke, dieses Buffet ist eine sehr gute Sache, auch für die, die nicht gerne so viel essen...
    Bis bald!

  19. Thank goodness for the three kind friends! And remember the saying, "What goes around, comes around."

  20. Yes, I'm with Vicki here. Thank you for caring.

  21. Yes, thank goodness you and your friends are there and willing to step in. Your friend's husband may be showing some signs of aging by making this decision. The daughter may have complications which are not known. In the case of the elderly who are through circumstances, left alone it just happen sometimes. Kindness is always rewarded in some way. Your concern is real and perhaps the daughter will be thinking through the possibilities and coming up with a better plan.

  22. Friko, as always there are two sides to any issue, but on the surface I have to agree with you - the immediate family certainly seems to be selfish - especially the husband. If the daughter had no choice but to leave her ill mother she should have ensured that you "three kind ladies" would have access to the mother without any bureaucratic difficulties. I think it is sad, but oh so true, that the feelings of the elderly are so often ignored (people tend to forget that they too will one day be old and feeble). Thank goodness that there are compassionate souls such you and the other two "kind ladies" out there to take up the slack.
    I trust that you will all be thanked profusely for your efforts but, based on what has come before, it seems unlikely. You, however, have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made the world a better place for someone just by being there in a time of need.

  23. Sad all right. Like Deborah, I'm trying to imagine what possible scenario could cause Richard not to cancel his travels, but unlike her I can't. If this person is your spouse, if being a husband means anything at all, then you're going to be there with your wife in hospital. Period.

  24. Yes. I understand, and

    Thank goodness for kindhearted ladies, that's all I can think of to say that makes any sense to me. Our world needs kindess in all of its forms, extended to all. You have shown us one way to do this.

    It is also kindness extended to yourself to express your dismay over this situation; now the healing begins!

  25. If Margret is anything like my mother ... and she is so nice when "strangers "are around, but behind closed doors....

    But well done to the three ladies who sorted things out.

    I know it sounds brutal but not all seemingly nice ladies are nice with their families , specially not when laid up in a hospital bed. Hope this comment gets posted as former attempts on previous blogs were simply swallowed up by the internet

  26. Regarding your question I do a rare Thursday Thoughts and don't often use the 13 because I can never maintain a theme for that long!!

  27. Poor woman ! I hope her children have decided that it would be better if they left taking time off work till after their mother was at home again .
    Meanwhile , your visits must be so welcome . Hospitals are very lonely places .

  28. Thank you all for your measured and sensible comments. I am glad none of you thought me an interfering busybody. One has to be really careful in the country. Gossip is rife and ladies who 'stick their oar in'
    soon get a bad reputation. But the husband did ask us, the daughter is happy that we have taken the responsibility off her shoulders and Margaret has not been left to rot.

    She is getting better slowly but is still in hospital and we are still visiting.

    As for the husband, I have to admit that my feelings go with those of you who find his decision slightly off, although I also understand those of you who cite his great age as something towards an excuse.

    Still, I'd be very hurt if Beloved left me in the lurch and I certainly wouldn't do it to him.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.