Quality time

One of David’s work colleagues took early retirement this week. I asked what he was going to do next and my straight-to-the-point husband answered ‘Not work…’. This guy is a shining example of someone who lives a simple life – he has no mobile phone, no email address, no social media accounts and he is extremely content. It amazes me that anyone can get by these days seemingly so unconnected but he obviously can. His wife does have an email address, though; I think it would be almost impossible to function in today’s society without one. There are a few people in this village who only have a landline and a postal address – you remember – how we all lived about 20 years ago?! It’s extraordinary to think that since about 1997, we’ve gone from being perfectly able to live happy lives reading newspapers, talking on a phone in the hall attached to the wall with a wire, handwriting letters and cards and watching the news on the tv once a day to being connected All The Time, always checking emails, social media accounts and beeping phones, with so much news about the whole wide world coming at us thick and fast. We can find out anything at all – from how to debone a partridge to how long it takes to climb Kilimanjaro on the best route – in minutes. This can be a very good thing and a very bad thing (think self-diagnosis). It’s no wonder our lives are overloaded.

When I went to boarding school aged 12, I used to phone home once a week from the phone box down the road and calls weren’t long. My mum used to write me letters once or twice a week with news from home and that was it. That was all the communication I had with home aged 12. Today, my 18-year-old son has a mobile phone and a laptop – we can call him, text him, email him or Skype him and his brother and sister can see what he puts on Snapchat or Instagram (I can’t because parents and children don’t mix on social media in this household). I am certainly not speaking to him every day but I’ve had a couple of text exchanges and two chats in the past week and I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. On one day I can hear that he’s discovered that his weekly contact hours with the uni are shockingly low, so I spend a sleepless night worrying, and the next day hear it’s ok because he’s chosen his modules and there are more hours and his course sounds brilliant. On another day I hear that he feels very isolated because his halls aren’t on campus and his flatmates are a tad annoying, I fret about him being lonely and then hear that he’s met up with a school friend who is living in halls on campus and has had a great time with him there. Maybe I should tell him I’ll speak to him once a week when he can give me his edited highlights.

I definitely feel slap bang in the classic middle life sandwich situation at the moment. I spent an exhausting and emotional two and a half hours with my mum and a psychiatrist yesterday. He was the first person I’ve seen with her who seemed to have a complete handle on what is going on – he was practical, kind, organised and reassuring; just what you need in a doctor and it was such a relief. Mum has been diagnosed with dementia on top of the Parkinson’s. This is not particularly a surprise for us but it is still a shock and we know now that she’s going to be in for an even tougher ride and we have to pull together even more. There are difficult conversations to have, legal stuff to put in place and practical considerations. I’m not sure I can really continue to write about it here. Personal blogs are just that – personal – and people write about what they want to write about and others either read it or they don’t, but I don’t know if I want to write about it or, even if it helps me to write about it, whether it’s right to do so. My head is in a spin. There is such a thing as too much information and definitely such a thing as too much sharing. I may go quiet for a while and pop up occasionally with flowers. Or I may rant and rave at the world and tell you what we’re having for dinner. Whatever I do, I hope you’ll bear with me.

Right! I have a dog to walk, meals to plan and food to buy. My brother is coming over tomorrow and we’re getting together with my parents for some quality family time. We need to make the best of it while we can. We all need to pack it all in and make the most of every day. Wishing you a lovely weekend, making the most of it with your loved ones.




15 thoughts on “Quality time

  1. I see what you mean about the pros and cons of being so connected with your son as he settles in to uni. Although it’s wonderful to hear about how everything’s going, it must be hard when you hear things that worry you. I’m so sorry about your mum’s situation, you are in my thoughts Sam. I’ve been through the odd tricky thing and in a way I’m glad I didn’t write about it on my blog, because now if I was to look back through the posts then I wouldn’t be plunged back into memories that have passed and that I wouldn’t necessarily want brought back to the front of my mind. That was a bit of a ramble, but hopefully you get my drift. I stuck with the flowers, so now I know that there’s nothing nasty there waiting to ambush me. Whatever you decide to write, it is always a pleasure to hear from you. Sending you a cyber hug. CJ xx


  2. You do what’s right for you Sam with your blog and its content, all your friends here will be here no matter what, and we’ll understand and happily read whatever you want to write. If you ever want a chat off line you’ve got my email and we can swap landline numbers, or addresses and write to each other. I am thinking of you and sending you love and light.

    I agree with you about information overload in real time. My in laws ring once a week and have done ever since their children were at boarding school. It’s always struck me as a nice way to keep in touch and show interest and care without being omni-present in one another’s lives. xx


  3. It is hard watching your parents age. My Mom is 90 and doesn’t have many issues but complains like she does. My heart is heavy for you as you face this challenge. Blessings and peace to you!


  4. Simple lifestyles are simpler than one might guess. The excuses for why we complicate things are tiresome. Simplicity is healthy. We all know it.
    The homeless in our Community live even simpler than I would like to, without homes and furnishings. They know more about survival than most.


  5. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t even have a phone in the boarding house ! Shocking… we didn’t really appreciate what you went through and even felt a tad envious at your apparent freedom from parents! It certainly is a tough time for you now, too much change too fast and so hard about your Mum but you will do the best for her you are able I am sure. At 18 I waited nervously for Nick to come in at night , unable to sleep until I head the door- now at 21 I ask him to use the side door so that the noise doesn’t wake me! I wish I was closer for a natter and a coffee- roll on May … love to your parents and family from us x


  6. Oh those university phone calls! I sympathise – my two had a knack of offloading all their worries, all the things that hadn’t gone right, and then – I would discover later – walzing off out with friends with not a care in the world. Meantime I had assumed their offloaded worries and would lie awake half the night. I guess the same is going on with your son – he has a wee chat and then he’s fine.
    So very sorry about your Mum’s diagnosis and what it entails for you. Ongoing flowers are a treat, and you might find it a bit of respite to have a space that doesn’t replicate everything happening in your life.


  7. I see bloggers range across the spectrum from – keep it light and positive – to let it all hang out (and way too much information)
    I imagine dealing with dementia, or Alzheimer’s, as one of the hardest journeys.


  8. Hi Sam. Our blogs can be whatever we want and we can say as much or as little as we like about ourselves and personal things. It needs to be whatever you are comfortable with and rest assured that your blogging friends will understand if you disappear from blogging land for a time; their thoughts will be with you, and sometimes they will send you an email just to see how you are. So do what you need to do and make sure you look after yourself as well as your 18 year old and your Mum and the rest of the family. Take care, Cathy xx


  9. Hello Sam. This is very interesting isn’t it? How quickly things change. I commenced my boarding school years in 1989 and at that stage there was one pay/coin phone on campus that we all shared. When I phoned home I had to call the telephone exchange in my home country town and they would manually connect me on what was known as a party line to my parents. People would think I was joking now. Fast forward to 2000 when my husband and I moved to our current farm. At that time we had 1 mobile phone that we shared between us and a landline. That was it! Now of course we have various connections, social media accounts etc. Mostly I love the connections but times gone by were certainly much simpler.

    My daughter is almost to the stage of getting her own phone, I am putting it off for as long as possible because I know it will be opening a floodgate of options both good and bad.

    I love your blog however it comes. Thinking of you and your mum. Jane x


  10. I am sorry to hear your mum has been diagnosed with dementia and although this didn’t come as a complete surprise, it still leaves you with all the emotional ups and downs that we experience when a loved one’s health is slowly failing. I am keeping you in my thoughts Sam. You should share whatever you feel like sharing, this blog is your diary and you alone decide what you want to note down.

    I remember backpacking around Australia, calling my mum once a week from whatever phone box I could find and using the calling card she had given me to save coins. I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed by the constant presence of my phone but I have switched off all notifications except the ringtone and good old fashioned text messages, which helps to stay focused on the day’s activities. I hope your oldest is enjoying university. Mine is but I am fortunate that he is still at home and we can chat over dinner, on the few occasions he turns up 🙂

    Wishing you an enjoyable week. x


  11. I am sorry to hear about your mother, and hope for the best for all of you as you navigate this. I completely agree about communication with children at university. Sometimes our son gives me updates that I’d rather not hear about, as I then stress out a bit until they are successfully resolved. But, it IS good to hear from him.


  12. Sorry about your mother. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being in frequent touch with your son at school. Just think how much less you’re talking to him than when he was living at home.


  13. We had to go through this a few years ago with both my mother and a great aunt Sam. It is important to sort out the legal stuff, it makes managing your parents affairs so much easier in the future. Enjoy the now, best wishes.


  14. Hello Sam – what a lovely blog you have and interesting for me as you have a garden by the sea and the same size as ours in Scotland. Though at present we don’t live there full time.
    I am sorry to hear about your mum – we went through the same when my MIL had Parkinsons. She was on her own at this point too and we lived 90 miles away.
    I remember the student days well – my two daughters are well past that now but still need support in lots of ways – with buying houses, decorating houses and grandchildren – it never stops. When the phone goes I wonder who is it that wants something!
    Oh to be like your friend with no phone and email – we have this at the cottage in Scotland but everyone makes up for the lack of contact when we get back home to Yorkshire!!


  15. What a tumultuous summer you have had Sam. So many changes hitting you at once. My thoughts are with you in navigating your mother’s dementia and Parkinson’s. It’s not easy on any one. My mother had terrible dementia during the last six months before she died last year and that’s when my blogging slowed almost to a standstill (it now is at a standstill …).

    I fear we are bombarded these days with far too much information and dreadful news. During the awful shenanigans in our news this week, I told my husband that I’m ready to retreat from the world and join my own personal convent. Less time on-line certainly helps. In any case, try to keep your cool through all that you will face this autumn. Spend time with your plants, watching the sea and sky, and don’t worry about the blogging–you will know whether or not it feels right for you.


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