Something that has been increasingly looming over our time in France has been the welfare of Chris’s parents in northern England.With both of them in their late 80s and with no nearby family, their slowly failing health and vigour has been problematic. Although they generously let us go to France (well it wasn’t much more remote than Swansea) things have progressively been getting more difficult for them. Nevertheless, Chris’s father continued to defiantly soldier on as mum’s episodes of confusion deepened, hoping against the evidence that things would get better and that he could keep managing. We however were certain that it was only a matter of time before disaster struck and came to be concerned about every phone call.
Finally, on the morning of Saturday 11th we got an urgent call for help from dad who had decided that he could no longer manage to look after mum. Saturdays are not the easiest day to travel but we managed to get flights to Liverpool on the Sunday and were with them that afternoon. Action was clearly needed and Monday we drove around their village looking for care homes capable of taking people with dementia. Miraculously enough were able to find one with both nursing capability and a spare place only hundred yards from where they lived. Dad conceded that mum ought to be admitted which (again miraculously) we managed to arrange for the Wednesday morning. Later that day, Dad decided that rather than stay on alone, it was time for him too to go to a home. So we provisionally booked him into the same home for 31st March. Leaving dad alone in the house, somewhat frail but with support from a local care agency, we flew back on the Thursday morning, exhausted but feeling that we had done a good job. So far, so good.
But things don’t always go so smoothly do they? Mid-morning Saturday 18th we had another phone call from dad, who was clearly struggling badly with his health. Eventually the neighbours called an ambulance and as our younger son Mark (blessings on you!) headed up from London by train for immediate support we discussed the situation over the phone.with the doctor dealing with Dad. The decision was made to keep dad at home for the time being while Chris flew to the UK again on the Sunday – this time alone and to Gatwick and then north by train.
Conversations with Mark and attempts at conversation with dad that evening revealed a rapidly deteriorating situation. So Sunday night the ambulance was summoned again and dad went off to hospital. Monday was a difficult day with Dad in very bad shape and Chris having those troubling and delicate conversations with the medical team about resuscitation.
It was now clear that whatever was going to happen, dad was not going to go back to the house and so Chris started the process of putting it on the market with a local estate agent. On Wednesday the situation with Dad had become so complex and stressful that Alison cancelled her preaching at Cannes on Sunday morning and flew over on the Thursday flight.
Although Dad’s physical condition had improved over the next few days he still remained in delirium. In the meantime we started the process of clearing up the house. Not easy! Fortunately, Dad came out of delirium by the middle of the week and we were able to move ahead with the idea of him being transferred to the nursing home. With one of Chris’s two brothers in California coming over at the end of the week we were able to make plans to return back to Taradeau. And on Friday dad was declared fit enough to be sent up to the nursing home where he now has a room of his own and is quietly recuperating.
So it’s been a hectic and stressful three weeks. We have felt very supported by friends and family, especially those who pray. To have got both of them safe in a nursing home and their house on the market in three weeks is more than could imagine. We were also helped by the fact that Power of Attorney had been set up in advance which we were able to implement. But we could have done without the stress! Anyway, it’s an enormous relief to know that finally they are in safe hands. We hope that normal service on the blog will resume next week.
And as an aside, on the way back on the plane Chris was identified by a total stranger as the author of this blog. There’s fame for you!