The Loneliness of the long Distance Mother.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 19 October 2011

I have on thick green socks, snazzy jim-jams and a big woollen cardigan my mother knitted for me when I was pregnant 24 years ago.

The arms are for very tall primates whilst the rest of the garment could envelope the entire West Ham football team. Why West Ham you may ask, well I found out yesterday that a great uncle of mine - and by that I mean an ancient uncle I have no idea whether he was great or not - Sidney Kodish -played for the Hammers. I cant find him on google so I don't know anything about him but he passed on his skills to the boys in the family.

I found out about my athletic relative at my mothers bedside in Barnet General Hospital. The last few weeks have been traumatic to say the least, and they continue to be a nightmare.

My 89 year old mother has been in hospital first with a kidney infection then cellulitis. She has been pricked, poked, scanned and punctured. She has been talked at, to, with by the many doctors that have read and re-read her notes. She has been wheeled from one ward to another. She has pushed away food and occupational therapists. She has sat in a chair dealing with her minor dementia and major discomfort. I have been absent, which has made me feel guilty and sick, absent because I have been geographically challenged.

The balance is almost impossible.

I call friends and family in the desperate attempt to make myself feel alright and to try and make sense of the situation.

They sent her home this afternoon, after weeks in hospital. They sent her home alone to a flat where her plants had died, where the fridge was empty, where the warden had gone home, where her new telephone baffled her.

They sent her home against my better wishes - I went and sat with her after the show yesterday and talked to a lovely doctor who wanted to release her from the short stay ward. My brother and I could read the situation but we are powerless. I talk about the treatment of our elderly on the radio endlessly but experiencing it first hand is utterly soul destroying.

My 89 year old mother is disoriented, frightened, unwell and alone.

I am 70 odd miles away, and she is panicking I feel like throwing a brick through the window of whoever is responsible for allowing her out to cope on her own.

She cannot cope and at 7.45 on a cold night in October, I am unable to offer any assistance. She is low, lonely and my mother.

In between sorting out my writing room, moving boxes around, arguing with Gods Gift, shunting boxes around, dealing with my ma, throwing boxes around, in between trying to lead a normal life away from anybody and everybody, I have somehow managed to get shows out on BBC London. With the help of incredible young people who are sympathetic, talented and dealing with their grief of the cuts that is about to hit them by next year.

As I write my mother is trying to boil herself an egg, the old git is taking his trousers off - don't ask - and I'm catching up- on tweets, facebook, blogs and the news.

Tomorrow I am up at 6.00 out at 6.15, on the train at 6.40 and an hour later into Charing Cross. A swift walk to the Beeb, a three hour show - I'm sitting in for Vanessa - and then back to East Sussex where I will continue to adjust to life without screenings, first nights, press nights and light nights. We live in the deep dark world of mooing cows and shrieking foxes.

To be honest I love it but it only magnifies the distance between me and the 89 year old woman who is cradling a cup of tea alone because the social services don't deem her mentally ill enough or physically ill enough to re-home her in a socially acceptable care home.

There are processes that have to be gone through, processes that the likes of Mr. Osborne, Mr.Cameron or Master Clegg are never likely to go through. The turmoil that my family is going through is being experienced by millions of others. I feel ashamed, angry and powerless. Not hopeless because I will make annoying phone calls tomorrow and breathe deeply to get me through it so the old gal can get through it too.

The discomfort of the last half an hour has made my feet warm - there's nothing like deep anxiety to get the blood boiling to the extremities

When I arrived home, unexpectedly, Jim had moved the big table into Le Shed. Now that I have the big room I wonder whether it shouldn't be re-christened La Shed, anyway my room now has a creamy polished table in it waiting to be laden with computers, paper, printers, books and ideas.

I have promised myself that by next week I will be able to start writing.

I have also promised myself to eat properly, drink more, exercise routinely and buy yet more boxes of tissues to deal with my still streaming eye.

I was staying in a lovely little flat in West Hampstead but I was cold and lonely. The cheese in the fridge smelt wrong and the area was too unfamiliar for my state of mind, so after the show today I came home.

The generosity of my friends is lavish whilst the dawter and 'oosbind have been exemplary, living through the hell of my poor mother is taking its toll on everybody.

As October comes to an end its onwards and upwards.

Last night I went to see THE PITMEN PAINTERS. Kill for a ticket, cry and laugh and remind yourself why grafters are great and why theatre can bring out the best in humanity.

Tonight I was going to George Clooney's Q/A at Bafta but I buggered up the tickets, I was going to dinner in Hoxton and a book launch in St. James, I was going to Dan Cainer's show and coffee with The Barry. In the eventuality I took the train back to sanity and collected tickets from Colin the ticket inspector who made me feel that all was right with the world.

I've set three alarms and put the kettle on for a hot drink to have at the feet of my long suffering husband. My mother didn't manage the egg but made some toast and got into bed.

I wish her, and you, a very peaceful night.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At October 20, 2011 12:00 AM LV wrote:

SENDING the Angels of Love and comfort to enfold your mom and to enfold you Jeni.
xxLove Light LVxx
...

2. At October 20, 2011 7:54 AM Rhianon wrote:

Wish I could help. I know from my own Mothers suffering how helpless and ineffectual you feel. For me it was easier. We lived together. I was on hand at all times. She was never alone. This was a big fear for Ma, that she'd be alone. I was, thanks in no small part to the understanding of my boss and my senior, available for Ma constantly.
Hard days, Jeni. Hard days.

3. At October 20, 2011 1:31 PM Pat wrote:

I feel for you Jeni. My dad fell and was detained overnight in hospital. No-one called me to tell me until next morning. He was sent home to live alone in a very confused state. He is 90 but fiercely independant. It is all very worrying. I live 300 miles away.

4. At October 20, 2011 6:14 PM Carol wrote:

Dear Jeni, i feel your frustration and your pain, having been through a similar situation with not my own but someone elses elderly mother i can only sympathise. She was a friend and all her children lived so far away and im sure felt like you do. The system is mad and dosent make sense. I was told it was ok for her to come home even though she couldnt look after herself because it was her right to choose. I couldnt get my head round it. We managed to get a care package in place, can you get that for your mum? Much love Jeni i feel for you i really do. Sending heaps of love and hugs x

5. At October 23, 2011 1:51 AM Terry wrote:

Dearest Jeni. Oh dear im really worried now about your Mum! Just like you are. I do hope all will be well with her! and i remember her and you Jeni in my prayers. I know that your really busy with your radio shows at the moment and the long commute from south of Tun Wells by train or car up to the smoke (London!)is very draining on one! And i miss hearing about your trips on the 170 bus to work as it stops outside my home in Putney Heath and i sometimes go past your old flat and feel rather sad on the 170 as your no longer by that stretch of the Thames. Still you have your wonderful family ensconsed in your Country Seat now and all the lovely fresh air and walks with wonderful views! Enjoy all this while you can as all that fresh air does wonders.
What happened on your Bonnie scotland trip from Gatwick? I had tuned in at 6 pm ech evening to see if you or Wincey were on a panel on Eggheads but so far none of you! Do you have any idea when its scheduled to be broadcast??? i dont usually watch the prog but as you Jeni and Wincey are on the panel ( sounds like Whats My Line ) HaHa! I just want to see it and i will have to set the sky + to record it if its on when im on the Pacific Coast in Los Angeles next month. Victor says he is taking me to the Comedy Club on the Strip at Sunset Blvd this time for a surprise as someone i know really well out there will be performing! Ive no idea who! but ill find out when im there and let you know who that surprise is!
I hope you have a lovely Sunday and a good show later this morning on Beeb1
Much Love to you and your family Jeni. Lots of Love and God Bless! Keep your chin up! Love Terry XXXXXXXXXXXXX

6. At October 23, 2011 3:07 PM Terry wrote:

Dear Jeni. Earlier in my last blog i said Victor was taking me to the Comedy Club on Sunset Strip! This should have read The Comedy Store on Sunset Strip!! I must have been half asleep when i wrote it. but now it stands corrected! Have a Great Sunday! Its nice to see the sun out isnt it? Love Always Terry XXXXX

7. At October 31, 2011 10:39 AM Julio Keemer wrote:

What can I say? writer and the article are great. I really like good info.

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