Fuck You Mum-in-Law

Found the perfect flat for mum-in-law,
Everything we could want and more,
Assisted Living, warden controlled,
From corner shops just a short stroll,
A cute, newly redecorated flat,
Where she could even bring the cat!

From prior odes, you may recollect,
That mum-in-law in this respect,
Was all enthused by this idea,
To us both wanted to be nearer,
Deemed her own home too big these days,
The solitude a source of malaise…

So all optimistic, last night we,
Brought brochure / photos for her to see,
Well, what else might we expect?
But for her out of hand to reject,
From her home and town was “too far away”,
Plus her friends and bowls she likes to play…

The “friends” who in fact her all hate,
The “bowls” she’s missed all month to date,
The “town” in which she’s twice got lost,
The “home” all covered in mould and moss,
Where she has fuck all – but she can’t see,
Not even my husband and me…

So that idea down in flames has been shot
Fuck it – just let her at home rot,
That’s a one-way ticket into care,
And I doubt she’ll like it better there!
It’s come to the point I wish her worse,
Or better yet still – in a hearse…

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Husband, it’s time for your performance review,
Am not your manager quite, but I’ll just have to do,
In fact, I often feel more like your private PA,
But anyway, thank you for coming today,
Hope you’ve come prepared to accept some critique,
But I’ll start with the praise (it’s the “sandwich” technique!).

I take on board that you love me in manifold ways,
You consistently bring joy to all of my days,
Conduct in this respect is just second-to-none,
You always make our domestic environment fun,
You do the laundry and make me nice cups of tea,
Pour my wine and dish up standout dinners for me…

But in some aspects, I do need to take you to task,
Where you’re still not achieving as well as I’d ask,
Like not wearing a seatbelt each time that you drive,
Or still raiding the fridge, eating up all the pies,
But there’s one chief weakness to which you are prone:
I.e. you leave me managing two workloads all on my own…

In my role as wife, I try hard to act as “windbreak”,
Want dementia’s burden off your shoulders to take,
So why with the odd task that to you I must delegate,
Do you dig in your heels, and just procrastinate…?
Have to nag on each item way more than I ought,
Don’t forget that your wife also needs some support!

It’s not fair that I should take on the 95 percent,
Yet you your tiny remainder still so clearly resent,
Respective level of effort here’s just not on a par,
I’ve only got two shoulders, and am the youngest by far,
I want to help you – hope that’s quite plain to see,
But – as acting husband – you must also help me

So please take this ode as your own formal letter,
Confirming status: “Good – but at times could do better”,
It’s only through criticism that we sometimes learn,
(Feel free to draft my own performance review in turn!),
Remember we’re the A team – and that we’ll be forever,
But we’re stronger by far when we both stand together…

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Care Home 2

“I want to go home!”, whimpered the poor old girl,
Shuffling along the care home corridors,
“I only want someone to talk to!
Nobody comes to visit me here anymore…”,
So tiny and vulnerable – limbs all a-shake,
The sight of it made both our hearts want to break…

“How did I get here!?!”, the wild-eyed lady screamed,
Thrashing and raging from her old easy chair,
“Where am I?”, “Who are you?” “Get away from me!“,
Less a person and more just dementia laid bare,
Scared me and my husband right down to the bone,
How could mum-in-law ever call this place home…??

Yet more shadow people sitting staring and still,
Slumped on the sofa, or gazing into space,
Not the company we wanted for mother-in-law,
Wonder now if we will ever find the right place…?
Husband and I have both had a reality check,
It’s not quite care home time for mum-in-law yet…

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Drowning in bureaucracy,
This whole administrative mess,
I can’t get my head around it,
It just feels so kafka-esque…

She’s not bad enough for a care home,
But for assisted living too far gone,
Not that she’d get in anyway,
Waiting list is far too long…

Want to take concrete action,
But Social Services won’t agree,
Which means the cost would all be borne,
By her, husband and me…

Mum-in-law doesn’t tick their boxes,
And nothing seems to fit,
I feel like we’re stuck in limbo,
And the care – we’re stuck with it…

For the first time in my life,
I just don’t know what to do,
What’s best for her and best for us?
I’ve no idea! (Do you…??)

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Care Home

In the care home we visited today,
Sat lumpen old women, sunken-in men,
Eyes vacant, jaws lax in silent drool,
A whiff of urine present now and then.
In the common room these shadow people sit,
In their sad old cardigans and cottons,
Television on but no-one watching it,
Loved once but now all but forgotten,
These grey ones seemed to all look the same,
Long reduced down to this amorphous state,
Barely even recalling their own name,
Barely aware of their own sorry fate,
For mum-in-law this is not yet the place,
But a glimpse of the future that we face.

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Second Guessing

Did last week even happen at all??
Mum-in-law seems back on the ball,
This illness I don’t understand,
Husband’s head back in the sand,
From wide open to closed shut eyes,
When things seem to normalise…

Decide one week it’s care home time,
Shocked at the depth of her decline,
Then a few short days along the line,
Mum-in-law’s completely fine!
Same illness in a different guise,
When things seem to normalise…

From wandering, she knows the way,
Goes up and down from day to day,
You think one thing, and then another,
Oh, what to do with husband’s mother??
Decisions made and then revised,
When things seem to normalise…

From crisis to crisis we all lurch,
But it almost strikes me as worse,
To deal with interim plateau,
Knowing that it won’t last though,
Lows are bad, but so are highs,
When things seem to normalise…

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Brownie Points

What would husband do if I weren’t on the scene…?
He and his mother both on me so heavily lean,
How on earth would he handle her ongoing care,
Without me on hand taking on the lion’s share…?
At dealing with dementia I’m infinitely abler,
A supportive wife? Or am I just an enabler…?

As emergency contact, I’m the first point of call,
Sort the carers, the paperwork, the admin and all,
Off his shoulders, I have tried the burden to take,
Sometimes wonder if I’ve made a massive mistake,
Because while I’ve been doing most all that I can,
I’ve allowed him to keep his own head in the sand…

I know just what would happen if I wasn’t here,
He’d ignore all the problems with his mummy dear,
Tell himself her bad memory was down to old age,
Nothing practical done without endless delays,
No compassionate communication – no, not a bit,
Would muddle on without help till a true crisis hit…

I’m not saying that he doesn’t do nice things for me,
He makes me my dinner and morning cup of tea,
But tot that up against all for his mother I do,
I don’t think the balance is right here – do you?
The brownie point score here is way out of whack,
And yet it seems I have made a rod for my back…

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Blind Spot

My mum-in-law’s memory is just totally shot,
As soon as you’ve said it, it’s instantly forgot,
And that’s not her fault – it’s her illness, I know,
But what’s husband’s excuse for forgetfulness though?

Last week when mum-in-law was found lost out in town,
I thought my dear husband had finally come around,
The gravity of her illness appeared to understand,
Seemed at last to be dragging head out of the sand…

But that awareness he’s not managed to maintain,
Going on the basis that since it’s not happened again,
Once again in his mind she is more or less fine,
Though till the next episode, it’s just a matter of time…

It’s like self-imposed amnesia, a maternal blind spot,
Which on our relationship is becoming a blot,
I didn’t marry an ostrich; I married a man!
But once again it’s me again carrying the can…

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Ask Not

Ask not for whom the bell toils – it toils for thee,
Please don’t let dementia happen to husband or me,
For that would be just a too terrible fate,
Being a carer in mid-life; a patient in late,
Just one side of the coin’s really more than enough,
To experience both would be horribly tough…

Ask not for whom the bell toils – it toils for thee,
We none of us know what the future will be,
But I’d rather die from almost any other disease,
Only let me be spared from dementia – God, please,
Not saying this to raise hackles – for me it’s a fact,
I’d rather die with my dignity still intact…

Ask not for whom the bell toils – it toils for thee,
Mum-in-law, husband, and finally me,
To our mothers, our fathers, and yes – even you,
And to prevent it, there’s nothing that we can do,
I hear the bells toiling – wonder what they portend?
Only know it will all come to nothing in the end…

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Lamb to the Slaughter

Last week we first put the feelers out,
As to how mum-in-law might feel about,
Moving closer to us – just a gentle chat,
Used “safe” words like “retirement flats”,
She jumped right at it – in no way coerced,
As if relieved we’d mentioned it first…

Last night – against all expectations,
Mum-in-law still recalled the conversation,
For once our words she did not forget,
Asked if we’d seen any places for her yet,
Or had we maybe since changed our minds?
The offer – she thought – was oh so kind…

Kept saying she was getting on a bit now,
Didn’t need such a big house anyhow,
Often felt lonely – that she must admit,
And if we’d be happy to “cat sit”,
Help her with the house sale and such,
She’d love to be closer – very much.

On one hand, we were over the moon,
Did not expect that – least not so soon,
But does she realise what we have in mind?
A residential care home of some kind?
Will she get the nuances between that,
And afore-mentioned “assisted living” flats…?

We said yes – we’d take her there to see,
God knows what her reaction will be,
We’ve non-dementia care at first in mind,
That she might well still get behind,
She may accept a home’s the way to go,
But only because we told her so…

At my own self now I just feel sick,
Scruples raised and conscience pricked,
Her sheer gratitude was hard to take,
Knowing what is really here at stake,
Oh, this dementia stuff is torture!
Feel like I’m leading a lamb to the slaughter…

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