“Hope I Die Before I Get Old”

As The Who put it nearly fifty years ago.

My mother was in an old peoples home. She hated it. She referred to it as the ” Work House” . She died aged 90 in 2003. Depressing days as we had to visit her at least once a week and also an elderly and demented aunt who died aged 82 in 2004. Two different homes.

I saw enough in both homes, never to want to be in one. The depressing lounges for smokers and non-smokers. The communal dining rooms, and the green “hospital” crockery. The mens and womens bathrooms. The two budgies in the too-small cage was the perfect metaphor. Oh and the confrontational twice yearly meetings with the social workers. And the…Guilt.

When they moved into the old peoples homes, their “stuff” came to our house. Nearly a decade later and there are still boxes in our loft and in our garage. Someday…maybe we will get round to doing “something”.

I dont want to be in an old peoples home. I saw enough. It is about ….”stuff”. I live with Mrs FJH in a four bedroom house. Just us…and Keano (the cat ) and going into an old peoples home is about LIMITING your life. No cat…just the nice lady who brings her pet labrador in every week so that the old folks can pet it. And of course the budgies.

We have spent thirty years putting a home together. Nearly two decades in this house. We have “stuff”. Ornaments, Photographs. I have “stuff”. My ” Route 66″ Mug, my  ” Alamo” Mug, my “Texas” Mug….my postcards, my football programmes, my books, my autographs, my stamps….and the small matter of three thousand toy soldiers. My Life simply wont fit into one room. And I dont want to sit in a sitting room with a random group of old folks…the only thing we have in common being our age. Sorry…thats not for me. One of them might even be an Alliance Party voter.

I had to watch the Stephen Nolan Show tonight. Not my fault. Keano was lying on the  remote control. It was depressing viewing and an uncomfortable reminder of how things used to be. John Compton ..the top Health Service official was decidedly uncomfortable…talking about his proposals for reform of the retirement home sector. And Edwin Poots in a recorded interview was just as uncomfortable.

When politicians and officials talk about Reform and (worse) a Consultation Process…it is of course a sham. Life for the Elderly and their Carers will just get worse.

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6 Responses to “Hope I Die Before I Get Old”

  1. factual says:

    There is a move towards more home-care and that is better when it can work. Or a “fold” where old people have a lot more independence.

    Costly but has to be faced up to – by my generation. Your generation has (i) left my generation with masses of debt and has sold off all the state silver and (ii) now expects my generation to pay for your nursing homes. I accept the need to treat the elderly with respect and dignity, what I am unhappy about is that you did not prepare better to build up reserves to cover the cost of elder care. Shortsightedness.

    You are the “lucky generation” (that does not mean that you individually have not had bad luck but on average your generation has been very lucky). Your generation walked into a job after uni. Your generation didn’t know what a CV was. Your generation didn’t need to have a string of internships and could buy a house without a huge deposit. Full employment and a job for life. The welfare state, free university education. Could retire young, not having the prospect of working to 70. Then your generation borrowed, sold off all the state assets like Telecom Eireann, and left our generation with masses of debt and no state assets. So: limited sympathy.

    • bangordub says:

      You’ve set the cat among the pigeons there factual. I could correct practically every statement there in detail but I’ll leave it to Mr Fitz.If he doesn’t I will.
      My tin hat is firmly in place

      • factual says:

        FJH is part of the lucky generation; they got everything free and *still* managed to sell off state assets like Telecom Éireann.

      • To be honest Mr Dub…I couldnt care less.
        Ms Factual styles herself a socialist but falls for the oldest Capitalist trick…setting one group against another group.
        In this case Generation against Generation.
        She probably doesnt know that her hero Gerry Adams is part of the same “lucky” generation.

  2. Political Tourist says:

    Just thinking over the dates and ages.
    FJH, your mother saw both the start of the Orange State back in the 1920s plus the whole of the civil rights movement right through to the GFA.
    Almost the entire 20th Century.
    Going back 40 odd years ago, your mother at roughly the age you are now FJH had a son in his late teens living in an area going through a political nervous breakdown.
    Your mother and all the other mothers of that era should have been given a medal.
    Btw FJH, again going by the dates, did you meet any of your grandparents?

    • Indeed.
      My mother would have been 100 in November last year.
      She often said she was born the same year as the Titanic sank…but always added AFTER it sank.
      She was the youngest of eleven children. Her father died after an accident at his work in about 1921-22.
      I had three grandparents living when I was born. My maternal grandmother who had lived mostly in County Armagh died in Coalisland, Co Tyrone when she was about 84. I was 4 years old and only have very vague memories ….I recall that I fell into nettles and she came out of the house to beat the nettles with her walking stick.
      My paternal grandparents died before I turned 7 and 9 but I do remember them.
      Without getting over-emotional, it is a big loss to lose all grandparents before the age of nine. I dont think I ever realised just how much.
      My own father died just 6 weeks after my second son was born. But he got a buzz from his grandchildren …he lived to see all five (including my sisters three girls).
      The strange thing is (and every grandparent I know would say the same)….is that even before my first child was born I kinda knew what a fathers love is. We EXPECT to feel that way about our own child.
      But being a GRANDPARENT is an unexpected bonus…It is mind blowing.

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