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A fall, a trip and a lesson learned

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Miceal and mumRecently my dear old mum was attempting to visit her brother (whose son had unfortunately just passed away that day) when she had a bit of an unfortunate accident and took a tumble that left her with a couple of fractured ribs, a split eye, multiple stitches in her face and, all things considered, having a bit of a rough time, bless her. I found out about her fall whilst I, in turn, was consoling a friend of mine who had – that same day – also lost a close family member who had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. So all-in-all it was a bad few days for everyone one that I hold near and dear.

There were actually a number of other things that went wrong during that time that I won’t bore you by recounting here, but suffice it to say that I am glad those days are behind me. I often wonder why bad things always seem to come together in groups? What was most interesting, though, was that all the bad things seemed to be happening to everyone around me, but not me. I was fine, my life was good, but the same could not be said for all the people I knew. I kept waiting for the ‘shoe to drop’, as the saying goes, wondering when my turn would come; but, when it didn’t, I realised that must be because I was meant to be there for the ones who were having the bad time.

Naturally, I had to get home to Ireland to see how mum was so I took some time off from The Q and hopped on a plane for a trip to my homeland. I can’t tell you how, on the one hand, it was great to see mum and give her a hug (gently of course, remember those fractured ribs!). Yet, on the other hand it felt terrible to see her in that state. She looked so small, frail and vulnerable to me – I just wanted to pick her up and look after her and tell her it would be OK, like she had done for me so many times as a child. It felt natural to be protective of her but I quickly became aware that it wouldn’t be helpful to anyone if I started to treat her like she was old and frail, because she isn’t at all.

My mum, though 76 years old, is still a vital and energetic woman. It comes from a lifetime of raising a family of four children on her own after my father unfortunately died just 10 years into their wonderful marriage. Then she was on-hand for her grandchildren too. All of that and working too – sometimes multiple jobs. They were made of strong stuff in that generation.

IMG_3984 editTo this day she still wakes early and is up and out to mass first thing (her faith is very important to her), then meeting for coffee with her girlfriends (they all know each other from primary school!), then off to ‘do her messages’ as she would say. Most days there is some kind of activity on the calendar: there’s the choir with ‘the girls’ (the ones from primary school); her lunch club; or a game of boccia – a cross between bowls and pétanque  – with ‘the old people’ (I’m not sure who ‘the old people’ are, but as far as she is concerned she’s not one of them!).

She also attends the University of The Third Age, or ‘U3A’ as she calls it, where they go on educational trips or learn new skills like Tai Chi. She lives a full and busy life. So to see her sitting looking frail and the worse for wear in a big chair in her little flat, not having gone outside for a while, was hard.

IMG_3967 editI hired a car at the airport with the sole purpose of chauffeuring her around and getting her out and about, and that is exactly what we did. It was great. We chatted a lot and drove to seaside towns I hadn’t been to since my childhood. We would walk gently along the promenade or, if the wind and rain got too much, just sit in the car and chat as we watched the world go by. We ate out every day, an extravagance my mum wouldn’t hold with ordinarily, but we thought ‘what the hell’. We had a great time. By the time I left she seemed brighter and more upbeat.

IMG_3983 editI learned a lesson though. As much as we want to care for and protect the older generation it is so important not to treat them like they are ‘old’. If we do that they may start to think that they are old, frail and perhaps not as capable, and they could start to age before their time. Rather, I learned to treat someone of the older generation like a person, first and foremost. Yes they are older, and yes they may have physical or mental health issues related to their bodies having had more wear and tear, but they are still people.

I hope I never forget that, and I hope when I get older that the younger people around me will have learned this same lesson too and treat me with the care and respect that every member of the older generation deserves!

Until next time,

Miceal. x

6 Comments

  1. Shirley Symonds April 13, 2015 at 2:12 pm -  Reply

    Hello Miceal I really most comment on your very lovely and quite moving recent blog
    I am so sorry to hear about your mum and I am sure she loved you being there for her and did not think for a minute you looked on her as being old
    Life sometimes is not always kind and it is hard when loved ones are going through a very troubled time as I know recently but all you can do is to be there for each other
    I am no spring chicken as they say but at 63 do not consider myself as being old I hope I never will and you are right we still want to be treated like a person and not just a OAP so thank you for those very kind and very true words

  2. jilly April 14, 2015 at 2:35 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal
    Just to say after reading your blog today, how mooved I was. You are rite that sometimes things just seem to go wrong in clumps! As you say matbe it’s not happening to you so you are there to support thoes arround you.. I also think then when things are going well, if we allow ourselves to see it that too can happen in little groups.
    What comes across on screen as well as in your writings, is that you are such a warm perceptive guy, you always pause to think of others and your mum, and family are such a close unit. A happy family is something no one should take for granted.
    Thank you Miceal for sharing your thoughts and photographs.

  3. Karen Q April 14, 2015 at 10:46 pm -  Reply

    Miceal so sorry to hear about your Mum’s tumble. She must be a bit fed up not being able to get out and about as easy at the minute. Bet she loved seeing you and going on your trips together. Thanks to our wonderful weather, I’ve also had some great picnics with my children, family and friends in my car – it’s part of the reason I’m keeping hold of my battered 4×4!

    Don’t worry too much, I’m sure “the girls” will keep an eye on her too. Hopefully it won’t be too long before she’s back enjoying her active (and from the sounds of it, very busy!) life. As usual I’ll be at Mass too this Sunday. It will be the second anniversary of my oldest son’s death from a brain tumour aged twenty-eight. Faith, family and friends can get us through life’s toughest times.

    My Dad’s also 76 (Mum’s a spring chick at 71!). He’s gone to Uni for the first time and is in his second year. When the battery went on my 4×4 recently he told me to leave my keys with the neighbour and he replaced it for me. It’s big and heavy and I was worried him doing it on his own but I’d get such a telling off if I suggested he take it easy! Hope my youngest son, my daughter (-in-law!) and his children don’t treat me with kid gloves when I’m older. I’ve got one 18 month old granddaughter and another on the way, very busy summer ahead!

    Take care Miceal, much love to you (and your Mum!) xxx

  4. Debbie April 15, 2015 at 8:37 pm -  Reply

    Hi Miceal,
    I was moved by your blog I know what you mean by how things happen all at once. For me last few years been hard I lost my wonderful Dad in August 2012 to cancer it was only 7 weeks and we lost him(70 years old). My Mum is 67 she is very much like your Mum always out about and very independent. But like you say when they are poorly you want to do everything you can for them as they did for us when we were younger but its so right that we must let them do what they want as they are so independent.
    My husband has had cancer twice he has yearly check ups last August they found a bengin tumour in his brain but been assured it shouldn’t do any thing but then in September last year he had a stroke. He is getting better slowly I believe it makes us stronger and I believe things happen for a reason even when its heartbreaking. But we are very positive and we always have a smile and laugh everyday even when its tough days .
    You take care of yourself and hope your Mum is better soon God Bless xxx

  5. Mary Lock April 18, 2015 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

    Hello Miceal, what a loving son you are . Well done. Your Mum must be so proud of you. I enjoy watching you on QVC and hope you will be with them for a long time.

  6. Linda April 18, 2015 at 10:40 pm -  Reply

    Dear Miceal,
    I have just been reading your blog I am so sorry to hear about the bad time you have been having in the last week or so. I hope your Mother will make a quick recovery very soon. Losing people you love is so sad, you wonder why you, but time they say is a great healer, I hope this is so. I have Lost two of my dearly loved sisters within four months of one another. It seems like the end of the world at this moment in time.
    I hope your Mother gets well soon.
    Love Linda

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