Before my paternal grandmother (the Portuguese one) passed away I took dad to visit her several times.
She was his constant in life.
All the women in his life passed through like water; paid or otherwise!
She was patient and for most of the time he listened to her.
She loved him as a mother would and he adored her but when she became more ‘demanding’ with her own care and could no longer visit dad she took a back seat in his plans.
She used to live with dad at the hotel and albeit she was illiterate she could cook for numbers for which most would run and hide from.
She had a tough life but nothing was too much bother for her and for a true devout catholic she had a mouth like a sailor which never ceased to amuse me.
She would swear or fart, then laugh, then perform the cross and ask for forgiveness. God bless the catholic’s right?!
I have never met anyone else who drank wine with every meal and moonshine after lunch and still managed to hold it all together even though she often queried why she fell asleep after lunch everyday… especially on the home made stuff made by her sister at home. Sadly no one else has carried this tradition on of the homemade moonshine as her sister was a spinster and all that home brewing (and Uber dangerous) shizzle has now finished and we have some of the last in our house to this very day….complete with flies!
So Grandma or avó as we called her, was never happier than when she was either feeding people, cleaning the place or being around kids and animals.
My first real memories of her was when she came to live with us in the UK and spoke no English!! As a child I could not understand how this was possible.
I was still very very young and it was an interesting time and although she never quite got the English ways she did enjoy being here.
I recall that I didn’t understand that she could neither read nor write so spent my first few weeks of living in Portugal trying to help her to write her name whilst eating bovril on toast! Sadly neither took off!
So back to dad…. the penultimate time we went to visit her she was already into her 90’s. She had become slightly incontinent but was aware that dad was losing his marbles and whilst she had all hers it was simply her body giving up.
She pulled me to one side and told me that I would need all the strength that God would give me.
I asked her what babble she she was on about and she started to talk about her life around my dad.
Even his sister chipped in about the patience I would need as dad sat and joked with his cousins.
I laughed it off at the time but I look back and think she knew… they knew what it would be like for me. Avó warned me of his selfish ways and that once he was stripped back from all the glitz and the money he would become a lonely and very bitter man who may die alone.
Now reading this and not knowing my dad you may be led to believe that she was a real piece of work but she knew and she was right.
She was an ox. The woman buried her first child herself and gave birth to my dad the next day at home. They don’t come stronger than those.
So …. back to dad.
In the last 48 hours dad has pushed me a little to say the least and bite my tongue I do!
2 days ago he called me to accuse me of being a liar (I will come back to this another day). We had a heated debate over the phone, which he had managed to use due to the lady friend assisting him in calling me, but none the less he was put in his place with not a raised tone to be heard… it’s hard believe me when all you want to do is scream and shout and dementia aside, tell them some home truths… but you don’t.
Then yesterday I took him out for lunch as we had errands to run on my day off. We arranged to meet. Of course he never showed up because he forgot! Thankfully I drove to his place only to find him sat waiting.. again I would love to scream ffs dad we agreed 20 minutes ago to meet at the pub?!!! But I don’t.
Then eating in the pub. I order what he wants to eat every time; chicken wings. Now I am not a ‘meat on the bone’ lady however I don’t have any issue with people eating anything in front of me. Fish eyes, head, anything but yesterday dads eating of the chicken wings even stopped me eating.
A lover of marrow he is so I do question how much one could potentially get from a chicken leg bone but I don’t saying anything and he carried on with his attempt at bone snapping and gristly chewing. Credit to him I will say as the plate was left with nothing but clean bones at the end.
That was almost the last straw until we went to a shop before I took him home. They had sweets at the counter. I took one unwrapped and handed it to him. How I wish I hadn’t.
He proceeded to masticate like a Friesian cow for all in the shop to endure only to then remove the sweet and drop it on the floor by their door. Again I say nothing but Christ I would love to.
But today when he bumbled about in the bathroom after spitting and then farting not once but 4 times I found myself wondering why oh why!
Patience in bucket loads.
Saint hood? Hmmm
Canonised? Maybe because now I have decided that we (I) are moving dad in the next 4 weeks…..