It’s nearly the weekend. Many of us are feeling sentimental about our extended families – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I’ve been in tears watching as husbands speak to their wives through the windows of care homes; alzheimer’s sufferers need repeated explanations as to why the world is how it is and tears come each time they understand what that means.
One of our wonderful Activate supporters, Linda Currin, sent us some extracts from her own writing. This one helps describe the sense of calm that arrives when a loved one enters the house:
My granny came to our home one day. She arrived at our house and drew my mother in from the moment she walked through our door – familiar, comfortable, gentle: like an old sweater. She was caressing my mother and wrapping her in marshmellows of concern. Her voice around me swirled like a mist of contentment that soothed my troubles. We had plenty of those, but somehow, this strength that flowed, this very substance of peace and common sense enveloped us and melted everything else into oblivion. There was nothing else that mattered and wisdom reigned in our house that day. Our world was righted.
We all miss elements of this ‘substance of peace and common sense’ that arrives when ‘the real adult’ breezes in and sorts out all our troubles.
So, I’ve been thinking… what can we do when we are in need of a bit of granny’s wisdom and calm this weekend? And what can we do to help our granny or *insert loved one’s name* feel more included in our family life during this time of isolation?
Here are a few ideas to try:
- As a family, share favourite memories of time with relatives. Children could draw pictures and send them, adults could write a postcard sharing the memories.
- Get the family photo albums out. If you are able to video chat with your loved ones, then flick through the pages while they are on the chat, to spark conversation and remember happier times.
- Get a photo printing app on your phone and send a photobook or a few prints so they can have a look. There are some ‘free’ printing apps that allow you a certain number of ‘free’ prints every month. You can arrange for them to be sent directly to save on postage. However many photos we send through WhatsApp, there’s nothing like a printed photo when you want a smile.
- Find the biggest cushion or pillow and take it down to the sofa to cuddle it when you feel a bit delicate.
- Think about the things that happen at their house (certain meals, routines, treats for the kids) and ask for help to recreate them at home.
- Book a cup of tea with them regularly! Of course, you won’t be sharing the same teapot, but you will be sharing a calming ritual that helps both of you feel connected. Make sure you get them to yourself when you need a bit of their calming influence. I have always kind of hated big family video chats – they’re so exhausting and tend to be dominated by the youngest child! So all these Zoom and Facebook group chats are already feeling pretty waring! Make sure you get some time alone with your mum or grandma and don’t feel it always has to be a video chat, you’re probably both more comfortable with phone calls.
- If you have kids at home, get them to phone Grandma and Grandad and read them stories they have written or show them work they have done that day. My mum always has really encouraging words for my kids when my half-hearted ‘good job!’ from behind my laptop isn’t really cutting it!
I’m sure you’re developing many more ways to adapt during this time of social distancing and isolation. If you want a set of virtual grandparents to adopt on Instagram, you can’t go wrong with Pauline and Geoffrey Walker @geoffreywalk. All the homely things your parents and grandparents will be doing are being lived out in the short video clips they upload every day.
Pauline and Geoffrey’s posts on Instagram
I hope you feel loved this weekend and find ways to deal with the lack of hugs. I wonder how long each hug will last at the end of all this! Will any of us get any work done or will it just be a huge hug fest for a few days?
‘Love to everyone’.