It was as you may remember Valentine’s Day yesterday. A day with one really nasty memory for me. Some years ago, a Saturday it was, I received a phone call, from a most delicious sounding man, who wanted to know if I was me, then wanted to know if I was my brother’s sister. Having reassured him this was all true, he then told me my brother was in hospital, having had an operation to his arm after falling and cutting it badly. He gave me the name of the hospital. He also told me his name.
Alas, no sexy blind date, rather a day of shocks, one after the other. Discovering my brother was a serious alcoholic, had had a grand mal seizure during the night, now had the DTs and had almost died from loss of blood. Then at his home, discovering that, although the caretaker had had the downstairs loo area cleaned, there was still evidence of the blood, of his drinking, and of the fact he’d not left home to go to work for months. To realise that despite a weekly chat on the phone, that I had no idea what had really been happening in his life.
Some good discoveries, that day and in the following weeks; that the doctors had decided to operate in the emergency, despite not being able to locate a family member for permission. I was very grateful that they had. That the nursing staff offered support and a strong sweet cup of coffee to someone so visibly shocked, and then offered moral support and very useful advice. That he still had some good friends, who were so willing to help that it stunned me.
I had to do some pretty quick growing up. Taking decisions for someone else is not something to do lightly. Getting them to sign a power of attorney for you. Getting them to face what only they can do to save their own lives. All without seeming to be a bossy-britches, or accusing.
Being scared and yet doing what had to be done.
The relief later of tearing up the power of attorney in front of him, having supper in the pub, bangers and mash for both, me with a glass of wine, he with a coke.
Sometimes you have to do all the difficult stuff and also hold your tongue, to achieve what needs to be done.