I spoke with my Mom today about my Grandparents who you may recall are both in hospital. My Granddad is making a swift recovery from the ‘superbug’ that it now turns out was not MRSA but a strain of that virus. They’re both going to be 85 in the next couple of weeks, just after my birthday.

My Granddad is a strong old man. A WWII veteran who fought in Africa at something like 19 years of age. He’s seen a lot in his life. I remember taking my computer down to Essex to show him live pictures from Mars that NASA were streaming from the first rover that landed back in 97. He blew me away back then when he sat back in his chair and quietly asked “So these pictures are coming live from Mars?” “Yes” I explained “They have something like a four minute delay on them.” He shook his head and said “Well now, isn’t that something, pictures from the planet Mars.”

He seemed really pleased. Then he said “When I was a kid growing up in London the man on our street that everyone envied was the guy who owned a horse and cart. Cars were around, but you never saw them. In my life I’ve seen the coming of cars, telephones, passenger jets, a moon landing, computers, a space ship that can come and go to space as often as it pleases, the internet and now live pictures beamed from the planet mars into our home.” I was blown away by that. Here was an old guy who I knew just as Granddad, but who had lived a life full of more change than many of us could even begin to imagine. I mean London without cars!!

My Grandmother, whom is affectionally known to the family as ‘Yogi’ for a reason I know not, is not doing so well. When she hit 80 years old she developed a rather unreasonable fear of retirement homes and old age. so much so that she stopped venturing outside and walked around their home less and less. This put an enormous burden of care upon my Granddad who helped hide her inactivity and fears from their daughter, my Mom. It all came to a head of course in November when Yogi was rushed into hospital very sick indeed.

Basically the Doctors want her to start walking again. Her mobility is her power, but she is scared of having a fall, and being admitted to sheltered accommodation, the place where old people go to die. The problem currently is that she has had such little movement in the last few years that she has developed some blood poisoning which has given her mild dementia.

In a recent visit to the hospital she told my Mom that child had died on their ward that day. She is in a private room and there are no children in that wing of the hospital. She then began to cry so Mom comforted her and asked her what was wrong. She answered “I think it might have been my baby.” This shocked and upset my Mom as you might imagine. The next day they had much the same conversation again.

I guess we have to face the fact that they are getting on, and these are the final years of their lives. but I don’t want my Grandmother to become some batty old dear who sits in a hospital crying over non-existent dead babies. I want her to stand up, and walk! To grab the remaining time by the horns and live her life as well as she can. I want her to not be a burden on my Granddad who has aged dramatically in the last five years, turning from a ‘sprightly old falla’ into an old man who doesn’t really resemble the man I knew as Granddad.

I know they’re getting on, and in many ways 85 years old is a pretty good innings. But when they eventually go out I want it to be with a few more runs under their belt. And if God is reading this, then he can consider that a prayer.