Posts Tagged ‘mother’
As some friends know my mother is in hospital, having kidney stones removed. It looks like some remaining ones have blocked the kidney, and it is taking days for them to do the scan so tomorrow sees the start of her second week. When she comes out, they operate more, remove the kidney, or discharge her is any one’s guess including the medical staff.
When visiting a hospital do not bring flowers, and be sure to use the hand wash dispensers dotted around the hospital. Contamination and super bugs are the unwelcome visitors not to bring in with you, and with someone else entering the ward I shouted at some guys that waltzed in without doing so.
For gifts may I suggest the number one thing guaranteed to raise a smile? Ear plugs. There are four people to a unit, two units to a ward. Recently admitted, opposite mum, was a woman when the pain hits (ulcers over both legs) who whines and screams in delirium till given something, or at least attention. Then on my first day there was the chap opening the window and shouting for the police, while the nursing staff wondered if they should sedate against his will. Finally, when it was quite at 4 am my Mum tiptoed out the ward to the restroom – she noticed eyes from beds watching her as she went through the wards. Suddenly buzzers were being pushed to alert nurses to wet beds and people needing help answering the call of nature - the noise preventing any chance of Mum getting back to sleep on her return.
If you are a good deal younger (as an offspring of the patient this is nothing to be ashamed of) it is good to visit for conversation. Surrounded by two people in their late seventies, their conversation was repeating, sometimes even during the same meal. Not sure if mum was suggesting that the ear plugs would be good for this too, but when I arrived Mum insisted on leaving the ward with me to get away in the corridor. In hospital Mum is not just worried about loosing kidney stones, or even a kidney, but her sanity.
Have money with you. Things in hospital cost, things which usually you take for granted. Screens that you can watch TV from are available across all beds , at the bargain price of £8 ($16) for three days. True there is a common room, with seating for six people and a TV to stare at – it has not worked in ages. Old magazines are available but everyone is scared of MRSA to read them. Then there is the 1000 piece jig saw to do, only the tables over the beds are no where near big enough to do them. So much of my time has been spent going to the shop to get things.
At one point the people in Mum’s unit were trying to get me to join in their conspiracy to get some decent coffee. They have faith that coffee outside the ward is much better, but wondered how I could sneak four cups of coffee past the nurses station. While pondering, the beverage trolly was wheeled in by a nurse – and they enthusiastically asked for coffee acting grateful. I hoped that they did not cover up when the doctors asked how they were feeling. So my plan is to bring a decent cupper in next time as if it is mine but give it to mum. Sometimes a conspiracy requires forward planning and the solatary act of one that can out stare the watchful sister of the ward.
At some point you may wonder when to leave. The patient will tell you when. This is no reflection on your company. Rather it is the patient working out when they can best recover after you have gone – for Mum that is about an hour before they serve supper, though it is her stated concern that I did not get back too late. Distracted from their current situation, they start to realise how it will feel without you being there. Left with people they do not want to ever see again, not knowing what is happening next, and desperately trying not to scream at you how afraid they really are.
I dread to think what it must be like going into hospital alone with no one to visit you. My advice if you have soemone to visit in hospital but you are not sure – go. Even if all you do is hold their hand as they recover from the pain of an operation, you are a moment of escape for them, with the downside that you cannot take them away till the doctors have finished. That moment is the best gift you can give them – ear plugs being a close second.
Christmas Day was enjoyable. A walk to Carbis Bay and back to St. Ives created an appetite. To make life easier for Mum I cooked the vegetarian Xmas dinner for me and my Aunt. That went down well and my mother has accepted that I can actually cook – this is no small thing.
As to presents we watched the DVD I gave mother – “March of the Penguins” which in 2006 won an Oscar for best documentary. Now I knew my mother would enjoy watching it not only for the cinematography and what is a heart warming story of survival in harsh conditions – but no mention of the word “evolution”.
Every year there are the Royal Institution Christmas lectures (Dawkins’ lecture “Growing Up in the Universe” can be watched for free here) – this year on TV they were given by Dr Hugh Montgomery exploring the human body – the first two lectures covering oxygen, food and energy. Today’s one covers how the body keeps warm.
As a nation we do like our period dramas but we also like class ones as well. “To the Manor Born” was a very popular comedy series that denoted class distinction when Penelope Keith’s character Audrey had to sell the manor to Peter Bowles’ character Richard – who is a self made business man with a Czech mother. The series ended with them finally marrying and twenty five years later sees the return of Grantleigh Manor for a one off Christmas special as they are about to celebrate their twenty fifth wedding anniversary.
Despite being many light years away from how anyone lives in Britain, the episode was funny and did actually take on the issue of supermarkets and food suppliers destroying the livelihood of farmers (the straight carrot via the wiggly sort). However, a one off is perhaps all this could be – a nostalgic look at a comedy which was the most watched show of the 1970s (I do not quite go far back enough but I saw the repeats as a child!).
Well I must get ready – my mother is determined to go to the Boxing Day sales (though thankfully late in the day rather than queuing for hours) and apparently my knowledge of digital equipment is to be used in making choices.
As to her watching the Ken Miller lecture about evolution and intelligent design that I have mentioned in previous blogs – I have a sneaking suspicion that there will not be enough time.
I have not spent Christmas with my mother for about five years (usually been with girlfriends family but that is no longer an option). So tomorrow going down to Cornwall St. Ives for a few days. However I just hope that it will be not as lively as when she previously visited me in November (see here).
Yet she has proclaimed something that shocked me – perhaps more than Dawkins winning the Templeton Prize. She said she had reviewed a book recommended by Dawkins, and had from reading it drawn the conclusion that Jesus in all probability does not exist. My mum asked if I was ok when the phone went quiet my end.
The only thing is that my mum still believes in Intelligent Design. She has never watched the links to the Ken Miller lecture nor the documentary that covers the Dover trial. Mum has said that she will however watch them with me while I am down. The problem I think is one of actually wanting a simple explanation – “god did it” is admittedly not a simple explanation but it has the basis for some that no more thinking is really required. Life exists as it is ordained, we return tothe source after we die, everything that happens has a good reason even if it does not make sense at the time – we make of it what we will.
The scientific explanation of the natural world however seems one of irreducible complexity – terms are used, concepts that were covered in science class fifty odd years ago. The main barrier is not explaining evolutionary theory (Ken Miller in the video link does a superb job talking about it and the evidence that verifies the theory, and why evolution is a contentious issue for some) – rather it is getting past a mind set that says “god did it – all I need to know. If I agree with Darwin next I am going to be a horrible person. This new learning seems hard”
Hopefully will continue to blog on my old computer that my Mum now has. Next time I write I will be in Cornwall.
“Why bring up evolution?”
My mother said to me
Attenborough was talking
On the TV.
So I never learnt
What he had to say
My mother’s religion
Would get in the way.
It is with some trepidation I write this – but my mother claims not to read my blogs and I will soon know if she reads this one!
Basically my mother still holds on to the Jehovah’s Witness version of Christianity – still for example gets the Awake! and Watchtower magazines. Although she says she does not attend meetings she wrote me a letter that “destroyed” evolution as a fact (the key one being that leaves are green for our benefit). When I spoke to her about macro evolution she admitted that the letter was not all her own work – an Elder had helped drafting it using a Society publication.
There was a time when we went to a restaurant, and over dinner my mother remarked about a beautiful walk she did. The branches had gaily danced in a summer breeze, the grass was a succulent green, flowers were blooming an array of colour. I was entranced till she then shouted how could I be so ungrateful not thinking there was a creator god behind it all? So loud that diners looked at us. So bad when I went to the bar a guy came up and bought me a drink saying he thought I needed it.
I mention this because this sort of thing is not uncommon in a family when a child turns their back on their parent’s faith. Though I never bring it up, the fact that I am involved in the Richard Dawkins Foundation has made it difficult for my mother. The blood campaign against Jehovah’s Witness Dogma has made it worse. This came to ahead when my mother visited me recently – the language would have made a sailor blush (why do Christians think it is moral to swear at non-believers?), and I had to ask her to leave.
Thing is of course that she will not read the Dawkins’ or Jones’ books on evolution. She will not accept the validity of the theory (or the significance of a theory in science) nor the understanding and predictions that genetics have verified. One reason is because such authors have renounced the devil as existing – therefore they can be used as tools of the evil one.
If you are encountering this in your family please realise you are not alone. Many people go through this. Thankfully I do not have to live with it, but I know many teenagers that under their parents’ roof do not feel like this shelter is their home. All I can say is that when people cannot agree to disagree it is hard. I know my mother does it because she really thinks come death or Judgement Day I am going to be destroyed forever – which is what I think will happen when I die only I think it will apply to us all.
In short it is done out of love and fear. Love because she wants me to be happy with her and the family forever. Fear because Jehovah is a jealous god, but also a fear because she will not allow herself to understand science, nor expose herself to what it has to say. It is a god of the gaps approach for her because she says she finds it easier than science. She also finds comfort in believing in the New Age Conspiracy because the madness in the world – there is a design about it!
I have given up trying to explain off my own back how I came by my views. Yet unfortunately I will be taken to task over it. Yet though it can be very emotional at times, I try to remain calm. Because though it is hard to take your own mother shouting at you, seeing her get upset, getting angry with you I know that it is her way of trying to “save” me. I also know that if ever I fell on hard times she would be the first to come to my aid – I am not disowned, cast aside. There I am fortunate, I know some people take Jesus at his word when he said he came to separate Fathers from sons and mothers from daughters.
How do you cope? I think you have to understand where it is coming from (fear and love) and I think you have to try and keep it as civil as you can. Do not be the first to raise your voice, and remember that you can distance yourself. Also if the only communication you ever seem to have is when you argue then you need to change the dynamics of the relationship. Go on, cook your parents a lovely meal, take Dad off to the pub (easier in the UK than the USA I know as a teenager). Tell Mum how tidy the house is, and how grateful you are for what they do do for you. So grateful you want to help!
Because I will always be grateful for my parents. I actually enjoy being alive, without their care I would not have survived. Even now it is good to know that I can depend on my mother’s love if the writing was on the wall. Never will I repay the debt I owe nor am I expected too. That is the bond, and I do not see why religion and non belief should ever be allowed to get in the way. Shame on those cults that encourage that splitting a family in two.