Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 in review

The best laid plans, as they say...

Do feel free to go read my 2022 end of year post and laugh - probably somewhat hollowly. 

For those who missed the story - we were called up to parents by neighbours at the beginning of January, as Mum had had some kind of fall. Found her not brilliant (with hindsight, she may have had the first of a few minor seizures) and Dad seriously unwell with what fortunately turned out not to be a stroke. Dad to hospital, wife and I up to care for Mum for the next month while we tried to convince her she needed carers in. (How on earth Dad managed to look after her alone (beyond sheer bloody-mindedness) is beyond either of us. She'd been largely chair-bound for most of the past decade.)

When you're 87 and admitted to hospital in as bad a state as Dad was, it's not at all uncommon not to make it out alive. Dad, fortunately, is made of markedly more stubborn Yorkshire grit, and despite being flat on his back for most of 5 weeks, was back walking with the aid of a frame and then sticks before the end of April. And still in possession of the majority of his marbles.

Finally won the carers argument with Mum as it was the only way the hospital would allow Dad home. Sadly she was growing weaker, and passed away at the beginning of March. Next couple of months were taken up with funeral arrangements and starting the process of sorting out her estate. Then Dad (wisely, to be honest) decided that he'd found a really nice residential care home, and didn't want to live on his own in a house that would easily hold 6 while paying for care. (He was wise enough to recognise that his need for some form of regular daily care wasn't going to go away, and quite frankly, after the amount of effort he'd put into looking after Mum, I was quite happy for him to do whatever ever the hell he felt happiest with, because he'd Damn Well Earned It.)

And around about that time Anne's dad passed away. So, once the dust had settled on that, July was spent moving Dad, and then August to pretty much the end of November spent getting the house sold and emptying it of two peoples' lives for the past 50 years. I am I think blessed in that while Dad is a hoarder, he is remarkably good (whether the hospital stay was a wakeup call, who knows?), in fact ruthlessly so, at the idea of 'I no longer need this, lets get rid of it'). So we did - a local auctioneers run a house-clearance service, and they basically auctioned what was saleable (some nice antique furniture) and disposed of the rest. Finally found a buyer and agreed a price, not long after Mum's probate got granted, and Dad and I have spent December helping him set up various savings accounts, ISAs etc to store his half of the proceeds. (Us, we just paid off our mortgage - thanks Mum).

And for a final kick in the teeth, our close friend and musical partner in crime Steve passed away very suddenly in October. 

So. here I am. It's the end of 2023, and ... whew. In some ways I'd like it back for a do-over, and I know I'd like my Mum and Steve back. But... all things must pass, and we move on.

Takeways from that experience:

  • Lasting Power Of Attorney - set it up NOW while the people involved still have their mental faculties. You don't have to use it, but it's there.
  • Treat elderly relatives protesting that they are fine with a healthy degree of scepticism until you have evidence with your own eyes.
  • The process for dealing with what happens when someone passes away is remarkably well documented, Don't panic.
  • The NHS are overstretched, underpaid, under-appreciated and being manipulated by the present Government for their own gains and that of their cronies.
  • You probably won't have to pay inheritance tax. The upcoming abolition probably isn't going to affect you at all, the Government would just like you to think they are.
  • Tell the people you care about that you love them. You might not get another chance.

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