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Sport 40: 2012


page 103


After Grandpa is gone Gran can’t be left on her own in the old farmhouse, not in winter. My uncle voices our collective despair when he blurts out, ‘But what’s the solution?’ No one wants to be responsible for placing a free spirit in an institution. So, for a while, Gran stays with one of my uncles. Within months his wife is taken ill. My uncle struggles under the burden of multiple care needs. ‘Mother is not reliable anymore. Fine one day, then utterly batty and erratic the next.’ His guilt is painted on his face. But no one doubts his assessment. We’re all heavy with guilt. That leaves the rest home. Curiously, Gran doesn’t seem to mind. A social butterfly at heart, suddenly she is surrounded by people, always someone to share a meal with. ‘Write to her,’ my auntie says. And I do. I send her postcards from my travels, carefully crafted anecdotes of my food adventures in New Zealand, knowing what pleasure she’d derive from experiencing it first hand. I have no idea when she stops reading them, or caring about who wrote them, when mail becomes anonymous background noise, like the radio and TV. ‘Keep writing,’ says my auntie. ‘The cards are not for her. They are for the staff, so they know someone cares.’