This is a question I have been asked many times this week as my family – or at least one branch of it – enters the time when a loved and cherished part of the family begins to grow too old to live the independent life he – and, on his behalf, we – enjoys.
All families have their own nuances to be negotiated and so we have ours. In particular, the natural order of things has been disrupted, for both of his children have died. And so we are a loving, but cobbled crew proud to be called on, soulfully sad that this is how it is.
One thing in our favour: we are all in general agreeance. One thing not: we don’t know what is right.
‘But,’ I want to say to all those who ask does he know you’re calling on his behalf, ‘I fully understand why you ask, and I fully agree that you should. But you can trust us. We are not trying to take control of his life. We respect that he has cared for himself all these last 30 years. We know that we should not impose the values of our life onto his. We understand. But like I said, we wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t right. You can trust us.’
There’s no one answer to age (though if you have it, you will let me know, won’t you?).
Meanwhile, my children have invented a game. It is a simple game where one or other of them drapes himself across the bath in various unsafe ways generally involving bridges made of legs. Then, the other one of them rolls metal marbles from the set of magnetic sticks and balls from one end of the bath to the other while the draped one tries to catch or jump on them. Occasionally, they get cross with each other and one or other of them throws a metal marble at his brother. Unlike me, they are quite good shots. The whole thing is as dangerous as it is loud and I say they can play it as long as they close the bathroom door.