When does life become just an existence?

I have two Grandmas. 

They are called Irene and Margaret.


Grandma Irene and a very baby me!


Grandma Margaret and Grandad Jack with a very baby me!


Both in their 80’s. Irene is 87 and Margaret is 82.

They both have 3 children (two sons and one daughter) and each have 5 grandchildren. 

Sadly this is where there similarities end.

For Irene is independent, lives in a little warden controlled flat that is on a good bus route for her shopping, although she’ll sometimes get a taxi back once she has bags to carry. She has just come back from two weeks on holiday with some of the family and sent me a postcard telling me about her paddling in the sea and what a nice time she was having. If you visit her on a Sunday she’ll extend her usual amount of cooking to ensure there are enough lamb chops to go round or put a salad spread one which means there will be loads to help yourself to.

Irene is a little a deaf and sometimes can’t hear you even with her hearing aid in and if you come up behind be aware she might jump! She is hilarious, she has a great sense of humour and recently went to see ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’ live. She wants to know what is going on and will be the first to help given the chance. At Christmas she is always the last to open her presents because she gets so many, but be warned, if she doesn’t get something she wants then you’ll probably know about it. After all at 87 years old you must surely know what you do and and don’t need.


Afro Grandma, happy to pose for the camera when her set curls went haywire!

Irene is amazing for the life she has led and is still living. She often tells me that she tries not to think about how old she is as on the inside she doesn’t feel any different to when she was a young woman, this is the reason she doesn’t look in the mirror often because that is her reminder that she is not.

For Grandma Irene is who she has always has been.

Now Margaret, she lives in a home shared by others. When you visit her it is not in comfort of a home you once knew as a youngster anymore. There are people asking you if they can make you drink from the communal day room, which if you were to be honest smells of urine and is far from inviting. You never know how she will be when you see her, if she is awake will she be happy to see you, upset and distressed or even pretend you are not there. 

No longer when you visit are you given something which has been stashed away for months or maybe years until she thought it was the right time to give it to you, or do you listen to stories about days gone by. Margaret always seemed to have a knack for remembering the days and dates stuff had happened and who was there and her asking if I remember them, even though I was maybe only 4 at the time!


Grandma’s 80th Birthday, the last time the whole family were together

Her life is not what it once was. She is no longer the no nonsense, to the point lady you didn’t want to cross. It would be amazing if she was.

For Grandma Margaret has Dementia.





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