Of course I could always PAY for the joys of blogging, there's a mad thought.
What's driven me to the keyboard is my discussion with my dad yesterday about dear old grumpy grandad. The last times I saw GG (still in the nursing home, still with one leg, still grumpy) I cleaned the suspicious grunge out from under his fingernails and trimmed them and I also scraped the wax out of his hearing aids.
WHEN YOU WERE A KIDDY, he boomed at me, YOU SAID YOU WOULD LOOK AFTER ME WHEN I WAS OLD.
This would lead again to the story of Grandad running after me on the beach with a bucket of water and me shouting "You're a naughty girl Dan Dan." Not a recent story.
SHE CALLED ME A NAUGHTY GIRL, Grandad remarked jovially to C who nodded and smiled back having heard the story many times and being currently occupied with preventing Tricky from lying on the floor and licking the linoleum.
We took Tricky to see him, it was just post Christmas, and an elaborate story was told about how A BIG FAT MAN (pot?Kettle?) IN A RED SUIT POPPED IN TO SAY HELLO AND TELL ME THAT YOU HAD BEEN A VERY GOOD BOY AND HE GAVE ME SOME MONEY TO GIVE TO YOU TO BUY SOME TRAINS.
Dutifully we popped down to Kmart and purchased some trains, two as it turned out. Tricky chose them and let me just insist that I tried to move him towards the more flashy, showy types but he was insistent on these two, identical except for some facial variation and the names printed underneath. We brought them back to show Grumpy Grandis and he was, I could see, a little disappointed.
IS THIS IT, TWO ENGINES THAT LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME?
Yes, I said, but look they're mischievous twins see, Bill and Ben, it's written underneath, and they go with all his other trains...
THERE ARE NO CARRIAGES...
No, that's right, but did I mention they're twins? Bill and Ben? Mischievous? Very cute...
DID YOU SPEND ALL OF SANTA'S MONEY?
Around this point I realised that I had screwed myself. Last time Grandad gave Tricky money was for his birthday. It was half the amount of the Christmas money and because TRAINS were the requested present on that occasion I had to 'top up' Grandad's contribution and ended up buying two carriages, the very popular CHICKEN carriage (which squawks when you slide open the door) and EGGS carriage (removeable via fingers or better yet, helicopter).
This time, I didn't top up. No wonder he saw the twin engine offering as a bit, well, crap.
I realised I had created in my grandfather's head an unreal expectation of the value of TRAINS; his lovely gesture, his intricate story, all rendered just that bit crap because he thought there was enough money for carriages too.
He's very happy with his engines, I pointed out to Grandad. It's a lovely present.
He seemed unconvinced so I cunningly brought up the one topic of conversation I knew he would get excited about.
How's your blood sugar levels?
Ten minutes later, after regaling us with blood sugar level tales (NURSE TOOK MY BLOOD SUGAR AND IT WAS 23! AND THEN SHE CAME BACK AFTER 5 MINTES, CLEANED MY FINGER WITH A SWAB AND IT WAS 9. SHE WAS JUST MAKING A POINT FOR THE STUDENTS. And scaring the shit out of you, I could have added. NEXT WEEK IF BLOOD SUGARS STAY GOOD I CAN GET MY NEW BIFOCALS)
I felt sad about all this of course, but the intricacies of scraping out the hearing aid soon had me focused. Having no suitable tools at hand, I used the wire ring on his bedside locker key, prying it off and then bending it straight and jabbing it down the little plastic tube till blobs of brown started oozing out the end.
I don't know about you but I always find it reassuring to handle someone else's earwax. Even after washing your hands your fingertips retain that greasy feeling.
And because nothing is simple, when I tried to wash my hands in the bathroom sink I found it was blocked with...dear god in heaven I have no idea. Matter. I tried to pick that out too but it was too disgustingly hopeless, it would be a Tell Nurse Job.
Grandad was happy when we left. His multi purpose remote control was working properly on his enormous flat screen tv, his hearing aid (freshly scraped and with a new battery inserted) was working 100 PERCENT BETTER NOW and he had the anticipation of next week's optometrist visit.
This is why, a week or so later, when asking Dad how Grandad was faring, I was unsurprised to hear that the bifocals had been created and were USELESS and the hearing aids similarly so, due to wax build up in his ears.
And I'm not scraping those out, I told Dad.
I couldn't bear asking about the sink. It seemed unfair that having got himself into a reasonable state of balance, not happiness exactly, just balance, Grumpy Grandad couldn't enjoy that for longer.
But perhaps it's relative and that is how everyone's life teeters and totters along. Find the balance. Struggle to keep it.
Life for my Grandad; once wife and house and son and plumbing business and caravan on weekends and galah in a cage and lolloping boxer dog running up and down the hallway.
Once running, laughing, in dapper hat and shorts, with a blue bucket of water after a little brown skinned granddaughter on a far away beach, is reduced to this; a bed, a leg, a huge flatscreen tv, whisky at night, coffee in the day.
Blood and shit and earwax.