Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where is my mind

Apart from the fact that I can't hear the words "Make poverty history" now without thinking of Frank from Shameless slurring, "Cheaper drugs now!" after it, Shameless never ceases to entertain me.

Although I'm not a fan of bogans/chavs, there's something about the show that makes it somehow worthwhile, interesting and challenging. Even if I want to beat Frank over the head with a tuna most of the time. He's so annoying.

"Did someone say 'tuna'?"

Sure, Shameless trips along through melodrama and ridiculousness for a lot of each episode, but then there's almost always something that lifts it out of that, makes it human and relevant, shows the struggles people have and doesn't brush their problems off for a sugar-sweet ending.

Last night's episode featured Monica's mum turning up randomly. She's got Alzheimer's disease and wants to make things right before she plans to suicide with the aid of a handbag full of sleeping pills.

My family doesn't have the dysfunctional freakshow stylings of the Gallaghers. In fact, we're oddly above average in the happiness stakes. But my Nanna had Alzheimer's/dementia toward the end of her life and the ep reminded me of that. It only really kicked in when we moved to New South Wales. Perhaps it was there prior to that, but being in familiar surroundings and with Pappa to cover issues, it didn't show up.

So somehow, I got a bit teary when watching Shameless.

I'd visit my Nan a few times each week when I was at uni - her nursing home wasn't that far away from uni, so I'd drop by. It was a soul-destroying place, even though it was one of the nicest in the area apparently. But she had to be in a place where constant care was available due to hip fractures, vertebrae fractures and that dementia thing.

Sometimes she'd be perfectly fine, other times she'd talk about wanting to die. On bad days, she'd be convinced there were people coming to take her away and burn her or gas her or something - it almost seemed like German guilt, even though the family's been in Australia since 1800-whatever. Or someone was trying to poison her, or was spying on her. Or she'd walked the entire way back to our farm in South Australia overnight and seen people she knew in her childhood.

The bemused dementia moments were better than the terrified ones. My family was upset by them, as I was. But I could always find ways to distract Nan and steer conversation to more cheerful topics. Thankfully, she never forgot who any of us were. I think that would be the hardest thing with dementia/Alzheimer's.

When the weather was good, I'd commandeer a wheelchair and take her out for long walks. We'd look at the trees and flowers and she'd reminisce about the farm and who she knew who grew plants like that. She was always a passionate gardener and having her outside in nature just seemed to make things better.

I regret not spending more time with her.

I got teary when Joan suicided on Shameless. My Nan passed away of just pure old age, even though she'd said stuff about wishing she was dead. I don't think, even if the option were there, that she would have done anything like that. She clung to life even though she'd broken her hip three different times and wasn't expected to survive long after each time.

She was a battler, a survivor.

And look at that. I meant to just write a bit about how good Shameless was last night and ended up rambling. Would just delete it, but it's taken a while to write and it would seem a shame...


kris said...

isn't it strange how things we never expect can remind us of loved ones? Every time i eat a slice of *sliced*, yellow cheese (that terribly processed stuff), i'm reminded of my grandmother. It was the treat she always kept for the grandkids when they visited. As a child it was fabulous stuff. Today, it is one of the most tangible memories that i can access of her.

Della said...

It is funny what brings people back to mind. Plastic cheese is definitely a different memory trigger *lol* But that's awesome.

Also, it's funny how things from grandparents that are kind of terrible - licorice, plastic cheese, cabbage, whatever - can be kind of good. It's as if the grandparent-ness of them makes it better...