Oh my word, what a palaver a respite week can be. How many tears of anguish and guilt and more guilt and even more guilt can one deal with.
My mother is spending a week in a local care home.
My father has been booked on a coach tour for five days, in Wales.
We - that is me and my family - are visiting my mother most, if not every day, taking in the grapes and raspberries and newspapers and biscuits that she likes and making sure she is OK.
The opportunities for feeling guilty have been fully exploited and taken to the nth degree by all concerned - it has taken real emotional effort to arrive at this point in time without anyone caving in.
I actually think that there are a lot of positives to be gained from going through with this week.
My mother will not get the home comforts that she enjoys. The meals are all the wrong way round (main meal at lunchtime, snack at supper time) - but hey - she can have showers and carers and nursing at the press of a button, day or night, from well-trained, kind, helpful, caring, professional staff. She is, too a certain degree, in charge.
My father will be in a lather of anxiety about "abandoning" his wife to the care of strangers, without being there to protect her and ensure that everything is done to make her comfortable - but hey - he doesn't have to remember to get her medications at the right time, to arrange mealtimes around the four daily visits from carers. Nor will he be woken anything up to four or five times most nights, as my mother needs another pain killer, or her pillow has got wedged, or she has become confused about the time, or has been woken by a bad dream. His nights will be his own, and all meals will be provided by the hotel. No cooking! No food shopping for a whole week!
We have arranged a series of people to visit during the week. We can take my mother out into the town in her wheelchair without any need for difficult manoeuvres with lifts and ramps and ordering a specially adapted taxi and remembering to be back in time for the next visit by the carers.
I swear - indeed I have sworn already - that we all need to be mature and adult and accepting and positive about the whole experience.
Otherwise I swear - indeed, I have sworn already - that the next time we arrange respite care, I will book a holiday for myself in Spain for the same week. Or Scarborough. Or Skegness. Or wherever.
Meanwhile, I lit TWO candles in Chichester cathedral today, one each, or was that one for the pair of them and one for us? Here they are, side by side, on the top row, in front of the Easter Garden scene in the cathedral. you know - the bit about the Resurrection? The Dead coming back to Life? Hope? Renewed Hope and Strength?