Update: Flowers for Joan. September 2020

Last Monday I wrote about my mother-in-law Joan and the flowers I take to her each week from my garden. Covid meant the care home where she’s living stopped all visits for almost six months to protect residents from infection. We had just resumed visiting and were meeting in the garden in 30 minute appointment slots.

The day after writing my piece, we received an e mail cancelling all further visits due to rising covid numbers in the UK. We can stand in the car park and wave through a window. Or we can attempt video calling.

I’m writing now to say thank you to all of you who’ve got in touch with kind messages and helpful suggestions. You’ve generally bolstered me up at a difficult time. I’m writing this blog as a diary of my gardening life, and also as a record of the times we are all going through, and the situation for the elderly, especially those with dementia who cannot ‘see’ their families in person. No criticism is meant for the care home. They are doing an unimaginably difficult job keeping everyone safe, and we are enormously grateful for everything.

Here’s some photos of Joan with my bouquets of flowers from the garden. The photos were taken when she was still living in her own home.

The flowers were loosely tied so that Joan could spend a few happy hours arranging them in assorted vases and fill the windowsills with colour. She especially loved having flowers in the house as carers would always comment on how cheerful they were and how much they enjoyed visiting Joan and her husband Keith. The carers said the couple were their favourites, and I’m sure it was because Joan and Keith tried to be as little trouble as possible -and there was always chocolates, biscuits and cake for them. They tried to look after the carers, and show their appreciation. A very special couple, and I’m proud to call them my in-laws.

This is a favourite photo of Joan on her wedding day on the steps of Cosby Methodist Chapel. Joan arranged the flowers for the chapel, while keith played the organ twice on a Sunday and for weddings and funerals, for more than 60 years.

I found this old photo in a family album. Florence May, Joan’s mother, is on the left, with Florence’s sisters, Jess, Hattie and Marion. All of them were to suffer from dementia. I stare at this photo and feel so sad. These young girls had no idea what was ahead of them. None of us ever do.

Thank you for reading.

This is what I wrote last week : https://bramblegarden.com/2020/09/21/in-a-vase-on-monday-flowers-for-joan/

And here : https://bramblegarden.com/2018/09/30/sunflowers-for-joan/

Thank you to Cathy for her #IAVOM meme, which I first joined in with when Joan was diagnosed with dementia and I started growing cut flowers to take to her.

#InAVaseOnMonday : https://ramblinginthegarden.wordpress.com/category/gardens/in-a-vase-on-monday/.

A video from the care home. https://www.facebook.com/MHAaigburth/videos/1565414246976429/. Please do not view this video if you are feeling overwhelmed with sadness at this time. Wait until you are feeling stronger.

UPDATE FRIDAY 2 OCTOBER. ‘Window’ visits have now also been cancelled, due to the rising covid numbers. Thank you again for reading my blog.

39 thoughts on “Update: Flowers for Joan. September 2020

  1. Karen I am so sorry that you can no longer approach the window of the nursing home to say hello to your dear mother-in-law Joan, whom you love so much and your dear father-in-law Keith. I wrote in the previous blog: I am glad that it gave you strength and hope. Karen you say in this new blog that it serves you as a diary: it is good that you vent and that you order your feelings and your thoughts. So you can face Covid and all the changes it has generated in our lives. Karen, you are very strong to accept that you cannot see Joan and Keith for their sake, so that they do not get infected. The photos of Joan with those wonderful flowers are lovely, I love seeing Joan’s joy. Karen loves your in-laws very much – they deserve it, they are wonderful people. Joan is truly divine on her wedding day in her wedding outfit. The photo of Joan’s mother with her sisters is very beautiful, too bad they all ended up with dementia. But don’t worry about it: dementia is not inherited. Karen I send you my best wishes and all my encouragement and my friendship, with all my love. For your whole family, Mr B and for you, a lot of strength, a lot of health, a lot of hope, positive thoughts and a lot of love. Stay safe and take good care of yourself. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🌼🌼🌹

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    • Thank you Margarita. I’ve thought of many ways to keep in touch. I’m making little videos and sending them to the care home. I don’t usually take any photos with me in them. I was brought up to be modest, and not ‘show off’ however, for Joan to remember me, I need to send photos. So I’m in the garden making little instagram live videos and e mailing them across. Have a wonderful weekend. I’ll catch up with you again soon. Sending positive thoughts in return. Lots of love. Stay safe. Very affectionate greetings from us all xxx

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      • Karen is a great idea to make videos of yourself going out in the garden and with flowers and then send them to Joan by email so that she can see you. Karen talks to Joan in those videos about the flowers, the plants, the Greenhouse as if you were having a conversation with her; and repeat your name many times and always appear in the video even if you show a flower or a plant and say its name. I also said many times “look Joan, I’m going to show you a plant that you are going to like, I’m your daughter-in-law Karen and here Joan is the plant called lalala and it’s ….”. Karen excuse me for getting so involved in how you should make videos for Joan, being something so intimate and personal, and you are an expert making videos. I tell you from the heart and abusing my friendship: I put myself in your place and if I had someone suffering from dementia whom I loved so much, I would do the videos like that. It is advice given with all my love. Keep everyone safe. Much love to all. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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      • Thank you Margarita. You always give the very best advice. I shall do exactly as you say. I’ve made a start this morning Enjoy your Sunday. Thanks for helping so much. Very affectionate greetings in return. Love from us all 😘 xxx

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      • Karen I give you my advice from the heart. I am very happy that you liked it and that you have put it into practice. Hopefully it works. Much love to all. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx 😘🙏🌼🌼🌼

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  2. Karen, your love for your MIL is evident in everything you’ve done for her and, even if she’s no longer able to recognize you, I’m sure she still feels the love you send her way.

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    • Thank you Kris. I think that’s true. My eldest daughter attempted a window visit their other day. She said it was very confusing and probably the whole of the next village heard their shouted ‘ conversation’. I’m trying videos on instagram at the moment, which will be sent to the care home. I’ll have to keep up with the times. Thanks again for reading and for your kind words. Much appreciated.

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  3. Flowers are the joy that keeps on giving, long after they’ve been given to the recipient.
    I just watched a netflix show, History 101 and one of the episodes deals with DNA. So much has been revealed about DNA through research. Such as determining familial traits of disease. It will be possible, if not so already, for research to identify dementia early…long before people decide to have children, to whom they would be passing the dementia further onto. Yes, it opens up a whole host of difficult conversations & decisions.
    I have not personally had to cope with immediate family suffering from dementia, and can only offer my sincere hopes that through the kindness of dutiful carers, your loved one, and everyone’s loved ones who suffer from dementia are treated with respect & dignity as they find ways to live with this horrible disease.

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    • Thank you Kate. DNA testing was developed here in Leicester at Leicester University. It has helped so many people already. We know our relatives are being given the best care possible. Their care home is 5 star. And the people there are really lovely. They do miss us though and we miss them. Thanks for reading. Have a good week. Karen

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  4. I am so sorry to hear that visits are now completely off the cards Karen 😢 I don’t think that I would be be able to cope with waving from the car park. Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of Joan and family with us. Take care xxx

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    • Thank you Anna. My eldest daughter was first to try the ‘waving from the car park’ and talking through the window. Some amusing and confusing ‘chat’ followed, and half of the nearest village must have heard her conversation. It’s my turn this weekend to try. Wish me luck! I feel I’ll need it….as well as a megaphone please. Karen xx

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    • Thank you Cathy. Yes, they are all in very good hands with loving care and wonderful food, and prayers and religious services each day which is really important to them. Returning your hugs xx

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  5. It is really super to see the person, Joan, her mother and sisters. It is so important to remind ourselves and show others the individuals and the person that is inside, what they did and enjoyed. Thank you for sharing. The pictures are lovely.

    The iPad may still be okay for ‘waving’ through a window it is also alright to use in video calling. If you are video calling, just hold it with picture up to the camera. Would you be able to show pot plants, and perhaps cut flowers being arranged in a vase by you while you talk about what you are doing? Joan may enjoy seeing Monty, if he sits long enough. xx

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    • Thank you. I’m going to have a go! My daughter did the first window/ car park visit this week and. Was a little hoarse after… I’m looking for a megaphone! I’m trying instagram live videos , which I’m sending to the care home to share with Joan, as if she were walking along my front garden path with me. The first one was a little shaky and kept stopping because I had run out of power…but it’s a start. Thanks again for your suggestions. Much appreciated. Karen x

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    • Thank you. They are the best in-laws anyone could ever have. They always looked at ways to help us. Joan never came to visit without a cake in her bag. We so miss those cakes…. and she always went home with a little bunch of sweet peas or calendulas – her favourites. Thanks again. Karen x 🙏

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