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Jo'Burg Days: Parking

You can usually find a place to park the car, but where do you park and 80-year-old granny who forgets to cook for herself? Barbara Durlacher tells of a happy solution to a major problem.

Well, there’s parking, and there’s PARKING.

One is the placement of automobiles in their requisite places somewhere out of the traffic grid in our large cities. But the one I’m talking about is parking Grandmother, an entirely different problem.

‘Where to park Granny? Where will she be happy, comfortable and safe?’

We’re fond of her of course, and the kids love spending time with her. They hold her wool as she winds another ball for her shapeless pullovers, and when these are finished, they gush with grateful surprise and pleasure, but it eventually ends up as just another dog’s blanket. But you can’t expect ten-year-olds to care about the welfare and happiness of an 80-year-old, they’ve got better things to do than baby-sit a Granny who’s still in nappies.

Can’t leave her in a studio flat in a nice suburb, she’ll never be able to cope with the necessary shopping, and she’ll definitely forget to cook. She hasn’t the money to afford help and it’s difficult to find a responsible carer. Her name is down at several old people’s homes, but the lists are long and it may never reach the top. So what to do in the meantime?

“I know, let’s park her in the park,” suggested 10-yr old Jimmy,” there’s always lots of other Mummies and Daddies there. They’ll look after her and give her an apple or a chocolate.”

“How about taking her for a holiday to the sea an’ leaving her there?” piped up Kathleen. “She’s always liked looking at the sea. And there’s ices, and fish ‘n chips and coke, ‘n buckets ‘n spades an, an …”

“Darling,” swooping her up in her arms and giving her a hug, “you can’t just leave a Granny at the seaside all by herself. Wherever would she sleep at night; and what if it’s raining?”

The next day she took the children with her when she went shopping. They would have to pop in to see Granny on their way home. She’d get her a couple of nice chops and cook them quickly for her lunch. In the supermarket she bumped into Mrs Cooper and they stopped for a chat. “So sorry to hear about your dear Mother’s death, Mrs Cooper, you must be missing her after all the years you’ve been taking care of her.”

“Yes I really am, can’t seem to come to terms with it somehow – it feels as if there’s an empty hole without her, nobody to cook for, nobody to chat to, share a joke or discuss East Enders with. Life seems very empty without her, I feel as if I’ve got nothing to live for any more.”

Going home, she mulled the idea over, and when the household had settled down and Derek was back from work, she finally decided to bring it into the open. After explaining her plan and receiving his agreement, she decided the next step was to talk it over with Mrs Cooper.

…”And so, Mrs Cooper, my husband and I wondered if perhaps Granny could come to spend a few hours with you two or three times a week, just for company you understand. I have to go back to work and we’ve been so worried about her, there just didn’t seem to be any solution until you told me how lonely you’ve been since the death of your dear mother. We’d pay you for your trouble of course, and I know that she’d love being with you, and she’s really no trouble. It’s just that she forgets to cook for herself, sometimes even forgets to eat if she’s not with the family …”

Mrs Cooper was delighted to earn a few pounds a week; she really liked older people and her days had been very empty, and at last it seemed that they had found a solution about where to park Granny.

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