Look forward to the day when you can hug your relatives again - Hayley Matthews

I remember last Christmas Day very well.
A care home worker helps an elder residentA care home worker helps an elder resident
A care home worker helps an elder resident

We'd all been really ill with the Norovirus and had had it twice in December. The kids had it, I'd had it, my partner had had it and even my mum had it.

I thought it was going to go on for ever but two days before Christmas Day, we were all just back to feeling ok, all be it a tad dubious about eating any food.

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We went out for Christmas lunch up the town which was very special and then went to spend time with my mum in hospital. I had bags full of presents for her, a huge bag of hotel chocolate goodies and lots of nice cosy clothes, jumpers, jammies and treats.

Stock image. A care home worker helps an elder residentStock image. A care home worker helps an elder resident
Stock image. A care home worker helps an elder resident

I can't think of anything harder than our loved ones having to spend time in hospital alone over the festive period this year. And with the added restrictions of the Coronavirus it doesn't look likely that we'll get to see them before mid January either.

I'm glad I made the best of last year with my mum on Christmas Day because I feel like we spent quality time with her. She was very tired and recovering still from the stomach bug but she was happy, able to chat and show her personality. I'm grateful for that time because this year has been very very different. The hospital she's in has covid, the window visits have stopped and for everyone's safety, there was no contact on Christmas Day. It's difficult but I respect the rules and reasons why this is so. I handed in an old iPhone 4 so I could FaceTime her however, she's very tired and frail and doesn't manage long on the phone.

In the back of my mind I'm trying not to give any notice to the thoughts that this might be her last Christmas and instead focus on the positive memories from when I was a wee girl of her putting up golden Christmas decorations that hung from the ceiling by a drawing pin (you'll remember the kind from the 80's) and blue tacking green fluffy tinsel to every wall surface.

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Even though Christmas Day was often filled with a drunken argument, she always made such an effort to make our home feel like a cosy winter wonderland. The intention to have a lovely Christmas was there and that's what I'll try and do for her. Despite the fact that she's in a room, in a hospital with no family or friends around her, she has a group of nurses who's intention it is to make sure that my mum and all the other patients in the hospital are cosy and comfortable over this festive period. They're there with her opening her gifts with her, reading her cards out and opening the chocolates for her that we wrapped. Those women and men in the NHS who have all kept us well this year deserve a medal for what they're doing for our loved ones this Christmas period when we can’t.

To all those who haven't been able to see their loved ones this Christmas, who haven't been able to hug them, watch them open their presents or enjoy a glass of Sherry with them, you're not alone. And if there's any comfort that I can offer, it's that everyone is hoping to get back to normal as soon as we all can. Look forward to the day when you can hug them again, focus on that and we'll get through.


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