I am very much a list person. It doesn't take long once I meet a new person for them to realise this: even the builder has taken to teasing me about my lists. If I lose one, which happens quite often, it is like a fire alarm: nobody stops to collect anything, we all hunt for the list. I am often told to "chill out" but I find that my lists are what keeps me sane and calm. Once all the swirling thoughts are on a piece of paper they no longer feel so threatening or overwhelming: they can be moved, but under my control; priorities are easier to identify; time-scales easier to calculate and I can find ways of trying to factor in some space. And when everything suddenly changes, at least I know what didn't get done, what needs picking up later and what just has to be left.
I had a list yesterday, and had already written today's and Friday's, making sure that I had enough time to do everything that I needed to before I catch the train to Derby for a weekend away walking.
And then the phone rang and it was my mother's neighbour telling me that mum was being taken to hospital, leaving her frail, elderly husband at home. It was helpful to have my list, so that when I had to drop everything and leave, I knew what had to be caught by someone else and what I just had to let fall. It is amazing to have friends that are willing and able to give their time to drive my son to his god-mother's for the over-night stay and day trip that he has been counting the weeks, days and hours to. He had only just told me that it was 35 minutes until he left.
It has also been amazing to see social services in action and to have a carer arrive only minutes after I did to tell me that 48 hours of live-in care were in place while longer term arrangements were made, leaving me free to visit my mother and reassure myself that she was comfortable and in good hands.
And now I am waiting. I have another list of what I need to do once my step-father is safely in respite care, which will be organised today. I cannot even make a list of what to do to help my mother until she has had the necessary tests to determine what happened yesterday. So, at the moment I have only one thing on my list: wait.