Well, it's that time of year again -- the time of Best Ofs, recaps, summaries and reflections on the year gone by.
To be frank, 2015 has been a weird and pretty horrible year for my family. In March, my dad suffered a massive stroke that saw him almost die, and a month-long stay in hospital was followed by a refusal of rehab and a swift eviction into permanent care. Fortunately, though he still requires a high degree of care, his condition has improved hugely since then -- he can now stand and walk with a cane (very unsteadily, and not far), and his concentration is much better. He still can't speak, or move his right hand or arm, but sensation and movement are returning to his right leg. But he is still with us, and still very much the familiar personality of before.
My mother has been staying with us, and lately work has begun on a granny flat where hopefully Dad will be able to stay with her -- maybe just for occasional sleepovers, maybe permanently, depending on his progress.
It's been a sudden and disconcerting somersault in family dynamics. When I was younger, my parents cared for me, protected and supported me, were a safe haven to run to, a safety net in times of trouble; when I had kids of my own, I still looked to my mum and dad for help and support, but now we jogged along as peers, two sets of adults independently navigating many of the same problems and pitfalls. But with Dad's stroke, overnight, the relationship of dependence has turned on its head; the change is complete and absolute. Suddenly my parents are depending totally on my partner and me. It's a situation which I've vaguely dreaded for years as Mum and Dad grew older, and started having health scares. But now it's finally here, it's not such a terrible burden as I feared; it feels like this the pattern is playing itself out the way it is supposed to.
Meanwhile, my two girls are growing up fast -- almost are grown up! One transformed (also seemingly overnight) into a leggy, confident, texting and typing teen with a hectic social life and a sense of responsibility about homework. The other has also matured and blossomed academically, feeling her way already, perhaps, into her chosen field of passion.
I finished one manuscript and started another -- the first year for ages I've been able to say that! And also I have more ideas for books I want to write, instead of blank dismay, and that's a good feeling, too.
Soon I'll do my annual reading round-up -- I suspect there'll a lot of comfort reading in there, because I've need to escape more than ever this year!
I wish you all a festive and peaceful holiday season, and I hope you've enjoyed a less turbulent year than my family has endured. And I wish us all calm waters ahead for 2016. Merry Christmas.