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lost at what to do....

(65 Posts)
myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 20:13:03

my older sister (76) is seriously ill in hospital with cancer and other problems.
I love her.
But, in the late 1950's she was married with a child.
When the marriage ended, her husband took her son back to his mother to bring up, as my sister was homeless and with no support at all.
She never spoke about him at through they decades, as it must have been so painful to lose him.
As I said, she is dangerously ill now, and a few weeks ago spoke about her son for the first time ever.
She "always thought about him every day of my life" she said, whilst so frail and poorly.
Well, I have been actually searching for him for a long time now, and finally this week I managed to locate him.
We met 3 days ago.
I wanted to make sure it really is him, not to bring her false hope.
It is her son.
He is 57 now, a grown man.
But, But, But.....I am selfishly devastated now.

Sadly, her son, my nephew has the emotional age of 10/11.
He could communicate with me as far as saying how many star wars characters and dvd's he has got, how many figures etc.
He held my hand as a child might.
He has "told me off" today for not texting him to say I had arrived home safely, and so on.
He only spoke about his possessions and "interests", not remotely interested in a two way conversation with me.

Shame on me, that finding my nephew unable to communicate as an adult, I am afraid to say, I am unsure that my sister seeing her son in this way, could send her in a spiral of depression.
I asked his carer if he could manage the travel...trains and underground, but she said she would have to take him herself.
Would I be such a heartless cow (and in my sisters interests) to delay taking him to see her.???????????????????????????????????????My sister is bed bound, unable to walk/stand, and can barely eat now.
I am afraid the emotional upheaval may affect her so much.

tribpot Fri 02-Oct-15 20:16:55

I remember your previous thread. It sounds as if your nephew has fairly severe learning difficulties if he has a carer? As such, as long as your sister is properly prepared, I don't see why that would cause a problem.

Is he happy? She is far more likely to care about that. I would not delay given the state of your sister's health.

KittyandTeal Fri 02-Oct-15 20:18:19

Bloody hell, that's a really tough one.

I would say talk to your sister and tell her first. She will love her son whatever his neurological condition, I'm sure she will want to know him.

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 20:22:58

Might meeting him might not make her worry in her final time - eg about his future? Personally, I wouldn't arrange a meeting but I think I would promise her faithfully to make him 'part of our family'. (And then do so - it sounds as if he's happy in your company?)

pocketsaviour Fri 02-Oct-15 20:44:34

I remember your previous thread. I am glad you did contact him.

This must have been a real shock for you. Did your nephew express any interest in meeting his mum?

You know your sister - the rest of us don't. You also know what she's currently going through and how emotionally strong she may be. Maybe ask yourself, if it was you, would you want to know, or would it make you feel more worried and guilty? If you think that the knowledge would be a burden, then I think Cozie's suggestion of telling her you will look for him and take care of him is a good one.

If I remember rightly, your sister did not know you had located her son. Is that still the case?

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 20:52:45

If it was me I would feel so bad that I wasn't there for him when he would have desperately needed me as a child.i would hate myself.i am so fearful to give her this knowledge as she is so weak and vulnerabls

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 20:56:13

My nephew did say can I see mum one day.then changed the subject.but I haven't told my sister yet.she had a bad and painful day today and was emotionally and physically exhausted

Nonnainglese Fri 02-Oct-15 21:03:14

What a dilemma, could you tell her you've been searching for him and found him, he's happy? If she wants to meet him then you'd have to say about how he is, or perhaps say it would be difficult for them to meet.

Tutt Fri 02-Oct-15 21:16:42

I think regardless she should see him, it is her one wish and regardless of how he is he is still her child and she deserves to see him before she dies.

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 21:22:10

Yes,I am going to see her Monday,I will mention I have found her son,and wait for her reaction.but just want to handle it as gently as I can. I can visualise her mind in turmoil once I have left. I definitely would be there for him ,when I lose my sister,but want her to feel calm and peaceful for what time she has left.if it was me,I would look at his face and feel wretched that I abandoned him when he needed me.
I was told that instead of being taken back to his grandmother he was put in foster care,then when his father remarried some years later was taken back by his father.
But his stepmother had three daughters and didn't want my nephew, so he had an unhappy childhood, particularly with his behaviour problems.
So, a lonely and difficult little life

sonata1 Fri 02-Oct-15 21:23:38

So she will spend her last hours on this earth in distress at finding out how vulnerable he is and that he is unable to look after himself and worrying if he is happy and who will care for him? I wouldn't tell her.I would promise to find him and take care of him though. If he meets her what will that do to him, a man in a child's body who won't understand how he has been introduced to his mother and then is left wondering why he can't see her again. I think it would be unkind to both of them.

tribpot Fri 02-Oct-15 21:25:54

But he is being cared for, isn't he? Where does he live?

CalleighDoodle Fri 02-Oct-15 21:27:53

He is in his fifties and has been cared for by someone all his life so far. He has a carer who looks after him now and will accompany him to your sister. She will know and see for herself that he is being looked after, that he is content and that he wants to see his mum. Let her know in advance what issues he has but also that he has people to take care of him so she is prepared, but for him i think it is important to meet his mum.

Puzzledandpissedoff Fri 02-Oct-15 21:40:34

OP I'm not sure if you said before how old the son was when she last saw him? I'm just thinking that, if he has such severe difficulties, would she have had some idea that he'd need support in his future life - in other words I wonder just how much of a surprise it would actually be?

This said, I also agree with Sonata that the effect on him should be considered too; maybe the carer could give you some insight into how he'd feel, both with a possible meeting and when she's no longer here?

It's an awful decision to have to make - I have a severely disabled son myself so can perhaps understand a little. I've been very lucky in being in a position to support him so far, though, and it's only fair to say I'm not sure how I'd cope in your sister's position if all this really would be a shock to her

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 21:43:41

Yes, last hours on this earth knowing how vulnerable her child is.
Also, my nephew may only get to see his mum once, then how will he feel.
I just don't know what to do next.
I imagined a grown man,mature and strong,it never occurred to me that this was a possibility.
Perhaps I will say I have found her son, and take it from there.

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 21:48:29

He was only 18 months old when my sister last saw her son.
Then a lifetime of absence.
I believe it would be a massive heartbreak for sister to be aware of the truth.

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 21:48:34

But why is it important to him to meet his Mum, particularly in the condition in which she currently is? Will he even know who she is in any significant way?

(I was taken to see my dying paternal grandmother one day and it was distressing to the youngster I was then - I just didn't understand the situation. I didn't have the capacity.)

I wouldn't do it myself because I think it could be damaging to her and I doubt it would mean much to him - but I would support the OP in whatever decision she eventually makes. Goodness knows, it's not an easy thing. I suspect that making that decision which will cause the least damage is the best way to approach it.

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 21:51:09

Have you got enough left in you to meet this fresh trial, myhead?

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 22:01:17

I am completely exhausted physically and mentally to be honest, it takes me 4/5/ hours each way to see her.
I am her nearest blood tie.
Her abusive husband is in care, and I don't know where to turn next.
She has no friends close to her as she was isolated from everyone for years by him.
Now this is yet another issue to be resolved for her.
It breaks my heart, she is so sweet but vulnerable.

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 22:05:33

I suspected you were still trying to do nearly everything by yourself - you've learned that lesson too well over all these years with your husband. sad

Did you ever contact Age UK?

Puzzledandpissedoff Fri 02-Oct-15 22:25:27

He was only 18 months old when my sister last saw her son ... I believe it would be a massive heartbreak for sister to be aware of the truth

In that case, and bearing in mind that the son's understanding of it all is likely to be compromised, would a meeting actually be helpful to anyone?

I completely understand that having started the search for him you want to do the right thing, but as you said you couldn't possibly have known his circumstances. Once you've made your decision, maybe the words of a very wise friend of mine might be helpful:

Don't beat yourself up over what you could have done instead - remember, you can't know how the "other" choice would have worked out either

myheadsspinning Fri 02-Oct-15 23:10:48

The more I think of it, the more I am coming to the decision that a "meeting" wouldn't benefit either person.
But then again,what right have I to decide what happens next.
My sister talked for the first time in over 55years how her son was, if she wants closure before the end,
But would it be the worst thing to happen for both of them.
Maybe Monday I must say I know where he is, and just wait and see.

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 23:16:45

Would it actually be 'closure' for her though? What would happen if it raised a whole host of issues which she simply won't have time to address?

cozietoesie Fri 02-Oct-15 23:20:59

...But then again,what right have I to decide what happens next...

I'm afraid I think you do have to make that decision - after all, you were the one who went out and found him and you are the one who has sorted out her recent care.

It's a trial for you, right enough.

MinnieF1 Fri 02-Oct-15 23:25:30

What a difficult situation. There isn't really a right or wrong answer.

However, I think you should tell your sister you've found him. If she asks questions about him, I'd answer honestly. Ultimately, it is her decision to make and it is obviously something which has eaten away at her over her lifetime. She doesn't necessarily need to know about his step mother's behaviour either, as it will obviously be upsetting.

He may have learning difficulties and require a carer, but he is still her son. She must be desperate to see him.

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