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I may not have liked my mother badgering me to write thank you notes the second I received a gift, or to send birthday cards to all my vast horde of relatives.I used to complain that this ritual card-sending, calls, and so on substituted real feeling, but at least it showed someone had thought about them.To end loneliness and cultivate compassion, we must stop being cowed by our children and start making demands.

One ride out to the seaside for tea and scones once a month, in return for a helping hand with the school fees? She has told me quite emphatically that any grandchildren will be ‘trained’ to look after me ‘when I’m old’ (I’m 76, and enormously flattered she still considers me youthful).

She also says I’m welcome to move in with them whenever I need to. But this, sadly, in our country, is an antiquated view.

Those relatives were never isolated, always included in everything.

Even in advanced stages of illness, geriatric wards or care homes would have been unthinkable — considered akin to the workhouse.

How many grandparents (or parents) do you know who feel they can just ‘pop in’ to see their children or grandchildren?

Last modified 18-Dec-2016 12:33