Outfoxed by Grandad

While some were checking out the retirement village options, Charlotte Rietveld’s Grandad had other ideas.

In Home Block5 Minutes
Grandad, Colin Watson, channeling Winston and still calling the shots at 101.

SOME LOVE THE HEAT OF summer, others the depths of winter. There are those who revere autumn’s splendour and yet more who delight in the joys of spring. While all hold their charm, there’s one supreme season for me: Election Season.

Cycling every three years is far too frequent for many, yet we sheep farmers know the salacious action that can happen in barely three weeks. Right now we’re enjoying the election lead-up – really just a vote-buying crude form of flushing.

With farmer confidence at an all-time low, it’s hard to feel flushed and heaven forbid the carbon-shunning of getting on a rising plane these days. But still the Beehive brings out the bribes. Grain trailers have been replaced with grocery trolleys and pasture makes way for policing. Brassicas barely get a look in, the risk not so much of flatulence than CosiLiv’s ‘flation.

Seasoned readers will recall my very own election pollster; Grandad. Still going at 101 despite a tumultuous year, he is raring to go for his 34th general election. His normal area of expertise is stock markets – he’s limited to trading on the NZX these days, but he’d trade his zimmer in a heart beat for a bid on a thousand lambs at Coalgate, if he could.

At the beginning of this year, Grandad got hit by a reversing car, skittled from the pavement out on to the road. An alarmed onlooker concluded he needed to get to hospital immediately. There are two types of geriatric; the hospital lovers and the hospital haters. Grandad is most certainly the latter.

One mention of hospital and he was up off the deck and back to his senses, insisting a nice cup of tea would see him right. Against the odds, after six disgruntled weeks in hospital recovering from cracked vertebrae, he did come right.

He celebrated survival with a 101st birthday party and a dabble on the sharemarket – Metlifecare and Rocket Lab, just to keep his holiday options open. But in the last few weeks things have taken another dive, this time a chest infection.

Sensing it was time for more care than his self-contained flat availed, I flew through the winter feeding routine one morning and raced to town to check out the rest home options. The Chief Inspector came with me, though quickly regretted this after several rest home managers mistook her as the resident.

If hospital-fondness is a drafting gate for geriatrics, retirement villages are a lightning rod for 70-somethings. My mother responded to my barely contained laughter with acerbic mutterings of “incarceration” while gracing me with a black-belt death stare.

She apparently had no qualms about ‘incarceration’ options for her father though, our search eventually settling on a beautiful apartment with 24-hour care. Several days later I drew the short straw of having to tell Grandad. A robust discussion ensued, concluding with me disingenuously telling Grandad I’d give him some time to think it over.

Meanwhile, bookings were made, paperwork processed and PJs packed, it was time for Grandad to move in. Proudly thinking I’d navigated the geriatric gauntlet rather well, the fine print was coming to get me. It turns out the final checklist included a welcoming phone call prior to arrival.

Ambushed in round one, there was no way Grandad was going to miss this chance. He told the lovely admin lady exactly what he thought of the apartment plans and quite precisely what she could do with them. With 101 years of wisdom on his side, he then pulled the masterstroke of woke, informing her he did not give consent. Needless to say, he remains in his flat; I have been utterly out-foxed by an old boy in a zimmer frame.

For what it’s worth, Grandad is convinced National and ACT will get across the line. But if the tenacity of cunning old foxes is anything to go by, there’s no ruling out Winston just yet.