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Donna Gee - Spain's Grumpy Old Gran


No more tears: I'm going home
24 April 2014 @ 22:23





I’VE just made a life-changing decision. A decision that would have been unthinkable a few weeks ago.

I’m going to spend the rest of my life back in the UK.

Yes, the moaning old grumpy who hates the cold and the wet of England is to become an ex-expat. Even if my decision does mean re-engaging with the nightmare of overcrowded cities and endless traffic jams.

Much as I love Spain, there is one thing my adopted homeland cannot provide me with. And that is the love and support of a caring ­family as I open the final chapter of my book of life.

I thought I could live without my nearest and dearest - or at least without seeing them on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. But I was deluding myself.

 For the last four years or so I've soaked up an idyllic Costa cocktail of sunshine, sea and sangria, believing I could go it alone in my peaceful Iberian paradise.

Although I had ongoing health problems, they seemed to be under control and even the onset of Parkinson's could not dim my enthusiasm for La Vida Espanola. That's exactly how it was until two weeks ago.


Family bond: Me with daughters Hayley (left) and Lisa

Then everything changed dramatically -  triggered by the sudden, inexplicable fatigue which came over me.

I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open at moments when I needed to be wide awake. Like when I was driving my car on a busy road.

I knew something was wrong but a full medical check-up revealed nothing.  For an old dear approaching her 70th birthday, I seemed to be in relatively good health. Blood and excretion samples tested normal and an ECG showed my heart was pumping perfectly.

The tiredness, ventured the clinic doctor, could be down to my body metabolism adjusting to Summer Time.

An odd disgnosis maybe, but it somehow seemed to make sense.  Particularly as I had returned from a visit to England a couple of days before the clocks went forward and was now TWO hours ahead of where my ageing brain imagined it was.

As a naturally happy person who invariably resorts to  laughter to counter adversity, I didn't dream that I might have a psychological problem.

After all, I had been able to deal comfortably with all the slings and arrows life had chucked at me.

So the realisation that I might actually be suffering from depression hit me like the tsunami of tears I've shed this past fortnight.

Ready, steady, Po: My Telebuddy grandson

I didn't think to tell the doctor I've been breaking down for no apparent reason when I am alone at home - usually as bedtime approaches and I realise how vulnerable I am.

Tears are rolling  down my cheeks again as I write this but I have made a decisive decision.

As time takes its toll and I begin to succumb to increasing frailty, I need my family around me more than ever.

I won’t be going for a good few weeks yet, but right now I feel like jumping on the next plane out of Alicante. Mind you, with my luck I'd end up in Malaga instead of Manchester.

The 10 days I spent last month with my daughters and grandchildren in Lancashire and Cheshire were really special. And perhaps the most special part of all was the bond I built watching the Teletubbies with the youngest of my six grandkids, two-year-old Buddy.

My elder daughter Hayley’s only son was delivered three months prematurely by emergency Caesarian and weighed less than a kilo at birth.

For a week or more, the tiny tot’s life was in the balance, but today he is a miracle mini man with the happiest smile, the cutest quiff of brown hair, and the ability to melt hearts with a Tinky Winky of his eye.

That's why Granny Donna is going Dipsy without him. And why she’s coming home to see him grow up.

Like 1


eggcup said:
24 April 2014 @ 23:56

I think it's so much the right decision. It's more important to be with the people you love and who love you. All the best with this next stage.

midasgold said:
26 April 2014 @ 08:30

I think you have made an 'age related decision' that all we pensioner expats MIGHT have to make, and with some fear.
I can only wish you a very happy ex-expat life.
Good luck to you.

harddunby said:
26 April 2014 @ 09:00

Even at the beginning of this year you would have been pilloried as a denier but realism has come at last even if the BBC are still trying to sell the dream.

mrnkar said:
26 April 2014 @ 09:02

I was exactly the same a year ago. The birth of my grandson has bought me back to UK. I don't want to miss him growing up but my heart belongs in Spain & I am torn in two. Hopefully I can return in a few years as my health is a lot better there.

rookie said:
26 April 2014 @ 09:37

I totally understand your decision. We also see ourselves back in Britain as we get older. I don't want to be sick or frail without close family to turn to - in spite of good friends we have made here. Not only that, I think it would be equally difficult for our sons to have the worry of aged parents abroad and perhaps having to deal with non-english speaking medical staff and doctors. We don't have grandchildren yet but I know that would be the final decision maker!
And you know what? Don't even regret that it is now time to leave! You did it! You came and lived the life for a while, enjoyed the sun the sea and learned about a new culture! It enriched your life! Lots of people lack the means or the courage to do that!
Wishing you lots of happiness and smiles in your ex-expat life - and definitely no more tears!

mestala said:
26 April 2014 @ 09:55

There aren't many people who can live alone in a foreign country,you have done well and shouldn't be knocked for what you are doing.I lived in Spain for 3yrs before returning to the uk for personal reasons.I now live in Bulgaria with my partner of six yrs,benn here 5 and a half yrs.A serious illness hit me nearly 18mths ago and we were reluctantly going to go back to the uk.I have made good progress with my illness and we have decided to stay.
The big thing is,I'm not alone and I think that is the big difference.Having someone to turn to is very important.
Good luck with your life back in the uk.


Pasha01 said:
26 April 2014 @ 10:35

You exactly the same as my friends in France, they are coming home to. They've had a fabulous adventure, like you have, be happy you did what you did and have a marvelous time back with your family, where your heart is. I wish you well.

vickya said:
26 April 2014 @ 11:06

I went out to Spain in 2007, just in time for the crash in 2008. I was ok but my companion found work drying up and I too had a new grandchild. We found on visits that the UK was actually cheaper for many things, food for instance.My pension was worse as the exchange rate worsened. Unfortunately I'd bought a flat but managed to sell and return to the UK and find a place, just in time for us both to be diagnosed with serious health problems.

I loved the 2 years in Spain but am glad to be back where the medical system is easier for me to negotiate and where I can see my grandchild and collect him after school now :). My only regret is that I bought a flat instead of renting. I sold it for 50% of the purchase price and was lucky at that to sell. It would have continued to cost money to run.

All the best with the move. I am sure being with the family is the best thing to do.

measurement1 said:
26 April 2014 @ 11:51

while im sypathetic to this story,,, isnt it odd that Donna was happy to abandon her family when it suited her to persue ' HER' dream,,, but now when it suits and she wants support,, she comes back to the UK,,, very selfish,, in my opinion

campogirl said:
26 April 2014 @ 12:26

I am a pensioner and fortunately still have my husband with me so I cannot imagine what it would be like to be alone. There are a couple of single women living near me who seem perfectly happy but both are still fit and healthy. What will they do if they become ill? I love Spain and pray when it comes, my end will be quick and I will never have to make the decision to go back to England.

So we, like her, have children and grandchildren in England and we get to see them once or twice a year, either going to England or them coming here. We bought our house before they were born and my daughter had declared she did not want children. We had to weigh the emotional cost of living 1100 km away or living a live of hardship in England. It was very hard but as we had lost our house in a previous recession some time ago and could not afford to get back on the housing ladder we made the decision to stick to our plan and retire to Spain. And I bless the person who invented Skype. We "see" and speak to them at least once a week, and my youngest grandchild cooked us a (plastic) dinner last time. Bless her she thought we could touch it.

I am so grateful that at the moment the only fly in my ointment is the change in the UK tv channel reception. I begrudge paying for two sets of channels or paying a small ransom to buy a dish big enough to replace my roof if needed, but I am working on a resolution which I am sure is out there

I never say never and things may change but I would like to die here in this lovely country. But!!

Finisterre said:
26 April 2014 @ 16:50

Sorry to hear about your health problems. If anything would make me move back to the UK, it would be missing friends and family, but in our case the are so scattered it wouldn't make much difference where we lived!

Measurement1, Donna brought her children up. It's the hardest work there is, and *that's* when they needed her. They've grown up, flown the nest and had families of their own, so her day-to-day responsibilities to them are over. But now, she needs them and is going back to be near them. Absolutely nothing selfish about that, I bet they're extremely happy. I also doubt they'd thank you for posting an unpleasant comment to their emotionally vulnerable mother. For shame.

measurement1 said:
26 April 2014 @ 18:17

Finisterre .... dont have a go at me !! i have a right to my opinion,, and what I wrote stands,,, i still feel it is selfish to come back to UK and use the NHS and family support,,,, if you dont like my comments,,, not my problem,,, its an '' opinion '' ( i think we still have free speach in UK ? )

eggcup said:
26 April 2014 @ 19:25

Donna would certainly have the moral right to use the NHS after a lifetime of paying into the system. And it was a nasty comment - as usual, the sort of comment a person makes anonymously on the internet but wouldn't say to someone face-to-face (unless they were extremely rude). It's also not about having a right to an opinion. Making a negative judgment about someone else's life in this way, especially when they're not well and have done nothing to you, isn't your 'right.'

Donna773 said:
26 April 2014 @ 20:32

It seems lots of people are on my wavelength - thanks for being so sympathetic (with the od exception). The one thing I don't want is for people in the UK to think that moving to Spain spells disaster. For most expats, particularly pensioners, it is the fulfillment of a dream. However, some people do go back - usually for economic or, as in my case, heallh reasons. Thanks to Finisterre in particular for standing my corner. Yes, measurement1 does have a right to criticise but clearly does not know the facts o life. The facts of MY life, that is...

rookie said:
26 April 2014 @ 21:07

Well said Donna. I shouldn't imagine anyone comes to Spain or anywhere else in the spirit of "abandoning their family". Most of us come with the blessing of our family after our responsibilities towards them are not so intensely required. But life changes! You feel the need to be near to be near your family again and they I am sure will be delighted to have you back in their and their children's lives. Nothing selfish about that measurement1 - it is just what families do!

measurement1 said:
26 April 2014 @ 22:08

EGGCUP,,,, I would make may comments face to face,, and im not a nasty person,, I am just giving my honest ''' OPINION'' Just like you are giving yours,, and im not hiding ,,, if people dont like my comments,, ignore them,,, dont have a go at me..... i am allowed my opinion,,, END OF !

midasgold said:
26 April 2014 @ 23:01

I think that make the score -Eggy ,Donna, Rookie, Finny and most
others a TEN. Measurement a fat ZERO.
A score I am in total agreement with.

eggcup said:
26 April 2014 @ 23:06

Hey, Donna. I don't know if you know about a wonderful facility on EyeonSpain. If someone gets on your nerves too much and starts spoiling your day with their comments you can zap them into oblivion. You go into the 'edit your blogs' section, click on comments and press the delete button. Et viola!

campogirl said:
27 April 2014 @ 13:04

Calm down measurement1. Just stop looking at the posts on this string before you have a heart attack. Nothing is worth getting that irritated about.

sooz said:
27 April 2014 @ 14:29

Donna, you have definitely made the right decision and I hazard a guess you are 100% happy with it. You have had a lovely time no doubt living in the sun for the past few years, but now it's time to settle down with your family back here. They will look after you and you will have the immense pleasure of grandkids, beautiful. And, for what it's worth - HOT summers are predicted for UK with global warming:)
We were thinking of moving to Spain, but due to my own health problems we decided it wasn't a realistic/good idea. I am past learning Spanish as I had a tumor near the brain which has challenged my memory. I received and still do, excellent hospital treatment in the UK.
Some people on here do get their panties in a wad and seem to think that anonymity protects them. We all know with fixed IP addresses everyone can be easily traced. So Ms Rudeness please be aware of this fact when you next plan on displaying your prowess as a keyboard warrior.
Good luck Donna.

Dunbar said:
28 April 2014 @ 22:29

I think too you are making the right decision because I feel exactly the same. We bought our apartment 5 years ago when there were no grandchildren on the scene and have been here for 2 years no after I retired at 60 and my husband retired 61. It has always been his dream to live in Spain. We had not been getting on very well before we bought our place and I thought if we go for it things would be much better as my husband was getting itchy feet staying in the UK. It is actually the worst decision I have made. I love where we live in Spain but I am with the wrong person. We are not getting on any better, I know that, but my husband says everything is fine. He is such a control freak, and we nip at each other all the time. I am totally worn out and desperately need to go back "home". I, like Donna, want to see my grandchildren, aged 3 and 5 months, grow up and be a part of their lives and be able to give them a cuddle instead of being a granny "on the computer screen"!

Pasha01 said:
29 April 2014 @ 00:23

Dear Dunbar, you want to go home because you are a very unhappy lady, life is to short. If I were you I would pack a bag and return home. Of course you miss your grandchildren, but it is made much worse because of the relationship with your husband, if you had a happy marriage, it would not be such a pull. A husband/wife/ partner should be the most important person in your life, children and grandchildren should also be loved and cherished, but to me a life time partner should be first if you love them. Sadly for you this is not the case, if you stay you will resent everyday and you will be miserable, take charge and do something that makes you happy.
I have no idea why measurement1 is so cross at Donna and as for accusing her of using the NHS, she clearly had well paid jobs in the UK for years, so must have paid high taxes, therefore why shouldn't she go home and use it. Good luck to you Donna.

Finisterre said:
29 April 2014 @ 15:23

Dunbar, I am wondering if you and your husband might be happier living in different countries! I don't mean to be flippant, but if there is still any love there than maybe it would be easier to feel if you weren't under each other's feet all the time. Moving to a foreign country means spending all your time with your partner and most of your social life, unless you make a real effort to pursue different interests. Some people just can't cope with that, and it's no reflection on you/him as a person.

Is there any possibility that you could go back to live in the UK?

KatieJennings said:
29 July 2014 @ 12:45

Hi Dunbar (and anyone else interested)

I'm from the UK's ITV Lorraine Kelly breakfast show, and we're coming out to Benidorm next week to chat to expats about their experiences of moving to Spain (both positive and negative.)

Please do let me know if you'd be interested ASAP, as we'd love to meet you!
Best is by email - or +442078277080

Many thanks

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