The last time I posted here Dad had just celebrated his 82nd birthday. He’s now 83.
Two years ago when I started this blog I had no idea what the journey would be like for us or what we’d encounter along the way. Two years ago there was a subtle supposition that dementia would dictate the pace, outlook and quality of life. Two years ago dementia may have taken up residence but today, two years on, it’s far from controlling and devouring us; we accept its existence but don’t linger too long on its presence.
Not now. Not yet.
Yesterday I picked Dad up from the nursing home and we headed to the shops. Predictably his short list read: bananas, pears, 2 sweet & sour chicken microwave meals, juice, coffee, tissues, new dvd to add to his collection (Don’t Call the Midwife), cakes for the staff, digestives and his favourite Bournville chocolate for himself. Out of the blue came a notion for two cans of shandy, yellow roses and a visit to the cemetery.
It was a beautiful day. Dad was bright and looking at him I could see that the recent warm weather and sitting in the gazebo in the gardens had been good for him.
It’d been a while since we’d been to the cemetery. I parked the car as close as I could but with no direct footpath access to the headstone it meant negotiating uneven grass. Not ideal for someone with mobility problems. We tried the wheelchair but that soon turned into a bit of a Laurel & Hardy moment as Dad nearly catapulted out of it. What a giggle. He made some cheeky comment about my driving and being in charge.
Seeing my brother’s name on the headstone beside mums was a bit strange but there was no sadness. In contrast we remembered good things, smiling and sharing memories of Roy’s antics and speculated about what he’d be up to now. There was no doubt he tested mum’s patience. She loved him and he adored her.
What I remember most is that each displayed a deep and meaningful reverence for life, a strong belief in hope in otherwise hopeless situations; a fire, brightness and sparkle that was hard to extinguish. A lesson for me.
Life: precious, fragile, hopeful, time limited.
I was glad you came for me today. We’ve done something worthwhile.
We have. Good suggestion.
I’m looking forward to my shandy later.
I finished clearing the area and placed the yellow roses in the vase. Dad has always loved yellow roses.
We’re going to be ok, aren’t we Papa.
Yes we are.
And nothing is going to happen to us.
Because we’re carrying the fire.
Yes, because we’re carrying the fire.
From The Road, Cormac McCathy