I arrived to find Dad sitting on the floor in front of his bookcase sorting through his dvd collection. Browsing and looking. Trying to remember if he’d watched them at all, never mind recently. Apart from The Quiet Man, Erin Brockovich, Colombo’s greatest hits, Russell Watson and a variety of Danielle Steele nonsense that is. He could always remember these.
He was on good form and was funny.
It’s interesting that I’ve come to expect this over the last few weeks and I’m counting my blessings given there were moments up to five or more years ago when I dreaded visiting because I never knew how he’d be; unpredictable and infuriatingly difficult. And that was on a good day. But the behaviour was the result of fear and confusion and how scared he must have been. Then there came a new phase of disbelief, denial, a leaning towards dependency and an uncertainty of what the future might look like.
My own angst and frustration said more about my perception of many things, some misguided and some very real: a sense of loss and adjustment to something evolving yet unknown; blocking my mind from thinking too far ahead; taking one day at a time, reactive and stressful but numbing and resentful; the sense of overwhelming responsibility; the reality of not being able to cope, the feelings of inadequacy and the burden of juggling a million other commitments when I believed my Dad should have all of my time.
All part of a carer’s story. Simply unsustainable.
Actually what Dad needed was for me to help him towards a better quality of life and that meant being more proactive in planning the next part of his journey. With sensitivity and delicate balance I believe, between us, we’ve managed to achieve that. In living with dementia, in this place, he’s now found safety and nurture. It is evident that he’s well cared for and has formed very good relationships with the people around him and he joins in and socialises for the first time in years. Who am I to make judgements and say he’s less than he was. He’s just a bit different and there are times when I see more of my Dad’s personality than I ever remember seeing as I grew up. And I like it.
I got a smile when I arrived. I did have Sainsbury’s bags and was accompanied by Cookie (the dog) who can sniff out a biscuit at a hundred paces so maybe that was the reason for the smile. I’m inclined to think not. I think it was me.
Getting him up off the floor turned into another hilarious moment but with help from the nurse we managed to get him back on to his feet.
I’m getting old right enough.
You’re not doing badly for 83.
85. I told somebody yesterday I’m 85. Am I only 83? I was dancing earlier.
In the sitting room … there was a cabaret, a man was singing, and we were up dancing. He’ll be here every Tuesday. I was dancing with one of the nurses.
The nurse joked with him and confirmed his story. Dad talked a bit about how he and Mum used to go to the dancing on a Saturday night. Quick step was their favourite.
Good for you Dad!