There’s no getting away from it, my surviving parent is getting on. You think that they will always be there, even after the other one died; that becoming an “orphan” will only happen some indefinite time in the far future when you have finished growing up, even if your remaining hair is itself going grey.
For a while, when we go for a walk, Dad was sending me on ahead after 5-10 mins so I could walk at my own pace. Now he is limited to only short walks. On this visit home, I found he is having trouble with stairs unless they are well designed. Thank goodness our stairs at home are fine largely thanks to the twin handrails, but other steps can be a problem.
And he’s getting slow, so slow. Not just moving, but reacting. The times that I think he hasn’t heard me and am about to repeat myself, or am walking off to another room when he replies, are getting quite frequent. Your perception of time does change as you get older; I’m 41 and the Lego movie seemed like it was being played at double speed.
As an Occupational Therapist of ten years’ work, I of course became quite familiar with ageing and poorly people, but you get a whole new perspective when it’s someone close to you, and informal. It’s when you discover things like that the trolley for carrying drinks room-to-room doesn’t actually go over bumps without spillage, even if you use the wiggle technique.
Sometimes I get angry, and catch myself blaming him for a moment. It’s irrational as well as very unfair. It’s displacement. It’s mortality that I am really angry with.
I am also worried. Two incidents this weekend: one, the toilet door handle breaking due to metal fatigue while he was in it. Lucky three times on that one—I was there, he was wearing his alarm pendant, and the cleaning lady was due later that day.
Other and much sadder one: coming home in small hours of morning after curry and vids with the lads, found him sitting up playing patience on the computer. He said he’d had a horrible nightmare and needed to get it out of his head. It seems peace of mind does not necessarily come with age.
Blessings should be counted. Just being alive at 89 is an achievement, let alone living at home on your own and being able to answer emails.
Come to think of it I’m going to stop right there: blessings should be counted.
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