I have lost, and am in the process of, finding my New Zealand-self. my daughter-self, in these months of moving in with my Dad.
His Dementia/Alzheimer’s gets a little worse every week … I think, sometimes. Other times, he seems to be holding nicely. People who had been watching Dad decline, while he was living alone, say he improved dramatically when I moved in. And I’m sure he did. I think loneliness and boredom, anxiety too, are huge factors in the general well-being of our elderly parents.
He has surprised me with some new ‘thing’ weekly. Most recently, while I was out and about, he phoned to tell me where he was, and to ask me how he would get home. The first time he did it, I was horrified. I thought he’d walked along the street some, and given the condition of his knees, wandering hinted at a whole new level of me needing to be home and watching out for him.
But no, he was looking out through his huge lounge window, telling me the buildings he could see from there. He just didn’t realise he was at home. As he described it, I heard him talk himself back in the Now, and he laughed, saying, ‘This Is my house, isn’t it?!’
So he loses his memory, periodically. Forgets the day, who I am, and where things are. We had a spectacular moment the other day … his pills hadn’t been delivered, he told me on the Sunday. Monday he needed to begin the new series. I was there at the pharmacy, first thing in the morning, only to discover his pills Had been delivered …
So I raced home and began the search, finding them in the linen cupboard, eventually. The same place he, so carefully, put his laundry one day. Forgetting, he accused me of stealing his underpants …
I pick up his medication now. It’s better that way.
But that said, he only has these ‘moment’s, and generally he’s good. And so happy he can still live at home. He shuffles out each morning, groaning over his destroyed knees that can’t be replaced because of his two heart conditions, to get his newspaper and check the world is still there.
And I have to leave him to it, or risk stealing his independence … his reasons for being.
He showers himself, and dresses, with help from the caregivers who come in to put on his pressure stockings.
The care-givers are generally lovely. They give me a little bit of freedom, as I can mostly rely on them. It’s the times when they let me down, usually at the weekend … last minute. I think there are so many out there, needing them.
A little bit of freedom, so strange for this girl who has always tried to wander off and away.
But maybe it’s time I stood still again. I have this book still to write, and it is persistant. I carry it with me where ever I go and so …
So … here I am, like a cat, turning and turning until I can settle down and find that sweet-spot to write. Creating some kind of routine, if that’s even possible, here in this life of mine :-) It’s a much quieter life. I wander alone most of the time but I always have really.
I am learning how to be here.
And sometimes … sometimes I find a little whisper of Genova, and her beautiful ancient caruggi, here in Dunedin, New Zealand.