...since I last posted. Although there is still the involuntary giggle he has made me cry many times in the last few days. I had thought for a long time that my tear ducts must have dried up or got blocked, in recent days I learned differently.
There is still no definite news on a placement although I have found a Care Home/Nursing Home who have spare capacity. A nurse is visiting the hospital on Friday to ‘assess' him. That’s a euphemism for checking out if he is a suitable resident for their posh - and very expensive - premises. Most homes aren’t registered to take people like Beloved who try to escape every chance they get. He is quiet, still enormously polite and well-spoken, still a true gentleman, but he has this urge to 'go home’.
The first thing he said to me when I arrived today - straight after the usual initial remark and question: “how lovely to see you, how did you manage to get here and find me?” - was that he had had words with the staff. "I told them in no uncertain terms that I could leave any time I chose, that they had no right to keep me here. Of course, they apologised and pleaded that they have to keep me here for safety reasons, that I might cause an accident and endanger others. What nonsense.” He still speaks like a well-educated man and throws long words around which nobody, in their right mind, or with a lesser love of language, would use. He is such a dear.
As always, I managed to placate him quite quickly. The staff had been waiting for me, promising him that I would turn up soon and explain. He has an almost childlike belief in my ability to make things better. I promised him that I would ‘spring’ him the first chance I got, but that the staff were quite right to insist on his temporary stay with them, for the sake of his own safety as well as that of others. I reminded him of his fall at home - “I had a fall? I don’t recall at all.” - and that he might fall again if he went off without assistance.
“Yes, but if I stay here, where are you going to sleep tonight?” I daren’t use the word HOME, any mention of it immediately makes him question the wisdom of him staying behind while I’m allowed to go home. The answer to his question was “In my old bed, upstairs.” He has no idea where that might be.
We had some poetry - I often take some of his favourite poems and read them to him. Today we had Siegfried Sassoon’s “Everyone Sang”
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.
Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
By the third line I was crying. It’s a poem he knows by heart and he was reciting along with me. “Beautiful”, he said, but I doubt that he made the connection between freedom and beauty and his own sad state of imprisonment, both in body and mind.
Hospital food is not very appetising, he says, barely audible, hand hiding the words from view, making sure that nobody can punish him for criticising the service. I have tried all sorts of treats, special sandwiches, puddings, sweets, fruits; what he likes best is his own rhubarb from the freezer - grown and cooked by him - with a layer of custard on top. I spoonfeed him, because rhubarb is apt to dribble and soil his pyjamas. He opens his mouth wide “like a sparrow baby when mum comes with a juicy worm”. He laughed at my remark, not at all put out.
I’ve also smuggled in cider and beer. I have no idea if alcohol is allowed or not, but he always had at least one drink every day at home. Even his taste buds have gone. He drank the first (toddler)cup of cider with great pleasure but didn’t like the beer very much. The next time the drink of cider wasn’t a success, he said: “hm, apple juice, but rather different from the real stuff.” I expect he will be allowed a drink in the Nursing Home, where I can join him for a sip or two. He is too ill for anything much to make any difference now. Like the doctor said “quality rather than quantity.”
One day this week I arrived to find him sitting outside the front door of the main hospital building, in a wheelchair, wrapped up in blankets, with an auxiliary in attendance. He looked so frail and grey, so lost and hopeless, my heart just broke. The auxiliary said that he had badly wanted to go out - go home - and the ward staff had decided to allow him a trip in a wheelchair. By the time we reached his floor I was crying so hard, the auxiliary hugged me and handed me over to the nurse in charge; someone else made me a hot drink and several people spoke to me with great kindness. The problem is that I see the man Beloved has become and a huge wave of guilt hits me for leaving him there, in the hospital, all alone. Realistically I know I can’t look after him at home, but sometimes the pain and heartache overwhelm me.
I still have a friend who looks after Millie every day; she herself has a dog and Millie and Tessie get on well. I finally took Millie to the Vet yesterday, she has bad arthritis in her front elbow and will have to have pain killers. Poor Millie, she hardly gets any attention from me and she misses Beloved terribly, he used to give her a thorough cuddle every evening and, of course, she slept at the foot of his bed. Now she has to make do with me.
I have also done a lot of driving during the last days, it’s getting to me; luckily, we have a good Neighbours Scheme in Valley’s End whose drivers will take people on hospital trips; I shall make use of them more now. Friends are willing but don’t always have the time and when something like this drags on it can become a bit of a chore for everyone.
Keep your fingers crossed that the Nursing Home will accept Beloved.