Monday, 6 March 2017

How Wise You Are,

you are absolutely right, of course, to advise me to slow down. Why declutter now? What’s the hurry? There is no hurry. I can take my time, forget about everything else and concentrate on the only important aspect of the calamity that has befallen us, namely us, me and Beloved. The two of us. Just as it has always been, from the day we met, and will be until the day one of us dies.

Our time together is short; the new GP who looks after Beloved in the Nursing Home is of the same opinion as the previous one. It could be anything from a few weeks to a few months. If the present rate of deterioration continues it will be weeks rather than months. Beloved is no longer able to stand, much less walk. At first, four-five weeks ago, he used a cane (walking stick over here), then the stick became a zimmer frame, getting himself out of his chair was slow but possible. Then he needed a carer to assist him. One carer became two, one on each arm. Now two carers are needed in addition to a contraption which is fastened around his middle and bottom, which hoists him semi upright and from there lowers him into a wheelchair. It is utterly painful to watch.

How is it possible that this could have happened in a few short months? Snowdrop time; when he fell ill in the middle of December the earliest snowdrops were flowering, ever larger patches appeared during late December and January and now they’re dying, to make room for crocuses and daffodils. Beloved’s decline will forever more be associated with snowdrops in my mind.

No two visits are the same. sometimes he is awake, painfully so, restless and sharp; sometimes he is drowsy and sleepy, sometimes he is relatively clear and at others completely clouded. Often we sit in companionable silence, interspersed with a few short sentences, a few questions from him, mainly along the lines of “do you see much of .......” followed by the names of his children. My questions tend to cover his physical state, “what did you have for dinner”, "are you comfortable?”, “have you any pain?”. The weather comes into it too and Millie, of course. She is a fountain of joy in the desert. Short term memory is a big problem, the distant past an open book.

Visits are difficult but not entirely so. There are always wonderful moments of gladness. Long visits are worth it just for these moments. There is still some poetry, and music, of course. I uploaded Pavarotti arias on to my phone, he was rapt, completely absorbed in what he was hearing. Another time we had Marlene Dietrich singing French, German and English chansons. A smile plays around his lips and he sits quietly listening, occasionally stopping to say “lovely”.

And always there comes the moment when I see him sneaking a long look at my face; a cheeky smile appears and he says lovely things, like “you are so beautiful,” or “I am so glad I have you”, or “I like your scarf, you look nice”.  And we never forget to say “I love you so”.

I am slowly beginning to do paperwork, letters, bills, official communications arrive and end up on the pile. I am sending emails and letters to colleagues, friends and acquaintances with the news of Beloved’s ill-health. I still don’t like casual phone calls which ask "how is he?” They may be well meant but are an awful drag on my time and my need for silence. I have dealt with Millie’s arthritis, her medication is working. I did an online grocery order today - how strange to be ordering for one instead of two. And how very strange to do an order at all. Life does seem to go on, I must eat. I have sold some minor items of Beloved’s music paraphernalia; two instruments and two bows remain to find a buyer. I have help with that. It’s time to organise the gardeners, Paul has been in a deep depression but is coming out of it. He came for a long mutual session of commiseration, time to get out and start work. Old gardener is as yet unaware of the great change at Castle Moat garden, I really must ring him.

And so it goes. Beloved remains the focus of my attention and my main conversation partners are nurses and carers at the Care Home. But now and then, when I sit in front of some rather boring TV show I feel that it might be an idea to use the time spent away from there a little more productively. I expect it’ll happen anyway. Eventually. No rush.

Next week Beloved’s son from America is flying over for a day in Ludlow, all things being equal. It’s the second of his four children finding the way to their Dad. The nurse in charge of the unit asked me, did they know how seriously ill he is? Yes, I told them, made it quite clear. One is estranged from his Dad, has been for years, is unlikely to come. That leaves just one. Beloved asked after her three times last week, not in any desperate way, just casually. But it means he is thinking of her. There’s nothing I can do.

If he makes it to warmer days I will take him out into the garden at the Home. On Sunday we had bright spring sunshine, we sat by a large window, the sun streaming in and warming his face. "Lovely to feel the sun on me”, he said. How modest we become, how modest our pleasures.




40 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this post, Friko. Having experienced the changes and loss of a beloved grandparent to brain tumors, I relate to a lot of what you are feeling. I wish I could hug you or squeeze your hand...

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  2. Meaningful words brilliantly written thank you so much for sharing this

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  3. I didn't realize you were looking at such a short amount of time. I am honored that you trust us (your blog friends) enough to share what is happening and continue to hold you in my heart.

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  4. It has been such a short time and as you express, so painful to see. A former neighbour is suffering and in care but his is a very very slow decline. It is not worth thinking about which is worse.

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  5. I think of you often and wish you strength. Your writing is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Hold Millie close; she is a comfort to you all.

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  6. You sound in a much better frame of mind. You've accepted what is and are making the best of it. It's a difficult time.

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  7. Beautifully written Friko. You sound much more calm and peaceful now with it all.
    It would be lovely if the estranged child melted and came to say goodbye.

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  8. I hope his daughter comes, perhaps it is what he is waiting for. Sometimes the goodbyes stretch out a long time...and are easier for the departing than those left behind. Take good care of you.

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    1. My father in law was dying for 3 weeks ... finally I told him to just go and let it be ... he died within 1 hour from that ... when I returned to our farm I saw that a storm had ripped of all the leaves of our beloved willow tree ... and I knew he was there to say good bye ... Love, cat.

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  9. This is utterly painful to read, but, rest assured, friend Friko ... I feel 4 you and know, that you are strong enough to get through this all ... and some day, peeps will call on you in order to collect words of wisdom from you ... count me in ... Love, cat.

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  10. I am glad to hear you in this good perspective.
    I am more glad to see you surrounded by love here.

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  11. I do hope that your Beloved will be able to visit with the children with whom he still has contact. x

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  12. Dear, dear Friko. Thank you so much for taking the time to post. It is reassuring to know that you no longer feel rushed to dispose of things. There will be time for that. Thank goodness you are finding some bright spots in your times with Beloved. Those times are what matters most. Good memories for you to carry forward. And, yes, you are surrounded by love here.

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  13. Bittersweet is the one word I come up with to characterise this post, Friko. How wonderful that, amidst all the confusion in his mind, your Beloved is still able to receive and give love. I will be thinking of you when looking at the snowdrops in people's front garden as I am on my way to work today.

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  14. Thanks for sharing your ongoing journey Friko painful and joyful and sad as it is. I often think of you and hope each of you find comfort and it's good to know you do

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Dear Friko - this is a good read - which may seem strange - but is the way things happen - and you, so sensibly, have realised what's what. Most importantly you are there with Beloved as much as you are able ... and I'm pleased his family are visiting ... I just hope his daughter gets up to see him soon ... as you say there's nothing you can do re that. You are there and you have kept in touch and left the door open for them. I found it much easier to write to family and friends re my mother (in fact those letters spawned my blog name - strange, but true) ... and be there if people visited ...

    I do think of you ... and probably some of the things that are happening keep you moving along ... but there is time for you to spend with Beloved and that's the important thing - those memories and the good things will remain. Let's hope visits from his children will happen ... with many thoughts - Hilary

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  16. Dearest Friko ~ I can feel that a calmness has settled onto you and it is good to read. I love the special words and looks you and your Beloved are sharing at this time. I wrote down, daily if I could, the things that passed between my dear husband and myself and to go back and read them now fills my heart with even more love. I love that you had music for Beloved to listen to and that he enjoyed it so much.

    Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

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  17. Your words speak of love and they are so beautiful and poignant to read.

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  18. I guess at this point we live for the long sneaky smiles. Wish you both the best.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your post with those of us who are wondering how it's going. Although the deterioration has been rapid, he is still able to spend some time with you and Millie. I smiled and cried my way through this lovely description of you and Beloved during these difficult days.

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  20. You seem to have settled things with yourself....to make the most of your time together and let the rest wait.

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  21. I feel so much for both of you. Your love for each other is an inspiration as is your post -- sad as it is. I so agree with Fly ... And thank you for this wonderful and moving post.

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  22. When it all comes down to it, the priorities make themselves known. Sorting and clearing can wait. Beloved can't. I don't think any of us need to tell you to savor every second -- you already know that and are doing exactly the right thing. I'm glad Millie is feeling better and that she can visit too, and music -- oh, isn't music the most healing? In time, your garden will be your healing spot, you will water the earth with your tears. But now, in this moment, you are exactly where you need to be. With Beloved.

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  23. Your words are filled with tenderness and an appreciation for the small moments that make up so much of life, but that we don't treasure until they are all we have. Much love to you across the miles, dear Friko.

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  24. Dear Friko, what deep love, wisdom and understanding fills this post. Thank you for allowing us this entrance to what you are now experiencing. I am so fortunate to know you and send lots of love across the ocean. xo

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  25. I can hear and feel the great love between you and Beloved. He is and should be your focus. Only deal with what you absolutely have to (there's always enough of that) and the rest can wait. Treasured, bittersweet moments. Love and hugs from Fargo.

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  26. this is so loving and gentle. my thoughts and heart are with you.

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  27. Such a beautiful marriage and life together...so much love and kindness. I envy you. I know you are grateful.

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  28. In the end, it is the love that will endure. Perhaps the snowdrops will bring not grief, but memories of your love, and even a sense of presence. I'm happy to hear that Milly's arthritis is better. No doubt this has been an adjustment for her, as well, and feeling better will ease things for her. It's always good to hear from you. Know that you're in my thoughts.

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  29. I nearly wept when you wrote of how you will associate this time with snowdrops. I imagine the two of you sitting together with the music playing and the sun on you and I think how blessed you both are to have each other. So few ever find a companionship such as you two have had. I'm glad Millie is there for you all. I do hope his children come. You remain in my heart and in my thoughts.

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  30. I hope you will continue to write, Friko, and I hope that in doing it your load is lightened somewhat. My thoughts remain with you, as do my prayers.

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  31. You have a gift with words and I feel caught up in everything you share. Thank you for sharing this time in your life - for sharing all these posts over the years. Hugs to you during this sad and hard time

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  32. Following U every step of the way, friend Friko ... have a husband like that ... he is still alive and mobile ... 12 years older than me ... we know that time and genetics will tell in time will tell about things in time ... so, while waitin out time we r going on trips ... Germany and Russia and Prussia,Mexico, New Zealand, Bali ... Love, cat ... http://catsruledogsdroole.logspot.com/ and http://ckpeacemaker.wordpress.com/ ...

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  33. "How modest...." but yet, as the horizons shrink, how much more important is what remains - and how proud you're entitled to be about what you have made over the years.

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  34. Oh Friko, this is such a hard and sad time for you both. You are losing your darling and yet finding precious moments of connection with him. Do you bring Millie with you on the visits? I am praying for both of you.

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  35. What a painful time for you, and yet you are making the most of it......bringing in the music, the poetry, the beauty that has always marked your lives together. I love his simple enjoyment of being in the sun. I feel sorry for any of his children who are not wise enough to see him, and in the case of the estranged child, make peace. Of course, that is up for them, and you have done all you can by letting them know of his condition. How fortunate you are and have been to have one another. Know that you are both in my prayers. <3

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  36. Such a tough trip. Exhausting to read and therefore, you must be even more tired to go through the motions. The long goodbye. I guess a consolation is that you do get these times unlike others who find they have lost someone they love via phone call. I am glad he likes the music as I have read that this is a good medicine for those who have trouble remembering.

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