Treasured friends.


As I arrived at my parents’ yesterday morning, I could see my Dad was very tired. He had had an extremely restless night. My Uncle was due to visit that day, from Uckfield, Sussex. If my Dad is aware of something happening the next day, this will affect his sleep dramatically. I think the main source of anxiety is the fact that he cannot process the time element of the visit. So, during the night, he’s very anxious as to when appointments and visits are taking place.

My Uncle (Not blood relative, but I’ve always called him ‘Uncle’) was having a presentation, in his honour, at Seaton Tramway. He used to be a DJ for Radio 1 and then worked for years for BBC World Service. He’d grown up in Barton-On-Sea with my Dad. They’d gone to Brockenhurst Grammar school together, their friendship spans over 70 years. (My Dad has another friend he has known even longer. ‘Uncle’ John and he’s been an incredible support to me of late, and his daughters Susan and Jojo). I think, if you grow up as an only child, you are bound to develop close brother/sister type relationships with your friends. Dad always told me how he hated being an only child, it definitely wasn’t from a want of trying on my Grandma R’s part.

Going back to why my Uncle was at Seaton Tramway. When he retired from the BBC, he took up an interest in driving the trams. So he’d come down from Sussex a couple of times a year and he’d be a relief driver at Seaton, staying with my parents during the two weeks duration. Mum and Dad had obviously been invited to the presentation yesterday, but my Dad would never have coped. So, on the way home, my Uncle was brought to my parents’ by his younger brother.

Over three and a half years ago, my Uncle was on one of his fortnightly stays at my parents’ house. Mum had taken him in a cup of tea, but he wasn’t responding. Dad went in and did not like how my Uncle was looking, slouched in his bed. My parents are incredibly intelligent people, however, both lack common sense!! My kids are always calling it “Grammar school education!” …. I don’t mean to offend anyone!! Instead of doing what most people (with common sense!) would do, and ring an ambulance, suspecting a stroke, my then 74 year old Dad RUNS to our local hospital for help?!!!!!!! This is a good half a mile from their house! Thankfully, as soon as the little, puffed out, 74 year old got to the hospital and explained, the nurse immediately organised an ambulance to my parents’ address. My Uncle was taken straight to R, D & E, where he stayed for a few weeks, until being transferred to a hospital in Sussex. He stayed in that hospital for a couple of months, because he needed so much rehabilitation.

When my Mum phoned me on this day, three and a half years ago, I went mad! My parents have always hated “putting people out!” … These people would have been the emergency services, getting the fastest response possible to a life threatening situation. What person runs for half a mile, and then get help??! Common sense does not grow in my parents’ garden very well!

My parents have visited my Uncle since his stroke, but I haven’t seen him, until yesterday. As he was sat beside my Dad on the sofa, all I could see was two, frail men, ¬†vastly damaged by the effects of a stroke. However, both affected so differently. My Uncle had to be taught how to walk again, he is still very shaky and relies on a stick, or a Zimmer frame. Whilst Dad’s damage is in his brain. So, whilst my Dad is damaged, mentally, my Uncle’s is very much a physical damage. Talking to my Uncle yesterday, he is still the eccentric, loud, outspoken man he always was. I couldn’t help but envy this. I hate how my Dad’s brain is left so damaged. I think my Uncle was quite taken aback by just how unwell his old friend, Derek, actually is.

Whilst I was having a chat with my Uncle’s younger brother, I heard the conversation start up about driving. LAY IT TO REST, WOMAN!!!! My Uncle has not been told of my Mum’s dementia, although, I’m sure he probably guesses. So he started to say that it was great that my Mum could still get Dad about in the car?????! … “I’ve had my licence revoked, thanks to Soph, the Doctor and the Assessor!!” I really do feel I will burn in hell for this, but I do prefer the warmth. I told her to lay it to rest. She then went on to say that the Assessor had been¬†“too rigid, unfair and too good at his job!” I’ve never met his brother, until yesterday, but I thought he was an extremely funny man. He piped up “Too good at his job? Surely that’s a good thing?!” … I like this man!

Still on the subject of the infamous, Vauxhall Viva. My Mum asked me if I could ask Clive for one of the keys?? When I asked her why, she said that she needs access to it, in case she needs to get something… I don’t know a time where she’ll need a map of Devon, or a pack of Kleenex tissues, or a spare, yellow duster?? Nice try, you relentless woman, nice try.

(The picture is a clip from the Daily Mail, recently. My Uncle surrounded by all his former colleagues).

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