I want to thank a school friend, Debbie, for the happy reminiscing on the book of face last night. It provided much needed smiles and giggles. My hubby woke up this morning to read the comments. It was lovely to see him laughing. Thank you, Debbie xxxxx
It still makes me laugh, to this day, that my maths teacher moved me up to the top set!! As Clive, ‘Me Julie’ and I were walking up the stairs to our new class, I remember being in complete shock! Proud, I went home that night to my Dad telling him I’d been moved to the top set… “Oh dear” was he reply! Not happy about this, I asked if I could phone my Grandpa R, in Barton, to tell him the great news. My Grandpa R was so sweet, but he did say that I might find it a little difficult! … A few weeks later I was moved back down to the middle group again! I hated every minute in that top set. Clive never left it, I’m not bitter. (Both my Dad and Grandpa had their teacher heads on and were probably wondering what the maths teachers were doing!). To this day, I don’t know how I got my C grade in GCSE maths, but I’m glad I did!
One of our teachers contacted Clive and I to tell us that our Tutor and geography teacher was retiring. He asked if we could bring ourselves and our baby (Hattie) to her retirement party, as a surprise for her. This was 1996. As we walked into the conference room at Padbrook Park, all our former teachers were staring at us. For someone like Bugsy, this was quite an ordeal. For me, I loved every minute of it! All our teachers were trying to cuddle the baby. The baby was very reluctant to be handed around! (Both my babies were like this, breastfeeding them both for 13 months, made them extremely clinging babies. Who’d have thought?!). It was so lovely seeing all the familiar faces. Our Tutor was so surprised to see us. However, she did keep mentioning that she’d been “a little put out” that she hadn’t been invited to our wedding in 1994! This seemed to have really upset her. I felt quite guilty, Clive didn’t.
Right, enough of the past. Yesterday morning I woke up feeling really uneasy about things. The previous day, my Dad had had a family member visit him. I was aware there could be an aftermath. Sadly, I wasn’t wrong. At lunchtime, the Manager of the home phoned me and said my Dad needed to talk to me. Bugs, Mum, Hats and I were due to visit him that afternoon. So I told the Manager I’d head straight there, allowing me an hour’s chat with Dad before Bugs and Hats brought Mum along. When I got there, my Dad was stood in the lounge looking out the window, towards the parking area. He looked absolutely exhausted. He gave me a big cuddle and I suggested we went for a walk. I love the walks in the grounds; the views across the fields, the absolute peace, the hope I may catch a glimpse of Lily the cat. We did see the lovely Lily.
Dad was so unsettled. He asked me if he could go home. Officially, I’d booked him into stay until Tuesday evening, a week’s stay. He said he felt he was there against his wishes. Gut-wrenching. My Dad had asked me to find somewhere as he needed a rest from Mum. Now, he was saying he was being held there against his will? (This was the aftermath I’d expected). As we walked along the lane, arm in arm, I told him how he could leave at anytime and that I’d actioned this respite on his direction. On Thursday, he had even said “I feel calm here, I wasn’t calm at home.” Now he wanted to go home. Today, he seemed really muddled, more so than usual. I don’t think he’d slept well, and this sleep deprivation does seem to exacerbate his confusion. As we walked back to the home, we sat on the bench outside. He put his arm around me. Usually, if my Dad hugs me, I feel protected against the world. I didn’t feel protected. He was hugging me, yet I felt like the protector. He has always been a little man, but he seems that bit more little now. Despite his little stature, he has always had the ability to light up a room. When my Dad walks into a room, people have always noticed. The life and soul of the party, the extrovert, the comedian. One of his pupils from his school, where he was the Head, contacted me the other day. He said that he never liked teachers in his school days, except one, my Dad. This means the world to me xxx
As we were sat on the bench, he was telling me that “it was his right to leave” … These were not his words, my Dad never speaks like this. The Deputy was just leaving her shift. She walked over to the bench. She is such a lovely person. She’d spent the whole morning with my Dad. Apparently, a couple of children had been playing football in the gardens and my Dad had asked to go and play. Which he did. She said he’d enjoyed it and was smiley. Dad said “I find the elderly people here hard work and loud. The children are much easier company.” I see so much of myself in my Dad. When I was a Teaching Assistant at Payhembury primary school, during break times, the staff would all stand around with their coffees, watching the kids play. They always poked fun at me, for playing football with my friend, Jacqui’s son and his mates. I’d been in stuffy classrooms all morning, I needed to run about and have fun. Again, my Dad’s opinion of the elderly reiterates the fact that both my parents do not consider themselves of an elderly age yet. Whilst this is lovely, and they’ve certainly never looked their age, it’s very sad to see their brains are showing tremendous strain and ageing.
The Deputy told me that Dad had tried to write a letter that morning, but his brain would not allow him to do so. So she had suggested he dictate the letter to her to write. I’ve now got this letter, it made me cry. He said “I’m an English Teacher and my words were all over the place.” She said it was a beautifully thought out letter, Dad wasn’t convinced. Later on, when I read the letter, it was beautifully thought out, but he’d forgotten some family members’ names. I’d imagine this is what he was dissatisfied with. In the letter, he mentioned his “Success in Grandchildren,” he is so proud of his three Grandkids.
As the Deputy left, she told him that she hoped she’d see him there on her Sunday shift. I then suggested to Dad we should explore the walled garden. Many years ago, the home used to be a lace making college to the Honiton Lace. It’s such a magical place. My Dad wanted to leave, I wanted a week’s stay! Bugsy, Hats and my Mum were driving up the lane towards the house. They came to greet us and we all went over to see Lily the cat, who was basking in the September sunshine. We then all repeated the walk up the lane. Mum was agitated, she had been all day. She was still saying how she “hated relying on people” to drive her places. Relentless, completely relentless. The previous day, she’d said the word “sad.” She was doing her exhausting rant over her loss of licence. “It’s so sad! I should be driving. I need to be driving to get about!” … Sometimes, exhaustion gets the better of me. On this occasion, this was certainly true. I said “Mum, what’s sad is that Sacha never had chance to live beyond the years he was given. Now, that’s sad!”
Bugsy and I walked slowly behind, discussing my conversation with my Dad, whilst Hats walked on with her Grandparents listening to their words. After the walk, we all went up to Dad’s spacious room and had a long chat about his need to go home. He definitely had it in his head he wanted to leave. Mum wanted him to leave. I had no other choice, but to go downstairs and tell Matt, the Manager, that I had to admit defeat. He is so sympathetic and sensitive to this fragile situation. I literally can’t praise him and his staff enough. Bugsy started to pack up the suitcase he packed earlier in the week to bring Dad to the home.
It is so hard to know, in your heart of hearts, that a decision is not the right one, that it has consequences. However, all you can do is respect a decision, regardless of the fact that you know it’s not going to be helpful to a situation.
My Dad, during these last few weeks, has become more and more confused. I cannot begin to say how devastated I am by this. All the time, I’m told by the professional services, that I must do my best to keep myself physically and mentally strong, if I don’t, the bottom of this system falls out. My husband says that I allow this system to work, that I’m doing the professional services’ job for them, so they’re bound to be determined to keep me strong. I, on the other hand, take a different view, I wouldn’t want my parents’ care in the hands of anyone, but myself. It’s not my duty of care, it’s my love and respect for my amazing parents that drives me.
I’ve had two years to accept my Mum’s deteriorating brain, as sad as it is, I have slowly accepted and dealt with it. It’s my Dad’s situation I’m struggling with, these last 10 weeks have hit me so hard. He’s aware that his mind is doing things to cloud his judgements, this destroys me.
My blog is my therapy. My family are my strength. My parents’ 44 years of unconditional love is my determination.