Tiger prints forever on my heart.

Yesterday was a challenge, but then each day brings new challenges. Mum gave me an early text to say that Dad was really anxious and she couldn’t cope. Bugs was on lates yesterday, so he went to their house at 9am and talked through Dad’s anxieties with him. When my hubby got home, he said that Dad had been incredibly anxious about so many things that he didn’t need to worry about. His brain is doing cruel things right now. Mum had an eye appointment at the surgery, as I picked them up later that morning, she was so grateful for Bugsy’s earlier input.

Dad and I dropped my Mum off for her appointment, then we headed to town as his glasses were ready to collect. The staff in Specsavers are so empathetic. Kerran has a great team. The lady dealing with Dad was so patient. My Dad had hoped that his new reading glasses would offer him the vision he was desperate for. As he put them on, he was so disappointed. I had to explain that the glasses would do their best to help him see more clearly, but we still had to wait for the road blocks between his brain and his eyes to repair themselves. As the lady held up the sheet of different sized font, I began to hold my finger under specific words. He read ‘size’ perfectly. He couldn’t decipher ‘print’ and, again, I found myself sounding out the letters to him. People might think so what? However, the impact of this activity on me is massive. My Dad, like me, loves the English language. He has always be passionate about the subject. Sounding out words to my talented Dad is heartbreaking.

After finishing at the opticians, Dad asked if he could get a roll for his lunch. I held onto his arm and let him lead me. As we stood on the pavement, about to cross the road, I was very aware that I was holding him back. With his lack of peripheral vision and judgement, it’s a scary prospect crossing the road with him. When I was Supervisor at Moshulu, a few years ago, I’d look out of the window and see my parents crossing the road to do their daily visit to me in the shop. They never used the pedestrian crossing in the middle of the town, they’d always cross at any point. I’m guilty of this too, we are a family made to run and rush everywhere. We seem to have no time to waste on pedestrian crossings and so forth. Now, this reality is a difficult one to manage, given my parents’ vulnerability. Yesterday, as Dad and I negotiated the traffic, I thought how much easier it would be if I could teach him to use the pedestrian crossing. My Dad’s inability to master old habitual routines is a huge task, without the added pressure of learning new routines. However, I’m not giving up on this. I’m determined to try and teach him how to use the crossing.

In the car, my Dad was speaking with clarity. He said how Mum had struggled with his anxieties that morning. My Mum has always been the most positive person. She would never be one to wallow in self-pity. I think, after losing my brother, my parents have always viewed life positively. If you lose a child, I’d imagine no struggle in life seems that hard, as you know what real sadness is. They’ve maintained this all their lives, they’ve always been incredibly positive people. Dad said that Mum was really upset yesterday morning. She had apparently said “What’s the world coming to?.” When I questioned Dad as to what he thought she meant by this, he said “I think she meant our world. Our world is difficult. We should be enjoying our time of life, but I’m ruining it with my problems.” It was so hard to hear him speak like this. He blames everything on himself. I hate it.

In the afternoon, I decided we needed a trip to get some sea air, for myself as much as my parents. I’m never guilty of the amount of photos I take. I know, one day, these photos will mean the world to me. They already do.

This morning, my Dad was due to have a blood test. Knowing I’d be there to pick him up at 8.20am had unsettled his tired, tangled brain. He’d apparently started to get ready for the appointment last night at 7.30pm. Mum had told him he had a night’s sleep first. He then woke at 3am asking Mum what time I’d be there. As Dad and I arrived at the surgery this morning, we were told there were no nurses to take blood today. So we’ve got to repeat this procedure again tomorrow morning. I just hope it doesn’t unsettle Dad’s night again.

It’s Russ’ birthday today. I wish, so much, that I could take him out and buy him the biggest piece of Rocky Road. I miss his cheekiness so much. A day with Russ was filled with laughter and mischief. I can’t begin to say how much I miss those days. Every moment I spent with him was an adventure. He soon learnt that the worse thing to say to the Sophster was “I dare you, Soph!” … Daring me meant I had to suck ketchup up through a straw, run along the Exmouth seafront pushing his wheelchair at high speed, and put huge amounts of chocolate in my mouth at one time. Being dared to do something has always been my downfall, and Russ made sure he took full advantage of this!!

Once, we went to Seaton to do some crab fishing in the harbour. As we walked along to buy an ice-cream, I needed a quick wee. I left him outside the public toilets. As I came back out, he was chatting to this elderly lady. As he saw me, he said “This is Soph.” I presumed he knew her, so I chatted to her for a while too. As we left and said bye to her, I asked him who she was… “No idea, Soph!.” I laughed so much, as I will happily talk for hours to strangers, I love that Russ did too.

Before I started my job as an Enabler, Russ had been taken to the Dart Valley Country Park. One Enabler told me that Russ had decided he was doing the zip wire. They must have been a bit apprehensive about allowing him to do it, but they knew he was determined. He did it, and as soon as he came back to the group, he said “I want to do that again!.” Apparently, there were no dry eyes in the group of Enablers that day. I don’t doubt it. I wish I’d have been there. Russ ignored his physical limitations, he pushed himself to the limit to achieve life’s thrills. The impact of Russ on my life has been immense. He will forever be the reason I make no apology for singing, or playing music loudly and painting my face with chocolate. He works me with strings, from above. I’m forever grateful, and privileged, to have had my adventures and mischief with this amazing, selfless, generous, funny and brave man. Love you Russ, today and always xxxxx

2 thoughts on “Tiger prints forever on my heart.

  1. Your ‘Sophness’ just shines out of this blogpost! How special that you and Russ were able to enrich each other’s lives the way you did. You have wonderful memories to make you smile and help fill the space he has left. Like you, I make no excuse for taking umpteen photos – my phone is absolutely stuffed (mainly with cats)!! I love seeing the photos of you and your Mum and Dad that you post – the interesting thing is, you see all the changes in him but I, who only know him from your photos, see the same person – yes, a little thinner in the face, but otherwise the same. That person you know and love is still there, never lose sight of that.

    You must have been a terrific enabler for Ross and what you are doing now, with your Dad, is an extension of this. You may well succeed with teaching him to use the pedestrian crossing – it will be new learning which may be easier for his mind to process than trying to recall old learning. One thing I do know – you will not lack determination!

    I am off out to lunch today with a group of my ex-colleagues from Ottery Primary – I am the youngest in the group by a good 12 years!! We have all aged, but we are still all the same! Lots of love to you, fabulous Soph. xxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gini xxxx
      You’re right about the physical changes in Dad. They’re very apparent to me as I know how he’s always looked, but to others, hopefully they see him the same as they always have.
      I totally take on what you say about the old Dad still being there. Sometimes, he’s so with it, that I savour every moment, knowing that’s my familiar Dad.
      I’m with you 100% that you can never have too many photos……especially of cats!!
      All my love to you, Silver lady of wonder xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


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