Sometimes life will lift you just when you need it. As I was sat with Bugs and Lou on Friday evening, I felt so heavy with all my thoughts. A lovely friend (Debbie xxx) tagged me in a post about Old Honiton memories. As I read through the lovely comments people had added about my Dad’s witty billboards, I was crying. They were definitely tears of joy and pride. There’s something very spiritual about uplifting moments. They can rebalance you and provide you with the strength you were needing. I’m hugely proud of the impact my Dad’s humour had on people. He used to spend ages trawling through the pages on Ceefax looking at all the news, then he’d spin it, hilariously, on a board outside the shop. The business paid the bills, however, Dad’s main focus was to get his voice out there. Incredibly proud of him for that. He had “Grockles” believing there was a harbour in Luppitt and an airport in the hamlet of Luton. I can remember an American couple stepping into the shop after visiting Honiton Lace. He told them to visit the beautiful Luppitt harbour… As they discovered the little trickle of water in the village, they returned to the shop laughing and congratulating Dad on his great sense of humour. He has always been incensed by the insincerity of the American expression “Have a nice day!” He has always been frustrated how the Americans clap at humour, instead of laugh. However, this particular couple of American tourists seemed to really get Dad that day.

David Young, the local TV presenter, went into the shop to meet my parents. He lived locally at the time, and he asked them if he could include them in a book he was writing called ‘Where’s the dog?.’ My parents were really touched, and sure enough, Dad’s billboards featured on two pages of the book. (I’ll scan it later, to add to my blog). David had told my parents that whenever he met the public, they were more interested to know where his beloved Labrador, Oliver, was. Hence the name of the book. Quite right too!

As I arrived at my parents yesterday, my Dad was sat at the table trying to write. When I asked him what he was writing, he told me that he was attempting to copy Mum’s note on the other side of the paper. She’d written ‘Do not lose your glasses. Keep them safe!.’ As my Dad was flipping from one side of the paper to another, he was trying to remember what he was copying. He’s constantly trying to test his damaged brain. Pushing it to work properly. He couldn’t write ‘glasses’ and he asked me if it said ‘glad?.’ I sounded out the letters, pointed to the new readers he was wearing, said the word aloud. I tried every which way to trigger his brain. It was so sad to see that he could not understand the word.

Dad’s Occupational Therapist recommended that Dad had a notice board that he can put daily activities on, one day at a time, to avoid confusion. Simplicity being key…. Mum has taken to putting notes all over it, like the glasses one. I’ve told her to avoid this, as its too much information for him to take in. The Occupational Therapist has tried to advise her of this too, but to no avail. Slowly, Dad’s daily notice board is becoming Mum’s voice ….. Maybe I should buy her one of her own. Mum being Mum, she’d find hers less interesting, I’m sure of it.

As Dad gave up on the copying, we sat down on the sofa together. I told him of the lovely Honiton post about him. He remembered all the names I threw at him. His long term memory is unaffected. It was lovely to see a genuine smile on his face.

I told him all about my cousin, Ali’s current trial. I was telling him how Al talks about the horrendous “white supremacy” still controlling the world of politics. Getting my Dad onto the subject of politics has never been a difficult one. He has always loved a powerful debate. These days, post stroke, I know he feels very out of touch with the political world. Dad has always been frustrated by apathy. He’s always said that if you feel strongly enough about something, to never be afraid to have a voice. He was really interested to hear about Ali and the fact that Amnesty International are taking notes on the trial.

Mum presented me with a letter and forms that Dad had received that morning from  DVLA…. My parents are certainly keeping the DVLA busy right now. Post stroke, the patient must inform the DVLA of their circumstances. I’d sent off information regarding Dad’s stroke. This questionnaire was all about Dad’s field of vision. The letter said that it needed a reply within 14 days, or Dad’s licence would be revoked. It doesn’t take a genius to know what Mum had done with this information!! She’d filled out the majority of the questionnaire. She’d failed to answer the most important question “Is your field of vision affected post stroke?” … I ticked the box and asked Mum why she’d not filled it in. I walked right into this one…. “Because they might revoke Dad’s licence if we put that, Soph!.” … This woman is relentless beyond words!!!! My Dad is sporting a nice cut on his forehead, where he had walked into a tree in their garden. During a walk along the seafront at Seaton, the other day, he walked into a lamp post, hitting his right knee with some force. This woman thinks my poor Dad is going to get behind the wheel of the red, ferocious, lawn mower??! I explained that Dad was in no fit state to be driving a car… “No, Soph, not right now, but a lot can happen in two weeks!.” People have always described me as a positive person, most of the time I’d agree with them. However, my Mum takes positivity to a whole new level. There’s positivity and then there’s realism. I consider myself positive, yet realistic. Mum, on the other hand, is totally unrealistic. Whilst her optimism is lovely, it needs some fine tuning, to say the least! She keeps saying that she’s sure Dad will be back on the road by December…

With regard to Mum’s current situation with the DVLA. Following her letter and questionnaire she received last Saturday, (What is it with the DVLA sending my parents post every Saturday?!! Are they sat in some Swansea office, bored?!), she’s still awaiting a reply. Whoever saw it fit to throw a huge spanner in the works, and contest the decision to keep Mum and other road users safe, has certainly failed in their attempts. It must have taken some time to present their argument. They failed to realise that Mum has Type 2 diabetes, not the Type 1 as presented in their argument. It cruelly gave my Mum false hope and this is wicked. I’m sure they’re satisfied that it would have caused adequate upset. That it did. However, the GP will never agree to a retest.

One thing I’m guarded against, it’s the opinion of others. I keep being told by my hubby that I need to give myself a break from my parents. Whilst I appreciate his concern, it’s easier said than done. My Dad is so fragile right now. He gets so anxious. When I arrived on Friday, I could just see the relief in his face. He was so anxious about things. I could see that Mum had no tolerance for the situation. At this point, a fresh set of ears is so important. I sat down and talked through all the anxieties that his cruel brain was providing him. If left for too long, I get worried that my Dad’s anxieties will be too much for Mum. I can appreciate I need to divide my time equally between my family and my parents, but to leave them to it for a whole day, would be asking far too much of myself right now. I never want to find myself saying ‘I could have done more.’ I only want to know that I did everything I could.

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