Old age

On Saturday, we paid our fortnightly visit to Margate to visit Tigger’s parents. As usual, we travelled by train to Ramsgate and spent some time at the Westwood Cross shopping centre looking for Christmas presents. Then we took the bus to a Chinese buffet restaurant that Tigger knew in order to have lunch. The Chinese turned out to be closed, so we went to the H.O.T Cafe instead.

Here I made a wee mistake. I should have had the all-day veggie breakfast but allowed myself to be persuaded to have Spanish omelet, which came with peas and chips (mmmm, chips). We didn’t think to ask what was in the omelet and it turned out that there was ham. Oh dear. So Tigger, who isn’t a veggie but usually behaves like one when we are together, ended up having two omelets and I had the two portions of chips (mmmm, chips).

Then it was off to visit Tigger’s dad, in his care home. Dad has been quite ill. He was admitted to hospital some months ago supposedly having had a stroke but later, the staff not only said he had not had a stroke but even denied they had ever said he had, despite there being several witnesses to the fact. Another unsolved mystery.

Whatever the cause of his hospitalization, Dad was poorly and obviously confused. During visits he would see things that were not there and hold conversations with (to us) invisible people. As his physical condition was stable, however, the hospital required him to be removed even though there was nowhere for him to go. (Going home was not an option as he was no longer able to look after himself and his wife as he had been doing.)

After a lot of toing and froing, a place was found for him in a care home. We have visited him there twice and it seems a reasonably good place. On our first visit, he was as confused as ever, seeing things and people that weren’t there, though he did know us and name us correctly. On the second visit, last Saturday, he was a lot better. Apart from a couple of small lapses (“remembering” a couple of things that had never in fact happened), he was almost his old self.

We talked to him in the small day lounge. There were two other men there, one on either side of him, throughout the visit. The first, on our left as we sat facing Dad, seemed very cheery and compos mentis but kept talking as though we had come to visit him, thanking us for coming and muscling in on the conversation.

The man on the right was less intrusive though he did try to talk to me. He had some kind of speech problem and spent the whole visit trying to explain something to me and failing. It seemed to involve two pictures painted by inmates. He would start off saying “Two… two… there… two…” and then his words would deteriorate into “mumm mumm mumm” but he would look at me questioningly to see whether I had understand which, of course, I had not.

The comic thing was that every now and again he would emit a loud “Wheeee!”, like an excited kid. I suspect that he has damage to the speech centres so that either he forgets words or can’t get them out. I say this because he suddenly caught sight of my black painted nails and obviously wanted to express something about them. What actually came out was something like “Cocked hands.. cocked… both…” Coming from a man who looked as if he might once have been a professional, a teacher or a lawyer, say, this inability to express himself was strange and sad.

Though Dad was in a good state and we had a good long chat with him, laughing about past adventures, talking about what we are doing for Christmas (going to stay in Margate for a few days) and so on, we have to remember that this may not last. Next time he may be having a bad day as on our first visit. Live for the day.

It’s easy to say that life is cruel but, of course it isn’t. Life, whatever we understand by that, bears us no malice nor does it care for or about us, no matter what some romantic or religious souls might think. Ours might be the best of all possible worlds but if so, that is merely because it is the only world we have. Sandwiched between the oblivion of non-existence and the oblivion of death we pursue a brief meteor trail of consciousness. The destination is always the same though the journey may differ.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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