Over the last year I’ve been trying to find the right path to communicate with my lovely friend suffering from Alzheimers. While I could, I took her out to hopefully familiar places and friends. When her watch showed noon it was time to find somewhere to eat. Lager and lime, fish no batter, chips and mushy peas, was the order of the day.
Then we would play patience, she rarely missed a trick.
Then we would sit and do jigsaws, she had a quick eye for the right piece.
Then I would play music; The Beatles, Hot Chocolate and Niel Diamond. Was that the best choice? A wave of the hands or a nod of the head meant a lot.
Then I would just talk about anything. A thumbs up was all I needed.
Then she stared, did she know me? Was that a tear?
Then she went.
After the funeral I went for a walk up Longridge Fell. It was a beautiful late Summer’s evening. I thought I had found a new path through the trees, maybe a gift to remember her by, but it went nowhere.
It is National Alzheimer’s Day today, September 21st.
Have you thought of giving to their charity?
Bowland at its best.
I walked here a week ago, August Bank Holiday Monday. We had planned it to avoid the crowds. Sir Hugh’s write up is already published.
On my drive home I had a phone call to say my friend with dementia and motor-neurone disease had suffered a turn for the worse. Was I glad I had not taken the motorway, it was jam packed. My liitle car sped through the by lanes and I arrived along with the paramedics. There was little they could do except offer sincere empathy, likewise the oncall doctor who came shortly afterwards. Thankfully she could be nursed, unconscious, at home. Two days later she passed away peacefully. I’ve lost two of my best friends this year.
A week later I have loaded my photos but am unable to give a commentary.
Baines Crag carpark.
Crossgill Farm, 1681, typical of the area.
The former St. Anne;s Chapel. 1752.
Littledale Free Church, 1849, now a store.
Littledale Hall and buildings, C19 gothic style. Now a ‘therapy centre’.
Sir Hugh entering upper Littledale.
Over to Roeburndale – another day.
Littledale – there and back.
I want one of these when the time comes.
Littledale Hall again.
Caton Moor wind turbines.
Slopes of Clougha with the infant River Condor.
Looking back towards distant Ward’s Stone Fell.
A steep end to the day.
Covid Lockdown. I’ve not been for three months. She must wonder where her friends have gone. What’s app video conversations have been intermittent and unsatisfactory. But I’m looking at it from my perspective, maybe she loved to see my face on the small screen, I certainly had the thumbs up even when there was no speech left.
At last, I can visit in the garden. As I walk in front of the windows up goes the thumb, only one now. How wonderful.
The combination of her deterioration and the Covid lockdown has not been good so I’m overjoyed with whatever recognition there is. There are stories everywhere of family’s unable to be close to their loved ones in life and death. All heartbreaking.
Dementia is cruel and insidious. Maybe two years ago there were early signs, slightly odd comments but we laughed them off. Then it was all too obvious but we kept on with life as much as possible. Even last September a holiday at their house in France. Old haunts were reassuring, maybe for her but helpful for us.
The trips out in the autumn to pubs for lunch. A finger pointing at her watch when the hour was twelve – they were serving food. Signs language told me, if not the waitress, fish, no batter, chips and mushypeas. Maybe room for apple pie and custard. Some establishments were more understanding and accomodating than others. I’ll patronise those again when the pain is over.
But now a bare six months later there is only a glimer of recognition, a stare and possibly an attempt at a thumbs up. And now a stare
I talk and gesture almost a dementia in myself, thats all I have. A stare
I dread tomorrow, if she is not in the familiar chair.