You can see when Dad’s ego is in charge. “Things shouldn’t be like this” kicks in.
This includes not only little things that I have got wrong in my attempts to replicate his routines, but also frustration at himself and the confusion that his increased loss of short term memory is causing.
But when that voice isn’t there, when he just accepts things as they are, he is relaxed and happy.
I would do well to learn from watching him.
Yesterday, while I was enjoying the sunshine lying on a beach, my daughter texted to ask if I knew a bass player called Danny Thompson because he often swims in the pool at which she is a lifeguard and is a really nice guy.
Danny Thompson! One of the best bass players in the world who played with John Martyn my favourite musician! Danny Thompson whose bass lines were so much of the incredible power of songs like those on the album One World!
Listening to the song One World I started weeping lying on that beach.
Imagine having that ability to move people.
Walking along the lane next to my father’s house, I was enjoying all the wild flowers at the side of the road. This brought back memories of when I first got into walking and bought Collin’s Book Of Wild Flowers in an attempt to learn their names.
I never managed this and have always felt a bit of a failure as a result.
But who cares what they are called? Just enjoy them. Perhaps all the more for not having slapped a label on them!
At 92 my Dad is beginning to struggle. His short term memory is failing. On good days he’s bright as a button but some days life gets hard.
Every morning he and Mum had a very specific routine for breakfast. Things were placed in exactly the same place, things were done in exactly the same order. Since Mum passed away two years ago Dad has rigorously followed that same routine.
On good days this is what gets him through the process. On bad days, when the chain is broken, the train come off the rails and “What do I do next?” is the heartbreaking question that gets repeated at each step.
Each small step has become a giant leap for mankind.
I’m not quite sure who “they” are but I remember when our first daughter, Mollie was born coming away from the hospital thinking how ridiculous it was that no one had checked in any way that we were responsible enough to look after this little thing. “They” make you do a test for driving a car, why not for having children?
I’m beginning to feel the same way about my father.
Although he is still living on his own, he is increasingly confused.
He called me at 5 am this morning. He wasn’t distressed, there was nothing wrong, he was just a bit wandered and not even sure why he had called me.
“They” don’t prepare you for this either. All you can really do is stay calm, be kind, and deal with the next situation as it arises.
Probably good advice for life generally.