Saturday, 28 April 2007

Coffee and Cakes with an Octagenerian

We took our elderly friend, James, out this morning (Sat) for coffee. He likes going to a very Bohemian café in Penryn called Miss Peapods where they have excellent coffee and home made cakes, and despite the fact that he finds it very difficult to talk (he’s had several strokes), he loves going out and having a chat. We’ve been very worried about him because he shouldn’t be living on his own as he’s had several bad falls, so several months ago, at his request, I rang round all the residential homes in the area and we took him to see one that we all liked very much. Very pleasant staff, lovely atmosphere, good food, all the residents (18 of them) seem to love it, and a wonderful view of the sea in lovely gardens. They can come and go when they want and have friends in and take their own belongings there, and we spent several hours there with him.

After that, of course, nothing happened. James's daughter lives in London and seems to be in charge of finances, but he was worried that the home would be too expensive and she wouldn’t want to pay that money, but today he said he’s been offered a room there and has decided to accept it. He doesn’t want to go in just yet as he’d like to have the summer at home with the family (despite the fact that said daughter apparently wants to have nothing to do with him – his words). But it’s such a relief to know that he can go there whenever he wants. He was very concerned to know what we thought about his decision to go to this home, and delighted when we said we thought he'd done the right thing.

It really makes you think about Getting Older. He is very upset because, he said, 'I think my daughter's given up on me.' Apparently she puts down the phone when he rings. Why? How could she do this? And then I think - what's her story? It seems so sad when he’s such a lovely man, but there’s obviously a good reason. Makes you wonder though – he’s such a gentleman in all the best senses of the word and I feel very honoured to know him. But he finds it so frustrating when he knows what he wants to say and can’t get the words out. He can’t write things down because his arthritis is too bad to hold a pen, so we’re looking into a dictaphone for him.

So a productive morning. A good outlook for James, who was in good spirits having made his decision, and the coffee and flapjack were good. I’m afraid to say that lying in bed this morning, knackered from all these rehearsals, I wasn’t looking forward to taking James out – it can be very difficult when he’s trying to talk and can’t. Chatting with him today over coffee, I felt very Small. What’s life worth, if you can’t help someone like him?

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