Monday, 17 December 2007

The Winter of Discontent

We took James out for his weekly outing on Sunday morning and could see that everything’s so much more of an effort. Talking, walking, thinking – everything has slowed down and the dear fellow looks much older all of a sudden.

Even a few weeks ago he was relaxed, laughing at his mistakes when he said the wrong thing or stumbled. Now it’s as if the winter of old age has crept up and has thrown a thick coat around him. A scarf of confusion is wrapped around his neck and he's disorientated and, I fear, frightened. That’s the worst part.

Talking is virtually impossible; he gets so muddled that the wrong words come out and it’s difficult to guess what he’s trying to say. In the car he kept saying, ‘I’d like to get some – you know – honey.’

It wasn’t honey, but I have no idea what he did mean. Then he came out with ‘trousers’ which wasn’t what he meant either.

He can’t write because he has terrible rheumatism, so communication is, at best, difficult. Throughout a process of miming, we managed to work out that he wanted to get a razor, so after coffee and shortbread at a café in town, we hit Tesco.

‘I want some – er – er - chocolate,’ he said. ‘You know, to eat in bed.’ He smiled forlornly and said, ‘I probably shouldn’t, but …’

‘Of course,’ I said and steered him firmly round the aisles where he chose three family sized slabs of chocolate, three large packs of plain chocolate digestives, a tube of toothpaste and a pack of disposable razors.

When we got back to his room, I hung up his winter coat and at the bottom of the wardrobe I noticed three tubes of toothpaste, four bottles of mouthwash and six tubes of Steradent (for his dentures).

Whenever we go out we always pay for our own drinks to save confusion. This time, when he saw us out, he gave me a big hug and managed to say, ‘Next time I’d like to pay for all of it.’

And that is what I will always remember him for. A warm and loving, generous friend.

16 comments:

Rebecca Taunton said...

Oh dear, poor James. Winter is always the hardest for the elderly. It's lucky he has such good friends to look after him and have patience with him. RT

Flowerpot said...

I don't think it's just winter, RT. I wish it was.

laurie said...

that is sweet, and very sad.

my dad had word confusion, too, toward the end. he remembered verbs and articles and prepositions ok, but he coudln't remember the nouns.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

"A warm and loving, generous friend."

As I am sure he thinks of you too.

Crystal xx

Flowerpot said...

laurie - apparently he's always had a certain amount of word confusion but it;s got noticeably worse recently.

crystal - yes I hope he does think of us like that. I think he does.

Akelamalu said...

Poor James, it must be so frustrating for him and for you. It's amazing what a difference there can be in the elderly in a very short time. There's not a lot to be said for getting old is there? :(

Flowerpot said...

Ak - you're quite right. He seems to have gone downhill very quickly. No, I'm not looking forward to it at all!

Lane said...

Sorry to hear this fp. He's lucky to have you and Himself to look out for him.

Flowerpot said...

lane - I'm so fond of him. He's a real darling.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

It's so hard to watch someone you care about have to go through that. You are both very good friends to him.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I mix up words now. What a good friend you are. I've nominated you for an award, by the way.

elizabethm said...

Poor James. I already get word blanks without the explanation of old age and I really feel for him. He is fortunate to have such good friends and I am sure he appreciates you (not that this is what you do it for!)

Flowerpot said...

rc - it's terrible, it really is. But what can you do? Old age is like reverting to childhood in part - I want to wrap him up and take him by the hand and lead him somewhere safe.

Flowerpot said...

wakeup - well, I mix up words too I must say! Thanks for the award - I will nip over and take a look!

elizabeth - yes I know he does appreciate us. It seems sad that not many other people bother.

Ellee Seymour said...

You sound like a true friend. I have an elderly neighbour who is ill and I remind her she is lucky she still has her memory and all her faculties.

Flowerpot said...

ellee - I look at the other elderly people inthe home and am relieved that most of them are still very compos mentis.