Monday, 17 March 2008

Beginnings and Endings

On Saturday we took out our elderly friend for the first time in several weeks. He’s been in hospital having a lump removed and has recovered well from surgery, though as we’re not family we aren’t allowed to know whether the lump was dangerous or anything about the prognosis.

I rang him last week and he sounded very perky and said he’d love to go out for coffee, so we picked him up and I noticed how very frail he looks, like parchment paper, and the same colour. It’s as if he’d been in the washing machine and got stuck on fast spin. All the health has been washed out of him.

Still, he was pleased to see us and we took him to his favourite place. Miss Peapods is a bohemian/retro style café near us which does very good coffee and even better home made cakes, particularly flapjack.

Unfortunately it was raining when we got there, but we helped J up the steps and it took him several minutes for him to recover while the rain splashed down, drenching our heads, faces and hands. I started to worry. But J recovered and stoically made his way inside.

Flapjack was off the menu but J settled on a large piece of chocolate cake. After crumbling it into tiny pieces, he pushed the plate towards us. “I seem to have lost my appetite,” he said. “I can’t taste it. Can you try it?”

As I can’t eat chocolate cake, Himself tried it and licked his lips. “Delicious,” he said, eyeing the rest of it hopefully.

J tried a few more crumbs and eventually gave a wobbly smile. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m not very good company today.”

Having reassured him that he was extremely good company, we finished our coffee and took him back as he wanted help with various things, including putting his braces on.

While Himself took J up to his room, I went to see the manager as J was worried about a few things. I was dismayed to find him less than helpful. He refused to discuss J's health with me (as I'm not family) and behaved as if J was a bothersome little boy, intent on causing havoc. I watched him but said little, not wanting to make matters worse for J. I took mental notes and it made me shiver to think that J has to live with that kind of thoughtless and unprofessional behaviour.

That manager has caused a big blot in my copy book which is foolish on his behalf. I shan’t be recommending that place to anyone any more.

However, I went back and helped Himself get J into his braces as his trousers keep falling down. As we helped his frail body in and out of trousers that were too small into a pair that fitted him, it struck me that the beginning and end of our lives are very similar. At both stages we need help and guidance, support and encouragement.

And at every step of our lives we need to be loved.

21 comments:

Lane said...

What a sad but poignant post fp.
It breaks my heart to hear of elderly people being treated as 'annoyances' and how fraustrating for you not be given any information.

Thank goodness J has got you and Himself.

Flowerpot said...

I know Lane, I felt furious that J should be treated like that. And of course he's powerless to do anything about it.

Rebecca Taunton said...

Unfortunately retirement and nursing homes are often treated as investments and not actually what they are supposed to be: "care" homes.
It's such a sad story FP but, like I've said often enough, he is lucky to have friends such as yourselves.

Flowerpot said...

The care has always seemed to be pretty good here which is why I was so shocked and disappionted, RT. Perhaps he was just having an off day but he should be professional enough to hide it I think - from me and his patients.

Wireless said...

Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Wireless, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://wireless-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.

Flowerpot said...

wireless good to meet you and please call this way again!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

And isn't J fortunate to have friends like you? Does he have any family? Growing old can be so depressing. Reminds of the Bette Midler (actually John Prine) song "Hello in There."

Flowerpot said...

wakeup - yes he does have family - one daughter who lives nearby and usually sees him once a week and one daughter who sees him once ayear. Very sad.

laurie said...

flowerpot, it takes a lot to make me cry, but this post did. it's very sad, very poignant, and also written so beautifully i felt i was there. (the parchment paper/washer analogy was perfect.)

can you not just ask J what his prognosis is? maybe he wants to talk about it but doesn't want to burden you.

or just keep coming around and taking him out for coffee. it may seem like a little to you, but to him i'll wager it's quite a lot.

Flowerpot said...

laurie I'm sorry it made you cry, though it does me to think of the poor fellow. We didn't ask the prognosis because we didn't want to upset him in case it's bad news but also because he has such trouble communicating. But we will continue to see him, whatever happens.

KAREN said...

How sad. Unfortunately, I've heard many stories like this - some worse. I don't understand the mentality of these people. How would they feel if it were their own family?

You're a good friend :o)

Debs said...

That was so sad, poor J. I'm glad that he has you both to visit him and look out for him a bit.

You're right too when you say that every step of the way we need to be loved.

Flowerpot said...

Karen - I quite agree. It's frightening to think of.

Flowerpot said...

Debs - yes don't we just....

Akelamalu said...

It's so sad when someone who has always been active suddenly starts to be fade away. My father in law is, unfortunately, just at that stage now, luckily MIL is looking after him not strangers. :(

Sweet Irene said...

Thank goodness you and himself are there to do so!

BreadBox said...

You and Himself are definitely a wonderful part of J's life: he's very lucky to have you around! And you are certainly storing up credits in the naughty-or-nice book:)

As for his relatives, well, you can't pick your relatives. But he did a good job of picking friends!
N.

Flowerpot said...

Ak - it's so sad isnt it? I almost find myself hoping it's not too long because it's heartbreaking seeing him like this.

Sweet Irene - well that's what friends are for arent they?

Breadbox - I love the idea of credits in the naughty or nice book!

Mid-lifer said...

That's very moving Flowerpot. I feel similar things whenever I see my dad, who is very parchment and frail with his Parkinsons. I'm glad J has friends like you to brighten his day and show him love and kindness.

btw that cafe sounds lovely - I WISH I lived near you!

Akelamalu said...

Yes I know exactly what you mean Flowerpot. :(

Flowerpot said...

Mid Lifer - I wish you did too! it's a great cafe.

Ak - I thought you might.