Friday, 17 October 2014

Shady Pines

Today I drove to the little cottage hospital in Holywell.
I wanted to say goodbye to a neighbour. After a fall at home and a period of time in rehabilitation, she is about to leave the village to live in Harrogate.
It's not as warm a story as it sounds. Our neighbour ( Mrs B) unfortunately has significant memory problems and in her mind she is off to live with her son in the picturesque Yorkshire town.
The reality of the situation is quite different . On Sunday she is indeed off to Harrogate but she is in fact earmarked to live in an upmarket nursing home a few miles from her son's home.
Insight is not a virtue at times like these

Mrs B was having a good afternoon when I arrived on her beautifully run, neat little ward. Looking immaculate and every piece the hostess, she greeted me warmly, when I arrived  and although a little shaky with her recall she remembered that I had entered her hydrangeas into the flower Show back in August.

 I reminded her that Chris and I are getting married in March ( the woman in the next bed tutted loudly during this story) But I could tell her concentration was wavering somewhat.
Early Alzheimer's is a cruel illness.
Before I said my goodbyes I gave Mrs B a set of greetings cards, bought from a table at the back of the church . Each card had a different view of the interior of the church, a church she had been a loyal supporter of for many years.
I wrote our address on one of the card envelopes and asked her to drop us a line when she got settled.
She said she'd try as we said our goodbyes
" I'm never going to see my little bungalow again" she said a little tearfully when I kissed her on the cheek .
I could say nothing to help
I just squeezed her hand gently before I left for home.



64 comments:

  1. That's heartbreaking. The greeting cards were a very thoughtful gift.

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  2. You are a thoughtful and kind man, John Gray.

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    1. Not really....I take my hat off to the other neighbours , john and Margaret, muvvie and anne , they have been visiting her almost daily... I only went the once to holywell

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  3. Growing old is very hard and you think it will never happen to you.
    But it does.
    I hope her son's family will visit often now that they are closer.
    Her last sentence is very sad.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. One of her sons seldom visits
      He's a vicar

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    2. Ouch! Well, there you go...

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    3. That is so sad, it breaks my heart.

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  4. She'll remember your visit fondly, John. That's all you can do.

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  5. At this stage of my life I am more than grateful for every day and night I get to stay in my own home which I love so much.
    You are a good neighbor, indeed John. I wish you were one of mine.

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  6. Those moments when they are lucid are somehow worse than when they are dotty.

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  7. Old age is a scary place to visit and reside in methinks...x

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  8. I don't have children to either 'look after' me, or put me away. If I should live so long, I'll stay here with my dogs, stop washing, live on biscuits and Sanatogen shandies, and shout obscenities through the letterbox at interfering busybodies. It's my retirement plan.

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    1. Lol...my kind of woman !
      ~Jo

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    2. Wanda
      Will you marry me?

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    3. John, aren't you betrothed?

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    4. I love this! Since I am also childless I think this will be my retirement plan too!

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    5. Lol. Good for you Wanda.

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  9. Shit disease, bless her cottons x

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  10. The set of greetings cards was a lovely gesture John. Maybe she can get some comfort from looking at the pictures of inside the Church and recall times she spent there. A heartbreaking tale but at least she is going into an 'upmarket' nursing home?

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  11. The first few years my dad was in his nursing home, I used to drive home thinking it would be easier never to grow old, to just have a head-on collision. Some of the cases of dementia and other illnesses were that disturbing. However, after getting to know the caregivers and seeing them interact with the residents daily, I feel more at ease with whatever happens in my old age. Of course, that is a good home, he is very lucky, and not all are like that. Maybe I should put my name on the waiting list right now.

    You were kind and thoughtful to Mrs B and that is all that one can do. I hope her son the vicar will develop a conscience, but it is my experience that a leopard does not change its spots.

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    1. I meant months, not years, in that first sentence - I started off on a different tack, changed my mind, and forgot to fix it :)

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    2. Jenny.. I know it's not good to judge but I have to note here that a year ago, said son was phoning around the village to see if someone could take his mother in to have Christmas dinner!

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    3. That's a bit of gall, isn't it!

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    4. Sometimes the most religious people are the most heartless. :(

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  12. I hope she is loved and cared for and her hand is held lots more.

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  13. John - if you ever go and see her in Harrogate you absolutely must come and stay overnight here before your journey back. Promise,

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    1. Pat,.shes not an auntie gladys to me..so I doubt we will meet up again

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  14. you're a good man x

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  15. So sad, can't help but wonder if she would have more visitors in a home near the village.

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  16. The cards from the church will surely remind her of the wonderful years in Trelawnyd, and also, hopefully, of you and other good neighbors. It was very kind of you to go and see her before she moved.

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  17. Sad, the dear lady is in for rough times ahead.

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  18. Sometimes dementia or Alzheimers makes it easier to bear living in a nursing home. I know it has helped my Mom to reconcile herself to where she is.

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  19. What a sad story John, my son-in-law's grandmother spent time in a rehab facility after a broken hip. Eighty seven years young and never been in a hospital her entire life. It was obvious she was not going to be able to live unsupervised again and plans were made to live with her daughter. She had a list of 'to-do's' the day she fell and broke her hip, we all chipped in and redecorated her kitchen and bathroom, and new landscaping, and took turns living in her home for a few weeks before she had to move out. Such a sad day for her, but she had her wonderful memories of her home and little town.
    You are such a kind and caring person, I hope she looks at those cards often and they remind her of good times.
    Bless you.
    ~Jo

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  20. My Mom is at the mid stage of dementia/ALZ...living in a wonderful facility close to home where I can visit for hours daily...nice, but not home...my prayers are with Mrs B...it's a wretched path to be on...thank you for brightening her day!

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  21. I hope the new assisted living facility will care for mrs b with patience and kindness. keep in touch with her, john.

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  22. Sometimes, it's not what you can say, but because you are there that makes the difference.

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  23. So sad for this lovely woman.....hope she adjusts to her 'new home'.

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    1. Jimbo
      I am sure she will......she has that gentle vagueness that allows her to cope with care environments

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  24. i'm tempted to fly over and walk her through her bungalow one last time. resolution makes such a difference

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    1. I bet if you could you would

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  25. Your gift of the cards with the church views is thoughtful and perhaps she will send you a card, if she is able. Rather a sad ending, and as it did for my relative, it may go on for years.

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  26. So sad. The cards were an excellent gift. When I worked in a nursing home, I thought it was a shame that the residents who were able weren't encouraged to write letters or dictate them to a staff member, or to write about the past. Not enough staff for that much activity.

    Love,
    Janie

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  27. I'm going to re-read this when I am not pissed as well.

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  28. A horrible affliction, Alzheimer's. We kept Dad at home as long as he was safe. We took turns staying with him. I like to think he was happy. He certainly was busy.

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  29. Nasty cruel disease and heartbreaking for those who have the insight and awareness to see the reality. Times like this bring out the true nature of people - to go the extra mile or run like hell. Hope she does well.

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  30. omg, how sad. And the fact is that we all could end up the same way, who knows. You are such a kind soul John and I'm sure there will be times when this lady recalls your kindness.
    Have a lovely weekend.
    Briony
    x

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  31. Poor Mrs B. If you weren't a regular visitor to her home, she may forget you quite soon. My paternal grandmother had dementia, and she forgot a good many of her neighbours. Remembered their dogs, though.

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  32. Old age something to look forward to, not. Your a good man Mr Gray

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  33. We are dealing with three parents over 92 here, with one in a Nursing Home. No longer being in control of your life is very difficult to come to terms with even when you can no longer take care of yourself.

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  34. I went to watch a friend sing for the residents of a care facility where she also works. I introduced myself to the woman next to me. "Ah, I had a dear friend named Joanne, for many years." In ten minutes she leaned over and said "I'm sorry dear, I didn't catch your name." And so our evening went.

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  35. I lost my father a month ago to alzheimers. He suffered with a form of the disease for 30 years. It steals everything and eventually even life itself. My your former neighbor be at peace. Let's pray for a cure.

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  36. What a caring person you are John. Well done. I do hope that envelope finds its way to you.

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  37. A lady I sat with at lunch time for a couple of hours while her carer had a break was told she was going into a nursing home for a break while her daughter had her home redecorated for her - infact she was going for good, her house sold & her beloved dog rehomed. I often walked the dog so was offered the little dog but couldn't take her )

    It was terribly sad but I do understand why her daughter had to do this. Some of the carers were just not - caring.

    She's long since passed away but I think of her often & the little nursery rhyme we used to say giggling away.

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  38. Caring for a loved one with dementia is very difficult. My sweet, most gentle dad started to become physically abusive and threatening to my sister, his caregiver, We had no other choice than to find a good nursing home for him. It broke our hearts. My sisters and I visited him every day until he died 6 months later to make sure that the staff attended to him properly. Mostly it was good, but nothing is perfect. There is still sadness and guilt in us all that we could not take care of him ourselves.

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  39. SUch an awful disease. I hope she'll have some happiness in her new home.

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  40. It's a cruel disease. I lost a sister-in-law 3 years ago to Alzheimers at age 63....it just doesn't seem fair at such an early age ....she as anticipating grandkids and retirement . I always wonder what is locked in the minds and what is clear on occasions. She, my brother-in-law and I were all in the same class in school, and she was so active as a wife mother and professional. It is a mysterious disease to say the least. Bless your heart for being there for her.

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  41. This is really tough, but it was so nice of you to visit her.

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  42. You are a good man. Congrats on your nuptials (hmm, funny looking spelling).

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