Untitled: Opus Minimus No 5 #Alzheimers

SO WE SMILE AND SQUINT IN THE SUNSHINE as we wait for the bus and chat to the others also waiting; inside, we’re dying as slowly and painfully as he is. We distract ourselves with the world outside the windows rolling past, each ting of the bell a tolling gong telling the driver someone wants the next stop and taking its toll on us as we edge nearer our destination…

They changed wards. He’s in a quieter place – with a strangely magnificent view; he cannot see it though, his eyes are worn out and most of what he sees are the phantoms his visual cortex imaginatively throws at him to keep itself active and amused. Sitting in the chair beside the bed, hooked up again to a piddle bag, he’s tired this time. Again, he waffles with a mixture of acute awareness of who we are, where he is and why and once more, I see the deep sadness in him.

My brother thinks they’re going to try to get him walking… fat chance, I say. After having rallied so far back last time, I see him this time as if he’s behind a semi-see-through curtain. Mother wanders off to do something and I’m stuck with him for a moment; I chatter about a couple of things, make the old fart laugh; it’s good to see that, yet I also see…

I see…

Regression. A new immaturity, as if he’s beginning to return to child-likeness. Right. Absent Daddy God’s way of lessening his anguish, I suppose; well what about the rest of us? He tells me of an event – he’s not sure if it was a dream or a memory (oh come on! Quit playing these ghastly jokes on us all!) about how ‘fake versions’ of we who are able to visit him. Of how we wanted him to come home… then how he perceived them to be hollow faked imitations of us and refused to come.

Inches away from him, I bow my head so that my now-returned mother cannot see the agony in my eyes; near tears, I fight to maintain control. Stupid. The stupid scared old man didn’t realise what that was; well, of course he wouldn’t, he never had one before.

But I know what it was.

What he’s telling me, is as real as his memory of it (though he might forget it within the next half-hour), and it also gives me some hope, as I believe he’ll soon talk of being visited by other people. People he used to know. People who have… gone. Passed on. Snuffed it, kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, gone to meet the maker, pushing up the daisies (Hello, Polly Parrot!)… I have to bite back the laughter at the images in my mind of the classic Parrot Sketch. Even that humour is too dark for me right now, and I keep listening to him tell his tale while Mother nods and simply fails to understand what she’s hearing. She thinks it’s a sign of him unravelling. I know differently – from my own experiences. Father’s had a Near-Death Experience, and despite the life and work he chose, he simply doesn’t… wait. Wait…

As our eyes meet for a split second, I can see that he’s beginning to suspect. As we ready ourselves for the slog home, this time, I can see he doesn’t want us to leave. I don’t look back – I can’t. I mustn’t. I’m not going to lose it in front of everyone. The journey back is… routine. Routine I don’t want; routine which is unwelcome… and upon getting home, in the quiet of my rooms with the traffic noising past below, I let my dry tears flow as I pour the spirit in the glass and try to numb my unfeeling emotions.



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