In Denial

8 Oct 2023

I had my murder mystery written. The potential victim has a maddening cackle. My ‘spur’ came from a scene in ‘I, Claudius’. The nephew of the Emperor Nero had an annoying cough. Nero called a guard: ‘Stop this boy coughing’. They disappeared, the guard returned carrying the boy’s head, dripping blood. ‘My Lord, he has stopped coughing’. A little extreme, perhaps.

I have gone through Mr G’s Alzheimer, and experiencing all levels of dementia. I now live with mostly very old people with a whole range of physical and mental problems. Friends are either in the ‘make THAT decision’ for themselves or for their parents. I have, perhaps, too much time for people watching and listening to, and I could describe many forms of being ‘in denial’ although I do not like the phrase.

Many necessary decisions are put off until the ‘crunch’ arrives because they are scared stiff of ‘The Home’ or delude themselves – old age and its horrors will not come to them, every intention of staying fit in mind and body and dying peacefully in their beds. That, except for a very few, is ‘Cloud Cuckoo’ land. The decision made (often for you, forcibly) facing up to human decline is depressing. I was so proud of one of my daughters, first visit to Dad in local care home (French, she does not speak it). As we went in, there was a pleasant, light hall. Everybody there were stroke cases, unable to speak, move or feed themselves. She carried out the visit worthy of Royalty. Afterwards she admitted she nearly turned tail at the door.

Mr G and I were in Pondicherry, India, sorting out sponsorship problems. I was also writing articles for church magazines on our experiences, usually with Catholic nuns. We were taken to a leper hospice. The nun who directed it said, very hesitatingly, would we be willing to visit Marcus. He had been educated in French, and loved an opportunity to speak French. No feet, hands, nose eaten away, milky eyes with cataracts. His pals carted him about, they had bought him a radio, we talked and laughed for half an hour. I am maddened by people (numerous) who will not go near India and like countries because they cannot cope with poverty and suffering. My mother saw me as ‘hard-hearted’ because I could do these things without crying all the time.

Anybody facing the ‘Home’ situation HAS  to be tough, no choice. No easy way to part Mum/Dad from their independence, and throw them in the deep end with a load of strangers. Like the first day at school, there will be tears and clinging. Worst perhaps is guilt. Old people quickly learn (if they were not demanding already) that they can make you feel bad at not phoning/visiting every day. I’d say ‘Don’t get them a Smart phone, you’ll get no peace’. Take an interest in the personnel, and running the place. And watch out for possessiveness and jealousy, tough. 

The Gardener

A Moodscope member

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