Yes, ok, I know Christmas is a distant memory but I couldn’t resist telling you about my 2 favourtists presents. Obviously I had many wonderful presents but 2 in particular were perfect……
The first is a book by Marian Keyes. Now I’m sure I must have mentioned that I can’t read books as I use to, mainly because you have to remember the plot….🙄 I’d never read one of her books before and I know I couldn’t read one of her novels now, but Gemma bought me her latest:
“Making it up as I Go Along”…
It’s the most perfect book for someone with dementia – why? Because it’s a collection of autobiographical articles, most of which are only 3 or 4 pages long – PERFECT!!
I hadn’t realised what an hilarious writer she is. I actually laugh out loud at so many of her ramblings. She even put them in handy little sections. The way they were isolated articles meant you could actually read them in any order and even start at the back and work forward if you so desired. In the introduction Marian stated:
“I’ve arranged them so you can dip in and out and read them any way you like…….Feel free to break the rules”
Love it and the perfect book for me. I can read a whole article without any problem and don’t have to remember it when I pick up the book the following night.
There are numerous brilliant articles but my 2 favourite ones so far have been a description of Marian managing to get tickets for a live performance of Strictly Come Dancing and her bezottedness with Pasha and a very moving article about her meeting Aung San Suu Kyi ( Burma’s pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate, spent more than 15 years in detention, most of it under house)
I’ve never been so entertained by a book. Her humour is priceless. AND the bonus is…..I’ll be able to read it time and time again!
I said there were 2 favourites……well the other was from Sarah and is a local scene of the wonderful Westwood, which I trundle past nearly every day and never ceases to enchant me. It now sits on the wall opposite my chair, and I frequently find myself staring at it with delight…..
It’s been a rough couple of weeks. My mates Binx, Toby and Neil have been on holiday for two whole weeks. They had a family room with outside space apparently. Binx and Toby have already shared their views on that and are campaigning for Neil to be given a separate room for a couple of hours a day to give them a bit of peace and quiet.
It was a shock at first, I must admit, but I got plenty of cuddles from Gemma, Stuart and Wendy so I was OK. I quite enjoyed having all the hunting space to myself and I know Gemma and Stuart appreciated the extra mice I brought to the garden. As a special thank you for the cuddles, I brought Gemma a rabbit! She buried it and didn’t look too happy I have no idea why…
I also won a fight and for my bravery got taken to the vets, no idea why, I’m absolutely fine, hard as nails. It was Wendy’s first visit to that horrible place and for some strange reason she seemed to enjoy it. Kept me company in the back of the car anyway. I got loads of cuddles when I got back so it wasn’t all bad – well, apart from all those eye drops – I told you, I’m fine!!
The word ‘diet’ was also mentioned although I know that’s not going to happen because Stuart’s a soft touch. I don’t get away with as much with Gemma for some reason. Must work on Wendy to feed me when Gemma not looking…
Anyway, they’re back now and Neil is already following me around to see how it’s done. Why anyone would want to leave Walkington with all the mice around I do not know.
Right, I’m off to try and teach Neil to climb a tree.
My turn to give mum a break for the day! I loved Sarah’s thoughtful, reflective post and it inspired me to list 7 things I’ve learned since my mum was diagnosed:
1)Memories might make us who we are, but they’re not the whole picture. Our emotions, our senses, our day to day interactions with people – they’re vital too. So my mum will lose more memories in the future, but can still take in a wonderful view, accept a hug, enjoy a home cooked meal, give Billy a cuddle…and I appreciate these moments more than ever.
2) I’m so full of gratitude. To some this might sound strange (and a bit cheesy) but I really am more grateful than ever for all the wonderful things in my life. For example, my partner Stuart and I recently went to a lovely hotel spa for my birthday. We’ve been there before, but this time we really relished every single moment and took the time to take it all in. Because it’s been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster recently, with lots of sadness at things lost and how unfair it all is, I appreciate the good things that much more.
3)I said to mum recently that I feel like a curtain to a whole new world has been lifted. I didn’t know much about dementia before and nor do lots of people. I’ve certainly had some ‘interesting’ responses to the news in the form of rather insensitive comments (thankfully this is very rare). But I completely understand. If you’re not touched by dementia, why would you know what to say, or what a diagnosis really means? And of course, it affects everyone differently, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ response. Through my mum, I have access to a whole world of people living with the condition, carers, researchers, activists…and it’s inspiring! But I wish it wasn’t so hidden away – I want all the negatives and the positives to be out in the open for everyone to see.
4) This is why I’m so proud of my mum. That sentence doesn’t do it justice really. I can’t put into words how proud I am. My sister said recently (sorry to steal this from you Sarah!) that it’s as if having dementia hasn’t changed my mum…it’s just enhanced all the best parts of her personality. I couldn’t have put it better myself!
5) I’m in the latter stages of doing a PhD at the moment. I used to practice in the subject I’m now researching, and to be honest I had started to feel like I was a ‘cop out’ for not remaining on the frontline. But my mum is so passionate about research and how important it is that’s it’s made me feel more comfortable with my decision. Now to actually finish my thesis…
6) I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore – or the big (ish) stuff for that matter. For example, if I lose my keys, or get a date wrong, or get lost – it just doesn’t affect my day. Or if I reverse out of my drive into a parked vehicle…that happens to be my partner’s car…that happens to be a company car…well, no one was hurt and these things happen so I’m not going to waste energy beating myself up about it. (I can’t say Stuart’s reaction was quite the same).
7)I really do appreciate how lucky my sister and I am regarding early decision making. I’ve heard terribly sad stories where people don’t know their loved one’s wishes and they have to make heart-breaking decisions in the later stages of dementia. It was a very emotional, difficult experience to complete the Power of Attorney paperwork with mum but I know now that her wishes will be respected and that means a lot to me.
I could write about many more things I’ve learned but these feel like the most important to share right now. If I could sum up my feelings in one sentence, I’d say my mum is still my mum and always will be.