One of Husband’s Parkinson’s disease symptoms is hallucinations. Mostly these are not disturbing and they often feature animals, due to his farming background. So he might see a bull on top of the chest of drawers, or dogs in the corner of the bedroom. It happens outside too; he’ll see livestock grazing in the flower bed; and wild cats on top of the washhouse roof (well, we did used to throw food to them up there!)
It’s as if his memory wants to fill his present (now devoid of so much) with his past (a successful, thriving dairy farmer), and his imagination wants to fill empty spaces with activity, life, movement, animals.
I have become so used to saying “No” when Husband asks questions like, “is that a calf at the end of the bed?” that he and I frequently get the giggles.
I was a bit worried that the birds might trigger even more hallucinations, but, because there are now so many birds, of so many varieties, they seem to have somehow crowded out all of the imagined creatures. Sure, the medication helps, but I give most of the credit to the birds.
Anyway, I didn’t tell Husband or Son about Emery the emu chick. I just brought him home one afternoon and put him in the greenhouse with the Bubbles and the other little ones and in the morning I let them all out to free-range. It wasn’t until the next afternoon, after I’d put Emery and the Bubbles etc. back into the greenhouse for the night that Son spotted him through the glass partition.
“What the hell is that?” he said, his face thunderous, “that better not be an emu!”
“Of course not! One of the Bubbles has just had this amazing growth spurt.” I attempted a smile but it didn’t work.
Son shook his head and turned to go back to the house.
“Don’t tell Dad,” I said, “I want it to be a surprise.”
It was three days before Husband noticed Emery, who had become part of what I called ‘the gang’ – all the baby chicks. Anyway, it was late afternoon and we were sitting outside having a drink when Husband said, “Jules, I think I’m seeing things again. Is that an emu over there?”
Oh what a fantastic thing it was to be able to say, “Yes!”