This morning the peafowl are doing something I haven’t seen before. They are playing some sort of chasing game around and around the house – almost like ‘tag’ in its old-fashioned sense. Mostly they are sprinting but, whenever one gets close to another, the one ‘tagged’ will fly up onto the roof, scramble across and jump down on the other side, and the chase begins again. To begin with I thought it was some sort of flirting game with the peacocks chasing the peahens but I have been watching, enthralled, for some time now and both males and females are chasing each other. They are doing this anti-clockwise around the house, over and over, and I cannot stop laughing.
My argument with Anthony in the nursing lodge yesterday has made me realize that I need to rethink a few things when it comes to explaining to him that coming home for good is out of the question. Of course this has been said before, but always a little evasively, with averted eyes and falsely hopeful half-phrases like, maybe tomorrow, let’s see if you’re up to it on the weekend, the restaurant on the beach possibly, not sure but I could get someone to help me lift you etc. Yesterday, I reminded Anthony that he had willingly signed into the nursing lodge as a permanent resident months ago, that it had become increasingly difficult to bring him home due to his deterioration with Parkinson’s Disease and this is how the conversation went. It was just after lunch, my mother had left and I closed the door to Anthony’s room so we could argue in relative privacy.
Anthony: So I’m here forever until I die am I?
Me: Don’t you remember? You were here for respite because we had to find somewhere for you to stay when Ming had his operation, then this room became available for you permanently and we had to make a decision or miss out and be put on a waiting list and we both decided, together, that this was a good idea.
Anthony: I just want to be home with you and Ming.
Me: I know, I know, but it’s impossible. You are high maintenance – you need nursing care. I did it for four years, Ants, and took leave from work for two years. I got exhausted from the night shifts with you and ended up in hospital myself – twice!
Anthony: But why can’t we just give it another try?
Me: Give what a try?
Anthony: Me coming home for the night.
Me: We’ve tried that – a few weeks after Ming’s surgery, I brought you home for the night and it was a disaster, and then we tried it again a few times and you were too heavy for me and then we decided to just do the day thing.
Anthony: But I can improve.
Me: How? You have Parkinson’s Disease and it’s getting worse. It’s not your fault and you can’t make yourself any better.
Anthony: So I’m going to die here.
Me: But I see you most days, talk to you several times a day on the phone, and bring you home once a week – why can’t that be enough?
Anthony: I just want to be home, Jules.
Me: Okay, listen to me. You want to be home. I want you to be home. We don’t always get what we want do we. I didn’t want a sick husband, I didn’t want to be alone – you think you are the only one alone? You are surrounded day and night by people who care for you – I’m the one alone.
Anthony: You have Ming.
Me: Ming is 18 – he’s out most of the time and good on him.
Anthony: Well make him stay home.
Me: No! I’m not going to trap him too!
Anthony: But you said you were lonely.
Me: I’m not lonely in general, you idiot – I’m lonely for you.
Anthony: That’s why I want to come home.
Me: Okay, this is what happens when I bring you home. You hardly speak on the way home; it takes me at least half an hour to get you from the car into the house and comfortable; you eat whatever I have prepared for lunch but leave most of it; it takes another half an hour to get you to the loo and out and back into an armchair; you fall asleep for a couple of hours; it takes half an hour to get you back into the car to go back to the lodge; it takes help from staff to get you out of the car and into the lodge and your room; and when I say goodbye you ask why I am always in a hurry and you make me feel guilty.
Anthony: Yes, but I love being at home anyway and I didn’t know I was going to be here forever.
Me: You did know! This is permanent Ants, you have to accept it – please. I am beginning to dread visiting you because you do this every single time and I can’t stand it. You can’t see beyond you, you, you, can you! What about me – why don’t you care about me? I am going to wreck my back, if you keep making me take you home.
Anthony: Jules, please don’t cry. I’m sorry.
Me: You are so selfish! I’m going to use your bathroom and then I am going home to a freezing cold house with no husband in it.
Anthony: Please, Jules, I’m sorry – I love you.
Me: I’ve got my sunglasses on now, in case I bump into any staff.
Anthony: Let me walk you out to the car. Just help me go to the loo first.
Me: I want to go home now – not in an hour.
Anthony: Okay, just give me a kiss, Jules – I’m so sorry.
Me: Here is your kiss. I have to go, Ants – sorry – I love you so much but you have to stop doing this to me, please …. I’ll ring you later. Oh, and another thing: sometimes when I ring you don’t know where the hell you are anyway.
And that was yesterday: give me today anytime because watching peafowl running in circles beats the hell out of yesterday.