I have been avoiding talking about, thinking about and even visiting Anthony for the last couple of days because I am so sick of the sadness of his Parkinson’s Disease, sick of my own guilt at placing him in the nursing lodge and, yes, sick of the increasingly blank expression in his eyes.
Today, I organized the wheelchair taxi to get Anthony from the nursing lodge to a nearby restaurant because my mother and her old friend wanted to have lunch with us. My mother’s friend has recently moved into a nursing lodge in Perth (200 kms from here) so it was wonderful to see him and he kindly paid for our lunch. It all worked out fine with the only drawback being Anthony’s blankness, because he is now beginning to find it difficult to form thoughts into words, so the conversation tends to happen around him rather than with him. Contriving topics of conversation that will trigger memories and get Anthony talking is not my idea of fun.
Ah, you think, how selfish of me. Yes, I agree but while I am being so honest here I may as well also admit that I was absolutely dreading today’s lunch. What if the taxi didn’t arrive on time? What if Anthony didn’t feel well enough for the lunch? What if he’d somehow missed his medications? What if I couldn’t find the wheelchair entrance after the taxi arrived? What if he had to go to the loo and couldn’t walk? What if the taxi didn’t come to get him on time? What if he couldn’t manage his food? What if he got unhappy with me? What if he got nasty about going back to the nursing lodge?
Okay, luckily most of those things didn’t happen, but some did and, towards the end of our lunch, I caught myself looking at my watch, just wanting it to be over so I could come home and be free again. Yes, I wanted to be free of Anthony – there I’ve said it.
The weird thing is that after following the taxi back to the nursing lodge and wheeling Ants into his room, he suddenly became unblanked and, using his walker thing (you know those ones with wheels), he almost ran me back to the entrance with a nurse accompanying us. At the doorway, as I said goodbye to my beautiful husband who barely resembles who he used to be, he suddenly said to the nurse, “She’s avoiding me, you know.”
The nurse said, “C’mon, Tony, what do you think it’s like for her? Stop making it so hard for her to leave.” (I wanted to hug that nurse!) But Anthony just kissed me reluctantly and turned his back on me as I exited, then said to this huggable nurse, “She wants her freedom.”