Today is Anzac Day (fyi http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac-tradition/) so I went into town this morning to join Anthony for the nursing home’s memorial ceremony. Many of his forbears fought in various wars and he has always become very emotional, as his mother used to, on this day of remembrance, so I wanted to make sure he was okay.
I was surprised to find that he wasn’t particularly interested. The ceremony was an abbreviation of those held elsewhere, probably due to having to fit it in between breakfast and lunch routines, and the usual under-staffing on a public holiday. I sat next to Ants with my hand on his arm during the service but now that he is so bowed over (partly due to Parkinson’s disease and partly due to his spinal condition) he no longer looks up so I had to kind of hold his head up when the flag was raised.
By 11am we were back in Anthony’s room and he was very wobbly (‘wobbly’ is the term we coined some years ago to describe what happens when PD is in full force; his eyes become glazed, he begins to dribble, and he can’t move, talk, focus without prompting). A nurse came in at 11.10am to give him his 11am pill but none of his meds seem to work like they used to so I had to feed him his lunch using a spoon. Like all of the residents in the high care wing of the nursing home, he has to wear a bib. We bantered a bit (well I did) about me having to feed him like a baby and that garnered a small smile from him.
By 1pm, I wanted to go home to my chores and said so. Anthony briefly rallied asking why he couldn’t come too and (for the zillionth time) I explained that, as it was already the afternoon, he would just get more wobbly and too heavy for me blah blah, and he gave me the usual stony look. I then reassured him that I would bring him home tomorrow morning because my youngest brother is visiting with his youngest son.
Tonight I rang Ants at about 6pm and he answered it (yay!) but I had to shout because he has forgotten that he has to hold the receiver to his ear, despite how many times I have showed him how. I could hear his voice saying ‘hello’ but as if from a great distance, so I yelled, “PUT THE PHONE NEXT TO YOUR EAR!” He finally did so and this was our conversation:
Me: It’s ME, Julie, your wife!
Anthony: I don’t know where Julie is.
Me: I’m Julie – it’s me, Ants!
Anthony: Oh, Jules ….
Me: I’m just ringing to say good night.
Me: I’m ringing to say good night, Ants.
Anthony: Oh that’s very sweet of you.
Me: So I’ll see you tomorrow morning, okay?
Anthony: Where are you?
Me: I’m home.
Anthony: Is Mum with you? (He meant his own mother who died decades ago).
Me: No, but Ming is. So I’m saying good night and I love you.
Anthony: I … you … bye….
Next year will be the 100th anniversary of ANZAC day and I wonder if Anthony will still be here. If he is, I know for sure that he will not remember what the day commemorates because once dementia kicks in, it kicks hard and that is what is already happening.
The photo below was taken by Jane, one of Anthony’s nieces, at his 75th birthday party here, over three years ago. He doesn’t look like this anymore.
LEST WE FORGET.