jmgoyder

wings and things

Anzac Day

on April 25, 2014

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.
Anthony: Tonight?
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.

Anthony listening to speech

LEST WE FORGET.


22 responses to “Anzac Day

  1. niasunset says:

    There was memorial ceremony in here too dear Julie. I don’t know what to say but my heart with you always dear Julie, Love, nia

  2. Terry says:

    It’s so sad when patients get to the point where Ants is. I wish they would find a cure for Parkinson’s and MSA. Hugs Julie, I am glad you were able to get him to answer the phone

  3. Ann Koplow says:

    Your crying buddy is here, Julie, expressing gratitude for this post.

  4. ((((HUGS))))!!!! PD is a horrible disease. You are an amazing wife.
    Diana xo

  5. susanpoozan says:

    All I can say is’Well done’.

  6. You continue to inspire through your humor and diligence. I spent summer of 1974 in Hobart, Tasmania as an exchange student and learned all about Anzac Day and anzacs– still a favorite of my family.

  7. Trisha says:

    My heart breaks for you. It must be so hard to have to explain to him again and again why he can’t come home.

  8. Tiny says:

    You are amazing, lots of admiration from my little corner.

  9. He’s lucky to have you. You won’t regret your attentiveness. Hugs.

  10. I so admire your courage, Julie. xx

  11. You make me want to be a better wife. THank you.

  12. Judy says:

    Dear Julie, I remember feeling similarly watching my mother decline with dementia. It is so heartbreaking! It is horrible to watch suffering and it really becomes anticipatory grief – I hear that with your words about wondering if he’ll be around next year. It’s good that you are able to express your feelings. It’s definitely a “long goodbye” and you truly are doing the best you can. That’s all you can do and it has to be enough. Anthony wouldn’t want to know you were suffering this much if he were aware of it. Remember that and feel my hug!

  13. I think when times are difficult for anyone… me included… pictures of past times and places and people help….. Diane

  14. Lest we forget, indeed. Bless you sweet Jules.

  15. shoreacres says:

    I only just learned about Anzac Day — today! We talk so often about what we share across cultures, and unfortunately, the need to remember our wounded and dead is shared, too.

    Little by little, the ones who endured those experiences are leaving us. We need to learn their stories now, lest we repeat them.

  16. Vicki says:

    You have the patience of a saint, Julie. It must be so hard watching Anthony’s dementia progress.

    Glad you’ve got photos to remind you of how things were in the beginning. It’s so important to take and keep photos of loved ones, as memories can sometimes fade with the passing of time.

    Vicki
    xo

  17. At least you can still talk to him and he can answer even if his answers don’t always make sense.

  18. ksbeth says:

    a bittersweet day on many levels, hugs )

  19. Hugs to you today Julie. Thinking of you.

  20. FlaHam says:

    Julie, It is moments like this that remind me of your strenght, your character, your pride, your support, and your love af Ants. Ants is so very lucky to have you. You managed to make that special day better for Ants. Please take care, Bill

  21. viveka says:

    What a fantastic photo of Anthony …. *smile – I can only slightly understand what you’re dealing with. At least my mum was crystal clear, but on the other hand – that didn’t make her situation better .. because her body gave up on her. So which is best … to go demented and the body is working find, be happy with the fairies … or be crystal clear with body that doesn’t want to do .. what we want it too.
    For family of course a clear mind is the best … in some ways I can understand how hard it’s to deal with dementia.

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