This was yesterday….
Ming and I are in the nursing lodge visiting Anthony who is wearing his shark eyes – unblinking – and the lack of expression on his face (which is a Parkinson’s disease symptom) makes him look angry. He can’t swallow properly anymore, so he has a constant drooling problem (another Parkinson’s symptom). Then he wants to go to the loo and I try to get him up off the chair and don’t have the strength without Ming’s help. Then, once standing, Anthony freezes and can’t walk (another Parkinson’s symptom).
I try my old method of saying, “1,2,3” and stepping my own feet just ahead of his, but he doesn’t move. Ming and I half carry, half push him to the loo and then Ming says we should get a nurse, but Anthony says no, so Ming withdraws from the situation and I try to get Anthony into the bathroom but I can’t without kind of shoving him and pulling him and getting teary and angry. “Please, Anthony, it’s just a few steps – please walk!” I shout/whisper. In the background Ming yells, “Get a bloody nurse, Mum!”
I leave Anthony clinging to the toilet rail attempting to wee and go back into the room where Ming sits on Anthony’s bed, his face furious. “You are so weak – get a nurse!”
“He doesn’t want a nurse; he wants me,” I hiss, furiously. “And I am not weak, I am strong! Just go away.” My anger is undirected; I can’t decide who, or what, I am angry with most.
I go back to the bathroom, attend to Anthony and try, with great difficulty to bring him back into his room. It takes 10 minutes to get back to his chair and, when he is seated, he asks for his hanky for the dribble and I pick it up and give it to him. I flinch a little and Anthony says, “It’s just saliva; it won’t kill you.” By now his shark eyes have gone from angry to sad and I feel terrible for having snapped at him.
“When am I coming home to the farm?” he asks me and I say on the weekend.
“Am I staying the night?” he asks, and I begin to answer but Ming interjects with, “Dad, you can’t come home for the night – get it into your skull!”
We all sit for awhile in the room with Anthony sad, me guilty and Ming angry, and then we leave and I cry all the way home once again because of how much I may have hurt Anthony with my impatience. And I cry about my dread of the weekend, bringing him home.