Today, Ming and I picked up Anthony from the nursing home, took him out to my mother’s place, picked her up, then went down to the foreshore near her home for a picnic. It was a perfect day, sunny, but with a breeze, so we grabbed some takeaway (sushi and chicken rolls) and managed to find a gazebo right near the water. Now that Ming’s back has half healed from his second spinal surgery, he insisted on doing all of the maneuvering of Ants in and out of the car and the walker/wheelchair we recently bought, and, except for when we picked Ants up, he was pretty mobile – bonus!
After our main food, my mother and I went to the nearby shop and bought ice-creams for dessert, two banana paddlepops for Ming and me, a magnum for her and an ice-cream sandwich for Ants (he loves these). We were surrounded by seagulls of course and Ming, like a little boy, loved chasing them away.
Then we went for a long drive around the estuary until we got to a semi-hidden beach where Ants said he wanted to have a swim. Having never swum in his life, this was a funny request, so we simply drove back slowly, dropped my mother off at her house, then headed back to the nursing home.
On the way back, Anthony became even quieter than usual, knowing, I guess, that the outing was nearly over, so I turned the car radio up and the three of us bopped a bit, with Anthony tapping his leg and Ming complaining that the radio station was too mainstream and that Ants and I had no taste – brat!
Once we had delivered Ants back to the nursing home room, and got him comfy in his armchair, he was showing signs of fatigue, confusion and the kind of misery that sometimes hits him when we depart. He loves the way Ming and I banter, so when we leave him, despite turning the television on for him, I can see how the silence of our absence hits him. I can see it in his face when this happens because he raises his chin a bit, sort of defiantly, and gives us a glare that is a mixture of love and grit.
He knew that Ming and I were going to a barbecue tonight at a friend’s place and that it would be just as impossible to take him to this as it would be to have a swim in that beautiful ocean. Usually I don’t tell him about these social occasions, so that he doesn’t feel left out, but this time I had to in order to explain why we had to go.
If it weren’t for the various photos I’ve taken over the last few years, I probably wouldn’t see as clearly how much Anthony has deteriorated. The photo I’ve included here is from a bit over two years ago when we were still able to do the restaurant thing easily. Back then, he was more upright, more mobile, more able to eat using a knife and fork, more vocal, more himself. Now, going to restaurants or to people’s houses for a sit-down meal is very hard because, with PD, he is only able to focus on one thing at a time (one voice, one activity, one sound), so the picnic idea was much easier.
When we picked Anthony up this morning, the nurse-in-charge said he had become aggressive again, punching out at the carers, and swearing (totally out of character), so I promised to have a word with him and I explained to her that it is part of the dementia engulfing the PD. She nodded in understanding but when I mentioned it to Ants he just muttered that he had to fight because he is often kidnapped.
I am sad, yes, but no longer ‘tragified’ because what would be the point? This is only going to get worse, not better, so the four of us just have to accept this and do the best we can (I include my mother in this foursome because she is a rock and very much a part of our own little family dynamic).