Today, when I arrived at the nursing home just before lunch, it was a bit like the five seconds of yesterday but this time Anthony said, “Is that you?” as if he couldn’t quite believe his eyes. I think we have now fallen into a new phase of Parkinson’s but then again Ants might just be having a bad week.
I am still surprised at how gleefully I go in every day and I’ve been trying to disentangle the complexities of why this is because it’s only a relatively recent phenomenon and I’m not quite sure what flicked the switch from the dutiful dread of a few months ago to the anticipation of now. The sense of purpose, routine, satisfaction and joy I feel now is wonderful but also a bit disconcerting!
The volunteering situation has been absolute magic. Today, Nat, Edna, Beatrice, Ants and I sat around the dining room tables after lunch was over and played Nat’s version of ‘Memory’. Edna is just in for respite – her first time – and she told us yesterday (during a similar game) that she had been extremely nervous but since meeting Nat, relaxed a bit and now they are like old friends!
So we played and here are some smatters of conversation during that hour and a half of laughter.
Nat: Tonyyyyyyy (speaking to Ants) Come on, darling, turn your cards over.
Edna: Don’t let her boss you around, Tony.
Me: Ants, turn two cards over and hope for a match.
Me: Pick up two cards – here I’ll help you.
Nat: My turn.
Me: No it’s not, it’s my turn!
Nat: Cheeky bugger.
Me: I heard that, Nat!
Edna: Is she cheating again?
Me: Well, even though she is a really beautiful person, I did see her put a card on her lap.
Nat: I never did!
Me: (sneaking around the table to snatch the card) AHA!
HYSTERICAL LAUGHTER FROM NAT AND EDNA AND ME – ANTHONY BEMUSED
Nat: Tonyyyyyy, help me!
I can’t count how many times I’ve played Nat’s version of ‘Memory’ now, but it has become quite popular with other residents too. The best thing about it is Nat’s contagious laugh and her mischief; the best/worst part is Nat wanting Ants to join in, and the worst part is Ants unable to engage very well. Plus, Nat and Edna are nearly blind so this makes for a very sloooooow game and Nat alternates from saying “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in meee life!” to “This is the longest game I’ve ever played!”
Today, we were all exhausted, especially Anthony who often chooses not to join in or else is so peacefully asleep in his armchair that I don’t rouse him. I just leave my stuff (scarf, handbag, book) next to him so that when he wakes up he’ll know I’m still around and not gone.
I help Ants with his tea now because this is a busy time for the staff and why not? He is pretty exhausted and PDish by then so I say my ‘seeyalater’ and am usually home by 6pm.
Tonight, as I left, I kissed Anthony on the forehead and he tried to speak but even the single syllable he uttered was impossible to interpret. He could no more say “I love you” than “Is that you?”