wings and things

Anthony book 1: Three years

January 9, 2015

This week marks the third year that Anthony was admitted into the nursing home for respite and never came home again.

Except to visit. The shock of it.

This is what I wrote in my blog at the time:

Jan 11 2012 Breaking

Yesterday, Son and I broke the news to Husband that his two weeks in the nursing home lodge might need to be extended, might even be indefinite and that this has been recommended by three of his doctors. Son reinforced this by starting a verbal sparring match:
Son: We can’t look after you anymore, Dad!
Husband: Well, you’re not much of a son, are you!
Me: C’mon, guys, give it a rest.
Son: Dad, can’t you see you need nursing care?
Husband: I’ll get better – wait and see. Don’t give up on me. Where’s my wife?
Son: Her name is Julie, Dad, and she’s crying in the bathroom as usual.
Husband: What the hell is she doing that for?
Me: Sorry, just had to go to the loo.
Husband: Are you okay? You look terrible. You really need a haircut.
Me: I know.
Son: Argh – I’ll meet you out in the car, Mum. Bye, Dad.
Husband: Wait – give me a hug.
Me: He’s okay; he’s a teenager.
Husband: Why is he so ….?
Me: He’s angry.
Husband: I love you two more than life.
Me: Us too.
Husband: You better go.
Me: Yeah, the brat’s waiting – give me a hug.
Husband: See you tomorrow?
Me: See you tomorrow.
Breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking, breaking…. br

Perhaps it is this strange anniversary of almost unbearable emotional pain that has rendered me numbly bleak (bleakly numb?) over the last few days.

Lately, the shiny wonder of having discovered different ways of happily being in the nursing home for so many hours per day with Anthony has begun to show its first lace-like signs of rust.



Up hill and down dale

One of the things I do during my afternoon shifts at the nursing home is to take wheelchair-bound residents for a ‘stroll’ around the grounds or, if it’s too hot, through the facility, or both. Until I got this job, and before volunteering, I wasn’t familiar with the layout but now I am; there are four ‘houses’ each with its own name, but all almost identical in design (kitchen and dining room in the centre, living rooms x 2, patio area and garden, and bedrooms all private and each with an ensuite, at the opposite ends of a hallway.)

Anthony is in the ‘high care’ section at the centre of the facility and this is more hospital-like in terms of design.

The ‘Dementia house’ (obviously not called that, and named after a significant person, but, for the sake of privacy, let’s call it ‘The Lodge’) has ten permanent residents, all women, most of whom are mobile but three of whom require wheelchairs to go any distance. I absolutely LOVE going for a walk with these beautiful women up and around the curves and corners and small hills of this facility, inside and outside, down hallways, through gardens, into other ‘houses’ to visit.

I only do a few short shifts per week (3-6pm) and the job description is “Lifestyle assistant” so am still learning how to be more creative with activities, games (not my forte!) But what an absolutely WONDERFUL job! To be able to socialise, converse, have fun with people who have dementia. The thing I like to do most is going for a walk and sometimes this is hilariously rewarding like the time I took Suzie past Anthony’s room, and we waved (even after just a couple of weeks, Ants has come to expect this and waves back), and Suzie said to me, “Poor old bastard”.

I retorted: “That’s my husband, Suzie!”
“Oh sorry,” she said, chortling with mirth.

Okay, back to the up hill reference: Fiona is heavy and wheel-chair bound so I get a bit terrified now because the other day, as we were going UP the driveway, her wheelchair decided that DOWN might be better and I briefly lost control and we landed gently into a rosebush, unharmed. Fiona, who constantly hums a refrain of a hymn I am yet to recognise, giggled, sitting regally in her wheelchair while I struggled with thorns.

All names have been changed to protect the privacy of these people with the exception of my beautiful husband, Anthony, who, when I was wheeling someone past his room the other day and waving as we always do, called out, “You’re getting faster, Jules!”

But, by the time I am finished my shift and go back to Anthony, he is so confused and sleepy that saying goodbye isn’t difficult because it is now possible to comfort him with “I am just going up to the shop to get some bread.”


The elusive parrot


I bet you can’t even see him! Every morning I wake up and through my bedroom window I see these guys all over the giant pear tree but as soon as I venture outside with my camera they hide!

I’ve never seen this variety of parrot here before but then again my observation skills are not well honed and it may be that I have mistaken this breed of parrot for the very common ‘Twenty-eight’ parrot. Here is a link to information about the 28

Unlike the 28, this elusive parrot is multi-coloured – greeny blue at first glance but with an underside of red, yellow and sometimes a red cap – absolutely beautiful! I’m going to keep on trying to get a decent photo but it is difficult to see them in amongst the pears.


It feels like a bit of an adventure to me – figuring out what kind of parrot this is, and training myself in the art of observation (and getting up early again, early-bird-catches-worm and all that!)

Once upon a time I would have been shocked at the idea of bird-watching, picking flowers, noticing the sunset, growing tomatoes (okay well I grew two before they died), cooking a curry from scratch, listening to music without doing something else at the same time. I would have thought what a waste of time! But now all the wing flits, the snow of wattle blossoms on the lawn, the aroma of a simmering curry, and the constant squawking of the crows, peacocks and this elusive parrot – all of of this life stuff, simple, small, daily details – makes me appreciate every single moment I have left with Anthony.