wings and things

Early to bed, early to rise!

Obviously it is much easier to get up early in the spring than it is in the winter so today I was able to get a lot more jobs done (just the usual domestic duties of washing and folding and tidying and cleaning that overwhelmed me a bit a couple of months ago) before going into the nursing home.

Today I arrived at 11am and found Anthony sitting outside in the sun. I managed to get him into a wheelchair and we went for a walk down to the beach. I tried this the other day but it was too windy and he feels the cold terribly, so we turned back prematurely. Today we went a bit further so, halfway back (which is uphill), I had to stop and take a rest.

Ants: Do you want me to take over?
Me: And how, exactly, will that work?
Ants: I can help you push me.

Yeah, right – grrr!

Sometimes Anthony sort of disembodies himself and will kiss his own hand, thinking it’s mine, or else turn to the left to speak to me, when I am sitting on the right. His room has a view of a lovely lawn and garden and he will often point out, proudly, that Ming is doing a great job with the calves.

I find it fascinating, and admirable of course, that Anthony keeps wanting to climb out of his illness, and incapacity, in order to help. Once we’d returned to his room from our walk today – him shivering with cold and me drenched in perspiration – one of the nurses came in to give Anthony a pill and had a bit of a rant about the staff she was working with.

Nurse: They’re so useless!
Anthony: We can help you (trying to get up).

Now that I am a volunteer, I have a bit more insight into ‘how it is’ for both residents and staff. Anthony is in the ‘high care’ section for people with mobility problems. In the ‘dementia’ section, where I help out with various activities on the weekends, most of the ten female residents are extremely mobile (we go for walks around the grounds!) but terribly confused. I have taken a liking to all of the women but especially Beatrice who is, at nearly 90, physically fit, beautifully groomed and who carries her handbag with her always. Before I volunteered, I would exchange greetings with these women and the carers and Beatrice seemed the happiest. But now that I know her better, I realize that her bright smile is due to the fact that soon her husband will be picking her up and she is always ready and, unfortunately, always extremely anxious. Her husband must have died years ago.

I am, of course, drawn, emotionally, to this nursing home where Anthony is, but I have also become involved in other residents’ lives, so much so that we have become friends. Even with dementia, where you have to introduce yourself over and over again, the friendship-feeling is solid and ongoing.

I’m extremely grateful to be able to do this volunteering at Anthony’s nursing home because it allows me to come and go from his room as if I were just going to hang out the washing, or cook tea, or make coffee – again, a simulation of sorts.

It is now six weeks since I began volunteering and a further six weeks (I think – will have to check) since bring Ants home. If, indeed, it has been this long since I brought Anthony home, then hopefully he will no longer pine for home and beg to come home – a situation that forces me to become stern and admit to him that I can no longer lift/manage him at home. His response is usually dignified but occasionally he accuses me of being unfair.

For the last couple of days I have been feeling a bit exhausted (not because of Anthony!) and I hate this feeling so maybe getting up earlier is the answer to that – yes! I have to tomorrow anyway so I can meet Dr Nathalie Collins (see previous post) for breakfast!

All of those years that Anthony got up before 5am to milk the cows, like so many dairy farmers still do – my hat is off to them – heroes in so many ways!

As for me, 6am is okay – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!