wings and things

A conversation with dementia

I realize that the title of this post sounds odd but sometimes, in my conversations with Anthony, it is as if I am talking to two people: 1. Anthony-familiar (Ants); and 2. Anthony-with-dementia (AD). Here is a rendition of today’s conversation in the nursing home.

Ants: When did you get here?
Me: Right this minute.
Ants: Where did you come from?
Me: Home.

AD: Ming and I got all of those calves rounded up and into the paddock in front of the house. They are all in good condition.
Me: Oh! When did you do this?
AD: Yesterday, after you left. We also fixed the fence.
Me: That’s fantastic – thank you.
AD: You don’t need to thank me – it’s my job.
Me: Yes, but it’s a relief to know all of the calves are okay and the fence is finally fixed. I was a bit worried.
AD: Ming is a good worker.
Me: Well you and Ming are a great team. It’s wonderful that you are teaching him how to do these things because I wouldn’t have a clue.
AD: We just need to fix up the other boundary fence now [trying to get up out of his chair]
Me: Well Ming isn’t here now so can we wait until tomorrow when you come home?
AD: Okay.

Ants: Bloody rotten about Ming’s back.
Me: Well your back isn’t the best but look how well you coped.
Ants: I think his is worse. He could have done anything if he didn’t have that back.
Me: We just have to accept it now, Ants – Ming has.

AD: I’m still going to need his help though, on the farm.
Me: Of course!
Ants: Tomorrow?
Me: Yes.

Tomorrow is Sunday so I will be picking Ants up around 10.30am to come home for the day, and Ming will take him back to the nursing home in the afternoon. Ants has requested smoked salmon and avocado sandwiches so that is easily done.

I would be lying if I said I am looking forward to tomorrow because, no matter how much I want Ants home, and no matter how much he will love being home, it is going to be an extremely difficult day for Ming and me. There will be a lot of lifting, toiletting, confusion, frustration, barely restrained angst (Ming), and barely restrained sorrow (me). By 3pm Anthony will begin to falter and by 4pm he will be unable to walk at all so I will have to get Ming to take him back to the nursing home at 3pm and Anthony will get upset.

On the other hand, perhaps I should just alter my thinking a bit. We will have four hours together, the sandwiches will be delicious and we will give Anthony a million hugs. In fact, I reckon the whole hug thing is underrated because, during today’s conversation, I decided to give Ants a hug every time it got a bit too confusing for me and his big/small arms around me were much more powerful than any words.

I will just have to tell Ming to go easy on his habit of hugging Anthony rather ferociously because it scares the hell out of Ants!


Reject (1994)


“Reject” is the name Anthony gave a steer whose mother had rejected him at birth, and who Ants raised by hand. When he was little, this steer loved Ants so much that he would run at him, jump up and try to hug him around the neck with his two front legs.


Farmboy 3

Don’t worry – this is not going to become a neverending series. It’s just that today’s incident was so funny.

An old friend of ours, who has a farm nearby, rang up the other day to see if Ming might be available for some odd jobs. Ming said yes so yesterday he had to drive a tractor (which he’s never done before but he learned fast) and today he was asked to come and help a cow who had just delivered a calf.

I think Ming might have anticipated patting the cow on the head or something but when he got back home after around two hours, he seemed a little shaken.

Apparently, the cow was unable to deliver the afterbirth, so Ming was told to reach inside and pull it out. So he did.

The cow is fine, the farmer is happy and Ming doesn’t want any lunch!


Farmboy 1

It was about two years ago when our lives (Anthony’s, mine, and Ming’s) altered dramatically. Here is an abbreviated list of events, in no particular order:

1. Anthony’s Parkinson’s became so bad that he required hourly nursing care during the nights.
2. I eventually got exhausted and was hospitalized for a few days.
3. Ming’s scoliosis required surgery.
4. I had to take extended leave from my university job as a lecturer.
5. Ming completed his last year of school.
6. We found that the farming family, whose property adjoins ours, was willing to lease our 100 acres for the correct rent.
7. We withstood the continuing verbal abuse from our previous lessee who we had already kicked off for negligence etc.
8. With Anthony’s approval, I contacted our lawyer to prevent the previous lessee from coming onto the property.
8. We accepted that Ming would have to have surgery.
9. We accepted that Ants would have to go into a nursing lodge.
10. Ming began his Certificate in music and, simultaneously, began milking cows for the same people we are now leasing to.

Our farmboy’s journey began!

Ever since Anthony went into the nursing lodge, and Ming had his spinal surgery, life-as-we-knew-it has altered dramatically.