When you’re a stranger

Suddenly I feel funny, a little bit like the middle of a Hendrix song, all floaty and disconnected. Not really surprising. Just back from an amazing holiday, not to mention a time change and 23 hours in airports and on planes, then dumped back into “real”life. Enough to make anyone feel strange.

Tried to see my love yesterday but he was out for an ice cream run on the bus. Well yes, that is a big deal because 6 months ago they (the recreation staff at the care home) wouldn’t have tried to include him, and he would have been terrified to go.

Anyway he was off after ice cream, and i left. Not too disappointed because i had been dreading this reunion, after having been far away for 10 days on a glorious, nay grand, music and ancient stones tour to Ireland.

I had started my holiday a bit roughly, amidst people i didn’t know, overcome with regret and close to tears, imagining how my love would have jumped up to dance to the magic music. But a couple of women sat me down with kindness and common sense, and straightened me out on the need to learn to live alone. Others added a dose of friendship.

Somehow I listened and threw myself into enjoyment of this magic time. I loved being alone, the freedom of being accountable only to myself. I loved the chance to soak up the experience without caregiving. The only bathroom breaks i had to handle were my own. No need to spend an hour getting my darling ready to get on the bus. No need to hush his constant questioning.

But now. I had to go back to my sweetheart and try not to glow, I thought. Wrong. He looked at me today and stumbling over the words said, “You are getting more beautiful all the time.” How lovely, from my own heart’s desire. I thought he was looking pretty good too, although i wasn’t happy about how he was slumping over, talking to an arm of his chair when I arrived.

A wonderful care aide explained don had been shadowing him all morning and the aide had turned it into a game of hide and seek and tickles and giggles and boo! “Yeah it’s no mystery why he’s tired, now i think of it. But he only got tired about a half hour ago.”

I think again how lucky we are that the care is so good – i can’t begin to praise this staff enough – each bringing their own strengths and abilities to the job and each also adhering to the standards of care and surpassing them. They know much more about Don’s day-to-day, hour-to-hour, than i ever did – or to be honest, wanted too – with my untrained eye.

I don’t see much evidence of the previous tantrums and anger either. More and more i think living at home was just asking too much for him. Too much confusion.

I remember how he always came rushing in when i tried to talk on the phone,  and got upset when i didn’t engage with him. The concept of the telephone was gone, so why was i talking but not talking to him? Multiply that confusion by dozens of incidents a day and you have a confused and frustrated guy, ready to explode. In the care home the residents are constantly answering, speaking in the air to respond to voices from another conversation.

Anyway, to make a rambling story shorter, Don was delighted to see me, kissing my hand and then, slowly, deliberately, delicately, my mouth, and nodding, satisfied. “I am so happy you are here,” he said. “I thought and thought, long and long, about where you could be.” He paused and then asked, “Do you know where Delores is these days?”



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4 responses to “When you’re a stranger

  1. Anonymous

    I am SO glad the angels came by to minister to you in Ireland! we in the CG group were missing you on tues and smiled at the thought of where you were after you long hard path! learning to live alone, and yet not alone! what a poignant and hilarious reunion on returning! I hope you laughed! thanks for sharing dear fellow traveler! GC

    Liked by 1 person

  2. tressbackhouse

    you certainly have a way of conveying the ups and downs . Happy to be welcomed and then that inevitable uncertainty at the end of the visit! I am so glad that you had a real break for a whilst

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anonymous

    The grand circle of life

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alan Dolan

    Always excited to read these beautifully written posts and ride the emotional roller coaster with you!

    Liked by 1 person