I arrived today just as the staff had finished with a shave and a haircut (he was in a mellow mood — many times he won’t let them near him) and we all gave him lots of praise for looking so spruce. Maybe it should have been the staffs’ praise, but he loved it, preening for effect.
So then we set off looking for a place to sit. The manager has addressed a dysfunction in the cleaning system so that chairs are actually returned promptly to the ward after their frequently-required cleaning. At one point there were only 5 chairs for 17 residents. But now the place is crowded — there are chairs, and maybe right now less folks in wheelchairs — so everyone is sitting in the lounge.
We could always go to his room, although it is locked due to all the mobile residents with busy fingers, but there is only a single narrow bed. I suppose i could bring in a couch….but it would need cleaning all the time. And couches for visiting couples is clearly not part of the Ministry directives or even certification. Too bad, but the system is far to busy trying to make sure everyone is fed and bathed and not whaling on each other.
Anyway, no room for a couple to cuddle, and hence the expedition. No minor matter with an unsure and muttering companion, when you have to go through 3 sets of locked doors — each one an adventure and potentially perilous, and needing supervision as it swings closed, according to himself — to get to the lounge. The lounge is lovely and big with high ceilings, almost unused except for the many concerts, and usually there is an empty couch or a couple of chairs side by side.
Whoa, where is this? he wonders as he sinks happily into our favourite couch.
We sit and hold hands, looking at fingers and sometimes counting them, both of us contented with our few magic moments.
Then he turns to me and says clearly and strongly, “I think we — I mean we two — should die together.”
I was startled, but the idea was no longer as upsetting as it was back in the bad days, when i thought the healthcare system had that in mind!
“We will,” I said, meaning it truthfully but allegorically.
He looked at me. “Today!” he stated authoritatively.
We sat some more and thought. I surreptitiously wiped away a couple of surprising unwanted tears, but he caught me.
“Are you alright?” he asked tenderly.