Monthly Archives: May 2020

Old and failing

So my love is old – 86 in April. I remember how we imagined we would cuddle together by the fire, both of us understanding the dreadful gates that age imposes, but neither of us imagining it would come to this.

He always insisted that when it was time he would go to a care home so  I could be free. I do not know if he meant it, because this disease is a shape-changer and what is  – or was –  moves, as so our life situation.

But I see and hear and interpret  from the limited monitoring i can do, by Skype 2 times a week and calling the care home LPNs every day, that he is slowly going away.

Just a couple of months ago,  on good days, he was talking like crazy and cracking jokes that only he can understand.

Now for 3 days straight they have used a lift to get him out of bed.

I don’t think or hear any evidence that he smiles and jokes anymore. I fear he is losing spirit and hope.

I get no reports anymore from the care aides who love him, because the most efficient part of Island Health’s swanky administration has been to plug the possibilty of real info – did he smile or joke today? Those jokes that no one else understood but cracked him up…

I am afraid this lockdown has cost him the will to live. Not sure about me either to be blunt.

When you have had dementia for 15 years, we all know it is inevitable. No one gets out of a long term care home alive.

But despite his chivalrous instructions, I always planned, and arranged my life and work, to be by his side every step of the way. To hold his hand, to reassure him with love.

He is still eating mightily, so my fear is hopefully premature,  but i think he will be leaving soon.

I will never know if he lost his fabulous joie de vivre because it was the natural path to death, or because the lockdown cut him off from nurturing. Everyone in masks, no hugging or touching.

That applies to me too.

In the meantime i think i will entertain myself by finding out about death rates in long term care. Some deaths, of the … 2 dozen or more i have seen over the years in a 17 bed ward, are clearly understandable.

But so many more are unexpected. And uninvestigated. Especially during outbreaks and lockdowns. I have been uneasy about this for a few years.

One wonders if anyone ever looks at death rates in these quasi-prisons,  or does the entire system shrug? After all, they come here to die.

But if you care enough to forbid visitors for months on end, you ought to care enough to look at the death rates.

Does the coroner ever look? Do the cops? Does the Public Health Officer even glance at the reports and look at the time periods or like everyone else shrug,  because who cares, they are old and dying anyway?  Is this entire warehouse system killing people, at best, by cold kindness?



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I have always treasured and fiercely defended my alone time. Revelled in the luxury of it.

But this is the first time i have been truly alone, without friends and neighbours and colleagues dropping in, for work or fun, shared meals or walks, been without meetings and greetings every day or two.

First time alone without my partner – in the bush, on the lighthouse, never really alone. Pissed off, driven crazy sometimes, yes, but for sure not alone. Folks, if you have people living with you, you are not isolated. Give up that guff.

It is also the longest time i have been unable to see my love in the care home. I know some day i will never see him again, but that will be goodbye. Closure, at least, no matter how hard and bitter. Over, at least on the physical level.

And maybe at that time i can go out and about again. In fact, i will,  no matter the covid situation, because it will not matter anymore.

But now, while my friends gather and share, I remain clostered, trying to make it feel like a mission instead of madness. Waiting, because i fear not being allowed in to see him if I am careless. We have no idea what the rules will be when this cruel separation is over, but i feel the only thing i can do is guard myself, to guard him and all the others.

Meanwhile, and all this while, the world has gone on its merry way.

i do not see my friend who only sees her family … or my friend who is very careful but travels to see her family, or my friend who distances from her family but visits many others every week. Or my family here who have their own hard and busy lives. Etc etc etc

Now with summer we might be able to do the 6 feet thing, although my hearing and instincts are to be closer to people. An ape at heart, as we all are.

And now it is Mother’s Day. I have no children and my mother and father are dead, my brother and sister far away. The family i have here are my love’s family.

When i was very very poor – like can’t afford a dozen eggs because of the rent poor – Christmas was the hard time, to see all the people with big packages and bags containing stuff I could not imagine.

Now for the very first time, Mother’s Day is making me, a lucky and i think loved, well housed  senior feel poor again. And very alone.




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The Window Visit

As I feared, the Window Visit was a disaster, at least for me. He will not remember.

After resisting for weeks, and a soul-rattling conversation with one of my sisters in sorrow, I gave in to the temptation.

I was told he was up and about and I thought, what if i never see him again? Just as i have been driven since the unrecognised pneumonia episode last July: “Better go check” so i did.

It was a little creepy scouting along the building, but the lawn area of the big dementia window,  no longer mouldy or cracked (victory!), held bird feeders and nesting boxes i think, and sparkly windmills. Cheerful. It looked like someone cared.

So I knocked on.the window and a lovely care aide brought My Man over. After some cueing, he saw me, and i swear i saw him say “what are you doing there?”

Of course even if he could hear me no answer would make sense, so I just waved and blew kisses and held out my hand toward him.

Slowly he reached out to try to hold it, over and over. The glass of course was in the way, and he reached down and then upwards… seeking.

My heart shattered, again. Who knew there were so many pieces to break in a broken heart?

Soon he went wondering off, to try to give his afternoon muffin to another lady,  said the care aide.

At some point we must learn to distinguish between health care and torture.





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