I had to laugh the other day…I was scrolling down my phone just looking at the Daily Mail headlines (don’t judge me!) when Mabel, who was sitting next to me piped up, “That like Daddy, Mummy!”
“What, Baby?” I asked her.
“That look like Daddy. Up there.”
I scrolled back up to a picture of George Osborne and asked my youngest if that’s who she meant, (thinking that I could maybe see a bit of a likeness if I squinted a lot, or better still, if I just closed both my eyes!) “No, not that man, Mummy. That one!” and she pointed to the picture below of an elderly politician, John Nott, who was in fact Margaret Thatcher’s defence secretary during the Falklands. That child, honestly! Needless to say, I took great delight in showing Hubby his new doppelganger, explaining the story through great gulps of air as I tried to breath through my belly laughs.
You have to laugh where you can, don’t you? There is opportunity to laugh every day, it is simply up to us whether we decide to let the humour in, whether we allow the fun to permeate our busy lives or not, whether we open our eyes up enough to see it when it happens – the funny things, the oddities, the special moments.
I spoke to my dad earlier today – I speak to him most days, sometimes a few times a day. I feel pretty helpless being so far away and being unable to help him with my mum. He sounded quite down earlier and indeed, he sounded a bit sad yesterday as well. Don’t get me wrong, he puts on a cheery tone and you can hear him trying to be upbeat, but some days you can just hear the sadness underneath the light, airy, positive words and today I could hear it loud and clear. He told me about his day so far and what they’d been up to (popped out to Lanark to get my mum a new pair of trousers apparently) and how he’d missed one of the psychiatric nurses who must have called in on them when they were out. “Did you know she was coming, Dad?” I asked him.
“No, no… she must just have called in on her way past,” he replied.
Now, here’s fair warning….I am going to rant slightly now and deviate from my current train of thought for a few moments…. I have just been reading another blog (Living With Dharma) by a man whose wife has dementia following a stroke in 2014. In this one particular post he sounds frustrated with the lack of consistency in his wife’s care and I couldn’t help but nod overly enthusiastically in agreement as I read his words. Why on earth had no one told my dad they would be calling round today? I’m sure he’d have loved to have had a professional there to visit Mum and assist him even for half an hour. To have another person in the house to communicate to, to listen to him, to give him a break for five minutes and take his focus off Mum for a short period of time, it would have been a nice support for my dad today. Instead, a healthcare professional has taken the time to call in on the off-chance, wasting valuable NHS resources as no one bothered to check if my parents were going to be in. Instead, they were left a “sorry you weren’t in” card, like a bloody Royal Mail delivery driver. It’s really not good enough. Rant over.
Dad went on to tell me about how Mum had been this morning and that the lady who came to give her her tablets at breakfast time took her upstairs to help her get dressed. On returning back downstairs, the lady said to Mum, “Look, Stephen’s here.”
Mum turned to my dad and exclaimed, “Well, there are an awful lot of Stephens in this house!”
Dad was laughing when he recounted this story to me and I laughed too. It is so incredibly sad really that Mum doesn’t recognise my dad as her husband and instead sees a number of men around the house, all funnily enough, called Stephen. They are all the wrong Stephen though, none of the men are ever good enough for her and her constant searching for the right Stephen is heart-breaking to watch. But, at least today my dad could laugh.
I have just spoken to Mum tonight. It went exactly like this:
Me: “Have you had a nice day, Mum?”
Mum: “No. Not managed to get there yet. Been oh, so tiring.”
Me: “Oh dear. Well it’s nearly bed time isn’t it? Your lovely lady will come soon and help you get ready for bed won’t she?”
Mum: “I want to go to bed now, but I don’t know how to get there.”
Me: “Well your bedroom is just upstairs and Stephen will show how to find it, so you can just go to bed there tonight can’t you?”
Mum: “No, I’ll have to drive back but there won’t be anything there now.”
Me: “Did you have anything nice for dinner, Mum?”
Mum: “No. No I didn’t. I stayed in bed the night before and not been very well. I’m near the end of me, I’m so tired all the time.”
And so it went on. Jumbled and confused words stuck together in sentences that don’t make sense. No wonder my dad has his sad days. Wouldn’t anyone?
Me: “Well, I’ll call you tomorrow morning Mum and we’ll get some dates in the diary for when I can come up with the kids and stay with you. Okay?”
Mum: “That’ll be nice,” she said. The most lucid she had sounded the whole conversation. “It’ll be lovely to see Emma again.”
Well, I suppose my sister and I do sound similar on the phone and I’d rather that than being likened to some old politician from the Thatcher government by my cheeky daughter! Now, where’s my George Clooney look-alike Hubby?