Dementia: Winter is Upon Us

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post. Life has been extremely busy over the past few months and now with Christmas approaching, like mums all over the world I am trying to juggle work, the family and home life with also being Santa, decorating the house so it’s both homely and festive, enough but not too much. Tasteful yet fun.

There’s also of course the guilt that drives us mothers to be at every Nativity, to remember every cake bake and school disco, non-uniform day and to attend all the Christmas Carol concerts.

Then there’s all the pre-Christmas Christmas dinners. The drinks out with friends and practice run roast dinners. I remember my mum always being a little glad when Christmas was all over, and this year, I get it.

She was right.

She was right about so many things.

She was right about what a wonderful man my dad is too.

Here are some words he wrote especially for my blog.

 

By My Dad….

Looking through some old photographs last week I found several of Jane’s Scottish country dance teams. She taught 30-40 youngsters over a period of years and took them to various children festivals.

Our two, Sarah and Emma enjoyed it thoroughly (or so they say !) and all the “Coanwood Stuart” teams did very well. Indeed I found several VHS tapes which were taken at the Leeds festival in 1990 ! I had them converted to DVDs and these certainly caused much amusement to the grandchildren on their last visit up in October. “Is that really you mummy?”

On coming back to Scotland in 2003, Jane and I went to ballroom social evening dances (and meeting quite a few older couples she taught those 40 odd years ago) and Scottish Country dance classes. These were great fun and I’m sure if her health hadn’t so dramatically declined we would still putting on our dancing shoes to this day.

A few months ago I rejoined the local S.C.D. class which is quite daunting when you are the only man in the sets. However there are plenty of partners to chose from and some improvement may well be taking place !  #

There were 4 highland dance young lassies visiting the care home recently and they performed exceptionally well including one who danced the sword dance. When Jane went over many years ago to Canada to visit her sister, she similarly entertained her two cousins and their little brood with this ancient dance of war of the Scottish Gael.
Jane spent most of the time in the background not really appreciating their talents but half asleep in her own wee world.

Sarah rings most days and it is very reassuring that they are all well and getting on with their busy lives. Emma is working more hours now as her youngest Annie is now at school. She loves to have a “good natter” and it is very nice to hear all her news. Clive has recently been in the wars as an inspector but with rising use of drugs and alcohol, I suppose antisocial behaviour is becoming more the norm in young lives. He keeps me up to date with all these coming and goings and of course his 3 who are growing up so fast.

I see Jane about twice a week now, but I have noticed some deterioration in her “condition”. She talks very little now and perhaps I do not stay as long as I should. It is very hard to see her mental and physical well being sliding down the slippery slope to a large “black hole” as an astrophysicist may describe it. A relatives meeting was held a few days ago and I saw one of the sisters today for a review of her care “plan”.
They look after her very well particularly as she is unable to do anything herself independently.

I think winter is upon us now. It has become quite cold and very windy and wet today. Darkness descends about 4ish and this makes the evenings quite long. Another early night for me !  I fear Jane’s darkness is not ruled by the intricacies of our nearest star and that of our Earth but that of the development and decline of the cruel illness which has struck her down so suddenly and unfairly.

What can you see when your eyes look straight through me
What are you thinking – perhaps you’re dancing ?
Do you remember those halcyon days of laughter and fun
or perhaps it’s all gone now, the clouds covering the sun.

We are all here praying that this is a dream and not true
that you’ll be home soon all ready to go
You’ll be as bright as a pin with a sparkle in your eye
but we know deep down that’s just pie in the sky.

I love you dear wife, we love you dear mum
It’s awful and so unfair to see you like this
But we’ll remember the good times we all had with you
please continue to dance in your dreams so true.

x

Mum and dad dancing

7 thoughts on “Dementia: Winter is Upon Us

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  1. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Sarah. Such lovely words from your Dad.

    I am so glad to have found your blog. I’m scared that my Mum is heading towards an uncertain future. Having changed GP in the last few months an assessment of sorts was done and no diagnoses made, but a woman who was so creative no longer remembers how to sew and knit, and who had such pride in appearance as to wear a varied wardrobe now just wears whatever comes to hand.
    I keep trying to make a little difference in her day here and there, but when she is at home she settles in her chair and is not stimulated to do anything on her own account. My father says that she is argumentative and so to keep the peace he keeps quiet! Not ideal.
    Reading your blog gives me an insight to your relationship with your Mum and dementia, and I am so very grateful that you share your words and thoughts. Thank you.

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    1. Oh Janine,
      Thank you for your message and for reading my blog. I am so glad it is helping you in some way. It is the main reason I started writing.
      Getting a diagnosis for my mum was difficult. She was diagnosed with depression first as she too stopped doing all the things she used to love – golf, dancing, cooking….and started all sorts of treatment including psychiatric nurses coming in to talk to her.
      That slowly dawning realisation that something is wrong, and possibly terribly and irreversibly wrong is so frightening. It sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job and you’re there to support your mum and help her. It is so hard, Janine and I am sending you lots of love and strength.
      I hope you have a lovely Christmas and best wishes for a good 2020
      Sarah x

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  2. Dear Sarah. My thoughts are with you and all your family this Christmas. I’ve followed your blog for sometime and particularly remember you writing about “waiting for the phone call”. The phone call came for me at 8.30 am on the first of October, by 9.45 am she had left us; thankfully I was able to be with her and although heartbreakingly sad, it was the most precious experience. Like your dear Mum she could do very little for herself and slept for most of the time but I’m sure she knew when I was there and offer the hope to you that even though she’s deep in her own world, she will know you’re with her. As Mum’s journey with dementia ended my husband was diagnosed with moderate stage Alzheimer’s and so the wheels turn slowly once more towards the inevitable. My deepest love to you, your dear Dad and all the rest of your family xxxx

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    1. Oh Alison, thank you so much for your message. I’m so sorry to hear about your mum, but I’m also relieved for you too – I know you’ll understand that.
      I can’t believe you’re now starting this journey again with your husband. I can’t believe how life can be so cruel.
      Sending so much love to you and your family and best wishes xxx

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  3. Dear Sarah and Stephen, thanks so much for sharing. It is so sad that Jane my friend and dance teacher, who was so full of life and fun, has gone into her own world. I hope and pray that a cure for this cruel disease is found soon. Love to you and all the family and hope you have an enjoyable festive time. Margaret Meager

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  4. Thank you Margaret and we hope you have a lovely Christmas and all the very best for 2020. How time flies ! It certainly doesn’t seem 40+ years since you were Jane’s bridesmaid at our wedding. Yes indeed we had great times at the Afton. x

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