Yesterday we took delivery of a mobility scooter that looks like something from Back to the Future. Very schmancy, with a weather-proof cab for weather proofing. With this delivery and the subsequent freedom it brings, himself is happy. Now, he can go down to the shop for milk or chocolate bars, or broccoli, thus freeing me up from the sole role of Shopper. One less task for me. However, for me, this free feeling doesn’t come without an entourage. Now he will be ‘out there’ in among the tourist drivers who still think they are driving the M8 with all its accompanying opportunities for impatience. These buggies are slow, and fat enough to claim the single track width on the island roads. Himself plans trips that cover quite a few miles and my heart freezes at the thought. The buggy is safe enough, but the brain of someone with progressive dementia plays the lead part in any decision making, and I remember well the flapdoodles this man and his brain got in to when perched like a parrot atop the bright red electric trike. I confess I was relieved when he decided he was no longer safe riding it, even if it did mean I became the Sole Shopper.
I am also the Sole in most things, and there is autonomy there, to a degree. It is often exhausting, however, being the only one who can hear, find and answer the telephone, or rise to greet delivery men and visitors, or guide a carer through the chaos of my airing cupboard, or pay the bills online, wrap a parcel, discuss the vagaries of the BT line, reset the timers after a power cut, find the right meal for dinner, wash the dishes, order and stack the wood, fill in all the disability and dementia forms that surely must mean the rain forests are completely gone by now, whilst also making sure there is nothing to trip over 20 times a day. Oh, and to sound cheerful and upbeat at the endless calls for help. This list is just a piddle in an ocean of daily tasks, all of them requiring a good attitude. And, in among it all, anxieties swim like a shoal of sand eels moving this way and that, bunched together for safety and well below the water line.
Here, God, you take them, I say, and often. Well, I can’t manage them all by myself and I know that he can. My anxieties and demands are nothing compared to everyone else’s and there is only one recourse in my book when the overwhelmings overwhelm. I have huge earthly support and if I didn’t, I would be in a right muddle by now, but none of what they do, the carers, the children, my siblings, my friends, is enough to quiet the anxious pecking at the window of my heart.
There is a sparrow. I think he has dementia. Tell you why. For days and days now, he flies at the little window half way up the stairs, pecking at the glass. He begins at dawn and continues throughout the day right up to Wee Willie Winkie time. I stand on the other side and tell him he’s a twit, but it doesn’t stop him. Go back to your wifey, I tell him, she’s just above your head in the eaves where your nest is. I bet she is rolling her eyes and snorting. I know I would. I have absolutely no idea why he is doing this but his persistent pecking thinks me of my anxieties, because that’s what they do.
When I go away on respite, by the time I do, I am heavied with them. I take them with me, all those I can fit inside, whilst those that can’t fly about my head like angry bees. It take 3 days to unwind, to let go, to trust that all will be well; that himself will not cause a 20 mile tailback on his Popzmobile nor an accident that hurts; because the power is off all day, it won’t matter that the towel rail beeps, the heating comes on at midnight or the nice lady from Edinburgh keeps calling out until the power returns. The stairlift won’t work, the kettle won’t boil, and the phone goes dead. What’s the worry? Let it go, I tell myself. If you weren’t here, someone else would be, but that someone else needs to be alerted, don’t they?
The trouble with what-ifs is that they are always imagined and always take the shape of catastrophe. They are also liars. But that doesn’t guide me on how to deal with them. They come, unbidden, unsought and unwelcome. Here you go God. Here’s another load. Yes, I know it’s the 15th today and it’s only 8 am, but I don’t know what to do with them and, apparently, you do.
I would like, please, to know that in doing my best, I am enough. The words themselves, when I repeat ‘I am Enough’ a hundred times, just don’t sink in. there’s a pane of glass between me and those words. I can see through, but the glass is resolutely fixed and firmly shut. I could open it. I could let the anxieties out and the encouragement and affirmation in, but I would also gain a sparrow in a huge wing-bashing panic and that doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.
In writing my blogs I find friendship and freedom. So much of a caring wifely role is kept inside for the protection of everyone else. Rarely does anyone hear the whole truth of it, of me. Besides, nobody can do anything about anything, not really. We carers are lone soldiers and we will be until we reach base camp once again. We will cross deserts and swim oceans; we will battle enemies, mostly internal ones, make dreadful decisions and fall into the mire of despond many times. We are broken, damaged and confused, overflowing with arguing emotions, with anxieties and self-doubt.
But, Spring is here and the sparrow still greets me, the daft eejit, every time I climb the stairs with my teddy bear under my arm, to find my quiet place, my room, where I can sink down and give God (such patience) another load of things that seemed huge downstairs, catastrophic even, but which somehow disappear like smoke, once I’ve handed them over.
For now, that is……