I like my sheets crispy. Towels too. Not for me a soft towel. I like things to snap when I fold them, like gunshot. I am a snap tight sort of woman and that applies to many things, things I can control. I like a tidy desk, not a muddle of ignored papers, pens that don’t work or those things found on the floor that tell me nothing of their usefulness. I have thrown much away during my lifetime, sometimes with a twinge of regret once I discover, after the bin men have been, that the red knob with the shaft of a screw is, in fact, part of a wonky chair, one that will remain wonky for the rest of its days. I am not perfect. I like honest conversation and find the murk and fog of incongruence baffling. I like clear sounds and clear vision. I like to know what I am doing next and then to do it without having to stumble through the mists of explanation and justification.
When things happen inside a life, bringing associated clutter, I feel the rise of claustrophobia. However, when a girl is in a relationship with another who has no problems at all around clutter, this claustrophobia demands middle management skills. Oh lawks, more inner work. In the olden days when I was young and full of a determined conviction that I could change anyone through adult negotiations, I ricocheted between frustration and hope. Now I know better. Leopards and spots.
The kit and caboodle needed for a failing body and mind is enough to halt anyone in their tracks, middle management aside. There are zimmers, grabbers, walking sticks, a mobility scooter the size of a small cafe, and a quad bike. All essential aids for as much independence as possible and quite right too, but there is one person who never uses any of the above and yet who must learn to accept their looming presence, the poor parking and what look like railway tracks etched into the shagpile. A small child could get lost in the furrows. Mostly, I can do it, be patient I mean, even if it does infuriate when the small cafe is blocking the back door and I want out. Fortunately we have other doors. The quad can be squinty parked across the shingle place for my car. It isn’t done to upset me, of course not, but just abandoned in the most convenient place. Sometimes I can’t even get to the bird feeders for abandoned kit. Lucky I am slim. However, this is not a moan but really an observation of what is. Others will feel as I do. The desire to make things as easy as possible for the disabled one is natural. They were independent once, after all, and all this stuff was for ageing grannies and grandads. It didn’t really affect anyone on a visit. But, living with it does affect, however marvellous a woman’s attitude may be. The most demanding part of caring lies not in the physical demands, but in the mental and emotional requirements for each day.
I rise early, come downstairs and snap the house into order. Early, there is no kit over which to trip and in minutes my lovely island home is ready for the day. I breakfast, make coffee, feed the birds and tidy the dishes away. Soon I will hear sounds of life and himself will float down on the chairlift, down into the snap tidy house. And me? Well, I will go back upstairs to dive into a good book in order to immerse myself in someone else’s story.