The words she was saying were becoming unclear and unfathomable to all but her. But in that limboid state, teetering on sleep and yet fighting hard for wakefulness, she still needed to communicate. Three days before she had been clear. Three days before she had said the things she needed to say to her closest. Kind words replacing those of frustration, anger and confusion.
Yesterday, word came that it was time... time to make her comfortable for her onward journey. Another sad journey began. But time was kind to her daughter. She was there for when the talking was done.
But these are her tough times now as her own health fails. And she must be feeling the frustrations as I did back then. But all I can do is to look on... and listen. I'm a good listener, but it's too late for me to talk. She knows I’m here with her… after all she talks to me... and I am listening, although everyone else tells her no. I am here for her, because she still needs me, forever. I promised to love her until death us do part, and while she’s alive, then I will always be here.
But the worst for her was that we stopped being asked to parties, parties where she could chat and sparkle to her heart’s content, and as I looked on, to my content too. I felt so bad, so responsible, so guilty… but she made me feel worse. Her talk became accusing, unkind, hurtful, but maybe I just hadn’t really noticed before. And when she’d finished talking out her frustrations on me, she would beg, beg, beg my forgiveness. But the time for forgiving wasn’t then, in the heat of the pain, but always later. Of course, because I love her.
There were times though, I have to admit, just before the end, when I couldn’t bear hearing her or having her touch me or even being near me. Those were the times when the Parkinson’s finally slowed me right down. But in slowing me down, it slowed her down too. Holidays were impossible and even visiting the children was a struggle, because I couldn’t drive any longer and she didn’t like to. She had to tend to all my problems, to nurse me and to call for help from friends when I fell. And I seemed to fall a lot.
But the fact that I can’t speak to her doesn’t stop her talking to me, talking like she always has, making up for my silence. She’s telling me what’s going on in her life, what’s bothering her and how lonely she feels. “I know pet,” I want to say, “but you’re not really lonely are you, if you’re talking to me?” But she wouldn’t be able to hear even if I really could make myself heard. But maybe she hears me talking to her, now and then, just like I used to do. I hope so, I really hope so.
She always has a point of view and, as an emotional person, she tends to defend her views strongly, with a passion. More often than not though, when the talking’s done, or maybe it’s fairer to say when the arguing’s done, that’s when my words are needed. To reassure her, to comfort her, to be on her side.
There, I’ve already talked more than I ever do! But let me tell you what’s bothering me now… now that I can’t talk to her any more. To give her my love and reassurance, to comfort her, to be on her side.
It’s very frustrating listening to her these days. I’ve always been there to listen to her, but I’ve never been much of a talker myself. Of course, I’ll speak, but I speak only when I need to… when someone asks a question, or when I’ve got something to say. But I haven’t got that desperate need to communicate… all the time. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticising her for it. Far from it, her bubbly chattiness was one of the things that attracted her to me all those years ago and it’s still something I love about her.
When I tell my son-in-law about Bruce not paying his way, he says brightly that I should simply enjoy the fact that he’s here with me and stop worrying so much. Easy for him to say, but I can’t help myself worrying about it.
When I tell my daughter about all that’s bothering me and how Daddy’s here and not paying his way, it’s not as though she’s unkind, but she tells me straight out that he can’t be here because he died 5 years ago. Well I know that... but that doesn’t mean he’s not still here!
What bothers me is that he stays the night with me. He’s in my bed with me and yet he’s not paying any rent. I feel so guilty. And it’s not like him. Bruce is completely honest. Always has been. But he should be paying his way like me. I try not to think about it, hoping they never find out. Maybe we’re clocking up a huge bill and don’t realise it… so big that one day we won’t be able to pay it. But he’s always dealt with the finances, so maybe I should let him worry about that.
My daughter reckons the problem’s me trying to switch the TV down with the buttons on the phone. I’m sure she’s wrong, and I say so, so we ‘have words’.
He likes to watch the News, BBC of course; he never watches the commercial channels. Of course, he’s passionate about the rugby. Ever since he used to play, and I stood on the touchline, freezing. I can take or leave the rugby, but as it’s his passion, I let him watch it, particularly the internationals and Six Nations. He seems happy enough, although it’s quite difficult to tell these days.
He keeps out of the way of the staff here; never talks to them. Well he never talks to me either. I talk to him though. I have to. He keeps turning the television up too loud, it’s as if he can’t hear it. Particularly difficult when I’m on the phone to my daughter. I can’t seem to hear her, so I say “Bruce, turn that TV down!” But he never does, he doesn’t seem to hear me, or perhaps he doesn’t want to hear me, so I end up having to do it myself... and the phone cuts off…
Now we’re here though, he never goes into the garden. We’re on the first floor and it’s such a trek along the corridor, down the lift and out into the communal garden. I discourage it anyway. You see, he’s not supposed to be here. They don’t know he’s here! They mustn’t find out, because he’s not paying anything to stay here... and he should!
Maybe that’s why he doesn’t say much, or anything come to that. Doesn’t want them to hear that he’s here. Some of them know though, because I’ve told them, but asked them to keep it quiet.
Recently though he’s been particularly quiet. I don’t think he’s being moody; that’s never been his way. He hasn’t said so, but maybe he doesn’t like where we’ve moved to... I don’t either… too small for him, too enclosed. He’s always been a fresh air person. In our last house, the first thing he would do of a morning was open the French doors in the kitchen to get in some fresh air. Firstly it was off with his shirt and out into the garden. He never seemed to feel the cold. He must find it rather hot here though.
He’s never been one for talking, it isn’t his way. Some people are good at talking, some at listening. They say I’m the talker, but I don’t care. I like to talk. You talk, you learn... although some say, you listen, you learn more. It’s not as if he’s in his shell. He’s always been there for me, a great support. The family have always said he’s my consort, although my daughter-in-law says he’s my slave. But then she’s never really liked me much. Well, all I say is if he’s a slave then he’s happy that way.