Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

Sunday Morning, Fathers and a Haibun

In literary convention, Sunday morning is a lazy day involving late breakfasts and a leisurely reading of a weighty Sunday paper. I can remember Sundays like that, walking to the paper shop with my father to collect papers because there was no newspaper delivery on Sunday.

As I became a father myself, and the kids started playing rugby, Sunday mornings became more hectic times, featuring lost boots and arguments. I remember one morning in a car park 30 miles from home when a familiar face pulled up with his son.

I said: “You’re in the wrong place Dave, the Under 12s are playing at home.”

“What are you doing here then?” he asked, with the triumphal air of of a man proving an important philosophical point in an argument.

“I’m with the Under 15s today. Julia’s with the Under 12s.”

“Ah!”

Modern Sundays seem so hectic.

Ten years after our walks to buy papers my father and I had developed a prickly relationship. Adolescents, as I would find in my turn, are awful examples of humanity and are barely human. Ten years after that, we still weren’t much friendlier. Ten years after that we had developed a better understanding, as I now had kids of my own. Ten years after that I no longer read newspapers. And ten years after that, having lost many games of dominoes and done a lot of jigsaws, I am left to regret the wasted time spent arguing, and the lessons I could have learned from my father. He may have lost a lot of things through Alzheimer’s, but he retained his competitive edge and his facility with numbers until the end.

To be fair, I wasn’t the only argumentative one (the apple not falling far from the tree) and some of his advice, whilst brilliant for the 1950s, was not so good when applied to the 1990s.

Here’s a haibun I wrote on the subject some time ago – first published in Haibun Today Volume 13, Number 1, March 2019.

 

Eternal Jigsaws

My father remembers who I am (though he can’t quite remember my name) and he’s keen to show me his jigsaw.

It’s one of the puzzles my sister ordered from a specialist supplier. They have larger pieces than normal and depict idealised, almost timeless, scenes from the 1950’s. Before she found these, he used to have jigsaws for children, bought from the Early Learning Centre.

When he clears it away, he puts the edges in a separate bag, so they will be easier to find next time. That could be as early as tomorrow, when it will be brand new as it comes out of the box.

winter afternoon
playing a child’s game
in the fading light

 

Saturday’s list

Mainly, I’m going to see my Dad today, but the morning will be taken up with yawning, displacement activity, moving books into piles mentally marked “Keep”, “Possibly” and “Not Yet” (you can see why the charity donation programme is grinding along slowly), and watching cookery programmes.

Cookery programmes fall under the categories of “Health”, “Nutrition” and “Education”. I have no conscience about watching them while Julia works. I do have a conscience about watching comedies and crime fiction, so I don’t watch them on Saturday and Sunday while she is at work. Quizzes are “Education”. Soaps, Australian soaps, most American comedy and programmes about the emergency services are, if I find myself watching at any time, are a sign that I need to go for a walk.

Since my trip to the doctor in December I have been given another blood pressure tablet, aspirin, and a pill to stop the aspirin eating my stomach away. The Taking of the Tablets is now quite an undertaking. That is now something I need to schedule in my day.

When you are taking pills to nullify the side effects of other pills it is time to start thnking about some serious weight loss. We are still, little by little, getting through the sweets and biscuits we were given for Christmas. Another week should do it. Next year I think we may allow ourselves a week of relaxed diet and then donate the remaining calories to charity. It’s a bit Scrooge-like but I need to get a grip.

I’m off to see my father now. I will spend the journey down looking for Buzzards and Red Kites. The journey back will be occupied by me musing on mortality, and (mainly) by wondering how a man with Alzhemer’s has beaten me at dominoes. Again.

The bird pictures are ones from the day we were attacked by the swan.

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Gadwall drake – Rufford Abbey lake

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Gadwall duck on Rufford Abbey lake