Friends

11 December 2016

A Birthday Celebration

In November it was my old ex-neighbour’s 80th birthday. Joe and I had lived next door to Doug for 26 years but he is now in a home. I was going to say a home for the bewildered but that isn’t quite true, the home isn’t strictly for people with poor memories but they look after them the same as elderly folk who are mentally hale and hearty but incapacitated in other ways. Along with a couple who lived the other side of Doug’s bungalow (that’s the one that’s been ripped apart and practically rebuilt) I was invited to and attended his birthday dinner at one of my favourite eating places, Moor Hall. Yes, that’s the one I’ve written about many times before. The other invitees provided the transport for which I was truly grateful. It meant I could drink some wine and not worry about driving.

Doug was married once but it didn’t work out. After the divorce he returned to live with his parents and stayed there for the rest of his life, leastways until last year when he moved into the care home. After his parents died he made no effort to redecorate the bungalow, nor did he splash out on modern equipment or anything that would have made life easier. Every week he took his laundry to a laundromat, he never redecorated, and he had nothing to make his life more comfortable. He had a gardener to do the mowing, but then so do I. I used to think it was awful but now I’ve reached the age when I don’t want to be bothered with these things. The difference between Doug and me is that I still know it and can still get things done.

The first thing Doug said to me when we were seated at the ‘birthday’ table, was ‘Did you move into the Close, which is a cul-de-sac opposite our bungalows. I reminded him that I lived next door. Oh, says he, you must know Joe. It was difficult enough talking to him without having to explain that Joe, my husband, had died so I left it. Gradually though he started to recall things, for example our dogs. He looked after them when we were away, in fact over the years he looked after many dogs in the neighbourhood.

Despite communication problems we got through the evening and it was enjoyable watching him open his presents. He got tired of doing it half way through but his family made him carry on. I felt sorry for him then. It is so easy for people with no memory problems or ageing hands to think they know best. For me, it was a relief to know that others have the same sort of forgetfulness, particularly this morning when I picked up a bowl that had been washed and wondered where to put it. Everything has its place in my house but it seems I am slowly forgetting where those places are. Perhaps I should make a list! I told myself to get a grip but whether I listen to my own advice remains to be seen.

So, seeing Doug as he is now and remembering how he was all the years Joe and I knew him was quite sad. I am thankful that I manage to find solutions to overcome some of the problems … I have plenty of paper - I can write notes. Just praying I will remember where they are…. grins. 

18 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

You seem on the ball Valerie, you are far more tech savvy than most people of your age and your posts are as clear thinking as ever. It is easy to iunderestimate how routine contact with others keeps us grounded in everyday life - just having someone to talk with about nothing much - but you are dealing with that too.

Valerie said...

Thanks Jenny, you have boosted my ego. Seriously though, it is interesting to read someone else's opinion, it gives a better insight into the way things are on a personal level.

Ron said...

Valerie, after reading your touching post, I was going to say exactly the same thing that Jenny expressed in her comment to you. For as long as you and I having been blogging together, I have always seen you as someone who has a sharp and quick mind. And I have also always admired you because you keep up with the times, learning new things; stretching your mind. You stay active too (interacting with others), which is what I really believe keeps all of us involved in life.

As far as being a bit forgetful, I too (even at 61 years of age) forget about things. I once heard Shirley MacLaine say something very amusing, yet insightful in an interview when she was talking about aging and becoming forgetful. She said, "I used to concern myself about being forgetful as I've gotten older. However, I finally told myself not to worry about it anymore because if I forget something, then it must obviously be something I don't need to remember anymore!"

Glad you got to spend time with your friend, Doug, celebrating his 80th birthday. That's awesome! LOVE the cake!

Hope you're having a lovely weekend, my friend!
X

joeh said...

That memory thing is difficult to watch, and it is difficult to know how much of a visit is adding comfort and how much is distressing.

Forgetting where a bowl goes is no big thing, it just means you were thinking about something else at the time.

I've been looking for a pair of gloves since the weather started getting cold. I told my wife I think I put them in the glove box of my car. I checked and yes...except I only found one! Have no idea where the other glove is or why I wouldn't put them both away together.

S. J. Qualls said...

I often wonder how long it will take to lose those important things. I'm not so sure I haven't lost a lot and no one is telling me. Poor Doug, at least he kind of put you and Joe together - kind of. I've had trouble remembering who people are from the time I was a kid, and yes, it can be embarrassing.

Valerie said...

Good afternoon, Ron.

'you keep up with the times, learning new things; stretching your mind. You stay active too (interacting with others), which is what I really believe keeps all of us involved in life'

You know, Ron, I never thought about all that, and I didn't realise I stretched the mind at any time. I'm a bit of a dunce, deep down. I suppose we take things for granted. I was told the other day that forgetfulness is more like absent-mindedness.... and I can believe that. Take that bowl, for instance... I know as well as anyone where it lives, it just escaped me for the moment. I am guilty of putting things down and forgetting almost immediately where I put them. Duh! At least Doug doesn't realise he has forgotten things.

Katie Eggeman said...

How nice that you could be there for your friend. As your friend Ron pointed out above, keeping active and interested in life is helpful. I have been forgetful forever, but I do find it hard to pull up info....I could once put my fingers right on.

Valerie said...

SJQ, perhaps it's better we don't know how long it will take to lose important things. I have a new motto... keep soldiering on!

Carole said...

I think that making notes to ourselves is a very fine way to help our aging memories. It helps to save space in our brains for the really important stuff :-)

Sounds like he is doing fine, in spite of memory loss. You were kind to not point out the fact that Joe had died. It must have been alarming at first to hear him say that.

And I am all for hiring help to assist us with tasks that we no longer want to d

Nasreen said...

Hi Valerie,

I loved this post. You sound such a positive person and I like your attitude. All the best!

Valerie said...

Hi Carole, one or two folk think writing notes is a waste of time.... for me it's the most logical way to remember things. Thanks for your comment, it's good to hear the opinions of others.

Valerie said...

Hello Nasreen, welcome to my blog. I think I am fairly positive although sometimes panic sets in especially if I can't find things. I guess a lot of people of varying ages have the same problem.

kden said...

Seeing people so different than how they used to be is hard. It was good of you to go.My forgettable things are names of people or things. I often have to play charades with my family to tell a story when I forget names. Other times I get so flustered that I say "oh never mind, it's not important".

Valerie said...

Hi Joeh, it's great that everyone has different takes on a situation. I shall no longer query where something goes, just remind myself of what Joeh said - that is, if I can remember ... smiles. Hope you found the missing glove. They do seem to have a mind of their own, don't they?

Valerie said...

kden, I had to smile at the charades bit and yes I often scrub something when I get flustered. That happens a lot - my standard expression is 'oh damn, I forgot again.'

A Cuban In London said...

What a beautiful post. Although sad in parts it has humanity and kindness coming out of every pore. Thank you, I really enjoyed reading this.

Greetings from London.

Mr. Shife said...

You are an amazing person, Val. Glad we have crossed paths and get to visit you once a week. Take care.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

Happy belated birthday to Doug. He is lucky to have you in his life...