It’s been a week or so because I needed perspective to write the concluding part to my grandad piece. It occurred to me that although my holiday to Grandad’s was over this work won’t be complete.
The thing with dementia is, that it’s a son of a bitch that plays tricks on the mind and lingers in unsuspecting places. As far as the ‘holiday’ is concerned, it only got harder. Tuesday Grandad woke up confused, pulled out all the shirts from his draw and decided to put the top he had just worn for bed the night before. He confused his dentures with his hearing aids and tried to convince me that he could pull his denture in two. We washed this several times before giving up and leaving it on the kitchen table. I can’t tell you how strange it is to wash your Grandad’s teeth at the kitchen sink for half an hour while he’s telling you they aren’t right.
The heat was crazy, I’m only imagining not so good for Cardiovascular dementia. The hotter it got the quieter he got. I dared not to take my Grandad out anywhere because he complained of back pain every time we walked a little way. I didn’t want him in pain but maybe in hindsight it would have been a better thing to do. Hi hindsight you wonderful thing, how you doing? Where the hell where you when I needed you several times over the last month? Your forgiven, but hey, try to keep up would ya.
So we sat, I played his rock and roll music and tried to get him talking about anything. Nothing worked. It was like baby sitting a grumpy teenager that only responds in grunts when asked if they want food. Apart from this teenager (plus VAT) wasn’t hungry. His appetite was miniscule. No one has ever turned down my homemade American style pancakes, but he did. I felt like a child again being told I couldn’t do something. But there was me acting all primary caregiver. That morning cornflakes triumphed over pancakes. A first for me. I’m telling myself in a parallel universe everyone enjoyed them pancakes even the raspberry sauce he asked for then turned down.
The only words spoken were mumbled and asking when my grandmother would return. He missed her terribly. The silence was a killer, I was kind of glad when 7.00pm rolled round and it was time for emmerdale on the TV. I’m not one for soaps, but it was a break of sorts. I knew he would fall asleep as soon as he sat down in his Lazy Boys chair. That’s bad, I feel like a bad person for saying this, but the awkward silence was silenced by soaps. By 10pm he’d up and off to bed leaving me and Demon Dog alone for a while. I did know Wednesday was yet to come. I didn’t know what Wednesday would bring.
Wednesday brought more heat, and a man dressed in shorts, smart shoes and a polo shirt that should have been in the wash with all the toothpaste that was on it. But after wrestling with him in the kitchen to get his arms through ever moving holes, the shirt stayed. Rewind to Tuesday morning and I’d left him unsupervised to wash and shave. He shaved with toothpaste. I mean damn easy mistake to make, all the tubes were right next to one another.
On Wednesday we walked. I even managed to nip out and buy pizza for supper for the return of Grandma. That’s when the questions started. Grandad asked where she was. I explained on holiday with the WI (women’s institute) with her friend Jill. Oh no, didn’t believe me. She’s off with that fella, he told me. I asked him what fella, to which his reply was Peter painter. I said no grandad, grandma is with her friend Jill. No he said, no she’s off with thay fella that isn’t a fella, he’s a woman.
So Cardiovascular dementia twisted my grandfather’s mind in to believing that my Grandmother, his wife of 50+ years was having it off with a transgender person and she was a lesbian. My grandmother has never looked at another man let alone another woman… or a transgender person for that fact. I thought I’d managed to diffuse the situation and placed pizza on the table in front of him.
He literally shredded this pizza with a knife and folk but barely ate a bite. He then put money in his jogging short pockets and told me he was going to the bathroom. 2 minutes later, with no sound of the toilet being flushed, I shouted out to him. No reply. I checked each room. Not there. I checked round the outside of the house just in case he’d decided to go on a watering spree again like he had done on Tuesday.
The slippery bugger skillfully evaded me by sliding out the back gate. Dog and I ran round the village looking for him while trying to text my grandma not to worry because she was literally due home at any moment and didn’t have her keys. I don’t know the village very well, but after 20 mins of jogging in flip flops with a disobedient demon Dog (who was actually very well behaved and kept me sane) just as I was about to head back to the house because my grandma had arrived and was stood at the door with her suitcase, he was there. He was there speed walking in his jogging shorts, his smart shoes with a 4 pack of Fosters under his arm. He was actually like marathon running this walk. And I was lead to believe he had back pain. I now know different.
We got back to the house and he told my grandma to pack her bags and leave. I was transported back to a child like state again. I felt helpless, hopeless and damn right stupid for crying, but they are literally the only couple I know that have gotten through everything together and there he was (not him, but him all the same) kicking his wife out. We left him cooling off in the kitchen and sat in the garden, still blistering heat at 9pm we drank a bottle of rose in record time between us.
The realisation it won’t get better sinks in. Still hard to comprehend this wonderful man isn’t himself any more. I’m pretty convinced that he didn’t know who I was some of the time, devastating, but that won’t get better either.
So the battle continues. They’re moving back to Bradford shortly. I’m hoping this makes it easier on the wonderful woman that deals with this day in day out. I hope I can help make it easier for her and for him because this just isn’t fair.