By 10.30am I have a grand total of 5 missed phone calls. The only reason I knew this was because my brother had called Man to try and get hold of me. My Granddad had gone walk about after a heated (out of the blue) moment with my Grandma over socks and pyjamas. He has vascular dementia. They’ve recently moved back from Lincoln for extra family support. This has been the first ‘episode’ we’ve had since they’ve been back.
We knew it wasn’t going to be easy and it would have its challenges. After convincing himself that there were three women out to take his money and the post office and tax people were doing it wrong; my granddad decided that he didn’t like the ‘wool’ socks (actually cotton ones) and the pyjamas my grandma had bought for him. When she told him to calm down, he told her he would lash out – she told him she would call the police and pretend to call the police. With that he headed to the door with £40 he’d taken out of his wallet and his Tesco’s club card. No coat and no walking stick. Hence the 5 missed phone calls.
Man and I, my brother and my sister-in-law headed out to find him. We drove round the streets for about 40 mins with no luck. Plus side of this was that we did have the ultimate tour of the area. We are now well equipped to follow any trail he could possibly take to hot foot it out of there for when it happens again. Man dropped me off with Grandma to make sure she was okay. While I was soothing her, Sister-in-law stayed amazingly calm and reported him missing to the police. Man went out looking again. Everyone pulled together. Even the brand new neighbours had headed out to find him. We sent a picture of him to the police woman that showed up, now he’s on the database and they’ll know his face as a ‘walker’.
Brother, with a little help from the neighbour, found him. He’d done a good old walk and was heading to my house. We must have only just missed him. They bundled him into Brother’s car and took him to his abode. We got the call telling us he was safe and well and with my Brother. Sigh of relief. Grandma had the urge to tell the two lovely police officers her life story as she went off on a tangent. They were so sweet and patient with her – massive huge thank you is being sent out to all the officers who helped look for him. There was quite the search party for him.
A lunch out with my grandma, and a wander round the supermarket gave her a little space to cool down before we reunited them. He didn’t understand that she was mad because she cares. She didn’t understand that it isn’t him when these episodes happen and she can’t treat him like she would if he was consistently sound of mind. The truth is, he doesn’t have all his mind any more. It is dying slowly and there is nothing we can do about it. It’s dreadful watching your grandparent crumble back to a childlike state, breaking down because they can’t cope. They were the ones that always picked you up and dusted you down, making you believe that it wasn’t the end of the world when you were convinced that your world was over. I hate watching him cry the most, it hurts my soul.
This situation reminds me that we have to be kind to one and other. We have to be strong and remain sweet because if you can’t then what is the point of being human? Be benevolent in your actions and words. It will be the different between a full on shit storm of a day or giving someone the sparkle of hope they need to carry on.
The reunion wasn’t an easy one. When we returned to my Grandma’s place she was still pretty pissed. Understandably, he caught her face while flailing before he walked out. We all sat ready to interject and put our two pennies worth in as my Grandma broke down for the third time since I’d seen her. We played council and advised her. I witnessed a touching moment when their eyes met for the first time since we’d brought granddad back to her. Their hands reached out and clutched the other. 56 years is worth a hell of a lot. With a sideways half smile and a squeeze of the hand, everybody relaxed their shoulders and the tension vanished. Stubbornness is a wonderful thing sometimes, but there has to be a little give.