Loss and contradiction

I’ve not written for a while.  I’ve been unsure if it’s really ‘me’ to be writing about my thoughts and feelings so publicly.  I am someone who is fairly private (to the point of being seem as aloof I think sometimes by people who don’t know me well).  The act of writing about my life and family feels exposing.  A few things have prompted me to have another go.  Firstly, continued discussions with my Mum, feeling as confident as I can that Dad would approve and that he would hope there might be learning from his horrible situation. Secondly, a colleague who Tweets and Blogs about her emotions and life (@MixedupMindful) asked if I had written recently, I admire her honesty and courage in writing.  She could appreciate the ‘exposure’ concerns but felt that others may benefit from my experience.  Thirdly, I’ve just walked the dog and it really is the most beautiful day, my favourite time of the year – I feel like for me this is New Year, as the leaves are bursting open, the birds are singing and the butterflies are fluttering.  The sight of an orange wing tipped butterfly was the final inspiration!

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It’s been an emotional Easter.  We spent a few days at Mum and Dad’s house and with the weather being so beautiful we spent lots of time in their garden.  I feel the loss of Dad so much more outside as I guess it is where he was literally ‘in his element’.

Me and Mum visited Dad in the care home.  He was coming out of another woman’s room with her drink and toast, she did not seem upset!  I was struck by how frail and stooped he looked, perhaps it’s a while since I have seen him walking.  We walked to his bedroom – which is desolate and depressing. We had every intention of making Dad’s room his own space, reflecting him as a person, but for whatever reason he removes items, pictures, furniture … one of the care staff told us how Dad had moved a bookcase down the corridor on his own and it took two members of staff to be able to return it as it was so heavy.  It seems that personal possessions have no interest for Dad and so his room is just a place he sleeps in (when he sleeps) and not a place he feels at home in.  I am reassured that staff see Dad’s moving things and dismantling things – largely as how he likes to keep busy.  They describe how they ‘relocate’ things later in the day and how they understand it upsets him to try and remove items from him whilst he is in busy mode. I helped Dad to have a drink and eat a cake, it is a way of keeping a connection with him on days where he is less communicative.  We had the odd chuckle together and at times he chattered, we do our best to understand the essence of what he’s trying to tell us and try and respond with the correct tone, intonation and words.  Sometimes we get it right and he becomes more animated and seems reassured, sometimes we don’t and it seems to add to his concern.  I had a flash in my mind of Dad as he was a few years ago and tears welled up, I managed to get a grip and put the image out my head.  I’ve become more adept at this, before I would have sat there with tears streaming down my face and Dad would have looked amused, or concerned or oblivious.  Clearly this man is still Dad and I can generally achieve some kind of connection, no matter how small, but on another level this feels a far cry from the person I knew from home.  Sometimes I feel the stark difference more severely than other times.  I think I’ve developed a way of disconnecting this Dad in the care home from the Dad from past years.  I think it’s the only way of not feeling devastated all the time, perhaps it’s part of my grieving process.

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Back at my Mum and Dad’s house I sat down the garden in a space that was my Dad’s favourite.  The fritillaries (flowering bulbs) he had planted were blooming, it was like an insect airport and butterflies were everywhere, all looking pristine, presumably having just emerged from their chrysalises.  He would have loved this day in the garden with family around but with space to also be with his nature.  I had an urge to drive back to the care home and fetch him, we have spoken as a family about this, we decide against it for a whole variety of well thought out reasons.  A beautiful orange wing tipped butterfly fluttered past and I appreciated the connection it provided.