Wednesday 22nd January RIP Mark

It was with great sadness today that I learned of the death of an old friend who finally succumbed to his malignant brain tumour. I hadn’t seen Mark for many years but he has always been in my thoughts and was my greatest love. I received the message whilst sitting with Mum who was not in a very good mood today! I told her of his passing but she had no recollection of him and when she learned how old he was she said how sad she was to hear the news. I shed a few tears which she did not notice.

Mum complained of feeling very tired and wanting to go to sleep. She also complained of a severe headache which appeared to vanish after a few minutes! She had numerous discussions with herself and others about various subjects including men wearing pink shirts, how much she was missed, the fact that she felt very poorly and that she wanted to get home but didn’t know how. When I tried to explain that she was already home she told me in no uncertain terms not to make up dreadful lies and what an idiot I must be!  I told her that she was in a bit of a bad mood and she replied ‘ I am in a filthy mood and I hate everyone!’

She refused to eat any of the delicious risotto because it ‘tasted so horrible’ but did manage to ingest a moderate amount of Cadburys dairy milk chocolate and drink a glass of port. ‘ Port is my favourite drink ‘ she declared. ‘ I thought your favourite was whisky?’ ‘ well I think port tastes better!’ she declared. She laughed when I suggested that the port and chocolate should put her in a better mood. She managed to eat a large bowl of trifle which is one of her favourite desserts.

We sat and watched TV and she commented on the roses  and had a chat to her friend about how lovely all her roses were. I had brought her some daffodils and she said ‘but it is a bit too early for daffodils to be out. They normally arrive in March!’  I was pretty amazed by this as she normally has no idea what month it is.

I sat and sewed a teddy bears leg. ‘ Is that a slipper for your father?’ she enquired ‘ because it does look a little small!’. I told her what it was and told her that I made teddy bears. She said that she didn’t know that! I showed her a photo of my newest bears which I had made this week.

I played her a recording of my latest piano playing which she described as ‘ very impressive!’

Most of her conversation today was fairly muddled and  addressed to her imaginary friends. I am not sure how much she can now hear properly or understand. She insists that she can hear but then asks me to repeat most things which could be a comprehension issue rather than hearing. I asked her if she thought she might benefit from a hearing aid but she felt it was me who needed one!

I sat with her for nearly 4 hours before deciding that it was time to make the long journey home. She always asks me where I am going and where home is. I told her I lived in Northampton to which she replied and I shall be on my way home soon to Bromsgrove.

I kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her. ‘I love you too ‘ she replied.

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Wednesday 15th January – where’s Angela?

We have had a very sociable and enjoyable few days. On Friday we went to dinner at our friend’s new house and on Saturday to our old neighbours new house which happened to be the old house of the friends we went to dinner with on Friday! I made the pandoro cake I had made for New Years Eve but this time I wasn’t quite so tiddly when I put it together! On Sunday my friend Alison and her husband Alan took us to Ronnie Scott’s for lunch where we were entertained by an amazing quartet and American singer who performed ‘Ella to Billie’; my favourite music – it was really wonderful. We returned from London in time to attend a party in the village held as a send off for one of our neighbours who is leaving the village for pastures new. She will really be missed by everyone but thankfully is not going too far away.  Yesterday we were also taken out to a very cosy country pub for lunch by friends for Robert’s birthday.  So, as you can imagine the January diet is not going so well!

Alison’s Mum has made the inevitable transition into her care home this week. Alison has  obviously been very anxious and upset about the move so I promised her I would pop in and say hello on the way over to see Mum today. When I arrived, Kath was sitting in the lounge with some other residents doing a quiz. I was invited to join in and between us all we managed to answer most of the questions. After the quiz was over I chatted to Kath and two of the ladies who had both been in the home for over a year and were clearly enjoying living there. We were all able to share stories of living in Bromsgrove and the schools we had all attended! I left Kath to go and have lunch with her new friends who were all then going to watch High Society in the afternoon. Kath confided to me that she was happy there as she was no longer lonely and was enjoying the company.

I drove over to see Mum arriving just as she was about to be fed her lunch. I took over from her carer but she was not feeling very well, had a chesty cough and only managed one or two spoonfuls. I fed her chocolates and cake instead and poured her a glass of port. She was a bit worried about the fact that she could no longer hold the glass herself but I reassured her that I would help her whenever she wanted a sip.

I told her about our week and the wonderful trip to Ronnie Scott’s. She appeared to have heard about it but had never been herself. She was not very talkative and appeared very tired so I lowered the head of the bed a little and encouraged her to have a snooze whilst I sat and watched the TV. She dozed on and off waking a couple of times to ask me where the dog had gone, where Hilary had gone and finally woke to ask me where Angela had gone! When I replied that I was Angela and that I was here she laughed and said ‘ but I have been looking for you.’

I left her sleeping and set back on the long journey home.

On a good note, I sent a cheque to The Lewy Body Society for £400 this week which included money from the sale of the teds and from money raised at the carol evening. Many thanks to all who contributed. I must confess I have started making some more teds this week……. my addiction continues.

 

 

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Wednesday 8th January – the Posh room.

Robert drove me over to see Mum this morning via Alcester where we both had new pairs of glasses waiting for us at Spec Savers ( my favourite adverts!)

Mum was in bed as usual but awake and quite chatty. She seemed to know who we both were but sadly had no recollection of my friend’s visit to her earlier on in the week.

We talked about and showed her our photos of our recent trip to Chatsworth House to see the Christmas decorations which were spectacular. She loved the photos and asked if we knew who lived there. We told her that it was the Cavendish family and that the Duke and Dutchess of Devonshire still live in the house. She then started talking about how it didn’t matter any more if she was on time or not as she had all the time in the world. I agreed with her but did say that it would always be polite to be on time for doctors appointments. She replied that they didn’t matter at all as all doctors were always late!

She then stated that she had to go soon. When I asked her where she was going to she said it didn’t really matter but she had to get back to where she had started from!

We gave her the coffee we had bought for he on the way and I asked her if she would like a drink. Yes please she said ‘ as long as it is whisky!’ I explained that I had only brought Port with me but she finally concluded that that would do and downed the glass in a few minutes! She then started to accuse Robert of being a bully but then started talking to an imaginary ‘bully’ who was sitting under the table.

One of her carers brought in a cup of strawberry complan. ‘That is to build you up’ I explained to which she replied ‘I don’t need building up, I am big enough already!’

I fed her some chocolate buttons and decided to play her my recent piano piece. She asked where the piano was and I explained that it was just a recording on my phone. At the end she said’ that’s crazy. They spoilt it the way they played it.’ When I managed to persuade her that it was me playing she said’ I suppose it was quite good then!’

We told her about our forthcoming trip to Yorkshire. ‘ I love Yorkshire’ she replied ‘ I stayed there for several weeks. The people are lovely there – the only real reason to go there is the people, they are so friendly.’  Robert and I recalled her telling this us some time ago that she had been to stay with an Aunt in Yorkshire before she was married. She recalled this but could not remember the name of her Aunt.

Her lunch arrived – a rather unappetising plate of a few scampi, chips and peas. She only ate one mouthful but could not chew it and refused any more. She did however enjoy a few more chocolate buttons and some peaches and cream. I asked her carers if she could have a glass of whisky which they duly arrived with. She wasn’t too keen on it to start with and said it didn’t taste like whisky.  A little later I asked if I could get her anything      ‘ What could you possibly get for me she ? !’ she answered rather scathingly  ‘ whisky and chocolate? ‘ ‘Wonderful ‘ she replied!

After lunch we all settled down to watch TV but she suddenly complained of feeling too hot. I removed her warm furry throw and encouraged her to try and move her legs but she couldn’t. She started talking to an imaginary friend saying that she needed to go now! I am not sure if she meant to the loo or not but after a few urgent protestations she settled down. I tried to stretch her fingers but she found it too uncomfortable and told me to stretch my own fingers!

She appeared to watch some of the TV programmes but couldn’t really take in much of it. ‘I would like afternoon tea!’ she suddenly stated ‘ but I can’t have it in here. This is the Posh room. You can drink in here but not eat!’

She chatted a while to some imaginary friends mainly about the fact that she had lost her hat in the river and wanted someone to fetch it back for her. This reminded me of the story I had read this morning about a lady rescuing a dog in the river who had a rock tied to it. I told Mum about this and she said ‘ what type of monster would do such a thing? ‘ Indeed.

As we got up to leave , I told her we were off to buy fish and chips for tea on the way home.’ I have some money in my handbag for you to buy them with’ she kindly offered.

I kissed her several times until she shooed me away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New years Day! – the beginning of a new decade.

We celebrated the New Year at a lovely dinner party hosted by friends who live outside of the village with our ex neighbours. We all contributed to the meal, played stupid games and drank lots of champagne to say goodbye to the last decade and welcome in the new one. I wonder what the next year will bring.

If I am being honest I did not think my Mum would still be with us in 2020. Her longevity however comes with mixed feelings. I know that she would never have wanted to end up in a care home, bed bound and completely dependent on carers. I now find it difficult to recognise her as my Mum and she often has very little idea as to who I am. I find this the most difficult part of her illness. It is so sad to spend the afternoon with her only to realise that she has no idea who I am or why I am there. Her poor limbs are now twisted and useless and her only enjoyment appears to be a glass of whisky or port. However, she rarely ever complains and always tells me that she is quite comfortable when asked.

I left Robert in bed nursing a mild hangover and drove over to see Mum this morning on virtually empty roads.  She was tucked up in her bed dozing when I arrived but woke up when I greeted her and wished her a Happy New Year. I put the New Years concert from Vienna on the TV – a concert I know she has always loved watching.  She appeared to know who I was and was pleased with her glass of port. She also ate most of her minced up roast lamb dinner followed by chocolate mousse and chocolates.

After lunch I showed her some photos of the previous night’s celebrations including the extravagant looking pudding I had made from a pandora cake complete with a sparkler.

I have also made 2 new bears this week – one for a friend who has taken him with her to Spain!

Robert rang me on my phone and wished Mum a happy new year. She seemed to know who he was but told him that she needed to go out and take the dog for a walk!

We settled down to watch The Sound of Music on the TV . Mum appeared to really enjoy watching it and sang along to some of the songs. I reminded her that she had taken us to the cinema on the bus to see it when we were little. She couldn’t remember going but said that it must have been a long time ago. I also remember that Dad was away on business at the time and therefore didn’t go with us. ‘ he is always disappearing’ she replied. ‘ do you know where he is now?’ I told her that I didn’t but that I was sure he would be back later.

I sat with her for nearly 5 hours today – I must say I had forgotten how much I enjoyed The Sound of Music!  I got up to leave and told her I was going home – she snorted as if to say – do as you like. ‘ I have been here all afternoon’ I explained. ‘Not with me, I have been in the chapel most of the afternoon,’ she replied. There really is no response to that. I kissed her good bye and set off on my journey home.

 

Christmas day – Merry Christmas everybody xxx

After a very busy week entertaining and socialising, I must confess I was really looking forward to enjoying a quiet day with Mum. Robert has driven up to Nottingham to see his family and for the first time in my life I have opted not to open any Christmas presents until this evening!!

I packed up the car and set off stopping off at the empty barns near our house to look for the family of kittens which were living there but then disappeared. Low and behold, 4 of the little kittens were lying outside sunning themselves. I was delighted to see them as I had feared that the gamekeeper might have killed them. It was the best Christmas present I could have had until I popped over the gate and into the barn to find the fifth little black one lying dead on the floor. I don’t think he had been there very long. I wasn’t quite sure what to do but scooped him up, put him in a shopping bag and put him in my car.  I will give him a proper burial later this evening. Fortunately I had some cat food in the car so gave it to the rest of the kittens for Christmas dinner. I only hope I am not involved in any car accidents on the way home!!

Mum was awake and lying in bed when I arrived. I don’t think she knew it was Christmas and I am not sure she knows who I am. I gave her a glass of low alcohol bucks fizz, fed her chocolates and in true Dancocks tradition we listened to the whole of the Jim Reeve’s Christmas album twice! Mum sang along to most of the tunes stopping to eat only a few mouthfuls of a very tasty and large plate of Christmas turkey with all the trimmings.

She ate some Christmas pud , drank some whiskey and is now cuddled up under her fur throw having a lovely post dinner nap. I had bought her a few presents – a new nightshirt which she loved, a bottle of whisky, bubble bath and a couple of cuddly toys. One of them is a gorgeous little dog which lights up! It made her laugh which is the most important thing.

Conversation is very limited now. She is quite hard of hearing and doesn’t appear to understand as well as she did. Interestingly when one of her carers arrived to see us she told me that Mum had been downstairs in a chair for most of Monday and had a great time. When I asked Mum about this she emphatically denied it telling me that the carer was telling lies!

I attempted to tell her about our Christmas carol evening which we held on Monday night. It has become a Christmas tradition in the village now with about 35 or so folk attending to sing carols, drink mulled wine, eat nibbles and enjoy a general catch up. This year we raised £160 in donations for the Lewy Body Society. A big thank you to all who contributed. I hope and pray that one day a cure will be found for this devastating disease and put an end to the enduring suffering this horrid disease confers.

Wishing all my friends, family and blog readers a very Happy Christmas.

 

Wednesday 18th December – who is Harold Fletcher?

Robert and I have had another busy week! I played in my orchestra concert on Saturday night. There were some good moments but sadly rather too many bad ones! Fortunately or unfortunately we only had an audience of 27 which included Robert and my neighbour Sally! We did clash with the final of Strictly, so folk could be forgiven for preferring a Strictly party or evening in to coming out to listen to a not too perfect orchestra!

On Monday night we put on our glad rags  and spent the night with friends at Kilworth Hall having dinner and listening to a Frankie Valley look a like group. The Hall was beautifully decked out and a lovely evening was had by all. It was a good excuse for me to wear my new faux fur coat which made me look like a big teddy bear!

Yesterday I drove up to Nottingham to have lunch with two friends which was great but I had to drive back in thick fog and nearly missed the turning home!

I was pleased that Robert had agreed to drive today as it was a little foggy and we had an early start as we both had eye tests booked in Alcester. I did a little shopping whilst waiting for Robert which included two light up teddys which were amazingly cheap!!

Mum was snuggled up in bed when we arrived but looked very tired and was not very alert. She had a nasty cough and although she said she was comfortable she appeared to be more twisted round than normal but was not willing for me to move her. I gave her the coffee we had bought on the way along with a small glass of red wine which she enjoyed. I had also brought her a large tin of celebrations chocolates. I gave her one of the small milky ways and just as she was about to put it in her mouth she said ‘ no, you should share that with Angela.’ She then remonstrated with her mother  and told her not to be so mean and that both she and Angela could have one each!

Her lunch arrived and she ate almost all of the small portion of risotto but declined the crumble for pudding preferring to eat the Mr Kipling cakes I had brought for her. ‘ I quite like Mr Kipling’ she declared ‘ but I like his cakes better’.

We told her about our week but I  am not sure how much she took in. Robert had taken some photos and made a small video of the group at Kilworth Hall which we showed her. It took her a while to focus in on the pictures but once she could see what they were she was very impressed with all the decorations.

She dozed on and off waking up occasionally for a short conversation with her mother or her husband.

We were half heartedly watching a Christmas film when Mum suddenly pointed to the screen and was telling her mother that the actor was Harold Fletcher. When I asked her who Harold Fletcher was she replied that she used to go to school with him and he lived in Wild moor lane. She concluded that he was now very much older than when she knew him but also said but then of course she too was much older as well! ( the actor she referred to was a gentleman of colour called Stan Shaw who had appeared in Roots many years ago.)

Just as we were leaving I told Mum I was cooking dinner for 13 people tomorrow night ( my fellow violinists and their partners). ‘Good luck with that!’ she said wisely and laughed. I promised I would take photos to show her on Christmas Day.

 

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Wednesday 11th December – ready to vote?

Today is the last day of campaigning before the General Election tomorrow!  It still seems uncertain as to who will win or if we will be heading for yet another hung parliament.

Robert and I have had a very busy week and were both pleased to drive over to see Mum and sit quietly with her for a while in her rather cocooned world. We stopped on the way to buy a few cards and post some cards and parcels in Alcester arriving slightly later than usual. One of Mum’s carers was just finishing feeding her her lunch. She seemed pleased to see us and appeared to know who we both were. She was snuggled up in her lovely furry throw and seemed very comfortable.

She was pleased with the two little Christmas tree decorations I had bought her – a lovely snowman and a little penguin which we hung up on the wall in front of her bed. She also enjoyed the small glass of port I brought for her. She was not very chatty but did answer a few of my questions, laughing when I asked her if she was going to vote in the general election. I asked her who she would have voted for ‘ any one except the tories’ came back the reply. When I asked why ? she answered ‘ because I don’t believe in anything they stand for.’ Interestingly she appeared to be much better informed than the young girl who cut my hair on Saturday who told me she had only learned about the general election last week and that she got Donald Trump and Boris Johnson confused! She actually asked me which party Boris stood for and which one supported Brexit! She was however going to vote!!!

She was pretty tired and did not engage in much conversation but did join in singing some festive carols and songs and was one line ahead of us in ‘White Christmas.’ She also laughed when I played her little white dog from last Christmas singing ‘ I wish it could be Christmas every day.’

Robert and I spent Sunday in London watching the two part Harry Potter play which was excellent. The special effects were amazing. During the 2 hour interval we wondered into Convent Garden and I took some photos to show Mum which she really loved.

She had a couple of conversations with her mother but she spoke very quietly and it was quite difficult to make out other than the fact that she was coming to take her out for the evening.

We sat with her for about 3 hours and decided to leave when she said she felt really tired and wanted to go to sleep. I asked her if she loved me and she replied ‘ of course I do! and Robert too!’

Who knows what will happen tomorrow? I do know that Mum will be lying in her bed in exactly the same position and nothing will change for her.