After I’ve made any decision, about whatever, I know what needs to be done, even know how to do it, but it’s often difficult to know when. Of course, it depends upon what we are talking about but in a way, it doesn’t matter, because everything all of us do has an impact on another person, maybe even lots of people. None of us live in a vacuum and, even though I live a quiet, lonely and unimportant life, anything I do will affect someone; usually, it will be unintended and mostly inconsequential. But there are times, though, when even a small action results in a profound reaction. This coronavirus environment is a prime example, and my visit to see my wife in her care home requires me to observe a range of protocols to keep that place free of infection, especially by me, and if I don’t adhere to healthy conduct I imperil her and, potentially, all who live and work in her care home.
On that personal level, my activities don’t usually have any repercussions or dimensions on a large scale; even at my micro-level they probably hardly ripple anybody’s surface. Although yesterday when I resumed visiting my wife, Dorothy, in her care home it did cause a tiny ripple, certainly felt by me, and reacted to by the reception staff. I was happy to have my temperature taken, to show proof I’d had my ‘flu shot and declare that I’d not been (sadly!?) anywhere overseas or on a plane or a ship, etc. Incidentally, just the day before, I’d been refused entry, quite rightly, at another care home when visiting an old friend because I’d forgotten to take the letter from my doctor proving I’d had the ‘flu shot. The receptionist there suggested I should photograph it with my phone, thereby having it with me all the time (and these days none of us is without our phone!). I did that as soon as I got home!
Strangely, and sadly, my absence from Dorothy’s care home, because of visiting restrictions for so many weeks had not really been noticed by her, and my presence now was not considered by her as a ‘special’ occasion hardly even registering my presence, at first, even as a welcome visit. It is so hard for me to understand how Alzheimer’s works, with Dorothy anyway: it means no memory of anything further back than a minute or so. Nothing. And my heart is bursting, and Dorothy is so serene, hardly even acknowledging me. That always has such a profound effect on me, it makes me feel so terribly sad and helpless and swamps my happiness at just being with her. I thought that by now, nearly eighteen months into her residency, I would be over all those negative aspects. I know I should be happy that she is where she is, getting the care and attention I can no longer give, and I am incredibly grateful for that, but I am grieving the loss of my partner, and when that surfaces it can float under my eyes and in my mind for days and nights. Not visiting every day does help, but only superficially and after a day or two I am drawn like a bee to the nectar, or should that be a moth to the flames? Which brings me back to where I started. Thinking about how soon I must go back and visit. I know why and how, but the hard bit is when and for how long. Because after every visit it takes a while for me to recover from that burst of melancholy and remorse……. I am trying to learn that every day is a new one for Dorothy, and for me it should be a bonus – a chance to create a new starting point!