Focus is such a small word, but it encapsulates a huge concept. No photograph would be meaningful, bar in the abstract, nor would anyone’s life be meaningful without applying it to some degree. I would add, again in the photographic analogy, that our minds are not unlike a camera and that expressions like depth of field, blurring at the edges, over-exposed and many others like that, can have real-life counterparts.

I am, of late, conscious of the contrast (!) of my current lifestyle to that which existed, just a few short twenty years ago, when my wife Dorothy and I shared our lives intimately, all day, every day, so happily and with such love. See how easy it is to reminisce when you live alone and constantly recall the ‘old days’? Fortunately, in my case I have nothing but happy memories of our lives, well lived, together for so long, as we developed a caring family whilst earning and learning, loving and living, and scraping and saving. Those basic life activities and priorities changed and morphed over time, and the memories of each chapter (exposure!) are etched forever in my mind, for easy recall. But not in Dorothy’s.

That’s the cause of my melancholy. And I am reminded of it every time I am with her and yet, now, I will have to learn and re-learn to overcome the feelings of loss and sadness. Time for that after her death, I guess, if that should happen before me. But now is not the time for constant re-living the past or grieving; now is the time for me, like thousands of other men facing this kind of separation by dementia and other afflictions, to be strong (or at least not weak!) and rejoice in our ability to think positively about ourselves and what we can do to add happiness, and not despair, to those around us. I never stop thanking God for my blessings – sufficient means to live comfortably, a fine, loving family and friends and neighbours who are priceless!

So, I am learning, albeit slowly at times, to accept whatever complexity of isolation is wrought upon us all by separation, even this Coronavirus thing. That kind of loneliness is not a big problem for me but I know it will be hard for some, and even harder for couples, and beyond harder for some families with children of all ages, stuck at home 24/7! We who live alone, should find it easier. Especially these days with modern electronic communication and TV available to most folk, even the elderly like me! I do feel sympathy for those elderfolk who are not computer literate, and it always brings me joy (and sometimes welcome funds) when any of my cohort ask me for computer help!

This ‘ageing in place’ and alone, should be set to improve as we learn to grow with it and not try to change that which cannot be changed. I am determined to overcome those devastating and negative thoughts and feelings of depression. I know I should aim to strive for the fuller life that I know Dorothy would wish for me, but….I always have a feeling, sometimes overwhelming, of guilt. Is it right for me to be happy when Dorothy is not? It’s at that time I need to remind myself that she is wonderfully cared for and respected in a clean modern, well-staffed local care home and is ‘happy in the moment’; and that’s not a bad place to be.

So, maybe, that’s the prescribed camera lifestyle for me: it’s OK to focus on the scene ahead, but use a wide-angle lens! And keep out of the Darkroom, we don’t need them any longer!