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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Just like Dad



My better half and I had a slightly odd experience in Sainsbury’s recently. If you haven’t seen something like the episode I’m about to relate, you may not quite understand it, but here goes.

We were waiting at the checkout behind an elderly chap who put his trolley of shopping on the conveyor okay, but he was obviously a little slow, so the lady on the checkout packed his stuff for him.

Nothing odd about that, but as his bits and bobs were bleeped through the scanner and bagged up, he made token efforts to assist. For example he picked up a package from the deli counter, gave it a pat and tossed it into the bag with a tiny flourish. So what? You might ask. Well I’d seen my father make exactly that flourish before – and I mean exactly.

Well as we left the store, we both agreed that this elderly guy had behaved just like my father towards the end of his independence. We’d said nothing to each other in the store, hadn't even traded a glance of recognition and the chap looked nothing like my father. But it was quite spooky how we were both vividly reminded of him purely through this chance encounter.

They were tiny little mannerisms, nothing in themselves, but an indicator of more serious problems on the near horizon. It was if he still needed to play his part in the checkout process, but it was all far too quick for him. Long-established routines and habits had taken him so far, taken him shopping, but habits and routines were no longer enough. They were letting him down at the final hurdle, the one where he couldn’t take his time.

If I’d not seen exactly the same little mannerisms in my father, I’d have thought nothing of it. As it is, I hope he has someone to give him a hand when the time comes, because it can’t be long now.

7 comments:

Sam Vega said...

Sobering stuff. You saw these little signs from a particular perspective. The fact that your wife saw them as well is indicative of the fact that she shares something of that perspective.

Now, do you think there are other perspectives from which you and I, and others like us, reveal the same signs? Maybe we look like this to younger people when we first get our hands on a new iPhone, or try to work out the latest ideological bullshit from academia.

Roger said...

Very sad and very chilling and I am sure medical and social care professionals could reveal a whole gamut of signs. Ignorance being bliss for most of us.

Mrs R has been given lessons in how to pull plugs - just to be sure...

A K Haart said...

Sam - "Now, do you think there are other perspectives..."

Yes is the short answer and that too is sobering.

Roger - I think you notice the signs as you get older. It may be no bad thing, because denial can be worse in the end.

Macheath said...

If only those actually responsible were as well able to spot the signs!

A relative of mine was visited several times for assessment and deemed capable of independent living - despite our repeated requests and then pleas for care - on the basis that he could name the Prime Minister and knew the time and date.

As it turned out, those were the only points on which he seemed lucid - because News24 was always on in his room - though really he was convinced it was 1943 and kept trying to return to his army quarters.

When he was finally found wandering on the street one night and taken into hospital, they officially announced that his working memory had virtually gone completely; we could have told them that months before, if not years.

A K Haart said...

Mac - that is remarkably close to my father's story. I knew he'd lost the plot, but for month after month the "professionals" insisted he was lucid.

A young locum saw how bad he really was on her first visit.

James Higham said...

That sort of thing is in literature too. I've had it as well and IMHO it forms the basis of the types of women we might be attracted to. Sometimes it might not be as conscious as yours. Definitely believe that happens.

A K Haart said...

James - yes, there are tiny little habits we are attracted to or repelled by and sometimes we don't even notice them.