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.