With taking the Goldfish out at least once a week, plus taking him to appointments with the doctor, with practice nurses, to have his hearing checked, not to mention dealing with the care agency who provided the personal care, I was struggling to keep on top of my writing work – both freelance journalism and preparing a poetry collection for publication. The step-monster never took him anywhere apart from the occasional trip to the supermarket.
The CC came up with various suggestions – there’s a lunch club, for instance, which the step-monster and the Goldfish could attend together. The step-monster didn’t like this idea, nor had she any interest in meeting with other carers in a similar situation. She was enthusiastic about the CC’s suggestion that the Goldfish could perhaps go once a week to the day centre. “Oh, yes,” she chirruped, “he’d enjoy going to meet people.”
CC said she would be happy to refer him for a place. She wasn’t sure how long the waiting list was and someone from the charity would come and do an assessment to see if the Goldfish was suitable. CC said transport wasn’t available – would the step-monster be able to take him there? This is to a church hall a five minute drive from their house. The step-monster’s face changed (I recognise it as her ‘I’m not very happy with this’ look) and she was quiet for a bit before, grudgingly, muttering, “Well, I suppose I could, if I have to.”
This is the woman who want to get the Goldfish out of the house so she can have some ‘me’ time, what she refers to as ‘respite’ and she’s being offered the opportunity to have time on her own nearly all day and she’s reluctant, almost to the point of refusal, about having to give up around fifteen to twenty minutes of time to take and collect the Goldfish. Words failed me. The CC and I look at each other. She looks a bit stunned.
“You could hire a taxi, I suppose,” she suggested, to which step-monster instantly agreed. I just as swiftly vetoed the idea.
“I don’t think you can expect dad to get in a taxi with a strange person to go somewhere he doesn’t know. I’ll take him and bring him back.”
I wanted to go with him to start with anyway to see if he really is happy there, if someone really does talk to him or if he’s left sitting staring into space. They say there will be someone to talk to him about things which interest him but as they don’t know the Goldfish and he doesn’t volunteer information, I’m not convinced. Besides, how many will have any understanding of artificial insemination, cattle breeding lines and Clydesdale Horse pedigrees?
CC phones next day to say she has made the referral. Someone from the dementia charity will be in touch. When I ask if she still thinks the step-monster’s behavior is simply denial, as she once suggested, she replies that she has never met anyone so resistant to engaging with her husband’s welfare.
Day centre was a great success. The Goldfish was quiet at first, though he happily accepted coffee and biscuits and later tucked into his lunch. He refused to play dominoes. I played, occasionally showing him my hand and asking for advice. After the third game, he reached for the dominoes when they’d been shuffled – and won the next two games. Next time I’ll only stay for part of the day.