The step-monster left the Goldfish on 31st January 2014 and I moved in. It wasn’t nice. It was ugly and horrible.
During the days leading up to her departure, the Goldfish’s behavior changed and he became increasingly subdued and confused. The day before she left, he told the carer helping him to shower and dress that he knew she was leaving him. The poor girl (she’s only 20) didn’t know what to say and was quite upset about it.
Later the same day, the Goldfish went for his usual weekly outing the Man from Alzheimer. They have a drive in the countryside, sometimes visiting local stables so the Goldfish can pat the horses, and end with coffee and cake in a café before returning home. On this particular day I received a phone call from the Man saying the Goldfish was refusing to leave the café. He’d seemed miserable all afternoon; he barely touched his coffee then simply continued to sit in his chair and would not be persuaded to get back in the car.
I was about to set out for the café when the Man called again to say he had the Goldfish in the car and was on his way back. I went to meet them at the house. In the meantime, Wee-sis called to tell me the step-monster had had her bed taken away the night before. No wonder the Goldfish was distraught.
The step-monster was out with her sister somewhere so I waited in my car. She arrived back before the Goldfish. I’m not sure if this was a good thing or not – I wouldn’t have lost my temper with her in front of the Goldfish. I’m not proud of swearing at her but I was so incensed by what she was doing to the Goldfish, the emotional pain she was causing him and her absolute refusal to accept that she was hurting him. When I’d told her what had happened on his outing she said, with that infuriating little smirk she has: “I don’t see him behaving any differently.”
I asked if the Goldfish was going to die before her – remarking that that was not a given, which rather took her aback – what she wanted us to do. Were we to call her to come for a touching death-bed scene? Told you it was ugly. She said she thought this was not a nice thing to talk about. “Well, we need to know what you want us to do if your husband is about to die.”
Her sister chipped in to ask: “Why don’t you be like everyone else and put him in a home?”
The Man arrived back with the Goldfish before I hit either the step-monster or her sister and she clucked around him as if she was a devoted wife.
Feeling sick, I left. I felt even sicker the next morning when, not knowing what to expect, I went to give the Goldfish his breakfast. The step-monster was out, taking more things to her house, which has been painted and carpeted. The DH came to cut away the urine sodden carpet in the bedroom before the carpet fitters arrived later in the day. The Goldfish ate his breakfast and seemed all right. The step-monster returned, expecting the Goldfish to be going off to day centre but he sat in his chair and refused to budge. I realised that, like the day before, he could not articulate how he felt about what was going on and non-co-operation was the only way in which he could express his disquiet. “Don’t you want to go?” I asked.
“Well, that’s all right,” I said. “You don’t have to go. I’ll call the Man and tell him.” I watched the step-monster, enjoying her discomfiture. I’d rather hoped she might show some shame or embarrassment at being the cause of the Goldfish’s distress – but no. The only problem for her was that she’d expected the Goldfish to go off to day centre and she would leave afterwards without having to say anything. She was slightly watery-eyed as she kissed him.
At the door, I told her I hoped she would be as unhappy as she deserved to be while she enjoyed the peaceful life to which she believes she is entitled. I did say it wasn’t nice.
The Goldfish had a nap. When he woke I asked if he’d like to go to the day centre for his lunch and he said he thought that sounded a good. I dropped him off, stopped off at my house to pick up a suitcase of clothes and books and moved back into the house I’d grown up in.