My Dad’s a Goldfish – Looking back

Well, it’s already over two months since the Goldfish died and it feels like it only happened last week. Sometimes, it feels like it can’t even be true – it’s something Wee-sis and I have imagined in a shared dream or something. Somehow, the anticipated sense of relief – it’s all over, he isn’t ‘suffering’ any longer and I can get my life back – hasn’t happened, either.

The quote marks around the word suffering are because I’m not convinced the Goldfish suffered in the way it is meant when people tell me he is no longer suffering. He had dementia, he lost his short-term memory, became confused, he lost his words and, towards the end, he had no resistance to infections but the way he fought back each time makes me believe he still enjoyed life. But, we’ll never know.

I’ve been trying to type up my diary notes from the when I moved in with the Goldfish after the Step-monster left. It is not an easy task – emotions are still raw. Anger and despair mix with a strange sense of joy and satisfaction and heartbreak.

When I first moved in anger was the driving force. Anger at the Step-monster’s desertion of the Goldfish at a time when he most needed her and the stability and continuity she represented in his life. I was angry she refused the additional support offered by Social Services. I was angry at the disgusting state in which she left the house.

The first task was to have the stinking, sodden carpet in the bedroom replaced with a vinyl floor covering. When they guy came to measure the floor he asked if we would remove the worst of the carpet before his men came to lay the new flooring as he didn’t want to ask them to do it. Mortifying! At least, though, he knew the situation and was arranging for the work to be done immediately.

Around 10pm on the first night I suggested to the Goldfish it was bed time. He said it was too early. At 11pm I started yawning. He said he was quite tired, too, and thought he’d go to bed soon. He didn’t. He continued to comment on the golf on television, get up and wander about, sit down again. At midnight, I was yawning harder and he was joining in but still made no move to go to bed, despite saying it was bedtime. Finally, it dawned on me. He didn’t know what to do; couldn’t remember how to get ready for bed.

“Right,” I said, standing up, “let’s get ourselves to bed.” He came through to his bedroom with me and I helped remove his jumper and shirt, get his pajama jacket on. The bottom half was a bit more problematic. He wasn’t going to let his daughter take his trousers and underpants off. Well, trousers yes, but definitely not the underwear. I handed him his pajama trousers and left him for a few minutes but when I returned he was still sitting on the bed holding them. Eventually, with lots of exaggerated ‘discreetly looking the other way’ we managed and he slipped into bed.

I didn’t sleep much as I was constantly listening out for him getting out of bed but he was only up twice in the night, wandering into his study and back to the living room, rather confused. I suspect he was looking for the step-monster but he didn’t ask about her so I didn’t say anything and he went back to bed okay each time. In the morning, a puddle beside the commode indicated he had been up another time without me hearing him. It was so easy to mop the floor

For the first two days, the Goldfish didn’t ask about the Step-monster’s whereabouts and seemed happy to have me, DH and Wee-sis around. We had fun playing dominoes and Snakes and Ladders. He would have played all night; he enjoyed it so much, especially Snakes and Ladders, chuckling with delight whenever one of landed on a snake and slid back down the board. He won about three games out of every four.

Unfortunately, despite the fun we introduced into his life, it wasn’t long before he started to become increasingly anxious about his missing wife. When the games stopped, DH and Wee-sis went home and it was time for bed things became difficult.


2 thoughts on “My Dad’s a Goldfish – Looking back

  1. Oh Mary, I’m so glad that you’ve started to write about your dad again, but as you rightly said, your emotions are still raw and everything around you will stir up emotions yet.
    I loved and laughed at the bit about the games and in particular the dominoes. Fond memories indeed!!
    I don’t think your dad suffered at all. My mum has dementia and she’s not suffering, she’s forgetting as you rightly said, I think it’s us that suffer, because we know what we’ve lost. I know at first I was always trying to correct mum and I would get so frustrated and then come home in tears because I couldn’t get her to understand that I was her daughter, not her mother, but if I spoke to her on the phone, she always knew who I was immediately. In the end, I gave up and just went with the flow, it was better to be called something rather than nothing. It’s the repeating things that get me down, just like your “goldfish” on my last visit, my son, his wife and young daughter were with me and he was very upset at the change in his gran, because she constantly asked him how his new job was going now that he was a manager, a position he has held for over 5 years. The same question was asked approx every 2 mins for nearly half an hour until I said to mum that we needed to go for some lunch and would be back to visit later. Since my son last saw her in October she had deteriorated quite a lot and he wasn’t sure how to cope with this. He said it just didn’t seem like his gran anymore. She looked the same, told the same stories about her youth and all the folk she knew but just couldn’t grasp what was going on with the present. Thank goodness she didn’t know what she was saying because she would have been mortified that she had upset my son because my dad and her absolutely adored him and they looked after him when he was a baby so that I could go back to work and they did everything with him.
    Anyway, only time will tell with you as to whether it is too early to start writing about your dad yet. Any wee snippet is great to read, but can be painful to write, so I’ll just bide my time and wait till you’re ready. Only you can make that decision.
    Thanks again for sharing your story. Your dad was indeed a lovely gentleman. Not many people can say that about folk, but he was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ruth. I’m sorry your mum has deteriorated so much. I well remember the stage when the same question was asked over and over. Usuaully, with us it was, ‘have you booked your holiday yet?’ or ‘have you had a busy day?’ He called us Sunshine, which was his way of hiding he had forgotten our names. I didn’t mind being called Sunshine – and I might practice it for when my own memory for names goes entirely.
      I hope to post a bit more often now.

      Liked by 1 person

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