My Dad’s A Goldfish – why the long interval from the last post

Tea dance - 02

The Goldfish – despite appearances – enjoying an afternoon out with best-support-worker in the world on the left and daughter on the right.

Every night for the last two weeks and more I wrote ‘Goldfish post’ on my to-do list for the following day. At the end of every day I transferred it to the next day’s list – sometimes underlining it several times, sometimes adding a row of exclamation marks. Other things always ‘cropped up’ to take precedence.

I had not forgotten December 3rd was the anniversary of his death. Wee-sis and I talked about it on the day. It wasn’t until I was in the garden centre the other day (anniversary of his funeral though I hadn’t been conscious of it being that particular date) and found myself suddenly welling up that I understood my inability to write anything for the blog.

The Goldfish loved going round the garden centre, especially at this time of year when all the Christmas displays are on full dazzle. As well as trees and lights and tinsel, this garden centre has various tableaux – one with full size reindeer, another winter scene with igloo and snow and ice and – his favourite – a St Bernard dog, complete with brandy barrel around his neck, which nods and turns his head. The Goldfish always liked me to stop the wheelchair so he could have a word with the dog. “Hello,” he’d say, “You’re a fine big fellow, aren’t you.” The dog would nod in agreement and we’d head for the coffee shop, via the book shelves, for banoffee pie.

On the way out, we’d stop to drool over the displays of Christmas treats – chocolates, truffles, cakes, fancy drinks. I usually bought the Goldfish a bar of Guinness chocolate. I didn’t buy a bar this time. It’s embarrassing enough being all weepy in front of a nodding St Bernard, I think if I broke down while clutching a bar of chocolate – even if it did have real Guinness in it – staff and customers would be seriously concerned. We really don’t do crying in public, do we? I didn’t howl properly until back in the car.

I’m sure my inability to write a post was connected with the subconscious knowledge the anniversary of the Goldfish’s death was approaching. And although I felt sad on the day itself it was a self-conscious sadness. Standing in the garden centre, which is awash with memories – happy, funny, embarrassing (a place, even, where I learned not to be embarrassed about things which happen when out with a person with dementia – stuffing his wet underpants in my handbag for example) caused an emotional unravelling I had not expected.

I will go back to the garden centre again – and I’ll buy a bar of Guinness chocolate which I will enjoy eating in memory of the Goldfish.

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