Friday, 4 June 2010

The Committed Man Part II

Here everyday I return for him. I get him up, bathe him and feed him his breakfast. As a nurse and the closest family member for now I look after my father. He always look at me and says I don't look like Elizabeth. I am Claire, daughter not wife. That picture is of Elizabeth. Thank god I say, he still remembers that, but I worry that one day he will not recognise who she is in the photo frame.

When mum died from cancer, dad took to drink quite soon after. We have weaned him off quite a fair bit, but I still find secretly stashed bottles of alcohol everywhere. It won't be long now before I won't be able to look after him, the man he was is no more. He's gradually fading as the Alzheimer's catches up eroding every memory. He knows a certain amount that something does not add up. You can look in his eyes and see the agony, that look of 'why am I hear still', but even that has faded now. For months he sat dosing in and out of sleep listening to music and just gave me that look of 'I'm too old please let me go'. He knew something was happening, he had all the brains but now without any real body strength, he started losing his mind. It hurts so much to see it happen, just creeping in, gradually taking another part of his mind away.

I can't bare to see it much longer, call me strong or whatever to look after him, but what I remember and tell him he doesn't even know. He just says 'you're not Elizabeth' and banishes me away, he doesn't recognise me nine times out of ten. Sometimes I wonder how we do this. He will be going into care soon because it was only three months ago when he could still make his own meals and just needed a hand around the house with a day carer. Unfortunately, he's become much worse of late, he doesn't eat, drinks what he thinks is alcohol- I've changed it for fruit juice and soup, at least its one way to keep the fluids and food intake up.

Ah, what am I saying, its been so long. I tuck him in to bed now, but he creeps across the hallway back to the living room. He always says its so empty. What he's missing is Elizabeth's touch really. Three years down the line and he talks of running in parks, hmm, his hay day, courting in the late 1940s, ah. I find him listening to Jazz and Classical music from the 60s staring into the fire. Thank god its not an open hearth.

It's so frustrating, I wish there was more I could do, but he needs full time help. He isn't able to understand he's left the oven on cooking a blueberry muffin in a mug (what he claimed was a mug of tea), or trying to turn the TV off with the radio remote control. I find him always in the evening exactly in the same state. He looks up at me asks me when is Elizabeth coming home, but I can no longer tell him she died. He just breaks down, and yet five minutes later were back to square one as if I never mentioned it at all. She's the only thing he truly remembers. There is a photo of me also by the radio, but even with a sticky note attached and a very accurate picture I'm almost non existent. I am the nurse not his daughter to him. Its just a matter of time now really, he's fading away.

The Committed Man story was developed from a number of real life cases within the family. All of whom have suffered from mental health issues, either from Alzheimer's or Schizophrenia or just pure old age. The story has been adapted from real life to keep those affected anonymous.

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