Sunday, October 22, 2006


Ancient Mysteries...

My Grandpa’s recovery continues to confound the medical experts. Having knocked with quite some force on Death’s door on Tuesday, he appears to have hesitated at the prospect of crossing the threshold, and has been making sprightly progress in the opposite direction ever since.

He has been decidedly ratty about the whole thing though, as if his plans have been thwarted. For a man who’s power of speech had deserted him entirely in recent months, he has been informing us with remarkable clarity of his wishes for the last couple of days – mainly growled orders to turn off the light, or turn up his music, or to stop waking him up.

The more time I spend with him, the more I start to think about how terribly strange it must be to be in his position. He is 83 and in a nursing home. But does he know? He doesn’t ask about home, or when he’s going back there. Is this because he doesn’t realise where he is, or is it because he knows exactly where he is, and that he’s never going home?

I know he knows he’s less than he once was. I see him wring his hands with frustration when he can’t find any of the words he wants to say. And I watch him look at us confused when he gurgles a request that we can’t understand at all. But how deep is his knowledge? How fleeting are his realisations? And if they’re there all the time, how can he do anything but cry about the injustice of what he’s become?

If he could speak… But he can’t, so we don’t know what his brain is thinking. It might be clear as day. Which is why I tell him I love him and make sure he’s listening. He doesn’t respond with more than a grunt, or a word that’s not the right one, but if he’s hearing what I’m saying then at least he knows we’ve not forgotten all he was and all he did.

When they’re feeding him, does he remember a time when he could feed himself? Does he remember a time when he could buy food for himself? Earn money to provide food for everyone else? Walk the streets and drive a car and laugh and whistle and teach his grandson about Mozart and cricket and that your best friends in a car are your mirrors? Sitting on the top of the bus for hours… Does he remember?

He sleeps all day. I wonder what he dreams about? Can he speak in his dreams, and be understood? Does he dream about things from his past, and then in his first moments of being awake, realise that they’re gone forever? Or are his sleeping hours as confused and foggy as the rest?

I’ll never know. But I’ll always wonder..

I told him today that he’d be 84 next month. And he responded with a noise that sounded heartbreakingly like “It’s gone quick.”

Then I kissed him on the forehead, he barked at me to turn off his light, and I left him alone until tomorrow.


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