Madeleine Sara Maddocks
He can no longer read and his brain cannot process what his eyes see. He has been admitted to hospital twice in the past 18 months and this was traumatic and devastating, as he was neglected and ill treated by ignorant and overworked staff. He now resides in a nursing home where his basic needs are met but he sits, for what must seem interminable lengths of time, without much stimulation.
He is only 75 years old. He can no longer walk, dress, toilet or feed himself and most of his speech is incomprehensible wurzel-gummidge-eze "Remee, remeye, remoo" or "123, 23, 23, 123" He has a beautiful singing voice and during Songs of Praise everyone stops to listen to him sing.
As you can imagine, it is heartbreaking, as well as touching that my father still responds to us in his own way. I too, often refer to my father in the past tense because Alzheimer's has stripped him of the man he used to be. You can imagine that hearing the Queen Song that uses the words (I think it goes) 'I'm just the shadow of the man I used to be. And it seems like there's no way out of this for me', brings an ache to my throat and tears to my eyes.
I visit my Dad and I tell him I love him very much and he replies "Thank you, that's nice" in his typical modest way. It's a part of him that is still there. I tell him "Mum will be so jealous when I tell her I've been to visit you today!" and then I add (so he won't become anxious and fretful later) "So she'll probably come and visit you herself!" and he raises one eyebrow and smiles at me in that shared jokey way we've always had.
When I was feeding him a few months ago, he looked ready to fall asleep mid-meal and I said to him "You're not falling asleep on me now are you?" Then he nodded his head in an exaggerated parody of nodding off and smiled mischievously. It always horrifies me when people say that their loved one isn't there any more because my Dad is still there inside and he needs all the love and attention we can give him in those interminable days that stretch out in front of him.