Sunday, 23 February 2014

Looking Back

I was recently looking through my wife's last filofax because I needed her national insurance number. She used the filofax very successfully for a few years to help her keep organised and to remind her of things she needed/wanted to be able to remember. I didn't find the NI number there, but I did find all sorts of details that she'd jotted down over the years (we replaced the dairy pages each year in the leather case but kept all the other pages). The handwriting ranges from normal (she had lovely handwriting) to scrawls that were very hard to decipher and often contained repeated letter and syllables.

Amongst the things she wanted to remember are family birthdays then (later) family names, her daughters' favourite animals, places where she lived and worked, etc.  Reading these notes, or just thinking about them, brings tears to my eyes.

Perhaps the most moving notes are references to her youthful travelling adventures. At the age of 18 she did VSO in Ethiopia and was introduced to Emperor Haile Selassie! She also drove coaches overland to the Soviet Union.

The things she was trying to remember are amongst those that make us who we are.  No wonder she wanted to cling on to them.

Now, needless to say, she cannot drive, read or write, and her conversation is very limited. But, perhaps because of her personal history, she still gets some pleasure from travel, despite all the difficulties she has to overcome.

You can look back at the earlier phases. Difficult as they were to come to terms with at the time, you would give anything to be back there now. 

Of course, we are both lucky. My wife is generally calm and contented. She is physically healthy. I am deeply affected by some of the stories I read online from people who are not so fortunate.

But, for all those affected, it's a horrible disease. And to see aspects of the person disappearing is perhaps the hardest thing.


  1. Hello..

    I am not writing particularly in response to your latest post - excellent though it is - I just wanted to say I often drop into your blog. My Name is Nigel and I live on the Isle of Wight, and work at our local Hospital on a secure Dementia ward. I have worked there one and off for 6 months or so, on a casual basis, but have an interview this Friday (28th Feb) for a permanent position as a Support Worker. As part of the interview process, I have to give a presentation titled "What Dementia Means To Me". I am still in the process of writing, but just wanted to say how invaluable I have found your blog. The approach I am taking in my presentation is to focus not so much on the sufferers of Dementia, but on those around them, who to my mind are often the forgotten 'victims' of this awful condition. Thank you and I wish you and your wife the very best.

  2. Thanks for your kind comments Nigel. I wish you all the best for your interview.