I have a sense of humour. If you know me, I imagine you may have noticed that. I was brought up on humour. I can’t remember a time when my lovely dad did not joke. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer my dad made a joke about his chemotherapy treatment. When I met Andrew I knew he was the one. His humour matched mine. In fact I think he may be even wackier than me. To live with us is not easy. We laugh a lot and make fun of everything, especially each other. There is not a situation we won’t laugh at.
Andrew’s father was the same. When very ill in hospital shortly before he died, the nurse asked if she could take his blood pressure.
‘Sure, as long as you leave me some,’ he responded without missing a beat.
My dad knew so many jokes that it became tedious. Whenever we visited my parents he would always have a new one up his sleeve. He joked with everyone. When he was near the end of his life he still attempted to joke with his carer by pretending to box with her. I miss my dad very much. But my mum is still here.
If you thought I was bad, you should meet my lovely mum. She now has dementia and she is funnier now than she ever was. Dementia is a terrible illness but there is humour in that too if you look. I know she want me to see the funny side of what is happening to her. She is in a good place mentally and smiles a lot. She is confused but contented. It is ironic that my mother who always hated anything green and that included fields and the countryside is now living deep in the heart of the country in a beautiful home for dementia patients. We couldn’t have found her a better home if we had tried. This one almost fell at our feet. She will always tell you that she doesn’t have a clue what she is doing there and will go home soon.
‘Your father keeps saying he will come back for me. He never does. I’m not going to hold my breath for much longer.’ She told me on my last visit.
‘I think he has got another woman. It wouldn’t surprise me. He was always a ladies man.’
My dad only had eyes for my mum. Although a lot of women had eyes for him so I understood.
‘Of course there are a lot of men in here if I wanted a man.’
My mum is nearly eighty-five.
‘They chase us around the rooms here but I don’t have the energy for that. Let’s face it once you have a man in your life you spend your whole time on your back.’
That floored me, especially as she didn’t take her eyes off Andrew when saying it. I wondered if she remembered him. After all she had known my first husband for longer. I didn’t want her to mix them up.
‘You remember Andrew don’t you mum? We got married.’
Her face lit up.
‘Oh, congratulations. How lovely. Are you going to have lots of babies?’
Andrew spluttered into his tea.
We took her upstairs to her room to hang the photograph we had brought with us. In the lift Andrew leaned across her to push the button and she raised her eyebrows and winked at me as if to say,
‘He’s a bit of all right.’
I wrapped her up in her coat and scarf, took her hand and we pushed open the emergency door to the large grounds.
‘Shall we go for a walk?’ I asked.
‘Oh yes,’ she responded.
The door closed and automatically locked behind us. She looked at the door and then smiled.
‘I might go and stay with Olive a bit,’ she said.
Olive was her sister who died when mum was thirteen.
‘That will be nice,’ I said, wondering how the hell we would get back in.
‘We can walk around to the front,’ says Andrew.
Of course, except the gate is padlocked. Obviously they want to keep all the inmates in.
We both stare at the gate, while mother stares at us.
‘Can you climb over?’ I ask Andrew.
Mother gives him another admiring look. I can imagine my dad laughing.
‘Best not, let’s see if we can catch someone’s eye through the glass door, if not I’ll have to climb over.’
My mum stands smiling at us the whole time. She is enjoying the little adventure. Of course we did get back in eventually and I returned mum back to her seat next to her friend Doris who immediately took mum’s hand. Relief evident on her face that my mum had survived the visit with the mad daughter.
Some days I miss my parents so much especially my dad and I always try to think of ways to get him to tell me he is fine. Andrew laughs at this. Once I was convinced my dad was a blackbird who used to sit close to the summer-house. Andrew would call out.
‘All right Bill?’
My dad always used that turn of phrase to everyone.
‘All right Lyn,’ he would say to me.
My dad was one of the few people I allowed to call me Lyn. If anyone does now I tend not to respond. I see it as a term of endearment only my dad was allowed to use.
The other day I felt so much the loss that I asked him to send something. I then decided that was a bit vague. I then said.
‘Dad, send a bird to come into the summer-house while I am sitting there.’
I then proceeded to help things along by putting nuts just outside the door. Yes, I know.
I was really expecting a bird to just walk in, say hello and then leave? Yes, okay, you can laugh.
Several hours later after nothing had happened I dismissed the whole idea. An hour later to my shock a bird flew straight into the summer-house, around my head and out again. I was left in a state of shock. I later told Andrew who of course laughed and explained all the rational reasons for why that would happen. I nodded.
I on the other hand don’t want to think of rational reasons. I want to think that was my dad.
It made my day that’s for sure…