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Day four (again)

January 12, 2017

This is going to be a quick start to today’s entry. I will pick up again after the group session. I’m sure it will be fine, but I confess I am a bit nervous. Gulp.

No gym yesterday, but that’s okay. It was elderly neighbour day. My pool game in the afternoon and coffee and cinnamon buns in the morning with my other neighbour.

He and his wife showed great kindness to Mike and me, and since Mike’s death to me alone. In 2008,when I wanted to bring Mike home to the island for what we thought would be his last few months, one thing was clear: even using his walker, rather than the wheelchair, he would never be able to get up the side of the house to get in from our previously normal parking spot. Our neighbours very kindly agreed to allow us access to our house from their very long drive which goes past the back of our house. Had they not done so, it would have been impossible to get Mike back here.

They were a lovely couple: bright, curious, thoughtful people who’d travelled the world (in a sailboat) and lived many, many lives. After Mike’s sudden death in 2011, they asked if there was anything they could do. When I asked if they might be willing to host a gathering in Mike’s memory (as our house was far too small), they agreed instantly and did so graciously. (It really was a lovely afternoon of remembrance. Earlier in the day Mike’s son, daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and I had scattered his ashes at our favourite spot on the island. Little did I suspect that morning that the son and daughter with whom I shared that solemn ceremony would decide within a month to screw me financially. Perhaps they’d already decided that day.)

Two hour break while I go to my first group session (more on this tomorrow) and the gym…

There were many invitations from my neighbours for coffee and cinnamon buns in the months following Mike’s death, mornings and afternoons spent in lively discussion of politics, both local and national. (There was never a shortage of negative observations to be made about Stephen Harper.) My neighbour’s wife – one of the kindest and most charming women I’ve ever met – had a long struggle with a very rare illness. Tragically, she lost the battle in 2013. They’d been married for over 60 years.

I knew they had family and many, many friends on the island, but I did make sure I checked up on him regularly. When, in the autumn, one of the members of the board of the theatre group was starting up a six-week acting workshop designed to recruit more men, I suggested he contact my neighbour, knowing how much he loved theatre and knowing how important my own decision to get involved in 2011 had helped me get over Mike’s death. He welcomed the invitation and joined the group. When, at the end of the year I held auditions for Inherit the Wind, he came out for them and was cast in the role of the judge. He did a great job in the role. (When the show was over, he told me he’d absolutely hated the actual performances, but was grateful for the comraderie of the rehearsals. He hasn’t come to an audition since.)

A couple of years ago his eyesight started to fail badly. There were operations which were unsuccessful. On a good day he can still read (a lifelong passion), but on many days he cannot. He has an appointment next week for a driver’s licence renewal test, which he is fairly certain he will fail – unless it turns out to be one of his good days. He doesn’t really use the car much these days, generally driving to the post boxes once or twice a week. He hasn’t driven after dark for some time.

I know how much he enjoys seeing our plays, so I always try to arrange for someone to give him a lift to one of the performances. And he is always grateful.

I see cars going up and down his drive quite regularly. There are visitors and I know one of them is the community nurse. I know people are looking out for him, giving him lifts to appointments. But yesterday was the first time I’ve visited in months. I’d say that it felt  wrong (in fact it did), but sometimes you have to be honest and admit you’re having a hard enough time taking care of yourself.

I wish I had more to give.


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