Update on my Penguins (quite a lengthy piece – Part 1)

The last few poems I have written about have concerned my family.

My family, especially my parents have become part of your live’s in a distant way. The ups, the downs and in-betweens of their life, have to you, my readers in a small way become yours.

As you know Pop (my dad) is quite feeble. Somedays, thankfully, he can pull himself up off his chair, or walk to the front door unaided, but usually with the help of a walker. He has the new seat on the toilet that is like a chair, so that he does not call out to mum for aid to get up. He has the hospital pull-up post on his bed, so that he may get in and out of bed more easily and he has the rails and seat in the shower.

A recliner chair that also tilts forward helps him plant his feet on the ground and be in an almost standing position for him to get up.  A chair with arms, so that he can pull himself up after eating.

I didn’t think these days would come, not when I was young, not when I saw him play shuttle-cock with us, not when I saw him public speaking with a strong, confidant voice, not when I saw him dance with mum across the floor.

How our lives change ~ now I watch him struggle, his voice on days grow weak. Thankfully there are good days, where he jokes and laughs and says that he’s doing okay.

Mum as you know is slipping slowly. We took her to the Specialist last week (a Geriatrician) to be assessed for Dementia. My brother P and I walked in with her and sat down. It was a battle to get her there, the phone call I received the night before and the morning of was “I’m not going to see him – I don’t need to – you aren’t my doctor, they just want to get more money out of us”. One of those phone calls she got angry and hung up on me.

“Now why are you here” he asked warmly.
“Because they said I have to come”.
I told him – “This won’t be easy”. Mum was almost child-like in her responses.
When he asked “What is your birthday and how was your child-hood”.
She replied with the correct date, but then “What on earth do you want to know that for!”
Her stubborn pants were on.
My brother and I were asked to leave the room and fill out 2 pages of certain behavioural aspects now, compared to 10 years ago.
After we had finished we went back in and we had to say in front of mum, why we believe she should be there…. that was tough and the Doctor said to mum “Now don’t get angry with them, but I have to ask a few questions”.
We explained as tactfully as we could, our reasons.
He then ordered an MRI and to make a further appointment, once this had been done.
All the way home mum in the back seat kept saying “I don’t need this MRI – nothing is wrong with me”.
Yesterday I went round and asked her if I could tidy one of her grocery cupboards (pantry) she said “Yes, but I must see what you want to throw away”.
I agreed.
Pops said he has been trying to get her to tidy/sort it out for years.
“Mum the use by date on this is 2004 – can I throw?”
“What is it?”
“Mum it’s 2004”.
Much thought and pulling of faces.
“Ok I guess so…”
This went on for over an hour. Me asking, her refuting the dates and that they were still fit for human consumption.

Empty jars, herb/spice bottles, plastic containers…. “No I want to keep them”
It went on and on, she was getting angrier, all of these meant something to her..something she could hold on to..like her past.

We got through it without her grabbing Pops walking stick and threatening me with it, as she did the other week. This gentle, kind and warm woman – slowly becoming a different person… a different mum.

Times are a changing – the road won’t be concreted nor smooth, but a rocky path, we now wait till the MRI appointment.

If you got through all of this – thank you for reading.