Now Trav seems to have dropped the MMs again, but I like 'em and just in case he doesn't make an appearance AGAIN this week, am adding a Linky here for anyone who want to join. So look at the end of this week's speil and jump on in if you wish.
I am finding inspiration from other bloggers for a lot of these posts. This week it is the turn of Maggie over at Mind of a Mad Woman with her beautifully poignant post on caring for the elders of our lives. Go read, and take tissues. As for my Memoir Monday, I give you:
The Full Monty
Once upon a time there was a young Madmother who had a loving family with a cast of regular characters. Parents, sibling, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents. But this little girl was blessed. She had someone that no-one else she knew had, and that everyone needs. She had a Monty. Now, what is a Monty, I can hear you ask. A Monty, in this story, was the close friend and business partner of Yeeha Grandma. A man who never married, had no close family living, whose life revolved around work and making sure little Madmother and the flame-haired hellraiser were protected, loved and happy. He was family.
Now, I could at this point tell you lots of little stories made up of memories of days long past. Things like how little MM and her pals would run and hide giggling in the sandhills of deserted beaches as the Monty climbed and searched, calling constantly, becoming more and more agitated. Secure in a child's blissful ignorance of the predators that could steal innocence, they would wait until his yells had reached fever pitch before launching themselves from their secret spot and into his strong,safe arms. Or of how he would lean over little MM's bed in her Grandma's house and pretend to dribble, waiting until that long thread of drool would almost land on her contorted face before sucking it back into his mouth (yeah gross, but hysterically funny to a five-year-old tomboy).
Of the many words of wisdom and long counselling sessions as Madmother grew older. He was the one who would sit and listen without judgement, hold her hand as she cried, cook MM bacon and home-made chips to heal her bruised heart and to eat whilst they'd watch The Bill.
Of how he played a solid, constant role in her life as she studied, travelled, grew up. How Monty was always there when MM needed him.
But that is not what this Memoir Monday is about. No.This is about when lives are reversed and the carer becomes the one who needs care. It is about being elderly in a largely indifferent world. It is about the cruelty of aging.
He suffered a stroke, but after sucessfully fighting back via rehab, he contracted pneumonia which caused permanent damage. The Monty with incredibly high intelligence and possessed of rapier sharp intellect became irreversibly confused and frail of mind. The adult became the child.
As time passed he no longer recognised many, but MM was lucky to be a constant in his thoughts. She came home as often as she could, keeping visits as close to fortnightly as possible. His dimmed azure blue eyes would clear of the clouds when she walked into the nursing home that was now his place of residence. He was one of the very select few permitted to abbreviate her short name, and he would stroke her arm, crying, saying "T**y, you're home, you haven't been to see me for so long." And over the weekend each time she returned it was to be greeted with the same refrain. Time had ceased to have meaning for him, which was a blessing in some ways, a curse in others.
He regressed into another world, another time. Sitting in his massive water chair (like a king on his throne) he commanded the other patients in the common room, directing the mayhem.
Some days the Monty of old would appear, wanting to wheel and deal. He would advise MM, teaching her how to strike a bargain, usually imagining the purchase of the furniture in the room, though he confessed to be concerned over "How to get the old ducks to move out of our chairs..." Other times they were in his old truck, and he would patiently explain how to double-clutch up the hill with the full load of frozen prawns. And of course MM would be lectured long and hard on not parking in the sun with those damnably expensive seafood items in the rear.
The hardest times were when he was frustrated, and the anger would bubble forth. These were the times he accused her of leaving him stranded on the train platform, or of having a fiduciary motive for keeping him locked up. These were the days she paced the hallways letting off steam and trying to dredge up the good memories. These were the moments the staff would pass and mutter :"Bad day. Always remember they lash out at those nearest and closest to their hearts." And whilst it was not home, and privacy or personal space were a thing of the past, the caring staff made life bearable in the public fish bowl. A kind word, a fleeting touch, the joy in a worn face as they listen to the same story again and again. MM was truly grateful for the care and respect shown under such difficult circumstances.
It was heartbreaking to watch the slow mental and physical decline of a man who was a well-respected part of the business community. Madmother's memory was full of the times walking down a busy city street when they were stopped three or four times by well-dressed men who shook Monty's hand in reverence and awe. Now that same hand shook uncontrollably as he attempted to spoon thickened soup between trembling lips.
Two long years he lingered in his own personal twilight zone. At the very end as he hovered two or three days, MM remained by his side, sleeping in a chair by his bedside at night. During his rare lucid moments she sat, stroked his hand and talked of all he had given her over the years. And talked of Grandma waiting patiently for her congenial companion to cross to her side. He left this life one bright, sunny day, with a deeply contented sigh as if signalling "My work here is done."
Whilst his loss was felt so very much, Madmother also gratefully realised how very blessed she was to have a Monty in her life.
And when her children were small she'd lean over their beds, kiss them goodnight, then raise herself up and allow a long thin string of dribble to lower nearly but not quite onto their hysterical faces...