I had meant to write a blog about Covid; about the way it is changing our world, and not just from a health perspective. Finishing on whether there is a dimension of spiritual (consciousness) development in what’s happening to our societies.
But I’ve been up since 05:30 and had a day with my mother, a woman approaching 91 years whose vascular dementia has galloped along this past six months. If you’ve been there, or seen a relative or carer being ground down by the sheer effort and often futility of a day spent trying to ease their relative’s burden, then you’ll know what my face looks like, having just arrived home at seven in the evening.
The day began with our trip to the opticians – SpecSavers, in Bolton. Three years ago, mum’s sight had been diminishing rapidly, and we feared she was going blind. She had nearly died in hospital fifteen years prior and had an emergency ileostomy involving the removal of most of her lower intensities. She survived that, taking six months to convalesce and, finally, come home. One of her eyes was infected with MRSA during her stay in hospital, resulting in internal scarring. Her remaining good eye has been her lifeline.
Two years ago, she had a life-changing cataract operation, which restored a world of colour to her one eye. Sadly, this fast few months, we feared that her days of sight were coming to an end, as the vision became blurred and she was unable to read.
The SpecSavers visit raised her spirits. There was good news: a ‘film’ had developed over the eye’s replacement lens, and this could be removed with laser treatment. She has been referred for a hospital visit to carry out the procedure. Hopefully, Covid permitting, she should be able to read, again, within three months.
Back home, she began a familiar litany: a family member was stealing all her money; and, worse, was now entering her home when she was out to rearrange many of her personal effects – like her makeup. It’s awful, trying to find the right balance between what you know is the truth and attempting to refrain from confrontation. I will not go into details. Sufficient to say that fate smiled on my attempts to find objects that had been ‘stolen’. They were retrieved and placed before her astonished gaze. She even seemed close to retracting her accusations. The new sentiments may not survive the night, but it was good to see the ‘old mum’… albeit briefly.
I dashed to the nearby Morrisons to do her weekly shopping, and we shared a final tea and cake before I left… but not for home.
We live near Kendal, in Cumbria. Mum’s house is in the old family town of Bolton, in what was Lancashire. When I make a day trip to look after her, I try to make the best of the travel. The other ‘to-do’ before I could begin the journey home was some dental work in nearby Chorley, where we had retained the relationship from our days of living there.
Having a new ‘crown’ requires extensive drilling, and I wasn’t looking forward to it, even though the modern anaesthetics are wonderful. A difficult day was going to end painfully.
On the way back to the car from the dentist, mouth numb and only able to mumble, I passed the parish church on the A6 road. The icy path sparkled in the light as it curved up to the silhouette of the old church, framed against the fading light and emerging stars. It was a moment of perfect beauty, and the image captured it well. The uphill struggle of the day seemed mirrored in nature’s frosting of the frozen water on the curved stone.
So, instead of a consideration of Covid’s wider implications, this was my day. We live to fight another. But not too many like this one, please…
Dedicated to all those looking after dementia sufferers, and all those caring for other people, everywhere.
©Stephen Tanham, 2021.
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, A journey through the forest of personality to the sunrise of Being.