22 August 2022

Who cares?

 The Zombies

Well, let me tell you 'bout the way she looked
The way she acted, the colour of her hair
Her voice was soft and cool
Her eyes were clear and bright
But she's not there

She’s Not There

Rod Argent

The Zombies, 1964

Not so long ago I thought I was fortunate - it could be worse.

I am not so sure now.  We all have our crosses to bear.  I said this once when someone said they had a friend in the Conservative party......  Now I feel different (though not about the Conservative party, y'unnerstan?)

I look around me.  I see happy families.  Dog walkers.  Horse riders.  People who smile. 

And I think,"Good for you!"

Let me talk you through a day - last Saturday, in fact.....  And I only offer this as some kind of reference to people like me who care for someone they love.  I don't seek your sympathy.  I don't claim to be an exception.  But I do think it won't harm anyone to grow their realisation of a fact of life.  When I was younger (let's just say for the first fifty or so years of my life) I had very little concept of the effects of dementia. And I don't just mean on those who could be assigned the label (take, for example, King Lear, or George III).  I mean on those who pick up the traces, who carry the trains, who live in the shadow of this scourge.....

So, it started like this.  I made the tea.  I took Amanda to the bathroom, etc.  Changed the sheets, put a wash on, etc.  We drank, and spilled, a little tea.  I helped her get dressed, we stumbled downstairs.  We ate some fruit.  We went to the loo.

Then we put on our shoes, and sunglasses and hats, and I drove us to Holkham Gap, where the air is good and the sky is clean and the sea is far far away at low tide, and kites and buzzards squabble above the pines (thank you Jake Fiennes....) and the shadow of Gwyneth Paltrow still clings to the idea of Shakespeare.....

Despite the uncanny likeness, this is not our Gwyn.....

Anyway, we walked, gently along towards Wells, then cut through the pines and over the dunes.  Amanda fell, once, and struggled on the upslopes, the sands running out under her feet, but we carried on, the vast expanse of the exposed beach stretching far away to shores such as Lincolnshire and maybe even Heligoland....

And what is the point of this? What did she understand by this? It was a beautiful morning, with a breeze to lift the caps, and an air to pluck the strings. The d├ęcolletage a reminder of other times; the deep dark eyes a come-on to the few corpuscles still active in my system.....

But look closer, please (if you can bear it).  There is now an emptiness that mutely offers oblivion.  Look closer, please....

But it's too late to say you're sorry
How would I know? Why should I care?
Please don't bother trying to find her
She's not there!

Yes, in the huge expanse of blue and yellow there is a wonderful emptiness.  A void.

Whichever way you look.

However you look at it.

Whatever your perspective.....

And she will laugh, and have all the appearances of a life still to be lived.....

Though as we progressed in our return, she weakened, and flagged, and failed, and over the last mile or so I was practically carrying her as best I could.....

Later that day I took her to stay overnight in a local care home, partly for her to become accustomed, so that it isn't a shock when she eventually does take up residence in such a place, but also partly for me to get used to the idea (and to have a less disturbed night....  Excuse the self-indulgence?) 

I went home.  I cooked myself a drink, and poured myself a supper, and lapped up some Bonnie Rait.....

I wandered round our garden, sniffing the fading roses,

Admiring the water lily that has graced our new pond.....

And realised, as the cat turned its back on me, just how empty everything is......

As John Prine said (with Meadow in mind, I am sure):

You come home late and you come home early
You come on big when you're feeling small
You come home straight and you come home curly
Sometimes you don't come home at all

So, I retired to the lounge and revisited my obsession with:

A family saga that both takes my mind off the present and also somehow has many echoes of our life:

(A bit like the Archers.... but with pictures)

Then, all spent, I look in on Amanda's room to check she's not there:

And the rest is silence

So what in the world's come over you?
And what in heaven's name have you done?
You've broken the speed of the sound of loneliness
You're out there running just to be on the run

You're out there running just to be on the run
You're out there running just to be on the run

John Prine

Speed of the Sound of Loneliness


  1. Heart breaking. Such a contrast between the picture you paint today and the happy time we spent in the company of you both during that w/e we spent in Rome so many years ago, being the first time we had met Amanda as I recall. She was much amused, Ricardo, by our reminiscing over Formula 1* (which my memory says you always won) and Scalextric* (ditto).

    Memories - so important, but you have to do it for two now so enjoy a bit of living in the past and give yourself the space to do it properly, with a clear conscience.

    *Both still availabe at WhiFli.

  2. Sadly, I don’t remember…..

  3. Your caring is so heartening -- good memories and, now, inspiration

  4. Another moving insight - and another annoying earworm! Take good care of yourself, Richard x

  5. Your photography brings so much pleasure. Keep at it! Any chance you/we could arrange a few days away when you could give us a (walking) course on photography, with teaching fees helping the cost of Amanda’s care while you are away. It could be local, or further away (Rome!?).

  6. You may need to identify yourself to qualify for a discount!

  7. Thankyou for sharing this with me.it is so sad but how you have worded it is spot on.it did make me cry as you warned me.I will be there to the end if you let me.I love her so much but care for you too.I will be there for ypu both
    Amanda x

  8. This is so sad but true.i cried as you said i would.i will always care for Amanda as long as you need me but im also always there for you

  9. Thanks for sharing this with us Richard. Sadly, we didn't know Amanda until very recently. But the combination of countryside views we know so well and a heartbreaking track from our joint youth, we found deeply affecting.