My Uncle Sean is still with us. Only just, but he’s still here.
His blood sugars have stabilised. But his kidneys have failed him. He has a bowel infection and is going through terrible nicotine withdrawal (3 packs a day.)
The nurses won’t let him smoke. He wants to smoke.
My aunts won’t let him smoke.
He begs them to let him smoke saying it is all he has left but he can’t get out of bed and nobody but nobody is going to hand him a cigarette.
My Aunt Jo is standing guard.
My Aunt Jo has a favourite historical figure. Attila the Hun. Some of us say when we think she is out of earshot that she admires Attila the Hun because she recognises some of his traits in herself. Let’s just say that the term : Taking no prisoners applies to both of them.
So anyone who wants to secretly slip a cigarette to Uncle Sean has to get through Aunt Jo first and personally, I’d rather take on one of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse armed only with a feather duster.
Cigarettes aside, a sad thing has happened regarding my Uncle Sean. His memory is badly affected and he has trouble remembering certain events and even what year it is.
The doctors think it is because he was unconscious for a long time before he got medical assistance. They think he collapsed around one in the morning and it was almost 8 hours before someone found him.
The saddest thing is that my Uncle Sean thinks my grandmother is still alive. He is her youngest child, her baby. He keeps asking where she is and why she hasn’t come to see him in hospital.
My grandmother has been dead for ten years.
Yesterday my Uncle became really upset and demanded my grandmother be brought to the hospital. He grew so distraught that he had to be sedated.
Aunt Jo wants to tell him she is dead but the rest of the family disagree. They are worried that hearing of her death will push him over the edge.
When the mind begins to fragment it is very hard to watch.
Several years ago I lost my friend Andie to breast cancer. Towards the end she lost all sense of where she was and even who she was. She spoke constantly of her sister, her twin Erin, who had died when she was a week old, wondering where she was. A person she had never known but whom she had held in her heart and mind for over 40 years.
It was very distressing to hear her talk about her twin sister. I knew she’d had a twin who’d died shortly after she was born but she rarely spoke of her and I assumed she had come to terms with losing her.
Afterwards, Andie’s husband and I found a series of journals written to Erin that covered most of Andie’s life. She talked about everything people talk about in journals. Some of the content was funny, some was sad, some was eerie. The over-riding impression I got, though, was how much Andie loved Erin. How much she missed her. It makes me cry even now to think about it. She never said a word.
Oh, what love and grief can do.
So we sit and wait. And hope Uncle Sean’s memory restores itself.
My Aunt Jo has seen a glimmer of improvement in her brother. She won’t let that glimmer disappear. I know her. She is not prone to flights of fancy and if she has seen a glimmer I am going to hold on to it too.
Because glimmers can turn into full blown rays of light.