After Paul moved to his last care home, I realised he would not remember things I told him. However, he still seemed to enjoy reading in small bursts, so I wrote him a letter that he could read as often as he wanted, knowing it would probably feel like the first time every time he read it, but he could feel it every time.
It has been a hard time for us both. You know you were diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease 5 years ago. At first it did not affect us much, but soon I was not able to care for you, so I found you a Care Home in Holywood where you would be well cared for.
But then it got worse, and the Holywood Care Home could not care for you either. So I found you a Nursing Home in Bangor where they are equipped to care for people with Alzheimers, and that is where you are now. I hope you will get to know the carers there, they are very good. And I will come to see you every week.
It may not be what you really want your life to be, but sadly with Alzheimers this is the only choice. You are now nearly 80 years old, you have done very well. I love you so much and wish it could be otherwise. Please be happy and accept things as they are here.
All my love, my darling, I will be there for you when you need me, as you were for me when I needed you.
And now he’s gone, and I’m on my own again. I miss even the focus of visiting him every weekend to Skype with his daughters, and saying goodbye has been so gradual, as the Alzheimers has eaten into his brain. The ability to even read a verse of a poem had gradually gone, he could not catch my eye in recognition when I would arrive, the birthday cake seemed irrelevant and even swallowing a mouthful of coffee became impossible. As his swallowing deteriorated, the old man’s friend visited, taking my place at his bed, and hospital admission beckoned. His concerned family joined me at his bedside, sad for his inability to show his recognition except by movement of a toe under the bedclothes. With the doctors it was agreed he should return to the care home and be made comfortable on a special mattress, and days later he was no more. His daughters and family stayed on for the funeral, and we all participated in saying goodbye to a beloved father, grandfather and husband. Next week, a friend and I will scatter his ashes on Strangford Lough, a place he knew well and loved, and a part of the sea that had always been in his life.
Requiem, Paul, may your soul rest in peace.