Thursday, July 11, 2024

Revisiting history

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Ray complained to me, why is there a password file and an old password file? Why is there an old family address list? Why is there is there an old friend list? Such files take up a few kilobytes of storage, virtually nothing. No harm in keeping them. To my surprise, I came across the phone number, name and address of a guy I had not seen for twenty odd years, which halted for reasons in 2004 when he Ray had a falling out. 

I checked the dead person newspaper electric online system. No death notice for him, but should I phone him? He would be so old. Yeah, well, I did call him. We spoke for an hour and of course I told him about Ray's death. I was surprised that he had forgotten a few things, but it had been twenty years.

We arranged to meet at his place on Tuesday. I had forgotten I was having a skin cancer biopsy on my skull that day but the times didn't conflict. I caught a tram to his place. He remembered me, kind of. He couldn't remember me by looks. I haven't aged a bit since 2004, so that was surprising.  This was strange, we had known each other for such a long time. He asked me how many times we had met and I replied about 100 times (yes, you can read something into that). Slowly he remembered me. This was doing my head in. What is wrong with him? It dawned on me that he had dementia. 

After talking for about two hours, and me repeatedly answering his same questions, with me trying to talk to him about things in the past, I eventually said goodbye, although he wanted me stay longer. I could describe the meeting as successful, but it was rather sad. 

On the whole, I really wish I'd left the past where it was. His self described 'memory problems' are quite bad but I know he has neighbours and a couple of close friends to look after him. In the kitchen there was a banana skin on a bench. At about 5pm, he looked at it and said, This is how I know I had breakfast this morning as I have banana on my cereal. I know him from old. He stays up very late and rises very late. Breakfast was probably about noon. 

And at this point of writing this the same evening, published a few days over a week later, I've collapsed into a crying and sobbing mess. I miss my Ray so much. I hate that he no longer sees life and what will happen. He has missed Harper's second birthday and will miss Lukey's fifth, then in a few days Jo's 17th. Ray always put glitter in birthday cards and people learnt to open their cards with great care, but a spillage of glitter was inevitable. That was his thing and I won't continue his tradition. Ray always looked so forward to things. I cried for Ray, for myself and the person I knew who now has dementia. 

A bit later I called Ray's favourite English sister and she consoled me somewhat and I managed to get a grip on my emotions. I woke the next morning to a lovely poem she sent to me. 

I remembered when Mother's partner died. My grandmother's husband. I remember when the husband of Jenny of Procrastinating Donkey died. I remember the husband of Ursula of Frikos World dying. Those strong and brave women survived the loss and so will I. 

53 comments:

  1. Heartfelt hugs. Grief is a tricky beast. You think you are managing quite well and then the floods of tears and the ache of missing them hits hard. Again. Yes, you will/you are surviving the loss but it changes us. I don't think it is 'getting over' the loss but adapting to the new normal.

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    1. Thanks EC. Yes adapting to the new normal is what I am doing.

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  2. It's a rollercoaster, and it's sad to see friends still living but not still with us. When I was widower, I went through that sadness that he was missing my everyday life and celebrations. You adapt gradually.

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  3. As both commenters above have said, it comes and goes until you slowly, eventually come to an acceptance. Although I have not lost a partner, I felt that overwhelming pit of sadness for quite some time after my beloved dad died. It has been many years now but he is never absent from my thoughts.
    I am sending a warm hug your way.

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    1. Jay Cee, parental death is interesting. I shed far more tears when my mother died last year, but I had someone with me to hear my pain. Now it is mainly kindness and people asking how I am doing that makes my voice quiver.

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  4. I'm so sorry for your loss, Andrew. It must be overwhelming. I just can't imagine. I hope things get easier. Huge hugs, Sandra sandracox.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Sandra, and it is Friday, so happy weekend to you.

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    1. The old me who did not know how to hug other than Ray, has learnt how nice hugs can be, Cathy. Thank you.

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  6. Sad about his memory, but still nice that you called and visited.

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    1. He lives on with dementia Bob. My Ray doesn't. I think I know which Ray would have preferred.

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  7. I cannot imagine the series of losses including love, passion, memories facing you. It is the existential crisis that we all have to go through over our lifespan. Still, I dread that day that will come for me.

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    1. Yeah Roentare. Dread it as you will, but it is what happens in life.

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  8. Grief is a process. It's not linear. Like the ocean, it comes in, and then it recedes. I wish that I knew some wise thing to say. I don't. As you already know, you will endure. You will make it.

    But this post made me cry.

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    1. Debby
      That is such a perfect analogy - like the ocean, grief comes in and then it goes out again. Sometimes the day is going quite normally when, suddenly, a particular piece of music on the radio grabs your mind, or some old photos on Facebook pop up on the screen.

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    2. Or the smell of something, or a glimpse of something that reminds you of something else. I sometimes picture grief as a little gremlin under the table. You walk past minding your own business and he sticks his foot out and you trip and fall into a big puddle of grief.

      It's just like that sometimes. I am glad for the friends and family in Andrew's life, because really, aloneness makes grief so much more painful.

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    3. Debby, that was a wise thing to say about grief. It is like the ocean.

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    4. Hels, you don't talk about it, but how are you and Joe going? You are both so far away from your son's family. It must be so hard.

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    5. Yes Debby. It can be the smallest thing that triggers emotions and being tripped over is a good analogy, as you never know when it is coming.

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  9. That he couldn't remember you (at least not right away) and yet consented to a visit may indicate that he was lonely and wanted some company whether he could recall you or not. You may have made his day.

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    1. Kirk, he did know my name at least. I could not see any point in trying to understand what his thought process was like. I just couldn't.

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  10. Yes, you will survive Andrew, you will. Certain things will trigger for a good while but then you become stronger, always will miss Ray of course. Sad about the friend of 20 years past, but you were meant to see him again for some reason, that reason will come later.

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    1. Margaret, yes I am sure things will trigger me for a while. That's how it goes, apparently. Yes, it was sad to the friend with dementia, but reassuring he has people to look out for him.

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  11. I cannot add anything to the wisdom above, but you are in my thoughts.

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    1. Thanks JB. The thought waves come through.

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  12. I feel the same as you, and it's now 2 years ago I live and try to live without him, but I am not the same. Outside maybe, but not inside.

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    1. Gattina, yes outside is the same. Inside is not.

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    1. TP, Ray always said I knew how to do that.

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  14. Dearest Andrew,
    When your mind and memory is deteriorating that is the hardest thing to observe—especially for loved ones.
    Ray at least got spared that and it is a true blessing in itself.
    Our life partner affects us in a major way but we also can show gratitude for having been together for that long...
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Mariette, I am sure you are right about watching a slow mental decline. Yes, I have much to be grateful for, a long and mostly good and happy relationship.

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  15. Even when we know about grief, that it comes and goes, that it's complicated, that it takes time, even when we know all that, it still just fucking hurts.

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  16. Such kind and thoughtful comments above. Thoughts are with you.
    It was brave of you to visit the friend with dementia ........and kind.
    Alison in Wales x

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    1. Alison, the question is will I do so again. He wants me to.

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  17. Life is sad especially when we lose lots of people we love. I don't know what to say, Andrew. Now this has nothing really to do with it, but I think its sad what's happening with Biden and people turning against him. I saw a few minutes of his debate with Trump and it was really awful, him staring, mouth open, for moments at a time. I thought he might be having a stroke. But now, the democrats come out against him running with no clear plan to replace him as candidate and my ire fires up because its too late now. He probably hadn't gotten enough sleep before that debate. And I feel an even more hostile reaction to older folk. In the states, here, there's no respect for older people at all. I don't know what its like there, but we generally are tossed out as useless in others' minds somewhere after 60. But with the scrutiny on age, with the Biden debate raging, I imagine others seeing me through hyper critical lens of age. As for Biden, I hope he just stays in the race because I hate that his fellow democrats are criticizing him openly with no real plan to replace him anyhow. They are winning the election for Trump.

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    1. I'm sorry Andrew I was trying to relate that to how hard aging is, losing friends, spouses, and mental and physical acuity, and with the latter pair---respect. But the hardest is to lose our second halves I'd think, like Ray to you, part of yourself after so long. I have faith in you. I know you'll find your way.

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    2. Strayer, forget about #45 and Biden and vote for the party that you think will be best for you and your country, whoever is leading it.

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    3. Yes, I think it is similar here. Old people know nothing but while I don't lay personal blame, we didn't do a great job with planet Earth in our lifetimes. Our choices were limited.

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  18. This post and the lovely comments above make me tearful, Andrew. My thoughts are with you during this new stage of life.

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    1. Pat, I think back to my youth, and how determined I was to make life work for me, I can do it again. Thanks.

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  19. It's so sad that your old friend now has dementia, but he has neighbours and friends to look out for him. It might have been nice to renew the old friendship if the dementia hadn't happened. Maybe it wasn't meant to be.
    You must have one of those magic mirrors that shows you eternally young. Occasional bouts of "crying sobbing mess" are normal when you lose someone you loved for so long and letting it out is better than keeping it all in, so I'm told anyway.
    I have never looked up anyone from my past.

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    1. Not ageing in twenty years River, may have been a little theatrical. Sometimes I accidently switch my phone camera from rear to front camera and grimace at what I see. I am pleased I can talk about my grief process here, and receive so much care and wisdom.

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  20. Andrew, this post ‘might’ be of interest to you - all ladies commenting but their message is very similar.
    https://attheendofasuffolklane.blogspot.com/2024/07/how-can-we-help.html

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  21. Thanks Cathy. I will investigate further.

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  22. As my mother used to say, life goes on. It has gone on 38 years without her. Stay strong.

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    1. Yes it does, Tasker. I hope it goes on for me for a good while yet.

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  23. I don't know what to add but virtual hugs, Andrew. Please take care of yourself.

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