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73 and better looking than last week

Sometimes things go well. Good. My Loved One deserves a bit of luck occasionally. Hooking up with Ms Alzheimer’s when he was still only 71 was definitely not part of his life plan so anything which offsets the horror of that, even a tiny bit, is to be warmly welcomed.

Last week a nice surgeon (who chatted to me about how much he’d enjoyed War Horse as soon as he sussed me) whipped MLO into an operating theatre at Lewisham Hospital and got rid of the filthy, hideously prominent, plum sized, purple lesion which was growing on the side of his nose. I expected him to return looking like Dick Bruna’s illustration for Miffy Goes to Hospital and probably with “two lovely black eyes.” I also thought he’d be pretty shaken up. Not a bit of it. He emerged quite cheerfully with a very neat sticking plaster across his nose and as soon as we got home, ebullient with relief, tucked into a large bowl of muesli washed down with peppermint tea. Despite the decision to go for a local anaesthetic they insisted that he fast for 6 hours first and then kept us waiting for four hours when we got there so it really was a very long time since he’d eaten.

Five days later I removed the plaster, as instructed, cleaned him up a bit and apart from a small healing wound, more or less concealed by his glasses, MLO looks as good as new. It hasn’t hurt at all. He hasn’t needed so much as a single paracetamol. Let’s hope the medics are as pleased with it as we are when he goes back for the follow up appointment.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, two days later came his 73rd birthday. For obvious reasons the family decided that we should celebrate and make a big fuss of him. It will be a long, uncertain 12 months to the next one.

The day started a bit oddly. After I’d given him my present and the cards which had arrived in the previous day or two, he rummaged about and then presented me with an envelope. It was a Golden Wedding anniversary card. Oh dear. He had clearly remembered that there was something to celebrate but couldn’t quite remember what. Our Big 50 is next March. I swallowed hard and said “Oh how lovely. Thank you. It isn’t quite our anniversary yet but we’re in our 50th year so it’s spot on”. He replied: “I tried to work it out but couldn’t quite.”

I took him to see David Haig’s Pressure in the afternoon as a birthday treat. I’d reviewed it at Park Theatre earlier in the year and was very taken with it – so, of course, were lots of other people which is why it has transferred into the West End. I was pretty sure MLO would like it too and I was right. Despite the time it now takes to walk him through Covent Garden – his has only one speed: trudge – he seemed to be engaged and pleased to be there. When the play was over I bundled him into a taxi and whisked him off to Blackfriars as fast as possible for the train home.

He had some idea that our elder son was coming although I’d been very vague, telling him that we were going out for curry when we got home probably on our own although ES and his wife might join us. In his now customary compliant mood he didn’t ask me why there was a hurry to get home.

In fact I knew that both sons, their warmly supportive partners and our younger two  granddaughters, aged 7 and 3, were all at home busy festooning the house with streamers and balloons. MLO arrived home to find six people eagerly awaiting him, table laid, beer in the fridge and food pre-ordered by our younger son. All he had to do was to sit down and open his presents. It was all extremely jolly and a real pleasure to see the “patient” being relatively with it as pater familias and clearly feeling cherished. And I’m really grateful for all the effort which went into that.

Let’s hope MLO is still able to enjoy the planned celebrations when March 2019 finally arrives. We’re all (sons, wives, GDs et al) going to spend a weekend in a very big, rented house in Kent so that we can mark the occasion all together. Other family members will join us on the Sunday. No doubt there will be balloons.

Meanwhile an article in Daily Express reports on an American study which helpfully finds that the best ways to fight Ms A are dancing, gardening and swimming. Hmm. I took him dancing earlier in the year and I have to say it was very hard work. His idea of gardening is to stand in the middle of the grass and watch me do it. And he’s a non-swimmer. Next idea, please?

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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