I expect you may have wondered where I had got to this past ten days and whether I had disappeared down a black hole. I had in fact gone to spend time my mother again, this time taking Snoopy with me. Kay did not come as she preferred to spend some time with her friends before they all go their separate ways in the autumn to universities all over the UK.
I seem to spend my life at the moment administering eye drops. Greg had a cataract operation at the beginning of July. My mother had one ten days ago. Antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eye drops have to be put in four times a day for several weeks afterwards. Greg's operation was sudden, complicated by his diabetes. My mother's was long-planned, having waited many years for the cataract to ripen. It was pure coincidence that both operations were within three weeks of one another. As is usual with the operation, the patient needs someone to collect them from hospital and stay with them overnight. This has a lot to do with the fact that the eye is covered for 24 hours with a bandage and plastic shield which can cause the patient to become disoriented and misjudge distances and obstacles. Add the fact that, in my mother's case, the patient is an elderly lady who is prone to falls anyway, my presence was a necessity! I spent ten days with her in all and returned today. As always, we had a lovely time together and managed a few outings to shops and restaurants. I administered the requisite eye drops for her, tidied up her garden and did a few other chores. Because Snoopy was with me, I managed a few good walks with him too. He loves my mother's garden and enjoys rolling on the lawn as well as chasing the seagulls who dive-bomb him, thinking he is a threat to their young even though the latter are safely waddling about on the rooftops. The weather was (almost) in competition with Greece and I managed to top up my tan while I was gardening.
Kay had coped admirably on the home front looking after Greg. She had done food shopping, including lugging it home, cooked meals (which Greg as usual did not have the appetite to eat), stood over him to make sure he took his medication, washed dishes and still found time to tidy her room. Yes, I'll repeat that.... TIDY HER ROOM. I don't think it has seen a duster or vacuum cleaner in months because you have to hack your way into it. A maelstrom of clothes, shoes, books, jewellery and plastic bags covering every horizontal surface including the floor, so that walking across the room is a hazardous occupation and one I have refused to even contemplate in the last six months without a hard hat and elbow pads. I couldn't believe the transformation when I got back today. All this domesticity will stand her in good stead when/if she goes to university. I think too she has found it relaxing not having to spend all her time studying for exams for a change.
One thing that was very apparent to me while I was away is just how much Greg's mind has deteriorated. We would speak daily on the phone and he would repeat things over and over again. He would tell me some piece of news or information at the beginning of the call and then tell me again about ten minutes later as if it was the first time he had mentioned it. He would sometimes go on to tell me a third time. He can recall with remarkable clarity things that happened ten, twenty, thirty years ago. In fact his conversation largely centres on living in the past, recalling experiences and episodes long gone. But when it comes to things that happened or were said ten, twenty or thirty MINUTES ago, it seems he needs reminding or he has totally blocked it from his memory. Kay has noticed this too. One morning she came down from her room, had a long conversation with him over breakfast and then went to watch the television for a while. About an hour later Greg bumped into her and was surprised to see she was awake and had not come down to say hello to him! He had obviously forgotten that he had seen her and talked to her an hour earlier. Things are definitely worse in that department than I thought. Whether it is permanent damage or short-term (only while he continues to drink) I don't know.