News

Don’t forget the ... what was that?

By Country News

I almost forgot the word from the wise this week.

That's because lately I have been a little more challenged in the wherewithal than I remember being — which is a good thing.

To be able to remember I actually used to be able to remember everything. Because suddenly I have noticed unless I start leaving myself notes the old Col is frequently notable — by his absence.

I reckon I spent a good deal of my immortal years making mockery of me old grandfather, who started forgetting all sorts of things.

He would head out the back door and 20 minutes later you would find him poking around in the machinery shed trying to remember what is was he was meaning to do there.

“You were getting something out of the truck for grandma,” we would howl with laughter. "You silly old coot.”

He always seemed to take it well. On the surface anyway — yet funnily enough, it doesn't seem that funny anymore.

Unlike my old grandfather, your correspondent is a bit quicker to the boil and the grandkids have learnt if they want to be little smart arses around me then they had better be pretty light on their feet.

Truth be told though, my memory is actually pretty good for someone of my august vintage, but I have some mates, and a sister, who can't say as much.

Some are a couple of years older but one is five years younger. And his top paddock, well it's as though it has seen all of its good topsoil blow away in a gale.

Dementia is such a simple word and such a cruel sentence.

I remember — yes, I am actually better at remembering things from years ago than from this morning — there used to be this advertising campaign on the telly.

I reckon 30 years ago, maybe even more. It was about cancer. And it said ‘cancer is a word, not a sentence'. True enough.

But take it from me, dementia and/or Alzheimer's is much, much more than a word. For the sufferer it is a frightening verdict which, unlike so many cancers, is without any hope of a long-term cure.

This gradual descent into a shell of a human is a multiple tragedy. First the horror of the diagnosis. Then the remorseless loss of who you are until finally everyone knows you. Except you.

At which point most sufferers are indeed sentenced to a life under lock and key, as few families have the resources and the sheer physical and emotional stamina to cope with the ongoing management of the condition.

So you will forgive the Curmudgeon if he struggles to raise a laugh this week.

Like most people my age and beyond, this disease — which has come seemingly from nowhere in little more than a generation to being on the tongues of everyone even approaching 60, let alone beyond that — is a singularly terrifying prospect.

Yes, you make a lot of new friends when your memory is gone. But like those who went before, you don't get to keep any of them.

Yet your family and friends keep you, deal with the emotional trauma and try to support the husband or the wife left with the one they love.
Who is within reach and yet is never to be reached again.