Friday, 9 November 2012


This is hard,
It's Friday, thank God it's Friday.

We've had a good week at my work. A few results for the clients; some decent money in the door and some interesting new business to look forward to.

But it's been hard going and, on Friday night, it's not unreasonable to think you might come home, have, perhaps, a small glass of wine and start to anticipate an entertaining week ahead.


Wee Mo has Alzheimer's disease.

When I came home tonight she greeted me at the door dressed to go out. Not to go out to the theatre or the cinema as we might, once, have done on a happy Friday but rather dressed to go "home". As if home involved a long cold distant journey.

And the house itself, which I'd spent an hour tidying after she'd gone to bed last night was in a state of chaos.

Clothes, shoes, food, cups. kitchen rolls and toilet rolls distributed to random corners. The food I'd left  on prominent display for her in the morning left uneaten but a cold, raw, pie somehow retrieved from the fridge and then semi-consumed.

And, even after I'd reassured her that we were already home in the house we've shared for twenty years, and then tidied up a bit, not even the chance to watch the Channel 4 News in some sort of calm as she sat across from me, perched on the edge of the settee, turning over her keys in her hands like some modern day set of rosary beads and muttering quietly to herself.

And so to my legendary Friday night bath, interrupted as I would never confess in the more light hearted banter of twitter by five minute visits to check I was "alright" and even in between marked by her lurking outside the door in want of any idea where else she might go.

I love this woman. Next February we will have been married for twenty five years. When she first started getting unwell seven years ago and when she was eventually conclusively diagnosed perhaps five years back I resolved then that I would be with her to the end and I will, I promise, deliver on that. Although I will not pretend that this is becoming anything less than progressively harder. I recall with a chill that when we had our first visit from the occupational therapist, several years back, she asked if Mo could make a cup of tea and I replied "Don't be ridiculous". Today the same answer would have an opposite meaning.

But it's Friday. This afternoon I was called by an old friend to advise that, at very short notice and thanks to a last minute cancellation, they had a spare ticket to hear Madeline Allbright speak in Glasgow tonight. Now, anybody who has followed this blog will know that this is something I would very much liked to have done. But at such short notice I could not have found someone to look after Mo, so I had to decline.

But at least tomorrow we have another friend who will arrive and indeed stay over so that I can go, in relative relaxation, to see the Saints in the afternoon and, indeed, if I had anything to do, would allow me a night out.

Only I don't have anything to do.

For what do you do on a Saturday night? If you are in a steady relationship perhaps a few nights a year you get a "night off" (ho,ho,ho) to go out boozing with your pals but most of the time you, in middle age at least, to go to the theatre, or the cinema, or a concert with, and here I make no wider sexual orientation point, a woman. Usually "your" woman. If you're inclined to promiscuity, a "different" woman.

I'm not inclined to promiscuity but I'm not "abnormal" either. It would be great to have such a night out. I persevered, perhaps, too long in thinking such nights might still be possible with Mo but at a certain point I came to realise that her behaviour, out and about, caused me more anxiety and occasional, I regret to say, embarrassment, than was worth the effort.

So, I made a stupid mistake. Some months back, I propositioned (for that is undoubtedly the word) somebody else. Somebody to whom I felt, indeed still feel, a warm affection. But her reaction was not simply a rejection of that proposition as more a horrified and outraged response to it. To the extent that she has not spoken to me, other than of necessity, ever since. And who can blame her. For who would want any part of this situation except for love.

I wrote privately to say that it was better to have tried and failed than simply to have always wondered. One of many communications that provoked no response other than "leave me alone", as indeed did my last attempt earlier this evening before I sat down to write this rather self-indulgent and melancholy blog tonight. Increasingly I regret not simply carrying on as before I recklessly broke the spell for at least then I could always have had the consolation of wondering.

So here I am, having got Mo to bed, sitting on the settee blogging and looking forward to another bleak weekend.

This is hard.


  1. I've typed and retyped a comment, just because anything I can think of to say seems either trivial or impertinent.

    I'm sorry. Best wishes. My thoughts with you.

  2. Ian, I've never met your wife but my heart goes out to you both. It must have taken an incredible amount of courage to lay bare your soul like this, not just about the Alzheimer's, but also about your response and the conflicting emotions it brings.

    Your desires for "normality" are precisely that. Normal. I don't think you should reproach yourself in any way. Accepting responsibility for caring for another should not mean self-imprisonment.

    It will be no consolation to know that while you must feel dreadfully alone, there is scarcely a family that hasn't been affected by this scourge, if not at what must be such a young age. My first wife lost both her parents this way and a dearly loved aunt of mine succumbed last year. But my uncle spoke highly of the work done by Alzheimer's Scotland and volunteered for them both during and after my aunt's illness.

    Apart from the feeling of "doing something" he said he also gained from the comfort of others in the same situation. That's probably not an option for you right now but please whatever you do, don't blame yourself for having feelings and emotions which are natural in any human being.

    My thoughts are with you and Mo.


  3. Tough read Ian but a much tougher write and immeasurably tougher experience. I lost my first partner to HIV and there are some echoes for me (he went quite mad towards the end) but it was mercifully brief in comparison. So all power to you.

    I'm about to stop being a willie (work in London live in Edinburgh) after 6 and half years so will be around more in the Labour Party from January. Look forward to seeing you about.

  4. Ian, that is hard, really hard. Your love for Mo shines through it all - and that must be heartbreaking. All you can do is what you're doing - keep on going on. Hope there's some light in there somewhere soon. My heart goes out to you. Sending you a hug. Clare

  5. No politics. Alzheimer's is a dreadful curse and would test the best of us to breaking point and beyond. Good luck.

  6. I've just read this Ian. Thank you for sharing your experience in such an honest and eloquent manner. My thoughts are with you both. I hope that if I were ever in the same situation, I would be able to provide such loving care.

  7. Ian, I wish you the best personally and understand your pain a little from issues in my own family.
    Politically, well that is another matter!