A man grows old

There was once a man who had lived his early life in East London. Aged eighteen he did his national service abroad while the second world war was raging. On his discharge he went to work, first as a stone mason and later as a plasterer. In his early middle age, he opened his own light engineering business. He had married, bought and practically built his own house. His wife and he had two children. The business, was slow at first but the man persevered, worked all hours and eventually, order by order, the business grew. Success came from word of mouth recommendations as being “reliable and producing the goods on time and without fault”. As the good life grew, a holiday at the seaside was affordable once a year.

Time slipped away like shadows; the children were at school each week day and the wife was bored.  Neither the man nor his wife knew it at the time but the marriage was doomed to failure. The divorce finally freed the man from what was by then a loveless marriage. He eventually after several years of living back as a single man, found another love in his life. Now there were times that the business was thriving, so holidays abroad were enjoyed. He married his second wife and they both consolidated their assets and bought a new home together in the country. The son from his first marriage came to work with his dad in the business and was key in developing modern computerised machinery to help develop further business. After the daughter from his first marriage married her husband, also joined the business.

The shadows slipped ever faster away; retirement beckoned, a better life for the man and his new wife, to potter in the garden and enjoy their home together. So the business was given to his son with the proviso that a pension would be received every month. That arrangement lasted a few years, but after those years the son said the business was not doing so well and the pension would have to stop.

The man and his wife had become known and welcomed in their community as each was friendly and good company to be in. Local pubs and their customers welcomed them and they enjoyed the friendship they built up. Life was good, even though money was not quite so abundant.

The darkest shadow then visited; after a time of hospital appointments, diagnostic talks with doctors and the result – cancer was diagnosed. Her daughters, visited each weekend to help him out and give some respite from caring, she died peacefully in her own bed one night and the man grieved, in the most deepest of anguish.  The man now in his later years – had to relearn how to look after himself. Friends, family, and old acquaintances rallied round but his home was now empty without his wife.

The shadow of ‘no self-confidence’ grew over the man; so he gave his “power of attorney” to his son. His extended family were appalled at this act but had no choice but to accept it. One cold dark night the man collapsed on his kitchen floor and laid there, until a concerned relative phoned a neighbour to check on him. Of course the paramedics soon got him into hospital where he was tested to find the reasons for his collapse.

Almost three months in hospital raised a number of concerns regarding his health and whether he would ever be able to manage on his own back at home. His son & daughter decided to place him in a residential home closer to their homes, to enable them to visit regularly.

Now four months on the man is ensconced in a room on the top floor of a residential home, the furthest away from the stairs and lift. His confidence is rock bottom, he has had a number of falls trying to reach the toilet under his own steam rather than relying on the nappy-like pants they have supplied and when told he should wait for someone to come and help him, he is upset because they can take up to 10 minutes to arrive and then it’s too late!! His two step-daughters visit weekly alternatively Tuesday and Thursday, each doing a 100 mile plus round trip. His son and daughter visit at best every other day.

The house is up for sale to cover the costs of the care home fees.

Dignity comes at a cost, these days!


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