January brought our family much sadness as my brother in law, Alan's brain disease has progressed much further. It is so very painful to see this cruel disease unpick what was once a brilliant mind in a young and healthy body. If you are used to a rather absent minded family member who happens to be a scientist, strangely, they just seem more like themselves rather than less . . .
Up until now, I have been in denial that he has been getting worse and I don't like to use the word dementia, it sounds so, quite frankly, . . . scary. And it only happens to old people, right?
Unfortunately not, although it is rare in younger people. Every week I make a trip up to Greenwich to do my one day of caring and every week I see what more has been taken away. . .
Last week we planted lily of the valley bulbs and we went on a blustery walk on Blackheath, there are still moments of happiness . . . picture a tall man listing at an odd angle, striding out at great speed over a steep hill in Greenwich Park with me scuttling behind, trying to keep up. We both enjoyed that. Dementia means you have no choice but to live in the moment and there is a kind of freedom in that. Days when you can think like this are the good days. The days when you can't help but worry about the future can be really, really bad.
Recently, I have had a bit of a guilt trip that drawing and creating is totally trivial. Especially when the world of the carer shifts more sharply into focus. The role of the carer, for a lot of the time, is a hidden world but it is a path that many of us will tread in one form or another. I am full of anger that caring is so often undervalued and my head has been spinning with the world we have found ourselves suddenly flung into. It is a hard terrain for me to navigate, me who muddles through each day putting off deadly stuff such as form filling, financial affairs and phone calls. Perhaps not so hard for my sister who is made of much sterner stuff than me, she is strong and will fight tooth and nail for Alan to have the very best care and treatment. I think if I ever had to choose someone to fight my corner, it would be her. She is awesome.
Of course, other world I inhabit is a far easier one: the drawing, collecting and fripperies that take my fancy. I'm steadily bringing more creatures into Pixieland: unicorns, fauns and mermaids will all have their place.
Above is a piece I've finally finished but I'm at a loss to think of a title. Any ideas? The one I choose will win the first print off the pixie press so get those thinking caps on.