As I walk inside, the scent of anti-bacteria and cleaning chemicals brings back memories of visiting my wife Betty at hospital every single day, while she was living her last moments.
Unfamiliar faces in a place where the location is unknown, makes me to feel uncomfortable with butterflies floating in my stomach, as I realise the difference of the solid white tiles to my soft and superior carpet. A man blankly looks at me and utters “you won’t be in here for long!” I ponder the meaning of that remark whilst fading in and out of conversation with the manager, due to one of my hearing aids being buggered.
The manager says “here is a list of our meals for the week and if you have any queries you can call me on this number”. My son Peter, his son James and I are then taken on a very slow tour through the facility due to my slow and exasperating shuffle. I say to the manager “sorry my body just doesn’t function like it used to.” He chortles and replies, “That’s alright, you are doing just fine mate and we can look after you better than you’d think.” I quickly respond “oh you won’t have to, because I am just staying for the weekend while my house gets painted.” Peter interrupts and says, “Lets just see how it goes Dad.”
The manager then shows us to the room I will be staying in, and I excuse myself to go to the bathroom before I get a chance to have a look inside. When I get back, I recognise a boy that I used to teach. “ I have seen you on the buses! Do you catch the buses?” The boy becomes speechless and displays a very numb and perplexed look on his face. Struggling to find words, my Son steps in and says “Come on Dad this is James your Grandson...Look! You know him right?” I quickly interject “oh yes I was kidding.”
Lately, little things have become hard to remember but it’s just a part of getting old. Peter tried to take me to get tested for Alzheimer’s disease but I don’t have that, it’s just a bit of short-term memory loss. “Okay I guess we’d better head off ‘James’, we will be in contact Dad” I say goodbye to Peter and his son whilst I try thinking of his name. After they leave, the dull and insipid corridors all look the same. Trapped in the centre I attempt to recognise objects I have walked past. I can’t remember. I feel trepidation at the thought of forgetting who I am along with my purpose. I lay awake at night not knowing if tomorrow’s day will all be elusive.
I am woken up at 10:00am and served breakfast. The lady gives me a brochure, “we have some activities on every day and chess is on today at 12:00 if you would like to join us. I woke up feeling like trying something new. Even though chess is as boring as watching paint dry, I decided I would go. I walk down the hall and find the room packed with tables and chessboards. I spot a man that looks very similar to an old friend of mine. He looks at me and nods whilst smiling. I decide to go sit down with him and partake in a dreaded chess game. His name…