Let me tell you about a man I have known all my life. He is stubborn, harsh but fair in his judgements, very intelligent, unforgiving and steadfast. He loves a debate, any good argument, provided it is presented with conviction, knowledge and a decent sense of humour. He abhors smooth talkers, smart alecks, shower offers, fools pretending to be clever. He has no tolerance for dawdling. His sense of direction is excellent. He can name the constellations in the sky without hesitation and recite Homer's Iliad until you ask him to please stop it, that yes, you get his point. Then he will grin. Like a schoolboy.
If asked (but who would dare to) he would name as his principles, decency and punctuality. If asked, you would need to know and recite the five steps of the scientific method (observation, hypothesis, prediction, experiment, confirmation) without hesitating. As regards music, music is for listening, never background noise. He loves opera despite or maybe because of the fact that it puts him to sleep.
He hated the lockdown and as soon as the restrictions were lifted, he picked up all his regular habits. Lunch every weekday at the Italian restaurant, no more meals on wheels in his lonely kitchen. On Sunday a nice drive to the country inn. Shopping every Wednesday (sourdough bread, cheese, fruit, coffee and tea, dark chocolate and shortbread).
His difficulties walking, he claims, are due to being lazy and occasionally, he sets out exercise regimens. On paper only.
On his last shopping spree, with a supermarket shopping cart as his walking aid - as usual -, he found that the lift back to the underground carpark was out of order and since stairs are not an option, he decided to push the shopping cart down the spiralling downhill car ramp. The loaded shopping cart. The shopping cart that has no breaks which pulled him faster and faster down the ramp until he fell and fractured his left leg in several places.
He is stubborn, I repeat myself, I know.
He convinced the people who ran to his help that he was ok and no, there was no need to call an ambulance. With help, he made it to his car and when someone offered to drive him home, he accepted. Reluctantly. Some kind people did that, drove him home, parked his car for him, brought him indoors, unpacked his shopping and reluctantly left him there to walk back to the shopping center car park.
Alone at home, he was scared for a while. (That is my interpretation.)
His biggest fear is illness, he faints at the sight of blood (it's not his fault or weakness, it's called vasovagal syncope) and in any case, in his opinion, doctors these days are too young and uppity.
But he felt weak, physically that is, and in pain and also, what about dinner. He picked up the phone. Eventually.
He is now recovering from surgery, a metal plate in his leg, no standing or walking for at least ten weeks. After 48 hrs of confusion and disorientation, he is now furious with everybody and everything. And to demonstrate his fury, he has removed the venous access, the painkiller infusions and all the other useless stuff.
By the end of next week, he will be transferred to temporary geriatric rehabilitation in a newly built assisted living facility. We continue to stress the word temporary, although we fervently hope it will become permanent.
Currently, he is not speaking to any of us.
Last night, unable to sleep I was fighting waves of pity for him and of course, my fear of finally losing his affection and acceptance forever. By the time the birds started to sing, I realised that in my place, he would not hesitate for a second to pack me off to the next care home around the corner.