I don’t know where to start.
I think I’m typing this down with no intent of actually posting this, or maybe I will.
I’ve been posting updates here on my blog in spite of Things. Or in defiance of Things. I haven’t really been able to watch much (maybe regular visitors here will have noticed my increasingly infrequent posts over the past few weeks), and when I have, I’ve really struggled to find the heart to write about them. Sometimes its helped. Gets my mind off Things.
When the darkest of noir films still seems something of an escape, one has to wonder.
In fact, its had me wondering what the purpose of films are- if they are a form of escape, of getting away from reality, then is that necessarily healthy? While it seems reasonable to ask, ‘where’s the harm?’ is there a case of watching just too many films than one really should? Maybe we should consider WHY film-lovers enjoy watching films so much, perhaps wonder if its a Good Thing of not. I don’t watch any television soaps, but I have heard them described as an opiate for the masses. Maybe its true of films and books too. Depends on the film, of course- I don’t expect Come and See could ever be described as a soothing respite from anyone’s reality.
So what brought me to these ruminations?
Let me go back a few weeks. First, my mother-in-law fell while walking her dog, and broke her shoulder. Since Claire is an only child and her Dad passed away a few years back, and that her mom couldn’t be left alone, Claire spent a week of nights over her moms, looking after her. Following this, her mom went into hospital for an operation on her shoulder which meant a week there, and the complication -well, annoyance, really- of hospital visits with Covid controls etc. The operation seemed to go well and she was brought home with a carer organised in the mornings and with Claire driving over to take things up later each day (like walking the dog that inadvertently caused all this in the first place, but hey…) . Her mom is 80 years old, and recovery could be a long road.
But lets go back a bit.
Four days after Claire’s mom had her fall, my Dad had a heart attack. My Dad hasn’t been well for some years: COPD, a disintegrating hip, a ‘silent’ heart attack that no-one was really aware of which apparently happened a few years back, two bouts of cancer (one of which ongoing), blood clots… that isn’t the all of it. I often say with grim mirth worthy of Robert E. Howard that it would be easier and quicker to list what’s right with Dad than what’s wrong with him. So, a week of us worrying, him in hospital, us unable to visit (he was in a different hospital to Claire’s mom, one which at that point hadn’t been cleared for any visiting at all) and an operation to fit a stent.
When Dad came out, we were hopeful for the best but there were some complications- on return home, Dad was in such desperate back pain, which we believe was a trapped nerve, that he had to stay upstairs as they only have an upstairs loo and he was physically incapable of getting up or down stairs, even aided. So Mom and Dad have been living upstairs for the past few weeks, my two brothers and I taking turns (I’m Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) staying over sleeping in the back room to help mom with him- even getting him from bedroom to bathroom was an ordeal, and the chronic pain meant long nights of broken sleep but it did, gradually, get easier…
I’d love to go back. You know? Jump into a Time Machine, set it for six months in the past. Or anytime in 2021. Because I could do without ever experiencing 2022.
I’m having a bad time typing this down, it was worse experiencing it, believe me, than I could possibly express here, and I certainly didn’t have it the worst. A complicated regime of differing medications for pain relief, given at certain times, rigorously followed and recorded, with nurses and doctors visiting and assessing him. Family spending time over there to support my mom and break the monotony of life essentially trapped in a single room. TV put into the room with a DVD player, lots of films on the go (one afternoon for instance I watched the two Equaliser films starring Denzel Washington with him, and I absently worry that I’ll never be able to re-watch them without remembering that afternoon. I mean, its a Good Memory, sitting with him, but there’s all that attendant worrying at the time etc…).
I could write about the long odyssey of a stairlift, waiting for it to be authorised and fitted. But not here. The black humour and irony of it being finally fitted yesterday is just… too… noir.
One has to remember, my brothers and I each have fulltime jobs on the go. Of the three of us, I could be the most flexible, as I’m still working from home – two years, now- so as somebody had to stay with my Dad at all times, when mom needed to go anywhere, such as the Bank, or for shopping, Claire would stray with Dad and I’d take mom out, and I’d arrange my work-hours around it, no great hardship; I’m fortunate I can do most of my job just as easily at midnight as at midday.
OK. You’re possibly wondering where this is all going.
On Tuesday, my Dad had a stoke.
It happened just around breakfast; he’d had his cereal, and mom was going through the long list of tablets that he has to take. My brother who had stayed over the night before hadn’t long left, everything was going along what had become, over a few weeks, the new routine.
I’m working in my back room at home. I get the phone-call. Drop everything, race over there. Ambulance is till there so I park in the street. I dash into the house, expecting the paramedics to be still upstairs with him, but my mom is down in the living-room sobbing her heart out and my dad is in the ambulance I’d just walked past. I’m trying to comfort mom and find out what’s going on and the ambulance departs.
As In write this, a few days later, my Dad is very ill. But he’s still here. The stroke has taken his speech, and also the muscles in his throat which has resulted in him being nil by mouth with the complication of a lung infection (Dad’s muscle problem meaning that saliva/fluids can now pass down into his lungs, and typical of Dad’s run of luck, he picked up a chest infection inside of three days). Damage to the left side of his brain means he can recognise us but can’t understand what we are saying, or where he is or what’s happening.
Remember what I said about the darkest noir film being a pleasant escape?
Dad is in a very bad way. We have been advised that, due to all his other ailments, the hospital staff will not attempt to resuscitate should he suffer another heart attack or stroke or whatever else might befall him. In my darkest moments over the past few days I dare the unthinkable and consider that might not be a bad thing. And the guilt is terrible.
I have been suffering some very dark nights of the soul. At times it feels like a nervous breakdown. But we have to be strong, remain positive, fear the worst, hope for the best. Support mom the best we can.
My work colleagues have been good, I wasn’t able to do much this past week. Frankly, seeing Dad on Thursday, for the first time since the ambulance rushed him away, threw me in a tailspin, and since then my heads not been much good for anything. He seemed to recognise me, I could hold his hand. Back home, every time the phone rings its something of a nightmare tension creeping up my spine. Anxiety seems to be a constant state of mind.
And Claire’s mom, on her own slow road to recovery, still needs our help, although Claire has shouldered the majority of that this past week.
Has anyone seen the news here in the UK lately? Massive fuel and energy price rises, the cost of living going sky high alongside inflation, our PM seemingly having a defective honesty gene (or at least one gone AWOL), there’s a war in Europe… I mean its like Everything, EVERYTHING, has gone to shit. Will Smith tried to punch Chris Rock’s lights out at the Oscar ceremony for goodness sake. And its all like background noise, happening on some distant planet.
Films seem very silly, inconsequential. Its hard to focus on them when I try to watch them. Maybe I need them more than ever, I can’t decide. Maybe this blog can help, if only by distracting me, making me focus on something else (at the minute, its failing miserably). Which is, all of this, me saying I may either be away for awhile or I may not be away at all. Its impossible to say, as I don’t know what the next day might bring. Normal feels a long long time ago. and so very far, far away.
Bollocks. I finished with a Star Wars reference. What a –$$££$%% geek.
(February 1978, I’m twelve years old and Dad is taking my brother and I to go see Star Wars… )