Things were all good yesterday
“You made a few things known to me, you're a force in that way. You're never going to go about without being noticed. You'd tell me to never settle for a shit cup of tea, always wear a proper tux for any sort of proper event, treat people with respect, be true to others and be true your word, fall and live in love, do things with passion or not at all. Me, you and dad would go out with some of the projects dad and I were working on and test them out. Whatever we built together. You remember that, right?” Shit. He wasn't supposed to say that, they told the family that using such words might be a harmful trigger. You remember that? Rememeber when? Asking them to recall certain events they might not remember. No pressure should be added for a man who would weave in and out of realizing that his memory was not just considered a foggy memory, it was more than that. It was part of the disease.
Miles nodded, switching the subject quickly. “I’m not a complete ponce then, right?” He laughed, but his laugh was more of two hoarse coughs exiting his frail system and he stopped quickly because of the pain. Alex was about to rush up and help, but Miles shrugged and mentioned that all he wanted was water. So he handed him a glass and took a step back. Seeing him in such a state, on a day like today, it was a sight that could break anyone.“I’m quite tired now, it’s been a day. Can you send Thomas in?” “Sure thing. I love you, pops.” “I love you too, James.” I heard the doctors put your chest in pain
But then that could have been the medicine
There you are lying in the bed again
Alex left the room, giving a solemn nod to his father. “He’d like to see you.” He didn’t stop to sit with the rest of them, he just kept walking. His mom was first to stand up, looking over at Alex walking away, wondering if she should make her way over to him but Sophie placed a hand on her arm. “Granddad is probably having a bad day, we should just let him be for a little bit.”
Because of the turbulent and unpredictable decline phase he was on, a bad day included recognizing faces but forgetting or mixing up names, forgetting which day it was, asking about meals when he had just eaten, the inability to read from the newspaper and asking the same questions over and over again. Unlike some others on the same floor with Alzheimer’s, Miles was not a severe case, but for Alex those moments where he was clearly not the same person he was just a few months before was heartbreaking and unnerving to have to witness. This man is a fighter, this man doesn’t sit back and watch a disease inhabit him, but this is also a man who was slowly losing control of even the basics of himself.My father told me, son
It's not his fault he doesn't know your face
You're not the only one
Alex found the first available empty room, general area with some beds but no one inside, and for the first time since the diagnosis he couldn’t handle the emotions he was feeling. Putting on a brave face, chiming in with the positivity of how well Miles was reacting, and being pleased for even the smallest of victories got tiring and all of a sudden he felt exhausted. More than exhausted, he was angry. Angry that this was something that was unpredictable and couldn’t be controlled, that this took the strongest of people and turned them weak. His grandfather once told him, my boy, as long as I have my mind I am okay. Now he didn’t even have that in its entirety. Only in doses.
“I don’t understand.” Once the door slammed shut, it was though everything else closed in on him. “He’s been especially good to you.” He shrugged his shoulders and one hand flipped up to the ceiling. “So where the fuck has that brought him, huh? Why aren’t you on his side right now? He still recites those stupid bible verses to us when he's got those good days. Makes them known. He's a fighter, but there's only so much a man can fight until he's so overwhelmed and it gets the best of him. It should never be getting the best of him like that, between the memory and the struggle with his lungs. Why aren't you doing anything to keep on helping with it if you claim to watch over everyone?" He was pacing back and forth, trying to fully take hold the words coming out of his mouth but they just came out freely at this point. "Why does this have to happen? Why?"Before he could stop it, tears were rolling down his face but most didn’t manage to hit his shirt as he started wiping them away out of frustration. “I just need some more time, okay? The good days should outweigh the bad days. It's not fair to see him like this, not fair for him. He doesn't like that...feeling like he isn't himself, like he isn't in his element. I can see it all over his face. I’ve been away a lot, you know, on tour, and the phone calls and Skype sessions are not the same and please. Please do this for him, okay. Not for me. For him. I don't know. Just. Please.”
This was once a man who would refuse to sit down when asked because he was busy chit chatting with everyone in a room, this was a man who would make dirty jokes at the table during family dinners much to the dismay of his son, this is the man in the family who was first to stand up in favor of Alex’s decision to pursue music as a career, this is the man who would take his wife’s hand and dance with her - even 60 into their marriage, this is the man who went on a day trip to Paris "just because I want a good damn chocolate croissant," this is the man who wasn’t himself anymore. This is the man who was often confined to hospital beds, frequent questioning of those around him and the deterioration of his mind.He passes away two weeks later, in his sleep, his wife by his side. Things were all good yesterday
Then the devil took your breath away
Now we're left here in the pain
Black suit black tie standing in the rain
He was mostly coherent for those two weeks, laughing and remembering stories with his loved ones. There were no shortage of loved ones. From his family, the workers at the local book store he frequented, the boys at bingo he would shoot the shit with and claim he wasn't going to play because he'd beat them all to pieces, a few hairdressers at the salon his wife went to and he would make jokes with, the janitors at the mall he would stop and talk to genuinely interested about how they were feeling that day, post office workers for when he would make his way over to inquire about incoming packages or random jobs he could do. He was always on the go, always wanting to do more, never to be stopped by anyone or anything. The Alzheimer’s was a part of him, but there was pride was in the fact that it never got the best of him.
When Alex stepped up to the podium, nervous and fidgeting with his tie, there was a moment of familiar calm that washed over him before he started speaking that managed to put him at ease. His voice was shaky at times, but he managed to take himself out of his element for the time being. To focus on the life of a man who really had an impact on many. The turnout in the room was one indication. The speech went, and he rounded out the whole thing in a personal way.
“If you knew him, you’d know how devoted he was to religion in a way that was inclusive to anyone. If he was at home having dinner with the family, he’d have a passage for James and I fighting and how it wasn’t useful. When he wanted to make nan crazy, he’d find a passage about how she was stuck with him regardless. When he was in a pub with his mates, he’d find a passage to settle a bet. One passage has managed to find its way into many of our conversations. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works. Matthew 5:15.”
Alex would not call himself a man of deep trust in religion, rather he saw himself as a man of loyalty or dignity or passion, but this was something inherently linked to his grandfather. The man who beamed when everyone showed up to Sunday services, the man who held certain ideals close to his heart. That was enough for Alex to push aside any other reservations. Those conversations were not lost on him, but they were remembered fondly.“He was a light in this world. He was a light in my world.” We're set alight
We're afire love