Friday, July 15, 2011

Written on March 7th 2011, Arthur's Last View of the Sea.

The physiotherapist visited today. As she only is on-site on Monday's, this is the first time she has been able to assess him. Up until now Arthur had been in bed, as the hospital report suggested he was too weak to bear weight.

She is very good, we massaged Arthur's legs with a heat-rub cream and moved them around to warm up his joints. With the help of another care-assistant, Arthur was able to briefly stand, before sitting back down in a wheelchair. He stood up three times before finally laying back down on the bed.

The physiotherapist advised that Arthur would need to be transferred by a hoist for a the first week, to get his body used to assuming various positions and bearing the weight-transfers. They got him up and out of bed with a hoist and body sling, into a Princess air-chair. Arthur sat in the front day room where he could see the ocean. This must be the first time Arthur has seen the sea in at least five years.

He seemed very comfortable in the air-chair and went to sleep. Later I took him onto the front verandah which overlooked Semaphore Beach. A warm day with a cool sea breeze, the sun reflected off the slight choppy water like a million mirror shards tossing on the surface. The air smelled of salt and, while he slept beside me,  I listened again to Arthur's voice in my mind, "There is nothing like sea-air, it does you the world of good."

I suppose now that is how it will always be, the voices of the ones who are gone will come back, a scene, a sound, a smell, I wonder for how long that will happen. Always, is my guess. We used to go to those lovely beaches in Adelaide, including, in past years, the famous Maslin's Beach, not the ordinary end, but the bit way up the end of the cove, accessible by either a long walk along the sand or about a half-mile of winding wooden walkways down the cliffs.

We would get to the sign warning of imminent entrance to the Unclad Beach. Down in the sparkling white sands and beautiful water. At at last we could be free of all trappings and swim as free as dolphins, and sun-bake amongst people for whom modesty was the ultimate practice, where you see but do not see and the body has no sexual meaning. I have never felt safer, freer, more respected or happier than on that beach, as natural as the surroundings we enjoyed. This was a precious gift Arthur gave to me.

I am sitting with him now on the verandah and the breeze is gaining strength, and Arthur saw the clouds on the ocean's horizon and told me that a storm may be brewing.

You can take the sailor out of the sea but not the sea out of the sailor!

I can see that the grasses on the sand-dunes, planted to stabilize them, are well grown and look hardy. The Lags Jetty just up the street is one Arthur took me and my children to a number of times and, I would love to take him back there. If I can get his electric wheelchair here, I will try that, maybe with Jason to help. It would be a short ride down the street to get there. If Arthur ever has to go into a nursing home, I want it to be one like this, by the sea, but I hope it never comes to that.

Watching the ocean is so relaxing. I wish I had the wealth to be able to put Arthur into somewhere like this for a couple of days a week, regularly.

As I watch the sea my best friend's words come back to me. Having just lived through the trauma of putting her mother, who has dementia, into a nursing home, Jill reminded me that what is happening to Arthur is natural. It is part of life.

The oceans are also natural, the tides come and go, and never stop.

We cannot halt them, we can just take into our self the solace and comfort they provide.  

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