In what seems a gratuitous twist, as my mother-in-law settled in and began to thrive in her new surroundings, my father-in-law’s dementia worsened. Now there are days when he doesn’t recognise his wife, or his daughter, is convinced I’m a carer, and thinks he’s been abandoned.
But there are moments when glimpses of the independent man he was shine through, when he himself grasps, if only momentarily, a fragment of his past. We’ve found that photographs can be valuable in unblocking his memory; cheery, self-conscious faces, smiling out from old, faded, black and white images, provide some comfort as they reignite a moment, a relationship, maybe a place.
But it’s not an infallible aid. Coming across a recent photograph of me, he smiled broadly, looked at me and said, “He worked in sales. He was a nice chap.”
It is this first hand witnessing of tragic deterioration and loss that inspired my 26 Winters piece.
By Ronnie Mackintosh