The banner of the Alzheimer’s Society is a Forget Me Not flower. Beautiful, tender and unassuming, and probaly frequently swept aside in frenzied weeding. It is a tiny flower, forged from powder blue petals, white stars at the epicentre and a core of vibrant yellow. The sage green petals protect the fragile bloom as you pick it up, as I did today, trying to ressurect my garden from the ravages of Winter. Amongst the windfell apples and wide-slung, encrusted washing-line pegs, there it was. An island of blue and yellow, in glorious splendid isolation from the busy maelstrom of Spring that surrounded it. It was so fragile, but drew all of my attention because of that.
You see, we live in a society when time is regimented, categorised and always sequential. The busy present is all. We must be in the moment, and make that moment count. The past, however meaningful, is consigned to memories of holidays, and the revisiting of photo albums. To nostalgia, and halcyon recollection. Yes. This is the case for the mainstream. The rat race. Though what if time was a swirl? A raspberry ripple of occurances that arbitrarily became mingled and blended? What if reality became that heady mix of being slightly too drunk, suddenly rather too far from home than is probably sensible, and your legs suddenly don’t work? Well that, (to an outsider), appears to be the reality for sufferers of Dementia, in its manyfold forms. It is an ever-changing, broiling rearrangement of existence that I feel utterly priveleged, and slightly terrified, to observe.
I do not suffer from a form of dementia. I am one of the fortunate ones. I can distinguish between rational, calm and present thought and past recollection. I have the advantage of being equipped to look at my own feet and recognise the pavement that is connected to them. Though countless others do not have this orientation. Our nation, and every nation of our globe is populated with people who are placed out of time, but have not been informed of this. They effectively are timetravellers, like Sam in ‘Quantum Leap’. With absolutely no humour intended, they find themselves saying ‘Oh Boy!’, before being pitched in to an unfamilliar scenario, as if they have literally teleported in to the present time.
For the past few months, it has been my privilege to get to know a genteman who suffers form this condition. I will not tell you his name, or the variant of symptoms that he experiences, because that does not matter. What does matter, and is so very important, is that he is a wonderful, gifted and exuberant individual. I spend a paltry two hours of my week assisting him to do something which he loves, and this has become something very important to me. The supreme irony of this is that unless prompted, he may not recall me. Yet I know tht he would remember how he felt when we spent time together. Selfishly, this is a very precious thing. We as humans have an infinate potential to help or hinder, and I hope that I may have helped him, if only a very little. For he has enriched my life immeasurably.
Meeting, interacting with and helping this person was a happy circumstance of fate. A chance meeting. A valued friend of mine happened to explain the reality of Dementia to me, and that corresponded with hearing a brilliant radio broadcast about the realities of experiences of Dementia shortly after, and it made me think. What a wonderful thing to be able to use my (relative) lucidity to help somebody else. So that is what I did. I became a Dementia Friend, and then morphed in to a Dementia Befriender for the Alzheimer’s society. It has become one of the most moving, meaningful acts that I have ever undertaken, and I thoroughly recommend it to anybody, and everybody, that is searching for a way to spend their time wisely. Time is precious, and it flies. Fill it with meaning. Seek out the Alzheimer’s Society.
© Tom Tide 2016