by the dog," I said.
I have been sorting out my uncle's clothing. He had rather a lot of clothes. He had far more clothes than I have. Had, not has. Some are now sitting in a bag and will be heading to the "rags" collected by a local charity.
Now that he is in a nursing home I have been sorting out what can and cannot be worn there. The nursing home wants "fling in the washing machine" type clothing. There is no point sending silk shirts to a nursing home. He has three. Two of them are still in excellent condition, almost new. They may well be cool in summer but they need to be washed by hand. Nobody is going to do that. Even if I lived close enough to do his laundry there would be no point because someone would be bound to throw them into a machine.
But the silk shirts are not the problem. Someone else will buy those from the same charity. Other things are the problem.
My uncle had a dog. It was a friendly, loving and completely undisciplined dog. It chewed things. It was particularly fond of shoes and shirts.
My uncle never worried about this. What he wore around his own home was, rightly, his business. If some of his shoes and shirts were chewed it did not bother him. Very few people saw them.
Now it is a different story. At very least he needs clothing that does not have holes in it. It is not just that I want people to think we care about him. We do. It is not just that I want him to think we care. He still knows that even though he will not admit it. I want him to think, as far as he can, that he cares. I want him to feel as good as he can about himself.
There is a sad pile of t-shirts there. They are the sort of thing you might expect a teenager to wear, one even has a pop group logo. Where he found that I do not know. There are the sort of singlet-tops and brief shorts he put on as a bare acknowledgment to social behaviour. I doubt they will be acceptable in a nursing home or that he would want to wear the brief shorts which would now show the incontinence pads he needs to wear. All of the t-shirts have been chewed.
The nursing home has told us he had two "small heart attacks" in the past week. We know his time is limited but we do not know how limited.
I look at the small sad pile of t-shirts. Three of them are faded red. He had a red woollen pullover and one of the silk shirts is predominantly red. He liked to wear red. He may still like to wear red.
His brother, my father, would never wear red. His clothing is conservative in the extreme. The two brothers are about as different as you could get.
This morning I will go and buy my uncle a bright red polo shirt. If he likes it I will by him another.