yesterday afternoon. The Senior Cat was waiting for his young magic student to arrive - along with two siblings and another child on a "sleepover". I was trying to get some urgent e-mail answered before they arrived....
And the door bell rang. Were they early? No.
"Is it a bad time to call Cat?"
Yes, it was but I sensed something was wrong so I said, "We're expecting.... but they won't be here for a bit. Come in."
She took a deep breath, came in and said,
"I've had some bad news and...."
She is not the sort of person you hug. I doubt anyone has hugged her in years. She doesn't like being touched even by her family. The fact that she had turned up on our doorstep indicated how distressed she was.
Her husband has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease - MND. He's 79 and she is not much younger. They live in an upper floor flat in the city. It is too small to handle someone with a disability who will, before long, need a wheelchair and all the aids that go with caring for someone with the condition. She has no nursing experience.
We talked. Did she have their wills up to date, power of attorney and power of guardianship for both of them? Who is named and are there alternatives? Yes - and no she had not thought of the need for alternative persons. They had named each other.
There is an MND organisation here which will help but yes there are accommodation issues and major lifestyle issues. It would not be easy for anyone at any age to learn their partner has something like MND. A younger person might feel utter despair at the thought of nursing someone for years. At her age she feels overwhelmed by the need to change things again - change their lifestyle when she thought they were settled. Change when they have been, while comfortable enough in the company of each other, leading fairly separate lives and pursuing their own interests.
I didn't have the answers she would have liked but she was not expecting those. Did I give her the reassurance which she needed?
I couldn't tell her, "You will cope with this." All I could say was, "Yes there are people who will help you cope with this."
She left just as the children and their mother arrived. They demand full attention. When they gone and everything had been put away the Senior Cat, who had obviously been as concerned as I was, said,
"I've been thinking about..... Everyone needs a support network."
It isn't the first time he has said that by any means. I can only agree.