Life is good

From the outside looking in I imagine our life looks fairly narrow now and certainly, if I could have looked into the future, my younger self would have run a mile from the situation we find ourselves in.  There were years when we both worked flat out and not always at the same time or in the same place.  Ash could go off on a Monday morning and unexpectedly not come back until the end of the week; Some days I'd be out of the door at 7.15am and not get home until 8pm.  There were weekends I'd go into work to finish off paperwork, days when Ash wouldn't come home until I'd gone to bed and all the time we were busy, busy, busy.  As a young teenager Jake learnt to cook because then he figured he wouldn't be living on ready meals (he too is, and was even then, a person who looks for solutions to any problems that raise their ugly heads), he learnt to use the washing machine and to iron his clothes and sometimes we all led fairly separate lives which is why I think that holidays became so important.  A time to switch off and relax, first as a family of three and then as a couple who learnt to appreciate each other's company all over again.  So our lives were full.  We had those holidays, we went on weekends away with friends, we were involved in village events, we helped organise fundraisers, we had evenings in the village pub, we went out walking in the countryside and rarely was there time just to relax at home.  They say that by the time someone is diagnosed with dementia they've actually had it for at least five years and I can almost pinpoint the exact time Ash began to change.  He'd prefer to stay at home rather than go up to the pub, he began turning the TV on earlier and earlier in the day, he cooked less and less, he would sit in silence doing absolutely nothing and I went slowly stir crazy.  I still wanted us to be out mixing with other people, enjoying ourselves, having a good time but Ash seemed to be growing old before my eyes and suddenly my fun-loving, laughing, joyful husband who liked nothing better than a spur of the moment adventure had disappeared.  First of all I thought it was him then I thought it was me then I decided we were obviously incompatible and we'd come to the end and then there came that diagnosis and some of it began to make sense.  Unfortunately I didn't instantly start to appreciate all that staying at home.  I still wanted a social life, friends around, meals out, weekends away but gradually, over the last two years, I've slowed down too and now find myself in a rather wonderful life which was definitely not what I expected when we had the final visit to the memory clinic.  We may not have the holidays or the weekends away or the nights out but I'm certainly seeing more of friends.  I've renewed old acquaintances, I meet up with people I used to see only rarely and I'm organising outings with friends I only ever saw for lunch or coffee and then only very occasionally and as a result I think I'm possibly happier than I've ever been.  All of this also has a positive impact on Ash and his well-being; he can see I'm happy so the pressure's off him and, as long as I leave that all important note telling him where I am  and what time I'll be back, all is well.  I have no idea how long this will last but I'm certainly going to make the most of it while it does.

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