Thursday 22 February 2024

Stream of consciousness

 Good morning on a dull, wet and typical February day - and commiserations to anyone down the Eastern side of the country as we are under dull, dour February skies.   But Spring is beginning to shout out all over  knowing it will win in the end, so let's square our shoulders and get on with the day.

When the 'solitudes' begin to close in - as they inevitably do  when one is on 'end of life' care - suddenly memory becomes incredibly important.  I usually wake around 5am - as I go to bed around 9pm (apart from the odd evening when there is something tempting on television) and I rather look forward to that hour when I can lie warm and relaxed and let my mind wander wherever it chooses to go.

This morning I woke up playing music.   For almost twenty years my first husband,Malcolm,  and I played with a group of musicians regularly each week and managed to get quite a lot of pieces up to performance standard.  We also played with another husband a wife friends and really enjoyed just playing rather than 'working' to improve our performance.   And this morning I woke to Bach's Brandenburg 4 playing in my head.   And I thought of F and K - we loved having a go at this in the privacy of their music room where nobody was listening or criticising. 

Now long retired and in their eighties F, who was a highly intelligent man in a top job in a hospital - a rambler, a musician, a committed Christian, friend and helper to many - a really lovely man, has dementia and can no longer remember the music he used to play - or the friends he used to play with.

And I thought of our playing, of our walks together in the Clee Hills of Shropshire, and on the Long Mynd and of visits to Scotland to stay in a cottage in Kincraig and our wanders in the surrounding countryside (nothing too strenuous).

All these ordinary, everyday things which we did - and took forgranted in a way.   Now I can no longer walk unaided I can do them in my memory as I lay snug and warm in the early morning (and I never make mistakes when I am reliving them - no wrong notes, no groaning when I lag behind on a too long walk, no stumbling on stony ground.)  How kind our selective memory is at this time of life.

F can do none of this and I grieve for him and his solitude - so different from mine.   And for K who looks after him with a mixture of love (they have been married a very long time) and sadness.   As she says in her letter 'he can no longer remember the Brandenburg 4'.

Tomorrow I shall have my float down memory lane - a personal journey, many of those with me are no longer around.  Those who are will have a totally different memory of the same events.   The memory is so selective (and sometimes so inaccurate).   But my   ' stream of consciousness' spurs me on to get up when the clock shows 6 and then I can potter around with my wheeled trolley getting my breakfast and my morning cuppa.

Have a good day - oh and if you live in the UK and have to go out  - take your brolly.


Tom Stephenson said...

I used to love - and still do - the Brandenburg Concertos. How lovely to think of you playing them, Weave.

gz said...

The sun and patches of blue sky are tempting me out..but I don't think a brolly would be safe in the wind here!!

Sad that he can no longer remember the music..but might still enjoy listening..and each time it would be fresh and new.

Memories are worth hanging on to.

the veg artist said...

We have a dearly loved in-law in the early stages of dementia, and it so sad to see. She is happy but unable to do simple things. She used to be a prize-winning decorator of cakes. Now she is unable to make a cup of tea. If she is able to dream of happy times in her own little world, it would be good.

Anonymous said...

Sunrise over here isn’t for another half hour but the temperature is already 7 degrees and what little snow we had from a few days ago has all melted. It looks like a great day for us here. I too like just lying in bed remembering all the friends we had and all the sillythings we got up to when we lived on our catamaran in Grenada. I think a lot of them have probably died by now but in my mind I still enjoy the memories. I was never clever enough to play music but always enjoyed listening to it, especially classical music. Enjoy your day Weave. Gigi

Catriona said...

What a lovely reflective post this morning and thank you for sharing. Catriona

Sue said...

If I go out today it will have to be with my hood up, sadly I can't manage an umbrella, two dogs on extendable leads and the mechanics of unrolling, picking, and tying up poo-bags. I've tried a few times but it just turns into a comical farce with my brolly usually ending up in the mud. I'm sure you remember the struggle well.

Derek Faulkner said...

No balmy 16 degrees today then Pat, you appear to be getting the wet weather now that we in the east and the south have been getting for what seems forever.
As someone who goes to bed at 10pm and rarely sleeps past 2am, my early morning old memories
spells, tend to last a lot longer than yours, or I read instead.
Apparently one or two Swallowa and Sand Martins have already been recorded in the S.W. of the country and Rooks are re-building their nests.

rallentanda said...

I must say I am very impressed with your wrtten expression. You write very well and your posts are interesting and aren't you blessed to have had such a wonderful Baroque musical experience.There are wonderful performances on youtube and they are free.

Ellen D. said...

Sounds like a lovely memory for you, Pat. I hope that your friend, F, can still enjoy listening to the music with K and that they both get some relief from that.

RuthW in MD said...

Hello, I have followed your blog for some time. May I mention something? There's a Christmas book "A Cup of Comfort," with a story called "A Joyful Noise," of a man in a nursing home and a young teenage girl. She comes to play songs with her trumpet, but the saxophone and trombone fellow musicians don't show up. So she sits down at the piano and starts playing Christmas carols. Then "John" sits down beside her, looks at her, and puts his hands on the keyboard. She stops playing, and he begins - playing concert-quality piano music.
This is astonishing to the nursing staff, who come and ask what she did to encourage him to sit down and play for the first time, in the ELEVEN YEARS he has been in the nursing home. She says she did nothing, and listens to him play, having yielded the piano to him completely. She then leaves, and the amazing man is still playing without music, totally from memory, thundering up and down the piano keys.
We never know what may happen in the future!

Anonymous said...

Brolly required here in Brittany too, and a strong one please.
Thank you Weaver for the stroll down your memory lane.

Librarian said...

Brolly required here in South Germany today, too - or, better still, rain coat with the hood up, as it is very windy and any brolly would soon be blown over and useless.

As you say, memories are selective and often somewhat rose-tinted. For instance, in my memory, the winters of my childhood were always full of snow, with seldging and ice-skating popular activities between school and having to be home for our tea. But if I think again, I distinctly remember more than one Christmas that was more brown-grey-green than white, and often if there was snow, it was not enough for sledging or building a snowman, and the lake was not frozen solid every winter allowing for some skating.

Hopefully, F still enjoys listening to music even if he can't remember what it's called or how it would be played.

Barbara Anne said...

I so enjoyed your lovely memories and can imagine the music and friends you were remembering with such pleasure. What instrument did you play?

Pat, you, like John, write with magic through your keyboard and it's sheer delight to read what you've written, no matter the subject.

We'll need a brolly tomorrow if the forecast is correct.


Melinda from Ontario said...

What a lovely post. You reminded me how 'pleasant' memories from the past can bring so much pleasure to the present. I will try not to take them for granted in future.

We're having an unusually warm day in Ontario. Winter has been soft on Canadians this year.

Anonymous said...

Your words and thoughts are such gift. I Thank You for sharing them.

Take Care,

Jacque from Colorado said...

Good morning, dear WoG (it's still just 8:30 AM here in Colorado). Finding a new post from you always brings a smile to my face and an extra-fine start to my day. I am glad your mind is still sharp as a tack and you can stroll down memory lane whenever you like. It's lovely to "stroll" along with you and learn more about you and your life. I wish science could find a cure for Alzheimer's--better yet a way to prevent it. What a toll it takes, especially on loved ones who are caregivers, as my mother was for my father. I don't know how she did it... No "brolly" needed here, today, and it wouldn't survive long, anyway, in our winds. Happy to report my little patch of snowdrops is doing well and ready to bloom. They are caged and hopefully protected from our "town deer" that eat anything this time of year, even the things they aren't supposed to like. Our neighbor across the street emailed that she has crocus in bloom and a box of newspapers saved for us (for starting our fires), so hubby and I will wander over later and enjoy her crocus! Wishing you a lovely rest of your day, Pat!

Susan said...

I love your honesty and positive outlook on life over time. I relate to your thinking and greatly enjoy your writing. Clearly your music played a big part in your life and brought great pleasure as well as friendship with other like-minded musicians. Your words show your joy as a musician. Nobody knows what the future will bring and maybe that is a good thing. That said, living life to the fullest, regardless of circumstances, is the better choice. No rain here. Sunshine and a blue sky with crisp cool air. I am elated that my snowdrops are just slightly peeking through the ground.

John Going Gently said...

And what about your ukulele ?
Have you been playing to the carers??

thelma said...

Music is a great soother, gentling the world into a steady rhythm. Going over memories is a happy time but sad if you see your friends losing their grip on life. Pat you are a great inspiration to everyone, keep up the good work ;)

Anonymous said...

You inspire me every day Pat. Thank you. Jackie

Tasker Dunham said...

It can be quite hard to accept all the things we can no longer do as we get older, but your gift is the ability to delight in what you can still do, and inspire us when you share it.

Red said...

You make a very accurate assessment of our memory. It is faulty. I find this out when I visit my brothers. Every one of us has a little different memory of the same thing. Nice comparison of what we have left to your friend with dementia who has lost most of his memory.

Anonymous said...

Your solitude contrasted against the solitude of dementia is so poignant. Your mind allows you a freedom that your poor friend has lost forever. Cold and rainy here as well today, but I walked to my sister's listening to the birds who seemed quite happy with the weather. The forsythia I brought inside is covered in yellow flowers. It was a happy day.

Granny Sue said...

Raining here in West Virginia, although it waited until late evening to really get going. I enjoyed your memories. What pleasure they must give you!

Anonymous said...

I usually wake at 5 a.m. too Pat, and either listen to the radio, or sit at the computer for a while. If I return back to bed , I usually have those silly disjointed dreams.

The radio is great for others descriptive memories of time, place or happenings as recent as yesterday, or decades ago, and I appreciate being able to listen within the luxury of retirement time, and not changing stations with peak-hour traffic banking up on the way to work. Fascinating stories, happy music.

These days I try to buoy up those close to me who have health challenges and very important to keep my Mum positive, as she finds that difficult. If you are going to have a long marriage, as she did, make sure its a happy one, or attempt to inject happiness into it. That way dwelling on things in later years is pleasurable. It's important that a parent gives children (of any age) good, warm memories and parents owe it to themselves also. I like to read of your memories Pat, and the pleasure you had making them.
Sad about your friend with dementia.
* My little grandaughter calls a brolly ' a gumbella'. - Pam, Aust.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pam - love the "gumbella" I too have bad two very happy marriages - 39 years and then 24 years - total bliss in both cases. I strongly believe in discussing one's differences/disagreements quietly and sensiibly. Falling out over things just breeds a tendency to harbour grudges which build up into fullscale dislike.
John - I can no longer play the ukulele - arthritic fingers and a dislocated thumb joint (from my grand-mal seizure) make playing impossible. Piano is my main instrument but I gave my piano to my son some years ago as playing it was becoming too difficult. Schubert Impromptus were my favourites and to try and play them resulted in too many mistakes - so I would rather just think back to when I could play them properly.
Jacque - I have purple crocus out now but need binoculars to see them as they are high up in the garden and I can no longer manage the steps!

Thank you everyone - your replies brought me much pleasure - they were so interesting.