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27/06/2016 General, Wadswick Green
It was 3rd October 1964 when my real life began, that day I married a very nice post office engineer called Harry. We had been saving up for five years to get a deposit for a house as we didn’t want to start our life together in rented accommodation. We bought our house in Paddock Wood in Kent, and commuted daily to London where I was a GPO telephonist. We worked so hard together making our home. I had several jobs during the next few years and in 1969 I gave birth to our first son and gave up work, followed by a second son in 1972. Harry was still commuting and still rising through the ranks of BT as it was now called, and representing the UK Government in ‘communications’ projects.
Then in the New Year of 1974 British Rail raised the fares to London by an enormous amount and Harry decided that it would be better to pay a higher mortgage and go nearer to London, than pay the increase.
So we moved to Chelsfield near Orpington. Our life there was idyllic, the two boys went to school, Harry was promoted higher and higher in BT, as the boys got older we gave up farm holidays in the UK for the Canary Islands and even a trip to Ibiza (not to be repeated, it was awful). When the boys became teenagers, Harry took early retirement having reached the rank of General Manager and we started going on cruising holidays. I returned to work in 1975 and was loving it, so my time was not as free as his. After a year of inactivity Harry was climbing the wall, so he took a position as a volunteer advisor at Orpington C.A.B.
He’d been there for about 10 years when I started noticing little changes in him, he couldn’t find the cups and glasses in cupboards that had not changed position since we’d moved in all that time ago, he was asking me the same questions over and over again, he had never suffered fools gladly, but I noticed he was becoming more erasable. I decided it was time to visit the GP, and after a long chat with both of us it was agreed something was wrong.
So on 2nd February 2006 he was referred to the Bromley Adult Mental Health Service, where he saw a Psychiatrist, who after a two-week deliberation period told me I was imagining things, I could have screamed, after being together for 42 years you know when somethings not right. I had by this time given up work and most of the voluntary jobs I had taken on.
The years that followed were a nightmare, he was given a MRI scan, which suggested early onset Alzheimer’s. He had a CT scan and finally in 2010 I was told that he probably had Frontal Lobe Dementia (AT LAST).
A while before this Harry had started to get up in the night to get ready for work, putting on 3 shirts and trousers (no underwear or socks) and screaming at me for not opening the door. I was accused of so many things, but it wasn’t my lovely Harry, it was some creature who had invaded his head. I didn’t sleep for many weeks until this phase passed (and they all do) then he started sneaking out during the day and disappearing. The local police got to know him very well and me by my first name. One early evening about 5pm he vanished, and was brought home at 9:30pm I was beside myself with worry, he had been found on a bus in the Woolwich Depot. That was the final straw the house became like Fort Knox; locked up all the time.
In April 2014 Harry went into a home, It was the worst day of my life, but I could no longer cope, I never got any help from Social Services, and what made it worse was Harry never complained when I said he was going to stay at an hotel for a few days (he had hated me leaving his side until then). Did he know what was happening to him? I wonder about that to this day and the feeling of guilt has never left me. Harry is my life, he was in this home for nearly a year with me visiting him almost every day. I was living in my big house trying to cope with every day chores etc. As my son said I was dying daily, but I didn’t care. What was the point of going on without my darling Harry?
Then one day I saw an advertisement for Wadswick Green and bringing only my youngest brother with me, we viewed the building site plans, he quizzed Susan on all the aspects of buying, and I tentatively put an interest on 8 Rowan Lane. Harry had bought our houses previously so I had no idea what questions to ask. We went home and when the show home was opened in April 2015, I came back this time with my son, much to his surprise I put my deposit down. The rest as they say is history, I moved in on September 10th 2015 and it has been the best thing I’ve done. I collected Harry two weeks later after moving to no 8 Rowan Lane and securing him a place in Brunel House in Box. He is now settled there and very happy (as far as I can tell), the staff are wonderful and tell me they love him. I’ve cut my visits to every other day, and have been told that, as sometimes he doesn’t even know me perhaps I should leave a longer gap between visits now, but when you have loved someone so much for 52+ years, how can I now leave him? The bringing of him from Orpington to Box is another story, and so too is my early life before Harry.
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