The space was terribly dull, with a lack of colour, and no natural light. Do they want people to feel depressed? There was a small table along the side of the washed-out grey wall that showcased some very plain looking biscuits and some tea and coffee. If you could call it coffee.
Great, instant coffee, just to add to this bloody torture. I told Chloe we should have stopped for a decent coffee on our way here. The girls found a seat in the small crowded hall. Nearly every seat was taken.
Penny glanced around. I have to be the youngest person here; it looks like we are waiting for a game of bingo to start at the nursing home. She went to get up and leave. She wanted to run as fast as her legs could carry her. Chloe grabbed her by the arm, pulling her reluctantly back into her seat.
Two much older ladies were pacing back and forth, almost wearing a hole in the floor. One was aggressively pushing her companion, who the girls assumed must be her daughter, away as if she was deathly afraid of her. The other was removing her shoes and placing them in her handbag, while her very patient husband lovingly repeatedly reminded her to put them back on or her feet will get cold.
A man kept calling out, ‘I want to go home. Please just take me home.’ His exhausted looking carer had to keep chasing him down like a criminal under arrest. Bringing him back against his will, time and time again. It all seemed so cruel and distressing for both parties involved.
Truly terrifying future scenes began to play on fast forward in Penny’s head like a gruesome horror movie. Penny was trying extremely hard to suppress the urge to scream. The raw fear, anger, and anxiety was building up in her like a balloon about to burst.
Is this what happens to all people with dementia? She suddenly experienced disturbing visions of Damien coming home to find her swinging from the chandelier in her daggy underwear. Why is it the doctor gives you a diagnosis, but doesn't explain what might happen or what to expect? They just give you some pamphlets and send you on your merry way.’
They say knowledge is power, but Penny wasn’t quite so sure. She wanted to know what the future may hold for her, but it was simply too scary to think about. Sweet denial was a much more comfortable place to be.
A bubbly looking young lady in a lolly pink cardigan with perky boobs addressed the group. ‘Welcome everybody to our monthly dementia support group.’ Penny hated that word…. dementia. She found it demeaning and clinical.
At times, Penny now felt like she had a rather large and obnoxious sandwich board weighing down her shoulders as she walked down the street which read ‘Look everyone, Penny is only fifty-two and has dementia.’
Penny knew her paranoia was unfounded of course, as no person passing her by on the street would have the first clue about her diagnosis, but receiving a diagnosis in your early fifties is a terrible blow to both your self-worth, and your self-esteem.
The young lady up the front kept talking. ‘This is a safe place to meet others living with dementia, and if you are a carer, connect with others who are supporting their loved one through this often difficult journey’. Fuck, it’s all sunshine and roses, isn’t it? I wish Miss pink and perky would just shut the hell up. She is bringing me down. Chloe whispered to Penny to please keep it down as she was drawing attention to herself. She had not been aware that she said it out loud.
Carer? Is this some sort of joke? Who will care for me? Damien doesn’t seem to give two hoots. Never mind when I start to tuck the dog in at night, and put Sally out in the kennel.
A million and one things were running through Penny’s mind. Not one of them providing her with any comfort whatsoever. She was glad she had her best friend by her side. The rest of the meeting went by in a bit of a blur, and Penny wasn’t sure if she would be returning to face another.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2022