Counting my blessings every day

Torbay Weekly

Well, we have just come through the driest April on record and it now looks like we may have the wettest May on record.

You just can`t win, can you?

The garden is looking absolutely awash and the winds have bent most of the spring plants over, but as in life, they will recover.

While I was walking around the garden yesterday, I hadn’t been in the garden for three days because of the rain, I started to notice, through the chaos, how much new life there was.

The dahlias have come bursting through, the foxgloves are a foot taller and the sunflowers which haven’t succumbed to the slugs are starting to shoot up, and all of a sudden all seemed well again.

My mind returned to when I was a boy and I used to stand next to my grandad eating peas from the pod which he had grown from seed - and, boy, they were juicy! I am sure they were bred differently way back then.

Grandad was my hero at the time, both him and my grandmother, who was the typical architectural Victorian type who stood no messing but had an incredible kind side; they were both well suited, and happy.

I lost my grandad first, to old age as my grandma put it, and then sadly, later on, I watched as my grandmother descended into the darkness of dementia which took away her memory of all she had built, including us kids - she was definitely the boss in our house - her lifestyle and her humour.

It was heart-breaking, as kids, trying to understand this disease that made my grandma cry and shout out for her son while having no knowledge of her daughter, my mum, or us children.

A few years before, we had a neighbour facing us that used to howl at the moon and every evening walk around shouting and screaming in his back yard and walking for miles before being found.

My parents always said it was shell shock from the war or something, little did we know then it was probably Lewy body’s type dementia.

My gran had Alzheimer’s as she repeated the same questions over and over again.

My father, I have to admit, wasn’t the most patient of men and had little time for my gran's 'pretence' as he called it, which caused so much friction between him and my mum.

Little did we know then, that the same illness would strike my dad years later and take him from us, the same way it took my gran. Ironic? No, just incredibly sad and unlucky.

And so to the present day, here I am writing this in my 11th year of dementia diagnosis.

When I describe these things I always say it’s a like the movie Saving Private Ryan, where it happened to most of the family as I also had cousins who sadly died the same way.

Even though I didn’t think at the time it would ever happen to me, and there is no proof to this very day that it's hereditary, when I was diagnosed it came as a complete shock and my world was turned upside down.

But, with the right help, the support from my incredible family and friends around the world, the medications that are available today - not a cure but they help - and talking and writing about it is therapy in itself.

I count my blessings every day, and every day I wake and know where I am is a bonus. Unfortunately some are not so lucky.