One of the main disruptions for the Lovely Wife and I at this time is the lack of any real ability to plan. There are many, some of my very best friends among them, who are quite happy to ‘wing it’ a lot of the time and see what happens. I am not one of those people. I like to know what I am doing, when I am doing it and whether I am doing it right (and not in retrospect, I like to know before so I don’t make a massive fool of myself). I see double booking myself as a major gaffe on my part and one to be avoided at all costs. So even though there is only two of us to manage, one of the most important documents in our household is The Schedule.
The Schedule is king. It is a simple, day to day account of what we are doing each day, in the day and in the evening. For the next few years. Yes, there are entries that are several years ahead, where things are set in stone and/or are important enough to secure the dates this far in advance. It even is colour coded so I can see if the entry is to do with personal or work commitments.
This is all well and good if we are able to control events. Normally this is the case, even with work trips to some extent. But with my Dad’s situation dominating pretty much everything we do at the moment I am suffering Schedule crash. Things booked six months ago, when life seemed a bit different, are now having to be managed in a way I never foresaw. Do we abandon them, chalked down to the fact that this situation will never really happen again for us? Do we come up with a Plan B, inevitably involving travel and expense and a nagging sense of completely inappropriate guilt that we might want to take a few days off visiting duty, at least while he is stable and able to entertain himself with TV, DVDs and now internet… Order has been lost and now I have to ‘wing it’. It also means that things which form a set of touchstones that are regular in the schedule – platelet donations, my volunteering at Wrest Park, attendance at church and our favourite pub (although to be fair, the latter two are happening, just it is now my old church I went to as a child, and the massively improved Newfield Inn, Newfield rather than The Mermaid, St Albans) – all are more or less on hold, and that is surprisingly annoying.
However, however… It is not that simple, is it? A new order has been put into place, one that involves stopping at Pelton COOP to pick up a copy of the Evening Chronicle on the way to the nursing home. Sitting for a couple of hours with some light conversation as CBS Action burbles on in the background – NCIS: Los Angeles if we are lucky, interminable repeats of Bonanza if we are not (i.e. at the weekend). Drawing his curtains before wandering back to a bungalow which is so familiar – the first 18 years of my life – but also strange because my parents are not there, nor will my Dad ever be there again. Maybe a short walk to the Inn for a pint of Double Maxim (it’s rather good) for the miraculous price of £2.75 a pint. A short term order, to be realistic, but one that is also comforting in a way while it lasts. And actually, I have found I am rather good at executing Plan B’s.