Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pam's father

Arthur has many good points. He is methodical, generous and caring. He has spent the last seventeen years caring for his wife following a stroke which left her with little use in her left arm and leg. Having said that though he can be very stubborn and unwilling to accept help and any point of view other than his own. He is also argumentative and can be sarcastic. Apparently his father was stubborn and his brother displayed similar traits. Arthur is also a hoarder.

He has a severe hearing problem but won't admit to it. Arthur has a hearing aid but refuses to wear it. Having a conversation with him his is therefore very difficult. If he is not in the same room as the phone he doesn't hear it and if he's not in the hallway he doesn't hear the doorbell. The main worry though is that he can't hear high pitched sounds like fire and smoke alarms. Pam has tried to get him to wear his hearing aid but has been met with point blank refusal (stubborness).

Arthur also suffers from short term memory loss. He can remember things which happened thirty years ago well enough but has difficulty remembering things which happened last week. The way that he gets around this is to have a set routine which he follows slavishly each day. I wouldn't be surprised to find that he has taken Pam two cups of tea this morning because he will have forgotten that I left yesterday.

He doesn't like driving anymore but refuses to part with his car. It is now three years old but has done so little mileage that it looks like new. In order to tax it he had to take it for an MOT. The guy at the garage where he had the MOT done could hardly believe how clean it was under the bonnet. Every week he charges the battery up and then doesn't go near it until the next week. When he does eventually sell the car someone will get an absolute bargain.

Shopping for food is a problem for him because within walking distance there are only a couple of small supermarkets. That combined with the fact that he is too impatient to spend time preparing meals means that he lives on a diet of available microwavable food. No fresh vegetables, meat or fish and very little fresh fruit. He buys half a dozen eggs each week and throws them away before the next week's shop. His idea of lunch is a round of sandwiches made with thin sliced brown bread and one slice of meat. He accompanies this with an apple which is cored, peeled and cut into thin slices. Dinners are just as lean which is why both he and Marjorie had lost a lot of weight when we last visited them in July. Whilst I was there he told me that I needed to loose weight on several occasions and even offered to teach me his army exercises. I of couse politely declined this offer. I don't do thin!

Arthur doesn't seem to like fresh air and will close any window that you open to prevent its intrusion into the house. Again on our visit in July he had all the windows and doors shut during the very hot weather. It was unbearable especially in the conservatory. We like fresh air and sleep with the window open wide. In the mornings he would come in to bring us a cup of tea and if he spotted the window open he would close it without asking. There was a note on his central heating boiler from the Gas Board telling him not to use it because the ventilation was insufficient. He has chosen to ignore that advice.

Worst trait though is the hoarding. Every cupboard and drawer in the house is full of "junk" most of which he hasn't used in decades. For example we found dozens of hotel soaps and shower caps from the 70s when they went on holidays along with sun cream bottles that were almost dried up. His kitchen cupboards that should be filled with food etc have masses of old bills dating back to the seventies. The wardrobes upstairs are the same. If the BBC decided to make a programme about the 70s he could supply the whole cast with several changes of clothing. The garage has dried up tins of paint and rusty screws that just might come in someday!! De-junking his house would take weeks if not months and would require the largest skip that is available. At eighty two yeasr old I doubt whether he will do it. Mind you my father is just as bad. It must be something to do with the metality of people who lived through the war and rationing.

His shirts are worn at the collar, his shoes have the soles loose, the sheets on our bed had holes and the towels you could see through. Pam had been there four weeks before he allowed her to change the bed and even then he put her off washing the dirty sheets. The towels in the bathroom hadn't been washed since Pam got there. Mind you he's probably right not to wash them; the sheets and towels would disintegrate in the washing machine.

It would be easy to assume that Arthur is poor and has very little to live on. His bank balance though proves that is far from being true. It's not that he is mean in fact he is generous. He just doesn't see the necessity to throw out things that he regards as perfectly good and replace them with new.

Over the weeks that Pam has been there he has near driven her to dispair. The neighbours, who are excellent, worry about him but he won't accept their help. He doesn't even let them in the house most times. Parents - who would have them!

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