I have no idea how my Mum is so strong to care for my Dad. I suppose she does it because she has to. Because she loves him & even though he's not the man she fell in love with, she's sticking to him through sickness and in health.
When I go back to Nottingham I have to slot into the daily routine; making Dad a cup of coffee in the morning with the powder that makes his drinks thicker, putting an apron over Dad's head to make sure he doesn't spill his mushed up Weetabix down his clean shirt- that Mum had buttoned up for him, making sure the wheely zimmer frame type thing is close enough to him in case he needs to go to his walk-in bathroom. - All constant reminders how PSP has interrupted our lives.
Everything just seems to be accepted and it can take me ages to adjust to what is their every day lives.
When the falling began it wasn't trips and slips. Dad was falling from the very top of the stairs. Backwards. He only ever fell backwards at first, lacking the initiative to pull himself forward.
There was a succession of almighty bangs as Dad forcefully made contact with all 13 steps. Luckily we had just had a carpet fitted in the hall, which was before cold, hard tiles which wouldn't have been easy on Dad's head. I jumped up from my seat in a blind panic, not knowing what to do and feeling so useless as I just watched my Mum and my Brother spring into action. My Brother grabbed a chair and placed it at the bottom of the stairs whilst Mum kept asking if Dad had hurt anywhere, checking him for cuts and bruises. I didn't know what to do. A lot of blame crossed my mind as I couldn't believe I just stood there but I had to remind myself I was still getting used to the idea that WE had to look after Dad now, and not the other way around.
Mum was at a meeting when Dad plummeted to the bottom of the stairs once more, forcing me into her role. I screamed to my Brother "Get a chair!", as I ran to to my helpless father. Mimicking the get-up-and-go attitude my Mum demonstrated, it had all become real. Very real and devastating. When I had checked Dad was OK, I quickly went back to that state of panic, trying to digest what had just happened and how I had had to deal with it. I went to meet Mum in floods of tears, wanting her to put it all right. I was legally an adult but I've never craved to be looked after so much before, to be comforted as I was a child. I choked to Mum blubbering how Dad didn't say thank you for helping him. I was so angry! Did he not see how difficult that was for me?. I have those moments of anger, trying to blame it on someone, anything to make it easier. Of course it's not Dad's fault that PSP has taken over his body, his mind, his whole life but I didn't want to accept that it was hard for him too. He didn't want to be helped, he was angry at himself for not being able to pick himself up.
Dad has got to the stage now where his legs are freezing up, he needs that motivation to move his left leg at the same time as his right. Again, I was in the house without Mum, so I had to be carer. Telling my Dad to 'Hurry up slowcoach' and making other jokes, like I remember him doing when I was on crutches, made it somewhat easier as it distracted me from what I was really doing.
I took his arm to stable him. One of the rare times of contact with my Dad. "I can't do it", "It won't move" he kept slurring as I tried to motivate him. The crying tone in his voice distresses me greatly as I hold back the tears. We're both getting more frustrated by this point so I decide to let him rest on me to make it easier to get him into his chair, only 2 inches away from where he's standing, but it might have well been Kilimanjaro. As Dad lifted his arms and put them around my neck (I want to say flung, but that suggests speed and freedom of movement), the lump in my throat grew. It was the closest thing to a hug we've shared in years. Part of me wanted to stay like that forever, to rekindle the fantastic Father-Daughter relationship we once had, but I was soon knocked back into reality as it was time for him to begin bending at the waist before he could fall back into his chair.