Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop

Page 12


‘It’s dementia,’ said the balding man. ‘Sorry. He’s not well.’
‘I can see that,’ said Rosie, speed-dialling Moray. ‘Has this happened before?’
‘All the time,’ said the man, and as Rosie looked more closely at him, she saw the marks of strain around his eyes and mouth. ‘All the time, and getting worse. This one came out of the blue. There is… there is no getting better.’
‘I know,’ said Rosie softly, finishing her conversation with Moray’s receptionist Maeve. ‘He’s on his way. Would you like a cup of tea?’
The man nodded, then glanced apprehensively out of the window at the weather.
‘Although maybe we should get on.’
The old man was moaning now, rocking himself back and forth. Rosie found the new blanket they’d bought for Mr Dog and put it round his shoulders, and gradually, with his son’s arm around him, the old chap’s breathing slowed and he stopped jabbering, although not before a great tear had rolled down his cheek.
‘It’s a horrible disease,’ said Rosie thoughtfully. ‘A total pig.’
The man winced in agreement.
‘Yes. Yes, it is rather.’ He held out his hand. ‘Edward Boyd. And my father is James.’
‘Nice to meet you,’ said Rosie. ‘Rosie Hopkins.’
By the time Moray arrived, the kettle was whistling. He gave the old man a thorough check over.
‘He’s stopped… he’s stopped recognising me at all,’ said Edward sadly. ‘He keeps shouting things that don’t make sense.’
‘That’s very common,’ said Moray, assessing James’s vital signs. ‘His pulse is a bit thready, but that might just be the shock. What caused him to react like that?’
‘I’ve no idea,’ said Edward, gratefully accepting a cup of tea.
‘I’ll cool it down for your dad,’ said Rosie quietly, adding cold water.
‘I had to take a detour; we normally use the Hiftown road, but it’s shut… I don’t even know where we are.’
‘Lipton,’ said Moray.
Edward looked worriedly out of the window. It was so overcast, it felt like night time. ‘I’ll need to get on.’
Rosie gave the old man his tea, holding the cup while he sipped it.
‘Thank you,’ said Edward again. ‘Okay, well, as we drove into town he got very agitated and took off his seat belt. He was all over the place.’
‘Could he have been here before?’ asked Rosie.
‘I don’t think so,’ said Edward. ‘He was born and raised the other side of Halifax.’
They all regarded James quietly; he seemed perfectly happy and at home in the chair, looking around approvingly.
‘Does he live with you?’ asked Moray. Edward turned to face him, and just for a second, Rosie caught sight of the tiredness and anguish behind the polite mask.
‘Yes,’ he said, his face stricken. Then he straightened up again. ‘I mean, yes, he does. It’s fine, we have some home care, and of course my wife helps a lot, of course…’
‘There’s no shame,’ said Moray quietly and kindly, ‘in getting someone the help they need. You know, after a certain point, many of the nicer homes won’t take dementia patients.’
‘He’s my dad,’ said Edward stoically.
Rosie decided that she liked Edward Boyd. Lilian had had to go into a home after several falls and a minor stroke; Rosie couldn’t look after her and work at the same time. She admired this man who had clearly tried to do both. And Lilian had kept her marbles, which made everyone’s lives so much easier.
‘Come on, Dad,’ said Edward, glancing at his watch. ‘It’s time to go.’
James looked around confusedly, his hands gripping the sides of the chair.
‘No!’ he spat hoarsely. ‘No.’ His face was full of confusion and panic.
‘Come on, Dad. We’re going to go home. You can see Doreen, okay? We’ll have vegetable soup for lunch, I know you like that.’
‘NO!’ said the old man, looking surprisingly strong. ‘I’m staying here.’
Moray and Rosie exchanged glances; Edward just looked downtrodden and resigned.
‘We have to go, Dad.’
James was mutinous.
Finally Moray stepped forward and took out his card.
‘If you need someone to talk to,’ he said, ‘give me a call and I’ll have a word with your GP about making a referral, okay? It doesn’t have to be like this.’
Edward looked down at the card like he might cry.
‘Thank you so much for your kindness. Oh, let me take some sweets, that might help tempt him out.’
‘Of course! What does he like?’ said Rosie.
‘Mixed boiled usually,’ said Edward.
‘NO!’ came the quavering but determined voice again. ‘Caramel!’
‘You don’t like caramel,’ said Edward. ‘It sticks to your teeth!’
‘You can have caramels if you get in the car.’
‘Don’t want to,’ said the old man.
‘Caramels in the car.’
Rosie made up a bag and Edward paid for them and thanked them once again profusely for their kindness, then he led the old man, the caramels clutched in his hand, out of the shop and back to the car. As they left, Rosie noticed another tear rolling down the old man’s cheek.
‘That’s it,’ she said as she came back to pick up the tea cups. ‘I never want that to happen to me. Never. Honestly, I think I’d rather… I think I’d rather be dead.’
‘Stephen will do it,’ said Moray, waving his hand. ‘Doctors get into trouble for that kind of thing.’
Rosie shook her head.
‘How awful. It’s just such a horrible thing. I wonder what set him off?’
‘Probably nothing,’ said Moray. ‘Stumbling across an old memory in the brain that just happened to coincide with passing by. It’s a filthy disease, dementia. I see the guilty grown-up children in my surgery all the time. Really they should do what’s for the best and get him somewhere nice. No point in everybody’s life being ruined.’
‘Poor chaps,’ muttered Rosie again, and she put the old man and his son out of her head.