A Fine Vintage

It's what I’m wishing for in 2018, a fine vintage year of mellow fruitfulness. One that lingers on the palate and in the memory - sociable and warming but easy on the pocket as well as the old grey cells. A Grand Cru, Chateau Pearson 2018. Well, we can only hope!

Christmas seems such a distant memory, even though we’ve still got the cards and decorations up, and all the excitement and bonhomie of New Year too.
Today it’s drizzling and my head is fuzzy and it really feels like that sudden unwelcome bump back to earth and back to reality.

I bought Nick a new diary for the year ahead, and put the 2017 one in the recycling. Then I took it out again as I realised he has kept all his diaries for the past fifteen years and maybe he wants this one too. A record of a year in which he made no entries himself but the pages gradually filled up with appointments for health professionals and all the details of his move to Sheffield. Then: benefits advice lines, social services, council tax, housing and emergency accommodation officers, builders, plumbers, support workers, care providers, hospital, dental, medical appointments, butcher baker and candlestick maker and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. The strange itinerary of someone whose body is no longer entirely their own affair.
There are some fun things there too – his weekly outing to the pub or the cinema with Simon, his Saturday lunch with one of the carers from my old firm, the odd drink with his old friend Dave.
I'm determined that this year will have loads of those and we'll be kicking off with a party next week to celebrate Nick's birthday. 
But in the meantime, here's the sobering reminder of how much things have changed. The diaries tell a story better than words. In 2004 he was running a business and doing some catering work on the side for his (then) in-laws. Married. Cooking. Driving. Not socialising much, a toddler at home and another baby on the way, a hard working family man.

By 2013 he was living alone, separated but seeing the children at weekends, still working and driving but not for much longer. This was his manic phase, making sense of life by writing endless to-do lists and ticking them off.
A year later he was still making lists but his writing is wobbly and wild. By 2016 he had stopped making lists and his diary lay on the kitchen counter open at the wrong week, no entries at all unless they'd been made by me. That's when I knew it was time for him to leave. 

This year? There may be trouble ahead, as the song goes. There are certainly physio and support service appointments and, as Nick's mobility has taken a visible nosedive lately, probably meetings with health professionals to talk of electric chairs and hoists. All this will be in the diary. 
But I am planning lunches, outings, bringing friends round to say hello (my friends - shamefully, many of them have not even seen Nick in the time he's been here. Not for want of trying but because it's been difficult. It's hard enough to get to meet my friends full stop these days - how is it that we all seem to have got busier?? - and Nick's care needs and somewhat unsocial hours have made it tricky to fit into other people's patterns. Also, in truth, I have often really needed to get away from him and see other people, think other thoughts.) But I think it's time to bring them into the picture and make his little flat into a party house. When we have made the effort to involve people and do something social he has enjoyed it so much, "Oh, I have enjoyed this. It's been lovely!" (for all the world sounding like our dad) so I want to make it happen more.
I want to make the most of our time together while Nick is still able to socialise, and this year the diary pages are going to look like something from the Great Gatsby. Photos, leaflets, phone numbers of pretty men and witty girls, coloured inks and felt pen doodles? Yep. There may even be stickers. I am determined that this is going to be a very good year.