Thursday, March 27, 2008

He answers to Chuck

This afternoon's bright sunshine drew me out of the house for an extended chocolate death walk. I pootled round my route, then bumped into Ziggy practicing staff outside his house. It was so glorious and such a pleasure to be out that I decided to do the actual chocolate bit of the death walk and set off for the garage arm in arm with Ziggy's girlfriend to buy an ice lolly.

On our way home, ice creams in a bag we saw an elderly gentleman coming towards us. Well dressed and with visible gold jewelery and watch but no coat something seemed amiss and as we reached the man he asked us for directions to the local police station. He stood in the road as he asked us, and told us of the men who had taken over his home and trapped his wife in it. He was quite confused and most insistent he just wanted to know how to get to the police station.

There is no police station in our town, and the next one is a couple of miles down the road, only manned part time so we insisted he could use my mobile phone to call, or that we would take him there if he wished. By this time we'd already established that although he knew his name, he didn't know where he lived, where he was or where he wanted to go and neither of us felt we could leave him stood confused and vulnerable on the side of the road.

I dialled 999 and was put through to the police, explaining the situation to the man in the control room. I stressed the vulnerability of the gentleman and how we'd found him just wandering and confused and asked for someone to come as soon as they could. Having given my name and address and established that the gentleman would come with us, I said that we would take him back to my house and make him a cup of tea whilst we waited for the police. Given the priority of the situation I was glad to hear someone would be out asap, but less glad to hear that it could be up to an hour.

We managed the few meters home and threw a very disgruntled cat out of the armchair so we could sit the old man down. Once sat with a cup of tea he seemed quite happy with both us and his surroundings, although still upset and concerned about the men in his house, and worried that he might get into trouble from the police. We reassured him frequently that no-one would be angry with him, and that the police would be only too glad to help him. Whilst we waited we asked the man about whether he had any children and if he knew their names hoping we could find a phone number for them. Although he could tell us his daughter's name and that she was married with children, he didn't know what her husband might be called so we could find out her married name, or where she lived. He was alternating between thinking he was still in Ireland and worried about getting back home to Hollywood.

He told us of how he met his wife during his national service and how they'd married just afterwards, her 19, he 20, frequently telling us that she had died just a few weeks or few days ago. It was obvious someone would be missing him and that as we'd given the police a name and description just kept reassuring him that someone would be here for him soon and not to worry about anyone being cross, they would just be glad to see him.

After 20 minutes or so the police phoned back, confirming the man's name and explaining he answered to Chuck. They'd found where he lived. As we thought from the man's description of undoing 4 locks and 'escaping', he was missing from a local nursing home. The person calling from the police explained that they had not been able to find a spare officer anywhere to attend the call, but they had spoken to the nursing home and someone would be round soon to collect him.

Shortly afterwards a van pulled up and a very anxious man knocked at the door explaining that his wife ran the nursing home and that they currently had builders in. This had obviously upset Chuck who thought they had taken over his home and his wife, and whilst tea was being prepared he had managed to slip out unnoticed. Chuck seemed perfectly happy to go with the man, albeit a bit confused by the white van he was to get in. Whilst Chuck was being helped into the van a car pulled up and a frantic looking woman arrived to explain she was the person in charge and what had happened.

Chuck lost his wife six months ago and had to move from his home to this area to be close to his daughter. Usually she visited him every day, but was on holiday at the moment and so Chuck was more confused than normal. She thanked us for taking care of him and we made sure to find out the name of the nursing home in case we found him again.

It was all just so sad.

15 comments:

Katrin said...

Oye. My grandfather goes by Chuck and he has Alzheimers and right now my family is looking at nursing homes for the future. Currently he's doing ok with my grandmother and the day center and extra help from an aid at home and my uncle who moved in with them, but I can so easily see something like this happening here. Considering he 'escaped' in the dead of night last week, though he didn't manage to get off the porch, it could have been a disaster very quickly. So scary and sad.

Glad you were able to help out Chuck.

(and hope the ice cream was worth the death walk!)

Unixman said...

Christ I hate Alzheimers ... the complete destruction of self .. the very identity of someone ..

steph said...

Sounds just like my Dad, BG

I get phone calls from him regularly (from the nursing home) with 'imagined' stories just like this one.

It is "just so sad".

Thank you for having a heart of gold to come to Chuck's rescue.

cogidubnus said...

Oh Bendy I have a huge soft spot for you anyway, but this one has ensured you a place in my heart...bless you and your friends for your downright goodness...

Have you read Spences (Siren Voices) post of the same date? Strange parallels there...coincidence or what?

Casdok said...

Chuck was very fortunate to have bumped into you.

Jim said...

Well done BG. I'm heart sorry for Chuck, the confusion he must have been going through must have been dreadful for him.

frog ponds rock... said...

Beautiful post Bendy xxx I am pleased that you found chuck..

My friends dad has alzheimers and is a special nursing home that specialises in alzheimers.
There aren't any locks on the doors because locked doors are really distressing. So some dangerous doors just don't have handles.
There also is a 'pretend' bus shelter in the grounds because some of the patients need to catch a bus, and are very happy to sit at the bus stop for hours..

alzheimers is such a sad sad disease...


Thankyou Bendy.. xxx

Spence Kennedy said...

Lucky Chuck - to have wandered across your path that day, BG.

It sounds as if he's doing okay, despite all the awful things that have happened to him - a daughter who visits every day, a home that sounds pretty proactive and caring...

It is a scary prospect, though. When I think how disorienting and distressing it is to wake from a vivid dream and not be able to tell the difference for a minute or two. The prospect of that extending indefinitely fills me with dread. On the other hand, if it was a good dream...

I remember going to a secure EMI unit a couple of years ago. A woman was sitting in a room filled with teddy bears. She was laughing and chatting to them as if she were the focus of a particularly happy party, and I remember thinking 'what a great way to end your days, surrounded by loads of friendly bears'. But on the way out, she was screaming. One of the orderlies told me that sometimes she says the bears get vicious and attack her.

Oops.

Anyway, sounds like you did a great job with Chuck, BG.
Sx

Marla said...

What a day! What an amazing story. Thank goodness you and your friend helped him and kept him safe. Very sad indeed.

having my cake said...

My family has been touched by Alzheimers and Parkinsons. The only conclusion I can draw is to live life to the full NOW. Because you never know when these cruel illnesses will strike.

Stonehead said...

HMC is right. An ex-GF of mine was staggered to find her mother diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers when she was 44 or 45. The mother went downhill very, very fast.

Even worse, my ex was told there was a genetic link (a fault on chromosome 14) and she and her brother should be checked regularly once they hit 40.

So make the most of what you have while you have it.

Slip said...

So sad. You have a good heart. Maybe you have found a calling, a visit to the home perhaps? I am sure there are folks not as lucky as Chuck who has a daughter to visit him everyday.

kingmagic said...

Good call Lil sis.

Big bro...x

Emma said...

Well written post and how fortunate he was to meet the special person who is you...always thinking of others first..your an inspiration babe..xx

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Katrin: I'm sorry to hear about your grandpa, he sounds well loved though.
Ice cream is always worth a death walk ;)

Unixman: it's awful

Steph: I'm so sorry you're going through that with your dad x x

Cogi: TY. TBH I'm most surprised that people think this is anything more than just the right thing to do. I did read Spence's post btw, excellent just like all his posts!

Casdok: Karma ;)

Jim: TY. Yes, it's awful isn't it

Kim: I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. It sounds a wonderful place where he lives though x x

Spence: TY. Yes, he is doing ok, and very lucky compared to some. When I still had a care package some of the stories I heard from the carers were enough to make you sick.
That poor woman, that is one warped teddy bear's picnic ;) x

Marla: Yes indeed.

Cake: Quite right. One life and one chance at it. x

Stonehead: That's terrible, I'm sorry to hear that. Funnily enough I'm grateful I learned that lesson so early in life, any kind of chronic illness or condition brings those positives I think

Slip: TY and welcome. I am going to go back to the home

KM: TY big bro x

Emma: Wow, ty. You'll make me blush! x x