Wednesday, 2 April 2008
'Cause I've Been First And Last And Look At How The Time Goes Past
When I lived in England, I worked as a barmaid in a pub. I lived in small village and there were some days that I'd have no lunch customers. The only patron would be Barnie - an old man who lived up the hill behind the pub. Barnie would come in with Tara, his greyhound, and sit up at the counter. He was a fan of the ale, but on the rare occasion he didn't like any of the 3 we had on tap he would ask for Guinness. If we had pork scratchings he'd buy a pack and split it with Tara. If we didn't, he would ask for crisps and eat them himself (Tara didn't love crisps the way she loved those pork scratchings.) (PS: pork scratchings = grossest snack food EVER.)
Barnie would tell me stories about the Second World War. He was stationed in Venice and fell in love with a Venetian woman. When he was sent back to England he had to leave her behind because she had elderly parents that she had to care for. He ended up marring a British woman but still pined after his "Venetian girlfriend."
Barnie was lonely, his wife having passed away years before I met him. Tara was his only company when he wasn't down in the pub. I started going to his house on Sundays to clean, but every week I'd end up with a cup of tea in my hand instead of a vacuum. He'd talk about his kids and grandkids (who lived close enough to visit but rarely did), his sweet wife (who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm - something he never got over) and life in general. Barnie had an opinion on anything and everything and wasn't afraid to share it. Tact isn't something he concerned himself with.
I went back to England last May. Barnie had just put Tara down after the vet discovered the reason she wasn't jumping and playing like she used to; she had cancer in her bones and was in excruciating pain. Barnie looked haggard. He'd always looked old but this time he looked defeated. The last time I saw Barnie he told me to hurry back because he didn't think he'd last much longer.
In December, Barnie had a fall and ended up in the hospital for a month. His heart was bad, his legs weren't working properly, his body was slowly deteriorating. Yet he soldiered on. In January he was out of the hospital and back home. A friend who used to live in the same village visited Barnie last week and reported back to me that Barnie's had another fall. J is trying to convince Barnie to go into a care facility but Barnie is resisting. He wants to stay in his home. J asked me to call Barnie this weekend and convince him that going into a care facility is the best option. I think that if I pressed him, he would listen. I feel conflicted though. On one hand, I really believe that Barnie should be in a place where he can be monitored. On the other hand, if it's his wish to stay in his home, who am I to tell him otherwise? He doesn't have much time left. Shouldn't he spend it where and how he wants to? The whole situation makes me sad. I wish that Barnie's family was taking a more active stance in his care. I wish that Barnie had someone nearby who could check up on him more frequently. I wish that I didn't have to try to change his mind. I really wish that it wasn't going to be another year before I can make it back to England.