I grew up adoring my Aunt Hazel, it was she who stole me away from my parents every summer to spend time living in a caravan on an island called Anglesley. To me this was a magical place, sights and sounds that filled my senses with peace and calm. We stayed on a farm where together with my Aunt and Uncle Bob, my cousins, Lesley and Neil spent time herding in cows, watching piglets being born ( it was here that I learnt you need to carry a stout stick when entering a pig pen, apparently they cannot open their mouths once they start chomping, so the stick is to put in there rather than use your arm). Every morning we would awake to the sound of mooing cows congregating around the gate waiting to be let into the dairy at milking time, there is nothing like fresh milk straight from a cow. We got to put our small fingers into the mouths of calves where they would suckle, much to my amazement without chewing off your fingers! We would play cards, strip jack naked, snap, patience, then if the sky had just the right formation of clouds, a mackrel sky my Uncle Bob would call it, he would take us fishing. Walking along the beach small minnow would throw themselves onto the shore, a sign so my Uncle said that the mackerel were running, then we would throw in our lines and haul our catch to shore. The mornings after fishing were always my favorite, mackerel with flour and butter simmering in the pan, delicious. We stayed near Beaumaris, where a castle has stood for hundreds of years, we would cross the drawbridge over the eel filled moat then clamber all over it’s mossy stones and watch the boats on the Meni Straights work their way through the currents out into the ocean.
Years passed, life happened, I grew up, everyone grew up, moved, had children, lived their own lives, but memories remained. In mine Aunty Hazel and Uncle Bob were still in their 30’s, strong (although old to a child’s eyes), unchanging and still spending their summers in that green caravan at the farm.
Of course, that wasn’t the case, their children grew, moved and eventually Hazel and Bob move to live on that island and there spend their retirement years, they loved animals, there was always a dog by their side, or a parrot on my Uncle’s shoulder. Sadly my Uncle passed not too long ago, he was nursed for a year by Hazel, who although in bad health herself, did the best she could.
It was after he passed that everything changed, they say there are many types of dementia, I pray that I never suffer from any of them, (some say I already am), but if I do fall foul to losing my mind, then I think I would prefer to have the variety that my Aunt suffers with. Dewey Body dementia, unlike others types is defined by the hallucinations it causes, animals, very real to the patient flit in and out of their world, rabbits wearing jacket and smoking pipes, dogs on bicycles with glasses and trousers on, little birds that sit on your finger and puppies that clamber all over your head when your trying to sleep. I am not trying to make light of this illness, it has a very bad side, my Aunt can no longer feed herself, or get out of bed, for a time she was very distressed and I cannot imagine the grief my cousins went through watching their mother disappear before their eyes. However, now she is in a nursing home, receiving amazing care, surrounded by imaginary animals not dissimilar to the real animals for which she had a passion all her life, they come and go in their brightly colored clothing, invisible to the rest of the world, hoping on and off her bed, sleeping on her chair or roller skating though the room, most of them leaving a smile on her face.