Yujiro's birthday today.
Last year: we were carefree singles and I spirited him away to a surprise Birthday Trip to India where we Couch Surfed with a businessman in south Delhi and rode the train to the Taj Mahal (giving my students the jitters because hardly anybody knew where Mumbai was at the time of the attacks...but we were safely half a country away.)
This year: joint trip to the dentist, a curry buffet lunch and a disaster movie.
Oh and we have an Okaasan creating a little stress at home.
MY highlight-of-the-day was that the dentist gave me the All Clear! After a year of terrible life stuff and practically zero self-care it is amazing.
While Yujiro was in the chair I managed to walk slowly round the bookshop and look at Japanese books about dementia. I want to get one for HIM to read so he has more understanding of where Okaasan is coming from. Ideally a book along the same lines as the one I read, so we are on the on the same page with her care and management.
No! Not actually as a birthday present for him! Nobody needs that. But just as a general read for our ongoing life.
I ran out of time and couldn't remember the author's name of the book I'd read anyway - so came away empty handed. But is it is SO good to be able to walk round a big bookshop now. My walking is finally strong enough to do things like this, at the weekend I even managed to walk the airports and train stations - although my knee was swollen and hurt.
Back to birthday.
We went to our favorite curry restaurant and I cued the staff into the Birthday Boy - so he got Happy Birthday sung in Hindi and WE got free mango icecream.
Then he slept on a sofa in the movie theater and I drifted slowly round a few shops.
Then GREAT disaster movie 2012. John Cusack can come and rescue me ANYTIME. And Adam Lambert sings the theme song. Woody Harrelson as a Messianic DJ good too.
Then back to our real life.
It was 7.15 pm.
From the movie theater car park Yujiro called Okaasan to check she had eaten something in the kitchen or ordered a delivery dinner. In the morning he had primed her on all of this called her at lunchtime too.
Okaasan answered the phone with such an awful down, down voice. Sounded like almost in tears: " I'm watching Tv, I haven't eaten anything, I'm watching TV...."
We hurried home. Bought good sushi to take to her. Burst through the kitchen door 30 minutes later.
Okaasan staggered out of her living room clutching an empty bowl of instant ramen. The kitchen was a clutter of two cooking pans, FIVE bowls with the remains of food, a few cups of half-drunk tea....
She was fine. Had obviously eaten stuff he had left for her. And her own snack food. Absolutely NO PROBLEM. But she didn't remember any of it.
We sat her down with the sushi. But she didn't want it. "I'm full, I ate ramen!"
So we ate it and sat at the table for a bit with her chatting.
Then Yujiro made the mistake of going into her room to check the heating and got ambushed by the trash - he was starting to stress out about that. Which NOBODY needs on their birthday night.
I managed to persuade him to leave the trash for tomorow and come upstairs to drink sparkling wine and finish celebrating 51 years.
Okaasan had no idea it was his birthday. She doesn't really know what day it is ever, so we didn't surprise her with that info.
But her voice on the phone and her mood. That was awful. A day on her own at home and she sounded so, so down. She actually coped with the food, in a rough and ready kind of way. She didn't go hungry. She can help herself and do simple heating up of leftovers or make instant ramen.
But her spirits were so down.
If she wasn't living with us this is how it would be for her. Long, gloomy days in front of the TV. Not knowing if she's eaten or not. Stumbling around in her pajamas among piles of clothes and old newspapers and trash.
Our life has changed in the last year. But we are...trying....to do a Good Thing.
But she isn't good left on her own too long. Tonight I have to work until 8 pm and he has to go to a ski school meeting in the evening, so she'll be alone again. He'll be at home during the day and hopefully can leave around 6 pm and leave food out for her.
I wish we were linked in to the city care system already so that we could arrange Meals on Wheels for Okaasan. When HE starts work more full-time away from home, I just fear Okaasan will have to do more time alone at home and her mood will plunge like it did today.
But for that she first has to go to a doctor and get appraised. And that isn't happening yet.
That's why I want to get him reading a book about Dementia so he can understand how these Black Holes of Mood are not good for her.