That’s right. I rode zero miles today. It was planned this way. I wanted a day off and by that I meant a day of no thinking required. A lazy morning in the garden drinking coffee and having a leisurely breakfast. It was nice not to have to pack up and think of ‘where to next’ for a day. Although this is the most exciting bit of the day it was also nice not to have to make many decisions.
A fellow adventurer, Steph Jeavons said last week in a talk at Llan Bike Fest “The best thing about travelling on your own is that you get to make all of the decisions. The worst thing about travelling on your own is that you get to make all of the decision.”
It is true. While this gives you the freedom and allows for spontaneity it also gets a bit tiresome. So today I decided to enjoy the day with my biggest and most important decision being what to have for lunch.
Mum’s house is on the outskirts of the capital city, Ljubljana and it is surrounded by greenery. She is a talented gardener, not something that I have inherited from her, and the house if picture perfect with pedicured garden around it.
It was my rest day so I didn’t even want to go to town, the less people I had to speak to, the better. The sun was out, it was bloody roasting so doing as little as possible was the order of the day.
I came prepared, I have packed my bikini and spent most of the morning lounging in the garden topping up my tan. Mum saw me walking towards her and stared at my chest. She looked at me with eyes half closed and leant in pointing at me: “Are these all yours?” referring to my boobs. “Err, yes, all home grown, thanks! A gift from you and dad!” She smirked and walked away. A few years ago I would have been hurt but I know better now so I just shrugged and laughed to myself.
At lunchtime I set off to visit dad who is in a care home and has been there for just over a year. He suffers from dementia and sadly can no longer be looked after at home. It happens a lot, I know, but at the age of 70 this really is too soon.
Mum and dad divorced when I was 15 years old and now his parter looks after his affairs. I was going to see her the next day as she was away. I took mum’s car to drive the short distance to the care home. Having lived in the UK for over 20 years I now think driving on the left is the right way even though I learnt to drive in Slovenia in my teens. Figured I best take my time and go slow. The fact that she drives a bloody bus didn’t help!
I haven’t seen dad in a year and he was in a bad shape last time. The nurse smiled when I told her who I was, said he talks about me a lot. She let me into the ward and pointed to one end of the corridor. There he was. My dad. The strong man that taught me how to ski, ride my first push bike, bought me my first moped, always fit and active is now just a shadow of his former self, his mind switching pictures in his head from one minute to the next and he hardly knows who he is anymore.
I walked over to him and said hello. He didn’t acknowledge me. I asked if he wanted to go for a walk. No, he was tired. He sat down so I crouched down in front of him. I asked: “Do you know who I am?” He looked in my direction and his eyes were blank. He looked back at the floor and told me that an old neighbour we had when I was a child has lost his mind and now has eight children. This, of course, is not real. But I was told to go along with his stories and not argue the case that it’s nonsense. He proceeded to tell me a few other things then suddenly he looked me straight in the eye, his whole face lit up in the biggest smile I have ever seen and I smiled back. It only lasted about a second but in that second he recognised me and that meant the world to me.
I stopped there for a couple of hours, talked to him and helped him eat his lunch then left to go back to mum’s. I thought I was prepared for this but I wasn’t. Not at all. I held back the tears until I left him then sat in the car for what seemed like ages and just couldn’t stop crying. Such a cruel illness to everyone around but to the one that is actually ill. Which is a blessing in disguise, to be fair. Much better than suffering in pain.
Luckily the care home isn’t far from mum’s house so I was soon back and in her garden sunning myself. In the evening she invited some friends to come over and after a few bottles of wine and Jaegermeister it was deemed a good idea to open a bottle of Fireball.
All I’ll say, I was the first one to go to bed while the rest stayed up drinking until the early hours of the morning. Must be getting old!