Since Dylan moved to his care home I have visited him on Wednesday afternoons for a short activity and meal out. There are reasons for making the trip on a Wednesday. One is balance; as Dylan stays overnight with me on Saturday, when I visit in the week it has been ‘three sleeps’ since I saw him last and it will be ‘three sleeps’ until I see him again. Also, Wednesday afternoon is reserved for university sport so there is no teaching; providing I don’t have other commitments, it is a good time for me to take a half day’s leave.
This week, however, it is the start of semester and I have been busy preparing for and teaching new classes as well as managing the demands of a new academic year. When Dylan’s programme for this week was being finalised I realised that although I could visit Dylan this afternoon, I might arrive stressed; weaving up the M1, dodging traffic cones while eyeing my clock and speedometer, would not be great for me (or Dylan).
But I couldn’t let go of the visit. What would Dylan think if I didn’t show up today? Presumably he had learned the pattern of my visits in the same way I had committed our mid-week meeting to heart. All the more reason to break the routine I counter-argued with myself. If I continued with this Wednesday/Saturday rhythm, I could create a problem in the future. What would I do in December, for example, when the time came for the poetry weekend I had booked on? If I didn’t disrupt the pattern of my visits soon they would become entrenched and could turn tyranny.
Still I couldn’t let my Wednesday visit go. I didn’t want to go to the poetry weekend anyway, I told myself. Why had I ever thought it a good idea? I’d been casting around for a reason to cancel for weeks. I would do it tomorrow; neither Dylan nor I were ready for a longer separation yet. I would keep the ‘three sleeps’ pattern until at least Christmas.
But then I saw an advert for a poetry event tonight. I looked through the programme. I quite fancied it. An homage to Ruskin. Something different. Going to such events was something I had been looking forward to wasn’t it? Should I stick so rigidly to my Wednesday routine that I missed them? But then I remembered the wardrobe. I had arranged for the one from Dylan’s room to be delivered to his care home on Thursday. I couldn’t possibly not visit Dylan on Wednesday and then have his wardrobe turn up the next day – he might think something had happened to me or his home.
And then for some reason I thought of Grandma – how as a child I used to long for Mondays and Thursdays as these were the days she came to tea. I remember how I would run from school at high speed so as not to miss a moment of her visit. Usually I arrived home in time to position myself in the front bay window and fix my eyes on the top of the hill opposite. In due course Grandma would appear round the corner, striding briskly in her sensible shoes and second best coat, and I would tear out of the house and up the hill to greet her, as thrilled and excited by her reliable visit as by a surprise.
Remembering this I decided on a Thursday visit to Dylan this week, as I had once been visited on a Thursday by someone who loved me. And so I did make it to the poetry event tonight while Dylan (if things went to plan) tried out an inclusive disco. I probably missed seeing him today more than he missed me 🙂 And I still have tomorrow’s visit to look forward to. I might not be wearing sensible shoes and a second best coat but, if I’m lucky, Dylan will be looking out for me.