I had become overly concerned with Arthur’s health and well-being. It may have been the ageing process or possibly he was missing Tom and Angie. I didn’t know what to think.
He’d been with us for a week by then, and God love him, the move must have been a terrible wrench. When I worked in the Nursing Home I witnessed distress and all manner of quirks and foibles arising from the trauma of leaving home. It’s not guaranteed that the elderly adapt well to a changed environment.
But most worryingly, Arthur wouldn’t speak to me. He and Pete had the odd word; but me - he sort of looked warily, as if suspicious of my motives. Sometimes he actually turned his back on me in a bid to hammer the message home.
The old soldiers used to call it ‘dumb insolence.’ Poor Arthur, I’m being unkind to him now. He was likely as not simply bewildered and anxious.
I’d considered giving Tom and Angie a call to put them in the picture, but Pete said not to. I knew he was right. Its years since they had a proper, carefree holiday. What, with the struggle to put the kids through college; nursing Angie’s mam at home for five years; and now the ageing Arthur, mam’s constant companion; the love of her life.
Now mam’s gone, Tom suggested finding a really good home for Arthur, somewhere sensitive to his changing needs. But the very suggestion ripped Angie’s heart in two. She was inconsolable for days. Tom had to make a promise that the wayward thought would never again grace his lips.
Tom kept his promise to Angie and that’s when we stepped in to offer our, as yet embryonic ‘Caring Service.’ Me and Pete had been weighing up the pros and cons of home sharing. The kids were gone, we were rattling around in a ‘too big’ house and extra cash wouldn’t go amiss. Arthur was to become our project pioneer; make it or break it, a dummy run so to speak.
We were warned that he could be a cantankerous old so ‘n’ so. We laughed and said we would probably be the same ourselves someday.
To make Arthur feel welcome we encouraged him to treat our house as his own. He preferred the high backed chair by the window, probably for the view of our garden. Tom had said how he enjoyed watching wild birds on the feeder.
After a couple of days Arthur became picky with food and appeared to lose his appetite. Pete thought he might be fretting, a sort of delayed reaction to Tom and Angie leaving him with strangers. I tried to entice him with all manner of delicacies, but he was in a strop. He was having none of it.
Angie had told us he was rather fond of fresh fruit and I persuaded him with some skinned apple and pear. I was careful to chop it into small pieces being conscious of the fact that he was somewhat toothless.
What a dreadful mistake that was! As Arthur moved around the room I had to follow him with a roll of toilet tissue and a damp cloth.
And if that wasn’t enough for me to question the foolhardy wisdom of our hospitality enterprise, the grouchy old boy had one last ditched attempt at punishing me for the folly of being nice to him. He took a shine to the large hallway mirror.
Hour upon hour he muttered and chuntered to the reflected image, whilst that well-worn, old and tattered green budgerigar, beak to beak chelped back!
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