Adventure before dementia

Several weeks ago, I spotted this sign in the rear window of a camper van.

P1120066

A few of the people that have looked at this photo said they felt it portrayed a rather pessimistic outlook: glass half empty rather than half full.   I beg to differ.

My father spent his life looking forward to retirement, in the sense that it would be the point when he and my mum would do all those things they had planned.   Alas, shortly after he retired it became clear that Dad was suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia. To cut a long story short, he passed away at the age of 74.   Let’s just say that Dad’s retirement did not turn out the way he had planned it.

I imagine that those camper van folks might have been affected by one of their loved ones suffering from dementia. If so, then they will have learned not to take anything for granted. Not only that, but they might also have been advised that they carry a slightly higher risk than most people of developing something similar later in life.

On receiving this kind of news, it’s hard not to find yourself worrying each time something trivial happens like being unable to remember somebody’s name. From time to time you find yourself looking over your shoulder for that metaphorical demon that may, or may not, be there, coming up behind you to steal your mind and your memory one piece at a time.

I like to picture those camper van people looking this demon squarely in the eye, defiantly sticking two fingers up and saying: “if you’re there, we’re one step ahead of you!”. That’s not pessimistic. It’s win-win for them: if they’re worrying about nothing then they will still have their retirement to go on many more adventures!

I’m not suggesting that we should live our lives in fear of what might happen in the future, but neither should we take anything for granted.

Here’s hoping that future generations will no longer need to look over their shoulders, at least for this particular demon. And clearly that’s one of the reasons for my choice of charity.

But, in a way, over this past year I’ve been having my own adventure; (hopefully not) before dementia. I have my wife, Sujal, to thank for tolerating my frequent departures, and all that accompanies my returns: damp tents drying in the living room and all that!   Thank you Sujal!! And I am acutely aware that you are due some adventures of your own!

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