Thursday, 13 May 2010

Theme Thursday - The mystery of the human brain


Vascular dementia is a mystifying ailment.

This afternoon I showed my father the 1942 photograph of him astride a motorcycle in his backyard in Florence Street, Hornsby . He could remember it was a Panther and that its headlight had a blackout cover. He told me the story of remoulding the exhaust pipe to ride lower to avoid it burning his younger brother’s leg. He told me the story of riding a BSA through the mud and slush of New Guinea in 1943 as a Signalman riding despatch between command posts. He linked this to his love of bicycles, walking from Hornsby to Pennant Hills in 1935 to buy his first pushbike for 10/- and how he wished, upon his demob in November 1945, he had set up his own cycle shop.


Then, without so much as a pause, he turned to me and asked me about a specific photo on his wall.

Who is she?
She is Olwen.

Why did I have her photo on the table in my tent in New Guinea?
You were engaged to her.

Who
is she?
She was your wife.

Did you know her?
She was my mother.

(Pause) So, am I your father? Yes, Dad. You are my father.
(Pause) That was a good bike that Panther ...

Then I really made his afternoon by producing his Army Driver’s Licence which showed he was licensed to drive a range of vehicle types (1A, 1B, 2A, 3B and 5B) but not tanks.

He chuckled.


A member of the Theme Thursday community

31 comments:

Naturedigital said...

Beautiful story.. Old memories coming back..
And.. beautiful photographs..
Costas

Frank de Jol said...

Beautiful story, plus excellent photos.

mia said...

Oh no how heartbreaking :( I had a family member who had dementia as well. It's sad and I'm sorry to hear that your own family is affected by it too. But I liked hearing about your dad's adventures. And I liked looking at the pictures.

Woody said...

As someone who considers motorcycles an integral part of his life, I love the details of the story and the photos of the bikes. The dementia part is so very sad, my heart goes out to you.

Lois said...

I know it must be very difficult for you Julie. What a wonderful old photograph though and it is amazing that he could remember all those details from so long ago.

jabblog said...

I wish you grace and patience in trying times. Your father sounds an interesting man and it's good that there are some things that are very clear to him.

Tom said...

great story!

Mary Ann said...

It sounds like you really brightened his day. He's lucky to have you.

Rinkly Rimes said...

What a sensitive and loving account of a terrible situation. With an element of humour too. I loved it.

Peter said...

wow, a touching story ... almost hear that thump of the harley

Bill said...

A sad story, it's terrible getting old, but then when you consider the alternative... As the French would say C'est la vie!

Brian Miller said...

what a range of emotions this one produced...an endearing moment trimmed in sadness...

great pics!

happy tt!

brattcat said...

This one got me crying, Julie. Told perfectly. Felt utterly.

Marka said...

Aye, as is Alzheimers. My grandfather can tell stories upon stories about years gone by, but cannot remember what day of the week it is. We must cherish the memories they have and the memories we make with them.

Ann said...

Sad but I'm glad you can still cheer him up. I've got old photos of my dad with his beloved motorbike - think it was a Victor. Mum's never forgiven him for running after his precious bike when she was lying injured after a crash.

freefalling said...

I wonder if my grandfather knew your dad. He was a mechanic in PNG during the war (and in northern africa).

Kris said...

I enjoyed that, in a depressing kind of way.

Bruce Caspersonn said...

One day he will be gone and then you will be really really sad. Make the best of now.
I too had a Panther once, see I AM old.

Magpie said...

Beautifully told...sad, but uplifting at the same time. The brain is an awesomely complex bit of machinary.

TheChieftess said...

My father-in-law told stories about WWII as his alzheimer's encroached on his mind...they were bigger and bolder than the original ones his family had heard many times over the years...but he could be the hero, however he wanted!!! He's gone now, but the stories linger on...

diane said...

What an endearing story, so well written with sadness and humour.My mother also had dementia but with paranoia as well. It wasn't easy but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep going.

Joan Elizabeth said...

How fortunate that you have the resources to draw out these memories. Another finely crafted story with sumptuous photos. I always drawn to shiny chrome and interesting paintwork on motobikes.

willow said...

It's sad to see a loved one slip into dementia. It does help to take it with a dose of humor. My mother in law, who died in March, did come up with some cute things. We're still giggling about them today and it helps us deal with the loss. Excellent post.

Nefertiti said...

magnifique machine !

http://unephotounsouvenir.blogspot.com/

Jingle said...

thank you for the emotional roller coaster ride...
what exciting tale!
Happy Theme Thursday!

Ronda Laveen said...

I understand this completely. My mother died 2 years ago from Alzheimer's. It is quite a ride. Your father looked so handsome next to his bike.

Cheryl said...

Heartbreaking yet life-affirming. Thanks for sharing this little bit of life.

Clytie said...

My grandfather was that way. It was so hard when he forgot who his grandkids were. Then he forgot who his kids were. Then he forgot who his wife was ... but we still loved him. The world lost a lot when he flew away to heaven all those many years ago ...

I'm so glad you are there for your dad. He sounds like a very special wonderful man.

Baino said...

OH Jules. I bet you retell that story to him often. Terribly sad. And you're a wonderful daughter to visit him. I have a friend who no longer visits her mother because she is no longer recognised. Seems rather cruel to me.

Shelle said...

what a bittersweet post....my Dad has many of these kinds of photos because he and his brother used to race...was your father a member of any bike clubs?

Leslie said...

I'm always amazed how events a world away can be so vivid as the find fails. Beautiful and glad you are there on this part of his mysterious journey

my mystery is here http://wp.me/pDORj-DS