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Hello.

I'm Jane McIntyre, a voiceover and writer, formerly an award-winning BBC radio newsreader and producer. My blog covers life, love and loss; travel, coffee and chocolate; with some heartfelt pieces in the mix about my late dad, who had dementia. Just a click away, I'm half of the team behind www.thetimeofourlives.net - two empty nesters who whizzed round the world in 57 days.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

We'll have to muddle through somehow...


How many Christmas days are you having this year?

We had a sneaky one on Saturday morning before Juliet flew out to America.

And then another at Dad's house on Sunday before I headed home.

He's 85 now, with advanced dementia, and spends all his time in bed. I tried to stir up some festive family memories. 'Have yourself a merry little Christmas' was always his favourite song - one that would make this big, brave man's eyes glisten, year after year. It's always been special to our family.

I tried a singing few lines, wobbling a bit when I had to negotiate 'next year... all our troubles will be out of sight...'

Nothing.

So I remembered the laughs we'd had as children, singing 'We wish you a merry Christmas' with him. We'd always end up giggling over the mention of 'figgy pudding...' and then defiantly shouting out the 'won't go until we've got some' verse.

Furrowed brow.

OK... I'd try a present. It's hard to know what to buy the man who had everything, but has forgotten most of it.

So I'd  got a 'John McIntyre's Memory Book' made up. There are press cuttings of various proud and heroic career moments. A picture from the fifties of him marrying mum. Beach shots from sunny holidays on Hayling Island. And more recent views of his pretty garden, his partner Phyllis, Dad's new hat, my sister and me, and our three children. All with simple, printed captions.

He flicked through, not really registering. I'd steeled myself for that, vowing to bite my lip if he clearly didn't recognise my mugshot, even though I'd be standing right beside him. I was, and he didn't.

And then he turned to the very oldest picture of them all. A now sepia shot of him as a bonny blond toddler in his mother's arms.

'That's my mum,' he said. 'My mummy'.

Seven words, shining like a beacon through the now dense fog of his dementia.

One picture, from more than eighty years ago,stirring instant recognition in a man who struggles to name people he's seen five minutes before.

I gulped a bit, then smiled. As 'Memory Books' go - this one had done its job. As for the rest of it?

Yes, Dad. We'll 'have to muddle through, somehow...' And we will.

Happy Christmas xx


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