What a day with Uncle Billy ‘97′!

Last wednesday, I was due to post another blog on my day spent with Uncle Billy. Well, the day didn’t turn out as expected. Uncle Billy became ill and we had an unfortunate experience at the hospital that day too. This is how Wednesday gone turned out…

It was the Friday before last Wednesday that Uncle Billy telephoned me and said that he had to see me urgently. I was thinking ‘oh no’, he’s not well or going to tell me something bad! I went to his house as soon as I could and when I got there, I saw that same old healthy young man – even though he is in his nineties. I was confused. Uncle Billy sat me down and said ‘look, this letter has come to me’! I re-opened the envelope and pulled out the letter. I breathed a sy of relief.. it was a voting form. Uncle Billy wanted me to help him fill in his form, so he could vote in the next elections. I didn’t know if to laugh as I was relieved or cry, as Uncle Billy still felt voting at his age was important. He could probably teach a few youngsters a thing or two about politics and democracy!

I filled in the form with Uncle Billy, then realised you can text your confirmation, so I did this on his behalf from my ‘mobile’ telephone. I should have known… Uncle Billy told me this wasn’t good enough, he needed to know the Electoral Office got his vote properly and insisted on me posting the form he had been sent, in the traditional way. Some things you can’t change! Uncle Billy was then on a role with other letters. His energy company wrote to him asking if he wanted the ‘internet’, obviously we binned that and BT also confirmed by letter that Uncle Billy’s line rental was going up. He rolled his eyes at me and that too followed suit to the bin. Having done my secretarial duties for the day, I left but not before Uncle Billy telling me he was having problems still with his hearing aids. I arranged for us to revisit the ear hospital, to have them checked out. My original second blog on Uncle Billy was meant to end here, but as I said at the beginning of this blog, Uncle Billy took a turn for the worst and ironically in the wrong location!

I arrived at Uncle Billy’s last Wednesday and we set off for hospital to get his hearing aids checked. Whilst we were walking along the road, I told Uncle Billy that my sister Janet and I were debating his correct birthdate. I was sure she was wrong, making him out to be older than he was. My sister was right. Uncle Billy is 97 years old, not 93. That’s 3 years away from 100, amazing! I had been getting my 3 and 7 mixed-up. He is 97 born inb1913, not 93 born in 1917. Well at least that’s now clear. I was only 4 years out! I said to Uncle Billy, he will be getting a Birthday Card off The Queen soon. No sooner had I had finished my sentence, Uncle Billy said ‘what Queen’. I left it there, unless he meant from another Queen! Having arrived at the ear hospital, Uncle Billy who always takes the stairs told me that we should use the ramp this day. This made me think, Uncle Billy was getting tired now. After seeing the Doctor, Uncle Billy told me he wasn’t feeling well and I took him to the bathroom and waited outside. Some time had gone by and I checked on him.. he had been and was being ill.

Obviously, I looked after him but what got me was the ‘hospital’ staff. Some stood round just watching this 97-year old man being ill whilst I attended to him and others laughed, yes laughed. Having tried to replace Uncle Billy’s dignity, I naturally voiced my disappointment to the hospital staff. Their behaviour was shameful and disrespectful. I wont go into specific details, but you would think the nurses, doctors and medical clerks had never seen anyone ill before, nevermind a 97-year old man. This ear hospital is part of a main hospital with an A&E department too, so it shouldn’t have been something strange to them. The NHS failed Uncle Billy on this day and if I wasn’t with him, I dread to think what may have happened.

I was concerned for Uncle Billy with him being ill, but in his positive manner he told me what he believed was going on… It wasn’t something serious underlying, but he had eaten something the night before that didn’t agree with him. This made me feel a lot better. On a lighter note, I suppose when you’re 97 you know how yourbbody works. Now, we always go for a coffee after his hospital appointments and I wanted to ensure he knew being ill at hospital, wasn’t his fault. So, having asked if he was up for it, we visited Starbucks and had our coffees and Tuna Melts as usual. I didn’t want Uncle Billy going home thinking he had been a inconvenience, he hadn’t. He probably doesn’t know it or is too modest, but he enriches the lives of others he is around. Unfortunately after a short while, Uncle Billy was ill again in the coffee shop, so we headed home. That was the end of the sickness (and tummy bug) for him that day – he just needed to get it out of his system. Probably more so at 97!

Having let him settle in once home, Uncle Billy was back to his normal self and on the case of giving me wisdom.. he was telling me of his chats with his local Police Community Support Officers’ (PCSOs) and how he always sees the same ones. He has a lot of respect for the police and the rule of law, as I mentioned in my last blog. He went on to say that he didn’t chat to the PCSOs for too long though, incase the neighbours thought he was a ‘grass’! I wanted to tell him, ‘Uncle Billy you’re 97, I doubt many will think you’re a grass’, but I didn’t. He did make me laugh. I can just imagine him scuttling down the road! The evening had arrived and it was time for me to leave Uncle Billy’s and head home. Before I left, he asked why I was wearing a ‘clock’ on my wrist and laughed. What he meant was… why is my watch so big! It’s a Diesel watch Uncle Billy, Diesel. Maybe he was saying my watch was too fashionable, with no substance or is that me?

I’m glad that it was just a tummy bug with Uncle Billy as I look forward to him receiving cards at 100-years from several Queens! The ear hospital though, did fail him that day and I have addressed this privately. I didn’t want this negative experience to comsume this blog and another life lesson from Uncle Billy. As he walked me to his front door, he said to me ‘god bless you’ for looking after him. No Uncle Billy, god bless you and I look forward to seeing you around for many years to come x

This has been one of those interesting, but thought-provoking ‘View from the Bottom’ blogs, Max.


© 2010 Kevin Maxwell Media & Performance – Published by My Mum