The dreadful algebra…

Easter weekend saw us sorting the affairs of Elderly Friend, who has moved into dependent rather than independent care. There’s tax papers to forward, furniture to dispose of. So many things she no longer needs. The care home have been very helpful while we make sure all the bills are paid, even while they’re in lockdown. Elderly Friend has a new room with a view rather than the poky place she’d been consigned to after her last bad fall. She’s happy, and has mostly forgotten about her old apartment. Give her another month or three and she’ll probably have forgotten all about us the way things are going.

Such are the pains of dealing with dementia. It’s like watching a slowly sinking ship. To extend that simile into a conceit, there’s not much else you can do apart from get the survivors off, log the wrecks location and inform Lloyds of London. Which is what we’ve been doing. Handling the details of Elderly Friend’s downsizing (Err, how much was that brand new and now it can only be thrown away?). Ensuring the equations of comfort divided by finance are kept in balance by applying the right kind of fuzzy logic.

Watching someone close to us go under like this is bloody hard on the soul, but absolutely essential work. We could just walk away of course, but that would mean someone else would take up the reins and maybe drive Elderly Friends wagon prematurely off a cliff without meaning to. So this is our burden to bear. As I’ve often said before, we’re paying off a debt of gratitude. Not to mention having to face our own dwindling prospects by reinventing ourselves, yet again. That too is a work in progress.

It’s at times like these I’m reminded of something that has been called ‘the dreadful algebra‘, which aptly describes the hard choices you sometimes have to make. For example where a loving pet has to be put down or a close relative has their life support switched off. Or to amputate a limb, perhaps your own, crushed in a rock fall or trapped in machinery. Symbolised by the mathematical function; Life >(Greater than) Death.

Sometimes it’s about letting go. Sometimes of a friendship or child because they have to walk their own path. However;

The dreadful algebra is always about hard choices.
The dreadful algebra always demands a sacrifice.
The dreadful algebra doesn’t care about your feelings.
The dreadful algebra means no more comfortable illusions.
The dreadful algebra is a calculation, and in extremis, if you guess the wrong answer for the wrong reason, or worse, not make a decision, it will kill you, and possibly a great many more around you.

Weak politicians hate it, because they’re going to have to make a considered decision and stick to it, no matter what. Decisions that may cost them votes in the short term. Decisions that may cost lives short term, but will save far more in the long.

Being a grown up sucks. So suck it up young Bill. Quit whining and get on with it.

4 thoughts on “The dreadful algebra…”

  1. I have always hoped that Dementia is less awful for the sufferer than for those around them. I have memory lapses these days which generally make me laugh, although I don’t suppose that this is quite the same thing.

    If this does ever happen to me then I hope that someone close to me will laugh and say, “Don’t worry about it, Mum.” I can always cope with laughter.


      1. Does it really matter for them? Or are you just upset for your own sake?

        It isn’t you who is demented. And i doubt that she even cares anymore.

        I can see why you feel in the way in which you do. It is a great responsibility. But wherein lies the fun for her in whatever limited capacities she has?

        Is that it? I am demented. No more bloody laughs. I lost my marbles. Go away and behave.

        I am not meaning to denigrate you. It must be difficult for you, and on occasions very boring.
        But is this the way in which you would want to be treated.


        1. I’m old fashioned when it comes to my very few friends. A friend to me, by definition, is someone as close and as well loved as blood kin, if not closer than family. When we first came to Canada, she and her late husband bailed Mrs S and I out of a really tight spot. For that we owe her our undying gratitude.

          This is a situation that has, as I have often written, been going on for over a year. Dementia abrades the soul of anyone who has to deal with it in a friend or family member. I do not feel sorry for myself on her account, but rather feel great sorrow that one who has been so good to us is not being granted a quick and easy death in full command of her faculties.


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