When my grandma was ill, my grandpa spent a lot of his day looking after her. She then went into hospital and he would drive there every day during visiting hours to see her. They would talk, play cards, and take comfort in each others' company. Most of Gramps' day involved Grandma in some way or another, so when she died, he was left with a big empty gap, not just in his heart, but also in his day.
A Young Gramps Sightseeing at the Seaside.
Like a lot of elderly people who live alone, finding something to fill the day and occupy your time can be a challenge. There are clubs that provide says out, or lunchtime activities, which help many elderly people feel less lonely. But that didn't interest Gramps. Unless Grandma was there he did not have the enthusiasm for trips to the seaside or weekly bingo.
It wasn't all bad though.We live just round the corner from him, so he gets weekend visits, and we buy him seeds for his garden. Gramps spent a lot of time in his garden, grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers. On my dad's off days, the two would go fishing, and at the weekend an evening game of cards, Scrabble, or dominoes was a highlight.
When we visited, Gramps would often complain that his eyes were itchy or kept weeping. We told him to go and get it checked out. He wouldn't. After a year or so, Gramps was finding it more difficult to what he was picking in the garden, to see the float of his fishing tackle, and to see the letters on his Scrabble board.
Eventually he agreed to see a doctor, who told him he had macular eye degeneration. Although it can't be reversed, there is a possibility of stopping further degradation. But time is of the essence. The earlier you get it seen to the more chance you have.
Suffice to say, despite getting treatment, Gramps had clearly left it too late. He has very poor eyesight now, and all the things he used to enjoy doing - gardening, fishing, Scrabble - have been ruined. He can't even enjoy his favourite quiz shows much now.
Gramps won't go out for meals anymore.
Gramps copes very well. He takes things as he comes, and has a 'don't worry about things you can't change attitude'. It is very admirable. But you can see that his enthusiasm for life has gone. He can't be bothered anymore, and declines most invitations to do anything.
I don't know what I'd do without my sight. If asked the 'which is the one sense you would most hate to lose', sight is usually at the top of the list.
The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) is a charity that aims to help blind and poorly sighted. As well as providing services, guidance, and support, they also do lots of research into blindness prevention and cures. To achieve this they need dedicated staff, volunteers, and donations.
So throughout October RNIB are organising a fundraiser. The Glow Neon Fun Run will be held in Newcastle, London, Ayr, and Edinburgh, and costs £10 to enter. It is a three kilometre track open to anyone ten or over. The run starts at 7pm and lasts till 10pm. Why at night? Because you are going to glow in the dark.
Inspired by the colourful full moon festival in Thailand, you can run, walk or dance to live DJs under UV lit the track as you are sprayed with neon paint. The event in London will take place at Mile End Stadium on the 17th October, and is accessible for the blind and visually impaired. A hundred people a day lose their sight, but with fundraisers like this, the RNIB hope to one day make it none.