I had just about decided that it was time to go downstairs and face the wrath of the little lady.
I had not been in the job 10 minutes until Dorothy’s rage was unexpectedly (and dare I say: quite unfairly) thrust upon me. But then again to her eyes who the hell was I? She didn’t know I was her carer. She didn’t even know there was anything wrong with her deeming her to be in need of care. I did tell her that I was there to take care of ‘things’, of the house and to do whatever she wanted me to. So basically… I introduced myself as her servant. But did she remember that? Even if she did: I was still a stranger, and what do strangers NOT do when they are left with you for the first time? Lock you in your own house! Gosh she had every right to flip out at me. How would I feel if I thought there was nothing wrong with me and suddenly I’m left with someone who I can only assume is a lunatic trying to kidnap me in my own house? Hmm….
Putting myself in other’s shoes always did give me a more understandable angle at which to view a difficult situation, and made forgiving someone’s rash actions much easier. But I still hurt. I had just gone through years of University, constantly in need as I scraped for money. I had just moved to London and got into a well paying job. Things were going great for me. I would have all the money in the world to save for the future and to enjoy all of the infinite things London had to offer on my days off! But this just hurt so much. Was I prepared to sell my dignity for this? I had always thought of myself as someone who felt a lot of respect for the elderly, but then again that was before I got talked to like a dog – by a very nasty owner.
‘Calm down Anna’ – I whispered to myself – ‘don’t let your emotions judge the situation. Dorothy is bound to have been as scared as you. It has been a while since you heard her pacing and cursing by the front door and given that she has dementia and you gave her some space she has probably forgotten the whole thing.
But I couldn’t have predicted what happened. I entered the front room to find Dorothy angrily pointing her finger at a vulgar, loud woman on the Jeremy Kyle show. Along with finger pointing came shouting. What was going on?? Had she forgotten? Why was she now angry at the TV? As she turned to see me I stood there literally expecting ANYTHING by now. I was warmly greeted. What I was told baffled me:
“Oh, where is that girl?”
“That INSOLENT girl! I am so angry! Is she gone??”
By then I realised I was the insolent girl. But at that exact moment I was not I. I was whoever Dorothy thought I was: someone who she felt it was safe enough to confide her feelings about the front door incident to. I took it as an opportunity. I was going to hear everything she had to say about me.
“That insolent girl telling me what I could and couldn’t do. In my own house! My own house! They’re always trying to keep me in this house! Why? I don’t understand! I have my own house to go to. And then she’s been going off having babies with all these men! Why would you steal your own father’s money like that?…And oh all the shouting and the bad language! Oh she is so rude! So rude! I am so cross!”
“…..Eh…….what?” That lost me completely. All I could come out with was: “Well Dorothy look: I walked past the front door and saw her leave. She won’t be coming back I can assure you. Please don’t worry. Is there anything I can get you?”. She looked at me as if I was her saviour and like a toddler who had just wasted all of her energy in some nonsensical tantrum she wound right down. But her eyes lit up again as she caught sight of the TV. Of course! Jeremy Kyle! That program makes my own blood boil, imagine what it can do to a confused and extremely angry woman with dementia? I quickly switched over the channel and decided: I was going to read up a lot more on dementia. And I was going to stick with this job! Not only did I just witness an episode of pure despair that I no longer had the heart to walk away from something told me this was actually going to be quite fun!