Through our local Alzheimer’s Society, my husband and I met a wonderful group of people. Since 2017 we’ve been having breakfast together every Friday (shout out to the amazing servers at Burger World), but we also meet each other in twos and threes throughout the week for coffee, walks, meals, and always, always support. If we need a favour, a shoulder, a hug, someone to laugh with or someone to cry with - we are all caregivers, and we give care to each member of our group.
Our relationships far transcend the Dementia that brought us together. These are the people on whose doorstep I can arrive with no notice. These are the texts I’ll reply to as soon as I see them, and the phone calls I’ll answer even if I’m in tears and letting other calls go straight to message. These are my emergency contacts, this is my Covid Bubble. I never actually rang anyone at 4:00 am when I needed to shower my husband and change the sheets for the second time that night . . . but I know I could have picked up the phone and someone would have arrived.
We have taken several courses together and participated in group activities; we share resources and we try to offer practical help when we can. Sometimes help is the seemingly smallest thing: someone passing me a cup of tea. The act of love, the cup of tea itself, the silent acknowledgement that brewing tea was a skill Dementia stole from my husband.
We celebrate birthdays and we mark anniversaries. We take turns being bossy, angry, dejected, exhausted. We send each other silly memes and serious articles. We help carry the memories our loved ones no longer hold. One of us crochets and cooks the best pizza, another makes cards and the most beautiful quilts, another sorts out technical challenges and makes us laugh. I take photos for a scrapbook, preserving our shared history, moments to remind us who we were, and who we are.
Mostly, we listen. We understand. We empathise.
I can’t imagine how much more difficult this journey would have been without my Breakfast Club. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d gift everyone such a special group of friends.