One of the hard parts of the next 40 or so days for me is going to be spending a lot of time at Dad’s house. I should call it that because he really truly adored that place. But he loved every house he ever lived in, to be fair.

I opened a bathroom cupboard to find three tubes of toothpaste and three spare cans of deodorant and I just wanted to scream at the sky. The non-dementia version of him should be here using that stuff.

The night that he was given his diagnosis by the geriatrician, we sent Mum to a motel for a couple of days to get a break and my sister and I stayed in the house with him. For some reason he’d begun to be a bit obsessed with torches.

About 3am I heard my door handle jiggle and then Dad opened the door and shone a torch in at me. I’m just checking that you’re ok, he said. Then he went and checked on my sister. Every time I am in that bedroom I can see him at the door.

He was also obsessed with his two pairs of glasses and his phone. At some point I realised it would be easiest to get him a little cross body bag into which these items would fit, and he could have them with him at all times. It worked perfectly – he could just unzip one zip and check all those things were there, and then he was happy. It didn’t matter that he’d just checked it five minutes ago, and five minutes before that, and four minutes before that.

Time became our enemy. I ended up buying two of these dementia clocks from Ebay which honestly are the most awesome clocks ever invented and we ordered an extra two for our own house. Dad had one right next to him on the table and he could easily read it.

Oddly, the Saturday we put in the offer for Mum’s new place it was exactly 7 months since he passed.

I know a lot of people believe different things about passing away. Me personally I believe there are times he sends me messages. And there couldn’t have been a louder one on my birthday.

See, we used to have this joke about Dad giving company reps the “pineapple treatment” – so ever since pineapples have been a theme. I went to TK Maxx and they had these stunning crystal pineapple book ends. I thought that would be a perfect centerpiece to my memorial shelf for Dad. It was still a work in progress. My favourite colour is teal. On my birthday, this happened.

Happy Birthday to you, he said, with a bright glimmer of teal which hit my eye exactly where I was sitting.

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