Blog 14: Brain Slips

In hindsight, I should have known that Bill was not strong enough to do that sight-seeing trip. I should have requested that we be able to go to our hotel room to rest, as did another friend of ours.  But I didn’t.  We did the tour, saw the museums and the gardens, marvelled at all that Chiang-Kai-Shek did over his life and did not get into our hotel room until 2pm.  By that time, like everyone else, we were exhausted.

You can see how tired Bill was from this photo:

Blog 014 Image 1

So, as soon as we were in that hotel room, Bill and I went to bed and fell into a deep sleep.  The trouble was we only had three hours to sleep.  We had to wake at 5pm to get ourselves ready to board the bus that would take us to the Airport to catch our Taipei to Brisbane flight.  I woke at five, without any problem, to the beep, beep, beep of my alarm clock, but when I woke Bill out of his deep slumber, I could see that he did not wake up properly.  He woke up and he was walking but he was not in our world. He was in a dream world.

“We have to have a shower and get ready to go,” I said.

“You go,” he answered. “I’ve got to stay here and work.”

“No! No!” I replied. “We’ve got to catch a plane. We’ve got to go home to Brisbane.”

“Well, you go,” he said, quite reasonably, quite politely. “I don’t want to go any more.  There’s work to be done here.  I just want to stay here and work.”

He started straightening the sheets and making the beds.

“But you can’t stay here!” I cried.  “You have to come. You’re not allowed to stay here.”

“Look!” he pleaded, in desperation, grabbing me by the arm and pushing me towards the door,  “You go!  I don’t mind if you go! I’m happy for you to go! But I don’t want to go! I just don’t want to go any more!”

And, before I knew it, I was outside the door and the door was slammed shut firmly behind me.


I stood outside the door, pondering what to do.  The room keys were both in the room.  Should I go downstairs and ask them for another key, I wondered?

As I stood there, mulling, a hotel employee came by.

“I’m sorry,” I begged.  “I’m locked out of my room.  Do you think you could open the door for me?”

What a shock the poor man got when he pushed the door open and found Bill standing angrily on the other side.  He knew immediately that he was in the middle of some sort of domestic incident.

“Thank you so much,” I shouted after him, as he scurried off and I re-entered the room.  “Thank you.”


Once in the room, I started into pleading again:

“Please, Bill, you’ve got to understand ……” I begged. As I was saying that, I was interrupted, mid-sentence, by our tour leader.  She had come to the open door to tell us that the bus was ready to leave and we needed to come downstairs, with baggage, immediately.

“I can’t get him to come out of the room,” I said, anxiously.

“What would you like me to do?” she asked.

“Would you ask Pat and Clive to come up, please?  They might be able to help,” I answered.

Pat and Clive duly arrived.

They tried and tried, talked and talked, begged and pleaded, but Bill wasn’t budging and Clive was almost thumped for his efforts.

Pat explained that, if we missed this plane, there was no other flight to Brisbane out of Taipei for four days.

“We’d better plan to stay,” she said. “Clive and I will go downstairs to arrange for us to extend.  We’d call a doctor for you, but we have been told that doctors in Taipei do not make house calls to hotels.  The sick person has to visit the doctor at the medical centre or the hospital.”  She moved towards the door. “We won’t be long,” she added. “We’ll just be leaving you for a few minutes.”


As soon as Pat and Clive had departed, Bill said to me, quite calmly:

“Anyway, I’m going to a much, much better place.”

I was a bit fearful that he was talking about Heaven.

“Well, why don’t you come with me to Brisbane?” I queried.

“That mightn’t be a bad idea!” he rejoined.

“Well, can you find the way to the lift for us?” I asked, putting his hand on his suitcase handle and waiting for him to go out first, just in case he shut the door on me again.

“I don’t think I can,” he said, “But I can follow you.”

And, before you could say Taipei to Brisbane, the four of us were in a taxi and away.

  1. Bob Wearne

    I am glad you encouraged me to read your story and I will continue to follow it as you add pieces. Your clarity of writing makes it easy and your courage in doing so is amazing. I know your story will be helpful to other carers who sadly are increasing in numbers.

    January 31st, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Thank you for your comments, Bob. I know when I first started to write this story that some people thought it was wrong to do so. One friend said to me: “There’s a matter of privacy, you know!” But I knew it had to be written. Too many of us think that having dementia means that you become a bit forgetful. We don’t understand ……
      Bill gave me this story and I hope that it helps us all understand with greater depth.

      February 8th, 2013 // Reply
  2. David

    Made me cry first hearing of this ‘episode’ and still makes me cry …

    February 1st, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Hi David,
      I commented at BLOG 12 that I had just finished reading Hazel Hawke’s story written by her daughter.
      In it, she recounts a time when Hazel’s friend paid Hazel a visit. They had been talking for an hour or so when Hazel looked hard at her friend and asked: “Who are you?” That memory probably still brings tears to Hazel’s friend’s eyes.
      And the memory of Bill in that hotel room can still make my eyes water …. because it was the first time that I understood that there was a much more sinister side to this damned disease that Bill had than the unlearning of the school curriculum.

      February 8th, 2013 // Reply
  3. Carmel Taylor

    Love reading your blogs Fay!

    February 3rd, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Thank you Carmel,
      When I first started blogging, I didn’t have the faintest idea what it was all about. But my son and daughter-in-law were adamant that this was the way to do it these days. And now I’m beginning to see how it works and how it allows your readers to give you encouragement along the way. It really has been a great way to tell Bill’s story.

      February 8th, 2013 // Reply
  4. Sonia Hendy

    Difficult times had obviously started! Thank goodness you had friends on the trip with you.

    February 4th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      That has been one of the pluses of going on this journey, Sonia. I have learnt that I can take help from friends without feeling obligation and, as a result, I’ve come closer to them all. It was hard for me to accept help at first …. Bill and I had always been independent …… but then I learnt and I understood that people are kind because they’re kind….. not because they expect you to be kind back to them.

      February 8th, 2013 // Reply
  5. Charmaine Zuidam

    I enjoy reading your blog Fay. It must have been a great concern for you in Taipei when he was happy to stay. I know myself I am a very nervous traveller and Taipei is a long way from home.

    February 15th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Lovely to hear from you Charmaine and, yes, Taipei was scary. It was one of those incidents in my life …… I think we all have them …. one of those incidents that I look back on and say: “There must have been a guardian angel sitting on my shoulder.” How else could it have happened that, at the last minute, he said: “I can follow you.”

      February 16th, 2013 // Reply
  6. Sharon Hendy-Moman

    Fay, that would have frightened the life out of me. What a brilliant woman you are . xoxo

    February 17th, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      That was the last overseas trip that Bill took, Sharon. And I know you all understand …… I just couldn’t risk taking Bill into a foreign country again

      February 19th, 2013 // Reply
  7. Sr. lois Mathieu

    Dear Fay,

    WOW! Your story will help us to understand “our story”. I admire your courage and your clarity of mind and soul. It is a healing experience for you and an important awareness for us. As the song says:”We have come to share our story…we have come to break the bread…” thank you for sharing your sacred story. It was lovely meeting you in Brisbane at Albert and Alison’s home.
    Be blessed!
    Sr. Lois

    February 23rd, 2013 // Reply
    • Fay

      Hello Sr Lois,
      Thank you for your lovely words. Writing Bill’s story has indeed been a healing experience for me and, if it helps others understand a little what those with dementia go through, then it has served doubly well. I hope you are having a good year up there in Kiunga, “sharing your story …..”. Kind thoughts and best wishes.

      February 25th, 2013 // Reply
  8. Harold and Nola

    How thankful we are that Pat and Clive were with you; what a nightmare!

    March 16th, 2013 // Reply

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