Blog 37: Knock! Knock! Who’s There?

Sometimes we hear it said that dementia can steal, not only a person’s capabilities and memories, but also the personality.  And we think: 

How can it do that?  What does it take when it takes one’s personality?

Well, when you’ve lived with it, you know what it takes.  It takes, little by little, those things that make the person unique, different from others.  As Kate says:

Dementia is trying to steal the very essence of who I am  (c.f., BLOG 30).

It never did get all of Bill.  Part of his uniqueness stayed with us right to the end.  But it did steal vital areas of his essence and one of those areas was his sense of humour.

A sense of humour is something that we develop as we grow.  Our third granddaughter, even before she turned one, would laugh and laugh when her father played Peek-a-Boo Around the Lounge Chair with her.  She would laugh as his face appeared, watch while it disappeared, and then laugh and laugh again when it reappeared, sometimes at either side of the chair, sometimes at the top, sometimes with different expressions.  It was a simple game but, though she could not verbalise it, our granddaughter had learned, even at that tender age, when to laugh and why the game was funny.

Our five-year-old granddaughter made us laugh.  I had to pick a tile from the bundle and, when I read the tile, it said:  Make a wish.

So I said:  I wish that I could live to be 140.

Wide-eyed, Miss Five exclaimed:

How big is that, Grannie Fay?   Is it, like … as big as a teenager?

Our eight-year-old granddaughter, on the other hand, is into jokes.

Knock!  Knock!  She’ll intone.

Who’s there?  I’ll respond.

Isabel!  She’ll reply.

Isabel who? I have to answer.

Is a bell necessary on a bike?  She’ll retort, chuckling, as she enjoys the simple play on words.  She is past Peek-a-Boo.  It’s fun with words that she’s into.

What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?  She’ll query.

I don’t know, I reply.  Maybe 2 o’clock?

No!  It’s time to get a new fence!   She’ll chortle.

And she understands the innuendo.  The joke doesn’t have to be explained.  Her sense of humour has been developed to that stage.

As adults, our senses of humour have become fine-tuned and we can appreciate such laconic humour as that of John Galsworthy when he writes in his novel, Man of Property:

He never drank tea.  His brother had made his fortune in tea.


Bill’s brother, Patrick, at Bill’s funeral, reminded us that, in his young days, Bill could be a bit of a practical joker.  And he told the story of how Bill, aged twenty, with my black bra held up to his eyes, rampaged around our holiday campsite, yelling in menacing manner:

I’m a great, big blow fly!  I’m a Great Big BLOW FLY!

Like most of us, as he aged, Bill came to rely more on word plays to bring a smile to our faces.  He had, what one might call, a dry wit, based on mild sarcasm.

Have you got enough room there? He’d ask, as he tried to find himself a bit of space amongst my papers, strewn all over the table.

Comfortable, are we? He’d murmur, as I sprawled over the lounge.

Ready for battle? He’d comment, as we pushed our empty trolley through the Supermarket turnstile.  And ……

Like a bit of bread with our butter, do we? He’d query, as I slathered the butter on to the slice.

But it was all words and as the words disappeared from his brain, together with the ability to comprehend them, so did this unique strand of his personality.  By the beginning of 2010, Bill was no longer able to make those witty, and often not-so-witty, sarcastic one-liners that lightened our everyday lives.  That ability, that had been fine-tuned for decades and that played a part in marking him as an individual with a difference, just slipped away. And when we were in the Specialist’s surgery, being told that there was nothing that could be done, all that Bill could do to brighten up the situation was to pull, like a magician, a handkerchief out of each of his trouser pockets and say to the Specialist:

See!  I’ve got these!


I miss my beautiful husband and his sarcastic sense of humour.  These days, when the sad moments come, I have to get through them all by myself.  I don’t want to, but I have to accept the fact that, though I  Knock! Knock!  till my knuckles are raw, there’s nobody there to say:

Come on!  It’s not as bad as all that!  Chins up!

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

a blog about my dementia journey


© 2012 Sneek
Powered by WordPress, Endless & Sneek