George Rough aged 94 has seen a lot. The blitz where his fiancée died. The Italian campaign where his best friend died in his arms. Near misses in war and peace which gave him the nickname Lucky Roughy. His daughter dying aged forty after a marriage to an alcoholic of which he never approved. The deaths of his six brothers and sisters. His wife, Nellie, dying twenty years ago. He lives near her grave and he visits every week. He is so short of breath that he takes two goes to get up his stairs.
George does not complain. His working class background has taught him that life is not fair, kind or just.Its something you do, get on with. You do your best and his best has been pretty good.
He has worked hard, he knows no other way, even today when he can, he still gardens. Neighbours bring broken kettles, irons etc to be mended. That his intelligence and decency was not matched with an education is a crime. Every year he gives me a bouquet of roses for Vivien. He lives comfortably in a two bed roomed house on a small estate.. But he is old. It takes him an hour to make his bed. He cannot walk the 200 metres to his nearest bus stop without three rests. This he has to do regularly for his many hospital and doctors’ appointments.
Last week he was assessed by Social Services,they have offered him £50 a week for carers. “ That will pay for my booze” He is old school, he can laugh, he can be matter of fact about the slings and arrows which now he has to endure.
He has a granddaughter, She and her husband have recently moved to France, the Dordogne, to set up a bed and breakfast business. Although other relatives ,nephews,grand nieces etc are supportive and close ,his granddaughter is his favourite .
Last week she and her husband came over, they enjoyed three days together, As he put it “we had a bloody good drink, it was my real Christmas.”
But they went back across the Channel. When I saw him yesterday he said,” When I said goodbye,I thought this could be the last time I see them. I didnt cry when they were with me, but after they had gone I couldn’t stop. Its not like me,I can usually hold it in. Its part of life I know. But there you are.”