I am impressed. Really.
Shaun and I are in the South of France, on our first holiday abroad for so long that I honestly don’t know how long it is. (At least ten years, I know that.) The kind friends who invited us keep saying we need a break and a rest, and very graciously put my splitting headache on the first night down, not to an excess of sun and wine (it was, actually) but to years of worry about Bink.
There was all the usual to organise before going away: cats to be fed; dog to be kept company with; hens locked away. Bink was as helpful as she could be: she can’t go anywhere near animals (though she is solicitous for their welfare) but she promised to ensure my father’s stream of overnight carers foxed the fox by shutting the hen door, somehow.
Where I failed was finding anyone to take Bink to her therapy session in North London on any of Tuesday, Wednesday or today. Every idea, every friend or neighbour, came to nothing. In the end, she told me not to worry about it: she would organise it herself.
Bink is in her early thirties... and about as independent as your average, what, five-year-old? Not only can she not cook or wash up or do her own laundry (or let anyone else do it: she has to buy new clothes from Primark and put last week’s clothes in the bin) but she can’t touch things, get out of bed most days or clean her teeth sometimes for months on end. Showering is a major challenge which often defeats her. Brushing her hair can be next to impossible.
She is a very, very great deal better than she was three or four years ago – when sometimes she couldn’t speak – but she is still completely incapable of independent living.
Which means she needs a lot of help with making telephone calls, arranging appointments, and most certainly getting to them.
The likelihood that she could even choose and confirm a time with her therapist without help seemed slim: she can’t touch telephones and hasn’t used email for years. Getting to Southgate from Bedford without a chauffeur was probably as likely as reaching the moon.
But she had told me not to worry about it, and I don’t often get an offer like that.
Before our aeroplane took off on Monday morning she rang me to ask if anyone could help her get to Bedford Railway Station. A ten minute walk from our house. Her younger sister Rose has been able to do it unaccompanied since she was ten or so.
If I take time to think myself into Bink's shoes, I can understand this. Committed though I am to saving the planet, if a telly programme offers to send a car for me rather than paying my rail fare, I have to confess I find it easier. A driver will be silently waiting when I need to leave. No onus on me whatsoever. If I multiply my stress at taking responsibility for my own journey by a factor of several hundred...
So I assured her I was sure our cleaner would be happy to walk her to the station on time.
Just after we touched down, another call: could Shaun’s sister meet her at Southgate Underground and get her to the Priory... about a quarter of a mile, if that. Sister turns out to be in Majorca. Tell Bink, she said, there are taxis right outside the tube station.
“Do you want me to confirm your appointment...?” I started to ask.
“No, no, no.” She was most emphatic. Clearly, I was not to worry about this. Any more than I was already.
Friends have expressed scepticism that Bink will enter the Priory when the time comes. Or last the course. Or that she really wants to be well. Enough to make it over the long haul, anyway.
I know how hard it will be for her to get to the Priory. I am posting this before I know any more than I have told you. I don’t suppose anyone else who knows Bink would put sixpence on her getting there.
But I will put more than money: I will put my own credibility on her meeting her therapist by the end of today.
Ultimately, it's not down to a balance of probabilities. Belief is a choice you make in life.
I have the same, almost-insanely-optimistic-in-the-face-of-experience, absolute, utter, unshakable faith that (now she has the opportunity of proper treatment, at last) she will one day be... she hates my using the word, ‘well’...
As well as the rest of us? Happy and fulfilled?
The person God made her to be.