Carers Week: Granville’s Story
After 50 years of marriage, Granville Williams, 73, of Merthyr Tydfil now cares for his wife Eileen, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Here he tells his story.
I met my wife walking home from the fish and chip shop one night. I saw her coming towards me and said: ‘Do you fancy a chip?’ She stopped, took one and gave me a kiss on the lips. I was a bit shocked, but pleased. She was very pretty.
She walked off without saying anything and I hoped I’d see her again. Then the next night there was a knock on my door and a friend she worked with was holding out a note. It was from Eileen asking me to meet her down the road that night at 7pm.
That was it. We were inseparable after that. We dated for three years, were engaged for two and have been married for 50 years. She’s made me so happy all of my life. She’s a much better person than me – she’s a wonderful wife and incredible mother. She raised our three children while I worked at the steel works. She was brilliant with them, always laughing and seeing the bright side of life. Eileen loved to dance, and was a fun loving, chatty girl. She always had lots of friends and was the life and soul. She’s my best friend as well as my wife.
She’s never been ill. I was the one for that. I had both my hips replaced and couldn’t get about very well for a while. And then we went on holiday to Greece, and I noticed as she went up some steps she kept missing her footing. Then she kept missing the plate when she ate and I knew straight away it was Alzheimer’s.
Her mum and sister had it, so it was always in the back of our minds that she might have it too. I didn’t take her to the doctor for years though. She wasn’t too bad and I knew if the doctor told her outright she’d be so upset.
I don’t mind looking after her. I love her so it’s an honour, especially after the wonderful years she’s given me. Luckily, Eileen deteriorated slowly but now she doesn’t know who I am and doesn’t really understand what’s going on. She likes her routine, watching TV and listening to music.
I used to look after her all the time on my own and then, three years ago, a woman knocked on the door and said she was a carer from Crossroads, and had come to help me. Now they send carers to look after Eileen for a couple of hours three times a week. It means I can go food shopping, pay the bills and get all the things we need without having to worry about Eileen.
They are wonderful with her and it’s completely free. It helps me so much. I don’t know how I’d cope without Crossroads.
We’ve been together so long we’re like one person. Sometimes she’ll look over at me and say: “Granville where are you?” I’ll smile and say: “Over here, love.” That’s when she tells me: “I love you.” That’s the only time she seems to remember me. It’s hard knowing those times are becoming fewer and far between. I’ll always keep Eileen here. Thanks to Crossroads, she’ll never have to go into a home. They are amazing. I can’t thank them enough. They mean I can keep my wife where she belongs – next to me.
Merthyr Tydfil Crossroads (now Crossroads Care Cwm Taf) was awarded £180,033 by BIG in 2004 over three years to run the Caring for Carers project, which develops a range of services for people with dementia and their carers. For more information, www.crossroads.org.uk