Martin Dewhurst’s book, 'Another Cup of Tea’, is a journal through his experiences of being a full-time carer for his mum with dementia. Martin hopes his journey of highs and lows will help others find their way to cope with the role.
To help with his mum's care needs, Martin left his job and moved in to support her at home through the week. His brother took over at the weekends.
Martin began journaling his experience on social media, jokingly referring to himself as 'the butler' and his mum as 'my Ladyship’.
Before long, the journal had developed a life of its own. It became a great release and source of encouragement.
Friends suggested that his stories should become a book to help others embarking on similar care-giving journeys.
'The one promise I can make to anyone embarking on a care-giving journey is that no matter how challenging it gets in the heat of any given moment, looking back, after the event, you won’t regret a single minute.'
Martin's mum sadly passed away on 18 October 2019 and he now feels ready to share his story with a wider audience.
Profits from book sales will be shared between dementia charities.
An excerpt from Another Cup of Tea
'What time’s the service tonight?' Mum asks in a replay of an old concern.
'Ooh, the church is closed tonight, it’s Wednesday!' I reply, hoping it will suffice.
'Nobody’s been to discuss the arrangements!' says Mum, ignoring any alternative I propose.
And so the day progressed, from worry to worry, from unanswerable question to unacceptable response, interspersed with requests for telephone numbers for long dead relatives.
The challenge for any carer, I see this as there’s one here as I write, is distracting someone who’s so engrossed in a subject nothing will do to divert their attention.
'Your Dad’s not got out of bed to sort anything out either,' says Mum, right outside the bedroom where he used to sleep.
'Is he still in there now?' I ask, wondering if he will manifest for a while and lend a hand.
'He most certainly is!' says Mum, pushing past me to give him what for.
'Oh, he must have gone without saying anything!' says Mum, as she sees the empty bed.
'Another cup of tea Mum?' I ask, in an attempt to move us along from this stickiness.
'Oh, yes please!' says Mum, almost as though this was her first of the day rather than the umpteenth.
I make Mum some lunch while I’m at it, I’m not too hungry myself as the ‘dreaded lurgy’ has taken hold now and my throat hurts to swallow anything.
All day I’ve been saying, 'I’m keeping my distance Mum, I have a sore throat and you wouldn’t like it,' and all day Mum’s been sympathising one second then standing even closer than normal the next.
Mum and I dabble a bit on the family tree, we flick through the old photo albums again, we find a few books that often help to distract Mum from the worries when they arrive, but nothing really works today.
The theme is constant: ‘the service’, who is coming, when are we going, who’s coming back for food afterwards.
These thoughts unite and lead Mum consistently to the thought that she needs to do the shopping, even though it was all done and put away this morning and the cupboards are all full.
'Salmon for dinner tonight Mum,' I suggest.
'How many for?' Mum asks hopefully once more.
'Just you and me Mum,' I reply like I’m about to wear out that phrase.
'Just you and me? What about the rest of them?' Mum asks, literally astounded. 'They’ll be hungry after the service!' says Mum still convinced it’s really happening tonight.
'I’ll do plenty just in case Mum,' I suggest, knowing this also works to dispel the worry.
A silent pause in proceedings, just like the ones you get on Radio 3 between the music... then...
'Don’t die will you Martin, I don’t know what I’d do,' Mum says.
'I’ll do my best not to for a while Mum,' I say, wondering if I’ll actually see the week out.