Stumbling out of bed the old man rubs his face with both hands vigorously. Maude opened one eye; the one nearest him. She was watching so she could gauge his ability this morning. It wasn’t as if it really would change at least not for the better.
Every day she had hoped; for five years. Five years of praying that she would wake and it all be a dream. Years of watching the very one she loved, fade away until he was barely there.
Stan wobbled and walked with his hands hanging loose down his sides. He rocked slightly as he went, like a clockwork toy whith stiff legs he entered the bathroom.
The bathroom was forward prepared. A bin with  a clean bag lining was open and adjacent to the alibaba laundry bag , the Orthapedic toilet seat was in place and ready with lid up. A chair with neatly folded clothes on top was placed next to the sink by the window. The plan or routine was set in stone. Stan entered the room and moved anti clockwise around it until he was back at the door. It was an operation, a learnt skill of enormous magnitude. Maud’s cleverly set up routine meant that on the whole Stan kept his tenuous grip on his dignity with a smidge of independence thrown in..
Step one: jama’s off and place in alibaba basket and replace the lid.
Step two: night pad off, put in bin and clean area with wet wipe, drop in and close the lid.
Step 3: run water in sink (plug already in) soap flannel, wash face then hands arm pits then BTM. ( Maud’s word for backside) Rinse all soaped bits; then dry on the towel that is hanging right next to the sink.
Now Stan is in front of the chair, the clothes are anatomically arranged for him to dress.
Step three: vest, sweater, pants then trousers socks then slippers. This can become muddled in winter with extra layers. Now Stan can gaze out the window while he combs his hair, with the comb on the sill. Job done Stan should arrive fairly clean… standing in the doorway facing Maude .
Maude who incidently will be sat up in bed arms folded looking towards the door; ready to smile and greet her husband.
Now I am sure, with a little bit of planning all of the above is achievable. But all good plans sometimes… fail.

Today, a bad smell was drifting it’s way into the bedroom. A soft moaning could be heard escaping under the bathroom door. Maude was twitchy, wanting to burst in and help her softly crying husband. But she knew from past attempts, if she did disturb his routine. If she burst in it would be catastrophic.  So Maude left him to his ablutions and tried to be calm.
For half an hour she patiently waited, listening at the door, trying not to worry. Grunts and groans ahh’s and ohh’s were heard. Then the shuffle of Stans slippers dragging across the floor. Jumping into bed folding her arms, she smiled expectantly at the door.

Stan stood with little smudges of poop on his hands and smears on his clothes. Otherwise he was dressed and ready. Maude watched a tear slide down his cheeks from his closed eyes. Quickly she rushed past him grasping the wet wipes from the bathroom, trying to not look at the mess. Maude wiped his hands and face rubbed at the few smears from his clothes until he was clean, and she kissed his cheek. She led Stan to the bedroom window. “Look lovey” she said “the first leaves are turning”. Stan screwed up his face, his nose and mouth scrunching up like a child with lemon in his mouth.
I can’t see oh God help me I’m blind, he shouted. Maude grabbed his shoulders and turned him around. Facing him she shook him once, twice.
You silly bugger, open your eyes!

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