Guilt? Or perhaps, what?

More than a dozen years or so ago, Fran went into Montpon Menesterol hospital alcohol dependency unit and stayed for a month. While there she created quite a stir causing several people, one man in particular, to become very caring and protective of her. She would get up late and be in trouble for missing breakfast and then her ‘admirer’ decided to complain about her treatment and got himself into bad books as a result. But she came out ‘dry’ at the end of it and back at home I declared it an alcohol free zone and we had water with all our meals. She protested at this, there was no reason why I should deny myself, she was cured and would not need to drink with me. I firmly resisted but eventually came to believe what she assured me of and took one glass of red with each meal. Before long she said ‘I suppose I could just have one glass, surely that wouldn’t do any harm’. It is difficult to explain why, but I began to believe her, such is the persuasive power of the true addict. But one glass turned into two and we were on the slippery slope again.

So I put a complete stop to it and for many years now that is the way it has been, at meals with friends I would stick to water with her while they would drink wine. (Although the occasional T&T was slipped to me with a drop of G in it).

And then I started travelling with the dogs, all over France and the furthest corners of the Union and of course shared a glass of red with my companions at mealtimes in the routiers. Sometimes though I did choose water, I wasn’t always alone, you might be surprised at the number of French lorry drivers who don’t drink alcohol, even in the evening when driving on isn’t to follow.

But at home it was always TTotal, a lesson learned, but I had a problem. Delivering dogs to British and other adopters I was gratefully received but, as they had already paid whatever organisation for it, they didn’t, quite rightly, think that they should give more to me. Many of the French were different. The gifts were numerous and varied, cakes, biscuits, chocolates and, of course, wine. And not just the house red I was used to in the restos, well thought of specialities of whatever region I found myself in. So the bottles started to pile up, in the little room we call the bookroom, a 2x2 metre space lined with bookshelves and draped with cobwebs. No-one goes in there and the floor space became more and more restricted. Not only the gifts but boxes of goodies given by the Commune over the years. Champagne, reds, whites, cider, Belgian beer. They are all there.

For the last few years Fran has become completely immobile, she long ago stopped eating ‘real’ food with me in the dining room, and retreated to the kitchen with her special foods, high protein no doubt to sustain life and even pureed baby foods which she loves but to me (who has to test them for temperature) totally tasteless and/or horrible (no sugar or salt you see :wink:). She never ever enters the salle, except on very rare, twice yearly, passages through one corner to be wheeled outside to the car for a medical appointment. Even the doctor comes here now, to the kitchen of course.

So last week I thought, what am I do with the bookroom, get rid of books, never, give wine away as gifts, not really, I have always thought it rather sneaky to give gifts as gifts. So perhaps I should drink them :thinking:. No need for secrecy, but it didn’t feel right, so I sneaked a corkscew from the kitchen to reside on ‘my’ table and last week opened my first bottle. A 2016 Bergerac red, and very nice it was too though it took me 4 days to finish it. 2 days ago I saw a lovely tall slim bottle, very aristocratic. It was only as I was pulling the cork that the light shined through, it was a white. I read the label, Alsace Grand Cru, Brand, 2015. Sweeter than the red but very acceptable and suitably cool, the bookroom is isolated from the heated rooms. I have even had a small glass with my lunch today. :roll_eyes: The bottle will last for this evening and tomorrow.

So I have become a secret drinker, I make sure that the sound on the tv or radio isn’t muted when removing a cork, I never touch the bottle to the glass, there is no clink, Fran’s sense of smell was destroyed years ago, possibly by smoking so no need for breath freshener. But is this subterfuge really necessary, and why is it so? Guilt? Maybe, but I don’t really think so, it is something else. Cheating? Hmm. I just don’t know, but I do know that I will not come out, as some say in other circumstances.

Except here of course where no-one is reading. Now, I wonder how long it will take me to get to the end of the bookroom. :rofl:


Totally caring about your wife with regards to alcohol and everything else, you put many others to shame. I absolutely refuse all alcohol if I have to drive my car, even a few kms and people just can’t understand me but to lose my licence would mean the end of my independence which is far more important than a glass of something I could have when not driving. I know what you mean about a bottle lasting more than a couple of days, they usually last a week for me as I don’t like to do damage to my liver by drinking either a lot or every day and they say it does the liver good to have a rest too! Alcoholism is a terrible disease, I have seen several near neighbours brought down by it in my last commune and their families devastated and ending up not caring any longer as the victim is totally oblivious to treatment. Good luck with the continued caring for your wife, my mum has been in a UK care home since 2007 after a major stroke, it broke my dad who had no life from then to 2017 when he died and my sisters have done everything for her but the worst thing was having to sell the family home within six months so the social security could get their hands on the money to pay for her care, luckily dad had the foresight to leave his part to his children but they were so greedy in their demands for the money asap and now after a couple of years that has run out and she is back on the social.

Although I know that my son does love this house and would love to live here one day, I have no problem with the value of estates being sold in order to care for the last surviving spouse. The costs of care homes are enormous from what I have heard, and inherited wealth shouldn’t take precedence.


A little reward for all your care.

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reminds me of this…

Oh David! I do not know you beyond what you write in SF but that is enough foe me to say you need feel no guilt whatsoever.

As for the wine store…. When sneaking a crafty tipple stops being fun, here’s a possible idea.

Invite your friends and treasured acquaintances, one by one, in little groups or in one big night, and ask them to chose a bottle each from your cache. :partying_face:

You could put little Happy New Year or other tags on each bottle if you want to make it festive. (I would vacuum up the cobwebs beforehand, maybe. Unless you would like a Treasure Island pirate’s treasure theme. )

Just an idea…


I think I know what you mean. It doesn’t feel right to have a secret from your spouse, and even more so after a long marriage in which there’s a tacit understanding that you share everything, and don’t have secrets.

Some people wouldn’t understand your scruples or why you’re even asking the question.

But is it a secret, or is it you caring for Fran? I think we’d all unhesitatingly say it was the second.



I am not allowed to (supposed to…) drink more than a glass with my dinner because of the drugs I’m on. OH does like a bit more, and especially on the days I can’t drink at all will leave the bottle in the kitchen and pop out for a sip from time to time. I know he does it, he knows I know he does it, but we are both happy that mutual consideration rules. I’m sure Fran would not object, but it’s good to stick to the “niceties”.

Enjoy a nice glass tonight.


Nice thoughts, thank you again, and @JaneJones , no I’m sure she wouldn’t object, but she wouldn’t understand why she couldn’t have a glass too. Last night, after I had settled her in the bathroom and came back to see if she was ready for bed she said ‘but I haven’t had my ciggie yet’. It took several minutes before I could understand what she was saying but then I gently pointed out that she doesn’t smoke, hasn’t done in fact since September 2021, 15 months ago, when she suddenly forgot that she was a smoker and thus stopped asking me for her daily packet. I used to buy a week’s supply every Sunday and keep them in my wardrobe, at least a dozen are still there. :slightly_smiling_face:

So, it must be kept a secret. The geriatric specialist said back in the summer that he thinks her dementia may well have been triggered by alcohol in excess. Or at least the cause of the brain damage at the root of it.

Again to @JaneJones , I did, it was cool and sweet, a perfect companion to the heat on the plate, and there is still enough left for tomorrow night. :wink: :rofl:

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My BIL has Korsakoff’s dementia - caused by alcohol. The saddest thing is that the doctor’s say that some of his problems would be reversed if he stopped drinking, but he won’t. So yes, keep it away from Fran. But don’t feel guilty, just a secret pleasure no different from keeping a box of favorite biscuits.

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A bit like the large box of Ferrero Rocher I bought for the lovely man who ‘detained’ Jules after his 2 km expedition last week, but who refused to accept it on the grounds that what he did was ‘normale’. But I do share that with her, we each have one a day, even though there is alcohol in one of the selection. No danger because she cannot move unaided, that is what seems unfair I suppose, that I am taking advantage of her disability, though I know it is not that. She forgets about it as soon as it is eaten, no craving, and doesn’t realise that there is a box at all, just a nice surprise each day with a little treat. :smiley:


No, not a secret drinker, just an incredibly considerate and caring one.
Your compassion born of love is to be admired Sir.


I think you are too kind Robert, I am bound here, by love yes, of Fran and our history but also of my dogs, my house, the place we live which I could not possibly leave. You do not see, and little seeps through on here, the extreme bouts of anger I experience. Limited thankfully to vocals, I have managed not to destroy things, I just leave the room and rage, when she glares at me when I have made her a little more comfortable, when she snaps instead of saying thank you when I suggest and then present her with a treat or her favourite food, when in moments of tenderness I ask a kiss and instead of a touch of lips she turns her head aside with a hard look in her eyes.

Born of love yes, but bound by circumstance, not of choice. The best part of the day? When I finally lay her down and tuck into her bed. Then I get a soft look, a tender kiss, as I make sure her hands are inside the single duvet, then the side bars go up and I can no longer reach her except with a last fingertip to nose and a ‘see you in the morning, sleep well’, as I pull the second, double duvet over the top of the bars. The one which I started to use as she so often turned on her side in the foetal position which poked her knees out where I would find them, frozen to the touch, the next morning.

BTW, there is still a tiny bit of the Alsace left in the bottle for tonight, I will have to find another and open it with the telly turned up again. :rofl:


That’s extremely moving, David, and as good a description of what love actually means as I can imagine. Love when it’s easy is still love, but love when it’s tested like yours and endures is is love of a different quality.


Don’t beat yourself up David. You don’t need to be perfect just good enough - and you are.:slightly_smiling_face:

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I appreciate what you both say, but it doesn’t feel like that to me as I sit here at 1.30pm reading this and a friend’s long story about his experience of driving in the wilds of SW Africa, still putting off waking Fran and going through the motions again of duty calling. I’ve put off walking the dogs too because I will be going out later with a duvet cover to dry at Auchan, I was also going to get a washer for that bloody leaking joint after getting it uncoupled, but I have failed miserably at that yet again, there simply isn’t enough room, or enough hands to operate a torch and 2 spanners at full arms stretch while lying flat on my back under the sink wondering if I will ever get back up again. I did, obviously, my only success of the day so far. :roll_eyes: :rofl:

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I just wish we lived nearer so we could help. We are currently feeling quite bored because the weather is rubbish (Brittany) and there is no way we can even contemplate going out to sort the garden etc.

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Somewhere in there is the Fran you knew. Sadly this damn disease has taken her away, so you are not actually getting angry at her just an outer shell called Dementia.

Do you sing? I am a total beginner, but find that singing can either block everything out or be a way to express emotion. Stomp out a nice angry song if you feel the urge to throw things.

I would have broken every plate and cup in the house by now, you are doing remarkably well!

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We’ve got two head torches for precisely that situation - we know exactly what it’s like. The torches are also very useful when walking the dog in the dark. (NB: the link is bona fide - to an amazon fr site - there are lots of different types of torch - ones that are adjustable in terms of the angle of the light are the best)


Thats a miner detail!