in the nursing home on a Saturday afternoon? You could have fired a cannon down the passage of the old house which forms the main part. I doubt anyone would have come.
It is a lovely old house, old for our part of the world that is. Australia doesn't have the really old houses of Europe. This one was probably built about a hundred years ago. It is the classic passage down the middle, rooms to either side and veranda around. The veranda has an intricate tiled pattern which reminds me of my paternal grandparents' home. Inside there are polished wooden floors in the passages and dining areas and carpets in the bedroom. It is all very clean - and very quiet.
I had tied the tricycle to an outside post and told it not to get in the way. Then I went to find the elderly friend I had come to visit.
She was in her room. The television set was on but the sound was off. She was dozing. Her younger cousin was there doing a crossword puzzle from the daily paper.
"Cat's here," she told her cousin. She switched the television set off. We sat and talked for a while. I gave them the news I had come to give them and greetings from a former neighbour I had seen that morning. The older cousin managed to say a few words but we both know it is an effort for her.
The woman with the afternoon tea trolley came and went with a minimum of fuss. I could hear her chatting softly to the woman in the room opposite. The other day I said hello to that resident as well. She is still able to knit and read and does both. Most of the residents do nothing at all apart from sit and, perhaps, watch a television screen.
Yes, it is not much more than a hospice for the elderly dying. Only a few will be there for any great length of time.
Is that why people don't bother to visit? There is a paucity of names in the book you sign as you enter and leave.
I left after half an hour or so. It's long enough, just enough to break up the day a bit and they know I'll be back when I can.
And, as I leave, I see someone has wheeled another man out onto the veranda. We saw one another the last time I was there. He saw the tricycle and gave me a "thumbs up" of approval. We smile at one another.
And then, there is a small sound. He looks up and smiles again. There is a wind-chime on the veranda post next to him. A slight breeze has caused it to make a light, almost laughing sound. It is company of a sort.