Sunday, 7 December 2014

Do we expect too much

from other people?
I went to see an elderly friend yesterday. It was her birthday. She now lives in a nursing home.
When I arrived her cousin, with whom she used to live, was there. Two other people had been in during the morning. Nobody else was expected and nobody else came.
This woman once did much to help other people. She didn't, as the saying goes, "suffer fools gladly" but she was always ready to help someone in need. Her car was always available to take someone to an appointment.
She was one of those women who always wore trousers, changed the light bulbs, replaced the washers, cleaned the gutters and so on herself. No she was not a lesbian, just intensely practical. She could fly a plane and knew a great deal about the engine. In her working life she was an architect.
Conversation with her was always interesting. A stroke has made that much more difficult - but not impossible.
And so, nobody really goes to visit any more. I know part of it is embarrassment at the difficulty of having a conversation but people will not even "pop in" for a moment - even when visiting other people in the same nursing home. Even just stopping at the door and saying, "Hello R..... I'm on my way to see Mum" would help. But people won't do it. It seems they are too embarrassed or can't be bothered - although they were quick enough to once ask her for help.
So yesterday was her birthday. There was a card from her cousin and a card from the two people who had called in briefly during the morning and a card from me and another from my sister who sent a message to say she was at the hospital with her father-in-law and will call in today instead.  And that was it. I took some of her favourite chocolate as well.
She is not well enough to go out so people need to go to her.
While I was there her cousin left the room to speak to one of the staff. While she was gone R.... managed, with difficulty, to tell me, "Don't want another birthday."
No, perhaps she doesn't. Why bother with life if nobody visits?

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