Monday, December 21, 2009

OLD friends

(the corner of our old house, right where Willow was born)

this last week i reconnected with my past

it was a deliberate act - had to organise schedules and get a bit bossy with my family,during this busy time of the year

but it had become clear that i needed to do something my conscience had been prickling me about ...

(to be read in your best Jimminy Cricket voice)

"It's been a long time. They get lonely. It's not far out of your way. They're good people"

so we went to the Kamo rest home.

We went to see Beth.

Beth was our neighbour when the girls were little - and one of the first people who came to welcome Willow (Willow was born at home and Beth could tell something was up. She was amazed she hadn't been woken by screaming! Beth must've seen too many bad movies.)

She is in her late 90's and used to exhaust me just watching her - she was part of a regular tramping group (hiking to any North American friends reading!) She did her own extensive garden, preserving, walked to the shops, drove all over...She also welcomed my girls into her life with open arms.

Eila used to toddle over to her house, just able to reach the doorbell and cuddle up on Beth's knee, looking at photo albums, eating "peppermint tablets" ("oddfellows" - a big round mint), walking around her garden discussing plants and flowers, picking posies .

Beth got sick with shingles and had to move into a rest home at around the same time as we left our house.

We have been up to visit her but our visits petered out a bit. I have lots of excuses but the last time we went she said, admonishingly "I thought you had forgotten me!"

Then last week, I met one of her carers in the street who said she had deteriorated and that galvanised me.

The look of joy on her face made it worthwhile. Sure she can't find lots of the words she wants, and that is frustrating for her, but she still has her wicked sense of humour and she still loves my girls and the feirce hug she gave us all was so full of love....

She couldn't see us out but we walked through the dining room where other residents were settling in for dinner... and the oohs and ahs and people actually reaching out for my girls and wanting to chat with us chipped a little peice off my heart... their joy at seeing someone young and vital and oblivious to their gift of youth, was palpable and a little overwhelming...

then we went down the hill to my Aunt and Uncle's little unit.

I am ashamed to say i haven't been there in the 4 or so years they've lived there. My uncle is my Dad's oldest brother and we were much younger than their children but they were always kind to me. OK, Aunty Lillian's gap in the front of her teeth distracted me so much as child, that i often found myself forgetting what she was saying. And she had this little girl giggle that sounded so odd on a woman. And their house was so tidy and full of geegaws and knicknacks that i was scared of knocking something over.

But Neville was kind to my Grandma. They loved my Grandma and took care of her so tenderly that they will always have a special place in my heart.

Neville can't walk well anymore. And he can only say a few words. Lillian always said more than him anyway. But the love in their eyes when they saw us was overwhelming.

And they told me a story about how surprised my Dad was when they told him they were getting married. Turns out my Dad had been spying on them. And he had seen their friends kissing under a hat. But the most my Dad had seen Nev and Lillian do was Neville tickling Lillian on the face with a peice of long grass. "That was our courting."Lillian giggled as she told me.

And my heart swelled with their love, days gone by, innocence, the richness of that story, their tenderness for each other.

the stories living in these three, and everyone at the table waiting for their dinner, are as alive as the day they were lived. Pulsing with their need for retelling. Waiting for their chance to return to the world, to show us what they saw....

those stories are waiting for my return.....

and i feel the weight of that in my heart.

but it is a good weight


  1. I'm so glad you and the girls went ~ what a lovely experience for all of you!
    I love my elderly patients ~ they always have had something to teach me...
    And just the other day, we talked with jim' 94 year old Godmother...who still goes up and down the 21 stairs in her house many times a day, and who is hosting 34 for Xmas dinner!!!


  2. (((((((((((((me)))))))))))))))

    i honour you and that sprightly 94 year old...and how these stories mirror the solstice too... the dark and light of the sun and the dark and light of aging... namaste

  3. I love your tender heart, faerian.
    And value the way you know the importance of stories.

  4. "those stories are waiting for my return.....
    and i feel the weight of that in my heart."

    Amen. We are the wisdom keepers, the story tellers...I loved this story....and especially that you claim yourself as a "joy warrior"!!

    "Hanta Yo" <- (in peace to you I bow my head)

  5. As a child I used to visit the aged home around the corner. It was moved when I was around eight. I had forgotten the many years of pleasure I had experienced until a close friend went into another facility when I was in my 20's. The stories these people can tell, and the love they have to share humbles me. But it is the desperation and lonliness in their eyes that breaks my heart.

  6. oh-tickling as courting! adorable!!

    and what touching stories you share of connecting with your friends/family.

    but I have to ask-your daughter was birthed in the corner of your living room??