For those who are curious about our neighbour Harry, I’m pleased to report that after about 10 days in hospital he returned home this week. Back to his familiar surroundings, retreating into his shell as before and keeping his door locked against the world, but apparently much fitter and feeling that life is worth living after all.
Oh yes, he was very annoyed with those who had him taken to hospital, and spent the first days there complaining that he should have been left to die. But now he has changed his tune and is appreciative of what has been done for him, singing the praises of the hospital staff who took such good care of him. He wouldn’t be Harry if it were all positive, so there are a few gripes and grumbles thrown in, but on the whole I think we can expect to see him out and about again as the weather improves. And – wonder of wonders – it also looks as if he may be getting reconciled with his family. Fingers crossed and prayers intensified! The neighbours are continuing to take an interest in his welfare and providing a support network. Once again, I’m heartened to see that there still plenty of people around who care about the aged.
Some of the very committed folk from the church fellowship my mother has attended for the past thirty years hold an Afternoon Break every Thursday from 1.30 to 3. It’s popular with older people, mostly women, who meet to share what’s on their minds along with a cup of tea and a cake, sandwich or sausage roll. Sometimes we have a quiz, or someone reads a little story and now and then I have shared some of my poems. It’s an opportunity for lonely people to socialise a little without much effort.
This very simple format is varied occasionally by a visiting speaker or, as today, a musician who gets everyone singing along. The songs were old favourites – You are my sunshine, Goodnight Irene, Oh Susanna, The grandfather clock etc – and our entertainer accompanied us on the banjo. He explained that he regularly plays at old people’s homes, and these are the songs everyone loves and joins in, even those with dementia.
One of the younger members of our group who is only fiftyish asked if we could have something more modern, maybe by the Beatles, Status Quo or Led Zeppelin. The answer was, “Sorry, not this time,” but it flashed through my mind that in a decade or two, banjo players visiting old folk’s homes might have to belt out “I come from the land of ice and snow … “ or Van Halen’s “Jump” to get the residents onside. They may even have a mosh pit! That reflection cheered me up immensely: if I have to go into a home later in life, I’ll look forward to a white-haired head-banging session every Thursday afternoon 😀