My Grandfather died two years ago and I often think of his final days in hospital being lovingly treated and cared for by the staff and our family. I visited a few times, knowing that the outcome wouldn’t be what we all ultimately wanted, him home again.
I was scared to see him like that and scared to think of what was coming next for him. I didn’t know how to help other than being there with him. I think that was all i was meant to do. I sat quietly at the foot of his bed watching him being tended to. Lovingly being cared for and held. It was an arresting sight.
In the months that have since passed i’ve thought back to my final moments with him, I think I understand what happened in that room and what it was all about. The inevitability of death will come to us all that is for sure and for those of us like my beloved Grandfather who are lucky to have lived a long and fruitful life, die surrounded by those that love you, telling you how much you are loved is all we can really hope for at the end of our day. I learned a valuable lesson by witnessing the great ritual of life in death; that to care for our aged, is to teach our young how to be when our time comes and to prepare each other for the parting. It’s an education of the cycle of life.
When the time comes for me to care for my parents, as it will if the natural order is observed, I hope my children will bear witness to such love and kindness with nature at its most raw.
On that day he passed back in 2011 my Grandmother was left to mourn his absence after a lifetime loving each other, I feel her loneliness without him. He was all she really knows.
It was with all this in mind when I discovered a local Charity advertising for Volunteer Befrienders by pure chance. People wishing to volunteer their free time to spend chatting over a cup of tea with the elderly and those who are isolated or lonely. Listening to them and being with them.
I really want to be a part of this so I called the number and offered my services. With the girls in nursery for a few hours each week I have a little time I could put to better use. I met with the co-ordinator. A tired middle-aged looking woman with a warmth and compassion for her role that enthused me. She explained all that was involved and expected. I suddenly felt scared committing to something I know nothing about, but I’m forging ahead and awaiting my approval to become a bona fide Befriender. I will be matched up with someone locally they think I will get along with.
Obviously a confidentiality pact is put in place but I look forward to sharing with you how this new adventure of mine develops. I am positive it can only be a wonderful experience and one that I will find a great deal of meaning to, the elderly are generally an untapped resource when it comes to learning about life, and ourselves.
My charitable cause won’t change the world, but it may change someone’s world and that is good enough for me in trying to make a difference. No one deserves to feel isolated or alone in this age where we are suffocated with news and social media yet from listening to the co-ordinator of this charity it happens all to often. As the repeated lyric in the Brit Pop Band Pulp’s song ‘Help the Aged’ says, it’s not ‘funny how it all falls away’.