I volunteered a few months ago to become a ‘befriender’ working for a local charity by spending time with those people who are over 50 and have become isolated from life; their friends and family. It took a long time to be accepted, passing all the necessary police checks, to be matched with a suitable candidate and to be introduced.
I was given a number of candidates i could choose from who lived near me and were available during the times i specified i could be available when my girls are in nursery. I chose to befriend a lovely 80 year old lady who found herself widowed two years ago and her children living overseas.
We were introduced by the Charity contact and although it felt a little contrived, we were matched perfectly and had so much we could talk about, she has after all lived a lifetime.
I haven’t really done much charity work before so this is a new experience for me and one which i am finding reaping huge rewards. We have now met many times, usually Friday mornings and we are becoming very good friends. Listening to her talk about her life and delving into her memories seems to be a huge release for her. Sometimes she cries, often she tells me her regrets and usually she imparts some hard won advice. It’s so interesting to hear her talk. To look at this frail older lady you wouldnt believe that she is a wonderfully talented artist, with an impressive collection of watercolour pictures she has done throughout her years, usually of her holidays taken around Kent. She also has an amazing talent restoring furniture which both her and late husband enjoyed together.
The last visit we had it happened to be her 68th Wedding Anniversary. I kept seeing her glance at the clock but did not say anything. Eventually she told me that she was keeping an eye on the time because at 2pm, 68 years ago she took her vows and liked to relive the day. Their day as it happened.
I’m only 4 years in to being married and yet i still do this when our anniversary day comes, i think a lot of people do. I hope to still be doing it 68 years later, together. The day feels like only yesterday, with everything so clear and fresh in the mind. 68 years later she still feels that despite everything. Even their honeymoon they took to Switzerland which whilst considered a very grand and unusual gesture back then they did. Entering one of the gift shops in Interlaken she wanted to buy a cuckoo clock but couldnt afford it. Her husband told her she could have a music box instead. She carefully looked around the shop she said, and chose the one that caught her eye – a small little blue one, only to open it and hear the song ‘i love you so’ playing. She told me she cried when he bought it for her…she said it was a sign and still treasures this box to this day although it is kept safely stored in her loft.
We had to reschedule our weekly meet yesterday as her son was making a surprise visit to come see her, she was so pleased and excited. I told her she had to get son to get her music box out. To touch it, to feel it, to listen to it. To keep her mind alive with her wonderful memories.