There were two homes for the elderly in the parish, almost opposite each other, and I always felt kind of sad about it, because one was a private home for people who could afford it, and the other was a council run home, and the care differences were there, even though the council home didn’t seem too bad.
JM or a team would go to the home to run a communion service or games afternoon sometimes, and, especially in the time I was living in the district, I would go and help with communion at the council home, and also carol services at Christmas.
I remember the door code was 1066 to get in or out, and I remember one old lady saying she was waiting for her husband to collect her, but I don’t know if she was.
I used to help the elderly people with their hymn books, finding the right hymns and holding the book for them if necessary.
It was always both cheerful and sad to share a Carol Service with them at Christmas, cheerful because a lot of them loved it, and sad because they were there, not home with their family.
Sometimes we had rather funny times, like when an old person tried to dance to the hymns. But the best one was an old lady singing wildly out of tune, and her equally elderly companion tutted and said ‘she can’t help it you know’…and then she added ‘It’s her parents I feel sorry for!’.
One of the old ladies used to be brought to church every week, it was what she wanted, although she had dementia and was fading.
She passed away, and I went to her funeral, we had always known her by a particular name, but it turned out that she had two names, and the council home called her by one, and her family called her by the other.
The name that her family knew her as, was the same as my name.
Another sad story on that note, there were two ladies who were very much into the running of things in the church, especially prayers and healing, once upon a time, they didn’t understand me very well but they always said hello, and came to my parties etc.
One of them died suddenly, and I didn’t know what had happened to her companion, just realised she was missing, and so I asked, and the reply was that she was in some care home in town, taken ill and losing her memory.
I was puzzled about how casual people were when I asked about it, and I asked if anyone had been to see her, no, no-one had, no-one, not even the other busy church ladies she had worked with and this was a lady who did so much in the church with her friend, she was simply gone, forgotten.
This was a grim realization, that no matter how hard you work for the church of england, they can discard and forget you as if you were never there.
I was not sure if I was ‘qualified’ to go and see her, and people were so vague, so I didn’t in the end. Me being so shy and not close to her, I felt if her friends didn’t go and see her, how could I?
Bleak to think that eventually I will end up in the council home and forgotten, if the diocese don’t have me put away or snuffed out first.