April 20, 2022

The gift from my 88 year old friend

During covid lockdown, many have experienced isolation. From those living alone, to those missing their family members in a different suburb, a different state, or even those locked up in nursing and institutional care. I thought if I want to find out how to help more senior people, at least I should start doing something about it. So I looked up, and signed myself up to various job posting that suits my skills and schedule. I taught a semester of meditation to Wesley Mission college for senior, before it was moved to online due to covid. And none of my students wanted to do online sessions. I signed up with community visitor scheme funded by the government, and I got paired up with a lovely shy 88 year old lady, who loves thriller novels especially Agatha Christie. She has been in long residential care based in Randwick. We have developed a friendship. I visit her once every 2 weeks. During lockdown, we exchanged phone calls, and text messages. It wasn't easy in the beginning, she has a slight speech impediment, so I would have to ask her to repeat what she said over and over again. Now I have gotten used to her way of speaking and can understand her much better. I also help her out with her phone, but generally just care for each other. I share my photos of my hikes and the blue skies and ocean scenery outside, she shares with me curious animals, interesting news on tv with me. We both love music, and sometimes I get her to play her keyboard, and I'll sing along. Being inside the nursing home, I have observed their busyness, frustrations, and lack of staff situation. There is also a sense of chaos and disorderly issues happening. For this role, I was asked to signed an agreement not to investigate or interfere with the operation of the nursing home. I sometimes worry about my friend there, and after lockdown ease, I can only think about going to see as soon as I can to make sure she was ok. She always have such carefree and positive outlook, I wish I can be more like that when I'm at her age! She is appreciatively, joyous, and always pleasant to be around. She ask for nothing, and what we offer each other with our time is the most precious gift. Just sitting together, paying attention and be each other's company.