By Jan Murray, Pastoral Carer, Courtlands Village
Many years ago, in my youth, I heard and learnt a song about friends being like beautiful flowers in our life.
That song, at the time and still to this day, touched something in me and I find that I often look at a .good friend and picture them as a beautiful flower.
Friends can be a blessing that many of us take for granted as “just being there”. No matter what the occasion, an afternoon at the theatre, catching up for a quiet lunch or a quick coffee, a warm and familiar shoulder to cry on, friends are those people in our life who enjoy our company, never judge us and are always there for us.
“The heartfelt council of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense” – Proverbs 27:9
But sometimes, due to circumstances beyond our control, friendships can end all too soon.
Circumstances such as relocation, ageing, illness and death can leave us hanging like autumn leaves on a windy day – very sad and quite vulnerable.
So where am I going with this? Working in aged care and spending a great deal of time having one on one visits with many a lonely resident can give a pretty good perspective as to how important friendships have been in years past. There are quite a number of residents who have little or no family visitation due to numerous reasons, but what they do have are precious memories which can be encouraged and brought forward. Memories not only of family but of friendships formed in the school yard, at the workplace, in the armed forces, with neighbours and with social groups. Some friendships would have been made at mother’s groups, during overseas travel or even at the local pub. Some were made easily while others took time, some were fleeting while others lasted a lifetime. But with every friendship created comes the memories of that creation.
I recently had the privilege of spending 40 very rewarding minutes with a resident who was feeling down and lonely. When I came into her room she said, “Oh, thank God, someone I can talk to that will talk back to me”. I felt both humbled and most thankful that I had turned left rather than right in the foyer that day. This dear lady sat and cried for a short time about her loneliness and told me how much she missed her family and friends. When I felt that she was ready, I diverted her to tell me about some of her memories as a child and teenager.
I heard her tell of being raised by hardworking parents who loved their five children, of how they were raised with hand-me-down clothes and shoes, home haircuts, lard sandwiches, and shared bath water, that started with the youngest child and dad as the last. How they sat on the floor of the lounge room every night after dinner to listen to the radio shows they loved, and how on a Saturday night once a month a block of chocolate was passed around and shared. She recalled a special friend from school who loved to sleep over at her place so she could have a lard sandwich as she never had them at home.
After 40 minutes of crying, reminiscing, laughing and hand holding I left my resident rather reluctantly because I felt as though I had been taken on a short journey and I wanted more.
Taking the time to listen and encourage memories can be a rewarding experience for all parties, it can take such little to give so much.