The high-pitched scream echoed through the house, an anxious voice shouted, ‘What’s wrong?’ Hurried footsteps could be heard, including my own, heading towards the scream which had turned into a sustained wowl. ‘I’ve lost my marbles!’ weeped the three-year-old with petted lip and streaming tears. Panic over, gran asked where he had left them and after a bit of searching under the settee and chair, they were found, laid out like a train on the ground floor of his Fisher Price garage.
My memory was jogged back almost thirty years to a moment in time when I found Pearl, rather upset, standing by the door looking out. ‘I want to visit my mother’ said the normally jovial octogenarian. ‘Do you mind opening the door for me, son? I don’t want to miss my bus.’ ‘But you don’t have your handbag or coat and it’s a bit chilly outside, I think you have time to go and fetch them. Here, take my arm and we’ll walk to your room together.’
As we walked, we chatted about the village where Pearl had grown up, the cottage that her mother had lived in and the wonderful cottage garden that she had created there. Village life had been quieter in those days, she said as she spoke about following the milk cart and running out with the can to get some soor-dook (buttermilk) to make scones with. ‘If a car came through the village, we would all run out to watch it drive past,’ she said, laughing. As we came to the door of her room, Pearl chatted about playing on the church steps after Sunday School, or walking out in her Sunday best hand in hand with mum and dad. ‘Sundays were special in those days.’
‘I have always lived in the country and this hotel is in a beautiful setting, but I really must get away to see my mother’. The handbag was retrieved, and a suitable coat was taken out of the wardrobe. As I helped Pearl into her coat, she began to cry, ‘My mother died years ago’’ she sniffed. ‘Oh! Were you going to visit her grave?’ ‘No’, she said with the wisp of a smile, ‘we never believed in doing that, after all it’s only her body that’s there. I’m sorry, you must think I’m losing my marbles. Och, it’s a good job Him up there remembers me!’
Written by Bob Rendall, Chairman Faith in Older People