It is some years now since we cleared my mother’s house, this was necessitated by her entry to a nursing home due to her deteriorating health. The process produced lots of laughter as family members carefully sifted her cherished belongings. I remember her sitting on a chair in the kitchen instructing which box items should be placed in – ‘Bin, Charity, Keep’. Now when we were very young, in the autumn we would go out picking brambles and I well remember the ‘Jeely’ bag hanging on a brush shaft as the fruit juices dripped into a large bowl. For some reason, known only to herself, she wanted to retain the ‘jeely’ bag as she might need it. ‘How long since you last used it?’, the 85 year-old was asked. She howled with laughter and rocking backwards and forwards on the chair she said ‘Bin it!’
I became incredibly upset when we had to part with the dining room table. I had no idea how much I valued the table until that moment when vivid memories of table tennis, board games, train sets, jigsaws, homework, family meals and mother standing baking at it when we got in from school, came to mind. The table had been at the very heart of our family’s life for as long as I could remember and right up to that moment of parting when the family had grown through marriages and births. The table itself had no intrinsic value, its value came to the fore in the flood of tears that came to light in memories of wholesome, happy times spent around it!
Despite my brother’s offer to keep the table in his garage for me, I got over parting with it. I am still surprised at my reaction. However, looking back, I know that I was grieving for the fun, joys and possibilities shared around that table, moments lost in time that would never be recovered or visited again outside of memory.
We are living in difficult times, times in which many people are looking closely at what they value most in life. As a Christian, I have always believed in the infinite value of every human being, and I believe that as we are all forced to slow down and re-pace our lives, that we should also take time to take stock, not only of how we are valued, or value ourselves, but of how we value others.
These are times when we should be acknowledging with thankfulness how valued the people who enrich our lives truly are. We all have time now, to take time to say ‘I love you’, ’Thank you’, ‘I am glad to have you in my life’, ‘Our friendship is something I treasure’, ‘You mean so much to me’,
May you, each one, know how valued and loved you are by others and by God.
Chairman, Faith in Older People
30 March 2020