The sitting room had two large bay windows, one looked north over the fields and towards the hills, the other looked over the rose garden to the woodland beyond. The District Nurse always seated herself in the middle of the window with her back to the rose garden. She would never be bothered by too much heat from the sun as the trees always cast a shadow that provided the shade that she enjoyed. Her chosen position gave her oversite of the whole room where her eagle sharp eyes would look at every face and check every limb for the telltale signs of injury or impending illness.
Each time that we met was commenced with the courtesy of an introduction and a firm handshake, ‘I was the District Nurse for this locality you know.’ On one occasion, I was invited to transport her to the Polling Station. ‘I have always used my vote,’ she said. ‘You know my mother marched to get the vote, I wanted to go as well but father said no and anyway mother had only scraped together enough for her fare. I remember mother holding his face between her hands and saying, “You will always be the head of this house darling, but just remember that I am the neck that turns the head!” ‘With that she gave him a kiss and they giggled together.’
‘I told my husband that you know, we met when I was nursing during the war.’ Her eyes filled and we sat quietly until we arrived at the Polling Station. We were warmly greeted on our arrival with folks coming over to share their memories of her visits to their school or home. She preened with delight at their recognition.
Invitations to transport her to church had a similar impact on members of the congregation who always welcomed her with hugs. ‘How is wee Sandy?’ she asked one elderly lady. ‘Well, he’s not so small these days, he’s farming up in Angus, and his son will be married next month.’ ‘How time flies,’ she said as we found her pew.
The hymns were well known and melding with other voices I could hear her strong, clear voice singing as though from the depth of her soul. The practiced bowing of her head during intercessions indicative of one who, throughout her life, had cared for others, not only in the physical but also the spiritual realm.
Written by Bob Rendall, Chairman Faith in Older People