Monday Motivation: Love in a time of illness

 In Monday Motivation, Richard Beynon's blog, Tips for Writers

My stream of Monday ruminations was rudely interrupted a couple of months ago by illness – and an unexpected visit to the Elizabeth Ward of Bedford Hospital. Over the next eleven days all I had to amuse myself was my kindle – and something that every writer relishes: watching and listening.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be running a series of vignettes based on the notes I took during my enforced hibernation.

Here’s the first:

We have a visitor from the next ward today, a woman clearly in her late seventies or early eighties, with an expression of deep sadness, tears glittering in her eyes. She’s in search of Sandra, one of the helpers assigned to our ward.

“Can you do my hair?” she says in a quavering voice.

“Of course, sweetheart. Have a seat and I’ll be with you in a seccie.”

She settles in one of the angular hospital chairs at the window.

“I just have to finish this,” Sandra says.  “Won’t be long.” She’s filling out a report. Our carers and nurses seem to spend half their time writing reports, filling out forms, updating their records. Sandra, originally from South Africa, is a trim and vivacious carer, a chatterer, invariably cheerful.

“That’s all right,” says our visitor and then, after a moment of reflection: “I so want to pay a visit on my granny. We’ve always been close. It’ll be so good to see her again.”

Sandra casts a curious look at her. “How old are you, Matty?”

“Um… I think…” She hesitates. “I think I’m thirty.”

Sandra nods, adds something to her report, then rises and begins work. She’s shaping the old woman’s long grey hair into French plaits.

“Your hair’s so thick, sweetheart,” she says admiringly. For a moment the lines at Matty’s eyes ease. The combing and plaiting continues for some minutes.

“When I’m at home,” Matty says, “I spend all day doing chores, from morning to night.”

“That must take it out of you.”

“Oh, I don’t mind,” says the old lady, that quaver back in her voice, “as long as someone loves me.”

Happy writing,


PS  – I’d love to hear what you think. Let me know in the comments section.

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