I got up early, had breakfast, got ready quickly and I was out of the house in half an hour. I put my headphones on but I was distracted with the sea of people in town, so I took them off. One of the cruise ships must have stopped at the port, as I picked out strong American accents from a large group wearing cowboy hats and further down another gang dressed up fancy.
Back to my mission. I was on my way to visit my new, 91 year old friend Kathy. I met Kathy a week ago, on Valentine’s day actually and I couldn’t wait to see her again.
I’ve always wanted to sign up for befriending at one of the charities I help with events, Communicare and as soon as I came back home after Christmas that’s one of the first things I did.
After a DBS background check and filling in a couple of forms I met Kathy, a 91 year old lovely lady who absolutely loves having company, at lunchtime last week with Bryony, the volunteer co-ordinator. After our visit I messaged Bryony to let her know I thought Kathy and I were a great match and that was it.
I will now once a week (or more often if I have time) spend some time chatting with Kathy.
I was a bit nervous on my way there, it will be the first time we’ll be alone together…
‘Will she be happy to see me?’
‘What if we ran out of things to say?’
But after 5 minutes talking to her, nerves disappeared.
Kathy is remarkable. Intelligent, creative, funny and despite her dementia she can perfectly hold a conversation and oh my what wonderful conversations we had so far. I’ve learned so much from her already and we only hang out twice.
‘My dad used to say ‘always keep moving’, that’s the secret of still feeling young when you grow old’ Kathy told me after I complimented her for looking way younger than 91. That’s something I’ll always remember.
I left her flat, walking in the sunshine, with a big grin on my face, thinking about the incredible life she had and feeling blessed I met her.
That’s why I love what Communicare and other similar charities do. I volunteer some of my time which people always find impressive but I get so much more out of it than I give. Older people have wisdom, incredible stories and knowledge in abundance and I can’t believe that a lot end up alone with no one to speak to. It makes my heart hurt.
I’ll tell you her story after I ask her, if she agrees, because it truly is amazing, but my message for today is however busy your life may be, making time for others, especially others who might not have anyone to talk to it won’t only feel amazing, because you will be doing something for someone else, you will help pass on the knowledge and wisdom of the elderly to younger generations.