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Where Are We Here?

Where Are We Here?

By tbasset

“Where are we here?”
Breakfast is being served at Heather Court.
Maureen turns to face Pearl – “Where are we here?” she says.
“Heather Court” Pearl replies.
“What do we do now?” says Maureen
“Rest” is Pearl’s response.
Maureen feels momentarily reassured and lets out a long sigh “Ah!”
All is silent except the slowly-ticking clock. Maureen starts to feel anxious. She turns to face Pearl with a familiar refrain “Where are we here?”..............................................
The refrain is painfully repetitive but then so is life at Heather Court – a fixed routine day-by-day. Sleeping, getting up or more precisely being got up, eating (sometimes with help), sitting around (telly on most of the time) followed by more eating and more sitting, and so on until bed-time.
Visitors make a difference but nobody visits Maureen.
Maureen is 89. She is tall, quite thin and has the air of a woman of culture – indeed they say she was once the deputy- head at a school in a town not far away. She has been at Heather Court for 10 years. She doesn’t seem to have any family although in her case notes it says she may have a niece in Australia. Staff find her very anxious but her friend Pearl, also a long-term resident, seems to be able to calm her worries and fears.
Maureen is quite religious and attends the occasional Anglican services at Heather Court. She worries a little bit about dying. The other day she overheard two workmen, who were fixing the lift talking about the residents at Heather Court. “You come here to die” said one. “Well, we’re all in the same queue” said the other “only nobody’s queue jumping!” Maureen thought “quite right – never mind one more step along the road – this is the last step and everyone knows it. Death is a regular visitor here, perhaps not weekly, but often enough. Mind you there’s no song and dance when people pass away.”
This morning a young lad ventures into the self-enclosed and isolated world of Heather Court. He is a teenager, on some sort of school placement. The matron tells him to just chat with the residents, ask them about themselves, the past, the war and what they like to eat. He finds Maureen sitting alone and squats down next to her. “Hi I’m Nathan”
Now Maureen’s memory fails her more often than not, but something about this young man flicks a switch and a light goes on in a room that has not been entered for many years. “Hello son” replies Maureen. She chats to him for a while, asking him lots of questions about his life and what he is doing. He talks about friends, sport and school. “I was a teacher’” says Maureen proudly. A member of staff, rushing by to attend to an emergency, catches sight of the two of them and is surprised to see Maureen engaged in such a lively conversation.
Later in the day Nathan tells his mother about the lovely chat he had with Maureen. His mother thinks she might know who Maureen is – perhaps she is the teacher that her mum used to talk about. “Your Gran called her Mugger Maureen – she was quite strict – we could do with more like her these days” she tells Nathan. “Mind you, I think she never married – her job was her life.”
Back at Heather Court, the matron is conducting a review meeting with staff to discuss the care plans for residents. “We’ll start with Maureen Pickering” she says. “She’s much the same as always” says one of the care workers “No real change. I did see her having a very animated chat with that young lad from the school who visited today. I can’t imagine what they were talking about as Maureen is a woman of such few words. It’s such a pity that she has no family and no visitors. Perhaps we should see if the school could send more of their pupils to do visits or even ask the same young lad to come back.”
Before going home for the night, the matron sees Maureen sitting in the lounge with her friend Pearl who is recently back from a trip to the dentist. “Oh Maureen” she says “would you like it if that young man came to see you again? – you know the one you were chatting with today.” Maureen ponders and replies thoughtfully “Naturally – he is my son.”
“Of course he is” replies the matron “All those children you helped make a start in their lives – I expect they all seemed like they were your own children at times.”
And so it is bedtime – the end of another day.
Maureen turns to face Pearl – “Where are we here?” she says.
“Heather Court” Pearl replies.
“What do we do now?” says Maureen
“Rest” is Pearl’s response.
Maureen feels momentarily reassured and lets out a long sigh “Ah!”
All is silent, even the TV has finished its 10-hour shift. Maureen starts to feel anxious. She turns to face Pearl with a familiar refrain “Where are we here?”..............................................

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About The Author
tbasset
tbasset
About This Story
Audience:
All Audiences
Posted:
3 Jan, 2013
Type:
Sad
Words:
856
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Views:
2,024

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