To mark a friend’s eightieth birthday
When sorting through things to move house, I came across an embroidered linen tray cloth that had been made for me by a lady called Rosalie. Packing it away gently, it recalled memories of Pat.
Rosalie and the other residents of Kylemore Clinic were among those who loved Pat for the friendship and kindness Pat always brought to them. Unfailingly, on a Wednesday afternoon every month, and on frequent other occasions, Pat would spend hours sitting and talking with those for whom Pat represented one of the few visitors they might have. Sometimes even conversation was not possible, there were residents with dementia with whom Pat would sit and be a presence of love and friendship to those in the shadowy and isolated world of confusion.
Pat always had an eye for those who might feel lonely or isolated, those who might have no-one else who cared; it was a concern that extended to the dead as well as to the living. On one occasion, a former Royal Bank colleague who had become an inspector had left instructions that his funeral was to be in Saint Matthias’ Church, despite him having no previous connection with the parish. A man who was a recluse and who was known for his austere life, a man whose passion in life had been bird photography, he had few family members and fewer known friends. His instructions were that there would be no music at the service and we wondered how we might make the occasion one that accorded the man respect and dignity. Pat gathered together old bank colleagues who read the lessons and led the prayers at the service, ensuring that a man who had lived an isolated life was surrounded with companions for his final journey.
Pat was a constant presence of cheer and friendship, always available for churchwarden’s duties, always calmly ensuring that the church, and the services which took place, were moments when people met with a welcome and where they would find a sense of calmness and peace.
It would be impossible to calculate the numbers of cups of tea that Pat made for people, whatever number it is would be immaterial, what matters is the person behind the teapot. Pat has spent decades showing love and care towards everyone, whether at home or in the church and the community.
Pat has had innumerable happy moments, but perhaps it is in the sad moments that we really know the worth of a person, and in the sad times Pat has shown herself to be pure gold. To come through deep grief and pain and to be the strength and consolation of those around demands extraordinary strength. Pat has always combined a profound love for those around her with a strength sufficient for everyone.
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