A few lines to a friend who left us.
I wanted to send you a few lines to say ´farewell.’
Well, really, I wanted to say ´thank you’ for all of the cups of tea that we shared over the years. Drinking tea captured a sense of the person you were.
Tea in your kitchen was always a reminder of the homemaker that you were.
No hospital operating theatre was ever nearly as clean and tidy as your kitchen. There was never a speck of dust, never a thing out of place. Tea was a measure of the care you took about everything. The table would be set with the best china, the cutlery shone. We would sit up to the table and drink from teacups with saucers, for having tea and cake was a serious business.
Mary, your kitchen showed us your eye for detail. There was no more chance of you not being concerned about someone’s worries than there was of there being a dirty plate on the table. To try to pretend you hadn’t noticed something would have been pointless, you would pull your chair up to the table and say, ‘Now, . . .’
Drinking tea in the parish hall was a reminder of the love you had for your church.
How many cups of tea must you have poured after services, after meetings? The big teapot and the cups set out in neat order, no visitor could have left without the offer of refreshment.
The care you showed in your welcome to others was a measure of the love in which you held your faith. Always early to church, always perfectly turned out, there was never a moment of the worship that you did not take seriously. You had a profound sense of reverence, a deep belief, an awareness of the spiritual.
The cups of tea in your kitchen and the church hall came to an end, but the tea continued.
Tea became a reminder of how much you loved the company of others.
Of course, you imagined I was working when I called to the home on the second and fourth Friday of the month. You thought that me taking off my coat and sitting down was me at work, it wasn’t – it was me calling with someone who was always a friend to me.
There was always the moment of laughter after one of the lovely care assistants had brought us tea. You would wait until the door was closed, open your locker, and take out your box of tea bags. An extra tea bag would be placed into the cups of tea that had already been made, after a couple of minutes, the tea would be strong enough. Then the cakes would come out, ones you had saved from the week, squirrelled away in the box that was kept with the tea bags.
Mary, your years there showed us your capacity to be happy wherever you might find yourself. As you once drove your car in a circle each Sunday morning, out by Derraugh Cross and back by the Shannon Road, taking in all that changed, so you found companionship and conversation in those you met as you walked the corridors of the home.
Mary, I hope there is tea in heaven and a chair in which to sit and catch up with old friends. I hope you will have a piece of cake for me when I arrive there.
May you relax now with the best china and silver teaspoons.
Your old friend.