Tag Archives: caring

A little repeat ~ Getting Lost

Yesterday took on a different direction than the one I intended, so the story of Granny and the ‘coal hole’ will have to wait for another day… do not worry it will happen. While trawling back for some information, I discovered this post written almost four years ago. In light of the recent Post about my unfortunate neighbour, it shows that the topic was not foreign to my mind:

Getting Lost

Posted on March 9, 2012 by Grannymar

They found her in the sheugh.*

Well… it was actually Patsy the dog that found her.  Jim took Patsy for a walk each evening before turning in for the night, he felt it settled and calmed him down, ready for sleep.

There would be no sleep tonight. The images of Josie lying in that state played like an ancient movie before his eyes.  One image on top of another until the mound filled his skull.

Josie was past the three score years and ten. Jim was not that far behind her, having lived in the same village since their days at the two teacher school.  Josie sat at the back with the ‘Big’ boys and girls, while he sat with the juniors up front near the blackboard, where Mrs Murphy could keep her beady eye on them.

“Poor Josie.  Poor, poor Josie”! Jim’s bowed head shook from side to side with each whispered word. How long had she been lying there with the cold dirty puddle frozen solid about her? Why was she crossing the rough ground at that time? The way she was facing meant she was heading away from home and the only connection she had at the other end was the church.

Maisie Meehan said Josie often went that route to church of a Sunday evening, to avoid the group of teenagers with their BMX bikes and skateboards, who congregated round the monument on the main street. Engrossed in their loud music and shouting over the top of it, they never notice the frail old woman struggling to get round them.

The back lane was quieter.

She must have tripped, it was a wonder she was not dead.  It might have been a blessing if she was. The state of her these last few months was nothing ordinary.

“What in all that was good and holy, was Josie doing out in her nightdress”? Asked Patricia Peel as she poured another cup of tea for Jim, adding a generous drop of milk and three heaped spoonfuls of sugar.  Patricia believed in the old ways. Weak tae with plenty of sugar – for shock!  Jim needed something a little stronger, but Patricia kept a dry house.

The ambulance was quick of coming, and the man and woman on board were very gentle with Josie.  They soon had her on the stretcher and away to the hospital. The few gathered onlookers were able to give her name, age, address and the fact she lived alone with not another living soul to call her own.

As the tea went down the tales filtered out from the group in Patricia’s kitchen. Josie had become very forgetful of late, she would forget to make her meals. Walk up the street to the shop in her slippers. Not remember to put on her overcoat when going out in the bitter driving sleet.

And… then there was tonight…. Found lying in that ice in her nightdress, thin as muslin, the only protection was to her modesty.  On her feet she had her Sunday best shoes, on her head the familiar blue felt hat and her handbag still over her arm.  Maisie had taken charge of the bag and of course she had to inspect the interior.  Well you never know, it might have thrown some light on things for them.

“Josie was definitely on her way to church” declared Maisie.  “All that was in the bag was her Goodwill envelope and a cotton handkerchief with a ‘J’ embroidered on one corner”.

“But this is Wednesday.” said Jim, finally finding his voice. “Has she been out there all this time? It is a wonder she is still alive!”

“I should have called in more often” said Patricia, “But she was growing more deaf, and closing in on herself as the months went by. It was very difficult to have a conversation with Josie.”

It was at this stage that Winnie broke her silence, she had been sitting silently with a deep frown on her brow for the duration. “I… I have to admit, I was a little afraid of her” she said.  “Josie had the peculiar grin on her face and her eyes were staring at you, She gave me the creeps.  You never knew if she heard what you had to say or understood any of it!

Josie had slowly drifted behind the screen of dementia.  Lost to the world.

Everyone knew she had no living soul to care for, or look after her, yet they all went about their business not paying any heed.

*Sheugh – A narrow open drain or ditch, often with water in it. It comes from Ulster Scots.**
** Thanks Nelly, that one phrase gave me the inspiration for this piece!

Now if you need cheering up… I wrote another piece with the title Lost that should make you smile!

A bad mistake

I didn’t make the call!

In my recent posts, I mentioned somewhere that I live in a small estate (20 Bungalows). A quiet estate that I have called home for almost 39 years. I quickly learned the names of all the residents, those who spoke to me, those who tolerated me and those who chose to ignore me.

It would have been considered a ‘proddy’ town thirty nine years ago, and everyone seemed to be related. At the height of the troubles, having a strong southern brogue was worse than a dose of the plague. Anyone with a southern accent was considered to be Roman Catholic and a member of the IRA.

Jack had lived here since the houses were built forty six years ago and I joined him in a ready made home, seven years later. We were blissfully happy. I remember saying to him a few times, that it was a good job I loved him so much, because had I not done so, I would be gone long ago. Not because of anything he did, but because of the way some people including neighbours, had treated me. The strange thing was that the people who treated me badly, were not behind the door when they wanted help or to make use of my skills!

That is all past now and As of today, our house is the only one with the original family name. I am now the longest resident. Not the oldest, but the longest.

There was one man who never spoke to me in all the thirty nine years. He would speak to Jack and totally ignore me, I was invisible to him. He was a peculiar character, had very gifted hands for woodwork, he made ladders, tables and bird boxes. He regularly had arguments with his neighbours and at times was rather a recluse.

This man lived around the corner from me, directly opposite my friend who had her hip replaced. In her absence I called to her house each day to move the post, leave back freshly washed clothes collect other items she required etc. All the while I noticed the blinds on the windows opposite were never opened. No sight of the man who lived there.

I asked my friend when I visited her when she last saw him. She could not remember.

“He is often in there and does not open the blinds or appear for days at a time”. She said. I let it go.

A week later I mentioned it to two different neighbours who lived closer than I did. Neither had seen him for some time. I should have phoned the PSNI (Police Service for Northern Ireland) at that point, but because he chose to have nothing to do with me. I let it go.

If he was there and knew I had called the police there would be hell to pay for interfering. I let it go.

My questions must have disturbed the people I shared my concerns with. They asked others and the answers were all the same.

Today two male neighbours tried ringing the bell and knocking on the door. No reply. They went around to the back of the house but there was no sign of him. They finally phoned the PSNI.

The PSNI had to break down the door to gain entry.

He was lying dead in the living room. There was a bundle of untouched mail lying in the hallway. As yet, I have no idea how long he has been lying there.

In today’s world, we are inclined to live in our own bubble of busyness and not give time to check on the frail elderly, particularly those living alone.


Perhaps we should all adopt an elderly person to check up on… particularly in the cold weather.

None of us are getting any younger, and it would be nice to think that someone would check up on us when we are frail old and cold!