Today I've been called an angel and a life-saver. I was neither of those things. I was a listener.
Last night while visiting my mum in hospital, my sister was with my mum in the bathroom and I heard an elderly lady becoming more and more distraught because she'd lost her purse. As there were no nurses around at the time, I went to help her as she was trying to get out of her chair and I knew (from being nosey) that she's unable to and not allowed to try.
Her purse was under her chair and she cheered up a little. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, 'I've not got much in it, but it's fundamental to me.' We got chatting - she told me all about her late husband and her two sons - one who broke her heart when he went to live in Australia. She asked me why I only had one son and if I would have more babies soon. I told her I was too old and she laughed! She then said that she'd asked nurses to bring her wool to knit and we got on the subject of favourite colours and how she'd like to knit a scarf as she can't follow patterns any more. I'd heard her ask someone earlier in the day if they could get her some wool and needles and, knowing how busy the staff are, I knew it would probably never happen.
I promised to take her some materials in the next morning and left her with a smile on her face.
My lovely husband sorted through my many craft boxes and we found some spare yarn and a pair of needles. She'd specifically requested 'that colour you use for boys' and we'd agreed on blue - but it had to be bright! She was in luck and I packed her a little goodie bag.
Of course I was questioning whether or not she could actually still remember how to knit - I had no idea what sort of health problems or mental issues she might have. And I also needed to check with a nurse that it was OK for her to have it. Knitting needles can be a deadly weapon in the wrong hands!
So I arrived bright and early, kissed and hugged my mum, and then got the consent I needed to deliver my gift. Her face was a picture - she was so delighted, I could have cried when I saw the difference it made to her day.
But the big test remained ... could she actually knit?
It was deep-cleaning day for the ward, so all those who could be moved were taken to the day room. Within half an hour my new friend had cast on and knitted an inch! I was almost jumping up and down on the tables.
When one of the physios came to see her she couldn't believe the change in her. When she found out that I'd taken the wool into her she told me that it was the first time they'd managed to get her to talk. The tea lady told me the same story. My friend was soon giving them both knitting lessons - telling them the difference between plain and purl and showing them how to cast off. She was in control and she felt important.
She has been knitting ALL day! She hugs the bag I gave her in the way that she'd been hugging her purse.
Tonight she couldn't remember me, or my name.
But I don't mind, I brought some light back into her life when I could - even if it was only for today.