Monday, 6 June 2011


I have just returned from a few days in Aberystwyth where we held my mother's funeral. Mum was in her late 80's and had not lived in Aber since 2004 yet there were over 50 people at her funeral, all with memories to share. I have been so touched by the number of people who have sent messages with memories of both my parents. It was very consoling to return to the place where I grew up and to find that Mum and Dad are remembered and indeed talked about. It set me thinking about the gift of friendship. Mum made friends throughout her life (even in her 80's  she made friends in Nottingham who continued to write to her when we moved up to Yorkshire) and she was still in touch with people from almost every period of her life, going right back to school days.

I was struck by the importance of friendship in old age. So many very elderly people become isolated by circumstance or by loss of hearing, sight, mobility or mental powers. There is often that difficult decision - do you move to be near your children or do you stay where your friends are? And when there is perhaps more time than ever to write and e mail, failing sight or poor memory intrude. Others have no family, no-one with whom they share the memories of youth and middle age.

It was her chapel and friends from church who enabled Mum to stay in her own home in Aber as long as she did - visiting, sharing meals, offering lifts, gardening, taking her to concerts and services, helping with reading and, when she finally did move away, faithfully keeping in touch. Some were older than she was, others much younger. I wonder, do we take enough time to give both the moral and the practical support that elderly members of our communities need? And do we expect to find friendship with those who are much older than us?  


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