Hmm. Today out of my window I have been looking at my 96 year old next door neighbour’s deck…trying to plot her escape.
Thelma was the first person to ever come and knock on my door to welcome me to the neighbourhood when I moved to this little Cornish village called Cargreen 6 months ago. She was so perfectly turned out and had very slowly just made her way with her walking aid to knock on my door to ask if I needed anything. I was almost moved to tears at the time by her extraordinary effort and kindness. “Well, it would have been rude of me not to”, she said.
Thelma then called me this morning to say she wanted to give me something. She’d been watching me through her window frustratedly taking 3 days to build a new cheap flat pack sun lounger for my deck to add some comfort to my lockdown. Thelma told me she wanted to give me a lounger cushion she had hardly used. The previous day I’d posted some chocolate bunnies through her letter box for Easter which she had chided me for, as she always did,“You always give me things”, she said, “I want to give you something for a change”…
So, I went over to her house and she shouted down from the second floor to direct me to where to find the lounger cushion in her downstairs bedroom. Thelma seemed hugely excited when I came out of the bedroom holding a long lounger cushion in a rather distinctive green tartan.
”It couldn’t go to a kinder person”, she said. “I’ll be watching you lounge through my window”…
I thanked her profusely but asked why she wasn’t using it herself. Thelma then told me she couldn’t actually get outside because of the back steps. I felt taken aback at the idea of Thelma being trapped inside despite having such a lovely river view deck.
I offered to somehow find a way to get her a ramp. “Oh, it’s fine”, she said, “don’t worry about me, I mustn’t grumble. I’m used to not being able to get out there. It’s been like that for years”. I felt slightly horrified.
When I returned to my lounger, I soon realised her tartan cushion was in fact way too narrow to go on top of or under my existing cushion. Yet this ill fitting chequered cushion had somehow become a symbol of Thelma’s loss of freedom that she had chosen to gift me instead from the bottom of her heart. The least I could do, I thought, was just sit on it. Surely.
So, I am now looking out at my new double decker tartan cushioned sun lounger. Aware I can’t possibly bring myself to say no to Thelma. As I lie rather uncomfortably on that two tier contraption, all I can hear is Thelma’s voice saying “I mustn’t grumble”.
Yet…all I can think about now is how to find a way in the midst of this global crisis to at the very least set Thelma free! I intend to ponder it more as I precariously balance on my tartan cushion tomorrow…all suggestions of course welcome ?
Debbie Geraghty is a passionate advocate for creativity and equality. An introduction to her activities is available here.