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When I'm 94 ...

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

Our ‘world’ is still very small here as London is still pretty much closed. Some shops are opening but we are unable to use public transport, except for essential travel. So our world revolves around our walks, family and friend chats, but mostly around our ‘flatmates’.

Recently, I added the 94 year old lady in the flat below us to the baking list and she also receives roses from the little plot I look after. Her name is Patricia and she never leaves the flat, but has carers come in at least three times a day. Patricia may be physically frail and quite bent over, but her mind is as sharp as a tack and she still has a great passion and zest for life.

Patricia can hear us outside when we have car-park coffee and sometimes comes to the window to wave.

We’ve had several conversations by phone as she is ‘shielding’ and she also texts me. In one message, Patricia said how much she would love to be able to join us for coffee and conversation. Last week she messaged to say that she and one of her Italian carers were listening to a favourite Italian opera, drinking coffee and enjoying a slice of the cake I had left for her. We went back and forward messaging, with me asking which opera she was listening to, etc. The phone then rang.

‘Annemarie, good morning,’ she says. ‘This opera is so beautiful it is making my Italian carer cry. It reminds her of her mother. It is called Una Furtiva Lagrima, sung by Pavarotti, no less.'

‘Oh, how sweet,’ says me. ‘A bit sad it makes her cry though.’

‘Don’t worry. They are happy tears,’ Patricia tells me. She is very close to her mother. The two of them love opera, too. Now, I want to share the music with you, Annemarie. Listen to this.’

‘Oh, but, but...’ my protest was lost on Patricia as she promptly put the phone to the speaker, of whatever device it is playing on, so I could hear it. TEN MINUTES later, I’ve still got this opera playing in my ear and I’m calling down the phone ‘Patricia, Patricia, are you there???’

‘Hello?’ No response.

In the end I hung up and text her, telling a white lie, that I had to go out and get some groceries. God knows how long I would have been left, dangling on the end of my phone, with this opera on repeat!

Two hours later I got a text back.

‘I’m so sorry, Annemarie! I forgot all about you being left on the phone. My carer was helping me dress in the bedroom. Do forgive me!’ It was really rather funny.

The next text message went like this:

‘My mother-in-law, terribly English, said years ago that any doctor worth his salt would prescribe a little tipple in the mornings. So, I’m leaving a bottle of fizz outside my door. I’d like you to collect it and share it with the carpark coffee group. Could you arrange?’

‘Your wish is my command, Patricia. That is so kind and generous of you, thank you,’ I responded. ‘I don’t think we’ll have a drink at coffee time, but the two Stephens will be back again on Saturday, I’ll organise it for ‪5pm‬ then. I’ll text you when everyone is there and we have poured the drinks. Will you come to the window and join us?’ I asked.

‘Oh yes, most definitely I’ll be there!’ sang Patricia.

So I texted the troops and yes, everyone came back and said they would love to do that and how sweet of Patricia.

5pm on the dot, there we all were in the carpark, suitably distanced, drinks in hand. Dear Patricia appeared at the window with a glass of something in her hand. We all raised our glasses and in unison said ‘thank you, Patricia! Cheers!’‬

She loved it! She too raised her glass and waved to us all. If I live til I’m 94, I certainly hope I still have all my marbles and the same ‘joie de vivre’ as Patricia!

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