Writings from my Windowsill: Article 1
Inspired by a musical box from a cot mobile, which sits on the windowsill, a remnant of my daughter going off to Uni six months back. I made a memory box for her before she went, and this item was a consideration, so it came out from it’s hiding place and has yet to be returned.
Agneetha was one of the old school “auxiliary nurses”, now known as a Care Assistant, who never sat down. She started her nurse training back in the 60’s, but gave up after she got married and started a family. She dedicated her young adult life to family, sacrificing pocket and pleasure to being a full time Mum, only returning to work when her family left home. She had experienced “life under Matron”, and despite the calendar edging toward the Millenium, Agneetha rarely sat down with a cuppa, on the ward. No, she was busy bristling and bustling – my fellow brustler.
I enjoyed working with Agneetha because she was a workaholic who couldn’t say no. She was abused because of this, and I hold my hand up to admit that I was guilty of that too. As a Senior Staff Nurse on the ward, Agneetha was the first person I would call up if I needed an extra pair of hands.
“Give Agneetha a call, she won’t say no!”
was the cry when somebody called in sick
Agneetha liked to be busy brustling, it kept her mind off things that she would rather not be thinking about. You might think her a fusser, constantly on the go, cleaning and clearing the patient’s lockers during the day, the sluice on a Saturday afternoon,or the rotation of the I.V. bags in the cupboard in the middle of the night. She would fold and re-fold the sheets in the linen cupboard at 3 am on a night shift. The ward was always clean and tidy whenever Agneetha was on duty.
At home she was also constantly on the go, and house-proud. You took your shoes off at the front door. Coffee cups were whisked away, taken into the kitchen, washed dried and put away even before you had uttered the satisfying ah! Her grown up family had moved away, one as far as Australia. She was proud of her children, especially her daughter, who had fulfilled her Mother’s dream, by qualifying as a Nurse.
But then there was her guilty secret, the one that she rarely opened up about, and the one that kept her brustling. Now 22, Agneetha had a handicapped son, and she blamed herself. Aged just 7, he had been out playing in the street, and had run out to chase a ball, just as a car came into the close. Agneetha saw it all from the kitchen window, the world slowing down for her, as she watched the scene, but the car kept it’s speed, and knocked her son down!
He spent many weeks in hospital, recovering from the head injury, and Agneetha’s mind would never find peace again. Oh the blame that she heaped upon herself, the guilt that she carried, nobody could convince her that “these things happen unfortunately” she was his Mum and she hadn’t protected him, but now she had the opportunity to protect him for the rest of his life.
She fussed and she cared for him, she wrote endless letters to the school, trying to protect him from the other children, she campaigned on his behalf, and despite him objecting as he got older and more independent, she carried on. He wanted to get the bus into town, she followed him, first in the car behind the bus, and then in the town, keeping a discreet distance behind him, and then repeating the process home again. Always worrying, constantly trying to protect him. When he moved away from home to live in Sheltered Accommodation, Agneetha came back to work, to help fill her empty days, and nights.
Busy, busy, busy, keep my mind occupied, no time to think about him, clean, clean, clean. Is he washing behind his ears, worry, worry, worry? Was he eating properly, fuss, fuss, fuss? Was he getting enough sleep, busy, busy, busy? She couldn’t sleep at night, worry, worry, worry.
So when I asked her to accompany me to John Lewis in Reading, she was only too happy to be occupied one afternoon. She was difficult to keep up with, as she brustled through the department store, me waddling behind her. I had been given some money to equip the nursery, and so a cot was on the agenda along with some other items. I chose a mobile for over my baby’s cot with Beatrix Potter characters.
That was over 18 years ago now, but Agneetha still brustles, although slower now, the years of smoking and worrying has taken it’s toll on her health, but through the effects of the narrowing of the arteries due to smoking, you can still see her fingers itching “to do”. Her life was not an easy one, What Mother’s is? She did her best, and I was grateful that afternoon, that for once she said no to work, and left me with a memory that continues.
God Bless you Agneetha, I wish you Peace.