She is a friend, my neighbour, a lady who I admire. She hasn’t got children of her own (not out of choice) so she always tells me she considers me ‘a daughter’. She tells me everything. We share a floor. She is number 15 and I, 13.
She would bring me red, fresh cherry tomatoes which she plants at her in-laws. She never misses to buy me presents on my birthdays, Easter eggs at Easter and more presents at Christmas. She receives my parcels when I am not in. She invites me in for tea frequently and Terry, her lovely husband entertains me with the Harmonica I ordered off Amazon for him. He plays to entertain when they go on cruises. She holds my keys when I travel and takes my posts in. They are both in their late 70s and live alone. I enjoy doing most things for them, clean, sort out their new gadgets because they don’t understand modern technology, make complaints on their behalf, call maintenance when something isn’t right in their home etc.
She fell recently, I cared for her. She was traumatised like many older people are when they have a fall…
When I used to go into crisis in the middle of the night and the ambulance came – she would hear the noise from the hallway and lifts or the voices from the paramedic crews and come out at 3:00am and say comforting words to me. She loves to pour her milk first before her tea and so every time I invite her round for tea and cake, I would serve her tea in her fave tea set because she is so cultured and I would pour her milk first!
She loves cakes too. She would tell me stories of her youth and how she grew up in a Catholic Covent. Some of the stories are just simply mind blowing but often times, horrendous. She grew up post 2nd WW in a Covent in Hillingdon and never met her mother until she was 15. She was tortured by Catholic nuns and when these nuns go to prayer sessions, the “bigger girls” would torture her further. She got boiling hot water thrown at her and sustained burns, she drank their urine, she got hit daily. She got hit, she was broken, abused, damaged.
My disgust as a Catholic for the Catholic Church sometimes knows no bounds. But who am I to judge eh? She has her beliefs but doesn’t practice anymore. Why blame her?
I am looking at a woman who ‘RESILIENCE’ is too small a word to describe…’STRENGTH’ is an under-estimated word to describe her.
Anyway, on a lighter note, she has travelled the world so we talk a lot about travel too. We would watch many BBC and ITV programmes together when I am not at work and then analyse world events and people.
…So, she brought me a card and a gift on June 1st and asked me what I did on my birthday and I said to her I had lunch with a special friend at Harrods (with lots of cake). She exclaimed “June, that’s amazing, I used to love going there when I was younger – for tea. It’s my favourite place in the world for afternoon tea. The last time I was there was about 20 years ago and I have always asked Terry to take me there but the f***ng bugger just sits on his bum all day ordering me around…”, and then she would roll her eyes. I laughed so hard. I laughed, laughed and then said “Eileen, you are just a handful”. Stories about Terry is for another day.
She is a typical English traditional lady who loves to curse and I love that we can curse together when we make conversation. I said to her… “20 years is a long time not to visit for a place you loved to hang out…I will book us a table for tea, Eileen…”. She was elated and her face shone with so much light and excitement. She told me “I would absolutely love that, I will look forward to that June”.
I made a reservation. I did. It was a month later.
On that faithful day, I took her in my hand, we head to Knightsbridge, we were sat there having afternoon tea at the Georgian Restaurant at Harrods, Eileen’s favourite place in the world. The waiter poured her milk first! She is a happy girl. She beamed from ear to ear. I am glad I brought back beautiful memories to her heart. We had a great time. Love this lady, Eileen Caesar. x