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Amelia Beare

His name is Smudge.

Three weeks after Monster died, Spirit (my dog) alerted me to this little guy in my back yard. He couldn’t have been more than three weeks old.

Spirit probably interrupted his mother while she was relocating her litter, and she wasn’t likely to come back soon. Spirit would have picked him up and brought him to me if she could reach him. Instead, at 2230 on a chilly night, she called me out in my jammies and slippers.

I think this belongs to you!

Smudge is doing great. Against the odds and without his mother he’s thriving and moving in to my broken heart. He’s not my beloved Monster, whom I miss every day, but he sleeps on my pillow and follows me everywhere. I fed him special formula at all hours of the day and night, kept him close and warm, and stopped crying for a while.

He’s just what I needed when I needed it most.

I’ve been meaning to write a farewell post for Monster for almost three months now, but I can’t. I can’t even face his ashes just yet. But there will be a picture-laden ode to my old friend soon.

 

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Yesterday, I helped a man…

Protect Our Elderly
Photo by StockProject1 @ DeviantArt.
I despair of a world where an old man, frail and fragile, flinches at a helping hand.

I was doing my grocery shopping the other day, paused at the end of an aisle to wonder what I’d forgotten, when I saw an old man, likely in his eighties, struggling with his armload of shopping. He was bent down trying to pick up a large box of chocolates, but couldn’t balance what he already carried. I saw him wobble, catch himself against the shelf, take a breath, and try again.. over and over again. I’m not sure how long he’d been trying before I noticed him.

All he carried was a large bottle of milk and a few odds and ends already in a plastic bag, but his strength and balance were failing him. Worse, I saw two people push past – one of them a member of staff – further upsetting his balance and his composure.

Before my eyes I saw him seemingly fold into himself, shrink away in fright, force a smile like it was armour against the entire world.. a world it was clear he would barely hear or see anymore.

I touched him on the shoulder when he didn’t hear me offer help. He flinched, startled and afraid.

I don’t blame him – how can I when I see how the world at large disrespects and disdains the elderly, having apparently forgotten their value to a society wholly disinterested in their past and their history.

It broke my heart, though, that an old man would be afraid of me.

He was suspicious, expecting a dupe, but I left him in charge of my shopping trolley and went to fetch him a basket. He was exactly where I left him when I came back, only seconds later, his gaze fastened to my groceries as he does his duty in protecting them for me, and I made a point to thank him for guarding it as I helped him load his milk into an easy-to-carry basket.

Yes, it felt good helping him, and yes, that should be reason enough to help someone – anyone! – in need if the very fact that you can help isn’t enough (though it bloody-well should be).

He was just a gentle old man who wanted to buy some chocolates for his friend, but even something so simple and easy to me – or you – is a great struggle when your balance is unpredictable, your joints ache, your eye sight and hearing are failing. The world is terrifying for the elderly even before you consider the belligerent youth who’ll sooner bash an old man’s head in and steal his wallet than help him across the road.

It broke my heart that he had a reason to be afraid of me, but I hope his friend enjoys the chocolates.