Home for Christmas
Yesterday I ended up going to the house of an old lady who had died four months ago to clear it of any valuables and make sure it was secure. Put the timer on the heating so the pipes don’t burst. That kind of thing. Part of my job.
The place was a mess. You couldn’t see the floor for all the paper and old tissues and condiments. There was rotten food in the kitchen, left there after the last meal she cooked. Breakfast it looked like…sausages and eggs. This lady was over eighty years old when she died. There were condiments by the stairs. A plate and a fork. The living room was such a mess that this woman had eaten some of her last few meals sitting on the stairs. Surrounded by dirt. The TV, however, was spotless, covered in a sheet.
Her husband died twenty years ago. Her brothers and sisters too. In her bedroom she had surrounded herself with old photographs, on her bedside table, beside her head, a framed picture of her wedding day. Her wedding album was on the counter in her living room.
Strewn about the floor, piled high against the walls and in every nook and cranny in the house were hundreds upon hundreds of books. This was no senile old lady. She was just frail and alone.
And here’s what really got me. Next to an armchair in the living room was a small table covered in paper, tissues and condiments like the floor. But one thing stood out. A half eaten bag of Starburst. Beside it, a hand written prayer: The 23 psalm. "The lord is my shepherd…"
So here’s why I’m recounting all this here in the department. I fucking hate people. People who could live beside this lady for 25 years and allow her to end up like that. Nieces and nephews who could neglect someone for so long that the next contact you get is a solicitor telling you they’d died of cancer alone in their freezing home, eating Starburst because they liked them, and writing prayers to god because they knew what was coming and god was the only person they had left.
I opened a Christmas card from what seemed a very elderly lady who lived a long way away. The writing was extremely shaky. "Happy Christmas" it said "I tried to phone but there was no answer. I trust you are ok. Lots of love."
I hope she’s ok. I hope her family are better to her. I hope her neighbour looks in on her from time to time just to see.
A normal person would feel sadness. I feel only rage.