I realise that I have a wide spectrum of friends; they go back to Alice and Jonny when I was three, through my school and university days, to my children’s school-friends’ parents, colleagues, a neighbour, and other MS-afflicted people.
Writing this makes me wonder what a friend is as, sometimes, some people have come to visit me here but never, or rarely, visited me at home, and they come, in effect, to show their feeling towards me. (Collins English Dictionary: friend: one attached to another by esteem, respect and affection; friendship: attachment to a friend founded on mutual esteem). My friends are the sort of people who visit me weekly or even more often, showing their true commitment to me. When I thank them for coming they often say they enjoy my company so it is no hardship for them. I find it stimulating for me to hear about their worlds and their lives as I don’t have very much other contact with the outside world except through television and the radio. I also have the use of my own telephone in my room; through this, using my Possum (Latin for “I am able”), I can contact friends and relations and they can contact me.
My blog has become a useful tool for communicating with people who live a distance away from me including my son in Australia, friends in Rutland, Totnes, London or elsewhere. I find it useful and nice if they write comments on the blog. I gather that various nephews and nieces follow the blog and say they enjoy it as it helps them better understand what it is like to be me. Another person who, I believe, is a follower is Tom, a friend’s child now a man, who I knew when he was young; so now my news can spread more widely than just among my immediate friends and family.
I have been married to Adrian for forty-odd years; his loyalty to me has been wonderful for, when my MS became more pronounced and I could not move or cuddle him properly, this went on for twenty years, he did not abandon me. I came into this nursing home and he still visits me twice a week; he has proved a really good friend. Our four boys, of course, are very loyal and visit me whenever they come to Cornwall.
Between the visits of friends I have professionals who come in – which are the physiotherapist every two weeks, Soraya, my masseuse, who comes alternate weeks; at the moment my counsellor, Niki, visits weekly and the chiropodist comes fairly regularly; one of the members of staff here exercises my legs and arms, feet and hands daily during the week. Like my various friends, I do talk to the professionals.
I use my friends as amanuenses (my hands for writing) or to read out loud my cards and correspondence. Another trait that I have noticed is that some people want to help me and they come up with “good ideas” like “Have you thought of talking books?”… or “I’m sure you could get books to show up on the telly”. In fact, unfortunately, I cannot see writing on the telly even with my glasses.
It is certainly nice to have people to exchange ideas, thoughts and laughs with which, I suppose, is the meaning of friendship.
Mary Smith 2nd March 2014