Visiting Brother Frank

Posted by HC in Uncategorized on 6 August 2009

Just as I was getting really interested and involved in work in the US, I heard that my old monastery was very short-handed again. For some reason, I found myself keen to offer to go back and lend a hand.

A big part of my duties is visiting an old monk who’s suffered double amputations and been moved to a local care home. It’s certainly an acquired taste, but I quite like visiting Frank. He’s in his mid-90s, has got no legs but most of the time does have his marbles. Sometimes he slips a cog, and that upsets him. But most of the time, he’s sharp and rather vigorous.

His seaside home has maybe thirty residents. When I visited another old boy there last year, it used to smell of pee, but it has become much sweeter. There’s been a change in the management. But it may be the luck of the draw with the residents.

One way or another, I’ve known several of these places, and I never knew one which didn’t field kind staff. It may be just him – released at last from a male world – but Frank especially warms to the female staff.  They seem to know how to be friendly but respectful. They know how to make physical contact, discreetly. And they seem to warm to him. It may seem odd, but he’s probably the liveliest of the residents.

But as we go through the sitting room, there’s an entertainer running a quiz. I notice one of the doziest residents bestir himself to slip out the answer to a tricky one. His voice is a little quavering  but perfectly clear.

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