Bingo!

Bingo!

  • Bingo (UK), a game using a printed ticket of 15 numbers on three lines; most commonly played in the UK. The winner is the person who has all the numbers on one line or on the complete card. It is customary to call out ” Bingo” when this has been achieved.

As described by Wikipedia!

Every  Friday I volunteer at my  local old people’s home and sometimes I go out as a wheelchair pusher on their outings. I love it!  It confirms the theory that the more one gives and the less one concentrates on oneself, the happier  you will be. I run the bingo session for them.  My Mum loved her bingo.  She could mark six cards at once and never miss a number.  So when a vacancy occurred at the home,  I  volunteered in her memory. I had a notion that if there was a bingo session and I was there, then she would she be there too,  in spirit at least!  

I have grown to love all my old ladies and worry if one of them isn’t there. They return the compliment and take a keen interest in all of my doings. Sometimes, when one of my regulars is missing, it is because she may be ill or just very tired and sometimes it is because someone has died. This was the case recently with Kate* who I really loved.  She was 96 and incredibly thin in her motorised wheelchair  but she was still every inch the glamour puss. She wore tons of jangly jewellery carefully matched to her outfit, huge swinging chandelier earrings and she further  adorned herself with flowing scarves and bits of lace and her trademark slash of red lipstick. Never give up being who you are and don’t let your standards fall   was my lesson from Kate. Glamour is ageless.  She was not just a glamour puss but  had such sensitivity and compassion. Some time ago I was busy being  heartbroken but  bingo  is sacrosanct no matter how I feel.  So I was  calling out  the  numbers and pretending that this line was to win a tiara and that full house prize  was  a world cruise. I  thought I was making  a good job of being “normal ” with  smiles and my usual jokey patter,  I was happy to be there  but inside I was wretched. Lovely Kate, at the end of the session didn’t go zooming off (she could really drive that thing!) but stayed in the room  until we were alone.  She caught  my hand and held it and said, ” don’t be sad Jacqui,  I  love you and a lot of people love you  and  whatever it is that is making you sad, it will pass”. She made me cry. Some more! But in a better way. Obviously I am not a great actress because she saw right through my faux cheeriness!
 
Another sweet lady, Ethel*  had never married. She was bald, just a few wispy grey hairs and she  had  noisy raspy breathing and some kind of disability of hands and feet.  Almost from one week to the next she deteriorated and became sleepy,  nodding off in the sessions and not marking her cards,  so I started to put her next to me to help her a little. One day  she was back to her usual alert and happy self and she won 3 times!   I wheeled her back to her room that day and she thanked me very much for a wonderful time. My pleasure I said, I am so glad you enjoyed it. “Oh I did”, she said, “I have had such a lovely, lovely  time today” and she thanked me again. That afternoon she died. But it’s not depressing AT ALL. Oh I wouldn’t want you to think that!  Its humorous and uplifting and fun!  One of my ladies has an eye for the gentlemen (she is young, only in her 80’s!) and she positions herself in reception so that the man she fancies will be sure to see her when  he goes by. She says why not?  Why not indeed! It seems the desire for love and romance never goes.
 
Rose* was a newer inmate and had a host of   friends within days of her arrival. I noticed and remarked how well she had settled in  and had made friends so easily and she told me that she had always made friends readily  all her life. I asked how did she do that, and she said,  “well people are lovely aren’t they and so interesting”  One day I was wheeling her somewhere and she told me  ” I am so happy here and if I could just walk a few steps, I would be the luckiest woman in the world”
I know she suffered  constant pain. So that is why Rose was one of the inspirational women in my life and sometimes when I am whingeing about something or other I remember “if only I could walk a few steps I would be the luckiest woman in the world”. And “people are lovely and so interesting” is a great thing to remember too.
They are all such characters!  I think that whatever your essence is, your true nature, that characteristic is the one that will become most evident in old age. And they all seem to have that painful, blood curdling honesty that only  tiny children and very old people have.  No filters!
 
Some of their stories are  heart breaking and I wonder how they had the will to reach old age.  Amy* was a refugee from Austria and lost her entire family in the Holocaust. She settled in Leeds  and married the first man who asked her because her mother’s last words of  advice  had  been to find a man to take care of her so she would be safe. She did and they had one daughter who was her whole world particularly as Amy’s marriage was not happy.
The daughter became a doctor and she  married and was madly in love with her husband, so much so that Amy said they had decided not to have children as they loved being just the two of them. Then, twenty years ago, Amy’s  husband died and within weeks her son-in-law got cancer and he  died too just six weeks later. Three weeks after that, her precious only child took her life, unable to face life without her love.  So Amy lost her entire family  again,  all of them, in less than three months.
Doesn’t it seem that sometimes people are dealt a very unfair hand?
 
I think I have  learned to be more patient and tolerant  because of them. And to know that it is never over till the fat lady sings! I feel  strongly that old people are as precious and valuable as children and deserve our respect and care and for us to listen to them  but I still sometimes fail with one of my own old people, my Uncle who has only me and my sister,  and yet is SO annoying and usually  so ungrateful (I do sometimes do things that are beyond the call of the duty such as put his socks on!)  I  am sometimes  very impatient with him, then  remorseful and then  I  start  over being lovely  and then he is impossible all over again (I mean impossible as in aaagh!)  and so it goes on. He thinks he should be Prime Minister, that aid to India is bloody disgusting because they have a bomb and agrees with Jeremy Clarkson that a lot of people should be shot!
 
* The names  have been changed to protect the ladies privacy and that of their families