She sat on the waiting couch clutching a biscuit box on her lap. Her grey hair neatly combed, she was dressed in a clean top and slacks, sandals on her feet. She quietly waited her turn. Once inside the consulting room, she looked straight at me, her eyes, very blue and clear, her voice a little uncertain but honest.
Before I could ask her name and age, she blurted out – “I will pay you as soon as they send me my cheque. I am going to be a winner in the sweepstakes. Look, this is the letter from the Readers Digest – my name is in the draw. I asked the matron at the retirement village and she said this is definitely no joke. As soon as I get the cheque I’ll pay you”. Her eyes were pleading. She desperately wanted me to understand that she did not want charity or handouts. She was self-sufficient. She had never married. Her fiancé was a pilot in the First World War and was shot down.
She had taken care of her parents till their death and became the recipient of a small pension while she devoted her time to the church. She was now 91 years old and the church looked after her, but that meant she had no spending money as all her income was used to support her at the retirement village. She proudly opened the biscuit box on her lap. For a brief moment I thought she carried food in the box and wanted to share it. Once the box was opened, with difficulty as her sight was deteriorating, she pulled out a little home-made creature constructed from cast off empty bottle-tops and pill holders, held together by a piece of elastic. Her face lit up when she put the bottle-top doll in my lap. “I made hundreds of these presents for the children in hospital. They can play with them without hurting themselves and they cannot easily take them apart. I collect all the bottle tops and pillboxes from the old people in the village. At night when it is difficult for me to see, I play music for the old people. I play the piano, the ukulele and they love it. I just have one little problem. That’s why I’ve come to see you. The minister has a beard and I find it difficult to hear what he says at service. Can you help me to hear better?” The request was earnest.