Quietly, another voice joined in
At first I didn’t understand the mutter that seemed to match my own words, but then I realised, as I was reading Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’, someone across the living room in the care home had heard, and knew enough to join in, every few words.
Continuous as the stars that shine… They stretched in never-ending line…’
Wide-eyed and smiling, I couldn’t help but well up.
I had popped in to visit Gladys (name changed) who wasn’t well enough to make it to DIG (Dementia Inclusive Gardening). She’s been unwell recently, and the weather wasn’t looking too bright. Although I knew a visit from me wouldn’t be the same as getting outdoors and spending time with a group of people, I didn’t want Gladys to miss out on a seasonal posy with daffs and pussy willow, plus a couple of poems. I know I wouldn’t want to miss out.
So there we were, reading this well-known, well-loved, half-remembered poem about daffodils, and without even knowing it, we were inviting and eliciting memories from across the room, and across the decades. ‘You know it too!’ I exclaimed. ‘Yes’ said our new friend, ‘It’s still there’ she added, tapping her forefinger against her temple, now beaming. This unintended spark of connection floored me, feeling very much like a small, joy-filled miracle. My goodness how people flourish when their ‘comfort words’ are tapped into.
What can I learn here? Surely it’s to capture and treasure all those words that mean something to me, and to live them until they become a part of me. That they can sink from my head to my heart and not be lost. I also want to keep encouraging others to capture the words that mean something to them. Poems, prayers, love notes, and quotes, every word a possible spark of memory and future presence.
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
(Reflection written in March 2019)