I can remember one day whilst on holidays in Donegal,
passing a church.
A coffin was being wheeled out,
and the only people following it,
were the priest and the lady who looks after the church.
No relatives, no friends.
I was a teenager at the time,
but I can remember being so struck,
by the lack of mourners.
I come from a big family,
and the only funerals I had attended,
had involved large numbers,
both in the house for the wake,
and in the church.
As I watched the lonely procession,
walk across the road and into the graveyard,
I asked myself,
“How can you live a lifetime and never gather friends?
And then I remembered.
This was an elderly man.
He had no family.
Many years before he may have had many friends,
But old age is cruel,
and with our loss of mobility,
also comes our loss of contact.
Yesterday I was speaking with my mum,
and during our chat, we spoke of my Grandfather.
He had left Donegal to come and live with us,
after my Grandmother had died.
I had always thought that this was great for him.
We were his family and he would not have been so lonely.
However as mum pointed out to me yesterday,
My granda had to say Good Bye to all his friends,
and leave behind his home and life of eighty years.
She said he had found it very hard to do.
I cannot imagine what he must have felt,
as he drove away that day to his new life.
At least my grandfather was coming to live in a busy house,
and would spend the rest of his days,
surrounded by family old and young.
When I was nursing,
I worked for a very short time in community nursing.
My area was Dublin inner city.
One of our daily visits was to an elderly lady.
She lived alone in the top floor of “the flats”.
I never got to see her.
Our task was to ensure the bag of groceries,
that was dropped to her door every day was gone,
and to bang on her door loudly.
After five minutes or so she would come to the door,
and roar out at us,
We would smile at each other,
job done, she was still alive!
I do not suppose many came to her funeral.
So today I look around at my own friends.
I am thankful for each one of them.
Long may I be well enough to have so many.
However I wonder with modern technology,
will we be less isolated as we get old?
After all we may eventually have less “real” friends,
but we can still have our friends in our computers!