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These pages are a collection of stories from the Writer's Group at Box Hill U3A.


Changing Lifestyles

Rosemary had been a theatre sister in one of the large hospitals in Melbourne. She had worked in that capacity for several years, and she loved her profession, but she worked long hours and was "on call" very frequently. Rosemary had previously worked in a small suburban hospital but her career had flourished when she took over her role as theatre sister. Many times she had heard the ambulance siren screeching as it approached the hospital and knew her expertise would be required.

As Rosemary was nearly sixty, her thoughts naturally turned to retirement. She was married with one son and felt she deserved some free time for herself, and family. So she eventually resigned and became a retiree.

Rosemary had not thought too much about her future life, but becoming a volunteer was something that had passed through her mind. She had a girl friend who was a driver for Meals on Wheels and suggested Rosemary could assist with the deliveries once each week. So Rosemary applied to be a volunteer, and was immediately accepted.

On her allocated day she had met her friend at the centre, collected her three meals which included hot soup, hot main meal, dessert, a bottle of fruit juice, plus a piece of fresh fruit.

Her first call had been a very attractive and well maintained home in an Eastern suburb of Melbourne, and Rosemary rang the bell and to her amazement she had been confronted by an elderly gentleman who only had on a pair of undies and one sock. He had invited her inside to the kitchen, where she had placed the meal on the bench. She had seen many near naked patients in her nursing career, but she did not know what to think on her first home delivery. The gentleman explained that he had been getting dressed when Rosemary had rung the bell. When she got back into her friend's car they thought the situation was hilarious.

The next home call had been very different from the previous one, as she was confronted by a dilapidated and untidy home. The front door had been ajar and as she rang the bell she could see many cats and a couple of dogs inside the house. Newspaper was strewn over the floor as a toilet for the cats, and the smell of urine was very evident. The owner asked her inside and she placed the meal on the bench in the kitchen. Rosemary could not retreat fast enough as she was feeling nauseous.

The third call was a real delight. This house was old, but beautifully maintained, and it was owned by an affable and well dressed lady who had invited Rosemary inside. Everything was so tidy and neat it was a pleasure to be there. This lady had done some beautiful cross stitch and needlework and she was delighted when Rosemary showed interest in her work. They sat down for five minutes or so and Rosemary enjoyed it immensely. Elderly lonely people love to share their interests with anyone that has a few moments to spare.

Driving home after her first Meals on Wheels visits she felt comforted to know she had given some pleasure to three different lonely people. Rosemary reflected on her past nursing profession, and considered her decision to retire, was timely. Her focus had now shifted from the practical to the therapeutic, but she was still assisting those in need...

Ann Ready.