International Day of Older Persons 2021

1 October 2021

In Conversation With Lindsay, a Resident at Willow Court Care Home, Harpenden.

From time to time we all meet someone who strikes us as a little bit special. A person who has a quality that you can’t quite put your finger on, let alone sensibly explain. Lindsay, a resident at Willow Court care home in Harpenden, is such a person. Not that she would want to be described in such terms. The instinctive feeling is that she is reserved in nature but that’s counterbalanced by a keen sense of humour and an engaging conversational style that would have you chatting away the day over cups of tea and the occasional illicit cake or biscuit.

Born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire in May 1931, Lindsay is a spritely 90-year-old. If you were to ask her where she came from though she’d be quick to say Yorkshire, which is where she spent much of her time. There was a period of moving around with family which saw Lindsay placed into a boarding school in an attempt to give her a more settled life but when asked what she thought of boarding school the answer is immediate … “I hated it”. It was nothing in particular about the school, just that Lindsay was constantly homesick. She missed her family.

And this strong connection with family perhaps gives some insight into what’s most important to her. She describes herself as a bit of a home bird. The furthest place she has visited is Gibraltar, never having caught the travelling bug. This continued through her married life to William. “I enjoy anything domestic”, she says, “Cooking, gardening, that sort of thing”.

Even her working life was spent in orbit around her family. “I was a bookkeeper in the family textile manufacturing business. That along with other things”.

Lindsay’s marriage to William, who she misses dearly since his passing, was blessed by the arrival of their daughter Ann, who now lives in St Albans. “It’s why I came here to Willow Court”, she says. “I wanted to be closer to Ann”. Family, it seems, is at Lindsay’s core.

“We’re all friends here”, she remarks when we get onto her life at Willow Court. “I love the atmosphere and I’m ever so grateful for the people here. I feel very much a part of the place”. And a part of the place Lindsay is, evidenced by her voluntary work within the home as the Compliance Officer, a role she secured from Sarah, the Home Manager.

Once a day, clipboard in hand and wearing her hi-vis jacket and official badge, Lindsay quietly takes to the task of ensuring that staff are correctly ticked in and present, and are equipped with the appropriate uniform. An important role, and one that Lindsay performs without missing a day. “I make sure everything is proper and correct”, she says.

Sitting and chatting with Lindsay was an immensely enjoyable experience, filled with interest and inquisitiveness that grew with each passing moment. It brings into clarity, as so often happens when chatting to one of our residents, of a real-life well lived. Full of richness, of memories and of a wisdom that comes with experience and age.

And what of the future? Well, I asked her about that too. “Live for today” she said. Wisdom indeed.

On this International Day of the Older Person, it would serve us all well to remind ourselves that our elders are no different to us, though they likely carry with them more wisdom and a richer history. We should cherish them for who they are and take whatever opportunity that we can to learn about them and from them. Each and every one of them holds treasure inside, and if we take the time to listen, they give it up freely.  I’m sure we’d all be richer for it.