Saturday, 8 December 2012


Holidailies 2012
That's the age of my oldest client, Lillian. That would make her born 1918, before the end of World War I. When women still wore long skirts, although they were starting to shorten for some. The year the Russian royal family were shot. Lillian lived through the second world war, nursed the war wounded, made toys for the war orphaned at Christmas, served in the houses of the gentry, married and had children. As she loved her parents, her children in turn love her. Lillian is bed bound and yet lives in her own house with carers and mainly her daughter doing all that is needed.

For a year now I have been in and out to see this beautiful lady, her body all scrunched up. Her face always a picture when I arrive and so pleased to see me. Like many people who have served, Lillian is more genteel than the aristocracy! Today I was booked to give her a body massage. In effect, as her skin is so fragile and easily bruises, it is more like a gentle body rub, working each of her limbs with a very good moisturiser and then onto her torso discreetly keeping her private bits private although she is of an age now she does not care what she shows I still go through a process of keeping her dignity. All the while, Lillian is sitting on the side of her bed as she finds that the most comfortable position. In order to reach her back and neck I bring fresh over-socks and put them on and climb into bed astride her. Lillian found that so funny last time when I teased her that I was not accustomed to getting into bed with my clients.

This time massaging her hands was a little more sad as I thought they are like the hands of a corpse as they are just skin and bone. With beautiful nails that seem to just blend into finger and bone. Before the massage today I removed all her whiskers using tweezers gently holding her skin taught. Like any woman, Lillian loves having all the face hairs removed and it seems I can do it relatively painlessly for her. I decided to do those today before the massage as I shall be back just before Christmas to give her a facial and to give her ears a good clean around and outside them. It seems the care workers do not do that sort of thing, nor will they do a simple foot soak yet they are paid to wash a client. They are also not allowed to take off their outside shoes apparently, and so walk into people's bedrooms with their outside shoes. The world has gone mad.

Naturally Lillian has a new audience for all her stories and I love hearing them again and again. It is quite a privilege.


Anji said...

Good for you Doris! My MIL is 90 and insists in living in her own home. Keeping clean and pretty is very important to her so I know what you are doing is very important indeed. Her hair dresser had 4 ladies over 100 until last week when one of them finally had to go into a home.

She pays someone to come in and help her wash and shower, do housework etc, she doesn't want the carers they provide because she's heard terrible stories about them.

I phone her every few days and let her talk about anything and everything. I also try to have something to talk about so we don't run out of steam. It's the little things which seem to be the most appreciated.

Doris said...

Thanks Anji!

Age is a really interesting thing, and how much the body may not be willing but the mind can be as active and young as ever.

It is lovely that you speak to your MIL regularly. Lillian has the phone handset next to her at all times and loves keeping in touch with family and friends.