The Elderly Tear Removal Service

Moved to Tears

I can’t imagine not finding the act of death sad, or at the very least be put on the verge of outward emotional displays at the thought of it. Especially if it were to be someone close to me. A parent, partner, child, friend. Thinking of it now, I feel as though the death of any of these current or future individuals would linger and constantly cut into the life that I carried on living. This would bring tears.

Then I had a conversation. One that was very macabre from the beginning.

Socialising within the charity organisation I am a part of, I was placed on a table with five women with ages beginning at 72 and ending at 98.

The 98 year old woman began telling me how both her and her husband came on the trips that the charity organises. Then he died. This would be her first one without him.

However, she didn’t tell me this with tears in her eyes.

She carried on elaborating to me whilst the others began to discuss a recent funeral. She told me how she had never been to his grave. That her parents had a plot just a few over from his.

She didn’t seem sad even though the topic was morbid. It was a conversation like any other.

Her father passed first, and her mother, on her deathbed, told her daughter never to come to the cemetery. To never visit her grave or her fathers. She told her daughter that she didn’t want the grass around the gravestone trimmed, that she didn’t want flowers. That she didn’t want her daughter there.

And her daughter, now sat to my right and 98 years old, had never visited the grave of her father, the grave of her mother or the grave of her husband.

I asked her whether she wanted to or whether she ever would.

She looked at me as if I’d asked the most absurd question and replied with a confident ‘no, never’.

To me that is tragic and sad. To her it was fact and choice.

Upon her mother’s request it is likely that she cried. But not anymore. She admired, responded respectfully and fulfilled her mother’s wishes. That in itself is beautiful.

Thinking of it, even as I type, the morbid beauty of her act hits something inward and robs me of breath. But not to her as she spoke about it.

Does age dry up the tears?

Do the tears stop moving once life is thoroughly experienced?

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Gene Wilder’s Good Deed

It Builds Character

I remember watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child and being completely absorbed by the character of Willy Wonka. From reading the book, I then saw Gene Wilder’s interpretation and realised that he was exactly how my youthful mind had imagined.

Then he delivered that one line.

“So shines a good deed in a weary world”

I was moved. All throughout, Mr Wonka was conveyed as comically unbalanced to the point of madness, depth only being found within his passion. But then, reaching out for Charlie’s Ever-Lasting Gobstopper, Gene Wilder said those nine words. Suddenly I saw a character with so much more depth. Willy Wonka was given an intelligent sadness, which could be voiced through phrases that, even in context, could be deemed completely irrelevant.

Throughout life individuals have given speeches that have shaken the world and filled books with potentially moving quotations. These words, either spoken or written, can give strength and inspire.

Now a single line from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might not meet that standard but, for me, it was the most moving part of the entire movie. Not the Oompa Loompas, not Mike TV or Veruca Salt, not even the lifetime supply of chocolate. Instead that one scene in the half office.

Gene Wilder showed me, even from a young age, that levels of character analysis and depth of emotion can be altered drastically from just one scene and one sentence.

This has followed me through almost every essay I’ve written, as I was constantly reprimanded in my college and university days for focusing on one phrase or one stanza, rather than on the piece in it’s entirety.

“So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World”

An Unwilling Atheist

Un/Faithful

I am an unwilling atheist.

I am confident that there is no other world than the one we currently occupy, and yet I don’t want that confidence.
I read Biblical Testaments as moralistic tales, and envy those for whom some sense of reality emerges and comfort is gained.
I watch some sing hymns and get truly involved and moved, whilst for me they are lyrics to read and appreciate.
Personally sermons are well structured, strongly emotive speeches from the pulpit, and yet for others they are inspirational testimonies of belief.
I have met those that have willingly devoted their lives to the church in one way or another, and yet cannot comprehend the might of their motivation.

For me religion is fascinating. Raised in the Catholic Church I have come into contact with many forms of iconography, exceptional architecture, striking sculpture and beautiful paintings and drawings, all of which are based on a world created through many pages in a large book that is supported over an altar.

I have spoken to a variety of people about their Lourdes’ experience and listened to stories of arising from the water dry and different. Intelligent aware individuals tell me how they felt stronger after that moment. I do not believe this to be ridiculous, and I shun those that do. I do not undermine their belief by placations and pacifications. Instead I see it as faith. And not just faith, but a strong faith.

I would look at Lourdes, take in the architecture, the iconography, the stories of Sainthood and miracles that circle around the spring and see just that. Nothing otherworldly, nothing religiously provocative. Just a place, a thing and a story.

Innate cynicism is unfortunately one of the harshest killers of faith. 

I read works inspired by the religious world, works such as Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Divine Comedy, and they inspire strong admiration from me. These pieces, and others using similar inspiration, are beautiful and full of so much depth of meaning. They bring forth all this emotion from me, but not faith.

I envy all those people with real honest faith because they will always have something or someone to turn to, something or someone that is constantly and consistently there.

The pessimistic cynics of the world don’t have that.

I don’t have that.
I wish I did.

 

 

 

A Motherly Invisible Conflict

Conflicted

Everyone argues with people that raised them.

It’s inevitable. Being different characters, having differing traits and different opinions and yet sharing the same four walls will always result in one or two polite disagreements a month… and maybe the odd heavier conflict.

Having that one heavier conflict with my mother is an intensely annoying experience.

I have never known anyone argue like my mum.

An argument with my mum is highlighted with a change of tone. It gets louder and suddenly you are shouting at one another. Then it gets harsher and meaner and more personal. And then my mum leaves the room or the house.

Around ten to fifteen minutes later my mum comes back in, her tone having completely changed and her whole temperament calmed. She’ll walk up to her verbal combatant and ask a polite question or begin a completely irrelevant conversation that has absolutely nothing to do with what has just occurred between you.

When I was younger I believed that my mum was faking it, that really she was simply repressing everything to do with the argument in order to stop it escalating any further. I believed she was bottling it up and pretending to be calm again.

However as I’ve got older I’ve realised that she isn’t pretending.

She has genuinely filed away that conflict. She’s filed away all the negative emotions that had her seething and moved on.

I am completely unable to feel that way. If an argument is unresolved I am still full of anger. I want discussions, apologies and explanations. That is my conflict resolution. For my mother, it is to forget that the conflict ever happened and move on.

Which unfortunately means that if my mum and I have an argument, I’m left wanting to hear more about it and air all that negativity vocally, whilst my mum has calmed completely and simply ignores the topic as though the conflict never happened. She’s able to move on within seconds. She’s able to not only act as though the argument never happened, she’s able to truly feel that.

With my mum, it becomes The Invisible Conflict.

With no lingering resentment, no snide whispered comments. Nothing. It’s the conflict that definitely did happen, but, due to her ability to remove hostility from her own mind, it becomes invisible.

Annoyingly Invisible.

A Villainous Job Snob

Upturned Noses

I have spent my entire life in the education system. And have been very successful throughout it. Not with natural innate cleverness I might add, but instead through consistent hard work at every level of qualification.

All of this was for a reason, of course. I had spent the entirety of my teen years and my early twenties with the resounding dream of teaching. Preferably Secondary School or High School English. And then suddenly, with all the As and A*s in the bag keeping the Degree cosy, I hit a hole in the road.

Well more like a crater.

I was told ever so politely that my dream wasn’t going to be a possibility. Epilepsy, you see. Now of course there are conditions to epileptic teachers leading a classroom. Completely understandable. However, unfortunately for me, I don’t fit under any of those conditions.

So then, after all the years of effort, essays and exams, everything that I had worked towards had been brutally dismantled before my eyes.

That left me with the awkward question of ‘What am I going to do now?’

It was when I started browsing job opportunities that I realised that I had become a Villainous Job Snob. I began deciding that I wasn’t going to do ‘that type of job’ before I’d even read the requirements or the full nature of the employment.

Now, supermarket work, which seems to be available at will, has always been off the counter for me, because of the correlation between my presence inside of one and the amount of seizures that occur. But retail wouldn’t have been.

Now, one thing that everyone here has to understand, I do not judge those people that work in retail, restaurants or call centres. Fair enough on every count. If you enjoy the work itself, the people, being able to provide for yourself and your family or even just being in a stable nine to five. That isn’t what I judge. What I judge truly is myself in that position.

I see myself in those uniforms and feel such a heavy wave of disappointment. As though all those years, all that pushing, all those well earned certificates were and are wasted. And if I began stacking shelves every day then I may as well take all those glittering bits of paper to the back of my house and burn them.

I sound like a horrific human being and I know it. I sound like a judgemental snob and I know it.

But I can’t help but judge myself by a certain standard. The standard representative of my hard work, the results and qualifications that came as a result of it and therefore the level of employment that would be expected to follow.