This team.

On Friday mornings, when our two shifts change at 6:00 we all meet. In theory this is to do hand-overs, discuss maintenance issues, plan the weekend ahead and touch base on the ever-changing needs of both staff and guests.

Last Friday was different. We all gathered around the fire place (I squeezed in between two busty ladies knowing that even though my movement would be restricted, I would be warm and cosy) and instead of doing any strategising or planning, we spontaneously celebrated the life of one of our guests who had died the night before.

It was not an unexpected death, but it came sooner than we thought. Malcolm was only with us for about six weeks, but in that time, he delighted us with his lovely Yorkshire accent and the funny things he said. We cried and laughed as we talked about his time here. (Dolly Parton does say laughter and crying are her favourite emotions. She would fit in so well here, and her boobs wouldn’t even be the biggest!)

Our late guest had an uncanny love for KFC (which he called “Kentucky” like everyone else born before 1980). He always wanted it and one day, told a carer he suspected she stole his as she was a real fatty! He taught me, a devout Blue Bull and lover of rugby, about the UK football league and from now on I can proudly call myself a Liverpool supporter. He loved to swear, and did so spectacularly. He loved his children. He loved his wife.

His daughter said to me this morning that she wishes we knew him like he was before: strong, funny and vibrant, but to us, even though his body certainly was not strong anymore, he was indeed funny and vibrant and we experienced who he was in his stories and personality.

I looked around the room at my staff… every single one so completely invested in what they do. They all loved this man. They knew he was terminal, but this did not stop them from allowing themselves to care. They are not super beings, they are just – like me – simple people with average educations and qualifications, but somehow they all ended up here, and they have a willingness to serve and love like I have never seen before.

Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others, is a life worthwhile”. How lucky are we to have such lives.

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