Gardening for old people

I have noticed that with some people, brainpower fades away slowly. It was the case with the 85-year-old woman that we went to do some gardening for, in this case to trim a tree. It was complicated by the fact that her daughter was a little bit possessive and insisted on being part of  the decision-making. It makes a difficult threesome and I have never found that it works because there’s always slight misunderstandings as there was in today’s case.

The daughter thought the customer wanted her tree taken down, I had explained to the customer that I thought trimming was an option, the customer kept coming out into the garden to see her progress and when we had done a good trimming job she changed her mind and said that she wanted the tree down so out came the chainsaw job done.

Older people tend to panic a little bit and this happened during the time we were there so I learnt to back off, calm her down, repeat the same suggestion for the sixth time, told her that there was no hurry and she could change her mind if she wanted. A lot of people find that the ordinary world is an increasingly difficult and indeed threatening place to live and they just cannot cope. When conditions are good they can chat as intelligently as the next person but when they have to make a decision this is when the fuse seems to blow. Fortunately I had my other half with me and she calmed the client down. She asked us three times if we were going to take away the debris of the tree and three times we assured her that we were going to do so. Sometimes you have to accept the fact that the person doesn’t take it in the first time and you simply have to repeat it and that’s the end of the story.

Anyway I wrote to the daughter to advise exactly what happened and mentioned the fact that we were a little bit confused about the lady changing her mind but I got a pleasant enough reply and I think the daughter understood the situation that I was in. I don’t know how such old people manage on their own, they must get terribly lonely and eventually the world of people becomes a distant place. I know that my wife meets her old peoples group when she works as a volunteer for AgeUK and very often the trip to the day centre is the only social experience they have in the course of the week. How they manage shopping I do not know so these intelligent and interesting people with fascinating life histories are more or less prisoners in their own house. It is not good.

This evening we went to a Soup Evening in the Town Hall. The idea, evidently imported from America, was that everyone contributes five pounds and gets a bowl of soup and a chance to hear a pitch from five charities who need money for various good reasons. A vote is taken at the end and money is given to the winning charity. About 30 of us attended and we had a jolly enough time. I met someone called John and his partner Libby who had just come to Midsomer Norton from Scotland and were having a whale of a time socially. Where they lived in Scotland there was no part and no social life so they were like kids in a sweet shop. John is a cellist and he had joined the local orchestra. I suggested that Libby joined the local U3A group.

I think it is a great advantage if you are new to an area if you are part of a couple. Single people don’t quite seem to have the social skills or the confidence to join a group that consists mainly of couples. I find that these days, couples are quite happy to talk to a single person. They come along to social events to get out of the house and enjoy a different environment so there isn’t the cliquiness that I once saw. My advice to single people is that others are not bothered whether you are single or not. Just pitch up and talk to the nearest person and you have a good time.

We had an amazing day of hail, rain and then bright sunshine. Françoise enjoyed fiddling around in the garden and tidying her shed.

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