I love being a priest. I love people and I love hearing people’s stories. I can even cope with those ‘difficult’ people that we all come across from time to time. I know how to work round their more negative traits and try to turn them into something more positive. And on the whole I am a pretty cheerful person – glass half full and all that.
But – and there had to be a ‘but’ – there is one woman who really gets on my nerves. She is in the same Care Home as my dad and is always sitting next to him when I visit. She is a lonely woman with no family or friends and just the sort of person a priest ought to be able to offer comfort and a listening ear to. And if I was a visiting priest I would. Honest, I would.
But for some reason I find I am unable to be my normal happy sparkling self. You see, she talks non-stop in a whiny voice about herself and how lonely she is and how ill and how cold etc. Then she asks you what you are doing and saying and constantly interrupts. It is impossible to hold a conversation while she is in the room because of her interruptions and the fact that she wants to hold on to your hand. I don’t know what it is about her but she really, really makes me grit my teeth.
You know I read this back and I feel awful. She is exactly the kind of person I am called to love. And I would at any other time, really I would. But when it takes away my precious time with Dad I just can’t do it. And maybe it’s about guilt and the fact that I don’t visit him as often as I should. So when I do visit I want our time together to be free and uninterrupted.
My sisters have the same problem with this lady, as do the staff. And when I hear on the news today that some Lord had complained about nurses in hospital being uncaring then I get a small glimpse into their world. So what we do is ask Dad to come with us to the visiting lounge or his bedroom, but sometimes he doesn’t want to move and often she will follow or complain loudly that she is being left alone.
So I guess that’s my confession to you, dear readers. My own penance is to pray for her and to try and be nicer to her next time but if you’ve got any other suggestions, feel free…
Btw, it has taken me an hour to pluck up the courage to post this and expose my spiteful nature to all of blogland!