Picking up my post today I found that as usual there were several appeals for money from charities. In fact most days these form the bulk of my post.
Ordinarily I look through them, put on one side those I might respond to and shred the remainder. This is not as easy as it sounds, since there is always something which is guaranteed to tug at your heartstrings in every appeal.
About a year ago, I decided that if I didn't call a halt to my Pavlovian response to this 'fishing trip' type of mail I would wind up bankrupt. As I pay by direct debit to at least a half dozen carefully chosen charities and give on an ad hoc basis to a dozen or so others, it has to stop somewhere.
The thing I find most difficult is to decide which of the organisations which deal with blindness, deafness, cancer etc., since there are at least a dozen for each of these conditions.
One organisation which has become one of my direct debits benefits children who can neither see nor hear. This seems to me one of the most awful of all deprivations; one or the other would be bad enough, but both, what a truly unthinkable way to have to go through life.
My mother lost her sight late in life, and for the last twenty-five years of her life had no sight at all. Then as she became older and older she lost most of her hearing despite having hearing aids of increasing strength (and expense) and by the time she died on Christmas Eve 2008 at the age of 103, she had almost no hearing at all. My last conversation - I use the word advisedly - with her, four days before she died was in a public ward, in full sight of a half-dozen other patients, and was at the top stretch of my lungs.
Not the sort of farewell one would choose, but at least we did 'talk'.
She had a leaking heart valve, had arthritis and had broken her hip earlier that year, yet she never once uttered a word of complaint or self-pity. She retained her sharp intelligence and sense of humour right up to the last few days when she was really too frail and ill to function at all normally.
Freda, who blogs under "What's the Story in Dalamory" asked in her most recent post, what we would most like to have asked a lost relative. I would have loved to know where my mother got her stoicism and sheer guts from. Just how did she cope with all her problems and stay such a sane balanced human-being?
Too late to ask now, and in any case she would have laughed at the idea that she was in any way remarkable but she was.