Friday, 13 May 2011


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.


  1. I'm afraid we are one of the worst charites for pestering people!! but you are right there are, now, so many to choose from!! but also you have to be so very careful. The latest in our area is the appeal for old clothes.. one company very cleverly or craftly put the Breast cancer pink logo on their collection bag, which would have fooled many people but it was only when you read the small print that you realized that it wasn't cancer relief!! they got away with it because their pink logo had a tiny blue dot in the middle...

    I would dearly love to have my two grandmothers back again for a day or so - just so I could quiz them about their lives but when you're young these questions do not seem relevant. Judyx

  2. You're so right about collection bags, that really is a full-time racket for some unpleasant individuals. As for the Salvation Army I regard them as one of the very best and have just yesterday dug out a load of seldom-worn clothes for their collection.
    I never really mind if the Charity is a genuine one, how often they put bags through. If I have nothing to donate I use the bag to recycle my shredded (usually appeals) paper for the bin men.
    As far as asking questions of those we no longer see are concerned, I ask anyway. Who knows what may or may not be heard and answered in some way.

  3. I sympathise about the many charity appeals, Ray as I'm in the same boat. Like you I have great sympathy for those without sight and hearing as I had an older cousin who started to lose both as a young boy after an illness. On the other hand my mother was fit and healthy right up to her early death at 66, only a year older than I am now. Your mother sounds to have been a remarkably strong and resilient woman to have coped so well with increasing disability.

  4. Yes Perpetua, she was both strong and resilient but certainly not physically. She was a mere 5 feet tall and a lot smaller than that at the end of her life. Her strength was of the spirit and the mind I think, but can only feel that it came from God.
    She would never have agreed!

  5. The Charity appeals are getting more and more intrusive as they use "hard-sell" telephone techniques. I learnt the habit of tearing up unwanted approaches when I was a new minister. The volume would otherwise have overwhelmed me totally, both literally and metaphorically. I do what you do and choose several to support regularly. Then it is easier to be firm when asked to make yet another monthly donation.

  6. Yes Freda, and aren't they clever, using just the words and sometimes pictures which they know will 'get' to people. Then when you manage to evade their clutches you wind up feeling guilty.