By Wendy ‘A Country Carer’
My client was a lovely multi-talented Scot with a gentle lilt in her voice and her constant companion was a much- adored cat called Hamish. Fiona loved music, and had two baby grand pianos which, sadly, due to the progression of arthritis, were no longer played and so Classic FM was carried through speakers into all the living areas.
Christmas and New Year had passed and January in Westhumble had settled in to a monotonous sequence of dull, grey, wet days and long, dark nights. This made it tricky for 85 year old Fiona to get out and about and so, as her live-in carer, I endeavoured to bring the cheery events of the outside world into the home. Most afternoons, with camera in hand, I would set out on my daily walk and take photos of snowdrops in the gardens, crocuses (or is it croci?) pushing up in the lawns and primroses hiding shyly along the banks – all bringing the promise that spring was waiting in the wings! However, I felt we needed something more to avert the melancholy that so often creeps over many when life closes in, something to pluck Fiona out of the routine of everyday life, a memory that we could share and, what better for a Scot than to celebrate the Bard of Ayrshire’s birthday! And so a plan was hatched to have a Burn’s night for two, or was it three with Hamish the cat?
What fun we had planning our evening! Both Fiona and I baulked at the idea of the “warm, reekin, rich” traditional haggis cooked in a sheep’s stomach and decided to settle for a trusted supermarket’s Vegetarian Haggis filled with pulses, nuts and barley and, to ensure we didn’t break totally from tradition, elected to serve it with the customary “neeps and tatties”. Doubtless a sad day for the purists! Excitedly, we scrambled amongst Fiona’s many CD’s to find some pipe music and, tucked away in the bookcase, hidden in an anthology of Robbie Burns we found the famous poem, “The Address to the Haggis”. The stage was set!
The night of the 25th January arrived and to the skirls of the pipes I marched the haggis in to the dining room. We then took turns to read through the verses of the famous address beginning with the opening lines: –
“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftain o’ the puddin’ race!” ……….
“And then O what a glorious sight,
Warm reekin, rich!”
With much laughter we tucked in to our healthy meal, toasted it with a wee glass of red wine in preference to a dram, and followed on with a hot steamed pudding. Hamish, as to be expected, showed little interest in our vegetarian meal.
What a happy evening and, what joy to listen to Fiona’s animated conversations over the phone with family and friends as she relayed the story of our night with Rabbie Burns!
Indeed a time well spent and a time worthwhile; A little joy had been brought to enhance that smile
Or as the Bard himself says: “But, if ye wish her gratefu’ prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!”
(Name of client changed to protect identity.)