Guest blogger Lillian Bartholomew is a member of Entelechy’s Elders Company. In addition to working with the company devising and performing theatre, she volunteers her time as a peer mentor working alongside Entelechy Artists in a local care home in Deptford. Here she describes how listening and sharing stories can support and invigorate people moving through the most difficult of times.
Mick and Molly were introduced to me as Dorothy and Arthur. Arthur lives in the care home’s dementia unit. They were married for sixty-nine years. They got married when she was eighteen and he was twenty. She was in the ATS (Auxillary Territorial Service) stationed in Canvey Island and he was in the army.
The story was that she was on her way home from Canvey Island coming out of the barrack gates. She had borrowed a wedding dress that was two sizes too large. They’d made it fit by pinning it in at the back. In her hand she was clutching a box with a wedding cake that the camp cooks had made.
She came out of the gates to go home and there was a buzz bomb over head and suddenly it stopped. Behind her a corporal shouted: “Don’t just stand there get in a ditch.” She jumps into the ditch.
Eventually she comes home still clutching the box. She says to her Mum: ”This is my wedding cake.” The lid comes off and there is the cake is split into bits. Her parents sit up all that night to fit the cake back together.
Well it intrigued me that story and I told Molly how fascinated I was by it. She looked at me and said: “Write it”
I said: “I can’t do that”
“Yes of course you can, write it!”
“You can. Stay up all night!”
Well at home, on the Sunday night I was sitting there and this piece of poetry came out. I cobbled this thing together. And the following On Tuesday I went to the care home clutching the poem I’d written out in long hand. And Molly wasn’t there. Your heart sinks. You never know what to expect.
The following week I was back and so was Molly. She hadn’t been around because she had been at hospital with Mick. So in she came and I gave the poem to her. And she read it and she gave me a great big smile and she gave me a great big hug.
She said: “I love it”.