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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Seeing a chance encounter through a chaplain’s lens

Essex Anna Chaplain Eileen Simmons ponders what was ‘a spontaneous response’:

‘Being an Anna Chaplain involves planned activity such as my HOPE group at church, but also spontaneous responses. I was recently enjoying a coffee whilst waiting at our local hospital when a young man asked if his dad could join me at the next table “in case he got himself into trouble”. The gentleman was very elderly, with a white stick. Of course, I agreed, whilst the son queued for coffee.

‘I chatted away and engaged his dad in conversation. In a matter of moments, I learned that his wife was there in the hospital having suffered a fall and how it was hoped she could be discharged the following day. He had four sons and a daughter and everyone was rallying around. There was equipment being delivered to his home so that his wife could be safely cared for. He told me that although he had the four sons, the daughters-in-law were also all so helpful. How blessed he was with a large loving family.

‘I teased the son five minutes later that he was right, his dad could be trouble but I had coped. Both laughed and went off to visit their mum/wife. Such a lovely episode. I then went back to my current Anna Chaplaincy reading, the book What Dementia Teaches Us About Love by Nicci Gerrard (Penguin, 2019) – I recommend this book to you. That was after I had made these notes. I always carry a pencil and paper with me to record interesting interactions.

‘I am wondering whether my experience as an Anna Chaplain has sensitised my reactions to elderly people or would I, previously, have responded in a similar fashion?’

Eileen Simmons




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