Now where, I wonder, would you choose to go on a special date with a Very Important Person? Seats in the stalls at a London Theatre, perhaps, to watch the latest “must see” production? Or a posh restaurant,
sampling the culinary delicacies of a former Masterchef winner?
For Mr B and I yesterday, it was a Perspex “pod” like a miniature version of those
amazing greenhouses at the Eden Project. We were separated by a screen, preventing us from holding hands, hugging or kissing - he on one side wrapped in blankets and sitting in his wheelchair, I sitting in a hospital style armchair dressed in a plastic
apron, mask and gloves. I had already had my temperature taken before entry and declared Fit to Enter. To keep us warm, a small electric heater on Mr B’s side of the screen. It was six long weeks since we had seen each other, apart from the briefest
of glimpses across his hospital ward on Christmas Day when a wave and a blown kiss was all I could manage. How very grateful I was to the nursing home staff who made this meeting happen.
Sitting on my side of the pod waiting for him to appear, I contemplated the opening through which he would shortly be wheeled. It was a bit like a tent flap, the kind you unzip when you want to get in or out. It looked extremely narrow
and I couldn’t help worrying what would happen if Mr B plus wheelchair turned out to be just too wide. The resultant fuss and bother was almost too awful to contemplate...
Which is part of my trouble - for someone who prides herself on being a “glass half full” type of person, I have become far too concerned about Things Which Might Never Happen. It was, indeed, a tight squeeze but going in backwards certainly
helped and there we were, grinning at each other across the screen and there I was, wondering why everything I wanted to say to him had somehow become stuck in my throat. “So, here we are,” I eventually managed, inanely, stating the obvious. Rather
like the Twins, when they see the photograph of themselves at our Golden Wedding: “That’s us,” they tell me, proudly but unnecessarily, “When we were little..”
I had brought with me a few things to keep our conversation flowing. A sweet video from the Rascally Trio: “We love you, Grandad, SO much. Forever!” I held my mobile phone up against the screen so that Mr B could see and
hear it - and played it twice because it was just so good to see his face crease into that familiar smile as he watched. I also went armed with the newspaper report of the FA Cup match between Spurs and Wycombe Wanderers which went down well, except when I
tried unsuccessfully to wrap my tongue around the names of several players. “Forget it!” growled Mr B. It was just like old times..
The Matron of the
nursing home popped into the pod to ask if I had been told the good news. With a fair wind, and if he continues to make progress working with the physiotherapists, he might well be able to come home next week. This was, sadly, a bit of a disappointment to
Mr B who thought he would be coming home with me at the end of our “date.”
All of a sudden, our half an hour was over. Mr B declared himself tired
out and was wheeled away back to his solitary room, leaving me to shed my apron and gloves and to think about all the different (and more meaningful) ways I might have said goodbye, given that I couldn’t reach out to him in the normal way. Regrets, I
have a few...
One of the nursing home staff was kind enough to take a photograph of the two of us in our “pod” and I send it round to all the family.
“It made me laugh and cry at the same time,” said one - I knew what she meant.
We have had some unforgettable dates over the years, Mr B and I - but
never one quite so special as our “Brief Encounter in a Pod.”