THE VOICE OF WAR
I look into your 102 eyes, not 102 eyes but rather eyes that have seen 102 years. You do not know this world around you any more. They bring you tea and take you up to bed and place you in front of the giant TV screen. They do not know who you really are. Why are you still here after 102 years? Did you plan to be here this long for some divine purpose? You remember particles of your life when prompted. You forget where you were born and when. Then suddenly you remember, ‘I was born on 20th February.’ it is a strong statement. We wait in anticipation for more memories to flood back.
The others ask questions. ‘Were you in the war?’ ‘Was it the army?’ ‘Where did you live?’ but you have no recollection. You cannot remember it precisely. Yet the questioning has set off something in your brain. A part of the memory section has been activated. You want to remember who you are.
I WAS BORN IN LANCASHIRE.
I LEFT WHEN I WAS 19.
I WENT ABROAD.
I DIDN’T HAVE A FATHER.
THEY PUT ME IN A HOME.
And then it gets a little muddled as you try to remember more.
I WAS IN HOSPITAL FOR 11 MONTHS
I STAYED IN THE HOME FOR 11 YEARS AND THEN I WENT ABROAD.
I LEFT HOME AT 11 MONTHS
I LEFT HOME WHEN I WAS 11.
Maybe all of this is true. You left home at 11 and were put in a care home. You went abroad at 19 and fought in the war. Maybe you had a spell in hospital for 11 months or maybe it felt like 11 years. The true facts are less important than the emotional memories triggered and what needs to be expressed.
The others want to know more.
‘Were you in the army? Is that why you went abroad?’
Perhaps the reason for going abroad is knocked out of your memory for the sake of sanity. Yet being in a home and having no father is a strong memory and one that wants to be expressed in this moment.
Fragments of life, fragments of clues about the elderly who sit day after day in care homes around the world, largely forgotten about. They have many interesting stories to tell.
These memories emerged from a storytelling and reminiscence session I facilitated recently. Others had more to say:
‘My husband was in the RAF.’
This statement was repeated 6 times by a lady in a wheelchair. As soon as I began the session she stated, ‘I remember the war.’ She said this with such a strong voice that I knew she wanted to talk more about it. There was something very unfinished in her experience and expression of such a traumatic experience in her life, like many others no doubt. She needed a voice, to emphasize what still remained as unfinished business in her own psyche and memory.
There was a profound need in all 5 participants to express and voice fragments of their lives. I stayed longer to let them speak and finish what they needed to say in these final moments of the session.
I HAD 7 CHILDREN
I WAS FORCED TO GO TO CHURCH – I DON’T LIKE CHURCHES
I WROTE MY AUTOBIOGRAPHY – ITS SOLD IN PETROL STATIONS
THE MUSIC MAKES ME FEEL SAD – I THINK OF BURIALS
I played simple music with an ocarina and zither for just a few minutes. Through this stimulus memories, emotions and ideas emerged, and the effects profound.
The lovely people in this group did not want me to leave and said how good it was to sit in a circle and talk about their lives and listen to others’ lives – such a simple activity in many ways yet needing the absence of TV and a wish to engage people in reflections upon their lives, acknowledging what they have really been through and experienced.
World War 2 was a horrible event yet how many people who suffered through these times had the opportunity to express what they had really been through? How many people were given an opportunity to heal from such trauma – from war wounds whether they were physical or emotional? Very few no doubt.
Many of these people are now in homes forgotten about at the final stages of their lives. They deserve to have some kind of positive closure on their lives, a profound way in which they can truly reflect on the life they have led and who they really are. These people need to speak and express who they are. They are not just wheelchair bound frail people – they have experienced and felt a lot in their lives and deserve recognition and respect.
Just as every passing phase in life deserves a ritual of sorts, so too is the passing from this life to the other realms. Without a proper closure of sorts, where there is unfinished business in this life time it will need to be dealt with later on in another life time. Therefore we can help many souls by assisting them in their final stage on Earth to say what they wish to say, remember and reflect on what they wish to reflect upon and then let them prepare peacefully for passing on, away from their Earthly and bodily existence knowing that all is complete and satisfied to the best of their knowledge and experience.
JO WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE FOR STORYTELLING AND REMINISCENCE WORK IN THE GLASTONBURY, UK AREA AND WORKS WITH CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE, THE ELDERLY, CARERS, WOMEN AND OTHER GROUPS. FOR FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT JO AT: JOMOONSTORIES@YAHOO.CO.UK