Tales from the Finchbottom Vale – (15) Art and Loneliness (Part 01)
Sally Greenland was a sister on the paediatric ward at the Churchill hospital, she was five foot tall and quite trim, but stood an inch or so taller in her stout shoes.
Her uniform fitted her perfectly, tapered at the waist where the broad belt sat.
She was 45 years old but looked older, her once black hair was now streaked with grey like Lily in the Munster’s.
Sally was always smiling, but the ageing in her face wasn’t due to laughter lines.
Life’s hardships and experiences were etched into her face, each line and furrow a sad event or a disappointment, her face was like her résumé.
Sister Greenland always chatted cheerily and a smile was never far from her lips, but although she was always smiling there was pain behind the eyes.
Sally was lonely and she went home every night to an empty house, save for her cat.
No husband, boyfriend or significant other and no living parents and no children.
She had friends of course, many in fact, but you can’t live in the pockets of friends and living your life vicariously was not the healthiest option in the long run.
But she wasn’t an unhappy person, despite her loneliness, she was someone who made the most of things even though she spent more time on her own than she deserved to.
She hadn’t always been alone, she’d had a husband once, but he left her a week before her fortieth birthday and she’d been alone ever since, and a little lonely but she would never have admitted that.
Sally was devastated at the time and it had left her unable to trust for the years following it, but that mistrust merely isolated her from life, and she settled for evenings in front of the TV with a glass of wine and a Rom Com, or a good book, and she loved her garden.
Life for her would probably have continued in much the same vein indefinitely had it not been for a number of unrelated events, which taken on their own merits wouldn’t have had the effect they did, but together and in short succession, they altered her perspective fundamentally.
The first event was the appointment of a new hospital management team, who like all new brooms wanted to sweep clean, but they weren’t the first new brooms she’d had to deal with and they certainly wouldn’t be the last.
The second one was something that should really have been a happy event, her Senior Staff Nurse Jane Hall had got married and now had a readymade family.
Sally really liked Jane and she was truly happy that she had found someone, but Jane’s obvious happiness on the big day merely underlined her own acute loneliness.
The third event was far more painful to bear, Yvonne Hughes died.
Yvonne was a frequent visitor to the ward and a long-time sufferer from Leukaemia.
The first time she was admitted coincided to the day when Sally started on the ward.
They had built up a great rapport over the years and for her to pass at the age of 16 hit everyone who knew her very hard, and Sally even harder.
But that in itself did not break her, death was as much a part of nursing as living was.
No, the straw that broke the camels back, so to speak was the death of her cat.
It wasn’t really a shock as Cleo was old, and nor was it a surprise she had been ill for some time, it was the timing, just before Christmas and coming on top of everything else.