Mirror Magazine

12th October 1997

Parents need love too

My darling daughter,

Daughter, lying in bed I read a beautiful verse,"Let us bring beauty to the evening of our parents day as they brought beauty to the dawn of ours." It made me wonder how many of us, especially today, think of our parents in terms of the joy, happiness and security they gave as when we were young. As they grow older we tend to think of them as a liability. Sometimes even a nuisance.

I wish, daughter, that not the young so much as those in their middle ages pause for a moment and think of whether they would want their children to treat them as they so often treat their own parents. Today more than ever before, whatever the emphasis used, the elders are generally considered a problem, often to be sent to an Elders Home and there occasionally visited.

I know some friends of mine who are forced by circumstances to live in a Home for Elders - a well-kept place no doubt - but they long so much to hear and see their children. When one gets old one longs for the familiar places, wants to talk of incidents that happened years ago. Even I tend to say to you 'when you were so big - can you remember?' The old live on memories and what memories can a Home for Elders give - even if necessity requires that parents be kept in such a home is it not possible to make them feel wanted and loved ? Children to visit them often, take them out, bring them for a weekend home - surely those parents who sacrificed so much, can they not in their old age expect a little more love and time for those to whom they have given so much of love and almost all their time.

Daughter, when I am very old and need you, I would wish that you come to visit me not through any mistaken ideas of gratitude but because you would know that I need your love.



He had never come across a patient who had worried about this aspect of the sacrosanct law of keeping a secret. He took time to answer..........."I assure you, Mrs. Philips," he said at last, " I will treat you here and here only. When we meet, away from my office you will be just my . . . acquaintance."

By M. T.L. Ebell

Ruben Johnson sat at his desk awaiting his next patient. For the fourth time in five minutes he checked her name on his list of appointments. Moira Philips. He had been surprised when she had been announced at her first visit two weeks ago. Surprised, because he knew her. When one was a psychiatrist, one did not get many patients one knew.

She had begun the interview (for that was how he classified it), by looking him firmly in the eye. "Tell me about confidentiality, Doctor," she said and before he could reply had gone on, "I know you will not divulge anything that I have said to others, but what about to me? If we meet again, when we meet again, in your mind will I still be your patient? For if that is the case, Doctor, tell me and I'll walk out of here and you can pretend I never came."

He had never come across a patient who had worried about this aspect of the sacrosanct law of keeping a secret. He took time to answer and she became impatient, lightly drumming her fingers on the arm of her chair. "I assure you, Mrs. Philips," he said at last, " I will treat you here and here only. When we meet, away from my office you will be just my . . . acquaintance."

She leaned back in her chair and smiled. "Thank you for going along with me on this. It's very important to me." Having said this she suddenly seemed at a loss for further words. That was his cue and smoothly, though belatedly, he slid into professional gear. "What made you feel you needed to consult me, Mrs. Philips?"

That had been two visits ago. This visit, she told him, would be her last. As he waited the sixty seconds until four thirty, he realised he couldn't bear the wait to see her again. "I want to consult you about my dreams," she had said, "my dreams are tormenting me."

He heard sounds of her arrival. On each occasion she had been punctual. He glanced at his reflection in the oval mirror which hung on his wall over the mahogany side-table and ran his fingers through his hair. God, he didn't behave like this when his other patients visited him; she excited him. A tall man looked back at him, slightly flushed. A trustworthy face which inspired confidence in his patients, both old and new. A serious man exuding an air of quiet dependability. He went back to his desk. She seemed to be talking extra long with Sally, his temporary secretary. He sighed. Gwen would never dally so long with a client when she knew the Consultant was ready. Well, she would be back next week. Sally was good at word-processing and a whiz on the computer but her garrulity was sore point. He dismissed Sally from his mind.

As his patient spoke to him that first day, he had become aware of how used she had become at repressing her feelings. Maybe that was the reason for the dreams. Dreams which she said upset her profoundly.

She entered and he looked at her appreciatively. He liked the shade of green of the two-piece she wore. It enhanced the auburn tint in her hair. He realised with a start, how much the woman before him resembled that tragic beauty, Diana the Princess of Wales. lt was just the colour of the hair, and Diana had been taller.

"Good afternoon Mrs. Philips." "Good afternoon Doctor." "Have there been any changes?" She shook her head . "No."

He was puzzled. He wondered if he could persuade her to go on seeing him professionally and wondered if he should seek another opinion with her approval. He had counselled people about their dreams before. The Dream that recurred nightly, the terrifying Nightmare, the Fantasy. He had helped them all, but her problem differed. She said she dreamed three dreams, one on each consecutive night. He called them Dream A,B and C. In Dream A she dreamed that she killed her husband. On the next night (Dream B) she smothered her child. On the third night, they killed her. The next night, Dream A and so on.

Helped by his skilful manner, she described, again, her home life. He hoped through reiteration they would discover some pointers. She said she neither disliked nor feared her husband, she had never had children. They had been unable to have a child. There had been no miscarriages, certainly no abortion. She had no reason to doubt her husband' s fidelity. She trusted him and he trusted her. It was just . . . she wished life could be more exciting, more of an adventure. No, not her sex life, just . . .life! Ruben Johnson sat up and took notice, she had not spoken of these feelings before.

You know, Picnics in the Park, visits to the Zoo. It didn't matter that they had no children, they could enjoy such outings.

Had she shared these feelings with her husband?

No, they rarely talked for long, he never listened to her like this.

Did she fear that her husband was tired of her?

No, she did not think that, she just felt he was too used to her.

Did she love him?

What did Dr. Johnson think was the answer to that?

He smiled. She was the only patient who seemed to question him as much as he questioned her. In fact no one had caused him to perform so much soulsearching.

Abruptly, he stood. "I have to go back on my promise to you," he said. "Which one?"

"The one about not mentioning your problem to you when we meet outside."

"You've managed for the past fortnight."

"It's been . . .damnably hard."

"What about your business ethics?"

"To hell with them."

She stood too. "I'll release you from that promise if you promise not to get mad," she said.

"Why should I get mad?"

"I made it all up."

"Made what up?"

'The dreams, only the dreams, the rest is true."

He looked at her, standing by the mahogany armchair. This room with its muted carpeting and elegant furniture was a perfect foil for her. Was he dreaming? She had made it up! Then he did not need to delve and analyse and prescribe for those intangible enigmas produced by our minds in the dark of the night. He could concentrate on the facts. He laughed, first a chuckle, then a great gusting bellow, the relief was so enormous. His serious features seemed to dissolve, then resolve into a younger mien. "Why did you?" His voice was serious again, his eyes were intent. "I was desperate, I had to talk, really talk to you," she said.

"You took a risk."

"I know, I had to." There had been a solid desk between them but now they were less than an inch apart. "So Moira Philips," said he, "You say you want, need some adventure in your life." "Starting now," said she.

Sally opened the door and peered in. She had buzzed her employer twice and had tapped three times on the door with no response. She was horrified to see Dr. Johnson and Moira Philips in a passionate embrace. She had not suspected the Doctor of being someone like that! Why he could get struck off the register!

"It's a good thing I'm not criminally inclined," she sniffed as she related the incident to Gwen the next week, "I could blackmail him all life long!" Gwen paused in her well ordered takeover of the reins from Sally . "Are you sure?" she asked. She had been with her employer for twelve years and this was quite out of character. "Sure I'm sure. With Moira Philips."

"Moira Philips, she must be new."

"And gorgeous too!"

"What did she look like?"

"Like Princess Di with red hair. "

"Oh," Gwen relaxed, "I don't say I understand it, but you don't have to worry."

"That's his wife."

Continue to Mirror Magazine page 3 * Seeing Red * Intricate creations in Black and White *Living Designs '97

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