This week I had one of my four-times-yearly visits to the chiropodist. I have to do this because I have a bit of a back problem, protrusions between the third and fourth vertebrae, which, while nothing too serious at this stage, means that putting on my socks in the morning is a major task, and as for cutting my toenails, well, that’s just impossible. We had a nurse at Mount Argus in Dublin who used to, very kindly, do this for me before I moved back to Glasgow. She retired recently, but in the 20 years and more she was in Mount Argus she made an extraordinary contribution to the health and wellbeing of the increasingly frail and aging Passionist Community. At first, there was great resistance to her coming among the older men, as it would mean setting up a nursing station within what used to be considered monastic enclosure, a boundary intended to separate the religious community from the wider society, and now we were to have a nurse, a woman indeed, right in the midst of us. The same kind of resistance had occurred previously when we proposed turning three rooms into two in the old monastery, so as to give each man an en-suite bedroom. Prior to this there was only a common wash-hall and shower area, and a cubicle with three WC’s on each of the three floors. In fact, the architect who designed the original monastery, back in the 1850’s, had forgotten to put in toilets at all, possibly thinking we were angels and not religious, and so the toilets, as an afterthought, had always been inadequate. The older men, admirably, considered having an en-suite bedroom a luxury, and against their vow of poverty. However, they were wisely overruled, and they soon got used to not having to walk the long, dark corridors in the middle of the night to go to the loo, and to wash and shave in the morning.
Their resistance to the nurse soon broke down as well and, within a short time, they were almost fighting with each other to be the first to see her when she came in each morning. She was just so good, so efficient, and so genuinely caring. It was she who arranged for me to have a scan on my back, in the course of which another problem was identified, which resulted in me having to undergo thyroid surgery just before I moved from Mount Argus back to Saint Mungo’s. Anyway, there is not so much wrong now, but I do enjoy my occasional visits to the chiropodist which now, like everything else, is controlled by Covid-19 protocols. I have to sit in the car, wearing my mask, until I am called in. Doors are opened for me so that I don’t touch any handles. I sanitise my hands, proceed to the treatment room, and prepare myself for the session, during which I wear a mask at all times, as does the chiropodist. Doors are once again opened for me on exit, after sanitising my hands once again. Payment is only by card, according to the new normal, but it was all well worth it.
This visit to the chiropodist occasioned a conversation in the house about feet. Father Gareth and Father Antony have very big feet, and I have very small feet, but I also require a wide fit, and so, each of us in our own different ways have some difficulty in getting shoes to fit. Father Gareth, being a great film buff, brought the actor, Julia Roberts, into the conversation. He had remembered reading that she either had very big feet or very small feet, but he couldn’t remember which. However, as she would most probably have her shoes handmade, we didn’t think that she would have the same problem finding suitable footwear. My most recent shoes were bought with a Marks & Spencers gift card, but they had to be ordered in the shop, and then collected a day or two later, as they didn’t keep my wee size in stock. My next venture is a follow-up with a Urologist at Stobhill on Friday, as befits a man of my age.
The rest of the community are all well. Father Justinian seems to have a different carer every day, as the home care system tries to keep up with demands, but he is being very well looked after. Father Antony, accompanied by Deacon Joe, is due to celebrate Mass on board another ship, so has undergone a second recent Covid-19 test, thankfully paid for by the Apostleship of the Sea. Father Gareth is back in full swing, but misses the daily swims he used to enjoy.
So, as ever, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.