Just after I posted the log last Thursday I went up to my brother and found him unwell and confused. I phoned the local health centre to ask for advice but the reception had just closed for the public holiday weekend. I phoned the surgery and was told that the doctor was in with her last patient before finishing up for the holiday weekend too, but that she would ask her to phone me back. This she did, and after a brief conversation she kindly offered to come up to the house. After a check-up it was agreed that the best thing was for my brother to go into hospital for a fuller examination. As he was displaying a high temperature, he would have to go through the Covid-19 admission section and be tested for the virus. The doctor phoned the hospital to arrange for admission, and then phoned the ambulance. She offered to stay but I thought she had already been very attentive and so I said we were fine, and that I would be there to wait for the ambulance with him. She reminded me that I would be unable to go in with him, but I already knew that. The ambulance took three hours to come, but I had received a phone call in between to check on his condition, apologising for the delay, and saying how busy they were, but that they would be with us as soon as was possible. When they did come, once again they were extremely kind and reassuring, and soon had him whisked off to the QUEH. As it turns out it’s not the coronavirus, but another infection, and I hope that by the time today is out I will have brought him home. I have to say though, that any time I phoned for an update it was answered immediately and an update given. On three occasions the hospital phoned me before I phoned them, so I just want to pay my own tribute to the health system as I have experienced it on this occasion, and in these troubled times.
As I had mentioned last week, I conducted a burial service in the last couple of days, complying with all the usual protocols and restrictions. It took place in a northside cemetery that I couldn’t remember ever being in before, although I could have been, many years ago. I arrived early and went to the No. 1 car park as instructed, to wait for the hearse and the family to arrive. I could see the freshly dug grave nearby, so, as it was a beautiful, sunny day, with blue skies and fluffy clouds, I wandered up to the grave and then decided to take a stroll. I had hardly gone ten steps when the names on a gravestone at the edge of a row caught my eye. It was my aunt, my father’s sister, who was also my godmother, buried alongside her husband and their daughter. I could hardly believe my eyes. I would have been away studying when my aunt died and I wouldn’t have been in Scotland for my uncle and cousin’s funerals either, and I wouldn’t have known where they were buried, so it was an extraordinary providence to come across their grave, and to be able to say a prayer for them.
Returning to base, we haven’t received any post here in St. Mungo’s for three weeks now. I have been unable to get any response on a post office help line, either by telephone or online. I went to the local depot where I would normally collect undelivered parcels, but they were only opening from 7am to 9am, excluding Wednesdays and Sundays. This morning I left the house at 7am to give it a go, but the queue was already snaking around the corner and down the road. After about half an hour of little progress the man in front of me asked if this was my first time. I said it was. He then pessimistically said to me, “You’ve no chance”. He went on to explain that the previous Thursday he had queued up for an hour and a half. At 9am, when he was two from the front of the queue, the doors were closed from the inside. Nobody came out to say anything at any stage. He asked if I would mind his place while he went to check if the same thing was going to happen again or had they changed policy. That was the last I saw of him, but, true enough, when 9am came, by which time I was nowhere near the front of the queue, the doors were locked from the inside, no information given, and a big crowd of frustrated people were left outside. Where is our St. Mungo’s post? I will try again tomorrow, perhaps arriving at 6am to be hopefully near the head of the queue. We are all still well, D.G., so continue to protect yourselves and others, and protect Christ in your lives.