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Monthly Archives: January 2018

I disliked giving and receiving gifts…until I got this surprise

I think I’m a bit strange. I dislike almost all presents, whatever the time of year. I don’t much like giving them, and I certainly don’t like getting them. It has been ever thus.

Giving Presents

It is wonderful to give presents to children. You generally know from their parents what they are longing for – and there is such delight when they receive the gift. No problem there.

Once in a while, I realise I am looking at something in a market or shop that someone I know would really like to have and there is again great pleasure in buying it for them. They would treasure it; it would be a surprise. There will be happiness all around.

Nowadays, my family – and I suspect many others – all have an Amazon wish list telling me exactly what presents they would like to receive – which book, which pair of slippers, which annual calendar.

Buying these is rather like doing your weekly grocery shopping. Check the list, buy, wait for the post. No artistry in this. No surprise when the package is opened.

The one benefit is, the person will welcome the addition to their wardrobe or library or whatever and won’t feel the need to send it back.

Getting Presents

I never much liked getting presents either. As a child, there might have been a longed-for item – a special doll or a pretty dress – and when I happened to receive it, there was a moment of real pleasure.

But most of the time, I would receive the wrong thing. My grandmother had good intentions, of course, but was not very good at working out which age was appropriate for which toy. My parents, somewhat surprisingly, were not much better either.

Even when I was a fully grown adult, my mother could not resist buying some dress that she thought would ‘look cute’ on me, which was never to my taste.

Aversion to Waste

I have always known – but it grows stronger as I get older – that I have a strong aversion to waste in all its forms. The wrong present is a complete waste – a waste of money, a waste of someone’s time acquiring it and a waste of any effort I make to wear it or read it or use it however it was intended.

It’s a waste and an embarrassment. I say thank-you, of course, but it all makes me very uncomfortable.

The Surprise

So this brings me to the surprise. A few weeks ago, it was a grey afternoon and I was quietly working on my computer when the doorbell rang. We weren’t expecting anyone, so I surmised it was probably one of the charity workers who would come along at Christmas time. I let my husband handle it.

A moment later, he shouted up to me that we had a large parcel. I knew we hadn’t ordered anything, so I rushed down, hoping I could catch the delivery man before he disappeared. Too late for that. My immediate thought was that it was going to be a nuisance to get this thing taken back.

But the parcel had my name on it, so I began to investigate. Inside was a large basket. After removing coloured ribbons and layers of see-through plastic, I realised it was some kind of hamper full of fruit, a variety of chocolates and sparkling wine. What a nice thought on someone’s part, even if it was surely not intended for me.

Oh, and there was a note! I was shocked that it was actually addressed to me, from my lovely neighbours who were temporarily away, thanking me for looking after their house. It was for me, after all. A complete surprise on a grey day. A present I liked. Not a waste at all.

 

This post was originally published on sixtyandme.com (http://sixtyandme.com/i-hated-giving-and-receiving-gifts-until-i-got-this-surprise/) and should not be re-blogged

Wise Before their Time – Five star reviews keep pouring in…

“This book describes an unimaginable amount of ignorance, fear and pain. Men, women and children, small babies dying of a mysterious disease and no one knows what it is and no one has the cure for it.

     “A giant ‘Infection’ was written above her name. She was asked to use a separate toilet from the other women, which had a red ‘Control of infection’ notice on it. She was miserable, frightened and scared for her children.  I realised what was happening and complained. The attitude was ‘Oh, we know HIV isn’t contagious, but we must follow our old guidelines.’”― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time

There are too few book like this. There’s a story of mother and her young daughter Daisy. She was just learning to speak. A little bit late in walking. Then when she is sixteen months old, she stops walking.

         “My doctor had to inform the funeral directors that she’d died of an infectious disease. So when they came, they came in these suits and gloved. They just wrapped her in a plastic bag and took her away. And, well, it just was too much for me. I couldn’t cope, I just had to run out of the room.” ― Ann Richardson, Wise Before Their Time”

A book full of incredibly brave people writing their heart-breaking stories on what it was like to live with HIV and AIDS. I warmly recommend this for everyone.

This book’s intrinsic historical and cultural value is invaluable…providing insights and historical accounts which would otherwise be lost to time. These historic interviews are not only rare but also remarkably candid for their era. At times, the stories were alarming. No matter your feelings and beliefs on this disease, you owe it to yourself to read this book!”

*****

“Although the context in which Ann Richardson has reissued her book has changed considerably [since 1992], there is a freshness and an immediacy in many of the spoken and written interviews with people of both genders, of different ages and from different cultures. The stories are often moving, even tear-inducing, and also occasionally funny. Yes, HIV/AIDS before drug therapy was a terrible plague, which particularly hit Western gay men and heterosexual Africans and their children. But what comes over most strongly from many of the people who feature in this important book is their fortitude, in some cases their stoicism, and often intimations of real love.”

*****

“I missed out on a majority the horrors of the pandemic, but as Ann Richardson states in the foreword, my generation and the ones that come after it, are the reason why this book needs to be republished – so that people do not forget the horrors and fears of the past and, in some places in the world, the present; that we remain educated and continue to stand in solidarity with people who are HIV-positive and those living with AIDS.”

*****

“The voices in this book are powerful and sobering. They show the everyday realities of living with a disease that people, including doctors, knew virtually nothing about. They talk honestly and incredibly openly about all aspects of the experience of living with HIV/AIDS – from how they got their diagnosis, to confront their own mortality, to telling friends and family members, to their hopes for the future. Yet there is a definite sense of hope that, no matter how long the person had had the disease or what part of the world they lived in, they refused to give up, every single one of them. And that is surely, the true definition of inspiring.”

*****

“It was a sad book, something I wouldn’t dare to re-read but glad that I have read it. I remember reading ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver and having the same feelings; as a parent, the book was so hard for me to read and yet, I was awfully glad I had read it. Wise Before Their Time is totally different in context from Lionel Shriver’s. It is a difficult book to read not as a parent but as a sensitive person.

Difficult times brings out either the strength or the weakness in a person. The person never stays same. He either becomes bigger or smaller. And it was heartening to learn that most patients after being tested positive came out stronger, wiser, and more mature.

The author, through interviews with patients, has presented an honest, moving picture which touches a reader’s heart. Do read this book. If not for anything else then just to understand and appreciate the beauty of being healthy and being alive!”

*****

“Wise Before Their Time is an enlightening compilation of individual stories and thoughts from those infected with HIV in the early era of AIDS. It saddened me to see how fellow humans treated one another. I was particularly disturbed by the story about a baby dying from the disease. Though there are also messages of love and hope throughout, I feel the book is a good educational tool about the stigma of the virus when not much was understood about it. An important read.”

*****

I believe it’s so important to remember the people behind their diagnosis. This book takes you there. Dietmar was so passionate to spread the word. It was a privilege to know & work with him.”

*****

“Wise Before Their Time” is both moving and informative. You are saddened by most of the tales. But at the same time, you learn that for the most part, after their diagnosis and treatment, the AIDS afflicted are grateful. Of course they are sorry to have AIDS. But they have all learned to love life more than ever before. This book is not only touching, it’s well crafted and will shed new light on AIDS for readers everywhere.”

 

Life in a Hospice – a surprise success

Life in a Hospice, my book which goes behind the scenes in two hospices to show readers how it feels to provide end-of-life care, was first published in 2007.  I re-launched it last March.  This is because the publishers were charging much too much for it and giving it no publicity – with the not surprising result that no one was buying it.  It was selling one or two copies a year.

I thought a few people might want to read it and decided to give it a new cover and a revised introduction and make it available to potential readers at a reasonable price.  I thought 50 or 60 people, at a completely rough guess, might be interested.  But I was so wrong.

No, I have been selling one or so copies a day on Amazon – indeed, well over 200 copies since its relaunch.  Mostly e-books, but some paperbacks as well.  This is not big numbers compared to Harry Potter or a few other things I could name, but it is surprisingly successful. A friend who is a writer said he wished he could see such sales.

Who is reading it?  I don’t actually know.  I would imagine many will be current hospice workers, who like to hear about others doing similar work. Or those who are interested in pursuing hospice care as a career (it’s a very good introduction to this, because it talks about not only what workers do but also how such work affects their lives). Some people who are considering hospice care for someone in their family may be reading it, too.

I personally think it makes inspirational reading, showing humanity at its best. Perhaps some readers are looking for that.

I am now making it available as an e-book in other outlets besides Amazon, such as Apple ibooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble.

Have a look.  It might interest you, too: http://myBook.to/Hospice