Last week I met Miriam and Mandy for the second circle meeting at Bruce Lodge.
Mandy had bought Miriam a new swimsuit, and she sat on the bed sewing a name badge on whilst we talked. I remember sewing name badges on school uniforms for my three girls, usually the day before term started. It seems strange that name badges appear for some people towards the end of your life as well as at the beginning.
At the last meeting I had worked out that keeping the circle as informal as possible was important to Miriam, and to avoid it feeling like a meeting. So no meeting map, no roles and rules, no opening round, no structure really, just a chat to see where we are up to. She started our time together, with,
“So, what are we hear to talk about?”
“Singing’ I replied.
The focus of Miriam’s circle is to get her singing again. I had investigated some local choirs, and Mandy had a friend who was a piano teacher who she was going to ask to come and lead some singling at Bruce Lodge. Miriam used to sing in the MAIA choir, and I had googled it to find that it is still going and that they perform regular concerts.
I talked to Miriam about two choirs that I had found out about – the community choir, and one that is called ‘Do your own thing’. I had seen them perform at a community summer fete. I explained the difference between the two, as I understood it, and when and where they rehearsed. Miriam is not sure that she is a good singer, so she laughed when she heard that the community choir rehearsed at the Deaf Centre.
As Mandy sewed she made it clear that she had no intention of going singing at all! She also explained that her friend who she had hoped to lead singing at Bruce Lodge did not feel that she would be outgoing enough to do it. I gently enquired about whether she would be persuaded to try, but it did not look like it.
Then we talked about the MAIA choir and whether Miriam wanted to go to see them perform. I did a quick check on my phone to see whether there was a Christmas concert. Miriam was very interested and remembered the name of the choirmaster when she used to sing, and told stories of how strict she used to be.
We decided that I would talk to Lisa about seeing if we could organise this, perhaps for Emma as well who I know (from another circle facilitator) wants to sing as well.
I mentioned to Miriam that Emma also wanted to sing. I knew that Emma and Miriam often sat together at mealtimes. Miriam could not remember an Emma, she said that she was friendly with lots of people here, but could not remember their names.
So far, we had looked at the possibility of joining a community choir, arranging to go and see her old choir perform, but how could we get her singing at the home as well?
We need a lively, piano-playing singer, who could come in each week and lead a sing-song. I guess I need to check with Lisa first, but assuming that is OK, how do I find someone? I think I may start at the church that Miriam goes to, to see if there is anyone there, or anyone who knows someone. This way I could see if there could be a greater connection with her faith community.
But the big question is who? Who can do these things? This is the tiniest circle that I have been part of. Asking Mandy to do more does not seem fair (unless she offers) so it is me, or bringing someone else in who can help with the actions.
So this weekend I am going singing with Miriam, and now the challenge is how we can bring other people into Miriam’s life to sing too.