Artist Fay Ballard is leading a weekly creative workshop with dialysis patients at Hammersmith Hospital. She is writing a weekly blog in response to her experiences.
‘When you’re born, God gives you a return ticket’, smiled Jatinder sitting up in bed: ‘We are all in the same boat, so let’s smile while we’re still here’. I had introduced myself this morning for the first time and we talked about life and our values.
Concerttina, Akos, Cheryl and Deborah were in deep sleep. I tiptoed up to Deborah and found her bed covered in newspaper cuttings. She must have arrived unusually early today and made a start on her collage.
Irving was across the ward reading ‘Fatherland’ peacefully, and Olive was completing one of her word puzzles, scoring out diagonals and verticals. ‘My daughters love the portrait’, she beamed.
Michael greeted me stoically when I arrived on the ward. He was lying out exhausted after a poor night’s sleep. Keen to know how the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea Park had gone, I shared my iPad photos of the Imperial Health stand, where he could see his fine watercolour displayed on the wall. Phoebe arrived and handed over his portrait which we admired. Although tired, Michael was keen to continue his drawing and had brought a ruler to mark out the strong verticals. He worked hard for a good hour absorbed in the challenge and then lay back tired. ‘Let’s do more next week’, he smiled.
I caught up with Irving to ask if his wife had liked the portrait. ‘Very much so’, and then I asked if he’d read ‘A Tale of Light and Darkness’ by Amos Oz which I finished yesterday. The autobiography led to a long conversation about the history of Jerusalem.
Cheryl woke and we chatted about her feisty cats and my son who is spending an undergraduate year working in Santa Rosa, California, badly hit by recent fires. He was among the 20,000 evacuated in the middle of the night and he described the ash-filled dark red skies, the devastation, the acrid air and the extraordinary ‘can-do’ team spirit amongst the community keen to rebuild lives. His boss and office secretary had lost their homes. Cheryl reflected: ‘You never know what’s around the corner, do you?’ My son had arrived in August to take an office internship and is now clearing forests.