"old couple" wallpaper holding hands

The gentle touch – by Jan Forster

My daughter and I were visiting my elderly mother at her nursing home.

We went into the lounge where the residents were sitting in a semicircle facing the TV which was on but which nobody was watching.

As usual my mother beamed as she saw us draw up two chairs to sit in front of her. Conversation was difficult because my mother had no short-term memory but it didn’t seem to matter. About half way through our visit, the frail looking lady sitting next to my mother began to weep silently. Tears poured down her face and I’m ashamed to say I froze, not knowing what to say or do.

My mother, who has dementia, knew exactly what to do. She took hold of her neighbour’s hand and stroked it gently with her thumb all the time looking with great concern into her face until slowly the crying ended.

I was deeply moved, upset and worried about the reasons for the distress and put to shame by my mother whose immediate reaction was deeply humane.

No words were exchanged between them, there was no need.

I left feeling I’d been taught a valuable lesson.


by Jan Forster, Cardiff (source: The Guardian)



  1. This is the same when I stare into the trucks of crying cattle, the overwhelming not knowing what to do. Surely dear Kindness Blogger, to put this compassion on an equal footing can it not be any easier, that to grant the very life of another sentient being, just by everyone changing what we all eat to vegan? It has to be the easiest way to personify the saying “Do your best and when you know better do that”.


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