It sounded pretty inconsequential,
That phrase: Gone to Westhaven
But I dreaded it.
Dreaded hearing the name
That preceded it.
-Gone to the shops.
-Gone to the garden.
No,  it wasn’t the same
Gone to Westhaven
Was very consequential:
The other inevitable to Gone.
Only marginally better,
A stone’s throw to Gone.

One day they said:
Hilda’s gone to Westhaven,
When I turned up minutes from school
To make the tea and wash the pots.
It hit hard enough to commit it
To my teenage diary,
Amongst that which really was  Inconsequential-
Though not at the time.

I remember many of them.
Those ends-of-the-line lives,
Smiles and shuffles
In their paisley print pyjamas.
Katie with her cat,
Molly… everyone loved Molly,
Violet, who shared my birthday,
But never had a visitor.
I took flowers the day I turned 18
90 would be celebrated too.
Tom, Basil, there weren’t many men…
I remember them at their tables,
As I poured their tea.
Chatting over roast beef,
They eeked out the last of their lives,
Like the last drops from the stainless steel pot,
Keeping it hot with a knitted cozy.
Rose, with a smile for everyone,
And another Violet always in the sun lounge.
I forget who it was who had the canary.
I wish I could remember her name,
The one who signed herself in.
I’ve cared for my parents, she said,
I won’t let my children do the same.
Pride and love her legacy gifting their freedom.
She may have been the lady
Who bought Easter Eggs for everyone,
Even the school girls who came to make the tea.

They’ve all gone now.
I don’t know if they departed via Westhaven,
With its locked doors,  liquidised meals
And echoes of sobs and screams
Which often crowded the corridor.
They did their best there.
For those who had to go,
On their way to Gone.

But it still tore me more than a bit,
At 18, and still now remembering,
The day I heard those words
Hilda’s gone to Westhaven.

Author: Lowrey E. Gray

Usually found with a cup of tea, a pet or a book, I am most content with life's humble gifts. A catch up with friends and home baked cakes is my idea of bliss. My heart beats where my family are close but my soul will always be in that place between sunset and sunrise. 💚

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