“Time hath his revolutions: there must be a period and an end to all temporal things—finis rerum—an end of names and dignities, and whatsoever is terrene;—and why not of De Vere?—for where is Bohun? Where is Mowbray? Where is Mortimer? Nay, which is more, and most of all, where is Plantagenet?”
Sir Ranulph Crewe as Lord Chief Justice
Many years ago, I read this quote in a book of names and it has haunted me since.
The Telegraph’s Cristina Odone writes:
“To an elderly and frail patient, the stranger who addresses them as a close friend sounds invasive and insulting. They are erasing that final vestige of autonomy that the elderly patient clings to. I remember my late mother, during one of her many hospital stays, pleading with a nurse to address her as ‘Mrs Odone’. Nothing she said budged staff: nurses and some consultants insisted on calling her ‘Ulla’ – which, being a Swedish name, they mangled every time. In the end, like so many others in a similar condition, she gave in and let them do it their way. Everyone knows that making yourself unpopular with your hospital carers can prove a fatal mistake.”
My very elderly grandfather was in hospital on his deathbed and nurses were addressing him as “Ross”, a nickname derived from his middle name. I was 15 at the time and even I could see that this was not right. He was 89 years old, a World War II veteran, a retired senior executive, a retired charity chairman and a lay preacher who retired after 40 years of unpaid service. In his final days, a nurse who he did not know, who was decades younger, who he may have never met while conscious was calling him by a name even I as his grandson could not use.
Even though I imagine this is merely what she was trained to do, in an abstract way, it felt like she was taking advantage of the situation. After all, if the situation were different and he were on his feet and well, it is hard to imagine her being so presumptuous.