On Christmas Eve I was out for a walk. It was a wet morning in a little park up above the library near where I live. At the top of the hill I noticed two women standing in front of a bench. There was something immediately different in how they stood. They looked very contained. As I passed them, I noticed the bench had been changed and there was a plaque on it. At some point in the previous day or so this new memorial bench had replaced an older, tired one.
My dog went sniffing around.
The bench was for a man called Joe Hoy. He was 67 when he died.
One of the women was Joe’s wife. She told me that it had taken a year to get the bench in place. The council had been helpful, she said, but there were a lot of hoops to get through.
Joe had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was just 60. Walking in the park had been calming for him as the fog of dementia fell. It was familiar. The family wanted a place where the grandchildren could feel their grandfather was near.
It is a great view from up there. You can see the land spread westward, beyond Paisley. On a clear day you feel you could reach out and touch the hills on Arran; switching north the Trossachs come into view. It’s not hard to understand why Joe Hoy liked that spot.