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Visiting Agatha

I was an untrained amateur leading a self‐ help group for the mentally ill. Statistics were grim: in my first five months as leader, six people were hospitalized and two died. After that I stopped counting. The hospital was just a few blocks from my office, and I spent lunch hours visiting group members, armed only with friendly caring against an illness too often deadly. Group members loved Agatha, a beautiful old woman, hair carefully coiffed, whose body English declared silently, “Love me, but don’t come near me.” Her eyes intently followed our conversation from speaker to speaker🔒

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Mariellen O. Gilpin is a member of Urbana-Champaign (Ill.) Meeting. This article recounts an experience she had 20 years ago. She didn't cry then—the pain was too deep for tears—but she did cry one night when instead of sleeping she finally committed it to words.


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