If ten, or even five years ago you anyone told me I would class my self as a writer I’d have laughed out loud. Oh yes I’ve always been capable of writing a letter but then I come from a generation who had to put pen to paper because I come from a time before the digital age.
I come from a time when you were taught first to learn the alphabet, then to read words. Once you could identify the letters then the teacher would teach you to form and write those letters, first with a pencil, then once she (or he) felt you were ready the teacher gave you permission to write with an ink pen. No, not a fountain pen, a “scratch” pen. A scratch pen was a development of the quill pen, you dipped it in the ink well, if you loaded the pen with too much ink then it flooded on to the piece work and you’d be throwing your work into the bin. However if you managed to write those words, you had the exciting task of using your blotting paper to quick dry your masterpiece.
Once you’d mastered the task of holding the correct amount of ink on your pen, then the teachers task was to impart the skills of “handwriting”., the skill of writing words on paper which were legible to others and I emphasise legible. I loved handwriting, it’s a form of art, to form circles coupled with lines, dots and squiggles into letters, then words your fellow humans and peers can understand is uplifting.
Then years later I met Julie and the art of composing a letter with words which conveyed feeling and love became a welcome task for a man who struggled to impart his feelings verbally. Julie and I used to write to each other all throughout our lives even though we knew each other inside out. I’d find little notes hidden in my lunchbox or tucked into my pocket. If more couples wrote to each other, even while in a relationship would it lower the divorce rate!? Possibly! A letter enabled me to tell Julie exactly how and what I felt, her final letter to me I opened about six weeks after her untimely death, her words bought me untold comfort.
After Julie’s passing I resolved to write our story, warts and all, honestly and with passion. I never quite knew how hard at times this project would be. Writers block, only can work out of the country, never get the time are all excuses I’ve used to try and convince myself I’ve not got the confidence to finish the book, until recently. Suddenly I seem to have had an epiphany! I’ve realised I need to put all of the words reeling around in a mess in my head into order and on paper. I’ve written so much, it’s been proof read and well received. I’ve tapped my keyboard until four in the morning and had to make myself retire to my bed only to find I’ve needed to jot down more words in my notebook. Obsessed? I guess so, there’s a sense of urgency because I’ve more books planned and so little time.
After writing all of the above though I think I owe my ability to write to the love of my life for she was literate, accomplished and published. I feel she has taken over a part of my being and whenever I write, Julie is there whispering in my ear. ?
The moral of this piece? Maybe the old ways are sometimes the best, don’t buy your children an expensive video game console, buy them a pencil and notepad, who knows what they’ll write but you’ll be very proud and they’ll be a lot calmer.
Thanks for reading as always ?
2016 started less than three months after Julie died after losing her battle with cancer. In January I made a trip out to Tenerife to stay with our long time friends, Linda and Pete. The trip was a welcome break from the intensity of caring for Julie, then watching her slip away, her once beautiful body racked and ruined by disease. Tenerife was my first time travelling abroad alone and it was a strange experience, sitting in Gatwick airport feeling alone amongst the throngs of other passengers, having a coffee without anyone to discuss the forthcoming trip with, just waiting for the boarding gate to be announced. Once in Tenerife, I was made to feel at home by my lovely friends and it was a welcome and pleasant distraction from the previous three years.
February arrived so Nathan, my son and I set about carrying on with our business, because without a doubt life has to carry on, doesn’t it? The sheer shock of losing someone so close is never far away though but you get up in the morning and get on with your life. You laugh and feel guilty, then some days well, you wish there aren’t going to be anymore days. That of course is selfish, because how would my children react if they were to lose their Dad so soon after their Mum?
March saw a visit to a medium with my friends Bev and Stuart, comforting? Yes, but possibly too soon! My mind was still in a turmoil and many things didn’t register at the time, since then? Well let’s just say the medium was spot on! March also saw a wedding, Pete and Linda tied the knot in Gibraltar then the party moved on to Tenerife. It was there I realised that I had taken a real emotional battering. My confidence had disappeared and usually a planner, I had to “wing it”. That was a difficult time.
Arriving back from Tenerife in early April I felt bruised, not in the physical sense but emotionally, my mind had been constantly spinning and I felt I’d let my two dear friends down. I coped by throwing myself back into work, then towards the end of April I had some more bad news. Angela, one of Julie’s closest cousins lost her husband to cancer! I’d only met Angela a couple of times but something compelled me to pen a letter to her, I did and felt much better for writing.
During May work as always was busy and weekends were busy too with family, one thing losing someone close teaches you is money is only secondary, it’s time that is the most valuable commodity. Unlike money, you never know when time is going to run out. So May was like most other months during my adult life, filled with as much time spending time with my family and grandchildren.
It was Julie’s first birthday without us on June 5th, she would’ve been 58 this year and the way she carried her age before she became ill she probably would only look about 45 had she still have been alive. We, as a family decided to have a meal together and a small intimate party, the weather was good so we carried on the party into the evening sat in the garden. Laughter and children filled the garden that day, just the way Julie liked it. Of course June also saw Brexit and the resignation of our Prime Minister. The “Brexit” vote made me realise and see some of the hatred and selfishness locked away inside people, I watched and was subjected to veiled comments and abuse as a leaver. I forgive all of those abusers because I know they are frightened and fear tends to bring out the worst in people.
July and August were a mixture of meals at my home for the family and visits to various museums, English Heritage and National Trust properties with my grandsons. Trust me, boys love cars, castles, cannons and dinosaurs! We made a visit to the Isle of Wight, firstly to Alum Bay, the less said about that the better, it’s a total rip off with run down attractions. Osborn House, however was a real treat, picnic in the grounds and a walk around Queen Victoria’s retreat, brilliant. We also made a trip to the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and were delighted to find The Mary Rose exhibition had been updated. Really we made loads of memories this summer, little things which everyone will remember but boy did we do some stuff!!
September of course, saw the first anniversary of Julie’s passing, difficult because that first year is full of “firsts”. We marked September 7th not by being morose but with a chilli, laughter and lighting candles in the evening. As September 2016 drew to a close, it was difficult to comprehend that a full year had passed since I lost the love of my life. Oh, and I bought a new car.
October? Well it was busy that’s for sure! Hannah’s birthday, work, just busy and then awaiting the clocks to go back and the darkness to draw in.
November started with a visit to my brothers house for an big ole’ family firework party on the fifth. Work, as it always does at this time of years ramps up, then tragedy, a phone call from Yvonne, the middle of my three sisters, my lovely brother-in-law, Steve had been killed, cycling home on his way back from work! Another family devastated! Nathan flew to the US for a holiday and thanks to a member of our staff, I ended up working for the following two weeks like a twenty year old!
December 2016. Steves funeral took place early this month then a week later Julie’s dad had a malignant tumour removed from his arm. Then a milestone, I went out socialising without my family for the first time in probably three years, up until that point I’d just not really wanted to be anywhere apart from home. Christmas decorations and tree were put up then a week before Christmas I was lucky enough to be invited to attend another wedding, this time it was Stuart and Bev tying the knot, lovely service in the wonderful Rhinefeild House Hotel in the heart of the New Forest.
On Christmas Day I got up at 6am to prepare a meal for Julie’s mum and dad who due to ill health were unable to leave their home, Leah, Hannah and Nathan delivered it along with Simon and the three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie?
Later that Christmas Day, another milestone, I cried for the first time since the birth of my son nearly 27 years ago. Oh I’d felt like it, but even on the day Julie died the tears just wouldn’t materialise. I guess all of my life had to be strong for someone? When the tears came I felt relieved and realised I was still human and miss Julie as much, if not more at these family occasions?.
2016 didn’t finish pushing up surprises, a happier surprise happened on December 31st. What was it? I’ll tell you about that one in due course. ?
So what did I learn during 2016? Well just when you think you’ve got life under control it throws a curve ball, then another, in fact so many there were times when I struggled to cope but cope I did. It’s not just me who has to cope though, everywhere I look there are people struggling to cope. I’m lucky though, I write it down and hope someone reads my words and hope the words bring comfort to at least one person who feels the desperation caused by loneliness..
So to anyone who reads this I send you my heartfelt best wishes for 2017, may all of your dreams come true.
As always, thanks for reading?
Failure and success, two totally different words but how do you interpret them? Some people think they’ve failed because financial goals haven’t been reached, others judge success by monetary or material means. Me? I see success as small goals reached, by the amount of response from others positive or negative, because at least someone’s been listening, right? I never judge or assume failure in anyone because I assume they’ve all tried their best and will carry on trying until they feel they’ve achieved. I feel whoever the person, whatever they do, if they’re happy in their own skin and can sleep at night then they have a right to feel they’ve succeeded.
One thing I’ve learned about people over the last sixty years is we’re all different. Some can address all the problems and challenges thrown at them by life, I’m one of those, or so I’m told. Others need to be reassured at every turn and twist.
I’m fortunate, I believe, I’ve succeeded in along with my late wife, Julie, in raising a family who all care for one another and are considerate to their fellow humans. I’ve succeeded in getting this far in life without making too many enemies, life’s too short for that! Oh, there are a few who would disagree but on the whole I’ve lived my life as a good man. I succeeded in my marriage by standing by my lovely wife who I’d been married to for thirty five years before the cancer snatched her away at fifty seven.
During one of the final conversations we had a couple of days before she died Julie told me “Kev, you’ve been a wonderful father and a lovely husband my darling”. I replied. “Well sweetie, I figured you did the richer for poorer bit so I did the in sickness and health” then “Look I know you’re struggling sweet, don’t hang around here for me” Julie replied, the brave lady she was. “My darling you’re going to have to tell me to go”. That’s exactly what happened two days later when Julie was struggling to stay with us, I looked at my three children and told them, “you need to tell your mum it’s o.k. to leave”. More or less as one they gently said. “Don’t worry Mum, we’ll look after Dad”. Julie took a final breath and gasped “I love you all”, then she was gone.
Going through that I wasn’t quite so sad, but I felt proud of Julie and pride in our children. So any time you feel you’re failing, read these humble words I’ve shared, look life in the eye and it will show you the way but never be afraid and see everything you do as a success…..
By the way, if you think there’s a couple of people missing from the photo above, Si was at work and Freddie wasn’t yet born. xxx
Thanks for reading 🙂
I can’t believe it was six months ago today the love of my life for forty years, Julie, died from cancer. Do I miss her? You bet I do, she’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to sleep. Only someone whose been through this would understand and I hope although against hope you won’t have to live through this experience, although unfortunately life dictates a good percentage of you will.
Luckily my family are all grown up, although I’m unsure whether this makes it harder or easier for them, my two lovely daughters, Leah and Hannah and my son Nathan have been and still are very supportive along with their respective partners, Simon, Leah’s husband, Matt, Hannah’s partner and the lovely Georgia, Nathan’s fiancée. These six, along with my three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie are the main focus of my life, as they too need support from time to time of course.
So what about me? Well I went to Tenerife in January to visit my long time friends, Linda and Peter, Julie and I had some great times with them and they’re the sort who no matter how much time between talking or seeing each other, we just pick up where we left off. I’m off to Gibraltar on March 27th to meet them and to be best man at their wedding on the 30th at The Rock Hotel 🙂 Then back to Tenerife for more celebrations, really looking forward to that trip! I love the island, I’m able to sit and write without disturbance and have been able to concentrate on my first novel, “Soulmates” which is, apparently, so I’m told, turning into a really good read!
In November I’m flying to Florida with Nathan, Georgia and her parents to look over the wedding venue with them ready for 2018, looking forward to that trip too. 🙂
I’ve learned changing my bedding and fighting the duvet cover every week is a much better workout than jogging. I’ve found I can deal with almost any problem now because life’s too short to tolerate most of the bureaucratic bullshit that confronts us all throughout our daily lives. I’ve also learned to say no whenever I feel I’m being taken advantage of.
I’ve found out I’ve high cholesterol, high blood pressure and may be diabetic which is quite strange really because I cook and eat healthily, and I’m always active. So armed with information, I eat more fruit, don’t take sugar in my coffee and only drink red wine generally at weekends. I’ve also cut out the medication which treated me for depression, (before I lost Julie and not as a result of). Do I feel better? I don’t know, what I do know though is now life has a certain clarity to it, the sort of clarity which makes you unafraid to forge ahead, not be coerced into doing things I don’t want to do just to please.
Are there things I miss apart from my wife? I miss travelling with her, her witty conversation, her wry humour, companionship, her undivided love.
The one thing I don’t miss? Julie and I were instrumental in setting up a comedy drama group twenty years ago, did they support her when she was ill, no. In fact I had to go to a meeting and explain to them how ill Julie was and still they expected us to go down and “help”, they expected me to go and build sets, even when she was having chemotherapy and dying. Well members of that drama group, I hope you all can live with yourselves, maybe now you believe just how ill she was! You know the beauty of not naming them is they know who they are, they have to live with themselves because when we resigned from the group due to Julie’s illness, we were never even offered a lifetime pass even though for many years Julie and I worked hard for the group, many times at financial cost to ourselves. In Julie’s words “Fuck ’em, they’re all up their own arses and have to live with themselves”
Being a widower (or a widow) I guess, sends you into a world of sometimes darkness, sometimes despair, loneliness at times when you miss the love of your life, but I think also a voyage of self discovery until you meet the love of your life once more xxxx
Thanks for reading 🙂
This picture of the four favourite women in my life was taken around June 15 2015. Julie along with Leah,Hannah and Nathan’s then girlfriend, now fiancé, Georgia were having a pre-party cocktail. It was less than two weeks after Julie had been given the news she had around three months to live, they all look happy???. So here I am sat in my office, contemplating wether or not to write this next piece. Well I’ve decided to share something personal with all of you but first let me tell you about a couple of instances which have occured during the last four weeks.
There had been a couple of times when I thought I caught a glimpse of Julie out of the corner of my eye, once when I’d cooked for the whole family on a Sunday. There have also been a number of times I have heard Julie call me. More recently early one morning, (I tend to get up around 5-45) I realised my left arm was out from under the duvet, not only that but I could feel the warmth of someone holding my hand I looked up and there was Julie, she smiled then faded away. I knew it was her because when holding her hand her’s was so small, mine folded around it like a glove. This morning, I awoke, as usual before my alarm, I was aware of the weight of someone in the bed next to me! I turned and could feel the person leaving the bed, “thank you Julie” I said out loud.
One more example, I have always had the habit of falling asleep with my spectacles on, Julie would always get out of bed and take them off then fold them up and place them on the bedside table. The other morning, I found my specs at the bottom of the bed, on what was Julie’s side, the corner of the duvet had been turned neatly back and there were my glasses, folded!??
Now I’m pretty sure many of you are out there thinking, “he’s off his rocker!” but no this is not the case. When I was a child I used to see people that the rest of my couldn’t see. I was credited with an over active imagination by my parents. Even when I was extreemly ill with pnumonia when I was around six years old and I had what I now know was a near death experience, watching my mum sitting on the end of my bed, stroking my forehead, floating way up high while connected to my body with a sort of iridescent cord. I told my mother the story, she smiled and said “did you darling?”. I don’t think she really believed me.?
So what’s so personal about all of the above? Well over the last 11 weeks, I seem to have undegone a change, my mind seems once again to be more receptive to all what is happening in the non-physical world. I think, no I’m pretty sure, the stress of looking after Julie over a period of time and running a business and home somehow has been lifted. Our home is clean and tidy, I’ve swapped the flowery duvet covers and bed linen for some which are more masculine and more to my taste. All of those houshold “chores” which were a drag along with everything else I had going on are now more of a diversion. Cooking is once again not something which has to be done, but more of the joy it used to be to me.?
Although I’m a widower, I feel Julie is still here and I like to think she’s the one who has promted me to get all the Christmas cards written early, order the Turkey (three weeks ago) do all the Christmas shopping and get the presents wrapped before the end of November. This year I’m cooking Christmas dinner for twelve including the grandsons, I’m sure Julie will be in the kitchen trying to direct the operation!??
Thanks for reading ?
One sunny but chilly November the first in 1980 a young twenty four year old me and the love of my life who was twenty two at the time entered into a contract which was to last for just under thirty five years.
When we exchanged our wedding vows, neither of us realised how significant they would be, “for richer or poorer”, done that. “For better or worse”, we both realised during the first couple of years life was not going to be the romantic bed of roses you see on the movies. More a continual learning curve which, when two people “click” as we had done five years previously, means you learn to love and nurture each other, support each other in a way which only soul mates can. “In sickness and health”. Any of you who have read my blogs in “Julie’s Journey” know how that phrase became so significant. It wasn’t a one way street though, Julie nursed me back to health during two severe bouts of pneumonia.
To survive marriage for any length of time, you give and take, learn to be selfless and learn to talk to each other, about anything and everything. Oh, and apologise, even if you are convinced you’re right, makes for a much easier? No, smoother relationship ??.
Up until Julie died on September 7th, discounting the three years she was ill, we had a lovely life together, ups and downs, three lovely children and three grandsons. During the final few months she set small goals, sometimes just days in advance, sometimes months, our wedding anniversary was one of them.?
Well Julie my darling, we never quite made this one eh? Never mind, I still see you like this. ❤️❤️❤️❤️. Thanks for reading?