It’s still very fresh in my mind, Mothers Day 2004, although that year it was on March 21st. The picture of mum and dad was taken the day I got married to Julie in 1980, she was forty five at the at the time. Mum was a strong woman, she had to be, by the time she was thirty five she was mother to seven children!
I had a panicked call from my Dad at 7am asking me to get to their house quickly. I arrived within three or four minutes, mum was lying on the sitting room floor, dad, shaking, on the phone trying to get through to a doctor. I took the phone and phoned 999, explained my mother was seriously ill and I was administering CPR.
She had already gone by the time I walked in through the front door, I knew just by looking at her but I had to try for dads sake, he was in a complete panic. The paramedics arrived very quickly and took over then after about ten minutes confirmed what I already knew. I went into the kitchen and broke the news to dad, all he could say was “Oh Annie, Annie what am I going to do without you, over and over.
I spent the next half an hour phoning my three brothers and three sisters because dad was in a state of shock, fortunately they all arrived within an hour and before the certifying doctor. Although they were all distraught, they all went in and sat with mum and said their goodbyes.
Now why am I telling you this sad story on this happy, sunny, Mother’s Day? Not long before the anuarism took her we had a conversation, when I die Kev she told me, I’ll be wearing my gardening clothes, the sun will be shining and flowers will be out in my garden. That’s exactly how it happened.
I’ve never shad a tear for my mum because she knew she was going to see her mum and her grannie and grandad who she idolised, on reflection, I now know she had to share with someone that she was going to leave. Mum may have believed in God, I don’t really know, except there was a stage in my early life she told everyone I was going to be a vicar!
What I do know is she, along with my Nan and dad met Julie when she passed and I know that because Julie has told me!
As sad as it may seem now, even though our wives, husbands, parents or other loved ones may not still be around in this physical world , take heart and advice from an old spirit, if you need their help at any time just ask. I know I do and I know they oblige.
Thanks for reading?
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 ?
When our youngest daughter Hannah was born in 1985, I thought our family was complete. Leah our eldest doted on her and as they grew and played together I was the proud Father of two very pretty little girls while Julie was the hard pressed mum who had her patience tested as they grew older. Then on February 12th 1989 my niece, Clare was born, Julie and I went to see my brother, Nigel and sister in law Barbara and to meet Clare.
When we arrived home, Julie was quiet. In fact Julie was exceptionally quiet, she usually had a lot to say after spending a day with my family. Once the girls were in bed I looked at her because I had an idea what was going on in her pretty little head. “You want another one don’t you?” I questioned “Yes I’d love another, but do you mind? After all you’re the one who has to go out and earn the money my darling” came the reply. How could I resist the longing look in those beautiful brown eyes?
So on February 27th in the midst of a storm at Blackbrook Hospital in Fareham, in the middle of the night Julie gave birth to an 8lb bouncing baby boy and we named him Nathan Thomas. If ever a child was conceived and born out of love it was that little boy, not that our daughters weren’t but Julie had this idea that three children were better than two! Five days later Nathan and Julie came home and from that day on our son was smothered with love.
Leah and Hannah loved the idea that they had a real live doll to change and feed, in fact I think Julie was glad of the help. In the coming years she’d often remark what an easy baby Nathan had been. When Nathan started crawling, then walking, as soon as I came home from work and sat on the sofa he’d be on my lap giving me a hug. In fact I too was smothered with love by all of my family and I enjoyed every minute. We never had much money back then but walking down the beach, going for picnics seemed to suffice and our children remained close as they were growing up, always looking out for one another. Of course as Leah and Hannah grew up and became teenagers they became more independent and started leading their own lives but they were always there for their brother.
Julie and I had always bought our family up to be kind to each other, polite to all and to not fight, each other or anyone else. Of course this was an almost impossible task but they listened it seemed. One day Nathan came home from school and said he’d been bullied for some time. As a parent and any of you will know who are parents, my initial reaction was anger towards this bully. We sat down and talked about this problem in the evening Julie and I. Julie’s solution to the problem was to go and talk to the head teacher at the school but as I pointed out to her, I felt this would make Nathan a target so we agreed I would talk to Nathan.
Nathan was never a tall boy, but he’s always been physically strong so after he relayed the various bullying incidents to me I gave him my opinion. “You know the thing with bullies son, they pick on you because they think because you’re polite and have manners you’re weak. You and I know that’s not the case and I’m afraid sometimes you have to fight fire with fire” I explained. “You mean I’ve got to fight him Dad but I’ll get hurt!” Nathan replied. “You’re not made of glass son and yes it might hurt but believe me it’s the only way to stop the bullying. Remember though there’s no such thing as play fighting so make it count and know when to stop!”
A few days later I was in the garden and Nathan came to me and said “You were right Dad I’m not made of glass”. That’s all he said, no elaboration or bragging. I was a proud father that day.
As time went on my son would come to work with me from time to time, during school holidays and just to earn a bit of pocket money. Even at fourteen or fifteen I used to watch the way he talked to my clients, he always shook their hands when he was introduced and answered when he was talked to. Many times the clients complimented me on how polite my son was and I relayed this to Julie. “Where do you think he gets that from Kev?” She asked ” You I suppose, you’re the educated one” I replied. ” Don’t be daft, he gets it from you. He watches you my sweet, you’re his Dad and his role model!” You know I’d never thought about any of this at all deliberately but it was then I realised what a great responsibility it was to be a parent and I was closing in on fifty years old by then. How easy it would have been to have got it wrong, how different things could have been! I remember a feeling of relief, thank god I had Julie by my side!
Julie and were on holiday in Gran Canaria when we got the call. We had watched the Gran Villa del Conde hotel being built over previous visits and I promised her when it opened we’d stay there, we weren’t disappointed. Nathan had just finished college and had met an Australian girl. We’d met Natalie a couple of times and she seemed nice enough. “Dad, how do I go about getting a visa to Australia? I’ve sorted out my passport” he asked. “I’ve no idea my son, ask your mum, she knows about these things” I passed the phone to Julie and she walked away talking to Nathan.
When Julie returned I asked her what was going on and she explained our son, who had always seemed to be a home boy had been invited to go to Australia by Natalie and he seemed determined to go. “Well he is eighteen and it’ll be good for him to see somewhere else I suppose” I thought out loud, not believing for a minute he’d go. Nathan had a job in a factory packing surgical needles and he’d always been a saver so I assumed if he did go he’d have the financial side covered.
About a week later we returned home and Nathan told us he’d sorted his visa, a two year working visa. So he was going then? “I’m flying out in ten days time!” He explained. I saw the look on Julie’s face, the look of worry only a mother can carry. “I’m going to stay with Natalie’s mother in their house in Perth” he continued “And find a job when I’m there”. Julie of course had many questions. “But who are these people? We don’t know them! How do we know you’re going to be alright?” “Mum, I’ll be fine, Natalie knows places where I can get a job. Anyway I think my chances of getting a job out there are better than here, don’t worry!”.
Once alone, I tried to allay Julie’s mind, telling her he was a man now and could make his own decisions, then explaining he needed to spread his wings and we should be supportive. Julie understood all of this of course but it didn’t make things any easier. So there it was, after a family get together, ten days later we took Nathan to Heathrow Airport and sat with him for three hours before he boarded a Boeing 747 bound for Perth. Did I detect a flicker of regret in his eyes as he went through into the departure lounge? Julie cried all the way back from the airport, she was inconsolable but we had another family crisis to deal with once we returned, you’ll read about that in my book though.
Every night Julie cried herself to sleep for a month, it was hard. We kept in contact with Nathan through email and he told us he was working driving a truck delivering something or another so we were relieved. Then a phone call. “Dad, can you send me some money? I need to find somewhere to live! Natalie’s fallen out with her mother and her boyfriend and we’ve nowhere to go!” “So what are you going to do son? I asked him. “Buy a tent until we can find somewhere to rent, just need somewhere for a couple of weeks”. “Ok, ok, tell me what to do and I’ll get you some money over”. Nathan told me what to do and what office to transfer the money to and I did straight away.
I have to say there is much more to the story but that’s for another time. Needless to say I was proud of Nathan for sorting the problem out and then happier when he told me Natalie and him had found a place to live. We were able to Skype by then, which was better I suppose, then one day Leah dropped another bombshell. Nathan was planning to get married. ” You can’t tell him I’ve told you dad” she said “He’ll never forgive me!” Julie of course was upset and angry. “What do you think about this then Kev?” She exploded. “I think Julie I’m not going to lose my son and the way I see it he knows his own mind and they may be young and if it works then so be it and if it doesn’t well it’s a tough learning curve for both of them!” “Well, I’m waiting for Nathan to tell me himself, I’m not accepting that news second-hand!” Julie stated with both anger and disappointment in her voice.
Nathan did tell Julie and she accepted the fact then a couple of months later we found ourselves on a plane bound for Perth along with Julie’s mum and dad. Julie and I had arranged to meet Nathan and his future wife in the reception of our hotel prior to going for a meal to meet Natalie’s mother. Nathan entered the reception and although I was so happy to see my son for the first time in well over a year, I was shocked by the change. The slightly shy teenager who Julie and I had seen off at Heathrow had become a determined confident man but they both seemed happy together so who was I to judge? After all our love for our children had always been unconditional. So we went for the meal, Nathan’s future mother-in-law seemed very flighty but when I asked her how she felt about the wedding told me she though Nathan was a lovely hard working man and she gave her blessing. Of course in that May of 2009 when asked by Nathan if we’d help with the wedding preparations Julie and I readily agreed, then on the Saturday in Kings Park the wedding promises were made in a beautiful setting and all seemed good. Nathan by this time had made many friends and was working for a finance company. His boss had nothing but praise for him and his skills. Life seemed good. During our stay, Nathan and Natalie made us welcome and showed us around Perth and introduced us to their friends, Julie and I both agreed this was certainly the life for a young couple. The time passed all too quickly and soon after many more tears, we returned to the UK to carry on life as we knew it!
Christmas Day 2009 where was I at 5.30 in the morning? Waiting for Nathan to come through the arrivals gate at Heathrow! My son-in-law Simon had insisted on driving up with me. Nathan landed back in the UK with 6cents, his marriage had collapsed, his wife had taken everything, the dream was over.
It was a sad time, the confident man Julie and I had left in Australia was now a darker soul, full of cynicism, mistrust and anger. Off course he was welcomed back with open arms by Leah, Hannah, Simon and us, but how do you help your son when you can see he’s crushed? We just loved him and over the next few months coaxed him back to life, encouraged him to live his life. Of course there were times I could see he was hurting and that hurt not only me but his sisters and mother.
For his part, Nathan built and sold two cars over the next couple of years while learning his trade from me. I had forgotten just how quickly he learned and how intelligent he was, at times I found it difficult to keep up with his thirst for knowledge. Nathan met his now fiancée Georgia in 2012, the change in him was apparent within weeks, he became a much happier and settled person, I’m pleased to say.
Everything in your life happens for a reason though and Nathan’s return happened for a reason. When Julie was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 Nathan came into his own. The girls did their part too of course. Leah ferried us to and from the railway station every time we had to go to London to The Royal Marsden Hospital and that was frequently. Hannah left work early once a week to spend time with her mum, then called in as often as she could. Nathan though lived at home and saw Julie’s suffering on a daily basis, tending to his mum at the times when we had to wait for an ambulance, watching his mum in intense pain but never panicking. Nathan took the reigns of the business during that most difficult time of my life, working hard and troubling me only when he needed a second opinion.
Now as we approach Nathan’s 27th birthday on the 27th of February I want to tell you what’s prompted me to pay tribute to this man who has made my life so much easier over the last months. Last Thursday he did a little thing which meant so much to me, he called me upstairs and said “Dad, shall we go out for dinner tonight? I’ll pay!” That was the first time we’d been out for a meal together since Julie died and I really enjoyed it.
So my son, I’ve watched you grow and learn, I may even have changed your nappies once or twice, been there when you’ve been hurt, seen you at your worst but I couldn’t wish for a more hard working, supportive friend and I wish you all the luck you deserve as you and Georgia look forward to starting a life together in your own home some time this year.
You’ve been through a lot Nathan in your first twenty seven years but that is what shapes you as a man and you couldn’t have made me more proud!
I start to write this piece with some caution, not because I’m afraid to voice my views but because everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs and as someone once said, “you can please all of the people some of the time but you’ll never please all of the people all of the time!” A reader of these pages contacted and said I have strong political views but what were my opinions and thoughts on God, the creator? So here goes.
When I was growing up my parents had opposing outlooks on religion, my mother was a church attending believer, while my dad thought the whole idea a waste of time. When my mother insisted we attended church and then Sunday school dad did his level best to dissuade her, of course he lost the argument and off we went every Sunday morning to attend St. Thomas on the Bourne church. Bearing in mind, the we was mum, me and my brother Nigel. The other five of the seven children were either too young or not yet born. So for one year we walked the the mile or so up the lane every Sunday, attended church, then walked back again for lunch and then later in the afternoon, tea. That’ll be a real tea, sandwiches and cakes, all sat at the family dining table.
During that year mum made the decision, or had been planning it for some time, one of her sons was to become a vicar and as her eldest son, that task was going to fall on me! My early years were a mixture of mum telling me not to fight and to “turn the other cheek” and my dad telling me “If someone picks on you, hit first and ask questions later!” Of course this caused heated discussions between my parents! Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, my dad’s business was expanding and he needed the help of his eldest son so, at the age of nine I was seconded to work on various building sites each weekend for the princely sum of two shillings and sixpence, that’s twelve and a half pence in today’s money, for two days work! Not every weekend of course but most. So growing up in that environment surrounded by a bunch of swearing, uncouth blokes on a building site sort of removed any thought of religion or church going from my mind. There’s a lot more to this story but to get the rest of it you’ll have to wait for my book.
Anyway, grow up I did and in 1975 I met my wife and love of my life, Julie. We married in St Andrews Church in Farnham, Surrey in 1980 and so life began. Over the coming years Julie had a need for explanation and she gradually explored various religions, she looked at Catholicism, she read about the Hindu, Muslim and Buddist faiths then for no apparent reason only known to her she decided to go and attend our local church, then attend classes to study to be confirmed. Did I feel the need for that explanation? No, I’ve always known “things.” For many years I had experiences which I didn’t really understand at the time but at the same time I was never frightened. I’ll explain later.
So Julie completed her journey at that time and after quite a few attendances at the local church at her side, after she received her confirmation back into the Christian faith, I was invited to do the same, I was about 38 at the time.
I duly went along to the first meeting at the vicarage and the vicar asked me a question. “So do you consider yourself a Christian Kevin?” “A Christian? Well I guess so” I replied. “So what gives you the right to think that Kevin?”and then before I could reply “After all we don’t see you in Church do we?” Red Rag to a Bull Time…. “Well no you don’t because Sunday is a family day for me, and believe you me, my time with my family is much more important than spending a couple of hours in a draughty old building with people I don’t know.” He went to speak but I held my hand up and continued. “I’ve learned in my life that the Church is one of the wealthiest organisations in the world and at times one of the most bigoted, towards each other and other faiths. So that said I have a set of rules I live by.” “Really?” came the vicars surprised interjection. “Please share with the rest of us” Did I detect a smirk? No matter, I answered him as honestly and directly as I could without insulting him. “Reverend, I figure that if someone needs help, If I can, I will. I took my marriage vows very seriously and I’ve always been faithful, tolerant, worked hard and looked after my wife and children. You know? The way I see it you can call me whatever you like but I’ve never done any person a deliberate bad turn.” There were a few sharp intakes of breath from around the room. I continued. “Now if helping people, looking after my family first and not being generally nasty doesn’t make me a Christian then I’ve no room for your God in my life!” With that I slipped my coat back on and let myself out. I’ve never been back in any place of “worship” to worship since. I’ve attended the obligatory weddings and funerals, but never to worship.
I told you earlier I’d explain more about my experiences, some more odd than others. From an early age I have seen things most people can’t see, not all the time but certainly on many occasions. I’ve had experiences which at the time seem odd, then suddenly have felt enlightened, not in a religious way but more of a “ah I remember!” Get it?
Julie did her “bit” with the church then over a period of time she became more open and receptive to other ideas, some from Hindu, others from the Muslim faith, more still from Buddhism, she never practised any of them but one day some twenty years ago we sat and talked and talked, just us. By the time we had finished talking we knew we had been on this earth many times.
Indeed since then I’ve been told by many people I’m an “old spirit.” This makes sense because I’ve left my body when seriously ill, I’ve seen people when nobody’s there, I’ve been given messages which I’ve passed on, oh and before you ask I’ve never taken a drug in my life except whatever the doctor has prescribed. The most important thing is though, I know, yes I know and have known since I was a child that despite all of the hell we humans keep putting each other through, some of us have to keep coming back to try and fix it. After all even the worst and most evil dictators throughout history thought “God” was on their side in one form or another.
So to answer the question I was originally asked. “What do I feel about our Creator?” If his/her name’s Allah, Buddha, God, these are only names that have been given by man. Hindu beliefs are probably closest because they encompass the universe. I’ve certainly never had religion, because wars are fought in the name of “religion”. Religion is an excuse for power and control.
Through those dark days during the last few months of Julie’s life we talked about what we knew and that gave her the confidence to face the pain and the final days. Do you know what? She’s always here when I need help. I’ll finish the book and you can read about it.
There is much much more to be said on this a topic which science cannot explain but in the meantime I’ll leave the final word to my grandmother Elsie who died from cancer about 16 years ago. I used to visit her every other day whilst she was in hospital. I visited her on the Sunday before she died and at leaving time I gave her a cuddle and told her I’d see her on Tuesday. Her reply? “No, no point in coming over Tuesday ducky, you’ve a long way to drive.” “Don’t be silly Nan it’s not a problem” She smiled then on Tuesday she died…..
Thank you so much for reading. Leave a comment below. X
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
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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
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This is a fairly new village named Abedas, one of the quietest, peaceful places I’ve been to over the past few days. Overlooked by an old leper colony, it’s residents are mainly Spanish but like most villages there are some German, Dutch and English ex pats. Abedas (pronounced Abedath) is set in a little bay about half an hours drive east along the coast from Tenerife airport. I’m pretty sure this is where I’m going to buy a property because I felt immediately at home, almost as if Julie was whispering in my ear, telling me to settle here and write. Peter, Linda and I had an excellent tapas lunch consisting of tuna, prawns, octopus, peppers and salad along with the obligatory beers and wine, except Pete, “the apple juice king”???.
After leaving Abedas we turned back westward to the little fishing village of Tajao, which reminds me a little of Polperro in Cornwall where I spent some of my childhood, busy but gently going about it’s business during peak times. Surrounded by steep hills, Tajao is made up of two small bays, one for the port and the other a stony but beautiful beach.
There are a few restaurants, all very busy even at this time of the year, all serving an array of dishes, the best of course being the locally caught fish which are usually displayed proudly by the the establishment owners in cold cabinets. No microwave meals here! U.K. Restaurants take note! ???. Of course we even found time for Linda and Matilda to have a paddle.
I took the photo on the left in anticipation that Matilda might get a little over zealous and pull Linda into the sea!??? Never happened though and Matilda decided she would take one final gaze at the sea before we set off back home to Valle San Lorrenzo. What a lovely well behaved dog she is, that of course is a testament to the love she receives from Linda and Pete!
Anyone who knows Linda will know she is a fantastic cook, she quickly put together a delicious curry at the apartment in the evening before suggesting Peter and I took a trip up to a local bar. Of course we obliged and several drinks later returned home…..for a few more.
About four in the morning I heard my door open, Pete stumbled into my room. “Are you ok bud?” I asked. “Aye fine lad” was the reply, he then stumbled around the room and climbed into bed with me! “What the f..k” I think, and shot out of bed faster than a Trident missile on its way to Russia! I went to the lounge and decide to sleep on the couch. Linda obviously heard me get up and came in. “Are you ok?”asks Linda ” He’s in my bloody bed!” was my answer. She then went into overdrive, swiftly removing the still drunk intruder from my sleeping quarters! ?. ??????
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Arriving at Tenerife airport to see my longtime friends Peter, Linda and Matilda, their new baby has been the highlight of the last very dark months. Julie and I would have liked to have come back sooner but of course that was never to be.
Thursday was a day of conversation, wine and catching up, it’s a rare thing in life when after not seeing each other for so many years, you’re able to just pick up where you left off. Pete, being the straight talking Yorkshire man he is greeted me with “bloody hell Acky you’ve put on some weight!” “Mate, I’m back to the weight I was when I got married” I laughed in reply before proceeding to take the Micky out of his new haircut. Linda unfortunately has laryngitis, which of course is not so good, except for Pete ??. She seems to be ok but I think she is suffering more than she is letting on, all in all though they both seem pretty good and the Canarian lifestyle definitely agrees with them. ?
Julie and I had planned to live in the canaries when we finally stopped work. The only selfish dream we had was to move out here and merge with the cosmopolitan, less violent population and live our days out. Julie, my darling, visiting our friends, has given me new resolve to live out our dream here albeit without you in body, I know you’ll be by my side all the way whatever I decide.
My talents are varied and plentiful, so if I can rebuild my life on this beautiful island, while writing my long planned novel I shall do just that. The flowers are always in bloom, the people friendly and the sun shines most of the time. If I can’t produce a written piece under these circumstances then I probably never will……????
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