Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Sadness

I am pleased to report that nothing of any apocalyptic nature happened yesterday. I wasn't expecting anything anyway, to be honest and it would have been a crying shame to have wasted the first hot day of the summer being basted by imps from Hades. I did watch the bulk of "Kelly's Heroes" again and was largely disappointed because I remember watching it while at secondary school a generation and a half ago and being awed by Donald Sutherland's masterfully comic performance. On last night's evidence this appeared to consist of going "Baaaybeee". How impressionable we were. His "Huuuurghhhhhhhhhhh" in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" had more dramatic presence, dont you think?

Something a little unusual did happen the day before though. 3 years ago Sharon spent a long time in hospital being very ill, as one tends to do. While in there she was befriended by one of the volunteers, a charming old chap in his mid-80s called Bill who used to push the tea trolley around. She couldn't drink or eat and she was extremely depressed because she'd just had her intestines removed (don't smoke, kids). Yet, every day he used to go and sit with her and chat, keeping her company and cheering her up immensely. If truth be told, he was a little bit of an old roué, deliberately seeking out and making the most of the company of women half his age. He missed his recently departed wife of 60 odd years and I think his "ladies" and his flirting with them kept him young. He became a friend of the family and in September 2004 he even invited us to stay in his sheltered housing for a couple of days, treating us to a night at the theatre in Altrincham (Kafka's Dick, which he didn't really understand!) and a couple of very nice meals. He drove us everywhere in his brand new Micra, of which he was inordinately proud, although I suspect it wasn't quite racy enough for him really (he was no slouch at the lights). He was a perfect host and he revelled in it, too. He was occasionally an inpatient in our local hospital himself even though he was nearer to others; this was at the insistence of one of the specialists there, partly we suspected because he was so highly thought of there this was the ward's way of repaying its gratitude for all the work he'd put in towards patient morale.

Monday morning I awoke after having a dream conversation with Bill. In the dream he was called Alan but I knew who it was really. He was calling me to tell me he was ready to be picked up from hospital. This happened in real life once because Bill had mistakenly given the ward our number as first contacts and they called us to arrange his lift home. We didn't even know he was in at the time so it was a double surprise and in the dream I told him again that we didn't know he was in hospital and that next time could he warn us! In real life, we were due to visit the hospital anyway later that day as our neighbour, and one of Sharon's oldest friends, is in there. As she was on the same ward as Sharon and Bill were on, I thought I would ask after him. I found a familiar nurse who knew Sharon from 3 years back and she told me that sadly Bill had passed way the previous November and we got upset.

Maybe my dream was my subconscious suspecting the worst, or even the inevitable, but I'm of fanciful bent on occasion and sometimes favour the metaphysical explanation. Was the dream planted by forces unknown or was it the result of eating that large slice of Zimbabwean cheddar the night before? We had suspected the worst as we never received a Christmas card last year but there is a terrible thing that stops one from finding out these things on one's own initiative for fear of discovering bad news and as a whole, we prefer to be told bad news than discover it ourselves on the off-chance. Bill kept an address book by the phone on his tallboy and I know we were in it because I'd made sure, so we were more than a little upset that his relatives had not had the common sense to contact everyone in there. It doesn't take much, does it.

9 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Sharon J said...

I'm actually quite annoyed that his daughters didn't take the trouble to let us know, especially as one of them knew of us. I honestly think she thought we were will-chasers.

Oh God... I've gone and got myself upset again now!

10:49 am  
Blogger lucien de la peste said...

I did watch the bulk of "Kelly's Heroes" again and was largely disappointed because I remember watching it while at secondary school a generation and a half ago and being awed by Donald Sutherland's masterfully comic performance. On last night's evidence this appeared to consist of going "Baaaybeee".

Don't bring me any of those negative waves early in the morning, man!

4:46 pm  
Blogger Richard Seamon said...

Wasn't there a line about "catching some zzzzs"? As I said, I didn't manage to see all of it again.

11:55 pm  
Blogger Carmenzta said...

Guys, sorry that your sweet friend passed. I sometimes have a weakness for that "metaphysical thing" too. If you think about it, why would someone stop loving you or stop trying to contact you just because they went to another plane? The relatives should have contacted you, but there is no explaining human nature most of the time...

3:32 pm  
Blogger tom909 said...

Sweet friend - sorry.
Just got to put in one for the relatives here. My sweet mum in law who lived with us for 20 years died a couple of months ago and we rang round and told people. Since then we have had three letters to Ginny from people we didn't tell, all who thought she is still alive. So hands up from me on this one.

8:45 am  
Blogger Richard Seamon said...

The problem with Bill is that because he befriended people he often befriended the wrong kind of people. I'm sure his relatives must have thought when they met Sharon and myself that we were maybe just another couple of gold diggers, not people genuinely grateful for the kindness he showed Sharon when was very poorly.

10:19 am  
Blogger tom909 said...

I know what you mean Richard. I know a girl who has made friends with an old man and she has had thousands off him. Anytime she wants something she's off up to see him and he gets his cheque book out.

11:42 am  
Blogger Sharon J said...

I know how difficult it can be to contact everybody, Tom, as I had the same problem when my grandmother died. However, Bill's daughter definitely knew of us, so there's no excuse for her not contacting us other than, as Richard said, she thought we were after his money. Nothing could be further from the truth. When the daughters couldn't be bothered to visit him in hospital, it was Richard and I who were there every day.

We do know there were people who abused his friendship so I suppose the daughter was afraid that we were of the same ilk. It's just a shame she didn't bother to find out what kind of people we are when she had the chance.

10:44 pm  
Blogger Cherry Rolfe said...

I have an elderly friend who has a fit, able, and solvent daughter. Who took said friend to hospital for a nasty procedure? Who takes said friend to the farmer's market? Who moved house for said friend? Guilt gets in the way of the 'thankless child' and its easier to ignore those who did what they should have done than accept that its too late. You are good people and he knew that. Its never too late to say goodbye and mark your friendship in some way. When a dear friend of mine died suddenly, her partner had her cremated without telling any of her friends. She was an unfulfilled artist and every time I make something I dedicate it to her.

8:11 am  

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