Sunday, 6 October 2013

My father and I were saddened

but not surprised to learn of the death of a friend yesterday. We had been expecting it.
She was once the secretary of my mother's school. They became good friends as well as working partners. After my mother died we continued the friendship. We would talk on the phone every couple of months and, at Christmas, we would have "breakfast" together at her local shopping centre. We probably had more in common with each other than she had with my mother. She was a serious craftswoman and a knitter of note. She was a reader. My mother was not really any of those things.
She had her problems. Her husband became a violent alcoholic after a work related injury. She left him and brought up four boys on her own. They all became a credit to her parenting.
 I rang her one evening to find out how she was. What made me do it that day I do not know but, choking back tears, she told me that her third son had been found dead on the kitchen floor that morning. There was nothing sinister about it. He had simply had a heart attack.
And she had a glandular condition which caused her to be massively overweight. Her weight increased as she grew older.  Always beautifully groomed she made her own clothes in an effort to dress with some style. It is difficult to do that when you weigh 148k but she managed.
She was a Justice of the Peace and the secretary of more than one group for many years.
As it grew more and more difficult for her to get about she cut back on some of her activities but not all of them. Getting out was still important to her as was maintaining contact with people.
In her own home though the companionship of her dog was enough. There were a succession of dogs, always the same breed. The dogs were as well behaved as her children. There was something about her which caused dogs and children to behave.
We did not see one another at the shopping centre last Christmas. I knew the journey to the shopping centre would be too much for her. I made the journey to her home instead and took our "breakfast" with me. The table was neatly set - the way it always was. The dog was sitting patiently waiting to shake my paw. She put the kettle on and made the tea and we talked and talked.
It was the last time I saw her. We did chat after that. I am going to miss the phone calls - and eating "breakfast" with her.

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