Posts Tagged ‘death’

Death of a Friend

March 6, 2013

ImageMy friend Brenda has died. But she will never be dead to me. She is too much part of my childhood, influencing who and what I am.

I recall the day I first met her. We were about eight years old. She was skipping outside the huge gate and high walls of her big garden. Her big ‘mansion’ house — posh to me — was the other side of the road from where I lived with my family in a modest late Victorian semi. Her garden is stuck in my memory too. Not just the profusion of fruit growing on trees and bushes — apples, pears, plums, raspberries, loganberries, gooseberries, and such — but the grass on which we played silly games, practiced three-legged races, played tennis with each other and her brothers, pretended we were famous entertainers. And, oh, so much more. It was another world where make-believe became almost reality. Plant pots were moulds for making sand cakes and pies. The sand having been carried back from the river a mile away, no easy task for a couple of young girls.

But if the garden was another world, so was the attic room where we played on cold and wet days. Her lovely mum would even light us a little fire occasionally, which we would huddle round and daydream. As we grew older, we even danced to my sister’s old wind-up gramophone, eventually turning our efforts into concerts for the family.

We bought our own records. Over the years, we developed our tastes through visiting the cinema a lot, sitting in the gods at the Nottingham Theatre when a ballet was on. And attending concerts at the Little Theatre, and generally ‘picking up’ our musical tastes from what we saw and heard. But not just musical tastes: we enjoyed the cinema and had our favourite films and stars. We saw one 1947 film — Song of Scheherazade — so many times that we wrote out the script then acted the parts at Brenda’s house. We saw all of Jean Pierre Aumont’s films.

As young teenagers, what a pair of dreamers we were. We carried the wind-up gramophone to the local gravel pits by the river. There we played our Swan Lake record to the swans gathered there.

As young children our amusements were quite simple: Skipping, hop-scotch, ball play, pencil and paper games, including battleships and cruisers. We collected wild flowers and pressed them in books. Wanting an Arrowhead flower that grew in the local canal, I dangled Brenda over the edge of the tow path and sat on her legs while she picked it with a garden rake. We drew and painted pictures. And we made our scenery for our little concerts. A large hall mirror flat on the attic floor, with flowers and leaves around the edges, made a lovely pool to go with Dance of the Flowers. Coloured paper over a bike lamp, plus sticks for the ‘fire’, and a bowl of water to throw liver salts into for effect, was great when dancing the Ritual Fire Dance (her young niece screamed when the liquid suddenly ‘bubbled’ up sending froth over the floor.) Bolero was a favourite too. We made our own costumes.

We lit too many candles one day and the wax ran all over the concrete floor. Brenda was very good at scrubbing, she was a methodical and steady worker. I soon gave up patient scrubbing and quickly mopped my part of the floor. Brenda cleaned the outside of the window by sitting on the outside cill with me holding on to her legs. We trusted each other.

There are so many things I could talk about concerning our childhood. (Many things are in my little illustrated book of childhood memories — When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes, extracts are on my various blogs) In our teens we had holidays together — Prestatyn, London, Isle of Wight.) I could write a chapter on each one! It was meeting my husband-to-be that eventually separated us. We moved to a different part of the country but we always stayed in touch.

Dear Brenda, you will always be a part of who I am — the gentler part.

Photo — Brenda (on front horse) and me, having a go at riding while on holiday at Little Canada Holiday Camp IofW 1952

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Of Life and Death

May 26, 2010

Beautiful Lake District

We have just returned from a wonderful relaxing (if strenuous) holiday just 50 miles away. We have been staying in our caravan parked not far from the lovely Ennerdale. We managed a great walk to the top of Whinlatter, a more gentler one in Ennerdale, and various others taking in some of England’s finest scenery. We say new life grazing in fields — lambs, foals, calves and pretty little pigs. One little piggy followed us along the country lane!

Gentle mum with her baby.


One little piggy followed us, then went all the way home!


We also saw death in its most horrid form — a small lamb that had been attacked by crows. The sight was so shocking that tears ran down my face. A gentle creature that could not possibly do harm to others. Near by another lamb limped on three legs. Hopefully we saved it the same fate as when we told the farmer of what we had seen, he said crows will attack lambs that show signs of lameness. He intended dealing with both lambs right away.
To me that little lamb stood for all helpless creatures in the world — human as well as animal life — that are brutally treated and murdered by evil forces present in man and beast. The cries of many go unheard. We can only do what we can and pray for change. The farmer told us that the lamb’s fate was just nature. That only made it seem worse. I wanted to get a gun and shoot every crow in sight! Yes, I like to think that I’m a pacifist too!
I doubt I could have done it anyway, unless I saw a crow about to strike.
It set me on a chain of thoughts about wars. Can we stand by and watch murder on a huge scale? It is easy to turn our eyes away — or is it?

Sheep may safely graze? Are they ever 'safe'?


At least I had a welcoming Email waiting for me at home. Another great review for Seduction By Design but I’ll be posting that shortly.

View from Whinlatter Forest Park

The Dim Light

May 2, 2010

The Dim Light — a true story by Gladys Hobson

The light grows dim


In the dim light of the bedside lamp, I stood by the pink-flowered curtains that were keeping at bay the dark miserable night, and looked across at my yellow-skinned father’s head lying on snow-white pillows. With yellowed eyes closed, gurgles of laboured breathing came out of his open mouth in some semblance of sleep — the sleep of the dying.
My eyes followed the shape of his body under the lightweight bed cover and I reflected on the skeleton it had become, with parchment skin so thin that his bed sores refused to heal. I didn’t want to see his emaciated body; it seemed totally wrong for a daughter to see her father naked, especially his private parts, but he’d asked for his bottle so he could urinate. I’d given it to him and he’d performed, quickly returning to sleep. I could only be thankful. I did not want to hear him moan or scream.
Tears welled up in my eyes and I became fearful of speaking lest he awake and I betray my sorrow. Here lay a once proud, well-built man. A man who’d faced life’s challenges — and there’d been many of them — with courage and determination. Maybe he hadn’t been a perfect father, and without doubt he’d often treated my mother like a doormat, but much outrageous behaviour could be excused by his frustrations when, for years, trying to work in spite of increasing physical handicaps and pain.
My stalwart father, now reduced to this — a helpless bag of bones enclosing a rotting inside eaten away by a spreading cancerous growth.
I knew the district nurse had inserted suppositories to quell his pain. I also knew that this could mean the end. For months his suffering had been severe in spite of the many codeine tablets he swallowed daily. We knew that the change in treatment would prevent his fight against death — two, maybe three days away, or so the nurse had said.
No one had spoken to my father about dying. We had not dared. I recall a friend telling me that my mother had told her that when my dad thought he was dying, she woke to find his hands around her throat. He’d said that he thought he was dying and he didn’t want to die alone. I didn’t think he would have carried it out — surely not. Maybe he needed to express his fear. Afterwards he would have sobbed with shame. That is what he did — fall into depression — when he’d allowed his emotions to lead him into dark areas of his soul.
Earlier, I thought his end had come. I woke my mother and together we stood over his bed. But Dad opened his eyes:
‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ he demanded with new strength in his voice. ‘Do you think I’m bloody dying?’
Then his eyes closed again and mother went back to her couch in the lounge to try and rest a little longer. I kept up the watch, for that is why I had left my husband in charge of our children. My mother, weary with sleepless nights, needed me to be there.
How I would have loved to sit on his bed and take his hand in mine; to speak to him quietly and tell him that I loved him. But no one ever spoke of death and dying, no one ever spoke of cancer. My dad had major problems with heart, lungs and a creeping paralysis — these things were obvious to him and everyone. He believed he was suffering from jaundice and no one, not even the doctor was prepared to tell him different.
Is this what it must be for another two days? With my mother, already suffering acute weariness of body and soul, fading away; and my dad struggling with only agony waiting for him should he wake before another administration from the district nurse?
Time to pray. Not aloud. And time to talk to my dad, not with sounds but soul to soul.
So I whisper from my heart, prayers of love, repentance and forgiveness. I pray that God will take him now, not tomorrow or the day after. But now, in the peace and quiet of His presence.
And I turn to my dying father. I remember my granddad had been a lay minister who had gifts of preaching and healing. Yes, surely he would approve of the healing found in a peaceful death.
‘Let go, Dad. Don’t be afraid. Granddad is waiting for you. He’ll look after you. We all love you. God loves you too. You can let go now. Let go, Dad, let go..’
Gurgling noises come from my father’s throat, shortly followed by a deep, deep sigh…

The valley of the shadow...


The light shines on in the darkness


The darkness has not overcome the light...