Monday, 2 July 2012

Thought Picnic: The things I cherish of friends now departed

Things sorted
As I gathered the things I could take away in the weekend past, two things became stuff I could not part with.
In my move, I cannot afford to recollect the things I have parted with, memories of work I have done decades ago, some documents that chart my history to times that have long gone into the recesses, too many.
The oldest document I found was my hospital card from as far back as in the 1960s, I kept that, then pictures, and I fear that some despite those I kept might have been lost forever and much else.
That was Dick
Beyond those, was a card with a name and a telephone number, I was in Paris in 1996 and we met, became friends and he was more than a helper when I first moved to the Netherlands, as he helped me settle in then offered much help over the years as I settled in the Netherlands.
The last time I saw him, he came to visit me just 5 days after I left hospital, we were to go for dinner, but I had no strength for that activity, we had tea at my home and talked. If I had the strength, I would have been there to attend the day he defended his PhD.
Friends said, they could see and hear his strength fade as he gave a spirited performance; he had phoned me a few weeks before that he was about to undergo treatment for a type of lymphoma that I did not ascertain in our conversation. We apparently shared the same oncologist and consultant.
Twelve days after that defence, he died just 8 days short of his 58th birthday, the card on which he wrote his details on the first day of our meeting will remain with me.
When I was a midwife
My uncle visiting me years ago just could not understand why I had so many towels, it is not like I determined to have that many but I did. After much talk about it, I found what would take that off his mind completely, I told him I was a closet midwife, the effect was immediate, funny and terminal – not another word was mentioned about the towels again.
However, there was one nicely embroidered towel that was given to me as a Christmas present and it could well have been a birthday present to.
We met attending the same church over 10 years ago; by amazing coincidence, she shared the same birthday with her wonderful husband and that was my birthday which we shared with another also wonderful lady.
A gift from Marie
I have an affinity for the colour blue and this particularly shade of blue formed the embroidery of a windmill and my name on a white towel; it was such a beautifully personalised gift to cherish.
Sadly, a few years ago, I heard after it had happened that she was ill with cancer and had died two weeks before. The towel, I kept in fond memory of a lady whose kindness, patience, love and concern was a great example to me even when I drifted away.
They remembered the birthday we shared fondly and kept contact but more still, the good they brought into my life cannot be quantified.
Death can only take people away; it does not have the power to take away the memories of how they touched our lives.

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