Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Lost, Found, Lost

This morning I was busy doing some research on the internet when I came across an article written by a journalist with an unusual surname.   Next to the byline was a very small photograph.  Suddenly my brain was on high alert.    There was something familiar about the shape of the face, the darkness of the eyes.   The bright ginger beard threw me a little, but the face I was beginning to remember was that of a beardless pre-teen boy, I began to think that this could be the son of an old friend of mine.  Correct name, red hair, but could it really be that same boy all grown up?

A couple of searches later and I knew for sure.   Carol's son.

I can clearly remember meeting Carol for the first time.    I had recently returned to Lincolnshire from the Middle East and was waiting to collect my children from their new school.      I fell into conversation with an extrovert character with a very strong Liverpudlian accent.

By the time we had walked our children the few hundred yards along the road to home, we had already laughed our heads off.   She was that kind of woman.   Always ready with a funny observation, or a joke.    She was never seen without full makeup, styled hair, and wearing something from her wardrobe of fabulous vintage outfits which had cost very little because no one else had begun collecting them then.   She got me into some bad habits!

It was a nice kind of friendship.   We would take the occasional trawl around charity and antique shops, or go for a coffee somewhere, we didn't spend a huge amount of time together and yet we were real chums.   It suited both of us, we were both friendly but private people. 

Carol had her own business buying inexpensive items, which she would clean and titivate, then present them so beautifully on her stall at antique fairs and the antiques centre that they sold like hot cakes.  On one occasion she turned up at my house, along with her long-suffering husband and his van.     I soon found out why.  She had seen an armchair which she just knew would be perfect for the corner of my dining room.     Her husband hauled the thing in and put it into position, as directed by Carol.    It was the very thing that corner had been lacking.   It was a gift, she wouldn't take any payment.    I had the chair for many years until one of the dogs chomped his way through the upholstery during one stressful stormy night.

Over the years we gradually lost touch, we moved house a few times and the link was broken.   I still  have several of Carol's pieces about the house, a stick stand, a bread bin which I use to store bags of flour (not getting caught out by the panic buyers again) and a wooden trunk which was originally a pigeon-carrier.  They are all in use and have been greatly enjoyed ever since I bought them from her.

It seems that the bearded journalist is her youngest son.   I remember him as a very quiet chap with auburn hair, but other than that I don't remember a huge amount about him.    These days he is a well respected freelance journalist who also writes articles for The Independent and The Guardian newspapers and various journals on the other side of the pond.   He lives and works in U.S.A.

The second article I turned up was a rather wonderful piece that he had written about his mother, her early life, how she met his father, and lots of background details which I vaguely knew, but not in detail.      He wrote very movingly about how his grandmother had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease and the fear that she would also fall victim to this disease had caused Carol huge anxiety throughout her life.

It would be about three years since he wrote the article, and she had already been in a nursing home for a couple of years.  Her husband walked along there and visited every day, sometimes she would hold his hand, other days there would be no recognition and she would wander off saying she had chores to do. 

I won't put a link to the article, but it was an amazing read, beautifully written.   I hope that Carol got to fully appreciate her son's writing ability before this terrible disease took over. 

I hardly dare think about what has happened to Carol and her family since then. 

Please don't feel that you have to comment.   This is something I had to write, for Carol and for myself.

x









29 comments:

  1. How lovely that you found out about Carol through reading about her son and recognizing him. In 2005 I met up with someone I was in school with. We had some great days out together and found that we had so much in common. I rang her one day, her husband answered the phone and gently explained to her who I was. She didn't know me. the next thing I heard was that she was in a nursing home. When I knew her she was always so full of life and fantastic company. Alzheimers is a horrible disease. She was three years younger than me.

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    1. Hello Molly, I am so sorry to hear that your old school friend fell prey to this awful disease, too. I have spent a lot of today out in the vegetable garden, harvesting bits and pieces, but mostly doing the never ending weeding - really tired now, but lots more to get done over the next few days, weather and back permitting. xx

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  2. A kind suggestion; if I were you, I would reach out to her son. Not to inquire on her, but to let him know you came across him, remember who he is, and share some wonderful memories of his mother with him. I promise you will both feel better, for having done it. Hugs to you.

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    1. Hello Silver, I was toying with the idea, but you have made my mind up. I will research and find an email address for him. Thank you for that. xx

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    2. Good. Sending hugs ((0))

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  3. I think along with several other nasty illnesses Alzheimers is one we all fear. I know when I can't remember something and then manage to drag it from the depths of my mind I am thankful that I am okay.
    We must all remember to be thankful for each day.
    Briony
    x

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    1. Hello Briony, We do have a great deal to be thankful for, I agree. I sometimes think that our mind likes to play little tricks now and then, sits on the information for a while! xx

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  4. It's hard not to comment on such a touching remembrance. So bittersweet that you found your friend again, but not the way you had hoped.

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    1. Hello Marty, It was quite a shock. First the elation of stumbling across her son, then the sadness of reading her story. My sadness is nothing compared to her son and husband, I must search out an email address for him. Thank you. xx

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  5. Silver in AZ has a great idea. Contact the son of your friend, and include a short memory of his mother. It will help him so much to know that you wanted to share something important you remembered about his mom. How wonderful to have an old friend connect again!
    Best Wishes!

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    1. Hello Ruth, Thank you, I will most definitely try to find an email address for him. I doubt he will remember me, but I will be happy to share my memories of his lovely mother with him, the real Carol, not the shell. xx

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  6. Old age and its ravages does touch all of us. Thank you for this, kind lady.

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    1. Hello Joanne, She was kind and funny and oh, so artistic and creative. She called a spade a spade, I think you would have liked her. xx

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  7. I agree with Silver. Reach out to the son. How sad that her fears of getting Alzheimers came true. My husband's father died of it in 2003. We didn't recognize it at first and thought he was just getting deaf. It took only 4 years to take him to the grave.
    Thanks for sharing this story!

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    1. Hello Marcia, I will definitely do my best to contact him. Sorry to hear that the disease affected your father-in-law, too. I am happy even if I gave just a glimpse of what a bright, vibrant and energetic character she was. Thank you. xx

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  8. How good to recognise Carol's son and then read about her. I agree with Silver in AZ. It is sad not only that Carol has Alzheimer's Disease but that she feared it for most of her life. It is such a debilitating disease and I think is often harder on the partner as I know from my late husband's journey. I remember going to my first Alzheimer's support meeting and someone saying that when she mentioned that her husband had Alzheimer's Disease the person said they were sorry for her and she thought why be sorry for me as it is my husband who has the disease. We both came to realise the truth.

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    1. Hello Susan, I am so sorry that you lost your first husband that way, it must have been a very painful journey for you. I absolutely love the fact that you found happiness again! I will definitely reach out to her son, if I can find an email address. Thank you for commenting. xx

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  9. Sadly we do not get to choose what life has in store for us...diseases of the brain are a terrible cross to bear for the individual and their families. x

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    1. Absolutely. There is a very strong history of Alzheimer's Disease in my husband's family. x

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  10. OH my gosh, what a story. I sometimes read names that jump out at me and I wonder whether they might be someone, or someone's relative from the past. But your story is heartbreaking. Thank goodness her son could write her story and his grandmother's and give tribute to them both. Alzheimers is terrible.

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    1. Had it not been for that name and the tiny photograph I would never have known. The power of the internet, a double-edged sword, but useful. x

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  11. Such a lovely post in honour of your friendship with this lady - it is hard to hear of any illness affecting old friends and these days it seems to be a piece of news that I keep on experiencing as my friends are all ageing as I am.x

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  12. This is exactly why I love reading people’s blogs, the stories, the memories and Elaine so beautifully written. The expression that jumped off the page ‘we are both friendly but private people’, love it . I can certainly relate to that. I honestly think you should send him the link to this post on your blog. He, I am sure would love to hear of your reminisces of his wonderful mum.

    LX

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  13. Don't know why I didn't notice this before -- my mother's name was Elaine, and my name is Carolyn (I go by Carol). Nice story... I agree -- sometimes we need to write to retain the memories. Blessings...

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  14. What a beautiful and heartfelt post. So thoughtfully written, thank you for sharing it with us. The words 'we are both friendly but private people' jump off the page for me too.

    I do hope if you decide to reach to Carol's son that it is positive for you both.

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  15. They sound like a very interesting family all round; will you try to contact Carol?

    I recently saw that a certain MP had his constituency in Cambridgeshire. He has the same family name as an old school friend, and I was pleased to see they're father and son.

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  16. SUch a beautiful post. I agree with everyone else on the matter and don't think I can contribute anything else to the discussion other than thanking you for writing this. xoxo

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Lovely to hear from you!