Friday, January 5, 2018

Sad news - childhood memories. . . . . . . . .

I left my home in England at what now seems such a young age. It was one week 
before I turned 19. Boarding that plane at Heathrow airport was my window 
to an exciting adventure which was to be short and sweet before returning home
 and settling down. However, the one year I expected to stay and
 work in the USA (Washington, D.C.) has now turned into fifty five! I still feel a pull
 to my original home across the pond, and guess I always will.

This Christmas season, as always, I sat for many hours spread over several days,
 writing cards. I love sending and receiving real cards for birthdays, special occasions, 
and definitely at Christmas. 
The cards I send to the UK have become a much smaller bundle now - many 
older family members and friends now gone, and my only sibling lives in France.
 I write a note inside, affix the international postage stamp, a holiday return
 address label, and address each one with thoughts of them eventually being
 dropped through a letter box across the pond.
 Most of these people reply with a lovely card - always lots of chubby English
 robins perched on holly, thatched cottages with lighted windows and such - but
 for several years I haven't heard back from my friend Carol, who was
 my next door neighbor for eleven of my special childhood years.
We shared the same birthday, she being a year younger, and many hours 
together doing what little girls do such as sewing and dressing our dolls. We spent
 hours on the beach after school, her mum meeting us with our swimsuits, towels
 and tomato sandwiches. We used to meet up now and then when I visited
 home and my family still lived next door to her family. The last time I
saw her was at my mother's funeral almost 15 years ago.  

People move a lot now. A card went off to Somerset as always in early
 December hoping it would reach her. . . . . a note enclosed saying how I missed
 hearing from her and hoped she would get in touch.
A couple of days ago I opened my e-mail and was heartbroken to read one
 from her older son, Andrew, whom I've not seen since he was a boy.
 He had received my card, forwarded by the post office, in which I'd tucked
 my e-mail address, and told me of his mum's death last year after his dad had
 also died  - both of them devastated over the loss of their younger son, a
 lifetime diabetic.
 He wrote such a nice note and attached some lovely photos. 
He apologized for not getting in touch earlier - apparently Carol's address book
 disappeared when she moved to a care home following her husband's death,
 and she had Parkinson's disease - and said he'd like to hear back from me.

One certainly pauses after news such as this, wondering when, how, why, we
  ourselves, will eventually die. I am so sad at the news, but also grateful that 
Andrew took the time to write to me. . . . . . . .and of course I will be writing back
 to him and sharing some of the history his dear mum and I shared as children.


  1. Mary, things are always changing and I am sure that distance between 19 and 55 seems like forever to you. I have lived in Tennessee since I was about 5 (57 now) and the pull of wanting to go visit the place I was born was very strong. I don't remember anything from there since we left there when I was about 2, but I so wanted to go back. Never thought I would make it back to Calif. But then my son moved out there and even though it was just a stop and see the sign of the Naval base where I was born...that was enough. All my family (except my son) lives in the south so it was not that pulling for cards, technology has changed that so much. I used to get so many cards, this yr about 12 or so. People just don't send them like they used to. Then there are those family members that are no longer with us. Sometimes I just want to stop the world from turning and live in the way things used to be.....but with that, I would not have my new friends here in Blogland so I am thankful for that change. Here is wishing a beautiful new year....

  2. I am so sorry to hear about the death of your childhood friend. Sending hugs,

  3. Oh Mary, sad indeed. It is part of getting old. The line becomes shorter then one is at the front of the line. It went by too fast, people say. If only we'd known when we were younger. Maybe it is for the better as it would be hard to go on with life and living.

  4. Dear Mary - I know exactly how you must be feeling as today I received a telephone call telling me that a friend had died too just a couple of days before Christmas.
    She was a blind girl who travelled on the same Romanian holiday trip as our family about 40 years ago. Others travelling with us couldn't understand what she could possibly get out of a holiday abroad due to her blindness. However, if they had taken the time to get to know her they would have realised just what an amazing person she was. She took in the nuances that many of us would perhaps miss, the smells, the ambience and the personalities of the people we met. I recall that I went with her to buy a Romanian hand embroidered blouse, and it was so interesting to see her feeling the stitching whilst I described the colours to her. I think that she was a few years younger than me which like you made me pause and think along similar lines.

  5. This post reminded me of my own view of a smaller list number of Christmas cards to send, one forgotten, and one returned. A season of giving and remembrance, but for a lot of us a season of sadness and the memories of those gone from us. I wish you could have seen your friend before her passing. Best wishes for travels well accomplished and good health.

    Karen in NC

  6. Oh, and a good cup of English tea.

  7. Oh that is so very sad ! and that poor boy/man whose entire family is gone just like that ! My condolences to you too ..
    I admit to having had a few loses too close together and know the blanket of loss that can just hang over you .. try your best to only remember the good things, fun times, laughs .. we have our memories and they are now more precious than ever.
    love, C

  8. Such sad news, and yes, it does make one reflect on one's mortality, and how to best use the life we still have. How kind of Andrew to write to you. Hugs from afar, Lorrie.

  9. Sorry to hear you lost a childhood friend and neighbour, Mary. News like that touch us deeply, don't they. Her son seems like a kind man, and I am sure there is some consolation in knowing... always better than not knowing, I find.
    When my husband died, he had made contact again with a childhood friend he was very close with only about half a year before. That friend was devastated when he learned if Steve's death, but told me he was so glad they had been in touch again.

  10. This post really touched me as I am in the same position.
    I left the UK in 1990, originally for two years, I am still here in TX after 27 years. Like you I constantly feel the pull of home.
    I am told that life is not the same now in the UK everything moves on and I am sure that I have changed too.
    I am an avid letter writer and still keep in touch with friends and work colleagues from many years ago in the UK. As you say Christmas is an ideal time to rekindle the friendship.
    Some folks now send email greetings and ecards which I appreciate, but there is nothing like the real card to handle and enjoy. The Victorian snow scenes and post boxes.
    Like you, for two years now there are two and this year, three friends I have not heard from. I wonder about them, who will let me know if something has happened.
    I check the mailbox in case somehow cards are delayed, but I think not.
    Thank you for this post, very best wishes to you and your readers.
    Pam in TX.x

  11. I'm so sad that you have lost a friend that miles and years could not take from you. Some think sending card at Christmas is just too much trouble, but we love it, even when sometimes the news is sad.

  12. He will love that, Mary. I am so glad that you know the story and no longer wonder about Carol.

  13. Dear Mary
    I’m so sorry to hear of your sad news.
    It brings back to me, my parents conversations when they didn’t receive a card from one of their old friends.
    Lorrie took the words out of my mouth when she said with sad news we become aware of our own mortality. You and I are the same age Mary and we have a similar outlook on life but such news as you received, stops us in our tracks.
    Your thought provoking post tugs at my heartstrings.... it makes me wish that I had kept in touch with my childhood friends too.
    Christmas always brings thoughts of friends from long ago and happy times spent together.
    The older I get the more I want things to stay the same - although I know they won’t!
    Our french family have now been back here for four months so our life is incredibly busy.
    Tomorrow Jess has her 6th birthday 🎁🎂🎉it is so good to be part of these family celebrations we missed out on for so long!
    Take care and love to you and Bob
    Shane xox

  14. Michael has that same deep longing in his heart as well for "home"....

    I'm terribly sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend, Mary. I'm sure there are no words out there that could come close to bringing the comfort you need during this time. Just know you are thought of and loved very much by many, including Michael and I.

    Alexandra x

  15. I am so sorry you lost your childhood friend, Mary. You wove the story so elegantly...I could see you two playing as little girls, and then I could envision you writing cards with care and love. How sad that both your friend and her husband died soon after their son died, but I'm not surprised. This often oftens to people, especially "older" people, when they lose a child. I only know too well how the death of a child literally breaks your heart into pieces.

    I'm glad your friend's son wrote to you and that you plan on keeping in touch.

  16. We can't change things like that even if we want too. Chin Up....thinking of you. I know you will make the most of the time you have left be it long or short. Please keep taking and showing us those lovely photos. Hugs Ali.

  17. I'm sorry to hear of your news Mary, very sad. How lucky you heard from her son though. People just lose touch with us and we have no idea sometimes what has become of them. Take care of yourself. xxx

  18. I'm sorry for your loss, Mary. It's just so hard, isn't it. It was nice that her son contacted you. He would most likely enjoy your friendship now as he has been through so many losses himself. I hope you do stay in touch for both of you. xo

  19. Someone laughed at me for sending real cards in the mail at Christmas time but for me, it is not just a card for the season but a touch, a reaching out to loved ones and friends that I miss . I get cards in the mail from friends in London and all during the year, I can see that card, hold it .. smile at the love shown in sending it ... emails get lost, wiped out .. the signature is not a persons signature ..
    I write real letters still .. somehow it is more special than ever .. now .

  20. So sorry to hear of your friend, Carol. For a couple years I didn't hear from my long time friend and neighbor and worried about her. Thankfully she did email me recently that she had moved. Though we have not seen each other in many years I still treasure the connection at Christmas; so I can just imagine your sadness in this loss. Her son will love hearing memories of his mom from you.

  21. Like you I receive Christmas cards from friends and relatives who live at some distance and whom I see only rarely. The annual update of news is always a pleasure to receive but this year information of illness and death has saddened us. I do sympathise with how you are feeling, but how nice that the son of your childhood friend has managed to get in touch with you. I'm sure that he will enjoy and appreciate hearing tales of his mother as a girl.

  22. That is so very sad. None of us knows when it will be our time. I often think about that. My mom received a Christmas card from a childhood friend in OH that basically was a goodbye. She has a terminal illness and doesn't expect to make it much longer. That made my mom very sad. It's lovely that Andrew did get in touch to let you know about his family.

  23. This made me stop and pause. I am so sorry for your loss, how nice that her son took the time to answer your card. I had a similar experience a few years ago, a friend who was quite a bit older than I had left a message for me to call her, I had just moved to a new house and by the time I got around to calling I received no answer so I wrote a note and dropped it in the mail. A couple of weeks later I received a card letting me know that my friend had died suddenly in a car accident.

    Life is so short, tell the ones that you love how much you love and car for them before it is too late!


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