Thursday, 29 January 2009

Connections of the heart

Have you ever felt a connection so deeply strong to someone that you feel secure just knowing that it's there? You know, a real connection where you feel you are impregnable because the love this other person has for you and you have for them survives a distance of miles and a difference in time zones? I have been fortunate in my life to know people that I love dearly and who in return love me deeply too. I first became aware of long distance relationships and the kryptonite strength of the invisible umbilical cord that exists between people who are intrinsically linked, when I relocated to London from my home city of Glasgow to take up my career in Information Technology.

In my excitement at arriving in the capital I gave so little thought to what was left behind. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and great friends; One of those great friendships was made way back on that first terrifying day in junior school. A day when my bottom lip trembled as my mother turned around for the very last time that morning, tears in her eyes as she smiled forlornly then waved at my tear stained face and snotty nose before turning her back again and disappearing through the classroom door. I thought my heart would break and no matter how many times she tried to reassure me that I'd be coming home at the end of the school day, I wouldn't nor couldn't believe it. I will never forget the deep feeling of sadness on that first day, but neither will I forget Jenny Burns.......

……….. I sat on the tiny grey metal S framed chair at the tiny wooden desk and being so completely ego centric as all children are I hung my head and assumed I would never ever recover from being abandoned. As my own sobs began to subside, so did the sniffling and sobbing of the other abandonee next to me that until now I had only been vaguely aware of. Slowly I raised my head and turned to see a wee lassie, much the same size as myself but with a shock of curly ginger hair and red eyes with a red nose to match sitting on an identical chair, swinging her wee legs for like me she was too short to reach the floor.

"Hello.......errr, wiz that your mammy then?", she asked in a small nasally Glaswegian accent as she stared at me with her huge tear laden brown eyes framed by the longest lashes I'd ever seen.

"Aye it wiz,", I answered, before choking back another sob at being reminded she'd abandoned me only minutes before. I took a minute to blow my red nose on my by now very soggy hankie, "So……so where's your mammy then?", I asked with all the curiosity and naivety of a tiny wee five year old wondering how all these mammy's could abandon their weans and then leg it out of the place.

She's no here, she didnae come wae me", she said in a voice even smaller than before.

"No here? Whit dae ye mean she didnae come wae ye?" I asked, wide eyed with legs swinging away wildly on the chair as I stuck my thumb in my mouth for a suck whilst she answered this conundrum.

With her huge brown eyes fixed tightly upon mine, tears welled again and began to trickle down her rosy cheeks. "Ma mammy's deed", she spluttered out before letting out the loudest wail of utter heartbreak I had ever heard.

"Oh no, yer mammy's no really deed, is she?" I asked, getting all weepy because even though my mammy had dumped me there, at least I had one. The shock almost did for me for I knew nothing of death except that sometimes I would get scared that my wee mammy might die one day. So there it was, wee Jenny Burns didnae huv a mammy and I wiz heartbroken fur her. We sobbed our wee broken hearts out in unison until Mrs Murray, our lovely sweet teacher came over, put her arms around us both, calmed us with soothing words and dried our tears. Shortly after, down at the bottom of the school yard for playtime break we sat on the ground on our coats drinking our free milk through a straw and scoffing a digestive biscuit.

"Jenny?", I asked her in between slurps and chomps.

"Aye whit Annie?", she asked after swallowing the ice cold milk.

"Will ye be ma new best pal?"

"Aye, aye a wull", she said turning to look at me with the biggest smile I'd ever seen. Bless her, all of five years old and she had teeth like a bar chart thanks to her brother who 'encouraged' her to pull her wobbly milk teeth out so they could share the sixpence she'd get under her pillow from the tooth fairy.

"Great", I said delighted that at least one good thing had come out of the day, "and seein' as yer gonnae be ma best pal and seein' that you've no goat a mammy, ye can share ma mammy tae, that's IF she comes back fur me ye understand"........ The jury was still out on that one and I'd need a lot more convincing that the woman I knew as mammy and had dumped me here this morning would actually come back for me. Still, I reasoned, it was the least I could do for ma best pal who unquestionably had been bonded to me for life in our shared grief and loss that very same day.

Six years later after much tears and laughter; after sleepovers at each other's homes; after shared hours of playing 'kick the can' in summer until it got dark and we were dragged inside exhausted but still delirious with joy; after climbing trees and returning home with bumps the size of golf balls on our foreheads because we lost our footing and much to the merriment of our brothers, swan dived out of a tree hurtling head first towards earth; after having our hair doused in nit killer because yet again we let wee Gladys who lived next to the dump come and have a sleepover in our homemade tent in the back garden where we were infested within an inch of our lives; after rolling doon the hill outside ma hoose in summer on a homemade geggie, (go cart) - three pieces of wood knocked together like a big letter H with big auld wheels off a pram at the back with two smaller one's at the front, no brakes and a long piece of string attached to the front bit of wood for steering. There we were getting splinters in our arses as we ricocheted downhill at speed right into the path of the parish priest's new car; After sliding doon the hill outside ma hoose in winter wearing our plastic beach sandals that polished the compacted snow into an Olympic standard ski slope so dangerously slippy that we could get a fair bit of speed on before crash landing through auld Alfie's garden fence and into his allotment at the bottom of the road; after making faces with me at the grumpy old folk who moaned as they slid down the road on their arse and then swore at us and threatened to go straight to oor parents to tell them we should get a hiding for being so bloody cheeky; after laughing even harder at the ill-tempered old biddy's when they tried to chase us as their moaning reached epic proportions and not one of us getting anywhere because we were all running on the spot; after nearly melting the ice with hot yellow pee as we laughed ourselves stupid at the whole scenario; after promising to be best pals for ever and ever and ever and after her da, a skilled carpenter, a tired, skint single parent announced that they were off, off to the land of opportunity.........

...........A land of opportunity where he could earn enough to buy them new shoes and clothes instead of second hand clobber from the jumble sales; where a working man was paid a decent wage without having to scrimp and scrape his way cap in hand through life just to feed the weans; where the sun shone so much that life would no longer be grey with arctic like winters for them to struggle through with nae money fur their heating. He'd found a beacon of hope and a step up from the near poverty that threatened to overwhelm him and his young family. Australia and the Ten Pound Pom emigration scheme was the answer to his prayers and he'd been planning it for a while but said nothing for fear it wouldn't work out and expectations were dashed or even thwarted by those who would make a fuss and not want to go. By the time Jenny had been told, it was a done deal and she came to tell me, stayed for a sleepover and reminiscent of that first day together at school, we both cried the night away in total grief. In two months she was gone but we never lost that connection, well not for a long time but as with all distance relationships, pre email and affordable telephone calls, contact by written hand that was fervent in the beginning became sporadic as the years went by and our adult lives moved on from those relatively carefree childhood days.

I will never forget her but life moves on and I have made other friendships that have had the same deep connection - some of these made after just one meeting which has been a delightful surprise over the years. Ella was a work colleague and a real Jolly Hockey sticks kinda gal. She had all the eccentricity of the very rich, which she was after her parents shuffled off their mortal coils leaving her a multi millionaire. You'd never know it though for what I loved about her was the way she lived modestly almost impoverished with a sofa that her four cats shredded on a daily basis. With huge lumps of sponge filling missing and other pieces hanging down onto the carpet, it was a work of art that Damien Hurst and the Tate gallery would have been proud of. We worked on different projects much of the time but we knew each other through the vast social scene that was inherent to our work life. She lived about five miles from me and when I heard that she had cancer I made a point of going to see her. Our friendship developed over the year during which she went into remission and returned to work with her no nonsense approach to take on the huge projects she was famed for managing. But her good fortune wasn't to last. Excruciating pain in her spine and a sudden inability to walk back from the coffee machine to her desk told her something was drastically wrong. In the midst of her colleagues carrying her to her chair, Ella's heart sunk lower than she had ever imagined it could.

The oncologists report identified secondary tumors in her spine and other major organs. I was naïve and positive and hopeful that she'd beat these monsters down yet again. "You'll do it again Els", I reassured her brightly. "You did it before, you can do it again and this time you know what you're up against, so half the battle's won okay", I flannelled on, hoping to inspire her. I didn't know then that her only hope was chemo and radio therapy to shrink the tumors, to slow their growth. I didn't know that when these didn't work anymore that her end was nigh and that palliative care was all that could be offered. I didn't know until I was finally taken aside and told by a wonderful MacMillan nurse that secondary tumors are terminal and that I should prepare myself for the loss of my friend.

I took my turn, along with closer friends that had known her much longer, in doing practical things she found difficult to undertake as time went on. Her husband, grateful of our help, support and friendship thanked us profusely but we didn't need thanks for you don't do you?; not when it's a pal. But, it wasn't at all miserable and certainly not all one sided. No matter how ill Ella became she kept her sharp dark wit and we would often roll around trying not to dampen the chairs in our great shared mirth.

I'd boss her around and remind her to take her medication. She'd grumble and tell me she was rattling away thanks to the overabundance of pills she had sunk so far that day; "What did forgetting to take a few more matter?", she'd ask crossly, annoyed that her life had been overtaken by schedules, pills, appointments, taking urine samples along with the indignity of being prodded and poked at by doctors and nurses and anyone else called a specialist. She'd tell me to get lost when I was of no more use to her and she needed a nap. She'd become argumentative as exhaustion and pain took over. I'd tell her to watch her manners or she could decompose without me. On one memorable outing, I took her to pick up her NHS freebie wigs that she much preferred over spending good money on privately made wigs that she said she certainly wasn't going to take into the next world with her. I nagged at her and called her mean because I said that a good wig made all the difference and anyway, I wanted them after she was gone because they'd come in handy for Halloween parties and such like. As usual she ignored my advice, tried on a plethora of cheapo wigs and solicited my opinion on which was best. She was none too pleased when I said she had all the allure of a blow up rubber doll.

One Sunday soon after, when she was roasting a chicken for lunch that by now she had no appetite for but wanted to prepare for her husband, she opened the oven rather too quickly. Whilst bending down to check on the contents an excruciatingly hot blast of air hit her full on the face and welded the nylon NHS wig to her forehead. "Cheap is as cheap does", I said when I saw her still wearing it a few hours later. "Christ Ella", I continued as I stared at her. "You could take the fecking thing off, it looks like a rancid bit of old road kill on yer bonce". She registered my comment just as she was taking a drink and I heard her snort heavily before two streams of water and other gooey stuff trickled down her nose as we laughed our heads off at this vision of loveliness she had become.

No matter that when I returned the next day, I scolded her for still wearing this year's 'fascinator' as a hairdo. "I'm not", she said looking straight at me, waiting for reality to set in. "Now don't be so bloody cheeky", she said, as she watched my horrified reaction turn to deep sadness as I looked at the wisps of fine hair left after several bouts of chemo. She'd done well to keep the effects of the chemo under wraps with her wig until her disaster made her go commando as it were. She teased me relentlessly at her little joke for she knew perfectly well that her hair and wig were on a par and that I'd mistake her hair for the burnt wig. I played along and smiled but in my heart I was haemorrhaging emotion because her life was ebbing away in front of me.

Some months later I had to attend a software conference in Minneapolis, USA and it was a three line whip as far as my job was concerned. She understood and scolded me for considering not going and insisted she was much more interested in hearing all the fun tales and gossip from our shenanigans abroad. I knew she missed the vibrancy of work and promised a warts and all report upon my return. To my shame, I felt relieved and quite a bit selfish because her deterioration was rapidly causing her more and more distress and I wondered if I would be strong enough to hold out for her at the end. I was grateful for my friends permission to go and I relished the conference and the chance to socialize with colleagues and friends as we worked hard but also partook of a great deal of alcohol. I had so much to tell her when I returned that would have her heaving with laughter and looked forward to hearing her fantastically wicked laugh. We were in the thick of it all and jolly merry when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks, as though a Tom and Jerry frying-pan-in-the-face kind of moment had happened. I stood still and felt a wave of emotion so strong that I was overwhelmed with the need to cry. I took a moment to register my astonishment at such a depth of feeling.

"Oh God, it's Ella", I blurted out to my drinking buddies as tears welled in my eyes and spilled down my cheeks. "She's gone, I'm sure of it. Oh Christ", I wailed, "and here I am enjoying myself when God knows how she must have been". The guilt of laughter was hanging heavily upon me.

"No she hasn't, she can't have, how on earth would you know?", they asked whilst looking at me as though it was time to cart me off to bed after ten drinks too many.

"She has, I know she has, I just know okay?", I said tetchily for I was filled with a deep sadness and confused at my inability to explain what I was certain of.

When I returned to the UK some three days later, I returned her husband's voice mail message. "What time did she pass away ?", I asked him as he gave me details of her last hours with him."Oh, at six am", he said. "I know because we were in bed together, and for some strange reason the alarm on the clock, which hasn't been set since Ella came home from the hospice, came on to wake me. Shortly after that she let out her last breath. It's incredibly strange but I'm just so grateful that it woke me in time", he said, as he went quiet, reflecting upon those last few painful moments together.

My blood ran cold for a moment for the time that I had felt and known that Ella had gone was 1200am in the USA. - six hours behind 6am in the UK. Sometime after the funeral and when we were able to talk with an amount of acceptance and peace within us I told him what had happened. He felt comforted by my story and I was glad that I had shared it with him.

Although I believe in God, or at least a higher being, I am not inclined to believe in spirits and such like and with a science background tend to be pragmatic about what happens after death but this 'visit' from Ella I cannot explain. I felt the strong disconnection from her after that visit in Minneapolis. I believe in my heart that she came to say goodbye but my head disputes this. I knew she had died and I couldn't be moved on that conclusion even though I couldn't explain it. And now I feel the same overwhelming disconnection from Jenny. Just recently I felt a wave of loss so deep that it threw me. It made me think of Ella but it was Jenny that flooded my mind and stayed with me for days after. Perhaps, it was a goodbye. I don't want to know. I'm too sad to think of her passing, but if it was that I hope she's content and happy and that she's caught up with that mammy of hers after all this time. You see, I am a dichotomy, a person of conflicting views and beliefs as my certainty on things crumble as life teaches me otherwise. As I get older, the more I learn the less I know and the more inclined I am to open up my mind to new orders and possibilities.

I hope she relished her wonderful new life as a Ten Pound Pom; she and her family certainly deserved a better future and God, there are worse places to grow up than paradise. But I hope too she never suffered the hopelessness of the tyranny of distance, of the dislocation of family and of homesickness and knew that somewhere back in the UK, her wee pal held her as dear to her heart as she had always done for even though the memories faded, the friendship and love never did. And finally, I just hope she didn't call any of her kids Kylie or Jason.....


Maggie May said...

This was a lovely post MOB, though sad. I loved your description of starting school, really brilliant. Sorry you had to lose these friends.
I am also unlucky in friends. Lost one to suicide and another left the country and another is quite sick.
We must plod on.....

auntiegwen said...

The reaon , my dearest Mobs that you feel this connection is because you have a heart of gold and the size of Scotland.

All your friends are lucky to have you because you put the work in and thats why you are so loved.

Your writing makes my day, it often makes my cry but even when it does it makes me smile too.

as aye xxx

Carolina said...

Lovely post. Love your writing, funny and serious and warm and oh your scottish accent, it makes me think of Billy Connolly. You can take that as a compliment, don't know if you like him, but I do!
Big smile and a hug!

Ribbon said...

I like your blog :-)

aims said...

Oh my friend. You have touched my heart.

I am lucky to know you.

WT said...

Nicely done, although it took be the better part of three days to get through it all.

I'm stunned by the fact that you can believe in god, yet not believe in spirits. I don't believe in either, so one of us is going to get a shock eventually.

Mean Mom said...

You and your friends were so lucky to find each other. It's fascinating to read about your connection with them. I find that I, too, am hoping that your friend had a good life, after her family emigrated.

I can remember being dragged to school, crying, in the first few days of starting. I wasn't the only one, either. There's something to be said for play school, these days, I think!

Kylie, or Jason? That's a dreadful thought. My cousin called her young daughter Skye, after someone in Neighbours, apparently. Oh, dear. It's such a mistake, isn't it?

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Maggie – I think that we and others come into each other’s lives for a reason and then leave when the time is right. I find it easy enough to attract friends but these days I am such a home body that I don’t really make the effort with them. Tiredness and irritability with the menopause makes me a hell of a lot less sociable. Sorry to hear about your friends but I would imagine you are in their lives because they need you, that may very well be your gift to them.

Autiegwen – oh you are to kind in your comments. But I have become a grumpy old bag these last few years through the menopause. I am so intolerant of people these days and am not anywhere near as accommodating as I was in the past. Mostly because people let you down and I have a flippin massive dislike of people use other people. Himself and I are generous with our time and help, (I used to be much more generous and intend to get back to doing more), but we have both found over the years that some people just aren’t there for you when you need a favour back - they tend to be the emotional vampires or the terminally selfish who see to themselves first or even worse judgemental twats. I will help anyone but I can’t bear it when it becomes expected or even demanded; in fact the people who are usually the most deserving are the last people that would ask for help. That’s life but I have become so very choosy in who I have as friends as it’s quality over quantity that counts. As aye too hen.

Carolina – welcome and thank you for your lovely comment. Nope I don’t mind the Billy Connolly reference at all – oh to be so talented as him eh? He is a Glaswegian so we all have a pretty similar ways with us up there – except he’s a comic genius! I’ll pop over and have a look at your blog later. Thanks for leaving a comment as they are always welcome.

Ribbon – welcome and thank you – such a short but very complimentary comment!

Aims – ah without getting into a mutual ‘love-in’ here, I think it is a lot of us that are lucky to know you from your wonderful insights on your blog. Thank you.

WT – look at it this way, the three days it took you to read my war and peace like post meant you were busy here and not off annoying anyone or getting under Mrs WT’s feet! I hope it isn’t me that’s disappointed at the big pearly gate time eh?!

Mean Mom – oh I remember the tears so well too and yet by the end of the week I loved school and did ever after that. Skye – she’s ot a television network named after her now!

Stinking Billy said...

wee mob, Now, *that* was writing. God Bless. x

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Ah Billy, I am always touched that you are so encouraging of my writing. Thank you dear Man. X

Lane said...

Agree with Auntiegwen - your friends were (are) lucky to have you. Lovely post Mob. You capture the sadness just perfectly and always spiced with that dry humour:-)

San said...

Hi. I've seen you around on the other blogs. Today I saw you over at Mima's and my curiosity about Menopausal Old Bag got the best of me. So here I am.

It hurts SO bad to lose friends. I haven't lost any to death but to jobs which have taken them to far away locations. Yes, I do believe in those cords which keep our hearts tied together. Still, I miss the sitting down for coffee and heart-to-heart talking.

I believe you have discovered, however that these "ties that bind" may keep us in touch even beyond the grave. That's heartening.

Anonymous said...

What a talent, you always leave me wanting more MOB.
In the past ten months I have lost four good friends. Its strange two I didn't see very often , but we always picked up as if we had just spoken the day before.
They leave big gaps, but I think I didn't realise how big, until they left.

Life With Dogs said...

Sad and beautiful. I'm hooked.

Robin said...

MOB, friends are so important, aren't they? Sometimes more important than our spouses (don't let them know though.)

I believe there are things out there that we do not understand but are gifts from God.

blogthatmama said...

Great post MOB, some friendships are so precious.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I think there are some very lucky people in this world who get to call you friend, MOB. You know, this post made me tear up.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Lane – I think if you asked my friends now if they thought they were lucky to have me they would severely disagreed! I am grumpy, bitchy, angry, tearful and all from minute to minute! But when I feel good I can be kind! Thanks for such a nice comment.

San – welcome and thank you for such a nice comment. I do see more and more in life as I get older that hope plays a huge part in survival and I hope that there is an afterlife and that every person I’ve lost, every pet that I lost too will be there having a great time just waiting with a big glass of red wine for me when I get to wherever I get to!

Valley’s Mam – ah away with yerself – you’re the talent! Thanks VM you are such an encouragement. Big gaps, the older you get the more big gaps we find in our lives as friends and family pass on or move away. Time deals with it effectively and we learn to cope but never forget. Hugs and just think, you’ll be able to pick right up with them again next time you meet! But not too soon eh? We need you here!

Life with dogs – welcome and thank you for such a nice comment. I’ll pop over and have a look at your blog.

Robin – friends often outlast our spouses and are the backbone of our existence. I love the company of male and female friends alike and sometimes making a new friend when it was least expected is such a delight. But I am a damn sight more fussy in my old age. I agree about gifts from God, we need to value good friends more.

Blogthatmama – aye hen wise words as usual.

Wakeupandsmellthecoffee – I’d refer you to my first comment above, I am a grumpy miserable old bag from time to time but my plans for this year are to get fit, lose weight, get control of my severely depleted effing hormones and lose the mood swings big time. When I am calm I am in love with the world, when I am hormone deficient, I am a numpty of the first order.

Anonymous said...

Your posts are so thought-provoking and pleasurable to read, however sad this one is.

Keep an open mind. Ella needed to say goodbye and wouldn't have gone anywhere before she did.

CJ xx

beth said...

I come, I read, I always leave proud to be of Scottish decent! Thanks for another great story.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Crystal - I read your blog avidly and your connection with the spirits that you seem to have in your home fascinates me. The more I read the more open to it I become. I am so looking forward to your book coming out.

Beth - so you are of Scottish decent then? Grand lassie er are too! I knew there had to be some Celt in there!

the mother of this lot said...

So we don't get to find out what happened to Jenny then? I feel cheated beyond belief!!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

The Mother Of This Lot - Good to see you back. I don't know where Jenny is or what has happened to her. The family she had in Scotland - her grandparents - that I knew forty years ago are long dead now. I was on assignment in Sydney and Brisbane once and I tried to find her but there was no trace - I found my two old aunts instead though! One door closed as two more opened. Strange old world.

Anonymous said...

This was beautiful. Your writing goes right to my soul. Your connections don't surprise me at all, you are a caring, sensitive person. Your friendship is a true gift to other people. I'm so glad I "know" you and I LOVE your blog.

Thank you so very much for all the support. It means more than I can say.

Flowerpot said...

Sad but beautifully written - I'm right there with you MOB. Friendships like that are so special.

Tattie Weasle said...

I do love reading your blog, sorry I don't always comment - somethinmes they are so thought provoking, all the time they are entertaining!
Apologies I have tagged you for a picture, you're one of the first I've ever tagged - not sure whether that is a good or bad thing though...

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Cheryl – oh you big me up too much for someone of a meagre amount of skill but thank you for you are very generous in your feedback. Glad things are moving forwards for you with the girls.

Flowerpot – thank you so much. I’ve always valued good friendship and I think the older I become the more I do so. One gets stuck with a lot of acquaintances throughout life that we mistake for friends until the chips are down. I have found in the past that sometimes the friends you thought you could rely on do not match the ones that come through for you completely out of the blue.

Tattie weasel – thanks for the photo tag hen and the nice comments. I shall get around to it when himself lets me near the desktop – he’s busy on a case right now and so trying to access my photo files is like trying to get an appointment with a bank manager for a loan right now.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

Such a truly wonderful post!
You moved me to tears with your memories of your dear friends and then made me laugh with your last sentence about Kylie and Jason!
All in all I was gripped from start to finish and thank you for sharing all your memories and experiences!
Big Hug,
Donnie X

LittleBrownDog said...

This was just totally excellent, MOB. One of your very best. The way you mix fabulous humour with deep pathos is just... perfect. Because the very saddest times, in a way, are funny and ridiculous on one level.

I do hope you're still writing your book. And I hope you'll point me in the right direction to find it when it eventually comes out. Just brilliant.

crazyrivergirl said...

Love your blog, hen. Wonderful writing.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

The Brit – ah dearest Donnie, thank you so much for your really nice comment. The feedback is so very important as you know and I am chuffed that you enjoyed the story of my wee pals.

LBD – oh crikey now I am really humbled by your great comment given what a talented writer and journalist you are. It made me smile all last night! Yes I am working away on the book with a vengeance this year and it’s going great guns right now. Thanks again so much, all feedback is a great encouragement when the doubt creeps in.

Crazyrivergirl – welcome hen and thank you for your great comment.

david mcmahon said...

Standing ovation ....

Debra in France said...

You are such a brilliant writer. You write with such feeling, I could 'hear' the two little girls talking and playing. I cried over Ella, you were lucky to know each other and have such a wonderful friendship. You obviously attract these wonderful, special people, and I think it says alot about how special you are. I love your blog. Debra xx

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

David McMahon - thanks David and thanks for the wonderful posts you have been writing on the fires in Australia - very moving.

Debra thanks so much, you have always been really complimentary about my blog from the very start. I can remember so much of my time with Jenny and di make other friends along the way who are special in their own way too but you never really forget your first 'best friend' do you?

I think women who don't like other women and brag about just enjoying the company of men miss out on so much, but then those types are usually spoilt, vain and flirtatious to the point of excrutiating embarrassment! I have some great male pals ad I love the whole mix and I have had some terrific people in my life who astound me with their kindness and goodwill, as have all of us I suspect.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Amazing writing and memories..

Anonymous said...

Are we not lucky, we bloggers, to have such a plethera of writing talent at the click of a mouse? Mobs, that was so moving and beautifully written. It was long but I did not want it to end.I was there with you on your first day at school and heard your voice comforting the little girl, and felt your sadness at the loss of your friends. XX

Tessa said...

Lyrical, evocative, luminous writing. I 'saw' each and every person of whom you wrote. You make magic word pictures, MOB. I'm in awe.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Fat Frumpy and Fifty – thanks dear lady for such lovely feedback.

Moannie – thanks you have been very kind in your comments. I’m glad the story has been so well received as it was a pleasure to write if not quite sad because I am left wondering what happened to Jenny. I might look her up now that the net makes things so accessible but I am somewhat worried about what I would find out. Ella was a strong individual with great common sense and not a bit of pretension about her. She was a breath of fresh air and I still miss her. There aren’t too many people like her around. Shame!

Tessa – welcome and thank you for such a lovely comment. I am very touched by the feedback that this post has created and every comment is another nudge to keep going with my book.

Braja said...

Lol...loved the whole lot and the ending was beautiful

CrazyCath said...

Absolutely riveting. Fantastic writing. Just brilliant.

Congrats on POTD which brought me here but girl, your friendships evoked memories of mine. And none of my friendships happened like that. So THAT is powerful writing. Just brilliant.

CrazyCath said...

And I would just like to say I hear the Glaswegian in you hen every bit. (I'm an English lass but from the borders.)
Thanks for popping by (I actually wrote "pooping by" but I changed it) and for your kind comments.

Merisi said...

Thank you for sharing this story!

Congratuatlions on winning David's Post of the Day award, thanks to David that I got to visit here!

i beati said...

outstanding tributes to both your kidred blessed you were to have them

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Braja – welcome and thank you for your of course enlightened comments!

Crazy Cath – What a great name for a psychiatric nurse! You have to be a little bit crazy to read my blog and be so complimentary. So a Borders lass eh? The only bit I know about the borders is that fantastic Tebay service station at the borders. Never seen anything like it nestled in the hills beside pools with ducks and other local wildlife, home made soup that tastes amazing and a terrific selection of home style cooked food and all run by local residents. It is a model service station that puts the rubbishy rest to shame, Maybe you know it?

Merisi – welcome and thanks for your comment. Yes David is very generous handing out the post of the day award and it is always nice to have new people visit.

I beati – thanks, but they were the outstanding ones. I was lucky to know them and they remind me that before I hit the menopause I was even tempered, a good friend and attracted good people into my life. Luckily I still have a few that are inspirational either by the simplistic view of life or by the deeds they do for others.

Mary said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sandi McBride said...

I love that your friend called you MOB long before you were MOB and that you are such a wonderful writer and that I am lucky enough to come in and visit with you, nodding my head as though you could see me sitting here, taking in your story and loving every syllable of it...
hugs from across the pond

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Sandi - thanks, you made my day when I read your comment.

Mopsa said...

"Teeth like a bar chart", now I'm gonna admit that there is every chance I'll nick that phrase. Wonderful story.

Cath said...

Just to let you know I have had to move my blog. So please look in my profile for my new one and book mark it. The other two are closing down. Thanks.
(You don't have to publish this - it was just to let you know because I can't see an email address for you.)

Laydee said...

Absolutely lovely post.. whew.. I could feel my heart beat, longing for treasured friends I have lost.

® ♫ The Brit ♪ ® said...

You know I started to read your post here and then realised that I had already read it a while ago, but I read it again anyway as I love your writing and all the different and intelligent ways that you describe things!
This post reminds me so much of my own experiences of leaving family and friends back home in the U.K. - absolutely the worst thing about moving abroad! But we're creatures of change and habit and as you know at the moment I have many plans of change for 2009. I have been a creature of habit for the past four years... something that I have never been in my life as I am a very spontaneous person!
There is a wonderful phrase that I heard in a film a while ago: "Life is an occasion... rise to it!"
Big Hugs for you Lovely MOB and good luck with your own changes this year! X

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Mopsa – be my guest and use the phrase! Luckily her teeth had grown back by the time she was twelve – just in time to woo the boys!

Cath – thanks for letting me know the new address. I’ve bookmarked it but I published your comment as I needed to link to it to bookmark it anyway! Good luck with the new blog.

Laydee – ta hen. I find that the heartbreak of loss makes me appreciate what I have in my life now. I treasure my life deeply.

Brit – oh Donnie, it is lovely to see you back again from your travels. You really are missed dear boy! Thanks for another wonderful comment and I am so glad for you that you are heading off back to Rio. That must be incredibly exciting for you. I have come out of the doldrums these last few weeks with a huge change in diet and lifestyle and I am so completely happy and excited about life again. It has been a gradual climb but my God, I am at the top of a mountain looking down instead of in a valley looking up. I haven’t felt like this in years so I am going to make the best of it. I love your last comment – yes I agree completely – I am going to rise to the occasion!

Retiredandcrazy said...

You are a wonderful, wonderful person MOB. A friend in a million. And I can just hear you saying "Oh fer feck sake!". Incidentally OG comes from Glasgow and he is a mad, crazy person too!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Whoa girl..powerful stuff, such an evocative post. brings back memories of a friend who died after a battle with cancer over 18 months. so fast, so awful, we weren't close like your relationship, but it really hit me between the eyes.

friendships can be so powerful they can throw you off balance sometimes.

great words and tribute..

I must say my curiosity is piqued by your HRT blog..of which it is the bane of my life currently..another topic for another post..may alienate my male pals.


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Retired and crazy – No never, I am not at all like that. Ella was the kind of person that inspired even the most selfish of people to help her. It was all done in a quiet unassuming way. She never demanded it, you never even thought about the reasons you offered help, not one of us was a saint. It was the most natural thing in the world to help her because she ever expected it. She was the one with humility, honour and respect – not us, well certainly not me.

FFF – the other HRT babe blog is about stuff that is quite different to this blog. It’s about coming out of the negative mind set and depression that I had over the last four years of the menopause. It is about how with my negative state I allowed people of the same mind set into my life – even though they were not suffering from the menopause they were stupendously negative and judgemental – and how they were a negative force. It isn’t that interesting but it allows me a platform to have a rant about people that drive me nuts, are selfish, are abusive towards others, are full of self entitlement and about how great I feel coming out of the menopause and how I will no longer put up with the crap of these people dish out and how hat I wouldn’t normally spend the time of day with. It’s truly not that interesting but it can be wicked! Crikey, if only they could be a fly on the wall eh?!

Jay said...

"Although I believe in God, or at least a higher being, I am not inclined to believe in spirits and such like and with a science background tend to be pragmatic about what happens after death but this 'visit' from Ella I cannot explain"

There is so much in your post that I can identify with, but this statement really stands out. I am struggling at the moment with a similar dichotomy of feeling. I believe in God - or at least a higher being - but mainstream religion has so many elements I can't deal with. However, certain experiences, like yours with Ella, have taught me that there is no black and white. Science and rational thinking cannot explain everything because we simply don't have all the pieces of the puzzle, do we?

Your description of being left at school stirred memories of my own abandonment which I thought I'd forgotten. I suddenly remembered which coat Mum was wearing that day - I can see her back now, as she walked away - and exactly which window I was staring out from, in which room ...

I like the way you write. You are very talented! I'm glad you popped in to see me!

loong said...

When you smile, I smile, that’s the deal.
I will not walk past you and not look you in the eyes and not acknowledge you.
Instead we will pass each other and say hello.

Not with our words, for they are not the same; but with our faces.
I meet you and I see there is good in your eyes, there's passion in your heart and there's a friendly hello in your smile.

And for the first time we can relate and appreciate each other.
That’s all it takes, that’s where it starts.
Because I know that you will smile and I will smile and the rest is easy.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Jay – I had a Catholic upbringing, school, home, church. I do understand the struggle to understand what is out there. I made a deal with God one night when I was falling to pieces after my parents died and I was struggling to stop crying, to take deep breaths. I guess it was a panic attack but I didn’t know that then. I found I had to believe in a higher being as I so desperately want to see my family again one day. It was the only way I could come to terms with losing them together. I don’t practice Catholicism - organised religion leaves me cold, but I pray in my own way and live by Christian standards – well mostly! I think we all need something to believe in. Thanks for your lovely comment too.

Loong – thank you! A lovely piece of prose!

GoneBackSouth said...

Oh, MOB, you write about amazing things with an astonishingly compelling style - I love reading your posts. Thanks too for the kind words you said over at mine! I'll be reading you still. See you SOON! x

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

GBS - Thank you for such lovely words and from a talented writer like yourself too. I can't wait to see your new blog. Come back soon dear girl. You wsill be missed.

Casdok said...

Beautiful and sad. So well written. You have talent girl!