We hadn’t been in the bungalow very long when I had a phone call from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while.
I’d met her in 1982 whilst temping in Bath and we’d struck up a friendship. She had never been a well person, having major surgeries in her 20s followed by brain scans and various tests in her 30s before finally being diagnosed with MS a few months before we met.
She never let things get her down though, led an active life holding down a career, and we spent quite a lot of social time together as well as in the office as she lived alone with her cocker spaniel about 15 miles from where I lived.
I remember one day asking if she’d like to join me on a trip down to see my parents.
She jumped at the chance as she could no longer drive, so we loaded her wheelchair in the boot and set off.
We had a smashing day, my parents making her most welcome, liking her immediately.
After I left the area in 1989, we kept in touch, but had never managed to meet up, which is what had instigated her call.
I asked her how she was, and she said ‘Actually, I’m not very well.’
She had received some bad news from the hospital and was hoping we could arrange a meeting so that she could say goodbye.
I was gutted, but never got to see her again, and only learned of her death when my letter containing a selection of dates was returned by her mother when going through her belongings a month or so later.
She was in her early forties.
Around the same time, someone I knew had an ulcerated leg, and after the initial ‘How are you?’ knew better than to ask him how it was as it would lead to at least an hour of festerings, weepings and dressings before I could get away. He seemed to thrive on his ill-health issues, which were compounded by bad hygiene practices and poor eating habits.
Such a contrast to my friend who never complained and made the most of her life.
We all feel obliged to ask out of politeness though don’t we, but in truth don’t expect a negative response, tales of woe or an in-depth description of recent bodily functions.
Time is a cruel entity.
We waste so much of it, then when it really matters, there is never enough, and before we know it, it’s too late.
We can never go back and change what was.
We can however make the most of what is, and make time for what’s important.