Friends and Neighbours and Family

“I think if I've learned anything about friendship, it's to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don't walk away, don't be distracted, don't be too busy or tired, don't take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” ~ John Katz 


 
I only have a handful of 'real' friends.  Not having any family or children, friends become even more important.  Yes, I have quite a few 'virtual' friends - but it isn't really the same.  Spending time with real people is so much more rewarding, even though I feel as though I have bonded with a few blogging  buddies.  So when one of your friends moves away to pastures new, and you know you won't see her everyday, over the garden fence, or when she pops round on a whim for a chat and a cuppa - when you discuss everything under the sun, when you enjoy the same things and understand one another - then it is like a loss.
 
Yes, I am sure we will keep in touch, send birthday and Christmas cards; visit occasionally - but it won't be the same.  She came round before she left with a gift; a print of hers that I had always admired (see above).  What a kind gesture.
 
I have been to see her new home; a 17th century rectory in a beautiful village a few miles away, where she will begin her life again.  I wish her well.
 
I have met my new neighbour and she seems very nice.

Remembering Fred
 
This isn't my normal type of post but I felt I wanted to write about my dear old Dad whose birthday it is today.  He would have been 94 had he still been alive but he passed away 19 years ago.
 
 

Here he is looking hale and hearty.
  This photo was taken on his last holiday with my Mum before she died.

He was a quiet, shy man who worked hard to give us a good home. I get my creativity from him as well as looking a little like him too - I have inherited a lot of his personality traits.

 
This one was taken after Mum died - we are both looking rather sad and a little forlorn.
  He seemed to age overnight and lost a lot of weight.  He was never really his old self again.
 
He had a talent for art and in his youth was a great caricaturist of the famous people of his day.  I never saw him read a book but he would write lyrics for songs with Shirley Bassey in mind - I can still remember them and could  sing them now - unfortunately, none of them ever reached Miss Bassey. 
 


I only have one letter from him in my possession; something I treasure - written in 1964 when I went away on a school trip - when I read it, it takes me right back to living at home and family life - written with a sense of humour you rarely saw on a day to day basis.  He had beautiful handwriting. 
 
 
His name was George but everyone called him Fred - George Frederick, the same as his father and his grandfather before him.
 
He was a good man who has left a void in my life but I can only look back on my memories of him with a smile.  I hope you don't think this post is too self-indulgent.

And to finish off here is a little video I found of an amazing 86 year old woman.

'Til next time.
Elaine

Comments

  1. What a lovely print you received from your friend who moved away. I know what you mean about real friends and e-friends or blogging buddies. There's nothing like a real friend to have heart to heart exchanges, is there?
    So lovely to see your affection for your dad and remember him so lovingly on his day of birth. Those we have loved and lost physically remain with us in essence forever.

    What a marvel that 86 year-old woman is. I'm impressed!

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    1. Thank you for responding so well in your comment - it is good to know that you recognise the feeling I was trying to put over in this post. It was good for me to put my thoughts into words - sort of cathartic.

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  2. I agree that once we are separated by many miles friendships do not sadly remain quite the same.
    It is a lovely print that your friend gave you and looks particularly attractive sitting beneath your clumps of Rowan! berries.
    I only have a recipe written in my mother's hand which I cherish, her writing is very similar to your fathers. Do you remember when learning to write at school and having to do row upon row of letters until they were done exactly as the teacher wanted them?
    That 86 year old is amazing - she is so strong and what a good figure she has too.

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    1. Dear Rosemary - I have kept a lot of postcards that my Mum wrote and a handwritten recipe from my grandma for Sage and Onion Yorkshire Pudding.
      Yes I do remember all that letter practicing at school, made worse because I was left-handed and really struggled - because all my letters sloped backwards - which the teacher tried to knock out of me.
      I couldn't quite believe the strength of that lady and her amazingly toned body.

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  3. Such lovely reminders of your Dad, Elaine; that beautifully written letter must be priceless and so precious to you.
    I have a very few close friends and they are so important to me, because even though I have family, it's my friends who I open up to when anything is bothering me. I love that 'blue' print and I do hope you will be able to still spend good times with the friend who has moved a few miles away.
    I had a lovely day out yesterday with a friend who I used to work with many years ago but contacted again thanks to Facebook - and it was as though we'd never been apart. (Photos of our day on my blog).

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    1. When I was thinking of writing this post I went through all my photo albums looking for pictures of my Dad and just the act of doing that brought back so many memories - it turned into a rather happy exercise. I do treasure that letter as it is the only one addressed to me - but I do have letters he wrote to my Mum when they were 'courting' they are really old, obviously, and a bit battered but do give me a great insight as to what they were like as young people. As you say - priceless.

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  4. A great and heartwarming post indeed. Greetings and best wishes!

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  5. Self reflection is necessary from time to time, so no, not at all self indulgent. After all isn't that why we blog and have our blog friends. I can relate so well. My two dearest friends live miles and hours away. One is my childhood companion. She comes to visit occasionally, especially now that her grandson is attending university nearby. We keep in touch through Facebook. The other is two hours away and comes to stay when they have business or doctor's appointments on the Front Range. We chat on the phone everyday. New friends are treasures, but they don't know our histories. Sweet memories of your dad. Isn't it nice to be able to write about him?

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    1. I do have a long-term friend from way back to school days - we email each other occasionally to keep in touch, when you consider that it is almost 50 years, it is not bad going. And yes it was good to be able to write about him - although I almost decided not too, thinking you all might think it a bit sloppy and sentimental.

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  6. Not self indulgent at all. There are certain dates aren't there, when we are revisited by memories. This week it's been a year since my mother died and I've thought about her a lot. Tis only right.

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    1. It doesn't seem that long ago since your mother died - I can't believe it is a year already. I am not very good at remembering dates on the whole (I have never once remembered my wedding anniversary). But Mum and Dad's birthdays always stuck. And like you I have thought about my Dad a lot today - I'm not sure he would have been happy with me for blogging about him though!

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  7. Oh I love this post Elaine. Friends are like family. I know you'll see her often. What a gorgeous print. My mother (and really my entire family) died when I was 17 and it still hurts as she was that glue that held our family together. Love and loss. They do go hand in hand.

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    1. Thank you Donna. I hope you are right that we will keep in touch. Sorry to hear about your family - that must have been hard for you - and yes mothers do tend to keep the family together - without them we do drift apart, sadly.

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  8. So nice you write about the memories to your father, self indulgent I don't see why, you must be glad to be able to write about him in this way, I love that. Your friend gave you a beautiful blue and sunny print, she has moved but I'm sure you will see her now and then for a chat.

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    1. Thanks Janneke - I nearly didn't do this post because they were kind of private thoughts but I'm glad I did now - a sort of tribute to a father who gave me a very happy childhood.

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  9. Lovely photos of your dad, and your mum and dad together Elaine. I think of my parents everyday. And we talk about them a lot, especially my mum. My father;s birthday was on the 30 September and he would have been 99 this year but sadly he died a very long time ago. Your father had lovely handwriting, as did mine, and although I haven't got any letters from him I have some bits of his writing on old envelopes that he wrote and I treasure them as the only part of him that I have left. This post makes me feel quiet and sad and thoughtful all at once and I fully understand it and how you feel. I have a few close friends and they are important to me too. I thought of you today as I went across the Fens on the train and all the views of the sky and the fields for miles and I hadn't got my camera with me. I thought Elaine would have her camera.

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    1. Thanks Rachel. I had a lovely time going all through the photos trying to find one of how I remembered him. I think in the old days they were taught to write properly, I loved to watch him write his style was so flamboyant. I think if you had a happy childhood then thinking and reminiscing about your parents can't be a bad thing. I definitely prefer having a few close friends than lots of people I hardly know. And yes, you are right, I would definitely have had my camera with me - you know me so well.

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  10. Not in the slightest indulgent. It is very kind of you to share your precious memories of your Dad with us, he was obviously a great man and father to you! Friends are as important as family and can be family, I am glad that you have a circle of good friends. xx

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    1. Thanks Amy. I must admit it did feel strange doing this post as I don't usually talk about personal things - and you are right about having some good friends to talk to - I think that is why I shall miss my neighbour so much - she always had time for a good chat.

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  11. A lovely post Elaine.
    It is heartwarming to read a post to a man you loved so much, to remember the lives you shared.
    Family and friends are always worth sharing...
    Susan x

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    1. Thank you Susan. I could have written a much longer post about him and me but I didn't want to bore you all to death.

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  12. What a lovely print your friend has given you. Even though the friendship will change with her moving away you will always be friends and, when you meet up again, it will be as though you have never been apart.

    I liked reading about your Dad. I have just come from a funeral for the father of a friend he was 96. He lived just around the corner from me and his wife died just seven months ago.

    Loved the clip of the gymnast.

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    1. I was thrilled and quite surprised when she stood on the doorstep with the print - I was quite moved.

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  13. The tribute to your father is definitely not self-indulgent - what beautiful handwriting. I'm sure you will miss your friend, though she has not moved too far away.

    Ms Soup

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    1. I had terrible handwriting and tried to copy his but never quite managed it - but I used to practice a lot until it became a bit more stylish. Yes, I will miss her that's for sure.

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  14. What a beautiful tribute to your father, I think it is important to keep memories alive :). It was interesting looking at your fathers handwriting it is just like my great aunts' who celebrated her 98th birthday last month. I hear you on friends. When you find a good one, someone who you really connect with, they are keepers. I do hope you can find a way to keep it going and see each other as often as possible, different but still good.

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    1. Thank you. I think that generation were taught differently than ours - lots of loops and fancy bits. Yes, it will be different with my friend, but I am sure we will keep in contact one way or another.

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  15. A nice, heartfelt post. Flighty xx

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    1. Thanks Flighty - it was heartfelt.

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  16. I think that this is a wonderful post Elaine ..... thoughts and memories of loved ones, both gone but in different ways. My Dad died at the age of 91 .... he would have been 98 this year. He wrote to my Mum nearly everyday when he was away at war and we still have all of his and her letters !! We had a wonderful childhood and I think of them { and other members of our family who are no longer with us } everyday. I hope that you make as good a reltionship with your new neighbour as you had with your old one. XXXX

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    1. Thanks Jackie. I am the same and often think about my parents and grandparents - and think myself lucky that I have such happy memories.

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  17. You never get over the loss of your parents do you? My mum died 27 years ago and my dad 21 years ago and it still feels as fresh as if it was yesterday.
    As for you my mum died first and my dad never really was the same after that either. There always seemed to be something missing from his side.
    Funnily enough he had the same as his father it was the tradition wasn't it in those days?

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    1. No you don't Sue. My Dad didn't really know what to do with himself after Mum had gone and there was no question of him meeting anyone else - I think he just pined away in the end. That name thing was a problem when I was trying to trace family members to make my family tree - everyone in Sheffield seemed to be called George Frederick Watson (my maiden name).

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  18. Elaine
    I think this is a wonderful post.
    I was so fortunate to spend time yesterday with my dear dad who is 90yrs - he keeps very well. Unfortunately we lost my dear mum a few years ago .. and I have been thinking of her quite a lot recently. Some wonderful memories which are very special.

    Family, friends ... time passes and things change. Yes, our family but also friends are important and I think it only in later life do we truly realise and appreciate this ...

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan. I am pleased for you that your Dad is still going strong. Unfortunately mine suffered a lot of ill health towards the end so it was a merciful release when he finally passed away. Yes, I agree, friends become more important as we get older that's for sure.

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  20. What a beautifully written and moving tribute to your dear Dad. I'm sorry your friend is moving away, that is tough. Good friends are like treasures. The wonderful thing about close friends is that when we do meet up with them again it is as if no time has passed at all. I love the print. What a kind gift from your lovely friend. Wishing you a peaceful weekend :)

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    1. Thank you Suzy kind of you to say. Good friends are few and far between but when we meet up again I am sure we will still have plenty to talk about. Have a lovely weekend yourself.

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  21. I found this post to be very moving, and how heartfelt....losing parents is unbearable, and I don't think we ever really get over it. What a lovely photo of you dad, yes, you do look like him and his handwriting is beautiful. I sympathise with you re your friend moving away, good friends are hard to come by. My dad always said that if you could count true friends on one hand you'd be blessed, although most people would be lucky to count just one.Her parting gift is beautiful! I'd certainly count you as a blogging buddy that I've come to value, I feel I know you quite well!xxx

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    1. Thank you Dina for being so understanding two of the worst days of my life were losing my Mum and Dad I think about them often and it gives me a great deal of pleasure doing so. Your Dad was a wise man true friends are hard to find and I am glad I can count you as a valued blogging buddy. Bless you.

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  22. A very moving post Elaine (pun not intended) and I can relate to how you feel about your friend's move to another neighbourhood. I wish I'd got a letter from my dad that I could read now. Be self indulgent, it's all about memories. P x

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    1. Hi Patricia - long time no see - how are you? Oh yes, memories are so important - as long as we don't dwell on them too much.

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  23. Such sweet memories. My father died at 53, when I was just 18 years old. I think it's lovely that you have such a letter from your dad.

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    1. Oh I am so sorry to hear that - 53 is no age is it. I am grateful that I thought to keep it to read from time to time - kept in my box of special treasures.

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  24. Ah Elaine - what a truly lovely post. Your dad looks and sounds like such a wonderful man. I am so glad you have that beautiful letter and know it warms your heart when it is hurting. Sorry to read about your friend moving. Hubby and I have had a similar situation so I understand. Hugs!

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    1. Thank you Debbie. I still miss him even after all this time.

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  25. I lived in the small hamlet above where I now work and never before had I grown to know and love my neighbours so much. It was so important to us when moving into the middle of nowhere to have someone popping over for a bottle of wine and for their 'urchins' walking into our kitchen demanding a cup of sugar or a couple of eggs. We are still friends now that we have moved away but yes, it isn't the same. Beautiful post, Elaine. Dave p.s. Ms Bassey might like to see those songs!?

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    1. Thanks Dave. I am sure my Dad sent some to her agent at one time - but I don't know what became of them. Nothing I expect.

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  26. A lovely tribute to your beloved father, Elaine.
    Having just left a handful of co-workers who are also good friends, I can appreciate your sense of loss. Keeping in touch is never quite the same as having someone close at hand to point to something and laugh together. ('tis nikkipolani; Blogger won't let me post with my Wordpress creds)

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    1. Thank you Anne. It was an easy post to write - I could have gone on for pages! Hope you are enjoying your new job.

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  27. I just said goodbye to my best friend. I only see her now about once a year. I always feel a new loss and melancholy when she leaves. I have a handful of close friends rather than scads, so I don't like losing any of them! Your memories of your father struck a chord with me. I often remember my mother who died long ago when I was in my 30's. Sometimes, I ask myself what she would advise in certain situations. That video of the gymnast is incredible - I wish I had her strength and grace (and I'm "only" 71)!

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    1. I lost my mother when I was in my thirties too - I still miss her every day. The loss of a parent never goes away does it.

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  28. That is a beautiful tribute to your dad. You were blessed to have had him in your life.

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    1. I certainly was Aisling - thank you.

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  29. I hope your friendship will stay strong despite the miles apart. It was lovely hearing reading about your Father he sounds a lovely man. I too have an image of my Dad a few weeks after my Mum died I too find it sad to look at. Sarah x

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    1. Hope so Sarah. I know the feeling well.

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  30. Such a lovely tribute to your father. And in a different way to your friend. I do hope the short distance she's moved means you haven't really lost her though. My best friend moved to New Zealand eleven years ago and I haven't seen her since and these days rarely hear from her.

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    1. Thanks Annie. It is never the same when friends move away but life goes on.

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  31. Friendship is enormously important and often undervalued. Having a close friend move can be difficult, especially if they don't stay in touch. But if she's not too far, go see her often. My father died at 55 and I still miss him, too.

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    1. Thanks for visiting Tammy - sorry to hear your father died so young 55 is no age. I will try to keep in touch with my friend even if it is only by email.

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