A short story of a childhood friend and the memories we made over many many years
| A LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP
Several weeks ago a friend of mine died. Although death is not unexpected it can come as a shock. I found her death hard to take in until I was able to speak and write about it. It was then it became real.
We met when she moved into my street with her family we were both 6 years old at that time. Our childhood was a happy one and even today I can be carried back to that time when we were young and cared for. It was a special time and smells, tastes, music and memories can so easily transport us back.
We lived in a street where there were a lot of children so we always had someone to play with. Every Christmas all the children would come out of their houses on their new bikes or dolls and other toys.
I had a cubby house in the back yard and Diane has often reminded me how I would make up stories for our friends who had to act them out in the cubby house. My part was always the father who came in from work and sat in his favourite chair and read the paper (in my case it was always a book).
Guy Fawkes night was always popular. The whole street became involved including all the dogs. One of them kept catching the fireworks in his mouth, I don't remember there being any accidents with the fireworks but I'm sure there must have been.
Diane and I spent a lot of time at each other's place and having lots of sleepovers , even sharing the same bed where we talked and laughed and were constantly in trouble for not going to sleep. Try as we might we couldn't stay awake to have a midnight feast.
When we both turned 8 years old Diane contracted polio and I often wonder why it was just her and not both of us.
I can still see the man from the Council talking to my Teacher, Mrs Coleman and telling her he was taking my brother and I home where we spent a long time in Quarantine.
Diane's siblings were also in Quarantine. I can still remember all of us calling out and talking to each other from a block or so away. They were the only children we were allowed to have contact with.
Diane spent a long time in hospital as a result of Polio which was followed by rheumatic fever.
When she finally returned to school Diane was determined to be exactly the same as her peers and also expected to be treated the same.
As a teen she decided to throw away her Calipers as she didn't think they were helping and were rather uncomfortable.
Diane met and married a lovely man who loved her and she him, it was a marriage of a lifetime.
She was advised at the time not to have children because it would be detrimental to her heart. Believe me that girl had the biggest heart ever. Against medical advice (which was unheard of in the 60's) she went ahead and had 3 children who have grown up to be happy healthy strong independent adults and a valuable part of the community.
When she had her first baby I spent a week with her at her home in case she needed help. Really what would I know about child birth or what babies need. Diane rose to the occasion and I don't remember her needing help at all.
I am left with lots of lasting memories and reminders that we are all only here for a short time. Diane may be no longer with us but she has inspired me to look at my life and stick to my goals.
I love this quote from J.R.R. Tolkein.
'I wish it need not have happened in my time' said Frodo.
'So do I,' said Gandalf 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring