Thursday, 30 June 2016

People from my past I would love to see again


Although Nicola wasn't a close friend she was somebody that Ella and I saw quite regularly and she was somebody who has had a major impact on our lives. You see Nicola was what you would call a typical Children's Home girl. A victim of circumstances, of bad luck and of institutional indifference.
Nicola came into the Care system quite late and after a couple of unsuccessful foster placements she opted for life in a Children's Home. Ella and I are still in touch with Nicola's final set of foster parents and we have found out more about Nicola from them. They have had lots of foster children since Nicola but they still remember her - “She was an artistic girl and we still have one of her pictures in the house. Nicola never settled down to life in our small village and after a few months everybody agreed it would be best for her placement to be ended.”
So Nicola then went back to the Children's Home then, at 18, out into the world. She died just over 3 years later. What Nicola really needed was a special friend to share her daily life but that didn’t seem to have happened. It seems such a waste to die at 21, especially if you didn’t have many happy times in your life. Nicola went into hospital for minor elective surgery and the wound had got infected with MRSA. When Nicola (finally) told her former foster parents how ill she was they visited her every day from then until she died.
We saw Nicola alive and well only a few weeks before she passed away. I can still remember the last time we spoke. She was stacking the tinned vegetable shelves in the supermarket where she worked and we shopped and we had our usual quick exchange of news.

Nicola wasn’t stupid – not by any means – and if she had been given just a bit more encouragement to stay on at school who knows what might have happened. Ella’s baby was named after her and not long after she was born we got a lovely surprise in the form of cheque for £500 from Nicola's last set of foster parents. They wanted to pass on to us all the money that Nicola had left them in her will. When Nicola realised she was dying she wrote a will that was witnessed by hospital staff. She divided the little she had into 3 pieces and her last foster parents had this one third they have now passed on to us. Another third purchased a bench outside the supermarket where she had worked and one third went to buy games and toys for the Children’s Home that she (and Ella and I of course) had attended.

Nicola’s birthday was in early August so on the closest Sunday to the date Ella and I go up to the cemetery and give her headstone a good cleaning. On the way home I like to drop into the church to light a candle for her. Wherever she is I hope she is safe and warm and happy. It could so easily have been Ella or I or another one of our friends buried in the cemetery if things had worked out just a bit differently. And that it a strange and sombre thought!

I think Nicola would be both touched and surprised that people still remember her short life but Ella and I do think of her quite often and I know we are not alone in missing her.

May she rest in peace.

Friday, 3 June 2016

A bloggers holiday

Ella and I are going to have a few weeks break from blogging but fear not we will be returning at the start of July! June is a particularly busy month for the four grown-ups in our house so something had to be sacrificed if the total workload was going to remain manageable.

The theme for this week's blog entry is house-hunting. Now we don't usually buy the local newspaper but by chance somebody had left a copy on a bench in the local shopping centre so I was able to have a free read.

There was the usual mixture of not very exciting local news and sport plus a large pull-out section of houses for sale. Long-time readers might remember that we have been thinking about moving out of the centre of the town to somewhere that is a bit quieter and more pleasant for bringing up the children. We have viewed a handful of houses over the last few years but nothing we looked at seemed much better than where we are now so we haven't made any progress. However there was one house that caught my eye so I phoned up the agent and arranged to go round for a proper viewing. My first thought was that the location wasn't ideal because it was almost too rural - the house is one of a small group of about 8 that are close together but there are no other facilities nearby. No shop, no pub and no public transport.

The house itself is 25 years old but has recently been updated. The family who were living in it have moved to Austria when the husband got a new job so it is currently empty with the owners (presumably?) looking for a quick sale. It has lovely gardens front and back that would be ideal for the little ones to play in both now but also as they grow up. The kitchen is huge, almost too big just for a kitchen but probably just too small to use as a kitchen-diner. Downstairs there is also a small dining room, a large lounge, a medium sized study plus a family bathroom with bath, shower and WC. All the carpets and curtains are included in the price which is a plus.

Upstairs there are three double bedrooms (one en-suite) and a single bedroom. There is another bathroom as well - but this was the only room in the house that needed updating.

If only this house could have been in a better location! The more I thought about it the more I realised that the location was just too big a disadvantage to be counter-balanced by the house itself. So we are back to the start of the process - yet again.