Saturday, March 08, 2008


Story contd.

The day after William’s’ query heart attack’ I visited him in hospital and was somewhat reassured. The doctor said that as the same thing had happened to a man in our street, it could be a viral infection. William himself was highly indignant that a nurse had put talcum powder on him; he was never going to be a fan of male cosmetics and as soon as he was able he was sitting up in bed with pad and pencil, asking the medical staff questions. One of the doctors asked him what his profession was and said he wasn’t at all surprised when William said he was a statistician.

When the tests came back and confirmed that he had indeed had a heart attack we went through the trauma once more. I considered that the boys and William were in my care and I felt responsible – as if it were my fault. The doctor pointed out that his parent’s medical history were part of the problem. Meanwhile our lives were on hold until we could get back to some sort of normality.

The boys were great – taking it in their stride and casually dropping in – with their friends – as teenagers do – to visit their father, which delighted William and mesmerised the nurses. No amount of nagging from me would inspire William to adopt a healthier regime so I was relieved when he decided to tackle the problem scientifically and after reading countless books stuck to a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

Heart attack and stroke victims are not the easiest of patients – understandable when you consider the frustrations they must feel- and at times I felt I was walking on egg-shells. Once he was well enough to go home we had a talk about the future. His doctor told him he shouldn’t become a ‘coronary cripple’. In other words get on with your life. He was 48 – the classic age for a coronary – a non smoker, but his mother had always shown her love by giving him enormous portions of food and so he tended to be a little overweight. Once he had read a few diet books (I think the Scarsdale diet was one of them) and adopted their principles, the weight dropped off him. Strange pounding noises came from his study where he would be doing Canadian Air Force exercises – they were famous then and even Prince Phillip was said to do them.

I asked William to give up his job in the city and stop commuting. We could downsize – the shop was doing well- we could make do with one car and live more simply. William was adamant that he would not give up his job and when I suggested that, at least we should share the responsibility and I take some of the financial worries like paying bills etc he thought I was criticising his ability and went into a sulk so I had to leave it to him.

Slowly but surely he got better and after a convalescence which included a spell in Queen Victoria’s second home on the Isle of Wight, he went back to work. Because of his illness we had missed the canal holiday so I suggested the two of us should have a late summer holiday abroad – our first alone together since the boys were little. We went to a Travel agent in the town and after a while I despaired of our ever agreeing about anything.

At last we settled on a trip to mainland Greece – the first for both of us. I t turned out to be a spiritual home. From the moment we looked down from the plane on that incredible sea we were hooked for ever. Now there were two places where we could live peacefully together - on a boat and in Greece. We walked, hired a car, explored the countryside and rode donkeys up a mountain. Whilst I read on the beach William would go off with his phrase book and often end up arm in arm with an ancient Greek.

The first time we were on the beach a grizzled man with a Greek moustache grabbed William’s arm and guided him into the water. Slowly we realised he just wanted to show this stranger what a wonderful place his country was – and we were captivated.

The holiday did us both a power of good and reminded us that we still valued each other’s friendship.


Years later when we lived separate lives, William’s death was a shattering experience. The boys and I decided that, as I was persona non grata with William’s family, it would be easier all round if I didn’t attend the funeral. Vanessa, my old nursing friend who William had been fond of, kindly agreed to go as my representative. William’s brother, at the Wake afterwards, approached and asked her who she was. When she said she was an old friend of Pat he walked off without a word.

On the day of the funeral I sat in our local church and felt quite numb. That summer MTL and I were in Greece, sitting in a beach café, when the grief caught up with me and MTL sat patiently by whilst I sobbed until I could cry no more.


granny p said...

You know I know about this, Pat - didn't go to my ex's funeral either. Agony. Hands across the Atlantic and all that.

Meantime; this isn't so sympathetic - I tagged very sorry...but..xx

sage said...

THanks for sharing--such grief, I was moved reading about the funeral and your inability to be there and the tears. Here from Michele's.

PI said...

grannyp: yes I remember - you understand.
I'm a me-me free zone-see side bar - the reason being 'Past Imperfect' is all about me and enough is enough. Please forgive me but I don't want to offend the ones I've already refused.

PI said...

Sage: hope I didn't make you too sad on a Saturday:)

Kanani said...

Sorry his family couldn't pull it together to put things in the proper perspective when he passed. Anyway, at least the two of you had Greece. Nothing tops that.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

That was very moving, Pat. I dare say I will feel the same when my ex turns up his toes, which, the way he's going, will be well before me. And I don't think his family will invite me to the funeral either.

R. Sherman said...

Funny thing about grief; it sneaks up on you when you least expect it -- after the shock and numbness have worn off and you believe things are back to "normal."

I'm glad the two of you had a nice time in Greece. It is obviously a pleasant memory for you. Thanks for sharing it.


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, Pat. What small people they were to be so cold!

The story up until that point is fabulous. You're a natural storyteller!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oops. Michele sent me today. I've been so busy on weekends, I haven't been around -- and I almost forgot about our friend Michele.

Anne said...

Hi Pat, Michele sent me this way today, it's been a while since I've been here.

Very touching story, thanks for sharing. You make Greece sound wonderful, I'll have to add it to my travel list.

PI said...

ALL: I keep losing my comments today so will do them one at a time.

PI said...

Kanani: we had Greece and two smashing sons.

Daphne: actually my sons were in charge of the funeral and we decided together that it would be best if I didn't go out of consideration for William's family. It was hard but I wanted to make it a easy as possible for the boys. They kept me informed every step of the way and I persuaded them to take their girl friends out for a special meal when it was over. Both of them married said girl friends shortly afterwards.

PI said...

Randall: that is so very true.

Susan: thank you - that is kind of you. I often forget what day it is:)

Anne: do go to Greece. You won't regret it.

Bob-kat said...

It's amazing how a significant event or place can trigger emotions thta were so deeply hidden even from onesself. Greece sounds like a very special place for you.

Thanks for your kind words on my blog about my Mastes studies. They were much appreciated. Michele sent me over to say hello!

PI said...

Bob-kat: it did take me completely by surprise and I was glad I didn't need to explain to MTL. He seemed to understand.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Kalimera! I too love Greece; if I ever emigrate, it would be top of my list of places to live (off the tourist trail of course).

It sounds to me as if you and William, and later you and your sons, navigated difficult familial waters with a considerable amount of skill. It evidently wasn't easy, though. It's so sad when families continue hostilities through funerals; I see a lot of it. I think YTL is ace.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Sad to know that things ended so badly with William's family...!
And you and William---
What is that expression Pat? "....lives of quiet deperatiuon"....It sounds like you and William made some kind of peace with one another but it was not really a happy peace.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A wonderfully told story. The part about the funeral was particularly moving.

I have visited the cultural areas of Greece, including Delphi, and found it very beautiful.

Michele sent me here.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Pat, thanks so much for your lovely words, my dear....a "Sreen Goddess"....Oh My! Now that is something to contemplate...! (LOL)

sablonneuse said...

Ooh what an episode. It's sad when you know a relationship is fallng apart 'gently' and you don't feel too negative about one another but you're still aware that things are not 'right'. It's made even worse when one partner is ill.

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

Greece sounds like it has more than just the pull of its beauty on you but a very dear emotional draw too. That was a moving account, Pat. You were extraordinarily generous in deciding not attending William's funeral for the sake of some rather ungenerous sounding people. It must have been difficult not to go.


Their loss babe (((hugs)))

Anyroad, if owt happens after you shuffle off he knew so that's what counts. x

Casdok said...

So moveing, amd what a wonderful sensative person you are to consider others feelings.
Im glad you have special memories.

PI said...

Zinnia: I didn't expect people to be quite so sympathetic. I suppose , at the time, I felt I deserved it.

Naomi: that is a fitting description a lot of the time. When each of the boys married I came face to face with William's family and all behaved in a civilised fashion. Your face deserves the description.

Jean-luc: never mind Naples! See Delphi and die!

sablonneuse: indeed!

PI said...

Sam: it is easy to be generous when you find happiness at last. The boys gave William his greatest happiness and I would never have done anything to change that. William used to say that a broken marriage was usually 50/50. If some people wanted it to be a goody and a baddy, I was prepared to take the latter role.

4d: thank you honey.

casdok: some good memories and a shared SOH!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Greece! I adore Crete and have been countless times ... having to be careful to steer LOML away from sites of previous romantic encounters!

It's hard in death to find the best course of action. At my godmother's funeral, her ex turned up. They had been divorced for 40 years and their son spent time with both of them. I was a bit stunned to see him but everyone was excruciatingly polite to each other for the son's sake.

All very hard to deal with.


PI said...

Belle: I had the same 'steering away' in Paris.
Re the funeral;I know from my own experience one's instinct is to be there to support one's sons. It was very hard but I don't regret it. Only a few months later everyone met up at my son's weddings and NO-ONE was going to keep me away from those.