Tuesday 10 October 2017

My lovely neighbour has finally gone

That seems a bit repetitive I know – ‘gone’ is pretty final, but let me explain.

Number One Husband and I grew up in South Africa, lived for some years in London, returned to Johannesburg and then came back to live in London about forty years ago and moved into our house.

There are a number of houses, all built at the end of the 1950s and we were the first new arrivals.  Our lovely neighbour was the first person we met, her youngest son was our first baby-sitter and we remained friends.

She was a kind, sensible and encouraging presence, with a wry sense of humour and I knew that if there were any problems for me, or my children, she would be there.  We were always invited for New Year’s Eve – a comfortable evening chatting to local friends, no driving or forced hilarity, and a few steps back home.

We started to lose her a few years ago when she began the cruel descent into Alzheimers.  I remember one of her carers saying to me that she became upset that she had to have carers – “I am the one who is supposed to take care of everyone” because that is what she had always done. She remained at home with carers until the end but the first loss, the loss of her company, was several years ago.  

She died a few months ago and we were at the funeral and then at prayers with her family which felt very final then.

The house has now been sold and the new owners are refurbishing as the house was quite old-fashioned. I sit at my computer overlooking the driveway and when I saw the carpets and curtains that were so familiar to me being taken out – there was a sense of finality then that I hadn’t experienced before.