This is a difficult time for me. Many friends have fallen ill over the pastÂ 12 months, several been hospitalized, some with life-threatening situations. One has actually died.
The Friday before last my uncle rang to say that my mother’s sister, Olive, was very ill in hospital. I informed the rest of the family, and my mother and I visited her twice last week, and other cousins also visited. Then we learnt via my mobile phoneÂ on the way back from an organized day-trip to Hastings last FridayÂ that my aunt had died a short while before.
Meanwhile Brian, an old friend of my partner George (now on the Other Side) and myself is also very ill in hospital. Neither Brian nor my aunt really able to recognize visitors. Brian, if he survives the current illness, will probably have to go into a permanent care home.
Brian’s partner, Noel, died a few years ago, and the rented maisonette they lived in together for about 40 years was previously occupied by Noel and his father before him. The flat is crammed full of stuff. Three rooms upstairs and the landing can’t be negotiated for all the stuff piled there. Among the stuff are some very valuable family heirlooms and things. Paintings by Dawes, the famous animal painter and Noel’s uncle, pre-war comics in mint condition, a program for the Festival of Britain, artefacts made by POWs in the last war, ornaments, etc. Most of this stuff rightfully belong to Noel’s family since they’ve been trusted to his keeping and been in his family for decades.
I need to keep in close contact with Brian’s friend in Hastings, then inform Noel’s family if Brian’s not coming back to the flat. It would be tragic if the landlord cleared the flat, and priceless treasures and family photos, etc. were thrown on a skip or sold to benefit the landlord. Brian may have a sister living, but we don’t know where she is, and finding her current address (if she’sÂ still alive) will be very difficult.
Of course Brian may make another miraculous recovery, as he has done several times over the past 20 years after apparently being on his deathbed. My theory being that George and others on the Other Side aren’t ready to cope with Brian’s arrival yet, so keep putting it off! After being told Brian was wasting away, very confused and not recognizing people, I’ve just been told he was talking about me and my mother, and had just got up out of bed to go to the day room in the hospital to watch TV.
At any rate, this seems an appropriate time to reflect on the lives of my aunt and Brian, who only met once, briefly, at George’s funeral.
Olive went to college, then went to work for a theatrical agency in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s theaterland, where she met many famous actors/actresses, etc. of the day. She talked about thisÂ with meÂ some years ago, the last time I met her before she got ill. Strangely enough Noel’s sister (who passed away before Noel) was also named Olive, and also worked in Shaftesbury Avenue between the Wars, so about the same time as my Aunt Olive. Noel’s sister Olive ran a hairdressing business, mainly used by the theater actors and actresses.
My earliest recollections of my aunt was soon after the War, when sugar and sweets were still on ration. My aunt used to save cubes of sugar she was given for her tea at work and give them to me, as my aunt didn’t take sugar. She had a very high-powered job as PA to the Chairman of Esso UK in their Victoria offices in London.
In the 1950s or early 1960s she met Peter, whom she later married. My mother was first to move from London to Welwyn Garden City, when I was 16 and my brother 4 years younger. I hated the place, and still do. But myÂ maternal grandparents and then Olive and Peter followed us out there. I moved back to London as soon as I could, after commuting to work there for 6 years. My mother is now back in London also.
For many years Olive lived at various addresses in South London, but at one time was a member of the Mountview Theater group, an amateur dramatic society in Hornsey, North London. I vaguely remember going to see her as the nurse in ‘Romeo and Juliet’. She and my mother were life and soul of the family get-togethers at Christmas, before my grandparents died. However some of the songs they sung to entertain us would nowadays be considered very un-pc, but they greatly amused us as kids.
Olive was always very good at remembering all her nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays,Â untilÂ recent years when she apparently got very confused. They had no children of their own.
BrianÂ has led a very colorful life, and for many years hung around with George, close platonic friends sharing many hard times together. After I met George we visited Brian and NoelÂ several times a year, and often stayed over in their maisonnette. We spent some Christmases and New Year’s EvesÂ with Brian and Noel.Â I fondly remember those years, and I also visited and stayed over after George died.Â Â
So suddenly everything is changing again. I had to make a big adjustment when George died,, and Hastings will never be the same again if Brian doesn’t return to their flat crammed full of stuff. It seems like a home-away-from-home to me as they lived there far far longer than I’ve lived in any of my homes.
Olive’s death leaves just my mother, aged 94, and her brother Len, who’ll be 85 later this year. An elder brother, Fred, died some years ago. Two cousins have also died, and many of George’s family.
You get to the stage of life when you have more friends and relatives on the Other Side than you have here on Earth. That is why, when it is our time to join them, we are usually not reluctant to go and hopefully renew old acquaintances. At the moment, my mother and others need me here as long as I’m permitted to stay.
At times like these, when friends and relations die or are seriously ill, our thoughts turn to our own mortality and questions about the afterlife, if there is one. Despite all the evidence that there is an afterlife, including many very significant messages from my partner, my father, maternal grandmother and others, we at times have lingering doubts. Few people have the privilege of seeing their loved ones materialize before them after death, and though it does happen spontaneously and at physical seances, even then people will say it is imagination, hallucination or some sort of trickery.
However, the evidence for survival of death is overwhelming when you study it. And I hold on to the many personal evidential messages I’ve received directly and thru mediums and other methods. Some of these are so remarkable, such as telling me where George hid things away in the flat, that it is impossible they are merely ‘coincidence’, ‘imagination’ or anything but communication with those who have passed over to the Other Side.