I was seven years old when my sister, Violet, got married and, until then, I saw her every day of my life. My sister, Dot, shared nine years of family life with me before she tied the knot. I was seventeen years old when my sister, Phyl, got hitched and for every one of those years we'd seen each other on a daily basis. My dear friend, John McEntee, and I were next door neighbours for twenty two years and for most of those, until it was my time to walk down the aisle, seldom a day went by when we didn't meet and chat. For a long time these people and I, my friend and my family, grew side by side together. It is staggering to think that I haven't seen any of them since 1995. What on earth occurred to allow that to happen?
'Events, dear boy, events,' as, Harold Macmillan, once said, is the only answer I can give. One such event was my financial situation, which for a time meant I was unable to travel, for I couldn't afford it. Another was the attraction of foreign lands for they offered my loved ones something Wales rarely could, guaranteed sunshine. Then there was the need for people to see their own nearest and dearest, their children and grandchildren, some who lived in far flung parts of the country. Finally came my personal health problems and the limits they put on my ability to travel far from my home. These events were the reasons that twenty years passed by without my seeing people I truly cared for. It didn't mean that I ceased to love them, for I do and always will. My father died fifty years ago, my mother thirty years ago, and yet my love for them is endless. What that tells me is that you don't need to be with someone, or to see someone, for affection to flourish. I do not need to be constantly with you, to love what you are!
My reason for writing this more serious than usual message is to say that as age creeps up on us, it is inevitable that close friends will cease to meet. Chris Bushell will find the journey he has made so often, too tiring, as will my brother Gordon. There was a time when we had visitors, on average, once every three weeks and we enjoyed it enormously, but times change and so have I. To my surprise I now find it too tiring when more than two people come to stay and so, selfishly perhaps, I prefer it not to happen. However, I so cherish the special friendships I have made over the years and even though we can no longer meet, I still feel close to you. If you are one of that elite bunch I feature in my stories of yesteryear, I thank you for the part you played when fate placed us side by side. I may never see you again but our roots were entwined during those years we lived, worked or played together. So be you living or dead, relative or friend, it matters not one jot that we no longer meet. For in my mind, we're always together.
I wrote this message to tell of an inevitable event that will affect many close to me. I am not being melancholic for I intend to be around for years, but I felt the need to point out that one can be with someone, even when death or distance separates you!