The sad loss of friendships and more

28 Jun



It has been a strange week. No, not quite strange, but more the fact that a sense of melancholy has once again made its presence known in our house hold.

Only last week, my partner and I were talking about how different our lives were when we lived for several years in Torquay. We soon got onto the subject of work and a particular person was mentioned. This brought up memories that we had almost forgotten…One of my former work colleagues, MK, whom we got to know a little better through several social events. He was appeared to be pleasant and friendly and we got on well. Or so I thought…until that fateful day when we promised him a plant pot, informing him that we were about to leave our house for several hours and we’d leave the pot outside for him to collect. He said that was fine and he wouldn’t be long in coming round to fetch it. Little did we know that within a few minutes of leaving it outside, it would get stolen!!  Much to the chagrin of MK who said that he promised to give it to his sister. I tried to explain and placate his annoyance but he refused to speak to me after that incident. Although we worked together, the tension was slightly unbearable. I didn’t wish him any harm, didn’t hold any bitterness or grudges against him. After all, it was a misunderstanding and an incident that wasn’t worth dredging up… But MK chose to ignore me and eventually our “friendship” soon petered out as quickly as it had first started…



I hadn’t seen or spoken to him since…Last Monday, I read a Facebook status. It made a reference to a certain individual. I made enquiries as to whom it could be referring to and was informed that it was MK. He had only passed away 4 years ago. A man in his mid fifties, he’d only gone into hospital for a minor bowel operation, ended up in ICU, fell into a coma and died. I was saddened, shocked and sorry that a potentially fruitful friendship had come to such an abrupt end without any resolution. Our friendship and his life cut short like a piece of string which had unravelled in all the wrong places.




Today has also been blighted by the tragic death of someone who also chose to end our  friendship. She was supported by many people over the years, was a very private and respected person when I met her. She was petite, blonde, carried the air and grace of someone from a different era. She was very polite, tactful and a sensitive individual. Once in a while she would admit to “not being a very good mother”, but it was clear that her lesbian daughter and gay son loved her dearly. She had led a sad life. Her husband and mother in law had passed away in terrible circumstances. They were driving in a torrential thunderstorm when a tree, already on the verge of collapsing, crashed on top of their car. The legal papers said their death was due to the negligence of the Council.  The total amount of compensation was enough to allow our friend to spend money in the amusement arcades for a number of years. And that’s all she did…spent all the money on her addiction and a bottle of brandy a day. Oh, I hardly ever eat, she would say. I’m quite happy with my cigarettes and coffee. I only gamble to socialise, you know and it gets me out the house. Her gambling addiction took her away from her family and friends. When she moved several years ago in an attempt to be cared for and looked after by her slightly younger sister, it was her sister who had a sudden illness and passed away. Then, our friend returned to Birmingham. She had lost her home, her finances were rapidly dwindling and she was losing many of her long term friends who had stood by her in an effort to keep her “otherwise engaged” so that she didn’t spend all day, every day in the gambling arcade. And if it wasn’t the arcade, it was Bingo or online poker games.



Our friend, because of her age, bought herself a small flat in a block of retirement apartments. She was monitored and cared for on a regular basis by the Housing Officer or Scheme Manager.

Then, in a bizarre twist of fate, in the week leading up to Christmas 2012, her daughter had also been killed in a car crash. Another tragic loss which was revealed to us by text.

Our friend, who I used to think was as secretive as a squirrel, was so eloquent, informative, educated, and yes, quite glamorous in her own way, passed away in her sleep last Monday night. She was found dead on the sofa by a Nurse. Towards the end of her life, we could see that her body was shrivelling away through lack of nourishments, proper home cooked food and her reliance on brandy. We could see she was truly a gambling addict in denial, who was on the course of self destruction, moving away from people who loved and cared for her and falling deeply into debt and oblivion.  As she lacked strength in her body, she had to walk using a Zimmer/Walking frame which didn’t stop her from going into the gambling or Bingo halls. There wasn’t any signs of self preservation or the Will Power to keep out, her addiction was so great…  We think she was in her early sixties. No one is quite sure of her age, but whatever age she is, sorry was, or whatever she did, she would be missed and a piece of my heart feels the sad loss of a quirky, contrary, addictive personality.



I hope you have been reunited with your family and found true happiness at last. RIP Sandra xx

The Learned Kat


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