Sunday, 28 March 2010

Pebble Beach

My Darling Eileen

Thoughts of that canvas of you sitting on the beach in Pelion, which is now on display in our bedroom, brought back special memories of that holiday on mainland Greece. 

It was late June 2003.  Prior to going holiday, we had been closely involved in the early stages of helping Charlotte plan her wedding to Ivan the following February.  

Wedding dress, venue, menus, table layouts, invitations etc were all in the process of being sorted. 

There was one challenge, however, that hadn't been solved. 

It was the small matter of Charlotte's choice of place setting for each guest.   She had the interesting idea of using small stones with the a guest's name written on each stone. 

We agreed it was a wonderful idea.  But, it begged the question that, if it was going to work, the stones had to be roughly the same shape, size and colour. 

Every spare weekend we had was spent trailing round garden centres and gift shops.   Week after week and we were still no nearer to finding the right type of stone.

Until we got to Pelion. 

The more we explored the area near the villa, the more we found beaches and small coves littered with stones and pebbles.

Every day we went to the beach the prospecting for stones started.

And when we returned to the villa each evening, our cool bag was laden with more stones.

Leaving the beach was frequently far from straightforward. 

When the tide was out we could wade round these rock that lay between us and the carpark.  When the tide was really in it mean a climb over a very rickety bridge.  Challenging at the best of times but scarily precarious when lugging a coolbag loaded down with stones.  

Back at the villa, we would screen the day's haul over a glass of wine, setting aside the ones that passed inspection.  The rejects went back in the cool bag to be returned to the beach the following day.

By the middle of the second week we reckoned we had the 150 or so stones  we needed and could relax.

Relax, that is, until we remembered the one remaining challenge - getting two serious overweight suitcases through check-in.

We need not have worried.  It was a tiny airport and the check-in area could only handle one passenger at a time.  

I lifted the two hernia-inducing suitcases onto the scales trying to look as casual I could.  Were we in danger of being arrested?  Our stones may not have been the Elgin Marbles exactly but it felt as if we had half of Pelion in our luggage.

The check-in girl looked at our tickets, stamped them, smiled and, to our considerable relief, waved us through.

Back home, over the following months the stones were cleaned, polished and then the name of a guest was added to each one.

That was six years ago.  I don't know how many guests kept their stones as momentos. 

We certainly kept yours and mine.  And I still have them.

Precious memories of a very special day - and a holiday with a difference.

Forever yours,

Trevor xxx

Monday, 22 March 2010

Thoughts of Abroad

My Darling E

Cannot tell you how much I've missed you since you went away.  Particularly  upstairs and especially in our bedroom, where we spent so much time together during the final months of your illness.

The photograph next to me on my bedside cabinet is a constant memory of you.  It's the one I had there during those long, long weeks when you were in hospital.

It's this one I took of you when we were in Brugge.  I love it so much and feel that it captures beautifully what someone once described as that 'seriously wicked' smile of yours. 

But there is one other photograph of you that means everything to me.

It's this iconic one I took of you sitting on the beach in Pelion.   

I didn't feel a framed photograph would do it justice, so I decided to have it made into a canvas. 

And this is how it now looks, hanging there on the wall right above our bed...

I think it is really superb and feel your presence every time I walk into the room.  It is so you, it brings a smile to my face every time I look at it. 

When they were over last week Charlotte and Ivan saw it for the first time. They really loved it. 

As we were standing there admiring it, Caitlin walked into the room.  She took one look at the canvas, pointed up at it and, without hesitation, said 'Oma'.  Or 'Moma' as she tends to say it still.

So there is one little girl who is not going to forget you.  Nor are the rest of us who loved and worshipped you so much.

Do hope you like the canvas.  It means so much to me. 

Love you so much.

Ever yours,

Trevor xxx           

Race For Life

My Darling Eileen

I know how much completing the 'Race for Life' in recent years meant to you.  If I remember, it all began back when we were living in Guiseley and you started doing the Leeds 5k runs with June.

When we moved down south, you were determined to continue the tradition and did several of the Flora 5k runs in Hyde Park with Charlotte and Nikki.  

Unfortunately the Hyde Park runs lost their sense of fun for you all when they became too large and chaotic.  So you switched to the 'Race for Life' runs nearer home in Basildon, often with Charlotte, Nikki and others again for company.

The last 'Race for Life' you did was this one in Basildon in 2007...

which you completed successfully, running on your own as Nikki and Charlotte were both pregnant that year.  

Can't tell you how proud I was of your bravery and your determination to do it, even though you had no-one to keep you company.

Sadly, as we now know, that one in 2007 turned out to be your last ever 'Race for Life'.    

At every race you competed in, we were always very touched by the many women and girls taking part, who were doing the run in memory of someone close to them, who had been lost to Cancer.

So I hope you will be touched and pleased by how many people are doing the 'Race for life' this year in your memory.

Charlotte, Caitlin, Nikki, Darcy, Harriet and Pat have all signed up to do it this year in Basildon on the 6th June, especially for you. 

Charlotte has also sent out an e-mail about it to everyone.

So far I gather that Maggi, Claudia, Chloe and Ellen are joining them in Basildon.  

Carol is planning to do one in Manchester.  June would like to do it but unfortunately the date of the Leeds one coincides with the day of Nicola's wedding.  (Yes, I am invited and will be attending for both of us.)           

Sue Oliver e-mailed me from New Zealand - where they are on holiday - to say she wants to do it and will sort something out when they get home.  

When I spoke to Christine some days ago, she told me she has already signed up to do one down near her - and is putting the squeeze on JJF for some serious sponsorship.  

Jo, Charlotte's NCT friend is also doing it for you.  Charlotte may have talked to you about Jo but don't think you ever met her.  

Jo was really supportive of Charlotte and was a tremendous help on the day of your funeral, when she came to the house to look after Caitlin and Reuben when we were at the crematorium.

I'm sure they are all being encouraged to do it too, by remembering that you were so eager to complete the much longer Moonwalk in 2008, and were devastated when that fateful diagnosis took it all away from you.

Would have loved to have seen you in your vibrant pink fancy-dress running gear.  Was pleased, as I know you were, that Michelle and Derek from 'work' were able to do it instead on your behalf.

Will let you know how they all get on this year and will tell you if I hear about anyone else who is doing for you.

All my love


Sunday, 21 March 2010

Welcoming Front Door

My Darling Eileen

Last week, when we were showing people the album we put together to mark your 50th birthday, I spotted these photographs I took of you in front of 74 Onslow Gardens.

This first one goes way back, probably to a time when we had only known each other for a year or so...

This next one I think I can pinpoint a little more accurately. If I am right it was taken shortly after we had returned from our honeymoon.

Although it doesn't appear in the photograph, I am sure you are leaning on the roof of our little green Mini.  The one that carried us all around Europe, without mishap.  Not bad really for a 1965 Mini.

I must find some of the photos we took during that trip, so we can re-live those days again.

Do think I prefer the front door at 74 the way it used to be.  The black and white paintwork looks so much more distinguished.  But then my opinion might be coloured by the lovely girl sitting on the step in front of it.  

Love and miss you so much.


Fond Memories

My Lovely Girl

Last Sunday, Charlotte felt she could not let this first Mother's Day without you go past without getting you some flowers.

So before leaving for Onslow Gardens, we stopped at a flower shop.

After we had been to 74 and met Henry and Honey, we drove back through East Finchley and went to visit your mother and father's grave.

Just after your funeral, Charlotte, Ivan and the twins had gone to the graveyard to place their wreath on the grave and tell them about you and what had happened.

The roses in the wreath were very faded so she took them away and replaced them with the flowers we had bought you that morning.  They were mostly white and pale pink roses, which we knew were always so close to your heart. 

Alongside them she placed a bunch of daffodils that she had got in memory of Granny and Grandpa.  Could not forget them.   

The card she had attached to your flowers read:

'Always in our thoughts and hearts. 
 Miss you.   Love from all of us. xxx'
 Really do miss you so much.

Trevor xxx

Monday, 15 March 2010

Return to 74

My Darling Eileen

We often talked about going back to Muswell Hill and walking down Onslow Gardens again, just as we did so many years ago.  Something to do when we retired, we agreed. 

Sadly, the way things turned out for you, we never got to do it.

So, as yesterday was Mothering Sunday, Charlotte and I thought it would be good to make the journey back to Onslow Gardens in your memory.

We drove slowly down the road.  When we reached '74' we pulled in and parked on the opposite of the road.  We sat for a few minutes then I got out, grabbed my camera and walked across to take some photographs.  

The front door is a different colour but that apart, the house looks much the same from the outside as it did the last time we were there, just after your mother died. 

Still the same and yet so very different.  So much has changed since then.  I realised that I was looking at the past, yours and mine.  

Just as we were about to go, a car drove past and parked a few yards down the road.  The driver got out of the car, walked up the pavement in our direction and turned in the gate of number 74.

I went across and asked him if he lived there.  When he said 'yes' I explained why we were taking such an interest in 'his' house.  I told him that you had been born and brought up in the house and that we were there in your memory, as you had passed away only a few weeks ago. 

He expressed his sympathies, then surprised me by asking what your maiden name was. 

'Linehan,' I said, 'Eileen Linehan.'   

'That's interesting' he said.  'When we moved into the house, the neighbours kept referring to the tree in our back garden as 'Mrs Linehan's' apple tree.  It's nice to make the connection.  It's still there.  Would you like to see it?'

He intoduced himself as Henry and invited us to come into the house and go through to the back garden.  Inside we met his wife, Honey.

He took us into that long, familiar hallway and led us past the front and back rooms.  Then it was down that short flight of steps, a quick turn right at the bottom and then left into the passageway to the kitchen.   

Charlotte was carrying the photo album I had put together for your 50th birthday, with all those photographs of you and all the family from way back, many of them taken in the front and back gardens of 74.

They were intrigued to hear about the history of what is now their home and see images of the house from the past and to learn about one of the families who had lived there many years before them.  I also told them how we had met.

When we went into the garden sure enough the apple tree is still there.

The garden now runs right to the bottom and is not split into two as it used to be when you lived there.  Beyond, there is still that lovely view of Alexandra Palace in the distance.

Looking up at the house from the garden...      

you can see the extension that has been added at the back with french windows and steps leading down to the garden.

Inside the kitchen has been modernised and now extends down to the these windows.  The old pantry and bathroom as you would remember them, have been turned into a utility room with a side door leading to the garden.  The old kitchen door no longer exists and the lean-to shed has long gone.

As we headed back inside I glanced up at number 72 next door ...


and there was what was my bed-sit room and the window through which I caught my first sight of that lovely 'girl in the garden' all those years ago.  The old sash-window has been replaced.  At least that should stop it rattling and leaking draughts the way it used to do.     

This is how the front room...



and the back room...

now look today.  Little has changed apart from the decor. 

Charlotte and I thanked Henry and Honey for being so welcoming and generous, in allowing us to look through their house at such short notice.  

I told Henry and Honey that my memories of '74' were of a lovely family home full of fun and laughter.  I said I hoped it would be like that for them.

As we left I was delighed to see that the front door is still exactly as it was with those lovely stained glass panes.  With the spring sunshine steaming through, it lit up the hall and my memories.  

As Charlotte and I headed across the road to the car I turned and took one last look back at the front porch of 74 Onslow Gardens.

My mind when back to the time before we got married, when you and I would spend many long minutes in that same porch, saying our 'goodnights' to each other before I headed home, either to next door or later round to Woodland Rise. 

Our 'goodnights' interrupted at regular intervals, as I recall, by your father, whose ploy to break us up was to put the milk bottles out - one at a time. 

What I wouldn't give for one of your kisses now.

Miss them so much, just as I miss you every minute that passes.

Will love you always

Trevor xxxx      

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Looks Familiar

My Dearest Eileen

It was Charlotte who spotted the likeness first.  Nikki agreed the minute it was pointed out to her and even Adrian saw it too. 

Charlotte was referring to the note I had written some weeks ago - the one headed '5 December 1943', telling you about Maggi's lovely letter with her memories of events on the day you were born.

If you remember I had used this shot of you in the pram... 

Now compare it with this photograph of Darcy ...

... and I think you'll have to agree there is more than a little resemblance.

We showed the photograph of you in the pram to Darcy.  When we asked her who it was, she immediately said 'Darcy'.

Thought you would be pleased with the likeness.

All my love


Mother's Day

My Darling Eileen

Tomorrow is Mother's Day - the first significant day in the calendar, since you left us back at the beginning of January.

It will be particulary difficult for Charlotte and Adrian as it will be the first Mother's Day that you have not been around for them.  I will talk to them both tomorrow.

This afternoon I was thinking back to that Mother's Day in 2008, just weeks before your fateful illness was diagnosed.  As Nikki and Charlotte were both 'new' mothers that year, I recall that you didn't wish to steal their thunder and so suggested we go to France for the day.  

Which we did, driving down the coast for lunch at Wissant, followed by a walk along the almost deserted front.  The weather was sunny but chilly, and very windy, as this photograph I took of you that day shows.

Over recent years we visted that part of France on day trips when we could, often to pick up some wine but a mainly to enjoy the vast miles of unspoilt beaches that run south down the coat from Calais.


Coming back on the ferry, wine in the boot, we always remarked how easy and enjoyable it had been to pop over to France, and resolved to do it more frequently.

Next time, we said, now that we have retired, we should think about staying over for a night or two. 

Sadly, we never got to do it. 

Do miss you so much my love            

Trevor xxx     

Monday, 1 March 2010

Cherished Memories

Dearest Eileen

When I was with N and A the weekend before last they showed me the card they has received from Christine A in New Zealand.

Inside she said she was sorry to hear of their loss and said she hoped they liked the photo of happy times spent together.

'Eileen' she said, 'was a truly beautiful woman both inside and out and I feel so lucky to have known her.  I know nothing can take away the pain but hope this poem helps.'

You can shed tears that she is gone
Or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all she has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see her
Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she's gone
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what she's want: smile, love and go on.   

The photograph she used on the front of the card was from this one she took the morning after N and A's wedding, when we all met up for breakfast.

And since we're recalling that wedding day, thought it would be good to remember how lovely and happy you looked, standing there in the garden with Christine at the reception afterwards.

Thankfully there are lots more photographs like this one to help 'cherish your memory and let it live on.'

Miss you so much,


T xxx