Saturday, August 9, 2014


I awoke this morning with this topic in the forefront of my mind and I feel compelled to put my thoughts to paper (e-paper in this case). 

Friendships - we all form them, some good, long term bonds as strong if not stronger than family bonds between brothers and sisters or even child and parent. Some are short, fleeting but life changing in a positive way while others are negative, draining and can leave one feeling robbed, exhausted, as though the life has been sucked from one's marrow.

My youngest brother once said to me of his friend "Dave" (whom I never met). "Dave was a better father to me than my own father!" Dave was an older man, but I couldn't help wondering if my brother was a better son to Dave than he was to our father? He also said, "I don't know you, you were always in the army - then you left for Australia when I was 18!" This is true and whilst I "know" him being 8 years his senior, he would have very little memory of me as our development was almost a decade apart. So yes he had a much stronger relationship with his friend than with me.

The best friends and strongest friendships are those that just bring people together without any expectation, in my opinion. True friends don't need to be in each others space all the time but can communicate without words, some may even intuitively know the other person's needs. Above all the strongest friendships are those that feel super comfortable, a bit like a well used favourite coat on a cold and windy day - one really appreciates the warmth, smell and comfort offered.

So what has brought this compelling need to write about this? Well... friendships are not only about comfort, laughter and good times, especially where those friendships have spanned decades. These friendships will involve not only the person whom the bond has been formed with but also other members of the friends family. In many cases this may include multiple spouses, children, grand children and even great grand children. Such is the case with my Bonnie Ronnie's closest Australian friend "Lynn" of almost 30 years and whilst this friendship has had it's tumultuous moments it has had tremendous laughter and good times. However, sadly Ronnie's friend has that terrible insidious disease 'Cancer' and her time in this life draws to a close.

My Bonnie Ronnie is no stranger to tragedy. There is no tragedy greater than the loss of a child and there is no greater feeling of impotence and grief than watching your own child carry the small white casket of their child, your grandchild, from the chapel. 

This now is a different kind of tragedy, this is not sudden or distant but immediate, excruciatingly painful and slow. Ronnie and I have been helping the family for quite a number of months with hospital/doctor/treatment trips and the like. Ronnie has spent many hours at her friends bedside nursing her and attending to her personal needs as she loses weight, strength and control. The family are struggling, they have jobs, homes, family, children and grandchildren. This has been compounded by Lynn's compassion as she brought a stranger (who has this insidious disease and is in the same condition) home with her from hospital, when it was determined that nothing further could be done for either of them, other than to make them as comfortable as possible.

Ronnie too needed a break and we were preparing for our weekly shopping yesterday when we received a call saying that the doctor didn't think Lynn would last the night. This saw Ronnie back at her friends side immediately. A family who themselves are ill as a result of the stress no doubt, welcome the help, love and support that Ronnie offers and all of them are very grateful.

I've watched my Bonnie Ronnie of late as she quietly goes through many of the old photographs from the good times and there were many. Occasionally Ronnie would bring a photo to me and relate a story of some mischief that the two of them had experienced. One evening recently I heard a song playing repeatedly and on investigation found that Ronnie was listening to her friend Lynn singing whilst accompanied by a piano. The recording was on an old 4 track tape that had seen better days and some parts were rather badly distorted. Ronnie said how she wished she could copy it to a CD for Lynn to listen to. I thought that this was a lovely idea and offered to see if I could do something with it.

I am no audio engineer but I have the software and so it's just a case of learning to use it quickly. A couple of years ago I found a bunch of Super 8, Standard 8 and old Video cassettes of home movies that I had saved and decided to have them converted to digital and placed on DVD in open source format (in case I wanted to use bits). Amongst the resulting clips was one of Lynn's 50th birthday party which we had taken 20 years ago so I though it might be nice to see if I could put Lynn's singing onto this clip as background music. Well there was a lot more audio than movie so I though I had better get a little creative. I added a number of beautiful sunset's and sunrises with a little animation and some nice soft transitions. I was able to clean up and repair the audio to a degree (not a professional job by any stretch of the imagination) once I had figured out how to digitise it.

We presented the completed DVD with menu's titles, photo's and audio clips to Lynn and the spark in her eye causing Ronnie to beam like a Cheshire cat made the two week project well worthwhile.

Back to the present. Ronnie called a few minutes ago and it has been a really, really bad night with Lynn's pain rating a constant 10. However the call was to inform me that Ronnie had forgotten her charger so her phone battery is flat, no I'm not required (I'm on call) yet, but I should call Lynn's mobile if I should need to speak to her. I've decided that I'll go up there if nothing is heard by 12:00 because Ronnie needs to get some rest too.

Friendship - where would we be without it?

Till next time, take care and stay safe.