The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


21. Travelling through life and death

Arriving back in England in early springtime is an experience one doesn’t forget. The green of the grass, the different shades of the trees coming into bud, and the yellow daffodils in the gardens, you have a feeling that you are entering into a different country from the one you left. Without any trouble we decided that here we would make our home, but would visit America in the near future for Bob to settle his affairs there, then return to England and continue “seeing the world”. Once again it was not to be. Bob had been suffering from a pain in his right side while we were in Kenya but had said nothing about it, so this came as a bit of a shock. He was told at the Hospital that he had gall stones which meant an operation. Quite simple, nothing to worry about, I knew a little about this through working in hospitals for the Red Cross. To get it done with quickly he went as a private patient so he was soon in hospital. He was not too keen as the pain had now subsided but went along with the arrangements and was duly operated upon. I visited him the next day and he showed me the little bottle of stones that were causing the pain. It was a great relief and I was told if all went well he would soon be up and about. The next afternoon I visited again only to be told that he was in “intensive care”. I just couldn’t believe it, the doctors and nurses were all rushing about so I knew something was very wrong. He died that night! I just could not believe it and neither could anyone else but facts had to be faced and arrangements made. I had had some experience of these proceedings as his mother, who was in a nursing home in Tunbridge Wells, had died the previous summer, and the arrangements were made then for her cremation, so I had Bob taken back to Kent to be with his mother. I went back too and stayed with my sister until it was all over. My brother came down from London and he was a great help as was the Vicar of Tonbridge whom I knew quite well so I was able to arrange for him to take the service at the crematorium.

I stayed on in Kent for some time as the solicitors had much to sort out with the U.S.A. Welfare as I was now an American National not a Citizen, which of course I had never thought about. However after much letter writing and signing of papers etc the whole thing got straightened out, my Welfare being looked after by the U.S.A. and my health insurance by the Federal Reserve Bank.

I eventually returned to Denmead and decided to stay on for two years by which time I hoped to find an answer to my problems. I knew few people in Denmead as we had not been there very much. It was summer time, and I had a garden to the flat with a patio. I bought a thing I had always wanted, a “swing hammock”, seeing one in a Store in Southsea in a sale, it was 20 delivered!!! Bob and I had used a local pub quite a lot as they did very good meals and I had become very friendly with the mother who owned it and her son and daughter-in-law who ran it. Eventually I started to help them on a few evenings which I enjoyed doing as it filled in the long evenings at home on my own especially in winter. The days passed quickly as I had my dog to walk when I discovered many walks along the lanes and footpaths, the garden of the flat had to be kept tidy and there was baby sitting for Tony and Jane at times. Not very exciting but it all helped in meeting people and making new friends.

I made frequent trips to Kent to stay with my sister and I hadn’t seen my brother and his wife in Birmingham for ages though Bob and I visited them during one of his excursions into the Midlands. With them I saw quite a bit of Wales, the lovely Wye Valley, the Welsh Coast and up to Snowdonia then back to Warwickshire.

Another excursion I made was to take my sister and my other brother and his wife to Scotland. The motorways were being built all over the country and this was my first taste of driving on them. I remember the M6 had just been opened and after 60 miles on that we went through the tunnel under Glasgow which helped us reach Loch Lomond where we were going to stay, and from there found our way up the west coast to the Isle of Skye. After a few days on the Isle we continued north through the Highlands and back down the eastern side not forgetting to look in on the Loch Ness monster which was in the news at that time although we saw nothing of it. I often wondered if anyone ever did, or was it just a tourist advertisement? Anyway we got back south eventually and after dropping off my passengers I arrived back home.

Ruby Bullock

Easter Edition 2011

Ruby’s Memoirs