Neighbours

I’ve probably said it a thousand times but, I loved my childhood! I have many fond memories growing up and a lot of those included my neighbour, John.

I believe John moved into the house next door when I was 1 or 2 years old. He was a fisherman and would always have some fish to give to my mum. With him being right next door, i grew up with him. I called him ‘Dot,’ because I couldn’t say John.

He looked after me when my mum worked or went out somewhere. He took me for days out to Hull (which is about 33 miles from us), often paying for a taxi there! We would go to the ships or just run errands, but he didn’t seem to mind having me there.

He had a twin brother who stayed at his at one point and he also took me out now and again. I remember people asking my mum why she trusted them and she just did.

My maternal grandfather died when I was 7. I cannot remember too much about him. My paternal grandad is alive although he and my father do not speak and so I have only seen him a handful of times. John was like my grandad.

I remember him having an old fashioned washing machine in his kitchen that would often be on. He had a bar in his front room. He had a coal fire that seemed to be on all of the time. He would sit in his chair with his ashtray on the arm, or on the ledge of the fireplace, often watching his fishing videos or some documentaries on fishing. He seemed to buy new sofas and chairs quite often.

We would play marbles on his living room floor, marbles which I still have. He would throw buckets of water over the wall to soak us when we came out the door. He would knock on our living room window with the end of a broom if he wanted to talk to us, we would also do that to him or just knock the broom on the wall.

He would take me and my sister to a cafe that was about 5 minutes away. He took me with him to pay his bills around town. He was a part of birthday celebrations and summer BBQ’s. I remember my sister, cousins and I would go into his garden to get the ladybirds so we could put them onto my mums flowers that were covered in greenflies.

We had a wall separating the gardens, probably a bit less than 6ft, and my sister and I would always climb over it to get into his garden, we would never use the gate, and we would walk straight in to his house if his back door was open.

He was far too generous for his own good and I think some people have taken advantage of that.

When I was 13 we moved but we kept in touch with him. He would phone, or my mum would phone him and he would always ask to talk to me, asking how I was. We still went to see him at times.

You Know with yourselves, time goes by and gets away from you and you don’t see people as much as you would like. We didn’t see John as much as we could have. We moved about a 20 minute walk away from him. We still knew people in the area and if we went to see them we would pop in to see him. He spent Christmas with us one year and bought a scooter a couple of years ago which got him around a bit more.

We saw him a couple of times this Christmas and I mentioned to my mum how his breathing sounded.

At the beginning of February he went into the hospital as he had had a fall. After some tests they found out that he had a few different types of cancer which were untreatable. He wanted to be able to go home for a few days to sort some things out, and the Macmillan nurses went to talk to him about this. John then got a chest infection and ended up staying in. My mum went to see him everyday as she works at the hospital. I went a few times and so did my sister. He became worse and towards the end my sister visited him more. My dad went too as he spent time with him when I was growing up, they had a lot in common as they both used to be fishermen.

The last week he was alive, I had an unusually busy week. I had something on every night with work, i never have that much on. I wanted to see him on the Friday after work, before my uncle’s 65th birthday meal. I would have ended up not having the time to get to the hospital and then to the meal. I had planned to go Saturday evening instead as i had already planned to visit my great aunt, in Lincoln during the day.

Early Saturday morning we got the phone call that he had passed. Obviously we are heartbroken. He was apart of the family. Then i was full of regret because I should have gone on that Friday. Then i felt worse because I could have seen him a lot more when he was alive. So much goes through your mind during these situations. I was 14 the last time someone close to me had died and that was my grandma. I had Mollie last year but, I couldn’t remember too much of how I felt or was supposed to feel when someone dies.

That Saturday was an odd one. We got the phone call about 5.30 am and we couldn’t go back to sleep. We then got the train at 9.15 to see my great aunt who has dementia. We don’t see her as much as we could. It takes an hour on the train but when you have a day of doing nothing, we could easily just spend half a day with her and come back.

Today was his funeral, which was also like a family reunion for myself as my paternal grandad went too. He used to go fishing with John and so it was strange with him and my dad in the same room but they were civil.

John had a lovely send off and it was nice sharing stories with his son.

John was a huge part of my childhood and I will be forever grateful for everything he did for me. I hope Mollie’s up there showing ‘Dot’ around 🙂

There are not really any excuses, you just think you have ‘tomorrow’ to see that person or do that thing, when in actual fact you may not.

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