It’s been a while since anything was posted on the Blog. Some of you may know the reason for this – others not, so…
John and I spent 3 weeks together at Christmas and New Year and despite having ‘flu, we managed to find a new shop to rent and began making plans to move. we were excited by the new venture, and delighted to be looking forward to our future here at home in Elounda.
John had decided that 2017 would be his last stint in Barrow, and this year we would be the Dynamic Duo of the bookshop once more – to say I was delighted with his decision would be an understatement! Although we kept in touch daily via Skype, I missed the old man terribly…
Because of relocating the shop, my plans to return for an extended stay in UK had to be shelved – there was an awful lot of work to be done and little time to do it in! Ziggy took the job of taking down anything useful from the old shop and fitting out the new one with shelves, and thanks to the stalwart support of friends – Janice, Ali and Jade to name only 3 – the slog of carting box after box of books began…
I kept John informed of everything that was happening, and sent him photos, videos and all kinds of bits – he was involved in everything we were doing all the way! We laughed and joked that if he didn’t like anything when he came home, I’d have to change it (I couldn’t possibly put my reply in here, but it ended in ‘Off’ haha). His plan was to return for our grand opening and stay for a couple of weeks and so to that end, he booked a flight for the last week of March.
On the 19th March, I spoke to John on video call on Skype and told him about all that was going on. We talked for hours as usual, teasing each other and laughing, sharing comments on the day of football we had been watching…our last words were about the future – being together again in the bookshop, catching up with all the folk we both knew, living the dream we both shared: john told me he was so proud of what I and my friends had done in such a short space of time, and I spoke about asking DJ Sam Wright to do a set at the shop on 4th April for my and the shops’ big day…it all seemed to be finally going our way. We said good night and arranged to speak the following night as always.
He didn’t call. I couldn’t raise him by phone. Concerned, I rang his work colleague and friend, Graham and Janet his wife answered. I wasn’t the only one worried – John did not turn in to work and had not called either which was unusual – he was always fastidious about things like that. It was decided that I’d call my son Simon who lived nearby John’s apartment, and that he would meet Graham and Janet there. As it happened, my son Martin was with his brother, and, having the longest legs – agreed to meet them. They found no lights and no sign of John.
A little later I got a call from Janet. It was the worst call.
My husband, best friend and soul mate was dead.
Luckily, my good mate Jade was with me when I got the news, and she and Leanne rallied round. Ali was rung and came straight to the apartment – she knew what I needed, and in the early hours, we walked through the silent village. It was odd – the place was so quiet – no bar open, no traffic, nothing; as though they already knew.
The next days and weeks are a blur of images, voices and emotions. So many people who wanted to help and lent their support. with the help of them all, flights were booked and plans made for me to travel back to UK to arrange a funeral and set John’s affairs in order. Going through the motions helped to keep me afloat at that time. The overriding feeling was grief which threatened to overwhelm and crush me completely, but good friends and so much love from everyone in the village got me through it until I arrived in Barrow.
My family were there to help, and my brother Hugh also – I have no idea how I would have done it without them.
The coroner released John back to us after the post mortem, which revealed that John had suffered a massive and completely unexpected heart attack. The blessing was he would have known nothing of it and suffered nothing. The cremation was arranged and I was asked to provide a Eulogy to be read. John’s good Cretan friend Vangelis Vlahakis had written 2 pieces of music – one for his 60th Birthday the previous August, and a lament when I told him what had happened. It was these that we played on the day.
Owen Simon and Martin made sure that all the family and friends that came to the service were also aware of the wake being held afterward at the local football club, and it all went off without a hitch. I can’t say I was any help at any time – to be honest I was mostly a zombie going through the motions to get through the days.
Now we had to sort out the Will and all the paperwork so I could return to Elounda with John’s ashes to say my final Goodbye in the village we called home…and THAT became another nightmare.