Wednesday, 7 February 2018

A Ghostly Story


Last night, as the fire crackled in the wood burner, the conversation on line fell to ghostly stories.
In 1985 I experienced such a story.
Back then I was completing my first EMI placement in one of the back wards of the old Deva Asylum in Chester.
EMI used to stand for elderly mentally Infirm
For the most part the patients were all suffering from dementia. They were the bad cases, the difficult to control and the aggressive, and at night there was only myself and an enrolled nurse to care for 24 patients.
23 of the patients were ambulant and only one was bedbound and physically very unwell. He lay in a bed nearest to the dormitory door with a small office light illuminating his locker, the night nurses pulled our chairs into the corridor nearby so we could watch the goings on carefully throughout the night.
The sick patient wasn't expected to last the night, so we kept a close eye on him in between bedding down the other patients. It was around 1 am before we were able to sit in our chairs and drink our first cup of tea.
Now dealing with senile patients at night can be a tiring, thankless and never ending job. Its a constant round of toileting, bed changing, reassurance giving , and reality orientation, work set against the dark tall walls of a regency mad house
Around 4 am my co-worker donned a large woollen cape and swished off the ward for a cigarette leaving me alone in the darkened corridor and from the far corner of the dormitory I saw a figure sit up in bed suddenly. The patient, sat there for a minute or so and I could hear him muttering about something before he pulled back his blanket and started to get out of bed.
I hurried over.
"Tell that man to go away" the patient whispered pointing to the patient in the corner who was dying.
"He keeps asking me to take him home"
I was confused as the dying man had not moved a fraction since we last turned him an hour before but the other patient was convinced he was right and seemed rather indignant at having been bothered.
I settled the man back into bed after a short trip to the loo and moments later he sat up again and called out a clear "Bye Bye"
I returned to the bedside this time with the staff nurse who had just returned smelling of cigarette smoke "Who are you saying bye bye to?" she asked
" The man" the patient said clearly referring to the other patient  " he's gone through there" he added pointing to the fire door.
We bedded the patient down again and tucked warm blankets around him.
our next check of the poorly patient revealed that he had passed away peacefully only minutes before

88 comments:

  1. I love a good story. Keep them coming!

    I think I've mentioned about a poltergeist in a library before. I was the only customer and was walking down down one of the aisles when a book suddenly flew off the top shelf a few paces in front of me and landed face down in the aisle. I picked it up an was amazed to discover it was a book about ghosts. I searched the small library high and low looking for for the practical joker. I can definitely say there wasn't one.

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    1. I should add that on the open page was an article that struck a chord with me - an explanation of a ghostly question I'd been puzzled and which could pertain regarding a ghost I'd seen in my childhood.

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    2. Gwil do tell more

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    3. The page on which the book fell open explained that a ghost could not transmit its image through a certain substance (not lead incidentally, which surprised me) which explained why part of my childhood ghost was partly invisible.

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  2. That's a good 'un. My sister was a Staff Nurse at Great Ormond Street and has a couple of similar stories to yours. When you witness these things, it is impossible to say you do not believe in ghosts, even though you may not know what they are.

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    1. I only had odd experiences at the Deva , all the other hospitals I have worked at nothing at all happened

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  3. I enjoyed that. It reminded me of the weekend my father died. My mother told me on the Saturday that he was going to die that weekend because "they had come for him". I asked her who and she said he had been talking about the knocking in the wardrobe and pointing and she said the spirits always come for the someone when they are about to die. I wasn't sure whether she had heard them too although I believe she said she did.

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    1. Having someone to collect a dying person is a comforting thought. I could see me believing in such things if my nearest was slipping away

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    2. My 93-year-old mother was in the process of dying in the hospital and was in palliative care and had been given morphine because of her labored breathing. She had been there since the early morning and passed away about 5 pm. All day as I sat there with her I prayed in my mind that my deceased dad would come for her. She had been unresponsive most of the day but toward the end she opened her eyes and pointed off the left toward the door, like there was someone there. Mom couldn't speak because of the oxygen mask on her face and the difficulty of breathing. I immediately hoped it was my dad, but I got the feeling that it was her dear friend who had passed away several years ago.

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    3. I spoke of this to a spiritualist about three years after my father died and she assured me in a most matter of fact way that the spirits always when someone is about to die and to take them . I found this very reassuring and not the slightest bit frightening.

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  4. I think that proves what I have always thought and believed in - that we do have souls.

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    1. I neither believe or disbelieve.....I just found the whole experience very odd

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  5. Someone is waiting to escort us.

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  6. Was the Diva Asylum solely for divas?

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  7. In some cultures, dementia is seen as a change in consciousness and perception - wisdom that comes with age. Perhaps your patient could see and hear things that our brain screens out.

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  8. In the 80,s i worked in Queensberry house hospital on the Royal Mile Edinburgh it is now incorperated in to the Parley. Going back in history Lord Queensberry left his son who was "mad" behind to sign a covenant between Scotland and England, his son when he was away spit roasted a servant boy in the basement kitchen fire. True story.
    Lord Queensberry in later years left the house to the people of Edinburgh. First used as a poor house then a hospital.
    When patients were sick and dying without exception they always said the little boy had come for them and was waiting at the bottom of their bed not scary but comforting!. Said the little boy was black.
    We were on the top floor but ofter heard the sound of movement in the attic. Like a brush being swept. Now i don,t believe in god, or fairies but that YES.

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    1. Part of me says it,s because everyone knew the history, but would you say it unless you believed it on your death bed.

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    2. Did you have a Co-worker called Caroline Kay??

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    3. I do know the name but can,t put a picture to the face, was a tiny hospital, but a long time ago. Thinking!.

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    4. Loved working there was only 3 wards we had chefs that cooked what we wanted truly spoiled!.Was a close family!.
      Cried when it closed!. Now. Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies walk across the linked corridor and have meetings there!.sob

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    5. Wonder if Oor Nic has seen the wee spit roasted black boy?. Black because he was spit roasted n half eaten!.

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  9. Thank you for this post, John. I needed it. xx

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  10. Oh, I hate going down this road. I'm NOT a believer in anything... supposedly. HOWEVER, I've had two experiences in my life very similar to this one and whenever I've shared them I've either received eye rolls or "facts" about the afterlife from "authorities." Maybe I'll one day share one of my experiences again.

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  11. Maybe those with dementia have had the veil lifted and can see what we can't.

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    1. It's an interesting thought.....

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  12. I like this story.

    When my mother was dying, she was at home, and we had her laying on the couch in the living room. She told us she wanted to sit up because she wanted the people outside to see her so that when she was ready they could go together. There was no one outside, and she told us a few of the people she saw and they were all family members who'd already passed.

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    1. Hypoxia? Reality? Supernatural? Who knows

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  13. He died in the early morning: I kept a vigil through the lonely night in the cottage where we had lived happily together. I sat in a sun lounger right by the bed in the study. I am ashamed to say on occasions I dozed, waking with a start fully expecting him to have died while I slept. At five I got up and with a sponge wet his lips. ‘You know Simon, we have had happy times in the five years we have been together. Do you remember walking with little Tish in the woods in the snow?’ As I recounted all the fun times we had, Simon opened his eyes and died. I think he chose the time to die, taking with him the happy memories we had shared. I waited for the first visit of the day of the district nurse, content in a funny way that little Tish and I had been there for him when he died.

    LX

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    1. Tears in my eyes with this one. Thank you

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  14. When I was 11 my grandma who had been living with us used to look out of the window whilst I played in the garden -I saw her one day looking at me after she had passed on.As a teenager I saw a white mist moving towards myself & my friend in a room-we hurried away.My dad saw a ghost near a ruin.My mum said my dad visited her after he had passed on & she insisted my dog had too.A lady I know told me last year of a malevolent spirit who was at an old public swimming baths where she worked a long time ago.I definetly believe in ghosts.My mum still visits me x

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    1. Whoa ! There's 100 stories in that one short paragraph .tell us more about the mist

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    2. It was over40 years ago but it has stayed with me.My school friend & I were sitting in the window of an old pub-it was the first time we had gone for a night out & on the far side of the room a low mist started to move towards us .It was icy cold & eery.No one else in the room & we left scared.I told my mum back at home & she said it was because the building was on old church ground x

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  15. That was a very entertaining retelling John. I do believe there are things that happen that we cannot explain. My Cree grandmother seemed to have a 6th sense.

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    1. Another tell me more

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    2. On Easter, before dawn she would go to a running water stream to gather water. Not an easy task as we often had snow. She believed it was similar to holy water and we would all wash our hands and faces and we would have a healthy and safe year. She always said she had learned this from her grandmother and laughter was also an important part of the blessing. My brother and I looked like a pair of loons last year getting the water from a creek near our home. He fell in. All of her grandchildren carry on this tradition no matter where we live and that's from Florida to Vancouver.
      If my grandmother said"This is a sorrowful place." you knew an illness or death would be coming.
      My very Irish Grandfather thought it was all BS but he washed up Easter morning just like the rest of us, laughing the whole time saying "just in case"

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    3. Sorry if a bit rambling but blogger was temperamental.

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    4. The rituals are important--even if you don't quite believe in them, I think they really help us deal with our difficult lives. We all need blessings.

      And on the ghost theme, I absolutely knew when my uncle died, even though I was hundreds of miles away. I wasn't really that close to him, but he had helped me in a difficult time, and I always knew he loved me, even in our crazy, dysfunctional Irish family. In a concrete block, freezing apartment in Montana, I just sat up in bed and thought "oh, Uncle Phil is going to another place.' He didn't show up as a ghost, but he definitely said good-bye to me.

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  16. Thought I saw a ghost this morning when I looked in the mirror but it was only my lurgy-fied self staring back at me!!

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    1. I saw Christopher biggins

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  17. Well-written story!
    Nothing that happens in a place like this one should surprise or scare. The workings of the mind in people with dementia are different from those of people without.
    Even in normal people, workings of the mind mark the difference among people and among groups of people. We call this: differences of mentality - in clean language, in reality one hears words like " those people are crazy, wild etc.."

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  18. My grandmother became a nurse early in the last century, when nurses wore long skirts with white pinafores, and pinned their hair up beneath starched caps that resembled muffins. She became very interested in Spiritualism as a result of her experiences on the night rounds, tending the dying and laying them out before the relatives came to view their remains. She was not a fanciful woman; few women who survived her childhood as an orphan, servant and 'self-made' educated woman for her time could afford fancies.

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    1. When I started nursing in 1983 I remember older nurses opening windows near a dying patient so that the soul would fly to heaven

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    2. We still do that John more tradition. Young ones look at me as if i,m mad tho!. Do i care no!.

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    3. John, you have just made me remember something... I was in my 30's and was working in a rest home. I only worked Sundays at that time and one of my favourite patients had passed away on the Saturday night before my Sunday morning shift. The Charge nurse asked if I wanted to see her before they took her away...I think she was the first "dead" person I had seen..I went into the room and the first thing I said was... "Oh, you should open the window... how will she leave??" The room was cool but heavy.. we opened the window and immediately the room felt lighter. I have no idea why I said that.. I just thought it made sense. Others however thought I was a bit barmy!

      Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  19. As I said John Gray I did voluntary work there. My Mum and Dad used to come and pick me up, and there was always a nurse looking for someone who had escaped.

    I remember the corridors had an tall arched ceiling, and one elderly gentleman used to walk up and down the corridors, saying "have you got tuppence love" I think there was a 'shop' or was it a hatch you could buy things from. If I had got the bus I could claim my money back, but I used to go and buy things for the patients, I think you could buy cigarettes. One old lady who used to apply her lipstick to most of her face was notorious for doing sexual favours for a single woodbine. If walls could talk there would be some stories from that place xx

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    1. I know the name of that old man I nursed him on irby Ward his name was George

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  20. Oh, the lines between life and death can be very fuzzy at times and there are people who, for one reason or another, are able to see them more clearly. I truly believe that.
    And I don't believe it's all woo-woo. I just believe that it's the way things are and perhaps one day science will have a better explanation.

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    1. I agree with you . It would be nice to know

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  21. Anonymous1:47 pm

    John, when we were little kids, my brother used to say that a ghost sat at the bottom of his bed at night. We all teased him about it. Move ahead 50 yrs, My Mother had passed away and my 2 sisters were staying at the house . About 1 a.m. one sister heard and saw someone pass the bedroom door, she called to Patsy thinking it was her, when they realized it was neither they flew out of house to the neighbours and stayed there the rest of the time. Michael wasn't wrong about the ghost..........

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  22. The story of a spirit, not a ghost.

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  23. My belief is many spirits in a room are often caused by spirits in a glass.

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  24. It seems that people who are a bit "off" are closer to the things we realists aren't.

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  25. I believe every word.

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  26. After WWII my parents were nearly homeless. They arrived in a small little town in far eastern Oregon with a broken down truck and bunch of kids. Dad met a man named Tony who was starting a lumber business. He hired dad and his brother and they never looked back.

    Many years later, the lumber mill had sold and dad was retired but he didn't stop. He was actually up on the roof of the house fixing a lose shingle when he came down visibly disturbed. He told mom he thought maybe the sun was getting to him or something. He said Tony had been on the roof as plain as day and had tapped dad on the shoulder, then waved good bye and disappeared. Dad told mom he knew what he saw and as they were talking about it the phone rang. Tony had just died.

    Without dad and he brother's help, Tony's mill would have failed. Without Tony dad would have had one hell of a time putting food on the table.

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    1. I love stories like these . A wonderful bit of family history

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  27. Extra sensory perception?

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  28. I don't blame that patient for getting upset. I wouldn't want that fellow to take me, either.

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  29. Anonymous5:24 pm

    What was in your tea?
    JP

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  30. We had lots of ghosts at The royal London. We had heavy lift doors which opened on their own. This was a Dr who had killed himself as he had caused a patient to die. We had a ghost nurse who shook you awake if you nodded off feeding a baby. She was supposed to have smothered a baby she was feeding when she fell asleep. She killed herself

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  31. I think I'd die of fright if someone dead came to fetch me!
    Greetings Maria x

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  32. Who knows for sure what is real.

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  33. I was the last family member to see my maternal grandmother alive. It was pouring with rain and I was picked up from the train station from college. My mum who had just visited her mother said, " just pop in, we will wait in the car " My grandmother was staring at a clock ahead on the wall of her ward. I spoke to her and she seemed to answer but kept
    staring at the clock. By the time we got home the phone was ringing to let us know she had died. I don't know what my lovely grandmother was staring at and though not religious myself, it gives me comfort.

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    1. Another moving comment thank you

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    2. There's something strange I think about clocks.My mum had passed on & I was sitting trying to pluck up courage to visit her bodyat the funeral pparlor the evening prior to her burial.The alarm on the clock near where I was sitting rang.It was time for me to make a move.The clock had not worked for months.It was my mum who always replaced the batteries for me & she hadn't been able to as she had been in hospital for months.I think it was her spirit saying at that sad time she was with me still x

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  34. Thank you for sharing John. x

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  35. I believe in ghost. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and everyone’s thoughts too! Gabs

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  36. I never believed in spirits until my oldest granddaughter was born. From the moment she could talk she would talk about different people, some had names, some were just 'man', some she liked, some she was terrified off. It wasn't until she was about five that she realised that we couldn't see what she could. Babysitting was only done under duress - it was really unnerving! She's even changed my 80 year old Dad's opinion - and he used to laugh if people talked about ghosts. There are so many things that we don't understand.

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  37. My Nan said that when she was with her dying husband in the hospital, he looked toward the door, smiled and waved at someone. She turned to look and there was no one there. When she turned back, he had died.

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  38. I have probably told these stories before so forgive me if i have.
    My grandmother on her deathbed was mostly unresponsive but woke for a short time of lucidity and said that all of her siblings (there were 12 or more) were waiting for her and beckoning. I would need to check with mum but I think this happened a week or so before her death.
    My uncle was 90+ and in a nursing home, no more or less sick than any other day. He asked to be dressed nicely because he was going to see his (long gone) wife and was found sitting peacefully in a chair after lunch

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  39. Thank goodness I have read this in the morning! Spooky.

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  40. I don’t believe in ghosts but I do think that the sub conscious is very powerful, that and heightened senses.

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  41. I'm nervously whistling the old theme song from The Twilight Zone.

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  42. we have a spirit , its harmless, bit strange in a 1950s council house . Horrible stench at the bottom of the stairs , then it goes stone cold and brushes past you . Wish we knew who it was , but nobody bats an eyelid in this family my gran was a spiritualist and my son sees things that others dont , me ...well i just accept that for some people the world of spirit is a tad to close...lol

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  43. Anonymous2:08 pm

    Lovely story. Life holds many mysteries and our eyes aren't fully opened until we have shed our bodies and have crossed over to what awaits. I have had many experiences with the unexplained and believe that there is much that we cannot comprehend so we cannot dismiss. One story that I will share involves visiting my grandmother. She lived in a lovely cottage in a small town in New England and her next door neighbor was a lovely old lady, Mrs. Pittman, who was a widow. They used to garden together and they both had lovely gardens. One summer, after my second year of college, I paid a visit to my grandmother, the first in almost a year. Having arrived the previous night, I woke up early and went out to the back garden to view my grandmother's garden. As I was out there, I saw movement next door and Mrs. Pittman approached the low stone wall between the two gardens. I went over to her and we chatted for a bit. Everything seemed normal, except for one small comment that she made to me at the end of our conversation. When I asked her if she had had any visitors lately (she had many friends and some nearby family members) she smiled at me and pointed to the gate at the back of her garden and said "they tell me that is the way out but not for me". I was puzzled but said my goodbye and went inside. A few minutes later, my gran came into the kitchen and I told her that I had just seen Mrs. Pittman. She went white and said that Mrs. Pittman had died 2 months earlier and the house next door sat empty because her children couldn't agree on selling it.

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    1. Interesting and bittersweet

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  44. I'am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited,Thank you for sharing good topic.

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