Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Growing Up

There are moments in life when lightening strikes and you suddenly grow up into being and more importantly understanding what it is to be a real adult.
I remember one such moment today
I was a young 27 year old nurse, who worked hard and played hard
I had just started my career on the spinal Injury unit and found myself working on the readmission Ward which catered mainly for patients who suffered from the complications of long term paralysis, namely skin problems , urological dysfunctions and carer issues.
There I became friends with a big gentle bear of a chap called Noel.
Injured in a car accident two decades earlier , Noel lived with his family in a small rural Norfolk community . He was paralysed from the neck down and required full time care even though he could drive a car and had attended a local university.
He was a strangely sanguine man, with a calm good natured dignity to him.
I liked him immediately ,
On reflection I fell for him immediately.
Noel was on bedrest due to skin problems but his enforced captivity never seemed to get him down , indeed rather conspiratorially he suggested that I lay down next to him one morning when I was suffering from a dreadful Leadmill nightclub induced hangover.
We became firm friends.
A year later, after Noel's skin issues had healed and long after he had returned home ,I caught up with him for tea, when I was on a flying visit to see another friend who lived in Cambridge
Noel was his usual gentle natured self.
His health wasn't good , but he blossomed with the care his sister and her family gave him, and when we sipped our tea, she and his grown up niece disappeared off to do some shopping.
" She's not my real sister " , Noel eventually told me as we chatted  and caught up "they are not my real family.....my family abandoned me after my accident"
He then told me the whole painful story of a dysfunctional family who had turned their back on a newly disabled boy of twenty who had been confined to a wheelchair .
Almost from nowhere a local family with two small children offered to give Noel a home and when Noel was 25 they officially adopted him into their family without any fanfare or ceremony.

" They saved my life" I remember Noel saying in his usual calm and reasonable way
"They didn't have do it ........I wonder to this day why they did!"
And As I watched him struggle a little with his emotions , I realised just why they had done it
This gentle sweet man had given them as much happiness as they had given him
I held his hand briefly even though I knew he couldn't feel it.

And as we drank our tea outside a tearoom in Bury St Edmunds, I grew a little older......and wiser

81 comments:

  1. It's lovely to hear stories like this. Sometimes it feels like there is not much good about our world at the moment. x

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  2. That is a story of two extremes, the hardness of his own family and the loving care of his adoptees.

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  3. That is the nicest story you have ever told. It is about other good people on this earth.

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  4. You can sink into a story like this, comforting, warm and uplifting.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  5. Such kindness from the family who took him in and loved him.

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  6. Wonderful! Do you know how he is now?

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    1. He died a few years ago in a local hospital. To my shame I was never able to go to him funeral

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  7. How many times do we have to ask you to collate all these stories into a manuscript and send it off somewhere? Do you realise how much your writing can move us, paint pictures, make us think? You'd have 1,000 advanced sales at least. xx

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  8. Oh dear, all I can do with that story is cry

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  9. What an uplifting story. The family who adopted Noel are heroes in my estimation. I would give them all medals.

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  10. Thank you for this John. With all the awful things going on in the world today maybe there is hope.
    PS I want a book too.

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  11. Old man reviewing life, as I do! Yes, I have had such mental changing moments in life. They make you a better person.

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  12. I'm looking forward to it.

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    1. To me growing up?
      You've gotta long wait

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  13. Yes John, I agree with the comments above. It is so good to hear of kind deeds which go over and beyond the call of duty. How much better to be welcomed with love into a family than to be thrust on a family who just don't want you. So few good deeds ever reach our ears these days - good and heart warming to read of one.

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  14. I know the abandoned feeling well...

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  15. I am caught up in genuine, kind, comfort, love . . .
    and in you telling the story . . .
    Wondering . . . where is Noel now . . .

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    1. Lynne he died a few years ago, I was still a. Charge nurse in Sheffield at the time

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  16. This story warmed my heart... thank goodness for families who think outside of themselves.

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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  17. Thank you for that story, it reminds me to try harder to be a better person.

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  18. Lovely to hear that Noel found a good family x

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  19. Lynn Marie12:27 pm

    Thank you for reminding me of how many people live their lives quietly and courageously and change the world every day for the better.

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  20. A beautiful story of human kindness, seemingly so rare in the world.

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  21. I will remember this when something horrid preys on my mind. Thank you.

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  22. Lovely to think of you and your dear friend in Bury St Edmunds. I live ten minutes from Bury. I wonder if that tea room is still there. Jan Bx

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  23. A wonderful memory, John. I'm sure that Noel enjoyed your friendship and support. What a lovely family to envelop him in their love.

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  24. Humans can be so very good, shame we only get to hear about the evil side of our lives.

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  25. Thank you for this, for reminding of the good humans can do, for the kindness and compassion we can have for others.

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  26. You remember him with love. Doesn't that help with the pain of not attending his funereal? I hate to remember opportunities for kindness missed.

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  27. How could his birth family have ever abandoned him?

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  29. What a wonderful story! There are true angels in the world!
    Debbie

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  30. Seems the best 'life lessons' are taught by the 'Noels' of this world.
    You were both affected positively by your relationship.
    Thanks for sharing this, John.

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  31. Noel was an immensely brave man, his 'adopted' family were compassionate and caring, and you were a true friend. Thank you for this story.

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  32. Barbara Anne2:35 pm

    I'm impressed and amazed by Noel's positive outlook on life reflected in his attitude and behavior and despite the profound limitations caused by his injuries. He must have had a kind and gentle heart.

    I imagine Noel wouldn't want you to dwell on your not being able to attend his funeral. He enjoyed your friendship in life and that's what matters.

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  33. A heart wrenching but wonderful story - thank you John for reminding me there are good people in this world.

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  34. Oh John, there are angels among us.

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  35. That was an incredibly moving story.
    I am sorry you couldn't go to his funeral, but I am sure he knew you still cared.

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  36. As you get older you do forget events and connections. I have tons of photos from childhood to present. Aren't you glad you have this blog? Hope you back up your computer....better yet ....Book?

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  37. That is a story that warms anyone's heart... Thanks for sharing

    tommy

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  38. Now I'm crying at work.....

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  39. One of my ‘grow up’ moments was during a thunderstorm. They aren’t common where I live. It was black outside, raining fiercely and the thunder woke my children and they got in bed with me. We were all scared. I remember the moment when I thought ‘you’re the mom, you can’t be scared, they’re depending on you’. That’s the moment my grown up self was revealed...at least for that night.

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    1. That's a sweet story too

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  40. A very touching story. How terrible that his original family washed their hands of him, but how wonderful that another family promptly stepped in to help him.

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  41. Thank you for this heartwarming story. Kindness changes everything. It is a most powerful act.

    I tell people that it isn't blood that makes a family, it's love. Those born into challenging families understand what I'm saying. They know that when I say friends are the family you get to pick, it's the truth for us. I am glad Noel had found a loving family, or rather, a loving family found Noel and made him one of their own.

    Stories like this, of ordinary people performing extraordinary acts of kindness, remind us that there are still good people in this world, and they inspire us to do better. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. I was reminded of it, by my nurse post of the other day

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  42. What an astonishing story. It's hard to believe a family could reject a child that way, and thank goodness his "second family" came along.

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    1. I never quite got to the bottom of the story, guess the fact it just happened was explaination enough

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  43. Thank you so much.

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  44. A very moving story.

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  45. Thanks John. He and you -lovely people.

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  46. What a moving story. I'm so happy that a real family took him in and made him apart of their lives. There is good in the world, and it's nice to be reminded of that.
    Thank you for sharing, John!

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  47. Hard to believe people would abandon their own son. He sounded like a very lovely man and at least he found a loving family to care for him.

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  48. I didn't see this ending coming. When the post began I was seeing the beginning of a love story, with you as Julia Robert's Hilary and Noel as Campbell Scott's Victor (Movie: Dying Young). In a way, I guess it's still a love story -- the family that cared for Noel and your friendship with him.

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    1. I kinda of fell for him,
      I fell for his goodness and his strength
      I was grateful I met him

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  49. That would have been a huge responsibility to take on, especially with two children already to look after. Not too many families would make that choice but not too many families would abandon their child either. Sometimes the world gives back after it takes away.

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  50. Thank goodness for the angels in this world like that family. It is beyond me how his family could turn their back on their own son in need. This is a bittersweet but beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

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  51. I am so glad that he found a 'real' family. And glad for you and for him that he came into your life.

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  52. Your post is very well written and poignant. Thank you for sharing that piece of your life. Your words helped to remind me what is truly important in life.

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  53. Tears for that kind family and the man's resilience.

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    1. And the goodnes in people

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  54. God bless you, John. You chose work that very few others could do with such love and compassion - and courage! Don't feel bad about not attending Noel's funeral. We do that for the living - if Noel's aware you weren't there, then he's also aware of your love for him, which is all that counts. Yes - please consider doing a book. People need to hear your stories.

    It's 9-11. Here in the States we're honoring those who also chose the difficult path of caring for others.

    Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Yes I recognise the day.... I have written maynblogs about it over the years x

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  55. That gives one faith in the human race... or at least in individual people. What a gift for all involved. Shame on his so-called "real" family.

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    1. He was loved and he knew it

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  56. What a wonderful, heartening story, John. We hear so much that's sad (and plain bad) on the news, to hear of such kindness is uplifting. That family must have found Noel a lot of work, but he rewarded them by being himself. What a lovely man. Thanks for telling us about hm. You definitely have a book in you; your storytelling is superb.

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    1. Virginia I think I sort of fell in love with him just a little

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  57. On today of all days filled with tear and sadness, you have posted a lovely story. I have been crying off and on all day. Your story and the one I have posted today have in different ways given me hope on such a sad day.

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  58. It took a while of thinking, but I just recalled the first time I grew up at work, telling a boss "it is the right thing to do, the human thing to do, we are a part of our customers lives." It was not easy, but he agreed with me and did the right thing.

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  59. I am not religious, but I would say this is truly an example of angels on earth...

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  60. There are good people everywhere, but maybe too few. In recent years my neighbours looked after another neighbour who was dying, and now have a homeless man living in a caravan in their barn. Good people too.

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  61. What an Uplifting story John, thanks for sharing.

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  62. Reading Cro's comment reminded me that I think these sort of arrangements go on more than we realise. My friend now in her 70s looks after her physically disabled sister. She told me a few years ago that actually the girl is not her sister but had been taken in by her family as a child when her own father did not want her in the home. She was brought up as one of the family and her education was paid for by my friend's father along with his own children's. They have always referred to her as their sister.

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  63. I grew up when my son was diagnosed with learning disability and profound autism, me has had to live in a care home with 24 hour care since he was 9. We see him regularly but we miss him all the time. As a result we cut ourself off from people with small children as it was too painful to listen to their achievements and progress. At least my step son, my wife’s other son, is a very good man and can keep an eye on him when we are dead.

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