I didn’t realise it was to be the last time I would open my next door neighbour’s window – to let the air in through a window she couldn’t reach. I only had the honour of knowing Thelma for less than a year of her extraordinary 96 years of life. Now it feels like the end of an era.
Her granddaughter called to tell me the sad news her Granny had passed away peacefully. She wasn’t sure who else to tell with such a small family and most of the names in Thelma’s address book scored out having outlived all her many friends. So I told her granddaughter Amy about this group.
I told her about the thousands of people around the world who in recent months had shown such kindness and interest in Thelma’s welfare following posts I’d shared in this group describing her extraordinary Granny – and how she’d touched my life.
Her Granny who’d been the first person to knock on my door to so warmly welcome me to the neighbourhood when I moved to this little village in Cargreen in Cornwall. Her Granny who then somehow became my lifeline and lockdown buddy with our regular chats – keeping each other company as I plied her with shortbread and she plied me with stories of her amazing life travelling the world in the Navy in her younger days. We shared a deep love of water – as well as a love for our same window view.
I told Amy how her Granny had smiled from cheek to cheek when I passed on the wonderfully caring messages to Thelma from around the world. I told her how I’d teased Thelma for accidentally becoming an ‘internet sensation’ in her later life – which made her giggle no end. What turned out to be Thelma’s final email to me contained a message of joy and gratitude for that. She wanted me to pass it on, so here it is:
“I want to say a big thankyou to you and all the wonderful kind people there are out there!!!! It is very comforting to know I have just wonderful, helpful neighbours here and so far beyond. I much appreciated the windows being opened for a while”.
I for one will miss and cherish my time with Thelma and the unexpectedly precious showing of such global neighbourly love that happened on this online community during our lockdown adventure.
It’s feels fitting, and rather beautiful, to think Thelma might even get to travel the world for one last farewell via this group. Her granddaughter certainly found it comforting to know there were others who might be thinking of her Granny too.
Perhaps in her memory we might keep opening the windows for all those extraordinary neighbours just like her…?
Rest in peace dear Thelma. Sail free, you inspiring and glorious adventurer ?