Thursday, 23 June 2011

My Friend Rose

Since leaving home to go to University, I moved from place to place, never putting down roots anywhere.

Then I moved to a little village north of Reading called South Stoke.

My oldest child was of school age so we enrolled her in the local village primary school. It was a tiny school with one class for infants and one for juniors. With so few kids and mums, my usual anonymity was impossible. Everybody seemed to know who I was and were friendly and welcoming. One person in particular went the extra mile to make me feel accepted.

That person was Rose.

Rose volunteered at the school listening to readers and she seemed to know everything about everyone. She had a daughter of a similar age to my own and before long, we were spending lots of time at each other's houses chatting and drinking tea while our girls played.

Rose was one of the first people I told when I found out I was pregnant again and one of the first people I told when my sister died. Moments like that bind you.

When I had my daughters christened, Rose was a natural choice for Godmother and she continues to spoil them even though they are all grown up now.

Rose never forgave my husband for moving us away from our home in South Stoke, especially since the marriage broke down shortly after. We are in regular contact but it can never be the same as it was when we saw each other every day for tea and gossip.

As much as she worried about me when I was going through a  difficult divorce, I worried about her and a life that was unhappy and unfulfilled. Eventually, last year she found the courage to make a big change. She left her long term partner and a stable job and bought a house in Swindon. It was a massive gamble but it paid off. She met a man who is everything she ever wanted and she is living her happy ever after.

Rose does not like to drive which means I don't get to see her very often. I was absolutely thrilled when, on the occasion of my wedding to husband number 2, she drove all the way from Swindon to Shropshire to be with me as I tied the knot on my own happy ever after. It meant the world that she had overcome her unwillingness to drive and had done that for me.

Although I don't see a lot of her in person any more, I love to see her big smile on the photographs that she posts on facebook and her cheery statuses. One status, in particular, had me practically jumping for joy. Her new man had proposed to her whilst on a romantic holiday in Corsica.

Wedding plans are now well underway. Her grown up son will be giving her away but as he is a man of few words (unless he is talking about art house films or arguing how the likes of Steven Spielberg are 'pacifying the masses through escapism') she has asked me to deliver the 'father of the bride' speech.

It might be a little unconventional but I felt so honoured to be asked. I have until January to come up with something befitting a very special person - my friend Rose.

Photographs published by kind permission of Adrian Roberts

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