By the end of the week this reluctant traveller was full of plans for her next visit – perhaps taking in Seville, maybe a stay in Carmona's wonderful parador and most definitely another visit to a bodega. In short, she, and we, had a wonderful week. Perhaps Sue fell asleep more readily than usual, but then with much to entertain her this wasn't, perhaps, a surprise. What we could not, and did not know then, was that this sleepiness was caused by an inoperable tumour that was even then swelling in her brain.
A month later and she had become distinctly tired and listless - 'droopy' to use her own word. By mid summer her condition had so worsened that even she admitted that a visit to the doctor was unavoidable. Despite this, her dramatic collapse in her GPs surgery and rapid installation in the intensive care wing of St Thomas's Hospital was a profound shock . With careful nursing, a bucket load of drugs and, not least, her partner's determined insistence, she quickly managed to go home. Typically, she would not countenance cancelling a large social engagement that week, but entertained her visitors, in style, from her chaise long. Her wit and intelligence continued unaffected, but her physical strength and competence was slowly ebbing away. Then, at the start of November, her condition suddenly worsened and she slipped into unconsciousness. Despite Tim's heroic and unstinting efforts to keep her at home, Sue was admitted to Trinity Hospice on the 4th November where, on 12th, she peacefully died.
How can any of us truly weigh and balance the influence of those so close to us? Was it really my unabashed pride in having seen more birds in my I-Spy book than my 'big sister' had in hers that set me on this path? Was it her sharp intellectual curiosity about the past that pushed me towards becoming a history teacher? And did her talent as an artist encourage me to draw and paint? What of her love for a good argument? And, not least, her kind generosity? What I do know is that without her example and constant affection I, as with many others, would have been a much lesser person.
Thank you for indulging me and reading this off topic post. It just wasn't something I could leave unsaid,