Saturday, 26 October 2013

Carol Ann James: 1952 - 2013

Carol, as I want to remember her.

This is the most distressing thing I have ever had to write. My beautiful, wonderful wife Carol passed away on 15th July. It was only early May when we were sharing a car on the way to work. Carol would drop me off  &  pick me up again in the afternoon. But in the second week of May, I twice had to go & pick Carol up & take her home, as she couldn't continue with work.
She had lost a lot of weight, had less & less energy & by the middle of  May she couldn't climb the stairs to our bedroom unaided. She was getting more & more frail. Then the pain started just under her left lung. It was severe, even with strong pain killers prescribed by the hospital. After a few nights, pain started in her spine as well. Nights were torture for her, nothing seemed to work & she couldn't lie down & go to sleep. The days were spent on the couch upstairs, trying to watch TV, mostly unsuccessfully. Friends visited but after a short while had to leave as Carol quickly became exhausted. Nicci flew out to help around the house & do what she could for her mum.
Carol spent 10 days as an inpatient at Twam Hospital. At first she seemed to get a little better, she was brighter in her eyes & could hold a conversation. The pain miraculously vanished! No-one knew why! Obviously we were all grateful but also very surprised. The hospital gave her a blood transfusion, it gave her a boost & she came home.
But this little respite was short-lived. Carol couldn't eat or drink anything. By now anything at all through her mouth, gave her a coughing fit which could last hours, leaving her even weaker than before. She was sinking fast. Drew & Hazel stayed with us on their way to see Amy in Scotland. They were visibly shocked at Carol’s condition. We took her to the A&E at Sheikh Khalifa Hospital here in Abu Dhabi. They made her more comfortable & gave her another blood transfusion. After a week of excellent care, Carol came home again. But after a few days, Carol had to be rushed back, she was going down.
 Her friends were great, they visited & tried to keep her spirits up. But it was an impossible task. I talked to Carol & managed to persuade her to fly home with me at the earliest opportunity. Finally she agreed. We both knew this would be a one way trip for her & she was naturally reluctant to leave her home for the last 21 years here in Abu Dhabi. Nicci  & Clare were fantastic. Nicci had by now flown home, she started the paperwork on getting Carol admitted to Royal Marsden. Justin & her also started renovating their home, to make a new bathroom  & get a stair lift fitted, so Carol could go upstairs. Clare became mother-hen. Anything she could do here she did it – she was wonderful! Toni was of course in Australia & Rowan at university at Brighton. We all skyped as much as possible, they saw the deterioration of their mum with each session. But I am not sure what they actually knew.
I explained the situation with the doctors & staff at Sheikh Khalifa. Carol was admitted again, they gave her another blood transfusion & we got out of the hospital and onto the plane as fast as possible. Ahmed had kindly arranged business class tickets for us both. Carol by this time was confined to a wheelchair & couldn't travel normal class. Carol handled the flight remarkably well & Justin & Nicci were there to pick us up at the airport. We drove to a hotel (Chessington World Of Adventures) & stayed three nights. The builders at Nicci & Justin’s house had been slow & things were not ready for us, as we had of course planned to stay with them. The hotel proved a good choice, there were the animals as a distraction. Rowan, Nicci & family came to visit & Carol seemed to be slightly better. The weather was fantastic, we sat outside on the balcony drinking/talking. One day we even watched a little cricket together on the TV.
It was time for us to check out. Nicci had booked us in to a hotel very close to Epsom General Hospital. They had a disabled room there for our use. So we moved. The weather continued to be hot & sunny. Carol & I spent two mornings sitting under a shady tree reading newspapers & magazines. We had an appointment with Nicci’s GP. She was great & arranged for Carol to see a doctor on the following Monday. On the Sunday evening Carol was tired, but not in pain. So we went to bed early & watched the first Ashes Test Match on the telly. Carol enjoyed her cricket, it seemed to take her mind off things, if only for a short while.
The next morning was beautiful – still hot & sunny. We had breakfast together at the hotel. Justin & Nicci came to help us get Carol to the hospital, which we did without any trouble. We were all sat in the waiting room chatting. Carol seemed no worse than normal. We saw the nurse & she admitted Carol to see the doctor immediately. Nicci & I went with her. Carol was laid on the bed, waiting for the doctor & she hemorrhaged. Death was virtually instantaneous. We pressed the panic button, the team came immediately, seemingly from nowhere. They tried two cycles of resuscitation but told us the chances were slim of bringing her back. And so it proved – it was all over. I was numb, I had at first no emotion at all. Nicci was crying, but there was nothing to be done. Both of us couldn't believe it. Nicci said I should spend the night at her house. But I wanted to be alone. I wanted to go back to the hotel room where we had spent our last night together.
Over the next few days I moved in with Nicci. Toni, Clare & Rowan all arrived & I started making arrangements for the funeral. It was great to have all the girls together. We spent our afternoons sat in the sunshine drinking & talking in the garden. It was really weird, it was like we were making arrangements for a party but without Carol being there. There were a lot of phone calls to make & receive. I cried a lot & I still do today.
Finally the day of the funeral dawned. The weather was amazing & the crematorium was in a wonderful setting. Beautiful parkland with wonderful large trees. We had chosen an humanist ceremony, with three pieces of classical music and two eulogies: one read by me & one read by Nicci & Clare on behalf of all four  girls. I was so proud of them as they read their way through it. They did so well, it was really moving.

My eulogy for Carol:
I am a lucky man, because I have fallen in love twice in my life: the first time when I saw Carol & the second time when I fell in love with the woman herself. I first saw Carol across a crowded bar in Hull. Her long blonde hair first caught my eye & she smiled & laughed a lot with her friends, one of whom is sat here with us today.
I was in the bar drinking with friends.  I had been on my own for a while, one of my friends said it was about time I started dating again. I wasn’t so sure, but I replied that is the kind of girl I would want to marry (indicating Carol across the bar). This was totally out of character for me, as I hadn’t even spoken to her! As I made my way across to try & talk to Carol, an old flame tapped me on the shoulder. When I looked up again, Carol had vanished! But fate then took a hand & my friends persuaded me to move on to a party. I was very reluctant, but eventually was persuaded to go. When the door opened, the first person I saw was Carol! I made a bee line straight to her & the next six hours we talked, drank & laughed a lot. I don’t remember anyone else been present at that party!
People say every couple has the one night when they really connect, that was our night. I managed to get her phone number & I remember kissing her as I said my good night. I rang the next day and we eventually met & I remember talking, laughing & drinking a lot! In fact, this was to continue for the next 31 years.
I quickly found out that Carol was a remarkable woman; she was beautiful, classy & very sexy. She also had a keen intellect and was kind & loving. There was no-one I would rather be with. We talked about everything, I told her about my life and my travels. She was a keen listener and I think it must have sounded very strange for a local Hull girl who had more limited horizons.
Eventually, I moved in to her home which she shared with Nicci & Toni. We started to make plans together and in 1986 we were married. By now I was getting itchy feet again & we moved to Zimbabwe. The next three years were blissfully happy. We explored the country together, once cycling around the entire country on bicycles! Carol started work as a librarian, an occupation which she loved and continued right until the end.
Carol was always up for an adventure & I would like to think that I didn't disappoint her! We traveled widely, even with the two small children of our own, Clare & Rowan. I remember one 12 week trip through Indonesia, Clare was four & Rowan one years old. We bought a cheap plastic pushchair which Clare ruled & I cut holes in my rucksack so that Rowan’s legs could go through the bottom. We trekked through jungle trails, we climbed volcanoes on horseback, and we swam in the seas & made love on deserted beaches. We had no money but we were very rich.
Carol was a mother & valued her four girls above all else. She always made our house into a loving caring home, wherever we were & I think that this was recognized by others, because everyone always came to our house, to talk and drink and laugh. There were a lot of laughs.
In 2008 Carol received a bolt out of the blue, or was it the black? She was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She faced this ordeal with courage and dignity and for three & half years we thought she had beaten this terrible disease. But in July 2012 it returned with a vengeance and the last year has been unbelievably hard on both Carol & her loved ones. Carol had so much to give and so much to live for. Right until the very end, she cared for others more than herself.

Today is the day for remembering but tomorrow the sun will rise in the east and the wind will rustle the leaves in the trees. As a family, we have children to raise; we have a wedding to plan and we have a degree to obtain with honors  Over all these things Carol will watch over us. But what about me? Well, Carol was my girl, always was, always will be.

Do not stand at my grave & weep by Mary Fayre

Do not stand at my grave & weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave & cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

The girl's eulogy read by Nicci & Clare:

 Then it was time to let Carol go. Her willow basket looked fantastic adorned with English flowers in white, yellow with just a touch of red. They had done an amazing job, it was all so beautiful.
All of us transferred to a nearby hotel. I had hired the Chester Suite, which opened up on to wonderful gardens. It was a fantastic setting, Carol would have loved it. It was great to see & talk to people, some I hadn't seen for quite sometime. It was a brilliant evening, with just one thing missing. I just want to thank everyone for all their kindness & consideration.

Carol's world.

I am writing this seven weeks after Carol passed away. I still can’t believe she has gone. I think of her a million times a day in a million different ways. I still cry everyday. My life will never be the same again.

1 comment:

  1. I encourage you to be patient and steadfast. This is the the way of Allaah with His creation, we are all going to die one day.

    Please accept our most heartfelt sympathies for your loss…our thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time.

    Khaled & Family