Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Memorial Walk for Don Craig 01.12.57 - 25.04.15

Don Craig taken 12/08/2001
This must be some kind of record! Neglecting a blog for over 2 years! What happened? A bit difficult to say but perhaps I thought I was talking to myself and got bored? Still, I happened to mention on Facebook that I was the proud owner of a fitbit and would be doing more walking and Joy Shallcross that I got to know through her lovely blog asked if I would be blogging about my walks again? It would appear that dear Joy liked my writing (thank you Joy) ...... so perhaps I shall be content with a quality audience rather than quantity!

So, why have I acquired a fitbit? Well, back on our Anniversary on 23rd April 2015, John and I went to Norwich for the day and did loads of walking and I ended up totally knackered! I couldn't believe why as I have been doing my exercise bike for 30 minutes every week day and have done so for a long time. It occurred to me that walking uses entirely different muscles and suggested to John that I'd much prefer going out walking, especially first thing in the morning, to get some air and really enjoy some exercise rather than using the exercise bike ..... a real slog if I'm honest! We've been neglecting our walking and I really enjoy it, so that's what we've been doing since then. One morning we even got up really early and just about caught the sunrise; totally wonderful being out that early in the morning. John then happened to mention that a fitbit is a good way of recording progress and steps and so ...... one early Birthday present later ...... and I have a fitbit! This is a remarkably addictive gadget that I'm sure I will report on further!

But, at this point I'm sure someone will wonder why this blog entry is entitled 'Memorial Walk for Don Craig'? With very great sadness, we found out on Monday 4th May that Don, a very dear friend, had passed away on Saturday 25th April of a heart attack. He was only 57 years old. My John had known him since they were at Southgate College together, so from when they were both 16 or 17. Don was a really great friend and, in turn, I had known him from when I first started going out with John in 1981 and you couldn't wish to meet a kinder person. It is very hard to really describe Don but he was eccentric in that old fashioned English tradition of eccentrics. When John first knew him, he was a bit of a latter-day hippy type with long hair, afghan coat and flares. Through him, John developed his love of all sorts of progressive rock music and an interest in hi-fi and over the years we went to many concerts with him. He loved so many groups that it would be hard to say what was his favourite. Don helped John make the huge speaker cabinets that we still use. They are so big they people think they are wardrobes. Don was passionate about environmental issues, with a natural garden full of native trees and plants designed to attract lots of wildlife. For many years, he did work for the British Conservation Trust Volunteers and he loved walking and bird watching. He wasn't terribly keen on conventional social activities; we couldn't persuade him to come to our wedding for instance ..... but that was just Don!

We got together pretty much every week. He had an irascible sense of humour and was good company. But why eccentric? I could never get him to share a meal at our house. However, every week he would bring round his fish and chips. Our old cat used to recognise his car and would be sitting by the front door almost before we even realisd he was there. I couldn't get him to use a plate ('why create washing up!') and so he'd eat it from the paper, having first giving a bit to our cat. Any leftover chips or batter would go home with him to feed the birds in his garden. It took me ages to work out his Birthday; John had never thought to ask! Eventually, I somehow found out and so, on the nearest visit to his Birthday on 1st December I'd give him a suitably jokey card and my Annual 'Christmas' Dundee cake would be his Birthday cake.

He was so caring in a very understating way, spending years caring for his Mum whose health has never been very good and caring for his partner's many illnesses. However, he wouldn't want praise for this; Don just got on with it.

He was able to make and do just about anything and had a wide variety of jobs over the years, most involving maintaining machines but he did so many major DIY jobs at his Mum's house and then his own that he really could turn his hand to anything..

Without going into too much detail, we found out that there wasn't going to be a funeral and that Don was going to be cremated on Tuesday 12th May at mid-day (today). I have personally found this very hard to take. I understand how it has come to be and it is not for discussion on this blog but I can only say that I have felt a profound sadness that Don would be 'alone' at this point. In all honesty, Don would find my thoughts ridiculous! I'm sure he would say that he is no longer in his body and that, in any case, being the centre of attention would be the last thing he would want. All very true! However, I said to John that we needed to do something to mark his passing; just the two of us. I couldn't do it today, so we decided to do it last night.






I decided to make a wreath arrangement from ivy, honeysuckle and lilac blossom from our garden. Here you can see that Flossie decided that she had to come and supervise!

She looks a bit 'miffed' here :)

OK ..... I guess I won't win any prizes for wreath making but it smelt heavenly and I think Don would have approved that it was hand-made by me.




We then walked over to the Lea Valley Park. It was at a more southerly bit of the Lea Valley park that Don used to do work with the BCTV and he often walked over there bird watching, so it seemed appropriate. When we got to a stretch of the Lea that flows reasonably strongly, we stood on a bridge and I let it drop into the water.


Perhaps we should have said a few words. However, neither of us really knew what words to say. It has been such a shock and I don't think it has really sunk in that we won't see him again.





This photo looks like the wreath is going to get stuck in the bank, but it didn't! It drifted off down the Lea and out of sight. I like to think that Don will know that we were thinking of him. We really are going to miss him a very great deal.

We continued our walk round the Lea Valley park, hearing our first cuckoo of the season and coming across the first Canada geese chicks.




It is also lovely to see the male swan being so protective over his mate siting on her eggs. We'll be back on another day to see the cygnets once they've hatched.

All around, so many signs of new life and fresh greenery but tinged with sadness because Don won't see and share any of this anymore.

We walked a total of 4.94 miles and I managed to get the fitbit to 'clock' its first 10,000 steps.

RIP dear Don from Elaine and John xxxx

2 comments:

joy said...

So sorry to hear about the loss of your friend.
However, welcome back to blogland, and I promise to read every post - I'm sure I wont be the only one though.
Well done for getting your fitbit to get up to 10,000 steps. I have a pedometer app on my smarter-than-me phone which I've had for a couple of months now, but I've only been able to get the damn thing up to 10,000 steps once in that time. I wonder if it's working properly?
Joy x x

Elaine said...

Thank you Joy. We really will miss Don enormously.

I've read some of your posts about your walks and I would have thought you would easily do 10,000 steps. Perhaps there is something wrong with it? I 'think' the fitbit picks up arm swings abd uses that to count steps (however, don't quote me!). It does also record mileage and seems to be fairly accurate; it's possible to make it more accurate by entering in the length of your stride, but I haven't done that yet!

Today, so far, I've only walked around school (I've been exam invigilating) and have already 'clocked' 4,261 steps. We'll be doing quite a long walk tonight so it will be interesting to see how many steps it gets up to.

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