Wednesday, 9 February 2011

How Do You Keep The Music Playing

My favourite teacher, who was also my dear friend died this afternoon.

I last saw her just after Christmas. She was frail and weak, but she still looked lovely, and when I cuddled her to say goodbye, I had a feeling that maybe that would be my last cuddle and my last goodbye. I spent a lovely couple of hours there that afternoon. Her mum was there, her best friend, her best friend's mum, the gorgeous carer, and her son - upstairs with his pal. We chatted, we laughed, I told stories and reminisced. She listened, she smiled and she nodded.

She was my PE teacher at school. Only 10 years older than us. I adored her. She was an inspiration, and she was my hero. We used to swap records, and she introduced me to the world of 'soul.' Some great singers - Patti Labelle, James Ingram, Quincy Jones and...Patti Austin. Patti Austin was her favourite, and when she left our school after 5 years for another job, I presented her with a picture of Patti that I'd drawn in coloured pencils. She presented me with a tape that she'd made - just for me, with all our favourite singers on there. It was called 'Somethin' Special' after the first Patti Austin. I've still got it, but the writing's a bit faded now.

When we were reunited last year after 20+ years, I learned that she'd had a major stroke and was also suffering from cancer. When I first visited her, she was eager to show me something upstairs. She had a stair lift, and I followed her up, wondering what she was so keen for me to see. It was, of course, the picture of Patti that I'd done for her - on the wall - pride of place. She couldn't talk because of the damned stroke, but boy she could smile - and she really did grin as she saw me recognise the picture.

Visiting her in the last few months, I would talk to her about all sorts of stuff. It was sometimes difficult to keep thinking of things to say, because she couldn't speak. I do, however, remember a wonderful moment where I said 'Ahhh, Patti. Isn't she great.' She smiled and nodded, and I started to sing 'How do you keep the music playing...' She closed her eyes and hummed along, perfectly in tune. I can picture her now.

Her best friend was distraught when she phoned me this afternoon. I can't put into words how amazing this friend has been over the last few years. She has made an incredible difference to the life of my lovely teacher and her son since their world collapsed, and will, no doubt continue to give unconditionally to ensure that her friend's son is ok...

Despite the fact that my eyes are swollen with tears, I am determined to celebrate the life of my lovely teacher. I will remember her fondly, I will talk about her often, and I shall stay in touch with her family and her best friend so that we can talk about old times, smile and laugh.
Somehow, we will find a way to keep the music playing...

I have written a couple of other posts about my favourite teacher on the other blog. 'Heroes' and 'Mother's Love.'


  1. Hey Shents dear friend,

    I am truly sorry for your loss..her life was enriched as was yours by knowing one another...that is true friendship and one that lives on even though the friend is no longer around in body and mind.

    Sad but beautiful words.

    Much Love

    T xx

  2. Thank you Tony. Really lovely and absolutely beautiful words.
    She meant such a lot to me, and I'm so glad I got the opportunity to tell her that every time I visited her.
    Thanks xxxx

  3. Hugs Shents....she knew how much you cared and that means so much.

    I love that she had the picture on her wall - that's so cool and shows you meant as much to her, as she meant to you.

    I remember you writing about her before, it made me cry then...

    Beautiful words for a lovely lady xxxx

  4. I am sorry to hear of the sad loss, I love that you are in your words you are "determined to celebrate the life of my lovely teacher".

    Keep smiling because I am sure she wouldn't want it any other way.

    Paula xx

  5. You're absolutely right, Paula, thank you.

    She was so brave and strong after everything that happened to her, and she was surrounded by some amazing people that really helped her to overcome some impossible barriers.

    She will be a big big miss, but yes, memories of some great times with her will keep me smiling.

    Shents x

  6. Thank you for this song Lisa. Really really moved me. And memories are so different for us all. I was a bit terrified of Miss O in case she found out what Caz and I were doing instead of running or playing tennis or jumping hurdles. sneaking off for sweets or smokes in the churchyard! But I still loved her and was in awe of her smile. Your artwork adorns my wall too! I have the pic of holy island you did for my wedding to Chris in my sitting room. And my parents have framed your Christmas card from 20 odd years ago. . It is five years since Chris died this April and he is still involved in my life every day. Your memories of our teacher will be everpresent. Just so sad for her boy and her friends. Love Liz xxx

  7. She wasn't daft - I think she knew exactly what you and Caz were up to, but was too nice to dob you in!....But look at you now hey - running the Great North Run in September!!!! I'm sure she'd have a good smile at that one!
    I'm glad Chris is still in your heart, and I'm positive that he would also be smiling with joy that you've found a lovely new guy to be happy with...can't wait for the wedding!!
    Much love as ever