Lesley & me on her wedding day and
the entry in the Book of Remembrance
All families have to deal with sad events. For me, Lesley's passing was very difficult as I blamed her mother for acting in a manner that, most likely, initiated the mental and physical trauma that caused the condition. I also blamed the GP for not diagnosing the condition and leaving it to develop for a period of two years.
Lesley died of Hodgkin's disease.
She was married and working as a psychiatric nurse in Inverness and she visited us in Livingston, about a 200-mile journey, quite often. We, my wife Jackie and I were concerned that Lesley had difficulty in laying down to sleep because she kept coughing. She had seen her GP and he told her that it was smoking that caused it. Jackie and I did not think to question the diagnosis. It was not until her GP was on holiday and a locum in the practice that her true illness was diagnosed. I can understand why sometimes people reach for the shotgun. She left her husband because she did not want him to suffer anguish while she was ill. He is a lovely fellow. Lesley came to live near us in Livingston, just a few yards away. She was given about two months to live. She lasted fourteen months.
What led up to all this?
Lesley trained at a teaching hospital near us. That is, near the home of my first wife, Chloe, and I. As it was difficult for her to attend due to the poor public transport she stayed in the nurses' home and came home when she could.
Lesley spoke to me about the behaviour of some of the trainees at the nurses' home and asked me if she could live at home. She told me, "If I don't get away I'll become an alcoholic or a prostitute!" I explained to her that things were not too good between her mother and I and that she should talk to her mother. When I returned home from work the next day Lesley had left me a note. In it she said that her mother had refused, but that after an argument she had relented for what Lesley called, "The wrong reasons."
I was angry. That happened on a Wednesday. Between then and Friday, I planned to kill Chloe. On the Friday some friends came over and took Chloe to our club. I wasn't planning to go there because of the situation. Nevertheless I went. My friends were friendly but I sat by myself.
Later, when I went home, I took a carving knife from a drawer, went upstairs, and attempted to kill her. I was over her but for some reason I could not bring the knife down. I threw the knife away. The police were called and I was taken away. At the police station, the local Bobbies asked me how I was. They asked if I was going to do anything stupid then sent me home.
Later I realised that I had had a psychotic breakdown.
I was charged with assault and threatening with a knife. I was admonished. I divorced Chloe on the grounds of cruelty. This was granted without any order for maintenance.
That was the story, as I knew it at the time. Three months before she died Lesley told me that her mother had thrown her out, screaming at her that she was a whore and that she cursed her. Lesley had a small motor bike. She said that as she was driving to the hospital the heavens opened up, there was thunder & lightning and hailstones. She told me as she cried, "Dad, I thought that mum's curse had come true. I was terrified!"
I am convinced that the trauma caused by this horrific rejection and haranguing shocked Lesley so much that her body and mind were severely damaged.
She also told me that she had told her eldest brother, Mischa, what had happened at the time, but did not tell me because she knew it would upset me.
About six weeks after Lesley died I woke up and told Jackie that I had had a poem come into my head. She thought I had gone mad due to the grief.
At Lesley's funeral, Chloe had a single rose put on the coffin. As the coffin was carried into the crematorium, we all saw that the rose was shrivelled as though it had already been through the furnace.
Before the crematorium service Chloe had a service at the Co-Op funeral parlour conducted by Chloe's vicar, the reverend Mean. I did not like him. As he said, "We say goodbye to Lesley." I saw her. She curtsied to me and smiled. I laughed. They thought that I had gone potty!
Here is the poem: -
CLICK THE ROSE TO SEE LESLEY AS I IMAGINED IT
Just one single rose was placed, then died,
Killed by the anger, anger, anger
And frustration inside.
"You whore! You whore!"
Was what I heard,
When all that I wanted
Was a comforting word.
Some nights later I had the same experience:-
To the rhythm of a galloping horse
The she wolf is coming at round about three.
She seeks out the hatred that's aimed against me.
The look from her eyes, sears through the brain,
Your peace will not come,
Ne'er again ne'er again.
Lesley's initials were L.U.P.A Latin for she wolf!
I can laugh at it now!
Friday, 05 July 2002. 10am. Aren't coincidences strange? Today, it is 19 years since Lesley died. I have an old wreck of a rose bush in my back garden, and I have made several attempts over the past five years to get rid of it. But, it was determined to hang on to its life! Maybe I'm crackers, but it seems that each year a rose grows on it, on or about this time. So I thought that this time I would record it.
Just now the grass cutters have been, and when the man did the strimming , he cut the only rose that was growing. I don't know why they did the grass cutting as it is pouring with rain!
"Just one single rose was placed - then died" A photo of it is here.
All my blessings, Lesley. You will always be missed.
Saturday, 5 July 2003. It is the 20th anniversary of Lesley passing. My memorial is here. For the past two years, the 'dead' rose bush in my garden produced a single rose. This year -- nothing! Wonder why? Here is a photo of the rose bush now --- you can see that it is in a sorry state.