Yesterday I received a Christmas Card from a very dear friend, which is not in itself surprising given that it is just a few days before Christmas. What was surprising was the addition with the card. A photograph of the completed build of her new home. Actually, while that brought a smile to my face and a warm glow to my heart, it was the name of the new property that swelled my soul out of all proportion. She had named it ‘Peter’s Barn’ after her late husband. Now, not many people know, or have even heard of, the late Peter Fowler (and forgive me my dear friend if you would have wished his name to remain unknown), but these two people were extremely important to me at a very crucial time in my life.
Peter Fowler was an unassuming, quiet, respectful man whom I had never seen stirred to anger. He had a sharp, dry, cutting wit, and a bizarre (for me at least) enthusiasm for stationary engines which was, thankfully for his wife’s sake, shared by one of his sons. I shan’t mention her name as I have no wish to see her hounded. When I was pregnant with my firstborn my husband was offered a position in the middle east and we decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up. So, I stayed on in blighty to give birth while he investigated our options abroad. When we decided it was the right move, he proceeded to set up a home for us while I remained in the UK to have the baby. My husband came over for the birth and stayed as long as he was able. Although he came home every month or so, I missed him desperately. We missed each other. My saviours were my friends and family. My husband’s biggest source of comfort was the fact that the Fowlers were just down the road.
The Fowlers were busy people. Apart from full-time jobs, Pete was busy moulding the garden and attending stationary engine ‘do’s’, his wife painted; they were gearing up to become fully paid up members of the OAP brigade. When I had the baby they were unstinting in their help and support. My baby had colic, bad colic, when she would cry from 19:00 to 02:00 the next morning, every evening, without fail. It would have been soul-destroying if not for my support network. I clearly remember one morning when I walked the baby. I stopped off at the Fowlers to say Hi. Pete insisted I come in and have a cup of tea. I was there for over three hours. They fed and watered me, walked the baby, soothed and cuddled her, and then walked me home once they were convinced I was still sane.
A few months later, when it came to the time for the packers to arrive, they came over the day before without being asked, sat me on the sofa with the baby, and worked around me. They had become extremely important to me and today I told my daughter about these two wonderful people. I love their son as though he were my brother, although I rarely communicate with him, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to know his parents.
Peter Fowler, this is an acknowledgement to you. The compassionate man who so looked forward to his retirement with his wife and was deprived of that one wish. To his wife, who has a very special place in my heart, and to your granddaughter whom I have not met as yet. I look forward to telling her what I knew of you.