Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

The last time I saw Norman

The last time I saw Norman was about five or six weeks ago. The two of us were stood talking at the gate to his house just diagonally across from mine.

I paid Norman some compliment or other – to be honest I can’t quite remember what it was. I do recall his response though: “Too kind, Chris, too kind”  deflecting in the typically self effacing, British way he had about him. I replied: “Norman, I mean it, and I like you, you are a really nice man”. Again: “Too kind, Chris”  only this time I could see a slight softening in his eyes, a kind of tenderness.

Norman died last Monday.

He was well into his 80’s and a man who had had his fair share of difficulties and suffering. When I saw him at his gate that day, I knew it would probably be my last conversation with him – he was in a bad way. Perhaps most sad to report, is that the care he should have had in hospital in his final few days was greatly lacking.

Having said that, the purpose of this post isn’t to rail against the state of the NHS or to dwell on his suffering, or even to pay tribute to a delightful man, but to declare how pleased I am I had that conversation with Norman.

I’m pleased I took the step to tell him quite simply that I liked him, that he was a really nice bloke. I could so easily have not done so, given it’s not really the “done thing”..

Granted, he wasn’t close to me, he wasn’t a relative or a best friend, merely a lovely old chap who lived along the road and always had time for a cheery hello and a natter with whoever passed by.

I am certain, there will be many words of affection said at Norman’s funeral later this week, and rightly so. I wonder though, how many of those words will have been held back for after Norman has gone. How often might we all hold back from telling people quite simply that we like them? Not just our nearest and dearest, but any number of others we come into contact with. Not easy, and I am sure that in Norman’s case there will have been some discomfort for him. Yet, under all that I think we all love to be liked, appreciated, acknowledged even if the “stiff upper lip” may indicate otherwise.

So, how easy or difficult would it be for you to turn to someone right now and to tell them you like them? It’s risky, of course. They are very likely to give you a sideways glance, but once that initial discomfort has dissipated, the message may filter through, just as I hope it did for Norman.

Perhaps one of the reasons we hesitate at doing this, is that the pendulum would then need to swing both ways. What if that someone happens to be a person you don’t like? Would you have to tell them? Oh dear…..

I very much doubt there is anyone who would have ever needed to do that with Norman.

Norman Freegard (1928-2012), rest in peace – you were a really nice man and I really liked you.       


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4 Responses to “The last time I saw Norman”

  1. How right you are, Chris. Having lost a couple of people very close to me too soon, this made me aware of what you have just said, and I often tell people how much I appreciate them. There is a saying “live each day as if it was your last” which to me feels a bit negative – but it’s good to try to live each day the best you can and make the most of every opportunity like you did. By the way, I really like you, and you write an excellent blog.

  2. Thanks for this Chris . . .a wonderful reminder to us all . . .and great to rememebr Norman in his passing . . that reflects the heart centred connection of you both. It can be hard at times to truly connect with folk on that level, and just say those words . . as you so rightly mention, that too often lay dormant until they are spoken at a funeral. Say it now! Maybe we should never pass up a moment when we can express your love spontaneously. Thanks for your blogs, Chris. It makes a good start to my Monday. Thank you for taking the time and the effort. Have a great day.

  3. Goodmorning Chris

    I am reminded of, ‘around the corner I have a friend’ and how many friends we have in the world people who maybe see us from a distance but would still think on us with a smile in their heart. Maybe your friend Norman was like that too. I am sorry you have lost him and thank you for reminding us its good to tell people you care. Like Sue this makes a great start to my Monday too – I will post a poem for Norman today.

    With love to YOU and thanks



  4. I’ve often thought how nice it would be to have a “Celebration of our lives” while we are still there to enjoy it and not after we are dead. Thanks for this poignant post, Chris!

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