I live in an estate on the edge of the city and the main road out of the housing estate is bordered by a big farm.
At the end of the main road is a set of traffic lights that lead on to a bigger dual carriageway that is the main artery of the City.
On one side at the traffic lights is a park and on the other is a Cancer Hospice.
I like to go cycling with the kids in the deserted park and the entrance is located directly opposite the entrance to the hospice.
There is a small shed with a bench in it and this is where all the smokers from the hospice are allowed to smoke.
I don’t know that for a fact but I assume that being a cancer hospice, smoking would obviously be discouraged anywhere on the premises.( I could be wrong)
Every person knows that a hospice is where you go when the doctors tell you that there is nothing more they can do to help you so it’s basically a place where you are allowed to die in peace free from pain etc…
So it always gives me a chill at the back of my spine every time I drive or cycle past the gates to the hospice and see really sickly people taking slow walks into the park mostly accompanied by friends and relatives knowing that they really don’t have much longer to live and quietly acknowledging their sober hellos as I walk past them.
Can’t help but think that this might be the last time I see them!
And then there is the brave looking ones who almost come across as having accepted their Fate and are all too eager to stop for a chat and a laugh!
I had known Mrs.Friars from a few years back when I’d met her at her shop.
I used to deliver some merchandise to her Garden centre and I admired her strict work ethic.
She must have been around 70 years old then and there is nothing she didn’t do from operating the forklift to lifting stuff around and she was there all day everyday from opening time to closing time.
She was also a chain smoker but a big hearted human being who had time for everyone. We had many a cup of teas me and her and every Christmas she had a brown envelope for all suppliers, staff etc ( very old school mannerisms)
It had been a while since I had worked for her but a friend of mine who still did had told me that she had not been very well recently but I didn’t think anything of it. Mrs. Friars never came across to me like anything could stop her!
And that is why it hit me hard like a kick in the testicals when I spotted Mrs. Friars having a quiet cigarette on her own at the shed at the entrance to the Hospice.
I couldn’t stop because I was driving and the lights had just Changed to Green and to be honest, it took me a few moments to work out that it was her.
She was clutching on a mobile drip machine dressed in those hospital gowns and she had a deathly glow about her although there was no mistaking her huge frame.
It was definitely her!
I promised myself to stop and say hello the next time I saw her.
I wouldn’t have to wait long and about a month ago I was riding with my boy into the park when I bumped into her inside the park.
She hadn’t forgotten my face and if she wasn’t clutching on the drip machine and looking emaciated and pale, she was every bit her usual happy self!..
We chatted for a bit and she told me that she is allowed a walk about around the same time every day as long as the weather allowed it and I promised to Keep in touch.
The next time I saw her two weeks ago she was accompanied by a nurse and this time I knew instantly that she didn’t have long left.
She struggled to speak and her parting words to me were to appreciate every day, work hard and keep smiling!..
About a week later my friend who still worked for her shop ,now run by Mrs. Friars daughter, told me that she had finally succumbed and that everyone was going for her funeral.
I couldn’t make it but I sent my Friend to deliver a bunch of flowers.
Jana morning I had a very early start in the morning around 2 am.
So I’m driving out to the main road out of the estate and trying my best to beat the red lights at the end of the road at the entrance to the Hospice but it’s too late!
I’m stuck behind the red lights!
Kidogo and out of sheer curiosity, I look at the smoking shed at the entrance to the Hospice and no word of a lie!!!
Standing inside the shed and clad in a glowing white gown, drip machine clenched by her right hand and a bunch of flowers in her left arm and with a smile that I recognise immediately,:;;. Is Mrs. Friars!!!
But she is not standing!
She seems to levitate above the ground and she stares straight at me and smiles.
I’m dumbfounded but I’m startled by the beeping of the hot from a car behind me! The lights had changed to green and I’m obviously blocking the car behind me!
I manage to get into gear but as I take a last look into the shed, Mrs. Friars is gone!..
I don’t care what anyone says, I am sure I know what I saw!
My best friend reckons it’s a hallucination from the cannabis laced biscuits we had the night before at the Halloween party but I know what I saw!..
I saw a Ghost yesterday!