Social media has its critics but helps us keep in touch, reassuring us we’re not alone.
Checking over messages recently I noticed one, months old, from a name not recognised. It turned out to be a neighbour, John, supporting me over a column in this newspaper about litter. I returned his message with thanks and apologies for my late response. Next day there was another to me under his name. This thanked me but explained John had died, just before Christmas. He had long suffered health problems and we had noticed an ambulance by his home one day.
The message was from his widow, who kindly sent us her best wishes for the New Year. Naturally, I returned our condolences and support.
The couple had always taken an interest in the neighbourhood and been involved in community issues, helping others. However, John was rarely seen as he worked nights – from home.
I learned this after he had surprised me once before, after our return from holiday abroad. Our early-morning taxi from the airport had to leave the motorway following some accident congestion, then negotiate country lanes to get us home, as directed to our driver from their ‘office’.
I was telling our corner shopkeeper of this experience when in came John, who correctly added, “Ah, yes, you came home via Woodplumpton, didn’t you?”
It turned out he was the night ‘office’, reassuring callers and directing drivers – rather like a pilot guiding ships into port, or a coastguard warning of hazards ahead.
He knew all about and had overseen our home journey, like a modern-day guardian angel. In fact, John missed little from his night-time ‘watchtower’ down our road.
Perhaps we all need such a saviour watching over us; they might even use social media... After all, it inspired me to write this.
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