These are The Times We Shall Dream About…

This week is MS Awareness Week and today is the funeral of my lovely friend Hilda, who died last Wednesday after battling MS for over 20 years.

Who was Hilda? She was a woman, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a friend. She was loved by many. Right now her family and friends are gathering in my hometown to bury Hilda, to send her on her final journey, free of pain at last.

Hilda was a friend of our family for many years. I cannot say when I first met her, I guess I was quite young at the time. We got to know each other better when she became a Scout leader as my parents were heavily involved in Scouting. We endured together the wet and muddy jamborees and Cub Scout Camps and celebrated BBQs in the sun. She and her husband were members of the Scout Gang Show, and I helped her with the Tuck Shop. She was there when I was asked out for the first time by a boy, laughing and encouraging me. Hilda was always there for me with sensible advice and a good bit of gossip.

When I was 17 years old, I left my hometown to live and work in the Highlands of Scotland. Hilda was one of the friends supporting my move, writing to me and welcoming me home on my frequent visits. During this time she discovered that she had MS. Never one to complain, she got on with her life and refused to let her illness keep her down. When she could no longer manage the stairs of their third floor apartment, they moved to a small house with a stair lift.

Hilda shared in my happiness when I met and married my husband, and when I gave birth to my children. She was always one of the first to send Christmas cards, in later years she could not sign her name so used stickers with her family’s names. Not sending cards was not an option.

The curse of the expat is that you notice how people change over the years, far more than if you were seeing them daily. Each visit I could tell that Hilda’s condition had worsened, although she kept her humour and her good temperament. She was incredibly lucky to have been blessed with a loving family and a wonderful husband, who gave up working to care for her. Still able to get around in her wheelchair, she campaigned for better accessibility – such as the dropped kerbs that made life easier for a wheelchair user.

In the last years she found it more and more difficult to move around her house and so moved to a wheelchair accessible purpose-built house, in the same area that she had always lived. It was comforting to know that her mother and sister, her son and daughter and all her friends lived nearby. Last year I visited her in her new house and saw how she loved living there, how much easier it was for her to get around and how it gave her back a bit of independence.

Hilda and her family have had to fight for assistance. It has not been easy, not only battling the bloody disease but also fighting against bureaucrats. If you do one thing today, please let it be this – have a look at the MS Society website and find out about MS and what we can do to help those who suffer from this disease.

And link hands with me and Hilda one last time as we sing that old favourite from the Scout Gang Show, Crest of A Wave and These are The Times.

These Are The Times
These are the times we shall dream about
And we’ll call them the good old days

When the years have rolled away
We shall dream of the times we had
And the songs we used to sing
So while we’re together let us laugh at the weather
And whatever the gods may bring

When all our youth is but memories
And the years bring parting of the ways
Then believe me fellows
These are the times we shall dream about
And we’ll call them the good old days



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