Sink or Swim

If life seems jolly rotten

There’s something you’ve forgotten

And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

When you’re feeling in the dumps

Don’t be silly chumps

Just purse your lips and whistle – that’s the thing.

And… always look on the bright side of life…

Always look on the light side of life…

(from Monty Python’s Life of Brian)

I’m reading Sheila Hancock’s latest book Just Me at the moment and I’m lovin’ it.  Sheila has suffered many knock-downs in life including a personal battle with breast cancer and has lost not one, but two husbands to oesophageal cancer. Having written The Two of Us, a best selling memoir of life with her late husband John Thaw, Sheila found herself in despair with the aching void in her life. Desperate not to stagnate, she picked herself up and started to live life adventurously. Now at 75, Sheila has learnt to enjoy life on her own once more.  She has rebuilt her life and is relishing every minute of it…

“The stark truth is that, within sight of the finishing post, I am actually enjoying the race more than I have ever done.  Because time is short, I have never been so desperate to relish every minute.  I do not intend to waste any time being old and grey, and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire.  In recent years, my husband and many dear friends, some younger than I, have had life wrested from them.  In deference to them, I will value mine.”

Just Me is a deeply honest and wonderfully down-to-earth account of coming to terms with widowhood, and moving on. Sheila is an incredibly gutsy lady who has much to teach those of us who live life in smug contentment. As Sheila would say, the choice is yours,  get on with life!

Abridged extract from JUST ME by Sheila Hancock, published by Bloomsbury.

11 Responses to Sink or Swim

  1. magpie11 says:

    Hi Steph

    Why haven’t I visited your blog before? I didn’t realise I could….

    Breast Cancer and MS are my two charitable causes…I should add motor neurone disease as well.

    All three have touched my life if not directly then via friends and colleagues.

    I’ll be back.

    Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Grannymar says:

    I heard Sheila read an Abridged version of JUST ME on the radio. I did enjoy it.

  3. I’ve always admired John Thaw …. I must aquaint myself with his missus now!

    When two of my harem make recommendations I shall have to follow them up!

    You must be good Sheila to get GM and Steph on your side!

  4. Kudos to her – she sounds like a brave and intrepid woman!

  5. Steph says:

    Magpie – Hello! and Welcome!

    Delighted to see you out and about, foraging for new stuff to take back to your nest 😉

    Grannymar – It’s a compelling read. I’m sure you would recognise a lot of the emotions which Sheila describes and would be able to relate to many of her feelings of loss. It’s not by any means a depressing read, I found it uplifting to journey with her as she rebuilt her life and, moved on.

    Paddy – There were three copies of JUST ME in my local library so it might be worth popping into yours before you buy. John Thaw died in February 2002 when my own brother was in the final throws of oesophageal cancer so when THE TWO OF US was first published, I had difficulty reading it through the tears. I’m now going back to re-read my own copy having so enjoyed getting to know more about Sheila in JUST ME.

    AV – Well, hello Sweetie 😉

    Sheila writes with such honesty and candour, it’s hard to dislike her. She’s a woman who’s happy in her own skin and I just love her resolve to ‘live adventurously’.

  6. ennoconn says:

    I have been listening to the unabridged version on CD whilst driving between dublin and clare each week and I have been hardly able to see out the windscreen at times, as the tears have been coursing down my face. The rawness of her grief after his death was wonderfully written. It is a stunning book about love, life, and death, but ultimately it is a story of hope and survival. Thank you for posting this piece Steph.

  7. Steph says:

    Ennoconn – Thanks! Sheila has the ability to reduce you to tears one minute and then have you laughing out loud the next. I also love the way she stands up for what she believes in and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. It was fascinating to watch her confidence grow as she gradually came to terms with being single again. I’d love to think that if I found myself suddenly widowed, I’d be brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and ‘live adventurously’.

  8. ennoconn says:

    What a gutsy lady! Sheila Hancock I mean… but something tells me you are too! But we don’t have to wait for tragedy to live adventurously…I can’t remember the exact words but at one point in the book she says that she learned some lesson but what a pity she had to wait until tragic circumstances taught her. I think her point was not to wait until something awful happens to change your life or attitude or whatever needs changing…

  9. Steph says:

    ennoconn – I take your point entirely. I am somewhat guilty of living life in the comfort zone and not wishing to rock the boat. Thanks for reminding me of Sheila’s excellent advice. I shall endeavour to push the boat out more often 😀

  10. cool rain says:

    well…at the risk of sounding like a walking hallmark card….

    Benjamin Button: Words to Live By

    You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. Benjamin Button (Movie voice over-letter to his daughter)

    http://beyondbreastcancer.wordpress.com/2009/02/16/benjamin-button-words-to-live-by/

  11. Steph says:

    cool rain/ennoconn – I like those words to live by – thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: