A tranche of peo­ple may be left to stum­ble out of a night­mare

The Herald Magazine - - FIRST UP - FIDELMA COOK

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GOR­DON TERRIS

IN the end ev­ery story, ev­ery event in his­tory, comes down to one per­son’s ex­pe­ri­ence. Through their eyes and tes­ta­ment we go be­yond sta­tis­tics and mere reportage, and un­cover the raw truth of what is hap­pen­ing or has hap­pened.

It is our ul­ti­mate way of con­nect­ing with each other – our only mo­ment of un­der­stand­ing, of maybe putting our­selves in some­one else’s place.

But it’s more than em­pa­thy. In de­cent souls it’s the step­ping out­side of our­selves to ex­pe­ri­ence a re­al­ity be­yond the hon­eyed words of politi­cians and char­la­tans.

Af­ter my col­umn last week I was con­tacted by a woman whose story I will leave for her to tell.

I’m aware that, for some, Brexit and its col­lat­eral dam­age are be­com­ing tire­some sub­jects.

In­deed for many there is an un­der­ly­ing re­sent­ment of those they’ve per­ceived as liv­ing a sun-kissed, wine-sod­den life, and so there is a schaden­freude in their come­up­pance.

Susan – not her real name – would be the first to ad­mit that, and is at pains to say her predica­ment is one that comes to most mid­dle-aged women with el­derly par­ents, re­gard­less of one’s lo­ca­tion.

Her mother and fa­ther owned a lit­tle hol­i­day cot­tage in north-west France, bought in the mid 1980s when they were in their 50s. Ten years later they sold their house in Eng­land, re­tired and moved full-time, liv­ing off sav­ings and pen­sions.

In a small vil­lage in the coun­try a car was es­sen­tial but they had a very busy so­cial life in a vi­brant com­mu­nity.

“Ten years ago my fa­ther had his first mi­nor stroke. He had amaz­ing health­care ser­vice but since then his health has de­te­ri­o­rated with his vi­sion and mo­bil­ity get­ting worse and hov­er­ing di­a­betes.

“Four years ago we started to no­tice my mother was be­com­ing a lit­tle vague but my fa­ther never talked about it.

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