Maybe it was better not to have known

The Golfer is an exserviceman and with the benefit of the internet and many of the ‘friends’ and ‘service association websites’ has over the past 20 years tracked down many of his ‘ friends and colleagues’ he served with over the years.  None of them live in the same cities or even counties and for some the same countries yet they all now keep in touch with each other by long distance and relive times gone by.  In some circles they call it the ‘when we’ club’ in others it’s called ‘swinging the lamp’ – whatever, they are all now old men (don’t tell them that tho’) and enjoy their memories (real or imaginary) of when they were young and fancy free lol

There was one special person that they had never been able to find – none of what I call the ‘cypriot gang’ (they had all served together in Cyprus ) had come across him or even heard anything about him since they finished their time there back in the early ’60s.  That was until earlier this year.

It had almost become like a challenge for The Golfer and a couple of the others who were really friendly with Terry to discover more traces of his family – starting with his name, which wasn’t his actual first name, he was known by his second name.  Thats what happens when family names are passed down – and ones that are now regarded as old fashioned.

Someone thought he came from (was born in) a certain county, another mentioned a brother called x, another remembered mention of a sister called y and so it went.   Over the years they had followed up leads on the free BMD website and then taking pity on them late last year I offered to look on one of the paid sites I use for the family research.

Couldn’t find him himself so I tried what they thought were the names of his father and mother – something came up under a public tree.   It’s strange contacting an unknown person asking if they were related to a person called so and so who was in the airforce and had a passion for motor bikes.  Not my usual line when searching for lost family members lol  Anyway to cut a long story short it turned out she was the great niece of The Golfer’s (and my) friend.

When I say mine – it’s because I had also lived in Cyprus at that time and did get to know many of The Golfer’s friends – this particular lad came to our engagement and also our wedding and then was godfather to our first born.  When The Golfer was posted we like the others lost touch with Terry.  The airforce is not like the army where a whole battalion moves at the same time – each individual airman is moved as needed so you might serve with someone for a couple of years and then never see each other again.

The news went out to the others and we all waited for her next contact message.

After he finished his time in the airforce like many of us Terry migrated to Australia  – so it was no wonder no one could trace him in England.  In the middle of the 1970s he took a position with a survey team up in the remote areas of the Northern Territory servicing the teams helicopter.  Yes another ‘engine man’ like The Golfer lol

Most of the day he was on his own whilst the team was out surveying for mineral deposits and as it was (and still is) a very remote and lonely area, he got a dog, then a horse for friendship during the day.  When the survey team got back to camp and started to relax he was still on his own doing his job which was any maintenance needed on the helicopter so it was serviceable for the next morning.

Communications in those days would have been a challenge – in fact they still are.  The climate is harsh – right up there at the Top End its either the dry season or the wet and it can be really really wet and they would have been sleeping in tents,  no mod cons, very little contact with his family in Adelaide so its no wonder he felt lonely and became depressed.  So much so that (according to his brother) one day when the team was away he drove back to Kununurra, parked in someones driveway and with the help of a bottle of whiskey and the car’s exhaust said goodbye to this world.

Since learning all this over a week ago life for me (and The Golfer) has been a bit iffey and challenging – I have never felt so much sadness and grief for a long time – I realise what’s past is past and can’t be undone – yet selfishly I am wondering tho, as my title says – maybe it was better for us not to have known.

14 thoughts on “Maybe it was better not to have known

  1. That is so sad, Cathy. It must have been so lonely for your friend. And even if it happened a long while ago, it’s like it just happened for you. I hope you can soon treasure your memories of the good times and your grief will lessen.

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  2. -sigh- I’m sorry for the feelings, which this knowledge has prompted. I wish you both well, with finding closure and peace.

    My first thought is…. Yes, it would have been better, not to know. And then, I also feel that we do certain things, for a reason perhaps? No not for a reason or because of Fate or etc. I don’t hold with Fate. But….. Perhaps some good reason for finding this out…. Will appear…. Eventually.

    Meanwhile, please be at peace. Concentrate on the good things, in your own lives. Please…

    Gentle hugs,
    Tessa~

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  3. Oh Cathy, we had a similar experience looking for one of Ron’s military buddies. Only we found the guy after years of looking and brought him home. He was a very downtrodden alcoholic with no family to turn to having alienated all of them with his drinking. Ron found him work, helped him sober up and and got him a roof over his head and when he hit the bottle again he felt the need to turn against Ron. They went their separate ways with nothing left in common from the days of having shared a mutual bond as close shipmates in the Vietnam era. There is so much sorrow in these men’s lives and your husband probably could not have made a difference if he had found his friend earlier. The invasions and massacres on Cyprus in the 60’s were horrific and surely not easy to forget. I am so sorry for you both.

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  4. I can imagine your grief, but I think you needed to know, to settle things in your hearts. It will pass and the pleasant memories will return. I am, indeed, sorry for your loss. Hugs.

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  5. That is sad, and not what you expected when you set out on the search. I feel better after writing things down, whether they are published or sent or not. I hope by writing about it, you feel a bit better.

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  6. Oh Cathy, that is so sad. My heartfelt condolences to you and The Golfer. It is a grim reminder of what terrible things war can do to those who have served . . . and to those who remember their service. Peace.

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  7. No I believe ite better to know than to be left wondering, the shock will pass and the mourning will ease. It’s just natural. I’m so very sorry for your loss, but the pain for you will lesson. Tell the golfer to concentrate on the wonderful memories to help him though this xx

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  8. G’day Cathy. I too feel that it is best to know. As hard as that is, it does bring closure. It must have been a very lonely life for Terry. He has found the peace he wanted. Condolences to you and your hubby. Take care. Liz…

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  9. That is a fresh loss for the two of you, and something to be worked through over time. I’m very sorry. Nowadays people seem more aware of post-traumatic stress, but it still seems that Armed Forces folks don’t get the support they need back home.

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