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4 YEARS AGO, 4 YEARS ON. YOUR TIMING STILL SUCKS!4 YEARS AGO, 4 YEARS ON.  YOUR TIMING STILL SUCKS!

In the early hours of the morning of the 2nd of August 2007, I found myself driving to Heathrow airport. My love of the past had become my love of today, and she was arriving on a flight from Washington DC that touched down at the ungodly hour of six thirty am. Tiffany had been my lady for around a year or so during my last two years living in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. I had fallen for this Californian blonde with a wicked sense of humour. I thought she might have fallen for me, and I knew that my mother and father adored her. There was one complication in our relationship, my 'other woman'. Like Father like son they say, and in this case it was so, so true. As my Father had been, I too was a chronic alcoholic, hiding it not too well, but capable at that time, of being able to function on a daily basis.

Tiffany made the right choice, and though it was never really stated at the time she ended our relationship because of that 'other woman' alcohol. Fast forward to that morning in 2007, and I had been nearly seven years free from alcohol having gone into rehab in 1999. I was seeing wonderful therapist on a regular basis, as alcohol addiction is a disease that is always present, always one glass, one bottle away. As my father often said to me, "Clichéd though it is, one day at a time Simon, one day at a time."

Tiff had contacted me through my Father earlier that year. She had been through her own difficult journey and in doing so she decided she needed to seek out old friends, and people she had lost contact with that meant something to her. Having lost my address, (email and snail mail) Tiffany 'googled' John Edmund Gardner, and found the early version of this website. One email later and a call from JG to me and we were back in contact again. That spring she flew to the UK and then after she had returned to the US she contacted me and said 'I want to come back over and see if we can make it work, what do you think?'

I picked her up from the airport, and we both started to discuss the future. Tiffany had already organised her essential belongings to be shipped over. Her visitors visa was good to start with, sure finances would be stretched but we were both so happy. Before the jet lag kicked in and Tiff had to sleep I called my Father. I passed the phone to Tiff and they chatted for a few minutes and then I talked to him. He sounded upbeat and said "I am so happy for the two of you, happy that you have both found each other again, happy that you have finally found someone Simon."

I thanked him and arranged to go and see him just after lunch the next day. Tiff said that JG had said more or less the same to her, about how happy he was that I had "finally found someone." That was the last time I was to speak to him, alive.

The following day, August 3rd 2007, the phone rang, around half noon i think. It was my sister Alexis, Dad had collapsed while out shopping, she would call me back with more details. Time stood still, phone rings again. The ambulance would be taking him to the local hospital. We arranged to meet there. I hugged and kissed my soul mate, and left the flat. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I seemed to drive on auto pilot to the hospital, it was if I already knew what the outcome would be. I pulled into a parking space in front the main A&E entrance, met and entered with my sister. JG was not there, the ambulance had not arrived. We were put into a small room, the relatives room, where we waited and waited. Two police officers eventually came in and explained that John Edmund Gardner, author of over fifty novels, teller of tales, both on paper and in real life, had finally shuffled off this mortal coil, around three and a half months shy of his eighty-first birthday. He had died where he had collapsed, his heart giving out with old age. He had only managed to make one purchase on his shopping trip, a bag of Jelly Babies. The hospital had laid him out in a room, so we could identify the body and say the first of our goodbyes. I went in to see the man that had in life been my Father. I kissed his forehead, it already seemed cold. I stroked his right cheek with my fingers. "Bye Dad, miss you already." I looked at him, he seemed at peace. Just before I turned to leave I said, "Tiff has only just got here Dad… You know mate, your timing really, really sucks!"

RIP John Edmund Gardner (20th November 1926 – 3rd August 2007)

You Are Still Loved, Still Missed, And Most Important Of All, Still Read.