Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Someone is looking after me...

THIS is a photograph Diane loved. It was taken in 1960 and sits in its original frame. She showed it to me when we first met and it has stayed with us ever since as one of our favourite things.
It's just a black and white photograph of a cruise ship, but like many highly sentimental items in a person's life, it is utterly worthless to a stranger but priceless to the person who holds it dear.
She cherished it, partly because it reminded her of Rotterdam, partly because it echoed her father’s working life at sea in this era – not on cruise ships, but as a merchant seaman.
The elegant boat, built in the 1950s, is the SS Rotterdam. I know how much it meant to Diane which is why it now means a lot to me. Sentimental value, which all the money in the world couldn't buy, like I say.
Some strange things have happened since Diane was taken from me in February last year but what happened last week takes some beating. I hesitate to say Diane is still influencing events in my life, deciding things for me, because I know what that makes me sound like.
But sometimes, things occur and you just have to shrug your shoulders, pull that “I dunno” expression and admit that something, somewhere must be making these things happen.
Surely it can’t all be dismissed as just a random series of coincidences.
My weight loss for a start – eight and a half stones in 12 months … and counting. Impossible to even contemplate 12 months ago. Taking up running after 40 years of not being the slightest bit interested in walking briskly, let alone breaking into a trot. The fact that I immediately became bitten by the running bug.
The fact that during this winter – the worst since 1910 we’re told – I have only once run in dreadful weather, a nine-mile training run round Leverhulme Park on New Year’s Day after a parkrun.
But, last Friday, what I discovered hit me as the oddest of all. It stopped me in my tracks, to be honest. I was deciding my hotel arrangements for April, where I’ll run my first marathon in memory of Diane, when up popped a familiar name.
SS Rotterdam.
I found out that the ship in the photograph which Diane got 54 years ago is now permanently moored on the Maas river in the city centre as a floating hotel. It's not far from the massive Erasmusbrug bridge which we cross twice on the route and which I stood on during my first visit to Rotterdam in January.
There it was. On booking.com, the same ship, built in the late 50s. 
So when I run this great race with Diane as my inspiration in less than seven weeks, I will be staying on the ship in the picture she held so dear.
Now, tell me that doesn’t start you wondering… 
Or shrugging your shoulders.
"I dunno...".

1 comment:

  1. Just saw your story on the DM. Best of luck on marathon day, it's a huge feat (done it twice now) but sheer determination will always see you through. Wonderful story and i'm sure you're wife would be incredibly proud. Also, I suppose SS Rotterdam, like you say, is not just a coincidence. All the best and keep on running :)