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The Passing Of A Friend

At the beginning of December I received some very sad news: a friend of mine, Charlie Wildgoose had lost his three-year battle with prostate cancer and had crossed into his Summerland. Professionally, Charlie was a solicitor (lawyer). He retired from work sometime after his diagnosis.

I never got to meet Charlie in real life, but we were online friends, having gotten connected back in 2006, (or maybe 2007), via Yahoo!’s long-defunct blogging platform, 360, and remained connected via other social media sites, such as Multiply, (also now defunct!), Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

Charlie was a “rambler”, which in British English means that he was someone who would meet up with other members of a local ramblers group and walk the footpaths in the countryside around and about their home area, oftentimes acting as unpaid stewards of said paths. He was also an author, writing a number of guidebooks for some of these walks.

I always thought of how, on some visit back to my Welsh homeland, a road trip to the beautiful Derbyshire countryside around Matlock, that Charlie had blogged about and posted pictures of on Flickr, would happen, with Charlie as a local guide and, afterwards we’d go enjoy some of the offerings at a local hostelry.

As a blogger Charlie not only blogged about the everyday things in his life, the kinds of things we all blog about, but he was lucky enough to have found a trove of blogging material in the form of the journals from 1870 of his great-great-great uncle, John Bayliff Bowman, a farmer in the same area Charlie lived in. I don’t know if it is irony, synchronicity or prescience of the coming end that the last post on Charlie’s blog was one of the journal entries, part of which included the journal entry by Mr. Bowman, concerning the passing of his father. The journal entry ended with this thought:

“…may we endeavour so to live that some may not fear to die whensoever the call may come.”

Judging by the many posts on his Facebook page, I am not the only person whose life was touched by Charlie, and a lot of us had only ever met him online. His son, Jamie, wrote a wonderful entry that announced the news of his father’s passing:

Charlie Wildgoose 1950 – 2013 

Dad passed away peacefully in hospital this afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 63 years old.

We will all miss so many things about him, but at the moment it is hard to imagine logging on to a computer and not seeing the latest write-up of one of his walks, which were so enjoyed by his friends near and far – or pages from our ancestor, John Bayliff Bowman’s 1870 Farm Journal, the most recent of which featured John describing the death of his own father all those many years ago. It’s a beautiful entry and Dad was hugely excited about getting to it in his regular updates – going so far as to show me the actual journals themselves just last week – the first time I’d actually seen the original volumes. Dad loved to write, and was delighted that his blog and his photos were enjoyed, and that they brought Derbyshire and the countryside he loved so much to a wider audience. Dad could see something special everywhere he looked in the land around here, it was a truly remarkable thing.

Although Dad had been ill for a few years with advanced prostate cancer; his courage in dealing with his illness, his good humour, and his genuine ability to live each day to the fullest, made it easy to forget he was ill at all. It is a great comfort to think back on these times and remember Dad as he always was: a man who loved his friends, his family and the countryside – and who was in turn greatly loved back.

He was my father and my oldest friend. I miss him.

Rest in peace Charlie. Rest in peace, my friend.

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