Sunday, January 14, 2018

Helen Atwood: A Flower of the Heart

Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula, Wales. Photo by John Ewing


Flowers of the Heart Sixteeen  January 14, 2018

For Helen Atwood

I met Helen the first time I visited England 
in 1981. She and her husband Dave were
friends of a new friend of mine. Dave was
American and reassured me when I found
the British politeness intimidating. He
claimed they weren’t all that polite. I began 
helping old ladies with their luggage,
giving up my seat to them, and felt better.
Helen was rather quiet. Her baby Hannah
had her full attention. By 1985, when I
returned, she and Dave had separated,
and she was eager for me to visit. I
found their home before she got back
from work, bought myself a drink in a
nearby shop, and waited on their lawn.
I believe I was asleep when they arrived.
Hannah was very surprised to find an
American in the front yard making herself
so much at home. Helen and I had good
talks, and after that short visit, I often
returned. We’d go to a pub and catch
up on each other’s lives. Once I stayed
longer and helped care for Hannah. I met 
Helen’s parents and later her new man
friend, Mike. Helen had grown up in
Wales, and once she arranged for me
to visit her parents there. Mike liked
to ask me hard questions. They invited
another couple curious about this
American who went to Russia and 
Finland. In recent years Helen and
Hannah visited me here. Hannah now
has babies, and Helen loves being a
grandmother. Much of her life has
been difficult. She has never complained,
but I know she has suffered. She writes
me more often now, and her life has
settled into an easier rhythm, and I’m 

still her friend.

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