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When I was a child my family moved around a lot from location to location and country to country, this was due to my father's work. This meant we were seldom in one location for more than a year or 18 months so making long term friends was nearly impossible. After a spell in Singapore dad was shipped back to the UK and seconded from the RAF to the Royal Navy as a supersonic flight instructor. This meant a stable basing that lasted nearly 4 years and it was during that time I fell in love for the first time.|
Childhood love as many here will know is essentially a pure love, there's awkwardness and no sexual overtones. Caroline (yes her real name) and I met just after we moved to the village, I was wandering down the road and she asked me who I was as she'd not seen me before. So I told her who I was and she promised to show me around the village the next day. The next day we toured the village, it wasn't exactly large and she was known everywhere. On the way home we stopped off at the pub as she had to get her dad to come home from the boozer and have his dinner.
We had an idyllic summer, chasing around the village, walking arm in arm and just being inseparable. I idolised her as she was a year older than me, and she loved me because I was "travelled" and came from a "posh" family. Her father was an farm labourer and alcoholic and they didn't even have a bath, they used a tin bath in the farmyard where he worked.
I remember clearly giving her a bunch of daises I'd picked, she kissed me on the cheek that day and I remember blushing, ahh the innocence of childhood.
Things didn't run smoothly though, my father took a job in Australia and we had to leave. I told Caroline we were leaving and she told her mum, apparently she was crying her eyes out when she got home. Caroline thought we were moving to a nearby village. Little did she realise it was half way around the world. Her mother came and talked with my mother and as I found out years later, she offered Caroline to my parents, she would sign her over if they'd take her. My parents had long discussions and eventually said no, it was asking too much as they didn't know what their own future would be like.
So we left the village, there were a lot of tears and it still brings a lump to my throat hearing Caroline say she loved me and to take care.
There is no happy ending to this story. Caroline's younger brother was killed in a car accident in 1984 and she died in 1990 from heart failure, she had a congenital heart issue no one knew about. From the mid 1970s to the early 2000s I searched for her and eventually while on a business trip to Yorkshire I spent a couple of days and tracked down her mother who told me the whole story. I am a pretty tough man emotionally, I've been through a lot in life, but that day I wept like a woman. Especially when her mum told me that she had always wondered what happened to me. As for the flowers I gave her. her mother buried her daughter with one of them, they were her prized possession. Her mum died in 2011 and I presume the other flowers were thrown out.
Love is a strange beast, beautiful, scary and wonderful all at once.