John Gardner at Home

Memories from Simonne Wood

Dear Jenny,

I was very sad to read your email about the unexpected return of John’s cancer. It is hard to imagine how you are feeling – but ‘sneaky bastard and a thief’ gives a pretty good hint at the outrage at fate that is justifiably welling up among your other emotions.

I have unfortunately not had the chance to get to know John all that well, but even in my occasional encounters with him it is clear that he is a lovely man. Most importantly, it is very clear how very happy you make each other. So, while on the one hand I’m crying out – why did this have to happen to such lovely people?, I’m also thinking – thank goodness they found each other in time to have a beautiful relationship and a wonderful family together. I remember, in the early days, your amazement simply at what a kind man John is – when he came to visit you (on his bike, I think?) when you were in hospital and generally gave you support when you needed it. And then your growing delight in what was clearly blossoming into a joyous, supportive long-term commitment – with fun, mutual respect and brains firing on all cylinders. Then it was such a pleasure celebrating with you at your wedding – and catching your bouquet, which worked to get me married about three years later! I’m sorry that my moving to the other side of the world has meant that we haven’t managed to keep in touch regularly, but it was lovely to see you and John and the girls at the pub last May. I do think of you frequently now and hold you all in the Light, and have talked about you to my Quaker community too.

I know you and John will continue to be a wonderful support to each other through what lies ahead, and you’ll also carry on being those lovely, wise, caring parents whom I’ve seen in action - who with a light touch guide your children to face life with courage, honesty and love.


I grieve for John because each time I met him I delighted in discovering some more of his warmth and intellect and humour. I grieve for him because he was exactly my age and I know how much more you feel you have to give at this stage - but at least I also know that John had already achieved a huge amount in his life and was aware of that. I grieve for him because the world needs more loving, gentle husbands and fathers like him around, and it shouldn't have lost him so soon. Most of all, I grieve because you, my friend, have lost someone so precious to you.

Lots of love,