Three years and five months ago I started writing this blog on New Years Day 2010. I have strong memories of that day because it marked the start of my transition from Tourettes ‘sufferer’ to Touretteshero.
Because I was on my own I decided to record my tics for 24 hours using a small audio recorder and a clip mic. I turned it off only once – when I stopped in to visit my friend Bianca.
Bianca was the great grandmother of a child I’d worked with for many years and he’d lived with her for a long time. When she was in her late 80’s it’d become increasingly difficult for her to take care of him. I got to know her well during this time and I continued to visit her regularly.
Bianca was originally from Italy and had lived a full life. She’d moved to this country as a young woman after falling in love with a British soldier during the Second World War.
To start with I used to pop round because her mobility was poor and she lived up a lot of stairs, something I’ve experienced too. I’d take her a paper and do some shopping for her. But I often stayed to chat too and I enjoyed listening to her stories.
In addition to being the only person I spoke to on my first day as a blogger, I was also with Bianca a year later when King Russell proposed to Fat Sister on Christmas Day. In fact I almost spoilt the moment by calling to ask for advice on programming Bianca’s new microwave.
In the time I knew her, my tics got worse and more noticeable, but it took me a long time to explain to her that I had Tourettes. I’m sad I didn’t talk to her about it sooner. I used to try and hold my tics in or conceal them and as a result I wouldn’t stay as long as either of us would probably have liked. When I did eventually explain she was very supportive although she worried for me too. I regret letting my self-consciousness affect the regularity and length of my visits.
Bianca died very recently aged 92 and today was her funeral. To start with I’d been apprehensive about going, even though I really wanted to. I was worried my unusual noises would disturb the service and intrude on her family’s grief. But a conversation with her daughter a few days before reassured me. I’m glad I didn’t repeat the same old mistake by letting my anxieties prevent me from saying a proper goodbye.
I’m very glad I went today and to have known Bianca. Her resilience, determination and strength were remarkable and I feel lucky to have enjoyed her company.
I know her memory and the lessons I learnt through our friendship will continue with me into the future and I feel her story is part of my own within this blog.