goodbye my friend



Posting day: Sunday, and, sometimes, maybe, extra bits in between.


Sunday 22nd September 2019


Sylvia, known in the blog as ‘Polymath’, respected and celebrated the lives of all living creatures. If she knew of any animal in distress, she wouldn’t rest until she had rescued it,  or, in later years, dispatched me do so!

Thus, I found myself once at the old RSPCA in Barnes Hill at 2.00 a.m. with a spinning squirrel who’d been hit on the head by a car outside her house or, on another occasion, in the dark one night, chasing a frightened baby herring gull round the back streets of Barmouth. It’d fallen from its nest on the flat roof of Barmouth Co-op.

A week later, when it had recuperated in her living room, I was required to teeter on the roof of her van in order to return it to the nest. (Apparently, gulls are one of the few birds who will accept their offspring even if they’ve been away and come back smelling of humans. Its parents came to greet it.)

She carried home Fluffy, a street kitten she found one wet night in the gutter in Rio, Brazil, and when she and her husband returned to Britain, Fluffy came too.

When I accidentally splashed fence paint on a young wood louse, she spent an hour carefully cleaning the tiny insect with minute shreds of damp tissue.

Sadly, Polymath, my friend of fifty-six years, was diagnosed, out of the blue, with a terminal illness just twelve days ago. She died last Thursday.

There were occasions on which I answered a phone call from her on a Wednesday or Sunday evening, and moaned, “I’m tired, and totally uninspired. I’ve only just begun this post, and it’s even boring me. I can’t publish this garbage.”

After admonishing me yet again for leaving post writing until the last minute, she’d invariably say, “It’s not about being inspired. Just get on with it!”

So that’s what I’ll do.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

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15 Responses to goodbye my friend

  1. Ian Simkin says:

    So sorry to here this Pat, I know from the posts that she was an important part of your life, I can only sympathise & wish you well. Take care of yourself xxx


  2. I’m so sorry to hear about your friend, that’s really rough. It sounds like she was also an amazing friend to all animals too, and very special. RIP, Polymath.


  3. Kerry Gross says:

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friend, she was a good friend over the years and I am sure she would have said the same about you. Goodbye dear Polymath, I never was privileged to meet you but Isis’s blog people will miss you. X


  4. Jane McKears says:

    So sorry to hear about the death of your good friend, Polymath. She sounds like a remarkable woman. I know that you will miss her terribly. Although her illness was sudden, it was a blessing that she didn’t endure months of illness. The world will be worse of because of her loss. Thankfully we still have you, who also spend your life looking after Isis and your cats, caring for the most vulnerable and taking on the care care of animals in need of special care, when others would be daunted by the task.I am so sorry for your loss, but so glad that the world still has you.


  5. Gale Barker says:

    What a fantastic post, and what an amazing person Sylvia sounds to have been! And that was great advice on writing that she gave you too. Xx


  6. Amber Lipari says:

    Oh, this is the saddest news 😦 I don’t what to say other than I am so very sorry for your loss of this dear friend. Hopefully fond memories like those you shared will help you through your grief, as well as knowing that your friend would, indeed, tell you to “get on with it”. Wishing you strength and peace.


  7. Gary Endall says:

    So sorry to hear of your sad news Pat. Recounting the story of the woodlouse ‘rescue’ was heart warming, as you so explain, she obviously cared for all creatures – great and small…..


  8. Gary Endall says:

    So sorry to hear of your sad news Pat. Recounting the story of the woodlouse ‘rescue’ was heart warming, as you so explain, she obviously cared for all creatures – great and small…..


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