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My Pen-Pal

I alighted the train going to Grantham in Lincolnshire, where I was to be the carer of Lady Lemarchant who was 98 years old, and lived on an estate.


The train was fairly full but I managed to secure a seat at a table with three others. There was an elderly gentleman - I guess about ninety -, an elderly lady probably also about ninety and a very attractive lady, probably in her early sixties. I was also in my sixties.


I decided we needed to get to know each other. I announced: "My name is Helen and I'm from South Africa. And Sir, what is your name?

"My name is Horst Engelsman from Amsterdam."

I said, "My goodness, you have traveled a long way!"

He replied that they had never been to the UK before, and wante3d to take ther daughter on holiday as she had been through a tough time. 


Next I enquired the ladies' names. "My name is Ingeborg Engelsman." Next I asked the younger lady, who told me her name was Fleur Engelsman. She announced that with a delightful smile.


"Are you Fleur Engelsman from Amsterdam, who had a pen-friend from South Africa whose name was Helen Griffiths?"


She thought for a while and then exuberantly said: "Yes, yes, of course, I remember you. I used to writ3 to you in English and you used to write to me in Afrikaans. It can't be you, can it? We were still at school then."


We were all flabbergasted. This was such a co-incidence! I asked her about her life. She had three grown children of 40, 37 and 33, two boys and a girl. She had lived her whole life in Amsterdam and never married. 


The train chugged into Norwich. Fleur and I quickly exchanged phone numbers and promised to stay in touch.


We kept our promises. Fleur contacted me and told me how difficult life was at the moment. A 13-year relationship had ended. He ended it. She had been retrenched six months before and now found herself along, penniless and living with her aged parents. It struck me that despite it all she still had such a sunny disposition. She always seem to be wanting to help others which I found commendable. She was involved with numerous charity organisations.


Her first relationship which lasted sixteen years was an abusive one. Her partner had sexually abused their daughter and broken Fleur's jaw and broken some teeth too.Fleur had been very successful in her jobs and won awards and a triop to Italy. She had endured her daughter's suicide attempt at 16. She had overdosed and was in a coma for three weeks. Miraculously she survived with no brain damage. Her daughter was now married with two lovely girls.


Her 18-year old son had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalised for eight weeks. Despite the fact that he has a ??? in his field of work he still suffers from depression.


Her eldest son captains luxurious yachts all over the world.


Recently Fleur contacted me to inform me that both her parents had passed away, and she been left well provided for. She had booked a flight to South Africa for a month to stay with me. We shall tour South Africa and have much fun.

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