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Bradford Lad: Hot Pies And Warm Friendship

Mike Coatesworth pays tribute to his caring family.

Once again the sun is shining and the sky is blue. My daughter Lesley and son-in-law Neal took me to the coast, saying that sea air would do me good.

As we strolled, me in my wheelchair, along the seafront I mused on why Lesley does so much to help me. She could so easily have left home. Gone her own way. Instead she decided to live her life around helping me. Nothing is too much trouble for her. When I was in hospital she spent hours and hours every day with me.

Her husband Neal works long hours as a chef. He can be moody when he's tired, but he enjoys a good laugh. Whenever I have to go somewhere he and Lesley are always there to take me. He suggests places where we can go for an outing...though we try to stay away from the beautiful village of Gargrave in the Yorkshire Dales.

There's a shop there where they make incredibly tasty pork pies. I can't resist them. They are served hot. Eating them is a messy business. Gravy runs down one's chin. Or in Neal’s case, since I forgot to warn him as he bit deeply into his pie, the hot gravy ran onto his legs. He moved faster than I had ever seen him move before. It didn't put him off finishing the pie though, and when he had eaten it he went back and got another. Or was it two more?

I am afraid I'm not allowed to have any more of those pies. I have to watch my weight.

No matter where I go, Lesley is with me, at my side. Of course we sometimes have arguments, particularly when I want to eat certain foods, but she is thinking of my health.

One January Lesley and Neal offered to take me fishing. I thought they were winding me up, but they packed my gear into the car and off we went to Apperley Bridge. Neal had to break ice before I was able to cast my line. We got some funny looks from people who passed by. However, some other fishermen turned up. I was perfectly happy with a blanket wrapped around me, and Lesley poured hot coffee from a flask.

Neal is getting on a bit now and he no longer has the energy to push me around in my manual chair through the villages that we visit, but rather than see me disappointed and stuck in the house, we now take my electric chair, which makes it easier for all concerned.

I have suggested to Lesley that she should live her own life. She replies that she is living life as she wants to live it, and she sees no reason why we cannot share out lives and have fun as a family.

If medals are ever given out to carers Lesley will receive the Caring VC.

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