A Poem for a Lost Friend: Peter Cranham

This week an incredible man passed away. 

Peter Cranham was a great entertainer, actor, ambassador and speaker, changing lives for those with learning disabilities. He was a devoted brother, 

He was also a dear friend.

I miss his weekly calls, that always came as I peeled potatoes or wiped a snotty nose, and had determined to call him when the children were in bed.

So very thoughtful, "How's Bob?" he'd ask, "How did your talk to the teachers go today?"
He always remembered. He always enquired. He always made me smile.
He was a real one off. The kind of person you only meet once in your life.
Last winter, as November ran its course, Peter came to stay with our family. We shared unfeasably large portions of fish and chips, walked the dog in nearby woods, and, very specially we decorated our Christmas tree together with him. It was a day early, the last day of November, but I'm so glad we shared that special time. Peter was as excited as the girls, eagerly holding his hand out for the next bauble as I looped it's string over his finger.  

I remember a fleeting thought, as it crossed my mind, lifting a glass orb from it's nestled year long hibernation: "Who knows what memories these decorations will hold when we unpack them next year?"

I wrote him a little poem about how we met 2 days before he died:

Nervous, a fish out of water 
I entered the venue alone
Eagerly seeking the faces of unknowns I was to meet

A conference
A guest speaker
Miles from the comfort of my home, children, family

It was my first ever gig

A talk to a room full of professionals
Was I up to it?

You instinctively sensed my nerves

My self-doubt, my awareness
That I felt different

And unhindered by reserve you came forward

Held my hand 
Welcomed and introduced me to all

The new team shared a meal, 

A glass of wine 
Stories, tales and easy laughter

How we giggled finding you at a glitzy award party

A detour from the restrooms
Living fully in each moment

Next day I watched you talk

Tears flooded my face as I learnt
You'd been a victim of hate crime

Glassed in the face

Your gentle, innocent soul

Just for being different

But it was you who comforted me

Soothed my disbelieving anger
With a wise and knowing smile

You touched my life that day

Filled me with determination
To join you to create lasting change

To follow your lead

To make a difference
To remove the fear society has

Just for being different

Please watch Peter's story here. An award-winning film he made to teach medical professionals and help other's with a learning disability.

Hearing from afar how amazingly Peter was cared for in those last days has strengthened my respect for learning disability nurses yet further. Please read about what they do here in Make Positive Choice for Learning Disability Nurses.

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