WHEN Kay Forristal lost her husband of 36 years to cancer, her life was turned upside down. While acknowledging the fantastic support of her children and friends, she said those who are widowed are left with a lasting sense of loneliness, one that she is now setting about filling.
The Ferrybank resident is starting up a group, ‘The Company Club’ for those who are widowed, divorced, separated or single, and hopes that through this, that terrible loneliness can be combated.
Kay’s husband John Forristal, a well known local musician, passed away in 2010, two and a half years after he was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer, one of the rarest forms of cancer in the world.
It was during a gig that John, a self-employed plumber, felt unwell. He lost the words of the song he was singing and was unable to use a tap in the bathroom. Doctors discovered he had suffered a stroke and during further tests found three nodules in his neck, which were cancerous. Up until then he had suffered no symptoms. He went on to have 40 tumours removed shortly after that.
“I knew he wasn’t going to make it, but I didn’t want to believe it. There’s no preparing for something like that,” Kay said.
“We were married for 36 years. We got engaged after a six-week relationship, it was love at first sight,” she said, recalling the first time she clapped eyes on John in a pub in Listowel, where she is originally from. John is originally from Glenmore and the couple moved to Waterford and reared their four children.
“We had a great social circle. Music was our life. I was into writing and he was into singing. Our house was always very social, we were very social people,” she added.
After John passed away, Kay, who has published a book, said she was on autopilot for the first few months.
“I kept going, I did a radio production course and as a writer I gave classes free of charge. People say silence is golden, but it can be deafening for people in that situation. You can keep busy and put a mask on your face but when you turn the key in the front door you walk into a quagmire of silence,” she said.
Kay is at pains to stress that her children and friends were very good and supportive, but said that losing one’s spouse leaves you feeling like a “spare part”.
“Sundays and Bank Holidays are horrendous because these are traditionally family times. Many people in this situation won’t go to events, as they feel different, they feel alone. If you are a shy person you can end up retreating into yourself and becoming isolated, because the person who brought you out of yourself is no longer there. You feel like the odd one out despite people’s efforts,” she explained.
She said she hopes the group, the idea for which came about during a chat with her friend Brigid O’Keefe, will give others in a similar situation the opportunity to forge links with those going through the same thing.
“Life will never be the same again and I’ve got to go with that and make the best of it. John, realizing his death was inevitable, told me that he would sing in heaven when he saw me dancing here. I aim to keep my promise and I know that John is proud of me,” she said.
The first meeting of the group takes place in the Showboat, The Glen, on Wednesday, May 22 at 7.30pm. Anyone who is widowed, divorced, separated or single are welcome to attend. All age groups are welcome and Kay said the first meeting will be an opportunity for the group to discuss plans for the future and to get to know each other.
For more information contact Kay on 085 8684019 or 087 9430599.