Thursday, 17 November 2011

My eternal thanks to Ellie, Moniek, Ilse and Corine Wittens

Before reading on, plug in a decent set of headphones because there's something very special at the end.

The last few weeks have been the darkest, roughest time of my life. I was in real trouble: tired, skint and alone in Kathmandu, with no hope of finding my way to my family and closest friends.

Moniek (in the silver shirt), Ellie, sick boy and Ilse.
Corine's at home with her family in the Netherlands.
The Wittens family laid down everything to get me to the best doctors in Singapore. In pain, and unable to think for myself, this big man was as small and helpless as a baby.

They took control and continue to involve my family every step of the way. I thank God I've got them by my side.

I was told I have a life-threatening disease in my blood and lungs. They comforted me, dried my tears and eased my mind. The Wittens family know all about cancer. Harry, the father of the family, died of melanoma and a brain tumour in 1989.

I never met Harry but apparently he loved this song too. It's dedicated to Ellie, Moniek, Ilse & Corine with my eternal gratitude. And, of course, to Harry:

Mo - it's your time to shine.


  1. You've only bloody gone and made me cry at work!

    A beautiful song for an amazing family - good choice Rick.

  2. A fitting tribute to the Wittens family. Bless them all. How would we cope without them.

  3. I think perhaps the Wittens were meant to be with you on this journey. The song choice is very special...for a special family... our dog agreed...although she may have picked up on me least I wasn't at work though Elaine! ;0) xxx

  4. Rick, I want you to know that we are rooting for you (as we say) here in Chicago. Thanks so much for the great playlist, keep them coming! Lots of love to you and your silver girl. Lyndsey

  5. Ricky, Ive not seen you since Ian's wedding - I'd just done 8 rounds and 8 hours of surgery. I know what its like - your writing is eloquent, funny and proves that you will come through OK. Humour, self depreciation and bloody mindedness is the key to success and you have it in spades. I'll keep reading - keep it clean and I'll see you when you meet up with Ian.

  6. Rick, i can't see the keys through tumbling tears down my face! What a beautiful tribute to an obviously 'sorted' family. I'm so sorry that you went through the darkness but knowing you, as i have done over the years, i know you will be back full force, living life as it should be - fully! I'd even consider getting back up on the bar at Brownes to have a dance with you! Maybe not SO drunk next time though, it's a long way down! 'Go the Wittens' (as we say in Aus) and of course you mate with bells on.

    PS i see what your dad means about Mo's smile... Love the photie
    heaps O Love
    The Levs

  7. Hi Rick, Just wanted to let you know we are reading the blog everyday and Nic and I have been listening to your song choices. I read this earlier and thought of your latest blog, "Love is as critical for your mind and body as oxygen. It's not negotiable. The more connected you are, the healthier you will be both physically and emotionally". "Therefore then" (as eastwood would say)It's a no brainer....You've got love in spades,from all corners of the globe. Keep strong!! Rich (Northerner gone soft!)

  8. What some people do to get off work is unbelievable - I'd sooner cut off my left hand (not my right hand because I use that for . . . well never mind)

    Bob Munro
    Washington DC

  9. Managed to read the blog so far and hold it together - but you got Andrea & 'the big guy' blubbing with this entry! We were driving up th M5 and we both lost it when I read this out!! Had to pull over and I had to hit the tissues ( not like that Munro, before you say it!!).
    It's amazing the poeple life steers you to, and clearly Monike and her family fall into that catagory. Sending the Wittens some big Dessie love, wish I was there to spin them upside down like we would do back in Notts Rick!

  10. My oh my, a fine piece to read today. Massive S&G fan. Saw Paul Simon at the Albert hall sing The Boxer. Best song I've ever had the pleasure to hear. Unreal. Thinking about the Albert hall reminds me of the Howard Jones gig. I seem to recall being about 7 years old or something when we went!

    I certainly would also like to offer my immense admiration to Moniek, her mum & sister. What a job they are doing. Do they play paper / scissor / stone to decide who has to cook the ravioli sandwich for breakfast? Surely this must deserve a caramel barrel or 2.

    A fine Irvine Welsh reference to Sick Boy. Hmm Trainspotting, now there's a particularly fine collection of tunes. I may pick up on Lust for Life as being rather apt!

    PS I kind of see where Dad is coming from about the 'getting off work' thing. Mind you, he's now 70 & refusing to stop, but probably more to do with the same lust for life that we all share!

    PPS Des, about that tissue!

  11. Just heard about this couple of days ago- Mark/Sue gave me this address!!

    Remember there is always someone up there looking down and protecting you-have faith in him!

    Miss you and will be praying for your speedy recovery!!

  12. I never write anything on Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc, but your blog is so different from all the nonsense that people write on the Internet nowadays.

    Thank you very much for your more than kind words. We're just really glad we can help, and wouldn't even think of having it any other way. We're thankful that you came to Singapore as fast as you did, and that the medical facilities here are so amazingly efficient. We were able to help because we were at the right place, at the right time.

    You've always taken such good care of Moniek for so many years. We are very grateful that she has you as her partner. It's very sad for us to see you go through this horrible disease, but we believe you're very strong and will get through this with the great support of your family and friends.

    With all our love,
    Elly, Corine & Ilse

  13. This is an awesome news!2012 seems lucky for you!Get well soon- Pokhara misses you a lot!!