Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Henry Worsley, never forgotten

As a little girl I was a dedicated reader.
It was my way of escaping a boring life, a lack of true friends and a lot more.

At the library I was welcomed with cookies and apples, and in the winter with hot chocolate because I would sit down in a corner and read, and sometimes I would still sit there at the end of opening hours. Almost forgotten, but with a smile on my face, dwelling in a life that wasn't mine and in surroundings I will never attend.

It was shortly after I was the only minor that was admitted to read books for grown-ups, because I knew all for my own age, that I found a book about Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton. After reading about Sahara expeditions it was like turning from summer to winter in one day when I got lost in the accounts of his expedition to the pole.

Last year I found a very old edition of his book at the second hand bookstore. The book wasn't in one piece anymore, but I felt eager to have it.
To my surprise I got it as a present from the shop-owner, 3 days before my birthday, and I felt like a child that has discovered a treasure in the woods and takes it home.

By that time I knew more about pole-expeditions, had mailed to and fro with some of the sportsmen, and wondered if women would be able to do the same as men.
I was given a book about women walking to the north pole with sledges, and to the south pole.
Without knowing the exact time of departure of Henry Worsley to cross Antarctica on an unaided solo-trip I started reading. A day later a friend told me I started reading when Henry left to fulfill another of his dreams.
While he pulled his sledge, the women in my book pulled theirs.

Henry was one of the few men who caught my attention and gave me inspiration just by being.
My children felt the same and compared him with the same people as I did: a boy I grew up with because he lived just a few doors from my gram's house and who became an army general, a very kind and amiable man who also cared deeply for those who were less lucky at the front, and a dear friend, Richard, who was also driven by both duty, responsibility and sportive challenges.
All men with such an intense expression on their faces that they empower you without even saying a word.

Henry was struggling on his expedition, just as expected.
He lost a lot of weight, his voice became older than before, and he sounded very tired.
We worried about him, not knowing that his wife had asked to bring him home.
But Henry had ordered they could only come to fetch him at his request.
It took him two days to take the last hurdle: himself.
No matter how hard the doctors tried to save him, the exhaustion and the peritonitis were stronger, and Henry died from organ failure, three days before my birthday.

I knew it before it was officially announced. I woke up with a bad mood, just like before when a dear friend died. It was like something was changed that shouldn't have been changed.

Henry died at the age of 55.

He'll never be forgotten.

My heartfelt condolences to his wife, children, family, friends and colleagues.




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