Leg 3, Day 50 – The window

Meg Dyos By

Day 50 – The window

Gilbert lay in his hospital bed at the end of the ward, next to the window. His 2nd bout of chemotherapy caused him to feel nauseous, and at the ripe age of 86 he liked to lay back and reflect on his life. His waking hours were taken up with thoughts of his family, his children, grand children and great grandchildren and what they may be up to. Late in the afternoon, the bed next to him was filled by Dudley. Dudley was also suffering from cancer, and was due to start his 4th bout of chemotherapy. Without family in the area, Dudley enjoyed engaging in conversation with other people on the ward, and was a particular favourite of the nurses.

In the days following, Gilbert and Dudley became great friends. Having discovered that they went to the same school together, both widowed and then telling each other their life stories they had lots in common. From his lying down position, Dudley requested that Gilbert look out of the window by his bed, and relay the sights that he saw. Gilbert commenced with descriptions of the park that the window overlooked, and it became a daily occurrence. From the boats on the lake, to stories of children and families playing, and joggers and dog walkers – the list continues, and Gilbert’s descriptions caused hours of entertainment to Dudley who would lay back and imagine all of the sights that Gilbert saw.

A few days later, Dudley awoke, and expecting his normal morning update on the world outside the window, he turned over and looked towards Gilbert’s bed. The bed was clean sheeted and with no sign of Gilbert, Dudley asked the nurse where Gilbert was. To which the nurse replied that Gilbert did in fact pass away in his sleep peacefully during the night and was found in the early hours. Beside himself with mourning for his friend, Dudley requested that he be moved to the bed by the window so that he could look over the park and remember his friend. To this the nurse agreed and made up the bed for Dudley to move to. Dudley also told her about Gilbert and his daily commentary of the happenings in the park outside the window. Confusedly, the nurse walked away to continue with her duties – not only did she know that Gilbert was partially sighted, but she often looked out of the window, and was always disappointed to see that it looked onto a brick wall.

This story was told to me years ago, and has particularly resonated with me during my time on Doris. The fact that Gilbert was able to cause Dudley so much enjoyment through the use of his imagination, and was able to create such beautiful descriptions of the world outside despite his poor sight and that the view from those new replacement windows was in fact a brick wall I find particularly moving. The brick wall is our Pacific ocean, it is our only view from onboard Doris and we need to create distraction to sometimes move our minds away from the ocean and paint pictures of other places. On the oars we are Gilbert and Dudley, and on a day when you might not be particularly motivated and/or we have had a similar sea state for periods of time, it is the monotony of the vast expanse of the ocean that can be lifted through these distractions. Alternatively the other person on the oars can help you to re-realise the beauty of where we are through cloud watching, or pointing out the different wildlife surrounding us.

Update: the fast moving has stopped and we are rolling in another current with the miles coming down painfully slowly. However we have loved having the full moon with us and lighting up our path through the water.



  1. JG says:

    Another typo-free blogpost from the office on a trampoline that is Doris. Don’t know how you do it girls!

    Clouds – from Stratus to Cirrus and everything in between are fascinating in their shape and form. There’s a group called The Cloud Appreciation Society whose members number thousands and who send in pictures of unusual cloud formations to categorise and analyse them. Look out for the rare Kelvin-Holmhurst wave cloud created by shearing winds. Take pictures of striking cloud formations for your book!

    Which day is your birthday.
    A man is being interviewed.
    Interviewer “When is your birthday ?”
    Man “12th November”
    Interviewer “Which year ?”
    Man “Every year”

    Take care girls and keep safe.

    ave them categorised and analysed

  2. Anna says:

    What a lovely story Meg. What a positive imagination and thought for others. Thank you for sharing it. Nice to have the moon with you, it must give you a different perspective of the sea as the waves create shadow. It must look like black oil and silver silk. Thats my idea of it any way. Can you describe the sound for us? Keep pisitive and safe. XXXX

  3. kim says:

    girls cannot believe you are only 700 miles off an 8000 mile journey!!! christmas on the boat sounded fab. enjoy the last days as an awesome foursome on your amazing adventure and row safely!

  4. Robert says:

    If you wondered why Doris gradually increased speed to 2.2 knots, a now 20 knot wind from the South stretching all the way from the Australian coast to Vanuatu and from South of New Zealand to the Solomon Islands is providing the power to propel Doris northward.
    2015-12-29 21:00 UTC
    17.87° S, 158.22° E
    175° @ 20 kn
    1006 hPa
    Ocean rowing is sailing without a sail if you plan your route well. The rowing is just for exercise or to get you across calm patches!
    The Vikings sailed and rowed like the Polynesians who paddled and sailed, they were practical people.

  5. Simon TY says:

    It takes a great gift to be able to look out of the window and always see positives. I fear I see the rain, the wind, and not always the view. The ocean could be a source of fear, of awe, of trepidation. Especially as you cannot really swim in it and enjoy it as you might. Or it can be an endless play of light, an endless source of energy ( if only it could be harnessed). A friend to carry you, to keep you afloat, provide you water, flying fish and whales.

    I recall very very early on guessing how much the waves had lifted you. If there is an average swell of say 0.5m and a wavelength of say 10secs, then you have been “lifted” 3meters per minute, 180m per hour, or 4.3km per day, or 994km so far since the USA !!! There will have been still days, and days of 5m swell, so that guess may be way out. In fact some days you will have done far more up and down than horizontal movement.

    Anyhow, hope the current is getting you closer, even if not quite in the right direction. Laura, I had a lovely email from yr Mum. Getting very excited !! Cannot wait to meet everyone at the reunion party !

    Keep safe

    Xxx STY

  6. Jim Andrews says:

    I read that little story a while ago Meg, it is a lovely thought and I hope it might have been true. I don’t do the “is the glass half empty, half full” analogy for optimism or pessimism, as my answer would have to be “depends on whose round it is! I do appreciate that little anecdote though because it was for the benefit of the listener. The version I heard was that the blind man was the listener and the terminally ill man the provider of the illusion. It was when the nurse, on revealing that the terminally ill man had passed away, realised the great act of kindness he had provided. Either way the act of kindness is the key. Being able to give, even if it is only a kind word or in the case of the story, an illusion. You ladies are providing a similar service, you are providing optimism for women deserving a bit of a break from their injuries or illness. You are providing a beautiful but challenging view of the Pacific from a 29 ft rowing boat and you are doing all this while enduring separation from your loved ones, normality, comfort and really hard work. Is it any wonder you have so many followers/fans. You are all fabulous, the pink dot is currently hurtling along at 2.4 knots, so hopefully the lull is over. Stay Safe XX

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