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LIZ AYERS 1957-2009
Many of you will know Liz Ayers. Some of you will have been lucky enough to have met her in person - others will have seen her comments on my blog or seen many references to her either on my blog or on my websites.
I "met" Liz via the Open University's Intranet Conferencing system and found that we had so much in common. Not the least of which was that we were both suffering from the same illness and had both been retired from work as a result. We gave each other support in our convalescence and gave each other the courage to re-enter the world.
We met face-to-face at an Open University Students Association event in Manchester and quickly struck up a friendship that meant a great deal to both of us. Which was just as well, for we found ourselves serving on the same OU and OUSA Committees.
Liz was quiet and shy - until you touched a nerve and then she would fight with the courage of a tiger. I will always remember her refusing to be browbeaten by the OU hierarchy and giving them "what for" over a particularly shabby trick concerning the Student Support Review. She received a standing ovation from everyone in the hall, and quite right too. What a marvellous OUSA President she would have made with her fierce and relentless defence of Students' rights.
Liz was also silly - and anyone who knew her will know exactly what I mean and will know that in no sense is it a derogatory comment. She had discovered the secret of eternal youth in that you need to strip away the pretentiousness of modern society and semi-detached living and get back in touch with your inner self. She lived it to the full, and passed on its benefits to as many people as she could. Sadly, few people had the courage to follow her lead.
Early last year coming back from a OUSA meeting, we stopped off at a Motorway Service area on the M1 for a coffee - and she had a fall. Shortly after this she began to notice changes in her health, all of which were symptomatic of a slight stroke. She went to see the doctor who eventually diagnosed something much worse.
This led to a need for an emergency operation but the NHS being what it is - with delays, waiting lists, breakdown of equipment (one piece of equipment failed while she was actually on the table and the operation had to be postponed - and not until the next day - poor Liz had to go to the back of the queue again, such is the British Health Service) - it was not until Wednesday 12th March that the operation could proceed - but by then it was no longer possible to make a successful operation, and Liz passed quietly away the next day.
I shall miss Liz desperately. She was the only person who ever really understood me, and who shared my weird tastes in music, films, books and (sadly to say) jokes. She was so much like me in fact (albeit with the rough edges smoothed off) that someone once asked if we were brother and sister. Even more ironically - her maiden name is "Hall".
She was an instictively kind, nice person. Nothing was too much trouble for her to help anyone in difficulty, and she helped me out on many occasions.
You have to believe in heaven, for that is where you will find Liz and her herd of unicorns. And believe me - she will get a better deal up there than the rough deal she got down here.
Liz was priceless, and if her death is to teach us anything, it is that we must all aspire to do the very best that we can with our lives and our relationships so that we too can make it to heaven and share the afterlife with Liz and everyone else like her. This world isn't good enough for people like Liz. She - and we - deserve better and we should see that we all get it.
If you ever knew Liz, whether "live" or on-line, please plant a tree for her and care for it like you would do for Liz herself. You can talk to the tree and share all of your secrets with it, just like you would do to Liz herself. She would love that.
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