Me: It is very good of you to spare me some of your valuable time Mr Frazer.
Thomas: Tha can call me Thomas as few of us here stand on ceremony.
Me: Thank you. What was your gut reaction to the death of your wife, Catherine?
Thomas: I was numb with shock. I only let the tears flow once Dr Merrifield and the midwife, Maria Lambert, left me alone with my beautiful baby daughter, Margaret.
Me: Making the right decision about your daughter’s future must have been unenviable
Thomas: Aye, it was. But I don’t regret it because I knew that Lord and Lady Trevelyan could give her the best start in life and furnish her with opportunities I could not have provided her with the best will in the world. At least I was able to see her grow up from a distance which was some consolation.
Me: How did you cope after Margaret was adopted?
Thomas: To tell tha the truth I only existed. I did not cope. I was down the village tavern most nights and I also took to laudanum because it was cheap and easy to obtain. In those times it was called the poor man’s drug of choice.
Me: What made you get out of that addiction?
Thomas: I heard about a local woman who died of laudanum overdose leaving an infant son. I was also worried that Margaret might see me in a glassy-eyed state and be ashamed although she did not know the true nature of what I was to her. I lost sight of mesen for a time and I am not proud of that.
Me: When did you realise you loved your new wife, Florence?
Thomas: I think I fell in love with her fairly soon after we met in 1914 because she was so vibrant and different from other women I had known. She seduced me with tales of the countries she had visited and was so easy-going and compassionate that I could not fail to love her.
When we danced at Lady Lynchcliffe’s wedding I think it was then that I first dared to hope that I could move on and leave Catherine behind but for a time I was confused and felt guilty. Florence understood, being widowed hersen, and was very patient with me.
Me: What has been your proudest moment?
Thomas: Being able to finally acknowledge Margaret as my daughter. The day I gave her away at her wedding to Lewis Franklin she looked so beautiful and I was so proud of her for following her heart to true love and from the first time I saw them together I knew that they were meant to be together.
Me: Do you have any regrets?
Thomas: Aye. The laudanum addiction for I have managed to avoid it for years but if I ever need strong pain relief I fear being prescribed opiates in case it kicks in again.
Me: Who are your closest friends and confidantes?
Thomas: My son-in-law Lewis Franklin and my wife, Florence.
Me: What are your hopes for the future?
Thomas: I have no grand long-term goals as my life experience hasn’t really allowed for them. In truth I just want to enjoy my time with Florence and to enjoy seeing my grandchildren Lewis and Catherine grow up.
Me: What was life like at Lynchcliffe Park during the Great War?
Thomas: It was not easy. We had Jenkins convalescing from a heart-attack and then His Lordship went to fight. It was a tense very nervous time for us all as we dreaded bad news. Her Ladyship really showed her strength then although she was still grieving for the late Lord Lynchcliffe. Thankfully she found new love with Dr Hamish George.
Me: What advice would you give to people who are newly widowed?
Thomas: Take things one day at a time and move on when tha is ready. Don’t let anyone pressure tha. When tha finds the right person to move on with tha will know. By the same token don’t wallow in self-pity for the person tha has lost would want tha to move on. It took me twenty-eight years near enough to realise that.
Me: Well thank you for your time, Thomas. I wish you and Florence the very best for a long and happy future together.
Thomas: Thank you. She has helped me find peace with my past as I have helped her find peace with hers and now we are both content and complete as people.
Read about Thomas’s loss in The Lynchcliffe Cuckoo Vol 1: Mis en Scene on Kindle
Find out what Margaret Franklin has to say about her father