Man Who Asked For Friends After Wife Died Receives Thousands Of Responses
An elderly man put a poster in his window asking for friends following the death of his wife. Two days later, he’s been overwhelmed with thousands of emails and hundreds of calls from all across the world.
Tony Williams, 75, lost his wife Jo, also 75, in May this year, just nine days after she’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In the months since, he’s lived a quiet existence. Just this week, he also undergone an operation to remove cancer from his leg.
He explained: ‘Now I’m all by myself. My wonderful wife has just died, and I have nobody. All I want is for somebody to see the sign and phone me up. I just want a nice conversation so I’m not sat in silence all day long.’ However, after word of his appeal spread across the globe, everyone wants to be Tony’s pal.
The retired physicist’s story has been everywhere. ‘I’m considering taking it down this weekend. It’s overkill now. Mission accomplished,’ he said on ITV’s This Morning, as per the MailOnline.
I answered about 100 calls and my answering machine was full with 30 messages. And I had thousands and thousands of emails. People contacted me from all over the world: the United States, Canada, Australia, the Middle East, Spain, Iceland.
A lot of people said they knew how I felt because they had been bereaved themselves. I had a lovely long conversation with a lady from Cairo who travels to Britain on business.
The pensioner first received a call from TV personality Dame Esther Rantzen, with whom Tony had a ‘lovely conversation… she was one of those people who really listen, which is a dying art these days. We spoke for about 20 minutes and she said she’d call me back in a week or two.’
From there, he spent ‘all yesterday afternoon I was on the phone and answering emails. I barely had time to eat. The last one came just after midnight. But I love conversation, I really do.’
One woman, Margaret, called me from Florida and invited me to fly over to stay with her. She said she’d pick me up at the airport and show me round the State.
The loveliest gesture probably came from a teacher at the primary school down the road, who said if I’d mind if the children all wrote me letters. I said that would be lovely! And I offered to come to the school to talk to the children afterwards, so they’d know who they were writing to.
Tony’s poster read: ‘I have lost Jo, my lovely wife and soul mate. I have no friends and nobody to talk to. I find the unremitting silence 24-hours-a-day unbearable torture. Can nobody help me?’
Prior to the putting up the sign, he also put two adverts in the local newspaper and handed out ‘business cards’ whenever he popped to the shop or went for a walk. Alas, nobody replied.
While Tony has two brothers, Geoff and Gavin, and a sister, Tessa, they don’t live particularly close by. Throughout his life, he was moving to different parts of the country due to his job. ‘I made friends but lost them again when I moved. The problem was, you couldn’t take them with you,’ he said.
Commenting on becoming somewhat of a phenomenon, Tony said:
I have all sorts of feelings about the response. I did it really for myself. I wanted to alert people to those suffering from loneliness who nobody knows are there. I want to start a campaign to reach people in similar positions, so that they can take heart from what I’ve done.
While Tony knows that the interest will fade eventually, he added: ‘Hopefully when all the attention dies down, I’ll have a number of people to keep in contact with over the long term.’
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.