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Love and poetry found while washing clothes

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Wendy Ebbin with her first book of poetry (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

For Wendy Ebbin, a chance encounter in a laundromat led to romance and more than 800 poems.

The 60-year-old Sandys resident has compiled her first 146 missives into a book Something from the Heart, The Journey to Love.

The day she met her soulmate, George Burch, seven years ago, love was the last thing on her mind.

She was mostly focused on getting her laundry washed and dried.

“A man came up to me and asked if he could help with the laundry,” Ms Ebbin remembered. “I said ‘I have it’. I have always been independent.”

As she went about her business, he kept staring at her. They chatted as she ate her lunch and she was a little surprised by his candour.

“He told me everything about his life that he had done, good and bad,” Ms Ebbin said.

He had three children and she had two.

After meeting him she was definitely interested.

“He was a good looking man,” she said.

However, she knew she had to protect herself. She did some investigation, Bermudian style.

“He said he lived in Somerset in ‘Bubbles’ apartment’,” she said. “My cousin lived down that way. He didn’t know where Bubbles stayed but he thought his neighbour would know.”

The neighbour directed her to where Mr Burch was living. Having a poke around in her car, Ms Ebbin followed the directions but suddenly caught a glimpse of the mini bus Mr Burch drove, headed towards her. She drove into someone’s yard to escape detection.

“When I backed out of the yard, George was right there,” she laughed. “He saw me.”

It was something they giggled about later, with him joking that he was worried she was a crazy stalker.

They went to John Smith’s Bay in Smith’s on their first date.

“He said he was looking for somebody that he could call his best friend and live the remainder of his life with,” Ms Ebbin said. “He was nine years older than me.”

That inspired her to write her first poem, at 2am the next morning.

Wendy Ebbin, left, and the love of her life, George Burch (Photograph supplied)

“I had always been a baker and a cook, never a writer,” she said. “I knew the spirit had to be working through me.”

The poem was called The Love Of A Friend, And What it Means.

Over the years she shared every poem she wrote with him.

“I would say I am going to print them and he would say, ‘I know you will’. He was very supportive.”

Although they had both had relationships before, it felt like this was their first romance.

She still remembers the day they celebrated his 64th birthday over dinner in Dockyard.

“He was so excited when he saw the present in my hand that he did not want to eat his dinner,” she said. “I told him I would not give it to him until he ate. So he ate but he kept trying to pull the present on the floor closer to him with his foot.”

He was thrilled when he opened the package and found a heart-shaped locket and key. Engraved on it were the words ‘you hold the key to my heart’.

“During our time together we did have our ups and downs,” Ms Ebbin said. “We had trials and tribulations but we overcame them. We learnt many lessons that needed to be learnt.”

Ms Ebbin longed to marry her soulmate.

“It was my dream to be a bride,” she said.

Last year, Mr Burch told her he was planning to marry her on his 70th birthday, on September 29.

“I chuckled and said, well you didn’t even consult the bride,” she said. “He said ‘I knew you were not going to say no’. He had already told everybody but me.”

Their joy was short-lived.

“One day last August he had told his boss that he was not feeling well,” Ms Ebbin said. “He said he was going to take two days off. He sometimes did that and shut out the world for a little bit.”

At first, she left him alone, knowing that during these periods he did not like to be disturbed. When she did not hear from him after three days she became concerned and went to his house.

“Something did not feel right,” she said.

Everything was eerily quiet. There were no sounds of the television coming from inside, as there usually were.

She let herself in, and found him in bed. He looked peaceful, but was cold to the touch.

“All I could think to do was call his sister,” Ms Ebbin said. “She asked if I had called 911. I hadn’t because I just could not think at that point. I was so upset.”

Emergency personnel attempted to revive Mr Burch, but Ms Ebbin knew it was hopeless. He was gone.

Today, Ms Ebbin does not believe she will ever date anyone else again.

“He was the love of my life,” she said. “He used to say before me there was none, and after me there will be no other. He was right.”

Her book Something From the Heart, ends with a letter she wrote to Mr Burch after he died.

“When I first met you, who would have dreamt that I would fall in love with you and that you would become my best friend and soulmate. You became the second light in my life, apart from God and my children.”

She launches the book on April 25 from 6.30 to 8.30pm at West End Church of Christ in Sandys. It will then go on sale at Brown & Co in Hamilton.

Ms Ebbin still sends Mr Burch regular WhatsApp messages, just as she did when he was alive. It makes her feel more connected to him.

“In one of my recent messages to him, I told him the book was finished,” she said. “He would be really proud of it.”

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Published April 02, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 03, 2024 at 8:10 am)

Love and poetry found while washing clothes

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