Saturday 20 January 2018

This man's life: A light goes out forever in Portobello as Colette and Robert are reunited

Stock photo: Getty
Stock photo: Getty
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

The picture in the front window was, out of the blue, gone. One day, the week before last, the picture in the front window of my neighbour's house was taken down. It was of a young boy in a Barcelona Football Club replica top, smiling. When I moved in next-door five years ago, it was one of the first things I noticed: young Robert Wallace smiling from the window, frozen in time. As the years went by, I heard the desperately sad story of how Robert, aged 18, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Crete on September 11, 2005.

His parents, Pat and Colette, never recovered from that day. And Robert's beautiful mother in particular. It was like a light went out in her, in her life, in her marriage. I only saw Colette possibly three or four times in that whole five years. She dropped in a present once for the baby. She was a lovely and dignified woman who hid her pain from the world, behind the permanently drawn curtains of her home.

On January 23, however, Colette didn't need to hide her pain any more: she passed away in the night at her home in Portobello.

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