Tangled Web

Sometimes you come across an extraordinary story that sheds light on who we are and aren’t as human beings.

It concerns a Tasmanian woman called Clodagh Jones who was married to marine scientist Robert Jones for 52 years.

For the last ten of them she was wife as well as carer as he spiralled into dementia which eventually took his life in 2011. Here’s where the story starts to get interesting.

Robert Jones was a hoarder who apparently ” kept everything that passed across his desk or took his eccentric eye.”

Clodagh Jones was a professional indexer who had won an award for her meticulous guide through the journals of a well known Tasmanian explorer.

You can probably see where this is going.

After he died she began emptying boxes of her husband’s stuff. She’d turned up patents for fishing gear, photographs of famous philosophers, even top secret papers for work he did for the UK Defence Department during the Cold War. But through her diligent searching, meticulous Clodagh found a box of papers, she was probably never meant to find, that would literally change her life forever.

Hidden among his archives were letters he had written to lovers, photographs and receipts for jewellery that were presents to his many mistresses.

Clodagh who had borne him three children and nursed him devotedly for ten years through a cruel and insidious disease was understandably shocked by this revelation.

But after she had recovered from her shock what Clodagh did next might surprise you.

Of the many lovers her husband had throughout his life she discovered one he had professed particular devotion to. A much younger woman.

So Clodagh wrote her a letter. Not one full of vitriol or vindictive anger. Quite the contrary. It was a warm letter admitting that she had only just discovered the affair and while it had been devastating news she was also intrigued.

Clodagh ended the letter by asking the woman to write back to her:  “You may be able to tell me some things about my husband of which I know nothing. We can be together for nearly 50 years yet know little about our partners.”

To her surprise the woman replied almost immediately, apologising for all of the hurt she had caused. In an even more surprising twist he two women who shared the one man have now became firm friends.

There is a lesson to be learned from all of this. if you’re a hoarder don’t marry a record keeper. It’s always going to end badly.