"I spend most days just sitting in the house in silence, just waiting for the phone to ring... but it never does," he said.
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Tony Williams simply wanted someone to talk to. The retired physicist found himself living in almost complete silence since the death of his wife of 35 years in May and couldn't bear it anymore. The 75-year-old from Alton, East Hampshire, UK, has neither children nor other family to visit and yearned to find someone to break the "unbearable torture" of the unremitting silence that would sometimes haunt him for days at a time. In his desperation, Williams recently took out two ad blocks in his community newspaper in the hopes of making new friends. He also got cards made with his details and explaining his situation and handed out dozens to people he met at the supermarket or during a walk. However, despite all his attempts, no one called.
Tony spent £120 placing two adverts in his local newspaper in a bid to find a new friend - but he never received a reply 💔https://t.co/iVdcNQQXMD— Metro (@MetroUK) September 15, 2020
"I spend most days just sitting in the house in silence, just waiting for the phone to ring... but it never does," Williams told SWNS. According to New York Post, despite his previous attempts proving unsuccessful, he never gave up hope and decided to make one last attempt to make friends. "I have lost Jo. My lovely wife and social mate. I have no friends or family. No one to talk to. I find the unremitting silence 24 hours a day unbearable torture. Can no one help me?" he wrote in a poster and hung it on a window in the hopes that passerby would notice.
Tony has been inundated with messages from kind strangers who have reached out to him, leaving him with 'tears in his eyes'. YES TONY ❤️https://t.co/YfGdBXCPpw— Tyla (@Tyla) September 17, 2020
Speaking of Jo, who died just nine days after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year, Williams said: "Our relationship was always so natural. We had no secrets, and we could be totally open with each other. Now I’m here, completely alone, in the house where my lovely wife spent her dying days. Every time I walk in the room, the first thing I do is look at her photograph." Explaining that the poster on the window was his "last resort," Williams said, "I’ve tried everything to make friends, but it feels like nobody wants to talk to me."
I do like a happy ending. 😃https://t.co/tyrd8MrsGH— Raffy Hamid Journalist and Publicist (@Raffy1011) September 16, 2020
"Not very many people pass my house, but I was hoping it would spread around the community, and someone might reach out," he added. "I’m not looking for someone to listen to me cry. I just want a normal person who I can chat to! I can talk to anybody about anything. I just want a friend, and I hope my sign will find someone for me." It didn't take long for the poster to do its magic as just days after Williams' search for a friend made headlines, people from across the globe have been reaching out to the pensioner.
"Jo was my best friend and we had a lovely life. But now I'm all by myself."— Age UK (@age_uk) September 15, 2020
Tony's story has broken our hearts. We're currently working on getting in contact with him and we'll update you when and if we can. Thank you for your support. 💜 https://t.co/xlscNXhIYx
Speaking to LADbible, Williams revealed that he has shared between 50 and 70 phone calls with total strangers in the days since he went viral and that his inbox has "exploded" with thousands of emails. "I just regret so much that it's impossible for me to answer even a small fraction [of calls and emails], but I'd like them to know that I've received so many messages of goodwill and kindness and compassion that I'm overwhelmed by it," he said. "If I could meet them all in Albert Hall I would tell them how much I care for them and how much I'd like to reach out to them as they reached out to me."
The most heart-warming story of the day, right here... https://t.co/iSHe7VG0x5— Cat Martin (@catmacmartin) September 16, 2020
"The love and the kindness and the compassion they've shown actually brought tears to my eyes," Williams added. "I got an email yesterday [Tuesday] from a teacher in a local school. She said would I mind if the children in her class wrote me letters. And I thought that was so lovely, and I got in touch with her straight away and said it would be delightful. I would love that. I've had people phoning up from America, Canada. One lady phoned up and said if I get on a plane sometime she would pick me up and show me her area of Florida. I don't think I'll be doing it, but she was really genuine."
Tony Williams who put up a poster asking for friends following his wife's death has been inundated with calls and e-mails.— SkyNews (@SkyNews) September 17, 2020
For the latest news, head here: https://t.co/l25dsEr0rY pic.twitter.com/9tA5TJRUpF
The widower explained that he never lost faith in humanity despite the indescribable loneliness and grief he faced for months. "I was determined... I was determined. I thought there's got to be a way around this - and eventually, there was," he said. "For a long, long time, for weeks and weeks and weeks, it looked as if I was pushing doors open and they were immediately slammed in my face. I had that feeling. And then I was isolated and almost totally abandoned. And I thought, I've got to do something about that. A lot of people disagreed with what I've done, but I feel totally vindicated now. I've sort of caught a vein of something in humanity that I hoped was always there."