Category Archives: family stuff

Lazy Days

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It is a grey old day today. Fog and mist all day and that autumnal dampness that gets under your skin. I took the dog for a walk wearing my winter coat, only its second outing this season. funny to think that this time last year the UK was in the middle of ‘The Big Freeze’ and we were slipping and sliding our way around whilst snow and hoar frosts made the landscape into Narnia under the Snow Queen.

As I get older I appreciate the seasons more. I don’t dread winter any more for its dark nights and mornings. I like the festivals that the seasons bring for the celebrations of light. I like putting on my winter coat and feeling ready for any weather. Watching the leaves dropping from the trees reminds me that December is almost here with family Christmas and celebrations. And then the year turns and we wait for the light to  egin to return.

Today I was looking through photos from October when the Missus and I had an escape to Rhodes. Winter is a good time to get out those photos and finally do something with them. I have a project in mind with old family photos to make a scrapbbok for future generations. So many old photos. And then all the images stored on computer, ones I keep meaning to make into albums or frame and put on the walls. So many winter evenings and weekends that could occupy.

This afternoon I am cooking a shepherds pie for dinner with the family. Pottering in the kitchen and creating comfort food, looking forward to seeing everyone together at the table. looking at pohotos, reading my book, catching up on emails. I am very grateful.

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Change of Seasons

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Well my blogging has been sadly lacking hasn’t it since September. In fact I just came to a full stop and couldn’t do it. So I let it go for a while. But I’ve missed it, and felt like I’d lost a little piece of me in the process.

Of course feeling a sense of loss was what brought me to a halt. Losing Mum has left a gap in all our lives here. The gap reveals itself in many ways and moments. Mum had been such a big part of our lives, and I had written about her here and shared our journey through the last year of her life. I am so glad i did that. But it was hard to write after she had gone.

Now I imagine she will pop in now and again for tea and a cake just to make sure we are getting along ok, so forgive me if she pops in here too.

I am not going for a post a day for now. It’s too much and I would like to be able to start sharing and writing again without that pressure.

The picture above is from my walk yesterday. It is truly Autumn here now, there is a smoky feel to the air and the trees are losing their leaves. It is good to walk through them whilst they are still crisp and not yet slippy. This is a new season, they go so fast don’t they and I have new ideas to share and a new journey of recovery to begin on.

To sleep, perchance to dream

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I don’t think I have ever been this tired. I just want to sleep. I am having fantasies of just lying down where I am and drifting off. At work I imagine going into one of the therapy rooms, curling up on the sofa and dozing. My body feels like I am wading through a thick gloopy fog that weighs down on my limbs. I slept well last night. Or so I thought. I was in bed by 9.30pm and didnt wake up until I really had to get up this morning at 7.40am. All I wanted to do was get back under the covers and sleep.

I talked myself into showering, getting dressed and breakfasted and going to work. Even with make up on today people keep noticing Im tired. i think the yawning is giving it away. I went for a walk at lunchtime, some fresh air, a trip to the post office. Ate my lunch. Still I just want to sleep. All I can think of is getting home and going to bed.

I think it is grief. I didnt know it could make you so tired. Maybe it is the bodies way of protecting us. Sleep is such a healing thing. And losing someone you love is a shock, however it happens. I know at first it was shock that i felt. like a hit to the brain a flood of chemicals that numbed me out and carried me along on a tide where I was functioning somewhere in a sort of out of body way. Sometimes I have to get angry before i can cry. i think that is happening now. And yesterday I had another shock. A while ago I wrote a blog about exploitation and old age, with particular reference to a situation we had found ourselves in. Yesterday remnants of that situation resurfaced. I had to speak to the lawyer. It will be resolved but it was a shock. People can be truly wicked. I havent experienced that quite so directly before, but now I know it.  When i got home I got angry and then I cried. It feels so abusive, so intrusive to have to deal with this now. So the tiredness makes sense i suppose. In the middle of grieving it is hard to know what you are dealing with. Emotions are raw and energy is low.

I hope other people learn from this. If ypou have aging relatives or people you love who are vulnerable, take care. Sometimes that ‘friend’ who has suddenly appeared and seems to be spending a lot of time being helpful is actually ‘grooming ‘ them for abuse and exploitation. They cause rifts between families, prey on the fears and worries of the old, scared or lonely and are psychopathic in their lack of emapthy and calculated self-seeking. I have had nothing but love and support and tenderness from almost everyone and neither did mum. But one bad apple can create a lot of poison if you let it.

How we said Goodbye

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I dreamt of Mum last night. It wasn’t a good dream. I was at her funeral but it all went horribly wrong. The undertakers were casual and silly, there were mourners there who had come to say bad things, I got left behind when everyone went to the burial. People were giving out flowers and children were singing but it was all muddled up.

So I didn’t sleep that well and today I am tired. First day back at work today, although I only have to go in for the afternoon thankfully. Perhaps it will do me good to get back into a more normal routine. I have spent a lot of this last week since the funeral just sleeping, reading with occasional walks. I reckon that my body just said rest and recuperate so that’s what I’ve done. I know that grief makes you tired. I think the whole family has felt the same. As its holiday season for students no=one has been up early round here, but I think I have been the most adolescent in my sleeping-in! My healthy eating plan has also fallen by the wayside I have to say. Old habits etc, That’s another reason to be grateful for the containment and order of a return to ordinary life. Having routines helps.

I have found it hard to write about her this week. She is in my thoughts all the time. I don’t think I’m in denial but its hard to believe she has gone. I think if I go to visit Rowan Court there she will be sitting in her chair asleep, glasses round her neck, blue crocs on her feet, and it will be as usual a nice surprise that I’ve turned up again. But last week we cleared out her room, so I know she doesn’t live there anymore.

Her real funeral, not my nightmare one was beautiful. We said goodbye in all the ways we wanted to with hymns and readings and poems. I wrote the words I wanted to be said and the Missus read them out. The boys each wrote their own words to remember their nana. Son 1 read his own words and son 3’s. Son 2 wrote and read a wonderful poem, it blew us all away. I will share it another day. Son 4 wrote of how they would all do Nana proud and the missus read those too. She was laid to rest in a beautiful wicker coffin. Green leaves were wound round the sides and the top was decorated with flowers in blues and pinks and white. The strong blue of cornflowers, not pastels for Mum. Old friends and family joined us of course and we cried and laughed and enjoyed the memories and the company. We had a photo of her from a holiday a few years ago at CenterParcs. She looks so happy in the sunshine. We put it up over the fireplace at the hotel whilst we had tea and now it is on top of the radiator in our kitchen by the table until we decide where to put it up properly. I can see her now smiling at me as I write.

What is dying?

A ship sails and I stand watching till she fades on the horizon, and someone says, “she is gone”.

Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all; she is just as large as when I saw her…

The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her, and just at the moment when someone says “she is gone”, there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout, “there she comes!”…

and that is dying. 

Bishop Brent

No Sunday voices please

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Mum adored Joyce Grenfell and this was her favourite. When I was a young Mum with four boys she used to say I sounded just like her. This reminds me of her sense of fun, her being a teacher and of being a Nana.

This poem also by Grenfell says it well for both of us:

If I should die before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone
Nor, when I’m gone, speak in a Sunday voice,
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must
Parting is hell.
But life goes on.
So sing as well.   Joyce Grenfell

Mum and the Reindeer Ears

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I am writing an eulogy. Summing up a life. Remembering moments. Telling stories. Collecting memories. Anyone who has ever written one will know how hard it is. My mind keeps going completely blank. I tell myself that I have been writing about Mum for months, sharing every day gems and the joys and sorrows. And still it is hard to do. I  keep starting again. The boys are writing their own words to join with mine. Everyone has been thinking about it today and  you can feel it in the house.

I have looked up other words from more famous or clever people. I talked to my sister from my other mum and she told me how she had written a letter to her Dad. I understand that no-one wants a CV, especially one that is dry as dust. It could be like one of those awful courses you go on with work where everyone is supposed to introduce themselves with their name and place of work. It becomes a competition to see who can be the most experienced/cleverest/highest earner. Then again no-one wants to hear of sainthood. The best eulogies seem to combine affection, humour and somehow capture the essence of the person who is gone.

I have been searching for a quote, a few pithy words, a poem, a line. And yet in the end it will be what it has always been – an act of love, speaking words that come from our hearts, raising a smile. In the meantime these few words have made me smile or seem to catch a glimpse of what I want to say.

Death is simply a shedding of the physical body like the butterfly shedding its cocoon. It is a transition to a higher state of consciousness where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, and to be able to grow.
–E. Kubler-Ross

“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.” ~ Eskimo Legend

“The highest result of education is tolerance.” Helen Keller

“The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.”

–Lucille Ball

Oh and then there are the reindeer ears. This story must be told. At Christmas time on our regular trip to the garden centre Mum found these ears. They play music too. She insisted on wearing them all the way round the shop. One or two people looked askance. Most smiled with us. “They can use me for advertising” she said. We brought the ears home this week. They still make me grin.

Congratulations and Celebrations

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It’s a happy day. Son 3 got the ‘A’ Level results he needed to get into the University of his choice. How proud are we? as his dad said, ‘On a scale of 1-10, at least 12’. The poignancy of the moment struck us all. Nana would have been first on the list to be called after us.

We have a chocolate caterpillar cake, like you do. We got together this evening for a toast and congratulations those of us who were around.The boy is going out tonight to celebrate. Watch out town as several hundred 18 year olds go partying or drowning their sorrows!

It has been good to have a day of celebration. A true reminder of life going on in the best way possible.

I went to get my hair cut this week. When it came time to re-book for 6 weeks time I realised that would be after he has left for Uni. Whoa. Now I have to get my head round the boy leaving home!

And life goes on …

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I think everyone knows who should do.

The funeral is arranged.

The notices are in the papers.  

Cards and messages and flowers, hugs and kind words surround us.

Tomorrow is A level results day. Son 3 is waiting . It will be a happy day I am sure. We are proud of him. This will be the first family moment that Nana is not here for. But she knew already he will do well, whatever happens.

I catch myself thinking to tell her things or noticing little moments of loss. My colleagues gave me a beautiful orchid today.Mum always managed to keep them growing beautifully. She gave me several. I killed all of them. Maybe she’ll help me keep this one!