Category Archives: Life matters

Precious moments

I’ve spent today with my 84 year old father. There’s nowhere else I’d rather have been.

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It’s still only November but the last weekend I am down to stay before the Christmas away my youngest sister and I have organised for us, something different for this first Christmas without our mum, his wife.

Armed with his carefully crafted list we braved the busy town centre, my dad holding my arm. Some while later we made it back to the car with armfuls of bags and a huge sense of achievement. Mission accomplished.

Then later after a treat of lunch overlooking the water and an essential post lunch snooze, some hours happily spent together with paper, ribbons and labels wrapping gifts and sharing memories and stories and tea and mince pies. Priceless. Moments to treasure. Always.

Descent

One of the most moving things I have seen recently.

The weekly photo challenge theme prompted me to post this even though it’s a video rather than a photo. A man’s descent into Alzheimer’s and his farewell through song celebrating the love and life he’s had, a life and people he will soon not miss as his Alzheimer’s makes that not possible.

http://blog.thealzheimerssite.com/notgonnamissyou/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=alzaware&utm_campaign=gcamppaid#sJwtrb8RfsCDfrv0.01

My heart goes out to his family and others who are losing someone to Alzheimer’s – and to those like us who in the end lose someone very precious – for us, our mum.

Flashback

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Suddenly I am 20 again, a student with an orange moped parked outside and a huge bundle of clothes in the dryer at the local laundrette. What a nostalgic 50 minutes or so I have had here, as I wait for some bedclothes to dry for my father to help him out. He’s having a rush of visitors and so the apartment would be full of drying bedding for days in between.

I never imagined it would be such a trip down memory lane. The certainty of a 20 year old, no shades of grey, right or wrong, good or bad, cool or not. Student days at Bath University studying languages when secretly I wanted to do sociology and hang about discussing things that REALLY MATTERED! Happy exploratory days discovering a world outside my home town, people from different cultures and countries, parties til the small hours, demonstrations of protest…. And now and then lots of laundry!

The click that indicates it’s done. So it’s back to 2014 for me.

Can’t wait for wednesday

“Can’t wait for Wednesday” . I watched my neighbour on the tube enter these words on his phone.
I read the words and looked at him, a man with a tired face dressed in clothes that suggested hard physical work. Turkish perhaps.
My active imagination immediately started creating stories about who it was to. what Wednesday might bring…. A steamy romance, catching up with post divorce children, the day someone dear to him arrives from overseas, an audition for a big movie part….so many possible scenarios.
I was starting to look at him differently. From tired and defeated looking building site worker to man with adventure, joy and possibilities ahead.
And then I looked up.
“Can’t wait for Wednesdays?”, read the headline of an advert for a bargain travel agent that releases it’s top bargains on a Wednesday.
I looked at my neighbour again registering my disappointment that it wasn’t a message he was sending to someone. But then again perhaps he was planning the trip of a lifetime……

Time to get off the tube…

Anniversary

My tomorrow, your today already and it’s the anniversary of the day we promised in front of friends and family that we’d love each other til death us do part.

Luckily death wasn’t the reason for parting. I used to fear that. Your persistent belief that the short lives of males in your family would mean you too.

Not death, no. You cheated over almost a year. Moved her into our bed every time I was away overseas working. Unforgivable though I’ve tried. Just can’t.

Our anniversary. All these years later, I still remember as if yesterday almost every detail of the joy and love filled day we made our promises. Family and friends gathered to celebrate with us. Such a lovely day.

Despite what happened, I regret none of our many many years together and can look back with pleasure at almost all of it. We were lucky. And then it changed and I will never really understand why.

You broke my heart.

As each year since we split, we exchanged emails on our anniversary date sharing the sadness of this day. Biggest mistake of your life you’ve said in the past. Too late. Way too late. Your actions were just too unforgivable. Yet I’ll love you always and feel sad on this anniversary date. Always.

My life has moved on in so many ways. A new country, new life, new love. It’s a full and happy life. I’d never have imagined.

1st October is a day to remember how life was. Anniversary day.

Look there’s a rainbow

…. That’s what I wanted to say as I walked towards my office this morning, because there it was dramatically over Balham and no-one seemed to be noticing it.

Heads down, sleepy and reluctant or just plain determined looks on their faces people were scurrying along the pavements mostly on the way to work I imagine. No one looking across the street at the amazing rainbow there.
Not wanting to be the strange lady bothering commuters on their way to work, I said nothing.

But they missed out.

Something very extraordinary and almost magical about a rainbow even though people have tried a number of times to explain the science of them. None of those explanations seem to come close.

A wonderful sight to start to a working day.

Sorry for myself

“Sitting back broken in spirit was just not an option”
Just read a very moving blog
http://ubecute.com/2014/09/10/the-story-of-a-girl-who-never-looked-back/
This line caught my eye.
A jolt.
The realisation that I really have been letting myself feel very sorry for myself of late and have been sliding down just a little too often and too far.

Time to dig deep once more and stop what has become a bit of a slide.

So many great and positive things going on when I take stock of my life – relationships, health, work – I’m lucky, truly blessed by the people and opportunities in my life and yet there is still a profound sense of melancholy. A familiar feeling.

Just four and a half months since mum died and it’s so raw still sometimes. A candle lit for her in a church in Sicily on my recent holiday and tears fell. The welcome and moving comfort of a stranger’s hand on my shoulder.

So that loss, that grief sits there, emerging strongly in moments and it adds to the melancholia that has been with me as long as I can remember, indulged sometimes, kept at bay and from spilling over most of the time.
I feel joy, contentment, love, happiness, achievement, relatedness, peace … All these so often and so deeply….And yet somewhere as a quiet backdrop lies the melancholia. An old friend now in many ways, oh so familiar, a smile of recognition almost when it pushes it’s way through the good things of my life to remind me that it’s still there.

So I stood last night at the door of my English pub bedroom for the night, here to spend an early birthday celebration with my youngest sister and my Dad, soaking in the sights and smells and sounds of an unseasonally warm September evening in Surrey and saw this:

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Luxuriating in the lush greenness and the warmth of the fading sun, feeling content and then a sudden being enveloped by sadness, melancholy. So there we stood, my melancholy and me for a while in the doorway, co-existing until time came for it to be tucked away before an evening celebrating a birthday of my much loved sister. Tucked away. Til the next time.

So reading Ubecute.com’s blog just now about a woman who’s faced massive life challenges, things I’ve never had to face, a humbling story, I’m reminded of how life is for me. I’m reminded of how while acknowledging and sitting with my old friend melancholy at times is right, giving space and time, exploring it’s twists and turns is all needed but letting it move right in and take centre stage as I feel it might like to, “just isn’t an option” for me.

Sicily in the September Sunshine

Here we gather, 22 friends coming from countries around the globe to top up our friendships with time together shared in the sunshine of Sicily. We’ve known each other in combinations of 30 to 20 years and have experienced the ups and downs of our lives over that time – births, marriages, deaths, divorces, new partners, no partners, wrinkles…
We squabble now and then, it’s almost a requirement for a holiday, but mostly we laugh and eat and tell tall tales and laugh some more. And explore this beautiful place.

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Clutter

Where did all the clutter in our home come from? As part of my sitting with my feelings this weekend I took on to start a declutter while J is away and here I am on Sunday evening feeling somewhat defeated. Tons sorted, bin bags filled, a shredding frenzy and still there is more. Perhaps 3 months off work and I could crack it. Decluttering leave. Must be a category along with compassionate leave or maternity leave.

So much unneeded stuff. What was I thinking accumulating it all? Like molehills mounds appear in rooms. Clothes when the wardrobes are full, piles of books in the absence of bookshelves, things and more things, things that might come in handy one day, maybe. Things I have no idea how they got here. Unwanted forgotten gifts?

Stuff. Like my thoughts and memories. All cluttering up the corners of my brain and then the occasional avalanche when they tumble pellmell into my consciousness. A weekend of acknowledging, sifting and sorting. And sadness. Lots of sadness. Loss. A chat with my ex mother in law to express my condolences on the recent deaths in her family. That chat left me with a wave of sadness about my marriage to her son and the way it ended. Feelings all raw and on the surface again. Hard to believe it’s nearly 8 years ago now.

And I just try to be with the feelings and work my way through the clutter inside and around me. Getting there…

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Sitting with sadness

For the first time since my mum’s death almost four months ago I’ve had two weeks on my own at home, my partner off in Ireland for work.

I realise how much I’ve needed this space to sit with my feelings- not only the loss of my mum, the thinking about things that will never happen again, rerunning my last visit to her where she held my hand tight and returned a kiss unexpectedly ….but also the sense of responsibility for my father and the still broken relationships with 2 in the family. It’s a lot and it needs time just to quietly be and to do the things I know work for me in times such as these – lots of sleep, very very simple healthy food, swimming, walking, writing, reading, time to just be and think and lots of quiet.

A photo on the mantelpiece of my mum from a few years before her descent into Alzheimer’s. She is looking directly at the camera and is surprisingly relaxed and happy, usually one to avoid being the subject of a photo. It’s good to remember times like those as well as the peaceful times she had towards the end of her life. I loved just to visit and sit with her, doing the little things she seemed to like – putting on hand cream, brushing her hair, helping her eat a Creme caramel with gusto and just holding her hand as she slept. All precious times and feel good about having been able to go down so often in her last months in particular.

So lots of memories of moments with my mum that feel good just to sit with.

The family difficulties resulting from their ways of dealing with loss continue. Incredibly painful for me but I have just tried to keep going. In pain they have lashed out and excluded. And I just keep going trying to do the best by my dad and youngest sister – and for us the shared grief has brought us closer. Still unresolved with the other two despite my best efforts I just need now to step back and let time continue to pass. The realisation is that not everything can be fixed and may not be ever. That’s not an easy thought.

I’ve read so much about loss and grief and get the why … But it still makes it tough to be at the sharp end of the consequences of how others can deal with theirs. At a time I’d have imagined a pulling in, a strengthening of bonds, it’s been the opposite with them. Just need to be with that.

So time to muse and meditate, time to snooze and peruse books and podcasts, drink great coffee and feel my limbs stretch as I swim. Time to recharge and fill my being with positive energies and nourishment.

Just what I needed.