Archive for March, 2010

What’s it all about Alfie?

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Those of you of a certain generation might remember Cilla Black singing Burt Bacharach’s lyrics, asking this immortal question “What’s it all about?”   Now I won’t claim ever to have been so arrogant as to have the an answer to this, but I did have a working hypothesis that worked for me.  I was the kind of person that people tended to ask this kind of question to.  No life is ever perfect, we all have our niggles and worries, but mine worked pretty well.  I lived somewhere I loved, with people I loved, doing a job I love.  I have always had a pretty upbeat attitude to life.  If life was a game of cards, I was happy to stand pat on my hand.

Then 7 weeks ago, the rug was pulled out from under us all when Carys died.  Since then we have all struggled to reorient to our new world, to find new roles and behaviours.  We have done an amazing job of all this, but imagine a team of climbers going up Everest… we were still cold, tired, frightened and wishing we didn’t have to climb anymore!  Then about 10 days ago I was rushed into hospital (the same one!)  They told me that I can’t drive till I see a specialist in a few months time.  So suddenly they have taken away our climbing gear and parkas, and the mountain is a far colder, scarier place.  I have been deprived of one of the key tools for reconstructing my life, my ability to move around.

It is harder and harder to answer the question “What’s it all about?”  If we were having an intellectual debate I could address this well enough, but that no longer satisfies the inner me.  I know sometimes you have to just let time do its work.  I know most of things you can think of saying now…. and guess what?  It makes no difference!

Still as travellers, we never know what is around the next bend, and in the same way we can be ambushed by Life, it can also surprize and delight us…  here’s hoping!

“Life is just a chance to grow a soul.”  A. Powell Davies

“Life is rather like a tin of sardines – we’re all of us looking for the key.”  Alan Bennett

Oops.. back to the hospital again!

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

We were having a quite day at home and I was doing a few gentle things in the garden. I’d just lit the bonfire and the next thing I knew there was an ambulance man in my lounge! Apparently I’d had a seizure and collapsed. No 2 daughter took charge brilliantly and they arrived in 5 minutes.

I’m being kept in overnight after having had a CT scan. My kids are terrified; I feel awful for putting them through this. Hopefully home tomorrow.

Ain’t life wonderful!?!

All hands to the pumps

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

So today saw me jet-washing the patio.  Then I heard a mower going and discovered my son was mowing the lawns.  I went in to find No 1 daughter cleaning the kitchen.  Later in the day, No 2 daughter came in apologising for having over-spent our budget on shopping.  I wasn’t concerned about the minor over-spend but was thrilled and impressed by her taking responsibility for managing this for us in this way.

It is fantastic to see them all each taking charge of various aspects of keeping house and all pulling together.  I guess we must have done something right…

Carys last journey

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Today we scattered Carys ashes.  We went to a place which is one of my favourite walks, with a view t20 miles to both the North & South Downs.  As we walked there, I was very aware of carrying her there.  That weight spoke volumes. 

It is such a beautiful place, the birds were singing and the sun was shining.  For us it was rather poignant, it did seem to be something rather final.

As we walked away the sky turned black, and it started to rain as we left…

A difficult time

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

We are approaching a tough period soon.  On Sunday it is Mothers day, followed eight days later by our anniversary, then the following week it is her birthday.  Nothing like laying it on with a trowel is there?  I have no idea how we will handle this or what we will do on those days. Do you try to remember or run from those very memories?  I don’t think any of us know yet.  The thing I notice is that you can be going through your day quite normally then suddenly, for no apparent reason, you fall into a pit.  You can be feel fine one minute then the next the journey down the hall seems like a marathon.

I think we are doing incredibly well, but it is a bit like having been swept overboard and having no choice but to keep swimming…

There is no map

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

I don’t know if this is a common experience but for me, when relationships got serious I always wondered how you were meant to feel; what scale you were supposed to measure these feelings against; how you could know if they were real etc.  Now we are off the charts again.  Yesterday a concerned friend called and seemed a little worried by the level of ‘normality’ or rationality that he was hearing.   I could understand what he was thinking and appreciated his care.  However, this is a lonely journey and there is no path; I’m not even sure if there is a destination… maybe there is only the journey.

I’ve always been a ‘live in the moment’ kinda guy and in this now you feel what you feel or don’t feel and experience that and then move on.  It is rather like eating a meal, you take a mouthful, taste it, chew it and swallow, then next!  Also, I discovered when my dad died recently that, to my surprise, I didn’t really feel any differently about him, or have a different relationship with him, despite the fact that he was now no longer able to be an active part of it.  I’m not sure that as I sit here in a quite house on a frosty Sunday morning, with the cat curled up next to me that I feel particularly different.  I have no idea if this is a grace or a problem.  It just is.  Life goes on…

Me and Mick Jagger

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

This morning was another first.  My first empty house, my first Saturday breakfast in an empty kitchen.  Middle daughter is off with her boyfriend, senior daughter travelling back to visit friends and son acting as taxi driver for her.  So there I was, a slice of toast, fresh coffee and juice, talking to myself and then I found myself singing “You can’t always get what you want..”   The odd thing is the house didn’t really feel empty, and you may feel this is a sad little picture, it really didn’t feel that way.  I’ve always loved this song, and maybe it is true.

Tonight, I find myself for the first time in 25 years cooking for friends on a Saturday night, so picture me in my piny cooking up  Keralan fish curry followed by Prosecco & raspberry jelly, and maybe I’ll be singing a tune or two…

Broken hearted

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

I bought Carys a rather lovely, rather expensive glass key ring that contained a silver heart.  I’ve been driving her car recently and the other day, it fell onto our wooden floor… and shattered!  Sometimes it is hard not to feel that Life has a sick sense of humour…

So where are we now?

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Unbelievably, it is almost a month now since the event that rocked our world to its foundations.  Some say “You don’t know what you have till it is gone” but this wasn’t true for us, but that isn’t to say that you can in anyway guess what life will be like once they are gone. 

So far we have:-

  • Done about 80% or so of the paperwork that this kind of thing imposes one you
  • Got my daughter back to Uni, and me back to work (I even did my VAT return on time!)
  • Designed and executed the most lovely memorial service
  • Kept the house clean and tidy
  • Done the charity shop shop runs
  • Looked after each other
  • Laughed at bad-taste bleak jokes
  • Even done many of those 101 little jobs that never got done like having the cat spayed and phones changed over!

People have been lovely and today a friend from Holland ‘saw’ me on Skype and called to see how I was.  Support has come from many unexpected quarters.  I was unsure about going into ‘print’ about all this and how it would be received, but it appears there a people out there that are getting something from these blogs and ask for updates.

However, when you emerge from under this mountain of stuff there are still unexpected tears, still that gut-wrenching feeling, still that little voice telling you that someone must have made a small mistake and she will be back…  And the rest is a strange mix; a blank sheet of paper, an empty cave, and all the joys and wonders that living offers…

Getting back to normal (whatever that means!)

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

So it is now 3 weeks since it happened; it has been a whirlwind of doing and organising, interspersed with a whole load of sitting around in a state of semi-collapse.  This week was back to college for daughter no2, and my first day back to work too.  I’m still busy in the ‘business of death’ with form-filling and valuations and running around delivering and collecting things.  All the time you are busy things seem strangely normal, then you come across a scrap of paper with some hand written note on it or a book that is half read and you feel that nothing will be normal ever again! 

On any objective scale we are all doing remarkably well, but in the this inner landscape that really butters very few parsnips!