Where are the cobwebs

Autumn is definitely here. The flowers have gone. Many of the trees are bare. The leaves that remain have increasingly turned vivid red. My partner loved this time. She would find any excuse to spend time outside. Just looking at the colours. Today looking at the reds in the garden I have purpose. These eyes are looking for her as well. I try to spend an extra minute. Spending as much time as she would.

Before the world changed my partner would be fixated on the colours but I would have other things on my mind. Cobwebs. I love Autumn for the intricate and beautiful cobwebs which begin to take over our world. The young spiders have had all summer to grow. It’s also a time when spiders are out looking for mates. AND the weather and the dampness are perfect for adding to the cobwebs drama.

The weather is perfect but for some reason the cobwebs are largely missing. Still no abundant arachnid display. Maybe next week. Then we can be both happy. But at least this weekend we did get one cobweb. Hopefully it’s the start of Autumn becoming complete.

Crazy dreams

Dreams and memories are a vital part of life. After my partner died memories became my essential comfort blanket – something which kept me going. Three years later they are just as important to my soul. The occasional forgotten photograph find rekindle long forgotten life snapshots.

Dreams come in three forms for me. Those dreams of a future life, memories and those dreams which come during those all too brief periods of sleep. My future life dreams died when my partner left us. All I see is darkness. My job is to give our son the best possible childhood. After that nothing. It’s something I’ve heard from others in a similar position to me – I live through my son.

After the world changed my night dreams became a weird bizarre place. Reality completely warped. But increasingly the dreams became memory driven. Accurate replays of precious moments. This brought great solace with a few tearful mornings. But recently things have changed. Suddenly the night dreams are actual memory based but morphed in some important and strange way.

A lovely visit family trip to Edinburgh Zoo to see the Pandas. But in the dream the family trip becomes a trip round Jurassic Park world. All the actual incidents but with a dinosaur flavour.

A trip to the Royal Ascot Racing Festival held for one year at York. The Queen riding past us. 2005. Yet in the dreams it’s not Horse Racing. Sometimes it’s Dragster Racing. Sometimes it’s donkey racing. YES I get these strange morphed dreams repeatedly.

A family trip to the beach. It’s cold so it’s double jumpers. Ice cream and hot doughnuts. Yet on the first sandcastle we strike oil. Oil gushes out of the beach.

A romantic meal. Days filled of love and smiles. Yet the fine food is replaced with bugs and slugs and grubs.

A hand in hand walk round York’s Roman Walls. But instead of lovely views of York and it’s stunning Minster we see Paris on side and Nepal on the other side.

A New Years Eve Blues Brothers Themed Night replaced with a WWE wrestling night.

I could go on. So many odd dreams. I’m not a clever man so I’m not going to venture into Descartes territory. I suspect the reasons may not be that fundamental. But the bottom line is that I want my precious original sleep dreams back. Often they are all that remain of a better place. I like a bit of craziness but not here please.

Change

When grief comes calling your life changes. It changes almost everything. Your concept of time. Your priorities. Your dreams. You hobbies, Your finances. Your sleep. Your diet. Your confidence. Your mood. Your lifestyle. Your social life. Even the food you have in the fridge. It’s complete upheaval and your life will never be the same.

Almost everything. Grief doesn’t change three key things.

The world – it just keeps spinning, the world continues without blinking an eyelid at your personal tragedy.

BUT

Grief doesn’t change your love. Your special person may have left this world but you still love them dearly. More than ever

Grief doesn’t change your memories. They will be your special gift forever.

Dark Day

“Death ends a life not a relationship” – Mitch Albom

“If there ever comes a day where we can’t be together, keep me in your heart. I will stay there forever.” – A A Milne

It’s been a dark day for many people today. A dark day here. No more words today let some photographs say the rest.

That play

We had set our hearts on a trip out. Son wanted to go for a walk round a quiet lake. I wanted sea air to cleanse my soul. I was born near the sea and it has great healing properties. But the weather was grim. Too grim. So a change of plan.

Plan B. We needed a few smiles this morning so off we set to the cinema to see the new Horrible Histories movie. Maybe not quite as funny as Bill but it was a really good film. Yes it brought many smiles.

As the rain lashed down on the drive back home it was decided to just have an afternoon of movie watching.

Dad let’s watch Bill when we get home.

So it was a TV lunch. Jacket Potatoes and a super funny take on Shakespeare. It’s amazing how a couple of funny films can lift the spirits. Makes you forget your own reality. It’s a most odd feeling these days. That feeling of laughing. So as Bill finished I wondered what comedy classic our son would pick next. Monty Python? Paddington? Ice Age? Spongebob?

I’ve decided Dad. Can you check if you can find XXXXXXXX for free. Always fancied watching it.

So 20 minutes later we are watching another movie. MacBeth staring Michael Fassbender. Yes not the happiest movie. A bit short on laughs. One of those films which is just so bleak that it forces you to put on the thickest jumper you can find. Even the steaming hot coffees fail to warm my bones. It’s gory, it’s dark, the music is brooding, the imagery is stunning. Not quite the family movie I had set my heart on but I suspect William Shakespeare would have loved what his words had become.

It’s strange how something so bleak can help you forget your reality as well. My mum would always say she would play sad songs to cheer herself up. I understand that now.

Real

There is a scene at the end of the third Hobbit movie where Tauriel pleads after the death of her love

Why does it hurt so much?

With the telling response from Thranduil

Because it was real.

This is a bit of movie padding as it’s not from the book. Tauriel is not even in the book. So it’s not canon. But frankly I don’t care. It’s a rather fine movie and the sentiment can’t be faulted. It is hauntingly true.

Before 2016 I never noticed this movie exchange. Now it never fails to get to me. How often do you experience real love and yet it passes you by. You seem to miss living in the moment. Take things for granted. Assume you have time. Plenty of time to get round to the important stuff after you have ticked off the mundane tasks. The tasks expected of you. In reality you may have little time. Putting love off proves to be little more than a foolish role of the dice. A gamble where the debt can never be paid off. Suddenly when it’s ripped away from your grasp love becomes so vivid, so obvious ,so painful. Yes it’s real but now it’s not just a memory. Your moment has gone.

It’s a stabbing pain. A pain etched in memories. I have a few particular memories which are like the most vivid photographs ever. All real and all so painful. Yes painful but they are about love. Real love. One is from a Swiss trip before our son was born. We were on a boat on Lake Thun. I had gone outside to take a photo. The image is me looking through the window and seeing my partner smiling back at me. Every time I see that memory a bit more of my soul dies.

Why does it hurt so much.

Because it was real.

Me Me Me

Blue skies have been a rarity over the last couple of weeks. Strangely this photo is a few weeks old. Can’t remember the last time I had to water the tomato plants. If anything it’s more about trying to stop them drowning in the rain water. The mad dog is currently sat looking out through the back door. Yet when I open it for him he just continues to sit and seems to shrug – if you think I’m going out in that you have another thing coming. Other areas of the county have seen bridges swept away and a Dam almost breached. Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago I was talking about Yorkshire and temperatures in the 90s. Strange old summer.

We have largely been cut off from the outside world this holiday. The occasional and extremely brief trip to the shop but son has stayed in the car. Trip to a castle but at a time (and with the poor weather) that it would be largely empty. We are thinking about a trip to another castle, a zoo and hill walk – but these will be scheduled at the quietest times possible. This is how our son likes it.

But it does have a downside. Next month son will return to school. Small site with over 800 kids and adults. Its just not a natural environment for someone with Aspergers. It doesn’t help that within a few days of school opening it’s the anniversary of his mums death. It not easy for anyone but no kid should have to go through that.

Soon we will need to start the process of getting him as ready as possible for that dreaded return. We will have a few visits to the school. A word with the caretaker will allow a walk round the empty corridors. But that just won’t prepare him for so much noise, so many faces. So we are going to have to visit a few busy places. A couple of trips to a Supermarket. Maybe a visit to a popular museum – York’s Train Museum. It’s a balancing act trying to acclimatise yet not trying to unnecessarily spook him.

The other part to this is ME. It’s about trying to get ME used to people again. It really doesn’t come naturally to ME. Just look at that it’s all ME ME ME with me. I blame it on the rain.

Current mood – Dampish….

Ok

Ok is just one of those words. As a kid our headteacher would give you an automatic detention for saying it. It was a banned word along with Punk, Booze, Ciggy, Damm, T**t, F*** ………. I think it was not seen as proper English. Strange as it was a school in Yorkshire and we could say words like Wazak, Jiggered and Chuffin Heck.

Now I have a problem with ok. It’s a twofold issue

  • It’s too easy when someone asks how you are to just say “OK”. It almost becomes automatic. What does it mean really.
  • When I ask after somebody’s wellbeing I often say “Are you Ok” or “Hope your Ok”.

Hope your ok…..

The more I think about it the worse that sounds. First of all are you ok. It sounds like I’m hoping someone is basically average, somewhere between wonderful and sh**e. It’s hardly the same as saying are you great, spectacular or wonderful. Basically setting a pretty low expectations bar. Don’t get me wrong we all feel just average somedays. It’s not as good as being happy but way better than being like sh*t. It would be nice if we were all happy some of the time.

Are you ok…..

You are often talking with people who have suffered or are suffering so much pain. Depression, Grief, Loneliness, Despair, Hardship, Physical Pain. Are you ok sounds such a trite way of asking after someone’s wellbeing. Well of course they are not OK.

It’s just a personal thing but I am going to try and find more suitable alternatives to Ok. Maybe they don’t always exist but it’s worth a try. Recently when people have asked how I am I’ve started trying to say Distinctly Average rather than ok. It’s actually feels like a good summary of my usual mood. It certainly feels a more meaningful response than OK. But I will definitely promise that when someone does take the time to ask how I feel I will be honest. Hopefully no more bland OKs.

Asking after someone’s wellbeing is proving more difficult. It’s definitely still a work in progress. Maybe How are you doing is the way to go. What about How are you feeling. Actually it’s probably the follow up question which is the key. We shall see. I’m going to have a good ponder about this. I hope that’s ok with you.

Ricky

Meet Ricky the newest member of the gang. He’s made an appearance before when he started burying his nuts in the lawn over winter. But now he has started coming for his lunch. Happily feasting next to the birds. He (or she) will be a welcome friendly face going forward.

We are just over a week from the start of the summer holidays. Six weeks of immersing myself in our son’s world. It truly is a privilege. A wonderful mind trip. Happy parent.

I bumped into a parent from his current school. They have the holiday mapped out. Immediately they break up they are going to a music festival for the first weekend. Then the kid is going on a football course for the first week. Then they fly out for a two week beach holiday in a popular Spanish resort. They come back and then the kid is off camping with the scouts. A couple of trips to fun parks and family barbecues are then followed by a family week in Paris Disney.

Asperger/Autism summer holidays can be very different to this. Ours is. For a start we are limited by finances. Our summer holidays are long periods of house lockdowns briefly punctuated with carefully selected trips to places without crowds. This means early day trips to places like Zoos – trying to cram as much in as soon the venue opens and leaving as soon as the crowds start to build. For his favourite zoo that means arriving at 9am and probably leaving around 10.30am. Trips to the cinema will be to the 8.30am screenings. Locations will be carefully planned so that he feels comfortable there. Walks will be in very remote and largely unvisited areas.

A trip to Switzerland would have been an option (he is comfortable there and the journey is familiar having done it a few times) but we just can’t afford it. Plus he is more comfortable going during quieter periods – April/October. And we haven’t tried it since his mum left us – will it ever feel the same.

So our summer holidays will be quiet and largely cut off from the outside world. That would worry me in the past. The real danger of becoming increasingly introverted over those weeks and losing any social confidence which I had struggled to build up. This year it doesn’t really bother me. Yes I might become more introverted but its not as if I have a full social diary. Introversion and isolation is the new me. I can focus on our son and see what adventures we can weave – I’m sure Ricky will play some part as well.

By itself

“Dad just seen on YouTube that when we see Kiss the support act is a Professional Performance Painter. Bet you haven’t seen many of those.”

No not something Yorkshire is really blessed with.

I bet he will paint the band. Bit of a missed opportunity really. In 45 minutes he could finish off my bedroom.”

Ok it potentially wasn’t the greatest painting job ever. Yes a little rough round the edges and the wrong colour. But apart from that it was alright. As my Dad would say – a man on a galloping horse couldn’t tell it was a bad job.

If the Performance Painter can’t do the show maybe you could step in. You could become a Professional Performance Baker. I use the Professional name very loosely. They would need a team of firefighters on stage just in case.”

Maybe I could be a Professional Performance Hairdresser and I could get stuck into your hair. Today it resembles a hay bale.

I walk by that hail bale in the photograph virtually every day. One side of the path has two lines of bales neatly lined up. On the other side of the path just this one rather lonely bale. I would like to know its story – why is it apart from the others. Maybe one day I will bump into the farmer. Anyway it’s a fine bale and I give it a friendly pat on every pass.

A few yards further along the path I bumped into a woman coming the other way. Apart from my son it was the first friendly face to face conversation I have had in a long while. Unusually I wasn’t lost for words or tongue tied. It was nice to chat and have a smile. It’s been a long time. Just like the bale. Been isolated for months. Bit frayed round the edges. Soggy in the middle.

Maybe that’s it. I could become a Professional Performance Hay Bale. Certainly a niche.