Terry

A while back I started talking about my two favourite authors. The first was Carl Sagan and now it’s time for the second. Many guessed correctly.

The wonderful and sadly missed Terry Pratchett.

Back in 1983 my mum bought me a book for Christmas. She would always buy me a book as a present. I had no idea who Terry was. Mum had heard him on the TV and thought maybe I would like his new book. I loved it….. He became my favourite author.

That was it. A tradition. Every new Terry book would be given to me at either Christmas or on my Birthday. She never missed a release. Apart from one. His last book. She never got round to buying that one, she would have if she had more time.

The Shepherds Crown was a tough read. Memories of mum and Terry. I decided to not read the last page. I can still say I’ve still not finished reading all his books….

Terry now has his own international day. April 28th. Let’s indulge in a bit of Pratchett wisdom a bit earlier than that.

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they haven’t forgotten this.

Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.

Evil begins when you start to treat people as things.

Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.

And what would humans be without love? RARE said Death.

If cats looked like frogs we’d realise what nasty, cruel little b*****s they are.

Always be wary of any helpful little item that weighs less than its operating manual.

The enemy isn’t men, or women, it’s bloody stupid people and no one has the right to be stupid.

The presence of those seeking truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they have found it.

So much universe and so little time.

Different

Who are you looking at

I’ve always felt like the black sheep in the family. The odd one out amongst my siblings. The youngest by a decade. My brother and sisters had partied together and flown the nest while I was still at school. The tallest. The only shy one. The only one with a stammer as a kid. The only one who went to college and university. The only one you got letters after his name (M.U.P.P.E.T). The only one who never got married (huge mistake). The only bereaved one. The only single parent. The only blogger. The only vegetarian. The only one who has given up alcohol. The only one who is gluten free. The only runner. The only climber. The only one learning a second language. The only one who has visited mums grave. The only Asperger Parent. The only Newcastle United supporter. The only one without a middle name. The only one whose first name doesn’t start with a P. The only one how formed a close link with a Quaker family. The only religious one.

I could go on. Hopefully you get the picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my brother and sisters. We are close. Close but we don’t see each other much. Mum was always the centre. The gravitational pull that kept the various differing orbits from spinning away. I will see one sister every few months. Another one maybe a couple of times a year. Brother and the other sister maybe once in several years. An occasional phone call or text maintain a link. But since mum left we are slowly spinning apart.

So yes I do feel a little bit like the odd one out. That’s where friends come in. They get me. They make me feel not different. They make me feel whole again. Thank you ❤️

I will leave the final words to my departed partner. We were spending a night in London before we caught the first train to France. Off on our first holiday together. That was back in 2000. We were in a quiet but very full pub in Kings Cross. After a large lager my partner asked about my dieting life choice. In a voice which echoed round the pub. “Are you the only VEGETABLE in your family…”

Yes I probably am….

Remember

Sadly I won’t be able to visit here today. Its 50 miles away and currently just so out of reach. My mind will wander there today. Not for too long as my mother would give me a stern talking-to for fussing too much. So I will make myself a cup of tea and take a few moments to remember some mum memories.

  • Her famous meat and two vegetables Sunday lunches. She even amended that to Quorn and two vegetables for an awkward son. Followed by the best ever apple crumble and custard.
  • How she would call everyone (including the pets) Pidge so that she never forgot a name. You knew you were in trouble when she called you by your real name,
  • Going to her house and hearing Sinatra or Cash singing as you went through the door,
  • Walking into her living room and her first words being, Do you want a cup of tea and a biscuit,
  • Sat on a plane at Heathrow Airport with her and she started eating toffees to stop her ears popping. She finished all three packets of sweets before the plane had even started taxiing. And yes her ears popped,
  • The day she went into a small shop for a paper and she ended up being smiled at by one of Europe’s best footballers, who had come in for a prematch chocolate bar,
  • Every year asking me to put a 10p bet on the big horse race. I never told her that I always made the bet up to a £1,
  • Her refusing to be called Granny or Great Granny, so she became little Nan,
  • Every time I would take Hawklad round to see Little Nan on a Sunday and she would somehow have managed to find another Mr Men book which he had never read,
  • Mum with my oldest sister running out of the Dracula museum in a fit of giggles when a man dressed up as the Prince of Darkness had unexpectedly appeared behind them,
  • On a morning finding various little garden birds stood patiently in her kitchen waiting to be fed.

And so many more memories from a truly wonderful mum. So it’s time for a cup of tea and a biscuit. Time to remember. Days like this that photographs from so many years ago become treasures.

Mum

Hopefully a sign of some slightly better weather. It was so cold yesterday afternoon that when we went outside for a talk, I had to dig out my winter down jacket. It’s supposed to be the height of summer. But our current weather patterns are mixed up. They have been for a few years now……. One day our leaders might notice this.

Dad you have never really been a beard person have you?”

No when I was in my twenties I did experiment with a moustache. Managed to get the nickname Goochy from that. But it was quickly ditched. Didn’t help that it was jet black apart from from little strip which bizarrely went ginger…..

But you have started having a beard now”

Well not exactly. A few dabbles with what I like to call a fashionable bit of designer stubble. Makes me look rugged……. trying to not laugh……

“So why did you start doing it. You never had one with my mum did you?”

No, never. But it wasn’t anything to do with your mum. She quite liked them. It was your Little Nan (my mum)!!!! She didn’t like them. She had a firm no to beards, no to moustaches policy for her youngest son. That policy was NEVER dropped. Even when I was well past childhood years and living independently, you would here the quiet but stern words “Gary you will be having a shave today, won’t you….”. Using my actual name was always a sign of trouble ahead. Only one response allowed. YES.

So Dad how did you manage to grow a moustache then?”

I was living 350 miles away in Portsmouth. It was shaved off the morning I was due to visit her…… She never knew.

Mums always know best…..

Hill

This is at the maximum zoom on my old digital camera. Probably takes about 30 minutes to drive here. It’s called Garrowby Hill. It is the highest point of the Yorkshire Wolds and is just over 800ft above sea level. It’s supposed to be a lovely view from the top but in all the years we have never stopped here. Surprising given the number of times we have driven past it.

We are now moving close to THOSE six weeks. Starts on my birthday, the day my mum left us and then 6 weeks later ends when my partner left this world. That was some 6 weeks in 2016. But it’s a bittersweet time as those 6 weeks usually make the start and end of the school summer holidays as well. A time when son is free of the trials of education. A chance to be free and a kid again.

Well let’s concentrate on the free and kid bit. That’s this years plan anyway. Yes recall good memories but try to remember it’s 2020. Not 2016. I guess a bit like Garrowby Hill. We can see it but it doesn’t mean we have to go and stop there. So yes 2016 will always be there but we don’t have to stop there.

Names

This little thing lives in our roof. Currently he or she is unnamed….

I’ve had a few names over the years and not just the obvious one.

  • A really good friend labelled me Superdad,
  • Bagpuss – goalkeeping related,
  • TJHooker – golf related,
  • Goochie – bad early 20s moustache related,
  • Dr Banner – I had a habit of the red mist setting in when playing rugby and also when trying to unwrap one of those cd cellophane wrappings,
  • Harry Potters Dad – apparently I looked like him,
  • Veggie – diet related,
  • Hippy – diet related,
  • Gareth – no idea why,
  • Viking – I was the only Northerner in a cricket team based in the South of England,
  • Pidge – mum called everyone Pidge so she didn’t need to remember names,
  • Geordie – because of the so called football team I support,
  • Columbus – due to my appalling navigation skills when climbing,
  • And a few others which are unrepeatable……

And let’s not forget BereavedsingleDad. Here’s the funny thing about that one. It was a mistake. When I suddenly decided to set up a blog those three years back I hadn’t thought about silly details like a blog name. I filled out a box which I thought was for a user name – just something I used when logging in. It was the first thing that came into my mind when I was trying to think of something which didn’t include my real name. Rather taken by surprise when suddenly it was displayed as the blog name. Never got round to changing it. Maybe one day.

So I guess it’s time to name the bird. Now what shall it be….

Pathway

The gap between the hedge and the Apple tree has basically disappeared. All this enforced time at home and somebody has been neglecting the garden. Unbelievable. But I quite like the results. Often it’s best to let nature takes its own course. So much easier that way as well…..

Every second Wednesday is becoming a right bind. Our bins are emptied every two weeks. This includes the garden waste bin. So when it comes to the day of putting out the bins I get that sinking feeling. Please let the green bin (now a brown bin for some reason) be at least half full. When I open the lid, I want to see plenty of grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and pulled up weeds. I want that feeling of elation that comes from two weeks worth of gardening. So I can close the bin lid and wheel it out onto the road. A job well done.

That’s the theory.

In practice I open the bin lid to find its completely empty. Oh big pants. Now I feel bad. I clearly have been wearing my laziest big pants. The inner shame drives me to fill the bin before the refuse wagon arrives. This being Yorkshire means a mad couple of hours gardening in driving rain and hail. That regular routine was repeated this morning. While I’m fighting the gardening elements I can hear my Mums words echoing around my exceedingly wet head. You just need to do 10 minutes a day of weeding and you get the perfect garden without breaking your back. One day I will follow this sage advice.

So the bin was filled. It was wheeled out onto the road and it felt like that was the gardening done for another two weeks. See I never learn.

Not finishing

Every few weeks this rose blooms and every three months we get a large envelope

One thing life doesn’t prepare you for is dealing with the admin side of bereavement. It’s a seemingly never ending slog. Trying to wade through treacle. Form after form. Call after call. Ever decreasing life circles of bank, utility firms and lawyers. Eventually you end up losing the will to live. Which is rather ironic when you think about it. But finally you just about get there. Most of the stuff is sorted. Yes there are a few loose ends but they can either wait or just be left dangling there.

One of those dangling things here is the regular large envelope. An envelope still addressed to my partner.

When she was much younger, my partners parents bought her a life time membership to a national heritage trust. The type of thing which gives you free access to many sites across the country. If you can afford the one-off lump sum they are a great idea. Unfortunately not a great idea if you die young. No argument here as the condition is crystal clear

Rights and benefits shall cease on death and no refund shall be made….

So I really should have phoned up and started the process of cancelling the membership. I can’t transfer it to our Son. But then a thought. Ok Son won’t be able to use it to get into any places for free. But every three months they send out a magazine all about history and nature. Every year they send out a members handbook listing many of the countries best sites and a comprehensive list of what’s on for the year. That’s something. Son will get some some benefit from his mum’s membership. So we are leaving this one dangling. Once the large envelope makes it out of the week long garage quarantine then son will get a free history magazine. Curtesy of his mum and his grandparents. Which is so nice.

Yes not finishing a job is sometimes the best strategy.

Judging yourself through your grief

I am so thrilled that Katie and Evee have been so kind enough to write another post for me. I know from all the comments that the last one they penned was so loved. Please checkout their blog (The Grief Reality), it’s such a wonderful source of love, human spirit and hope. You might also come across another post from me there today as well.

I know how tough this post would have been to write for them. I have been feeling similar emotions about my Partner as well. They set these out so beautifully.

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Mum was always so protective of her daughters. If we came home from school crying about being bullied, she’d be straight on the phone to the headteacher even if we begged her to just forget it. She said her fierce protection was something we’d only understand when we became mothers ourselves – perhaps that is true. 

 

However, as time went on and we understood our mum’s growing fragility, we too stepped into a more protective role, that perhaps only children in our position would understand – we don’t know for sure. Eventually, simple things such as birthday parties became hazardous as they opened the risk of Mum becoming neutropenic with her compromised immune system. 

 

We miss our mum every single day and there is so much we have not been able to share with her over the last 18 months. Yet, with the current world events that are unravelling, quietly, we have both admitted to thinking “Thank goodness Mummy isn’t here to see this”. For the pair of us, this thought hasimmediately been silenced by shock, guilt and self-judgement: “I can’t believe I just thought that”. And it took a while for both of us to open up to one another to talk about this guilt. We were afraid to voice this utterly shocking feeling; about someone you physically ache to see again.

 

The fact that we can miss someone so much, but not want them to be here to bear witness to all the wrong in the world, is an unexplainable feeling. When we were early on in our grief, we thought it unthinkable when a counsellor told us we will one day consider that our mum is ‘safe’.

 

Well, we guess we are finally there. Mum cannot be touched or hurt anymore; and she is more protected than we could ever make her. We thank goodness that our mum is safe now and she does not need to worry about delayed chemotherapy treatment due to Corona Virus, or what we’d do if she needs to go into hospital. 

 

It is a conflicting emotion for us as this fear no longer lingersabove us. Yet, we still cry for the families who are living through it. 

 

Underneath everything, we know, no matter how far we come, all we will ever want is a cuddle from our mum, to be told this will all pass, and we will be okay. Isn’t that all anyone ever wants?

 

Go gently, 

 

Katie & Evee

Bush and Time

Every year around August I think about either digging this plant out or really cutting it back. But I always decide not to. Basically too much like hard work. So it stays and has slowly taken over a corner of the garden.

And every April I’m so thankful I left it alone as the mass of yellow is just stunning.

So yes some decisions have unintended wonderful consequences. But not all.

Putting off getting married for a few more years so we could focus on Son was done for the right reasons but then time ran out…. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Putting off trying for another child …… Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Putting off going as a family to New Zealand, Canada and Chile ……. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Leaving for another month fixing the hand held video camera and transferring those films of our Son’s first steps to video so my partner could properly see them ……… Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

Leaving to next week (and the week after) those really important questions I always wanted to ask my mum …….. Time wasn’t supposed to run out.

I can see a bit of a theme developing here. I’ve probably filled my time with too much unimportant stuff. Spent too much time worrying and overthinking issues – many of those I could actually do nothing about. Not focused on the important stuff. Not appreciated how precious and unpredictable TIME is. I have not seized the moment.

Hopefully I have learnt this lesson but I suspect that won’t apply to chopping down the beautiful bush.