Slow cooker

Tis the season for cobwebs.

Grief and Loss is an odd thing. I can feel fine then something unexpected sends those emotional waves crashing over me again. Four years ago those waves would be constant. Permanent high tide. These days the waves have largely ebbed with only the occasional rip tide. Because these tides are so unexpected, they really take the breath away.

The other thing is that these days it’s often random things that set me off. Definitely not the usual stuff. Not the kind of thing that I can prepare for. Just like last night.

I was trying to find a packet of microwave rice from the kitchen cupboard. It had clearly fallen off the back of the shelf. As I rummaged I came across a box. An unopened Slow Cooker. My partner must have bought this. I have been using the one I got from my mum’s house when I cleared it out. I now held this unopened kitchen gadget and felt incredibly sad. Those waves started to crash over me.

My partner never got round to using this. She never will…..

Not an old photo. Not a favourite song. Not an old letter. A SLOW COOKER had set me off.

Changes

Definitely it’s a time of change. The season of change. Yesterday was T-shirt and shorts. Today is wet, windy and chilly. 50F probably means the T-shirt season has gone and it’s time for woolly jumpers. Ice Cream replaced with Hot Chocolate.

It’s that time of year.

Four years ago I would have been sat at home looking at the ‘Sincere Condolences’ cards on the mantelpiece. It was a couple of days after my partners funeral. Life was looking bleak. But as the years pass this time of year has increasingly felt like a time of personal change. The end of a period which marked the passing of my partner and mum. A time of sadness moving to thoughts of preparing for winter and all that entails. Thoughts of loss replaced by thoughts of short days and long nights. This year is complicated with our ongoing lockdown which is likely to stretch through the entire cold months. So yes this period of change feels different . Definite change but what? In previous years the next few months brought challenges but also things to look forward to. Concerts, Football Matches, Firework displays, Halloween parties, family meet-ups and meals, Christmas Markets, crisp winter walks and runs. This year these are all none starters. Could that tip the balance of the change. Only time will tell but the change is not yet set in stone. It can still be a positive period but it will need much work.

D

Return

This is the first hill I ever walked up. Walked up it more than any other hill. Roseberry Topping is not a big hill. It’s only 266 ft tall. It sits on the northern edge of North Yorkshire and is a part of the Cleveland Hills. At the top look south and you see beautiful moors. Look north you see an urban sprawl and industry. Those with good eyesight can see where I was born and the sea.

For such a small hill it so loved. Alan Hinkes the first Britain to climb all 14 highest world mountains talks so fondly of this little piece of rock.

“I saw K2 and thought: that is the mountain to do; it’s nearly as impressive as Roseberry Topping”

Here we often refer it as the Yorkshire Matterhorn. Our version of the Swiss Matterhorn.

Our version is certainly not as big. Not as snowy. Not as steep. Not as scary. Not as famous. But it’s certainly way more Yorkshire.

My mum when she was young apparently scrawled her initials in a rock near the top. Many did that. I’ve still not found her carving but I do look every time I visit the hill.

As a teenager it would always feel a little claustrophobic where we lived. A small grey town. On one side the cold dark North Sea. On the other side one of Europe’s biggest chemical and steel works. It often seemed that the rest of the world was blocked off from me. But get on my bike and ride 2 hours through the industry. Suddenly I was at the base of our Matterhorn. 30 minutes later I was on its top and I could breathe. I was finally in a different world. I could experience what it was like to be in The Alps. To be an adventurer. I could think clearly on the top. I could calm the internal storms. I could visualise a better life.

All these years later and I still love this little hill. My hill. I so want to be there right now. I need to be there. 2020 will probably be the first year since I was a wee bairn that I won’t have stood on Roseberry Topping. That’s a sad thought. But it’s patiently waiting for me. Waiting for me to return.

More weather

It’s definitely a weather day. Lots of it. Just had to retrieve our bin from the neighbours garden. Very clever really as the bin had navigated two gates and had happily settled in the wrong back garden. Definitely weather but it will change again.

It’s very like grief.

Sometimes the storms are damaging. They cause disruption and seem to go on for ever. Wave after wave crashing down, adding yet more pressure, that awful feeling of sinking further and further down. But eventually the storm will subside. The weather will change.

That’s what needs to be held on to. The weather will inevitably change, even in Yorkshire.

Tomatoes

Sometimes it’s the little things….

I’ve just started my fifth year on my grief journey. A journey I would must definitely would rather had not started but now I’m on it, well I might as well make the best of it. And that’s what I am trying to do. For several years it was a nightmare. Just awful. But over time things have slowly moved on. Now it’s definitely good weeks and bad days.

I still get so many reminders of the process I am going through. Many of those are repeated experiences but every so often I still find new reminders.

I was checking the garden for things I could harvest for tonight’s meal and I came across these small tomatoes. Then a thought struck me. There was a time when this was not something I would do. Yes I would grow the tomato plants but that was it. My partner loved tomatoes. She would go out every day I see what could be picked and eaten right there and then. Those days have gone and now the ripe fruit sits and waits for me. That thought made me sad. But life has to go on. Hawklad would like a few fresh tomatoes on his plate. He currently doesn’t feel comfortable touching items outside so it’s down to me. Life goes on. Pick some tomatoes, think of my partner then it’s time to get on with living. Time to focus on the here and now. Find happiness in the world around me. It is most definitely there.

Cool

It’s hot in Yorkshire. Very hot for us. 🥵 86F (30C). That’s officially beyond Yorkshire’s Safe Operating Temperature. Law and Order will break down. The Ferrets will start to get unusually frisky. The Rhubard will go on strike. Cricketers might even have to unbutton their top shirt buttons. Those rather fetching knitted handkerchief hats will need to be donned….

In Yorkshire we have two expressions for this type of unusual weather.

It’s Mafting…….

It’s crackin’ t flags ……. translates to – it’s so hot the the paving stones are starting to crack.

It was too hot for my outside weights and kettlebell session. I definitely left a water trail marking out where my exercises took me. A nice run through a cool forest would have been ever so nice. The photo was from August 2019. Seems like a lifetime ago. Almost seems like a different world. A lot of things have changed for the worse. Some new really bad things have hit. Yes some life stuff has remained unchanged. And here is the crucial thing. A few things, some new stuff have definitely been an absolute blessing. It’s so easy to focus on the bad stuff but actually some wonderful things have happened. My Life is better because of those things.

So in 2020 when some days life seems unduly bad, I need to remember the good stuff. Yes life can and still will be tough. BUT it can also still be exceptionally beautiful. It can be a wonderful life.

Ebb

Sunsets just happen. Nothing we can do to influence them. Maybe move to a better position to saviour them.

Loss can come from a range of sources. External factors. From within. The loss of someone special. The loss of something so vital to us. So many potential causes. And so many different roads to travel. Each grief journey is unique.

I’m on my own unique road which I must travel. I’ve come to realise three vital things about my own journey

  • It is possible for me to LIVE AGAIN,
  • It’s just as ok to LAUGH AND LOVE as it is to WEEP AND BE SAD,
  • I’m not alone on this journey.

And one more inevitable fact. Grief is like the tides and the passing of the day. I can’t fight them, I can’t stop them. When they happen I’ve just got to let them wash over me. Experience them. Knowing that they will eventually ebb away.

Take care.

No Rose Show yet

No jokes today. No script. Let’s just see where this takes me.

It’s the very early hours. It’s my partners birthday. Once I’ve finished I will close the iPad for today and hopefully I will see you tomorrow.

These are strange times for all of us. But to be fair it’s been a strange time for our little family since 2016. That’s the year the world stopped and changed for us forever. Those six weeks from hell. We lost my mum and our Son’s beloved little nan on the first day of that period. That day started as a fun birthday for me and finished in heartache. Almost straight after the funeral my partner wasn’t feeling great and went into hospital overnight for routine tests. The next day having come to pick her up, I was taken to one side by the Doctor to tell me that things where bleak. She only had a 5% chance of surviving the month. Zero chance of making it to Christmas. She was deteriorating rapidly and she wasn’t really conscious. The following conversation with an 8 year old will haunt me forever.

She never fully regained consciousness. We had no more conversations. I can’t even remember the last one we had. Three weeks later I was telling the 8 year old his mum was dead. 2016 and those six weeks from hell.

This day in 2016 I had just given my partner a plant, a Yorkshire White Rose. She had always wanted one. I wish I had bought it so many years earlier so she could have enjoyed it. Since then it has always bloomed in time for her birthday. Not this year. The bad winter has set things back. It’s a few weeks behind schedule. But it will get there. It’s a hardy soul. It feels like one of the few life bridges which didn’t break in 2016. A link to a world now gone but certainly not forgotten.

So now I will focus on our Son. Yes there might be a few tears but hopefully if I do my job right then there will also be smiles. Let’s be thankful for those wonderful times. Let’s remember those other times when the world changed. Changed for the better. Our first date. Our first night in the new house. Finding out those pregnancy results. Holding our baby. Our first family family holiday.

Wonderful, loving times.

So that’s it. Take care and remember that this is still a wonderful world. No more words today. See you tomorrow.

The forecast

The weather forecast is saying it’s clear blue sky and no rain today.

The clouds and the showers would beg to differ.

Another inaccurate weather forecast. It’s clearly the forecasters fault that it’s raining …. It always is. I remember going to a Test Match (Cricket) between England and India. It had been a good weather forecast. But it was chucking it down and play was suspended. With perfect timing the main TV weatherman came onto the pitch to do a weather forecast. I’ve never heard anyone get so many boo’s. It was his fault that it was raining.

To be honest we get many incorrect predictions. Leaders saying a pandemic will just go away. Those pension salespeople saying that you will be able to retire at 50. Being told that Betamax and V2000 would be the best video recording formats. No one would be daft enough to vote for Trump or Boris. My Dad saying Status Quo wouldn’t last as they can’t sing or play. Brexit was easy and could be sorted in days. The Sinclair C5 was the vehicle of the future…..

Basically life is to unpredictable. You just never know what will happen. What’s round the corner.

I know this all too well. One day your talking about the next family trip to Switzerland. Discussing trying for a second child or adopting. Then 3 weeks later I’m leaving the crematorium with my partners ashes. A broken single parent. That wasn’t in the forecast or the plans.

We often learn this lesson far too late. I did. Don’t assume there will be a tomorrow. Remember to hug those you love today. Start ticking off those bucket list items, right now. If something special to you is broken, then try and fix it today. Today, speak to those you care for. Make sure you live today.

Lecture over…. And yes it’s still raining here. I blame it on the weather forecaster.

New Style

Some objects look spectacular and then you have me……

“Dad the lockdown means that it doesn’t matter what you look like. We have seen one person in 7 weeks. No one is going to see you. Which in your case today is a real bonus.”

Last night was spent listening to songs from the Stranglers and Bad Company. On Tuesday the music world lost Dave Greenfield the brilliant Stranglers keyboard player to this dreadful virus. Only a few months back we had seen him so full of life and at the height of his form playing in Leeds.

Then yesterday Brian Howe the wonderful Bad Company vocalist was lost to a heart attack. I only got the chance to see him once. A night I will never forget. It was the night my dad died. So yes I listened to some music. Music with mixed emotions. But thankfully most of my thoughts stayed on legacy. Focusing on what those two fine musicians had contributed to my musical journey.

As we all know – life has to go on. The world keeps turning. Got to keep listening to the music. Often music and life are intertwined.

So why was I looking so beautiful this morning, so deserving of that comment from our Son. I had been sneakily trying to regrow my beard. Hoping Son wouldn’t notice. Well it was spotted and I was ordered to shave. I did a beautiful job shaving the left side of my face. Then abruptly the electric razor stopped working. It went bang. So now I’m left with half a beard and half a moustache until a new shaver arrives on Monday. Strangely I can’t remember that look ever catching on.

Well if someone comes to the door you will just have to stand side on Dad. You can decide if you go for the beard look or the shaved look. It’s your call. You could even try and confuse them. Every time they look away, turn to the other side.”

Never thought I would be such a trend setter….