Valentines Day

Looking back at last year, two days were particularly bleak for me. Those were my partners birthday and Valentines Day. Fast forward into 2018 and Valentines Day is looming. It’s still a week to go but it’s everywhere. The shops are full of Valentines cards, flowers and gifts. The TV and Radio is just wall to wall Valentines Day adverts. Even my e-mail account is filling up with helpful reminders from companies imploring me to not forget to buy my loved one the perfect red rose or the perfect gift.

“Don’t forget to buy your loved one this indulgent….”

“The perfect gift this Valentines for the one you love…”

“Give the gift of memories…”

“Love is in the air…”


Every day I grieve. Even on the good days I still get moments of desolation. What is certainly not helping is the constant Valentines advertising bombardment. Yes I want to remember her, but on my own terms.

So as part of my survival strategy I am tomorrow

  • Filtering out any email referencing the V word, the junk folder is going to get a hammering
  • At the first sign of any advert break , the TV/radio will either be turned off or I shall leave the room to make a coffee
  • I am also going to lock away any cd I find which features the Clapton track “Tears in Heaven”.


It’s funny you live with someone for 18 years and you realise sometimes how little you know about them.

A while back me and my son barricaded the doors and closed out the world for a few days. During that splendid isolation I started to grow my first ever beard. I’ve got no idea how my late partner would have reacted to it. Beards never really came up in our chats.

I think secretly I hoped that the facial hair would transform my Homer Simpson looks into something more resembling George Clooney. Fat chance!

Still one person did say it made me look a bit like the great actor Brian Blessed. That’s a distinct improvement, so the beard stays for a while longer.


I remember many years ago my mum would always cut my hair. I think it wasn’t until I left home that I ever visited a hairdresser for the first time. Looking at the old photographs, my mum did a pretty decent job – always a bowl cut. I also remember my dad always telling me not to worry about my cut hair as “it grows back in a day and a passing man on a horse couldn’t tell the difference between a good cut and a shocker”. That was a dad who was follicly challenged, with really poor eyesight and certainly someone who had never been on a horse.

Now wind on the years and scissor duties have been passed onto me. It’s another parenting duty I can’t remember signing up for and certainly something I’ve never been shown how to do.

It was my son’s idea, he didn’t fancy the 17 mile trip to the nearest hairdresser. He also had great confidence in me!

“Dad how difficult can it be, even for you”

“You can always close your eyes and use the force like Luke and Yoda”


It only took me 10 minutes and the results were truely shocking. It does look like I’ve closed my eyes and certainly that the force has deserted me. The poor lad has walked about in a woolly hat for the last 7 hours. I’m clinging onto my dads words of wisdom and just hoping as my son is back at school in two days. It’s yet another example of how bad I am at this single parenting stuff.

My son has now decided that as punishment for my failings today that I will have to cut my own hair tomorrow. So tonight I’m watching some YouTube videos on hair cutting and then practicing on the dog.

Christmas Cards

You get good days and then bad days. Since the world changed it sometimes feel like it’s “You get good days then bad weeks”. Luckily today is so far a good one. Nice walk on the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors.

When we returned home we found a Christmas card on the door mat. The card was addressed to the three of us (including my late partner).

Last year I dreaded receiving cards. In my disorganised state before the funeral, I had failed to let some people know of the suddenly changed world. Hence when Christmas arrived, so did the cards still addressed to the three of us. Each card was like a dagger to the heart.

This year the number of cards addressed to the three of us has dropped and also the feeling is slightly different when reading them. Along with the feeling of loss, I’m also getting a feeling of warmth. In a strange way, they help reaffirm that we are still a family of three. That she is still very much with us every time we think of her. And that’s a comforting feeling.


Christmas is a time like all times when these days I just feel broken. Disconnected from the world. Missing a key part of me.

But I’m lucky, I still have a purpose. I’ve got to try and give our son the best possible childhood. A wonderful Christmas.

As a byproduct, just maybe, I may become just a little less broken.

At the very end of an Aerosmith song, you get the line “Remember, the light at the end of the tunnel may be you”.

Life goes on

Over a year now since the world changed and I am still trying to come to terms with the new reality. I still feel a disconnection with the outside world (I can’t find an answer to this). The dark times don’t seem to come as frequently now, but when they do come they can be very bleak. What helps me through them is trying to force myself to stop looking at it as grief but as continued love. To stop focusing on what I have lost but what I gained during our time together.


On Sunday I was trying to unsuccessfully fix the hoover while listening to the radio.  As the hoover continued to splutter, a life counsellor on the airwaves talked about the importance of doing an annual life audit.  This seemed to involve listing 10 key lessons you have learnt over the year.  So to keep myself from smashing the hoover into little pieces with a very large hammer, I tried to think of the annual lessons for me.

1) Become self reliant.  People talk about developing a range of family and friend resources who will help support you.  From my experience that support is either not available in great levels or not at the times you need them.

2) Old Career plans are scrapped.  As a couple we were able to fit the family around our careers now it’s fitting my career (whats left of it) around my family.

3) Live in the real world.  As a couple we would have big dreams, now the focus is just on trying to pay the bills and put food on the table.

4) Don’t take things for granted.  In the past a passing conversation would seem unimportant, now it’s a vital component of my often secluded lifestyle.

5) Occasionally the planets line up and you do get some free time.  Make use of it on yourself, everybody needs a bit of ‘me time’.  

6) In some of our of daily newspapers, single parent families are often portrayed as one of societies ills, somehow second rate. We are still a proper family, just a bit smaller now.

7) Lots of people have said this, but it’s so true.  Dealing with bereavement is awful, it can completely consume you, it can take you to some really dark places.  But its often forgotten that bereavement is really a sign of continued love for someone and that’s something to be cherished.

8) Bereavement and/or parenting is stressful. I quickly realised that I needed some form of release to keep me from going under.  Something which I would book in every day and stick to. For me it was fitness.  I try to get up a few minutes early each day and do some exercises.  Often it’s just doing some sit-ups and then a few minutes on the battered old exercise bike.  Unusually for me I’ve stuck to the regime, has it made me into an athlete – NO, but equally I’ve not cracked yet, so maybe it’s working.

9) I quickly discovered the key benefit of single parenting, you get to spend more time with your kid(s).

10) Never to retrain as a Hoover repair person.

Apple Crumble

The perfect single parent is supposed to be a master of everything with the patience of a Saint.  The worlds greatest multitasker.  Oh I wish.

This perfect single parent often feels like a master of nothing.  In one particular area I take the master of nothing to new heights.  Baking!!

How difficult can it be to bake a decent apple crumble. 

Over the last two weeks I have tried and tried again and tried again.

Effort 1: Not enough sugar, inedible.

Effort 2: Too much sugar, inedible.

Effort 3: Dropped crumble onto floor before it made it to the oven.

Effort 4: Burnt, inedible.

Effort 5: Cat caught eating crumble mix, inedible on hygiene grounds.  (A positive really as the cat is not dead yet).

Effort 6:  Made crumble but realised we have run out of apples.

Finally my son, who is the voice of reason in this house, instructs me to just go and buy a ready made apple crumble from the shop.  So after two weeks we have finally an edible apple crumble on the table.  One small problem.  I never checked to make sure we had any custard or ice cream in, and guess what…. 

Over all these disasters I unusually never lost my temper once.  Just maybe I’m becoming a master of patience.


I was speaking to a neighbour today.  His partner of many years died during the summer.  In his own words he has been “sitting in his armchair just staring at blank walls for two months and going to pieces”.  I was lucky, I had a young son who stopped me doing the same.

He has now decided to take up a hobby to try to put some meaning back into his life.  Painting is going to be his release.  When I asked why Painting he smiled briefly and said “I can do it by myself , I don’t need to talk to anyone, I can shut the world out and I can cover up those bloody blank walls”.

I know what he means…

Warning – Snake

It’s taken a year but we’ve started trying to visit places again. We started going on a couple of hill walks.  Very quiet and avoiding crowds.  It might sound bitter but I didn’t want to see happy families – it would just remind us of what we have lost.  I know my son struggled for months when he saw other children being with their mums.  

But time moves on and I’ve got to try and give our son the happiest childhood he can possibly have.  So as soon as he became more comfortable with seeing ‘happy families’, it was time to try and make new good memories.  He has started to enjoy visiting places again, where as I still spend too much time seeing reminders of the past.  But on each new visit I do try to spend more time living in the present.   Trying to keep the retrospective to when I’m alone, not when I’m with my son.  My son is now good at telling me when he wants to talk about his mum.

We ventured to Doncaster Wildlife Park.  It’s one of our favourite places, such a good family day out.  As we were walking towards the Polar Bear zone we stopped dead in our tracks.  In the middle of the path was a snake – a Grass Snake I think.  It was happily consuming a poor frog.  That’s the first wild snake I have ever seen in Britain.  All the years spent walking through the countryside and you end up seeing your first wild snake in a zoo.  We watched it for 10 minutes before it slid off into a grassy bank.
It’s a memory, a new memory, a good memory.