Ashes to Ashes Part 2

A bright, warm autumnal morning back in 2016. I was driving back from The Crematorium with my Partners Ashes secured with the seatbelt to the passenger seat. A never ending torture drive. That might well have been my lowest point. That morning I had seemingly been ok until the Ashes were handed to me. Handed to me in what can only be described as a container that resembled something you would see traditional old sweets sold in. A Sweet Jar. Then the weight, it was surprisingly heavy. It wasn’t until back in the car that the reality hit home. Less than a month ago she sat in that car seat, now it was her ashes. It became such a painful memory that I had to sell that car within weeks.

Now in 2022 she is in two containers. An undertaker divided the ashes into two. One secured, wrapped with the necessary paperwork to go abroad. One in a matching unsecured container. The Sweet Jar now gone, replaced by cylinder containers like you get Malt Whiskey presented in. For 6 years they have sat on a sideboard, waiting. Now unexpectedly we are sorting a small portion out for a family member.

It was a surprisingly easy call to say YES to the family member but I can’t begin to tell you just how much I fretted over the DOING part of the process. Odd as it’s not the first time I’ve dealt with ashes. I scattered my mums ashes over her family grave. A potential emotional meltdown saved by the presence of a cute squirrel simultaneously digging away on the very next grave. Mum would have loved the humour in that. Rather than buckets of tears, SMILES.

This time around this felt a million miles from smiles. I was really uneasy and unnerved. What was the appropriate way to do this. Do I say prayers. Do I explain to the ashes what I’m doing. Do I wear gloves and a mask. What do I use to do this. I felt clueless and lost. Prayers and I talked her through what I was doing. I could almost here her voice telling me off for doing this all wrong. I carefully unscrewed the lid off one of the containers. What can only be described as a ‘ring-pull’ was next. I had a crazy thought, what happens if it goes pop like one of those party poppers, ashes going everywhere. I wasn’t smiling, I was panicking. No pop, no disaster this time.

Then the next issue. This bit might be gross. How do I get some of the ashes out. In the end I opted for an old spoon. A spoon my partner used to stir her tea with. It’s been unused in 6 years. And here’s the thing. I can’t just put it in the sink and wash the spoon now. That can’t be right. So it’s going to sit next to the ashes until called upon again.

I can’t spill a single grain. Not one. I have never been more careful. What on Earth happens if I get this bit wrong. Unbelievably my nerve held and my inner muppet stayed hidden. Well almost hidden….

I searched the house and every draw for a container or small bag to put the ashes in. All I could find was a food freezer bag. Too big and surely inappropriate. I can’t put my partner in a bag with the following instructions emblazoned across the front.

Consume within one month of freezing.

Once defrosted consume within one day.

Just NO. Here was the next best option. Please don’t be too hard on me. The only other clear, small plastic bags I could find were a few unopened mini lego sets that came in the Star Wars Advent Calendar. Yes I carefully opened two, removed the lego and used them. A Stormtrooper and a droid now without bag. So one bag inside of the other, ashes inside. Sealed tight with cello tape. I’m shaking me head at the thought.

Carefully wrapped up, the ashes headed on a journey. Several hundred miles. By POST. Yes I put a stamp on and posted them . Was that wrong. What is the protocol. I did check if it was legal. I had fears that they would be impounded. But in the UK you can post up to 50g of human or animal ashes. Thankfully they arrived safely and within 24 hours.

So after 6 years, the process has started. It might take some time to complete but in a strange way it feels reassuring that a very small start has been made. Next time I will be better prepared. HOPEFULLY……

Chair

Chair with a view.

Look behind and it’s not too bad as well.

Maybe a good place to spread some ashes one day. Back a few years I remember standing here. Standing here in the rain. An overcast thinking walk had suddenly turned wet. A sky not dissimilar to this one.

What was I thinking back then.

Why me. Why take Hawklad’s mum and leave me. She would have been the better single parent. Sometimes I still do. After loss, how many other utterly confused souls have had similar thoughts. Many I guess. But in the end, all we can do is walk those paths allocated to us, do the best we can. The rest will sort itself out in the end.

Ashes to ashes part 1

It’s coming up to six years now. Six years since THAT YEAR. 2016. When EVERYTHING changed. I quickly scattered my mums ashes but we still have Hawklad’s mums ashes in the back room. On a mantelpiece overlooking the garden and fields beyond. There is no rush and to be fair, we have gone through a pandemic. We kinda assumed that at some some stage in the future we would get round to scatter them.

Then out of the blue.

One of her family have asked for a little portion of the ashes to spread. It’s odd I assumed it would be tough to say yes. For Hawklad, for me. Yet it wasn’t. Within seconds we both went – THATS FINE.

That’s progress. Life has moved on for both of us. The next question is where that leads.

But back to the ASHES, just maybe the hard part is still to come. The doing bit. We shall find out in a few hours.

Accident

Morning view
Evening view
Dog view

Not a great time to have hay fever. A dog with hay fever. He sneezes and sneezes. Wow does he get some distance…… I’ve said it before, imagine being slimed just like Peter Venkman was in Ghostbusters. All done with a wagging tail. He’s having fun with it.

But it has messed up his taste sensation. That’s what his Vet has said. So he only eats warm food now. Only eats it outside. Whatever the weather, outside. Only eats if one of us sits next to him. As the Vet says, he is a complex Chap (that’s Captain Chaos not the Vet). No wonder you don’t get many Cocker Spaniel, German Spitz crosses. In this case, definitely an accident in a park.

He was brought into the family to bring back the feeling of life and fun. He has definitely, definitely done that.

Marvel at Scotland

Back to last week. See you don’t need the multiverse to do a spot of time travel.

“Dad tomorrow can we go to Scotland. Don’t mind where just can it be really quiet. Somewhere different. Maybe even exciting.”

Two herbal teas later the solution popped into my head. Visit a place where we can MARVEL at who grand Scotland is.

Quiet means arriving early. As we were heading 180 miles north then we set off just after 5am.

Heading to the stunning coastal village of St Abbs. Part of the Marvel Universe……

The second highest grossing movie of all time, End Game used St Abbs as New Asgard. Hulk and Rocket came here to find Thor. Hawklad didn’t think he would be stood outside Thor’s house…..

I didn’t cause an international incident by taking my shirt off and pretending to be one of the Avengers. Maybe next time. Actually if people think that Thor looked out of shape when he was in New Asgard, wait to they get a look at my version of a shirtless Avenger. Let’s just say the 6 pack is well and truly hidden these days.

As we wandered around St Abbs a thought struck me. The place feels remote almost cut off from modern life. Operating at its own pace with the Sea dominating life. Could somewhere like this be a place which would suit Hawklad. Then the realisation, it might actually suit me. I was brought up by the Sea until I left to go to University. It feels very familiar, very safe. Would a return suit my mindset. Would it blow away the life cobwebs. Would it fix the problem that the world now seems to spin at a different speed to me. Is it a great place to forget the past.

Maybe Thor had a point moving to somewhere as wonderful as St Abbs. A perfect place for his New Asgard

Poetry woes

We are trying to stick to the school class timetable, starting and finishing lessons at the same time as his classmates. We figured that was a decent way of bringing structure to the school at home week. We also thought that if and when Hawklad returns to school then at least he would be use to working the full timetable.

In practice it is difficult when some lessons are posted late ( hours late, even days late and yes sometimes never posted).

This day started with an English lesson. POETRY. Poems on a theme.

Do not stand at my grave and cry…..

They are waiting for me somewhere beyond Eden Rock…..

I had not thought it would be like this…..

Revising poems about loss and grief. Learning about a poet who had lost his father when he was a child and was now grieving the loss of his mum. You get the picture. Wonderful poetry from the likes of Frye and Causley.

Yes loss and grief are powerful themes but there are other subjects to go for. Safer subjects for children. What about those children who have lost loved ones. Is it fair on them. Should an English lesson and potentially exams bring tears of sadness. If kids want to look at grief poetry then they can but let it be a free choice, when they are ready and never let it be forced on them. Some might say I’m being overprotective of Hawklad but we all deal with loss in our own way, especially important when a child loses his mum when he is only 8. At home we still carefully try to filter out movies that bring sadness to Hawklad. That’s OUR choice.

I’m not frustrated with the school or teacher. They are told what poems they have to teach. Surely when those in charge put the national curriculum together, is it too much to ask that they do this sensitively. Consider what impact some of the coursework could have on some of the pupils. Is that too much to ask.

Daffodils 2

So Yorkshire has enjoyed the briefest of Springs. We are now heading back into one last crack of Winter. Even mention of an outside chance of the white stuff.

So before the poor things are battered into submission let’s have one more Daffodil Fest.

The American Psychiatric Association have now officially recognised Prolonged Grief Disorder as a mental health condition. Intense grief that lasts for more than 1 year that disrupts a persons mental wellbeing and health.

Ok.

Surely much shorter, very intense grief can send people into terrifyingly dark places. Those places will have a profound lasting health effect. That will have just as much impact on a persons wellbeing than the new Official Prolonged version. Grief is GRIEF, regardless of how long it lasts a person.

I just hope that finally GRIEF gets the support it desperately needs. Too many suffer in silence. What support there is poorly funded and badly over subscribed. Even when it comes to children the support is just not there. Hawklad’s Doctor put him on the waiting list for Specialist Grief Counselling. That was back in 2016 and he is still working his way up the list….. How many parents are trying to help their grieving child when they are also suffering as well.

Grief may or may not be a separate mental health condition but it definitely has a direct impact on a persons mental health. Looking back the only support I received was a 12 page pamphlet handed out by the Hospice. For too many that is simply not enough. It wasn’t for me. Hawklad didn’t even get that…… That’s an 8 year old who has just lost his mum. That can’t be right.

Swiss Sunday

Sunday brings thoughts of family holidays to beautiful Switzerland. Trips to an alpine wonderland from a much different time. Yes the last holiday was only 6 years ago but it does feel like a lifetime ago. Much has happened to the world, much has happened to our family over those 6 years. It’s actually quite hard to remember how that former life felt like.

That former life isn’t coming back but Switzerland is still there. Maybe our much smaller family can return sooner rather than later, start to create some new memories. Life has to go on.

Time to see what memories some old holiday snaps can bring back.

Things can change

It’s not far from here that Hawklad wants to scatter some of his mums ashes. Yes 6 years and they are still sat on a cabinet in the back room. A view through the window over the garden and the fields beyond.

It will happen in its own time.

It will happen when it’s right for Hawklad.

We could see the place where we want to scatter his mum but we couldn’t walk there. Not this time. A place which his mum loved to visit. This time we couldn’t follow in her footsteps. Two rather angry bodyguards blocked the way.

Maybe next time.

Things can change.

Soon it’s going to be Mothers Day here in the UK. A couple of weeks of nonstop adverts which are almost impossible to avoid. How many kids have lost there mum and have to go through that. But this year we have a first. A supermarket that we order food from has just sent this email.

This is a start. It’s a small step but a welcome step.

Shy cat

Yesterday the mad dog got a bit of blogging attention, well today his partner in crime is getting the spotlight. It’s big fat cat time.

Shame he’s a bit shy….

Or is it just sign that it’s such a hard life being a big fat cat.

Here’s the thing. I feel like copying the cat sometimes. Well not that thing he does when he’s bent double…. But definitely this covering the eyes truck. Definitely feeling tired and worn down. Parenting doesn’t really give you many breaks. Single parenting since 2016, no meaningful breaks really. No holidays. No letting what’s left of my hair down. Throw a pandemic in and each day seems to be very similar to last one. Spooky that it was Groundhog Day this week, apparently the little hog chap farted which means it’s another 6 weeks of eating Lasagna or something like that. You get the picture.

This feeling will pass. I’ve had these spells before. A better nights sleep will help. Maybe a shed load of caffeine and chocolate will do the trick. Mum would get me to play some sad music as a pick me up, so where is my Pink Floyd – Final Cut album (wow that’s a cheerful thing) or even darker, The Best of Alvin and the Chipmunks. But until I get my mojo back, maybe that soft, big pudding of a cat has a point, at least for one night.