Fog

The first proper autumnal fog, the first of many….

I was looking at an online social media chat about Bereavement ….. well it beats watching my team try to play football. The chat was all about the recent UK State Funeral and how it had triggered emotions in many about their own personal losses. It is hard to watch a funeral and not be reminded of matters much closer to hand. I must admit as I watched the Funeral, one thought really struck me. How on earth do you grieve in front of millions, I couldn’t do it in front 40 people.

Two funerals in 6 weeks and I didn’t grieve at either of them. Focused on an 8 year old and trying to process far too many thoughts. I’m not that sure I took any of the funerals in. I can’t remember anything that was said. Can’t remember the music. Can’t remember that much at all. I can remember my brother whispering something in my ear that brought a half smile. I can remember standing with Hawklad looking at a fishpond after his mums funeral. That’s about it. Just felt like it was about waiting for them to be over.

It does feel so strange that I took far more in for a woman I had never met than I ever did for either of my mum or partner. I sometimes wish I had a video of both Funerals so I could experience them, hear what was said. Feel a part of them after 6 years.

Back to the online chat, the consensus was very similar. Mostly funerals are an ordeal, to organise, to sit through. Often the grieving can only really start when you have the funeral behind you. That definitely was my experience, it felt like it was months and months later before I started. This may sound crazy but until that point I was hurting but I wasn’t grieving. I wasn’t really accepting the reality, wasn’t ready to let go. Maybe if I had let the Funerals in more, maybe I would have been more receptive to grieving.

The fog of life might have started to clear much sooner.

Missing

Sadly we haven’t seen too many of these visitors this year. Add that to the almost complete lack of Bees 🐝. Only a few years back our garden was mobbed by garden visitors but not anymore. Very worrying.

A few weeks back we had a day in the garden and we counted insects for a wildlife survey. You count the highest number of insects at any one time and the best we found was

2 Butterflies in the garden at any one time

0 Bees… ZERO, ZIP, we never saw one all day long

We have been doing this local survey for a few years now. The first time we did the survey, was before Covid, before a Trump President thing, we had the following scores

16 Butterflies at one time

14 Bees at one time

Not good, not good at all.

Sadly something which isn’t missing is the use of the death of a family member in TV and Movies, for dramatic effect. Fine, if it’s a drama movie but Kids stuff….. Two nights ago Hawklad was watching a random Disney type movie and without any warning the mum died. I could see the sadness in his eyes. Then today he’s watching a cartoon and guess what, the mum dies. He turned the TV off and went outside.

At least give some warning if the show is aimed at a young audience. Grief is tough enough without the likes of Disney adding to it.

A few minutes later, Hawklad came back in and quietly said “I’m probably going to stick to Tom & Jerry from now on”. I really can’t disagree with him on this one.

Swiss Sunday

Last week I was asked when was the last time I was in Switzerland. Instantly I responded.

August 2015.

The follow up question was much tougher. Back then did I realise it was going to be my last trip, certainly for many years.

Not officially. Some vague discussions briefly mentioned about another family trip in a years time. Maybe that next time we could take Hawklad’s Granny for one last visit, her husband’s ashes are scattered here. But this time it felt different to me, it felt like times were changing. Some things can’t be avoided for too long. So I walked those Swiss paths and kinda realised things might be very different if another trip happened.

Hawklad’s mum clearly had things on her mind as well. Without any warning, on one walk she pointed to a spot and with a matter of fact tone, quietly whispered. “You can scatter some of my ashes here one day”.

A day later on a Swiss train to Grindelwald she mentioned another place in Switzerland where she wanted Ashes scattered. Same location as her Dad.

You sometimes never join the dots up…

Now the next trip will be very different. But one day when Hawklad is ready, we will venture back. A very different family now.

Swiss Sunday

I’m writing this post sat in our little back room, which in the great tradition of Yorkshire reasoning, is actually at the front of the house. A room which six years ago was mostly the reserve of Hawklad’s mum, I rarely ventured in there. It was her quiet room, a place she could escape from parenting and ME. It was filled with her clothes, her work files, her pictures and her books. Time moves on and it is a very different room now. Yes some of the pictures on the wall are reminders of the past but most of her things are now gone. Her wardrobe made way for Hawklad’s Xbox. The work files on the old desk replaced by my old battered record player. The sound of typing and silence now replaced with the latest FIFA game and my terrible taste in music.

Hawklad’s mum loved the sound of silence, that’s why she loved Switzerland and in particular one small town. Spiez is located around a small bay on the banks of Lake Thun, just on the edge of The Alps. It was a gateway to so much yet was very peaceful. Yet the peace was sometimes broken by the sound of excitement, much to the consternation of Hawklad’s mum. But all very exciting to others….. International Beach Football matches, Speed Boating, Sky Diving, Bollywood Movie Filming and Music Festivals. Not often, but sometimes the town came truly vibrantly alive for a few brief days before the peace was restored.

So this Saturday night, while a David Gilmour vinyl crackles away, I’m thinking of an anything but peaceful Spiez. Tonight is the second night of the annual Spiez Seaside Music Festival. That’s some Yorkshire logic right there as no part of Switzerland is anywhere near the sea….. The closest sea is 160km away. So right now, the concerts will be in full swing. I’m guessing a Swiss Music Star, Stephan Eicher will just be finishing before TOTO close out. It’s decades since I saw Toto support Tina Turner. Hawklad’s mum would hate the loud music whereas Hawklad and his muppet dad would be somewhere in the crowd. But then by Monday the peace of this small beautiful Swiss town will be restored.

And let’s not forget that Spiez is a TWO Lolly kinda place…

Never leaves you

Sorry for the bad picture pun……

Another one of the annual milestones is close by. I can’t believe so many years have passed.

Loss in whatever form is a part of life. That message is hard to accept at times, it definitely was for me. But when the time is right you can start to see that, eventually I started to appreciate that.

Loss never LEAVES you but it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep living,

It might well be a different life with some doors now closed but when the time is right, there are new doors waiting to be opened. It still can be a wonderful life, one you value even more because loss never LEAVES you.

Out of the blue

No Blue Skies today…. Definitely OUT OF BLUE

Worst link ever……

Today completely OUT OF THE BLUE Hawklad asked

“Dad at mum’s funeral, why did we sit nearly at the back of the church”.

Nearly six years have passed and I had forgotten that I had chosen to do that. Back in 2016, I wasn’t thinking straight. Two closest of deaths within 6 weeks had taking its toll. I wasn’t sleeping, I was lost, I was trying to sort out my mums affairs and house, trying to sort out my partners affairs and funeral, I was trying to be a single parent. When I needed to be at my best, I was a mess. So that was the first thing I replied to Hawklad.

You know I’m a bit of a muppet at the best of times, imagine how much of a muppet I could be at the worst of times……

He knows me so he completely understood that.

I wanted to protect Hawklad. A small, low key funeral had morphed into something much larger. My partners family and sisters needed something different to me. Many more people. Many more strangers for Hawklad to deal with. He was just starting his Aspergers journey and stranger’s eyes could really bother him.

I thought being at the back of the church would mean you wouldn’t feel like you had lots of strangers looking at you……..more space as well.

“Dad wouldn’t they just turn round and look at me…”

I know, I didn’t really think that one through.

The church only had one exit which was at the back. If you needed to get out quickly then we would have had to walk along the aisle past all the mourners.

I thought it would have been easier to get out from the back.

Easier for me Dad”.

Easier for both of us. Easier for ME. You were dealing with everything better than I was.

Can you remember who sat near us Dad”

Not a clue, it was just a confusing storm to me. I know my brother sat behind me because I remember unbelievably that he made me smile at one stage with a comment he whispered in my ear. That’s one of the only things I can remember from the funeral. I had even forgotten we were at the back.

Hawklad then described the funeral to me. It was like I wasn’t there, all this detail has just passed me by.

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.