Plant versus Dog.

I have a soft spot for this particular plant. My mum had it in a container in her little garden. After her stroke she couldn’t get into the garden that often to water it. It looked lonely. Then the world fell in. When I started to clear her house after those 6 weeks of hell in 2016 – I felt sorry for it. I was in a completely unhinged state and I worried that the plant would be discarded. Left to die. Two deaths was more than enough for that pigging year. I started talking to it. I would tell it how bad I felt. How lonely I was. How completely broken I had become. It was literally the only thing I could truly open up to. I had to give up my job to be there for our son. I was so completely isolated. But that plant was there. Eventually when the house was sold I brought it back to our garden and planted it. It started to thrive. Then…

Then the mad pup arrived. Captain Chaos took one look at the garden and decided that this plant was going to be his ‘cock his leg’ plant of choice. Since then it’s been subject to daily dog waterings. If that wasn’t bad enough the pup then decided he could use the plant as an essential part of his escape strategy. So in addition to being constantly pee’d on it has been dug under, dug out, dug round, dug through and used as a canine climbing frame.

Yet it is still here and is still flowering.

I was discussing this resilient life form with our son. All that it has been through, all that it has survived and how it still flowers. Surely it needed a really heroic name.

Son thought for a while and said

I’ve got the perfect name … JEFF”

So meet the amazing Jeff. A survivor from 2016 and a damm fine counsellor to boot.

Counselling

Somedays get off to a good start, some don’t….

Once the day starts off on a funny note it tends to continue in a similar vein.

I forgot to put our ‘busting at the seems’ bin out for collection. How much more can I squeeze in before it explodes. Next delivery is in 2 weeks.

We had a parcel due. The postman always comes in the afternoon. So it was safe to take the dog for a walk in the morning. Wrong. Postman came early and now we have to go into the city to pick up the parcel.

Son’s football hit the only rosebush in the garden and burst on a thorn.

I started baking some cakes but found out that I had run out of flour. So off to the shop we went and stocked up. Attempt 2 went well for another 20 seconds as I added the flour to the bowl then….

No eggs.

So off we went again to the shop again to buy eggs.

Attempt 3 went well until I remembered that I had run out of vanilla essence. Bugger the shop.

Attempt 4 was vanilla-less. Replaced with several overripe bananas.

Unbelievably it worked out ok. It actually looked ok. The pets were definitely interested. So to protect it I put the cake in the grill part of the oven. Bad idea. For lunch I did some some fish fingers – under the grill. Unfortunately I forgot the cake at the back of the grill. Perfectly cooked fish fingers and extremely well burnt cake.

My digital radio which I’ve had for 18 years died.

My calculator which I’ve had since university died.

A shelf in our son’s bedroom decided to fall off the wall.

The slide door on the psychotic IKEA wardrobe wedged itself shut and is refusing to open. Given its from IKEA it is now refusing to grant access to any of my clothes and is secure as Fort Knox.

So what happened at the start of the day to cause this.

Remember we live in a bungalow. So we are never too far away from the front door. I woke up and went to open the curtains. As I opened the front door blind a rather unfortunate villager was delivering a note about an Easter event. As the blinds opened the poor lady was exposed to the site of me in just a pair of boxer shorts. She is going to need years of counselling.

The day finished on a poignant note. Before the world changed we bought a miniature apple tree. Today it has blossom for the first time. My partner would have been so excited.

Alpine sunset

This photo was taken on the last night my partner had in her beloved Switzerland. During a stunning sunset. Watching the moon rise over the Alps was just the most wonderful experience.

Little did we know that she would be gone 12 months later.

This is a photograph I can look at and still smile. Other photos bring tears but not this one. Don’t know why. In fact the more I think about it this was probably the last Swiss Photograph. It really should bring tears. Strange.

That night we racked our brains trying to work out ways of emigrating here to retire. Drawing up plans for spending all of our long life’s together. So many plans. In reality just pipe dreams with no chance of coming to fruition. The one thing we never factored in was an early death. You never do probably.

A few days ago I walked behind an elderly couple who had been shopping. They walked slowly hand in hand. Behind them a broken man walked sobbing his eyes out. In our pipe dreams that was us in thirty years.

I can’t tell how much that hurts.

The weather

I bumped into a parent from our son’s last school this morning. A conversation started about the weather (forgive us it’s a British thing), Brexit (forgive us it’s a British madness) and son’s old school. Nothing remarkable. Then the dreaded question from the parent.

“It’s been a couple of years now. You must be over the worst now. Now the clouds are parting do you think it’s time to move on. Find someone else. Your still relatively young…”

Couldn’t believe it. What a thing to say. Relatively young. Cheeky bugger I am still only 24!!!!! I think it was 1875 when I was 24….

That conversation reminded me why staying in the house is often so appealing and cheaper – ended up sponsoring his son.ł

A year ago the main part of that question would have thrown me completely. I suspect I would have gone to Jelly. Now it just yields a deep sigh.

Every persons grief is different (forgive me I keep saying this a lot). With me the clouds do part some days but they often quickly move back in, blocking out the view.Like the weather I get fine days, average days and crappy days. The comment about you must be over the worst because it’s been a couple of years is clearly an unfounded assumption as every persons grief is different (forgive me I’ve said it again). Find Someone Else ….. makes it sound like I’m house hunting.

The photo is taken near Interlaken in Switzerland (forgive me it’s another favourite country plug – still waiting for my chocolate from the Swiss Tourist Board……). It’s quite a good representation of my grief journey. Yes the clouds keep sweeping in often covering the mountain peak. But somedays the mountain is cloudless. Same mountain vastly different mood. So unpredictable. That’s the weather for you (The Brits and the weather AGAIN ).

Stress buster

I would love to claim that is my flower in my perfect garden. Sadly it’s next doors flower which is growing through a hole in our fence.

My Dad was a fantastic gardener. I’m sure he looks down on our garden and just sighs. He probably utters several words in Yorkshire including wasak, berk and hacky. Followed by wouldn’t grow my rhubarb in that mess.

Dad loved gardening. It was his go to hobby.

That got me thinking about the stuff which I enjoyed doing. My stress busters.

  • Playing football – stopped when son was born
  • Watching Newcastle United play and lose – seat now given up
  • Playing cricket – stopped when son was born
  • Climbing – stopped when the world changed
  • Walking with friends – stopped when the world changed
  • Going out for a drink with friends – stopped when the world changed
  • Astronomy – old telescope is not useable anymore and not done any serious star watching since the world changed
  • Going out for a meal – not been out for a meal since the world changed
  • Just enjoying being held by your soul partner – stopped when the world changed
  • Going to concerts – thankfully son will let me tag along with him still. So it’s not a complete wipeout

Need to do some thinking. Need to think about activities that will take some stress out of the system – which I am sure will help me become a better parent. Stress is building.

I really need to find more hobby time. I certainly need to find more time to sort out the outside mess. Unfortunately gardening stresses me out. Sorry Dad.

Kinda sad

It’s been one of those days. Slightly sad that those lovely Swiss Sunday Mornings are gone. Don’t get me wrong I am eternally thankful to have had those opportunities in the past.

Normally I try to keep the school holidays free to focus solely on our son. It’s the least I can do given what he’s been through.

But this Easter I need to get some cash in so I am going to have to work a bit. One day might be a 10 hour day. I don’t have any cover for our son so he is going to have to come with me. Yes he will still get time with me but it’s going to be so boring for him. It’s such a waste of his holidays. This makes me so sad and so frustrated. He deserves better than this. Will have to find a way of making this up to him.

Lost in the woods

Can’t see the woods for the trees.

That seems to sum up my thinking recently. So many things going on. So many things to sort out. Feeling tired. Feeling like a bout of depression might be heading my way. But not really sure the route cause. So it feels like I am aimlessly wandering around the wood of life, attending lots of trees but ultimately getting lost.

Maybe we need a break. We haven’t had a holiday or extended break since 2015. In fact we haven’t had a night away in those 4 years. We are certainly not unique. Many have gone longer than that without a break.

It is not so easy. Holidays are expensive, especially when you take them during school recesses. It’s not easy for our son as he struggles with crowds and new environments. Causes him so much anxiety. I also worry (and Son does) about something happening to me while on holiday – no backup so son could be alone, stranded miles from family.

As a result I suspect 2019 will continue the holiday free trend.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to sound like Home is a Prison. It really isn’t. Son almost sees it as our castle. A place of safety which can keep out the alien world. Plus Staycations can be really fun and very cheap. So how to fashion a break while Staying at Home. Maybe plenty of day trips to quiet locations. Lots of games and fun things.

I really need to think about this. Probably need to get out of the wood first though.

Mothers Day

Three wonderful mums have set off towards the light over the last 3 years.

My Partners Mum. A wonderful Quaker who always looked for the potential good in everybody.

My Mum. Gave her whole life for her family. The most resilient person I will ever meet. All she wanted in return was to watch a good movie with a cup of tea and a cream bun.

My Partner. The perfect parent to our son. She was just the most beautiful person.

While trying to sort out our son’s school iPad I came across this few words which made me cry. Not sure what the school lesson was about but the message he conveyed was abundantly clear.

I miss you so much you are the best mum you can have. You gave me life and I owe you everything because you gave everything to me and all your love. You are the best. I miss you so much but I would do it all again. I miss you so much Mum but I know that you will be with me forever.

Thank you to all the mums out there. Thank you for being brilliant everyday of the year. Sending you hugs.

Sneaky Grief

Grief sneaks up on you. It often doesn’t attack head on – when you can brace yourself for impact. The big hits are the attacks from behind – the ones you don’t see coming. That song on the radio, an unexpected find, a hidden photograph, a surprise film scene.

In the U.K. Mothers Day is fast approaching. It’s not an easy day to get through but it’s no surprise. You have weeks to prepare. It won’t be fun but I guess it won’t be a complete meltdown. I suspect I will blog further on this again.

Taking the dog for a walk in the local Arboretum. It’s a lovely relaxing place. I was using the walk to get my head round a work problem. The mad dog was happy – a dog and an Arboretum full of thousands of trees …. Pup Heaven.

So I was in autopilot. Just following Captain Chaos from tree to tree. Starting to form a viable fix to the work problem. Then I stopped dead in my tracks. A sudden realisation of location. A sudden sinking heart. Suddenly hit by a sneaky grief attack.

In autopilot mode I had drifted into one particularly beautiful area. During autumn a place glowing with silver leaves. A place my partner would repeatedly visit. I can see her face smiling at the view. A place where she wants part of her ashes scattered. A flood of tears and complete despair. I feel very old and so very alone.

But thankfully for my sanity I have designated role. Our Son needs me. He deserves the best childhood possible. So I let the dog pull me away from the area to a particularly exciting unmarked giant Tree.

Put away the tissue. Breathe. Refocus. That wave of grief has passed but I know that the tide will return.

This funny book is going to make me cry…

Every Christmas my mum would always check to see if Terry Pratchett had a new book out. It was always her go to present for me. It became a tradition. Looking back she bought me every book in the series since the first one came out in 1985. I have read all of his books except the last one. He is without doubt my favourite author. Funny, clever, inspirational and with a boundless imagination. The last book was written as his Alzheimer’s took hold. He wasn’t able to finish the planned final scene as his heath rapidly deteriorated.

Sadly both my mum and Terry have now left us.

I miss those Christmas evenings. Sat by the fire. The new Pratchett book in one hand and a box of miniature Cadbury chocolate bars in the other (mums second go to present).

After mum left us I had one final discworld novel to read. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. It just didn’t seem right. The tradition was broken. I think part of me also realised that it would be a deeply emotional process as well. Memories of two stunningly beautiful people flooding the pages of the final novel.

But now the we have crossed the line. The Shepherds Crown has arrived by post. The 41st and final discworld novel. Tonight I will start this cathartic experience. It won’t be easy but as it’s a Pratchett novel, it will also be brilliantly funny. The mini chocolate bars will be replaced with copious amounts of black coffee. I don’t think I am ever going to have such a book reading experience again – it feels like a once in a lifetime event.

The process has started I read the first couple of lines. Even those brought a tear to my eye. This one is for you Mum and Terry.

It was born in the darkness of the Circle Sea; at first just a soft floating thing, washed back and forth by tide after tide. It grew a shell , but in its rolling tumbling world there were huge creatures which could have cracked it open in an instant.”