Open your eyes

Looking through a few flower photos and guess what I found. Another appearance from our friendly garden visitor. This unexpected find brought a much needed smile.

The unexpected hospital visit was tough. It was physically and mentally tough for our son. Hospitals are not pleasant places at the best of times but during a pandemic. Just awful.

It was a routine procedure but it made me face some demons. Waiting for news in the building where my mother died and where I found out my partner would be dead within days. Too many traumatic memories flooded back. Sat by myself in a waiting room. Yes it’s ok to cry.

Those memories and the clear unpredictability of the future made me realise what is so important to me. The things I need to cherish and make the most of. No more trying to email when talking to our son. It’s such a bad habit, you miss out on so much and son can see the lack of focus. Quality time MEANS quality time. It took something so unpleasant to clear my mind and refocus my priorities. Your never to old to open your eyes.

Timing

I drafted this just a few minutes before Wednesday deteriorated so rapidly. I guess it’s kinda apt now.

Sometimes your just in the right place at the right time. 20 seconds later and I would have missed the winged visitor.

It was the case with my partner. I was in the right place at the right time. She gave me the most wonderful times. Now I carry on with our Son. Trying to burn as brightly as she did. Hopefully making a few people smile along the way. That’s my excuse for the terrible jokes.

The timing of that winged visitor got me thinking. Yes I know that’s dangerous. 20 seconds later and I would have missed it. So if I had not answered that annoying telemarketing phone call then I would probably have never seen the winged visitor. So something annoying led to something quite wonderful. We (I) often forget that. It’s easy to think that ‘Bad stuff leads to more bad stuff’. Well it doesn’t always. Sometimes the bad stuff presents new opportunities.

Looking back I very nearly never took the job that led directly to me meeting my partner. I was due to take a better paid position somewhere else. At the last minute the organisation I was due to move to changed management structure. My job offer was rescinded. Next day I applied for the job that would change my life. A bad thing leading to something beautiful.

Now I’m not going to argue that the loss of my partner led to something beautiful. It was truly awful and will remain that way. But it certainly did change me into a better person and a much more complete parent. It forced me to ditch a career and opened up more quality time with our son. I certainly live a simpler more sustainable lifestyle now. I find it much easier these days to be thankful. So yes a truly awful event did lead to positive life changes.

I guess it’s all about accepting that bad stuff happens and not assuming that bad necessarily follows bad.

Where’s the shed

Here once stood the garden shed. But then an ageing Oil Tank had to be changed. The new rule was that flammable items had to be at least 6 feet away. A wooden shed just 3 feet away just didn’t cut the mustard. So it had to come down. I remember the day so well. My partner organised the skip. She took the first swing with the sledgehammer and then left the rest to me. It was a tough fight. Eventually I won the contest on a split points decision. Yes the shed was down but most of it now appeared to be imbedded in me.

We never did get round to putting a new one up. Actually we didn’t need one. The area became a little bit more green. A place to randomly put those potted plants which we have collected over the years. A nice home for a 90 year old wooden bench which has long since served its purpose and has been retired. It’s also a bit of a magnet of our sons footballs….

It so needs a good weeding but actually yellow poppies and wild strawberries are starting to grow here. Well that’s my excuse.

I’m not sure what my partner would make of it. Maybe a bit too chaotic for her. She liked organisation. The new shed was high up on my list of things to do before the world changed. But then she left our little world. Then every weekend her mum would pop over for an hour or so. She loved it. When she came over at the weekend she would often sit and look at it while drinking her coffee. Thinking about life. Watching the birds make use of it.

I’m writing this at about the time her mum would have been visiting. I’m sat in the chair she would be sat in. Yes I do think the little green area works. Maybe that new garden shed can wait for a few more years. Sorry my love…..

White Rose

This was the rose I gave to my partner just four months before she left us. She always wanted a Yorkshire Rose.

Normally the rose flowers on her birthday but not this year. The weird weather has set it back just over a month. But today it finally started to reveal its beauty. Just the one so far but it’s a lovely start. It feels like this rose is a connection. A link that still exists with my partner. There are a few of those links

  • The house,
  • The garden view,
  • A rainbow,
  • Her favourite places,
  • A couple of songs,
  • And most importantly OUR SON.

So today I feel just a little bit closer to her. More moments thinking about the good times. As much as I might want to linger just a bit longer, I have to pull myself away from the rose and those moments frozen in time. As hard as I try to imagine those memories they will just stay just that, memories.

So it’s time to focus on the here and now. Its time to focus on OUR son. Yes focus on me as well. I can always pay a quick visit to the rose and those memories tomorrow. Tomorrow the rose will be even more stunning.

Labels

It’s yellow rose time.

It’s simple being a rose. Just got to worry about getting the colour of the petals right. Can’t have a White Rose suddenly going red. That’s just a no no in Yorkshire. Would I trust myself to be a rose – probably not. Hopefully the gardener would attach a label to remind me what colour I needed to be.

For the last few years I’ve labelled myself. First of all I labelled myself as a WIDOW. Initially I was a YOUNG WIDOW but the young bit was stretching the truth a little too far. I was also labelled a SINGLE PARENT. Son also correctly labelled me a MUPPET.

I can think of a few other labels I could go for but sadly they would not be widely accepted…

  • Chef
  • Gardener
  • DIY expert
  • Multilingual
  • Musical
  • 6ft tall
  • Thor like.

I can think of a few more labels which are more applicable to me..

  • I’ve been called a Socialist before – with some of my views, I probably am,
  • Plant Killer – oh yes,
  • Weapons Grade Cook – can’t argue with that,
  • Metal Head/Headbanger – the cd collection and the Iron Maiden T-shirt gives that away,
  • Newcastle United Fan – otherwise known as a Loser….
  • Little Bro – yes I am the youngest sibling but bizarrely I am the tallest…

But last week I was reading a post by a wise blogger who can actually call himself a gardener. Suddenly I came across another label. A label which potentially fits as well.

BACHELOR

I call myself a widow but in the eyes of the law, I am not. We were together for nearly two decades. Living as close as any couple. But we never got round to get married. We (I) thought we had plenty of time. My worst ever call. Going to take that mistake with me to my grave.

So given that fact then yes I am kinda a BACHELOR. It doesn’t sound right to me. It’s bizarre that until last week I would never have thought that label applied. Never crossed my mind. I know that I’m starting to overthink this. It’s only a silly label. It’s what’s in the heart that matters. But it did unsettle me for some reason.

Does WIDOWED BACHELOR sound any better.

Rainbows

Who doesn’t love a rainbow. My partner adored them. They remind me of happy memories. But they also show me that life goes on. A rainbow doesn’t last for long. But if you are patient, then another will eventually appear.

Life goes on. After you lose someone special, you do forget this. There is always rebirth. That took me a long time to figure that out. For months death marked the end. That’s the frustration. If it’s the end, why is the world still spinning.

Maybe a better way to look at it for me is that death actually marks a boundary. A demarcation between two life’s. That way life does seem to go on. That’s how the world keeps spinning. That makes more sense to me.

So now I look back and see my partners death slightly differently. Her death marks a boundary. The ending of our life together. As the boundary is crossed, no more joint memories can be created. She has left this world. But here’s the key. She left the world a better place than she found it. She did her bit to enrich the people she encountered. That’s a sign of a life well lived. Surely that’s what we all should be hoping to achieve. When she left. She left her little part of this world, a better place. Filled with many memories. Some memories make you smile. Some bring a tear. But these are all memories to be treasured.

So my partners death did mark a boundary. I crossed that boundary. I brought those memories with me. On the other side of the boundary my life changed. Full time parent, tidying up the outstanding issues from the last life, treasuring the precious memories and starting to live again. Striving to leave this world a little better than I found it. Just like a beautiful rainbow.

Tomorrow

Yesterday the clouds put on a free show.

Thank you to everyone who sent such kind wishes. It was so greatly appreciated and made the day a little easier to take. Yes it was only another day. We have have had over 1000 of these days. But something deep inside of me told me this was going to be a particular tough one. It did turn out to be a tough-un. I am still not 100% sure why that should be the case. Maybe on previous birthdays we have had a special trip out as a distraction. Who knows but it feels like I learnt a little more about myself yesterday. Its also clear that I still love my partner and this grief journey has still got a distance to go.

Spending the day with our son without any outside distractions did tell me one thing. It’s so easy to get complacent in life. To think your hitting all your marks and targets. I assumed I was giving our Son the attention he needed. Yesterday disproved that. He needs and wants more quality time with me. He will get that… His human world is a very sparse place at the moment. Since the lockdown started in March he has had so few interactions. One telephone conversion with one of my sisters, a brief chat with his health lead, a couple of nice email exchanges with friends and his online dialogue with teachers. That’s it in over two months. When I’m invited into his world then no ifs or buts, I need to go. Not only is it a responsibility, it is an honour. No guarantees that those invites will keep heading my way.

It’s now the next day and we move on. Changed probably yes. But still moving on.

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.

Boris Award

We have not awarded a Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson Award for a few months. Remember we set this up to honour the fine body of self deluded, incompetent numpties in our society. Well one chap in the UK is so overdue this award it’s about time he got what he so richly deserves. I give you our much loved Health Secretary – Matt Hancock. This incompetent buffoon is apparently in charge of the NHS.

Photo sourced from Wired

Where do we start with Mr Hancock. He has enough material to write several books. Let’s hope one of those books relates to his trial and imprisonment.

  • In his time in government he has voted against giving health care workers a pay rise. They have basically enjoyed a pay freeze. As a result the pay of groups like Nurses have seen real terms wage cuts of 20% over the last 10 years. Last year he finally got round to awarding them a modest pay award unfortunately he won’t commit to awarding any further increases. His reasoning (you will notice a catalog of self delusion with Matt) that nurses have received very significant pay awards over the last few years).
  • Matt has said he would see about giving nurses another pay rise sometime in the future. However for their brave sacrifices he will give them a special badge. He is also quiet happy to see overseas medical staff who are working so brilliantly in the NHS, having to face increased registration costs due to Brexit……
  • Matt picked a fight with professional footballers. He thought that during the pandemic that they should take a pay cut and donate to charity. He failed to recognise that many do actually give a lot to charities. He also failed to call for many of the much richer backers of his own party to accept a pay cut. Interestingly when asked if Matt would take a pay cut he replied No as he was working very hard.
  • He might be in charge of the NHS but he has spoken previously about the need to sell parts of it off. He has also accepted thousands from a pressure group who wants to privatise the NHS.
  • In March 2020 most of the country looked on in horror as the government allowed one of the biggest sporting events to continue without any virus restrictions. Even though these types of events had already been banned across Europe. So why was Matt so keen for the Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival to go ahead. Why was it a good idea (apparently backed by scientific advice) to allow 180000 people to group together during a pandemic. Who can tell. It’s fascinating to note that Matt has strong links with the Horse Racing Industry and has received political donations from them. Sadly links are being established with the festival and the spread of the virus.
  • When Matt was questioned about the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Kit for front line health workers he got a bit annoyed. He was being questioned by an MP who is working as an A&E Doctor during the pandemic. Matt told her to watch her tone….
  • Key health workers are having to reuse PPE, use bin liners and basically take risks. Those working in other care settings are doing far worse. Yet Matt proudly boasts that he is sourcing enough kit and actually nurses should start looking after the kit better. Then he made a big announcement that 100,000 items of kit had been sourced from abroad and was arriving in hours. Hours turned into days. When the kit arrived it had to be sent back as it was not fit for purpose. Strangely Matt has glossed over that.
  • Matt told an interview in March that he had been working really hard with the supermarkets to ensure food supplies during the pandemic. That was interesting as that appeared to be news to the supermarkets themselves. The message seemed to be we have not heard anything directly from the government as yet.
  • He likes to brag about meeting his personal target of the country testing 100000 people a day for the virus. What he’s less happy to talk about is the number he uses to meet his target includes missed tests, tests which have failed to be processed, tests mailed out to people (so still in the post and not yet been carried out) and tests which have failed (so need to be repeated). The actual number of daily tests performed are well below his own target.
  • He’s been talking about imposing virus checks at UK airports since March. Finally those checks are starting but not at every airport. Even at airports which will begin screening arrivals, it’s not at every terminal. Not even every plane….
  • Dear old Matt has now claimed that he put in place a protective ring around our Care Homes as soon as this crisis hit. That’s really interesting as the perceived view is rather different. Basically Care Homes have been left with no guidance, no protective kit, no testing, no tracing and no support. Care staff with little medical training and no kit have been trying to treat residents struck down with the virus. People have been dying in their thousands in Care Homes with no help from Matt. Until recently they didn’t even count deaths occurring in the care setting. Currently the estimated coronavirus deaths in UK Care Homes stand at over 11000 (likely to be much higher). That’s some protective ring Matt….

Trust me I could go on and on about Matt…..So Mr Hancock you richly deserve this award. Unfortunately your country and in particular the elderly in our care homes deserve way better than you.

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….