[I warn you in advance…this is a very long, very heartfelt piece of writing. I’ve probably said more than most people would on a public blog…and if that worries anyone, please don’t read it. I just needed an outlet.]
Well, it’s been about a month since my last writing…and life has been a bit hectic. I think the saying ‘it never rains but it pours’ has never been truer. But at the same time ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ so I’m staying positive. This year I wanted to feel things were happening, that life was worthwhile…and I’ve suddenly discovered that, even when life throws all it can at you, you can still see the good things. Appreciate the little things. There’s a side of me that feels I should be reacting differently. I should be feeling things more strongly, more acutely…not being so blasé about everything…but I have to be true to me, and this is how I feel. I hate the phrase ‘everything happens for a reason’…but at the moment I feel it’s true. There is good in every situation, even if sometimes you really have to dig to find it.
So what has happened to make me so philosophical? Well…the first thing since my last post was my birthday 🙂 Amidst all the caring and time spent at Atodiad, I turned 23. I used this as an excuse to get away for a day. Shaun and I went to Ellesmere’s Music Festival…a day of live music, a ceilidh and great company…plus the biggest ‘small meal’ I have ever seen!…made for a pretty good day 🙂 Ok, I didn’t spend it at home (other than first thing in the morning), but I needed the change of scenery.
That’s not very exciting or out of the ordinary, I know. Not enough to send me off on a deep exploration of my mind. Bear with me…
About two days before my birthday, Grandpa took a turn for the worst. His Parkinson’s seemed to worsen overnight, he couldn’t chew or swallow…and so struggled to eat. He really wanted to try some of my birthday cake, but couldn’t. He rallied a bit…came back into the living room for a couple of days…but it didn’t last long. Soon he was back in bed, and there he stayed. We had a steady stream of doctors, district nurses and carers for the next few days. Mum was staying over at Atodiad in the spare room. On the night of the 16th July, Severn Hospice found a last minute respite lady who came to relieve Mum. So she could get some sleep. Half 12 she got a phonecall. Soon after, Grandpa passed away…with Mum on one side, and Grandma on the other. Exactly how he’d have wanted.
So I woke up, the same as usual…met by a cup of tea…and the bad news. I think I knew…even half asleep I’d seen the light go on in the night, and heard the door open and close. So when Dad told me, I just nodded and asked the appropriate questions. But I felt numb. I now know, that was me grieving. I have to say, I am so grateful to Shaun for being there that morning…not sure how I’d have coped otherwise. The rest of the day passed in a bit of a smudgy blur. Undertakers, phone calls, paperwork, numerous cups of tea…so much to sort out at a time when no-one wants to do it. Mum went into auto-pilot, Grandma was coping well until mid-afternoon when she dissolved. I just put my arms round her. A gesture I don’t do very often, so in a way it brought us together. ‘Every cloud…’
The next few weeks were full of appointments with banks, phone-calls to everyone under the sun, opening sympathy cards, meeting with the funeral directors, and reminding Mum and Grandma to eat and drink. Oh, and no internet, which was fun All through this, Grandma was remarkably cheerful. The funeral was ‘Grandpa’s party’ to celebrate his life. She was looking forward to seeing who was going to be there. Every card she received was ‘oh, how nice!’. Her reaction was quite unexpected really.
31st July…Grandma’s 90th birthday. She had a wonderful day. Lots of flowers arrived, lots of cards, and a homemade Hummingbird cake 🙂 A few people popped in to say hello, we were over there all day (as we had been since the 17th anyway), and just generally it was a lovely day for a birthday. Two days later, we had an Open House for her. My Dad’s family came over for the day, plus Shaun and his Dad, and some friends from the Attfield. Another lovely day 🙂 Grandma was losing her voice by the end of the day, but she had had a wonderful time.
Three days after that, and it was the funeral. It was a wonderful service…I think everyone smiled, as well as shedding a tear or two. For me it gave me closure. He’s really gone. Yes, I still refer to ‘them’ or ‘Grandma and Grandpa’…but I know he’s gone. I can now move on. Grandma, however, saw that as the end of current plans. What does she have to look forward to now?
That weekend, Shaun and I went to Edinburgh. A bit of a last minute getaway plan. Travelled up Saturday, checked in to our hotel, and then went in search of ‘the Fringe’. Collected and bought some tickets, and headed to our first show – ‘The Object of My Affection’. A wonderful hour of modern ballet, all about the things we covet. For me, it was fascinating to see the dancing so close! You could see the muscles work, see when the pointe shoes were slipping off the dancer’s heel (yes, it really does happen to everyone, I’ve discovered!) and hear every pointe shoe landing on the stage. It made it very real. After that we went in search of food….an hour later we made a decision 😛 My ‘moules frites’ were very welcome by that point. We then headed off to meet up with Bex and Tim for a drink, before going to a ‘show’ in the evening. Well, that was an interesting experience. A lot of crazy, a lot of ‘I’m a little uncomfortable right now!’…so ye 😛
Sunday it rained. A lot. We had three shows booked in though…so after breakfast, and a bit of window shopping, we went to see ‘Wanderlust’. This was amazing. A brilliant piece of theatre, including music and song, lighting effects and a beautiful story. Lots of humour, and just enough tugging at the heartstrings to contrast brilliantly. We both came out afterwards and just said ‘wow’. Just time for some lunch at Pizza Express (where I was complimented on my braided hair by a (possibly) Russian lady :P), before going to the giant upside-down purple cow-shaped arena tent for ‘A Simple Space’. An hour of breathtaking acrobatics, where I couldn’t believe such things were possible, let alone imagine learning how to do them! Some of the little competitive interludes I found a bit random…but I suppose it broke up the suspense of the big balances. Afterwards we had time for some ‘bubble tea’ (or, as Shaun called mine, ‘Lenor with fishy porridge balls’) before going to our last show of the Fringe – ‘Blues and Burlesque’. A real cabaret variety night…dance, burlesque, live music, comedy and magic. Made me smile 🙂 We decided (eventually) to stay in for the night, so went and got KFC (after walking the right way down the road, but not far enough, followed by the wrong way down the road, realised our mistake and turned round and went the right way. All in the rain).
Monday, we did a bit of shopping (except I didn’t buy what I went out to buy because I’m an idiot) then went to ‘The Real Mary King’s Close’. This was an opportunity to see the old city that was built on top of! The old streets and houses are still there, some exactly as they were left. Was a really interesting insight into the history of the city. Too soon, though, it was time to catch the train home. Got delayed at Wolverhampton, and persuaded Dad to pick us up from Shrewsbury not Welshpool. We went for a meal at a pub, where we discussed our weekends…
…and Dad said three words – ‘ Grandma in hospital’. Hence, ‘it never rains but it pours’. Sunday night she was very breathless and turned a grey colour, Mum called the paramedics, and (somehow) they took her into hospital. It’s now Thursday and both Grandma and Mum are still there. Grandma won’t stay without Mum. The doctors think she’s had a minor heart attack, probably due to stress…and, as the doctors apparently told her, ‘stiff upper lip syndrome’. Holding things in really doesn’t do anybody any good. Hopefully, they will both be home for the weekend.
But seeing the positive side? I’ve been able to catch up on things at home. Simple things like listening to Elaine Paige on the Radio, being creative and not having to change houses to find something I forgot, doing the laundry that’s been piling up for three weeks…yes, it’s selfish when someone’s ill, and Mum’s having to stay there too…but I have to see the up side. Someone’s got to stay positive.
So ye…that’s where this month has taken me. A roller-coaster of ups and downs. And yes, I know this is probably more than I should be posting on a public blog…but I needed to write it, and no-one says you had to read it. It’s more for me than anyone else, I guess. But also hopefully it helps my friends understand how I’ve been (or not been) over the last few weeks. Here’s to the rest of 2014!