Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Summer so Far

Includes comments of a unPC nature do not read if easily offended

The darling boy is out for the evening,I am home alone! so the Sauvignon Blanc has been hastily shoved the freezer and the well overdue update that pushes  the sad  'deleted'  post down my list can be written.
Aunty Peggy's funeral went well, if any of these events can be said to. It was a sadly small bunch of relatives that gathered to pay their respects. Beautiful flowers, uplifting hymms... Jerusalem, (she was that kind of woman) and a cream tea including scones and tiny sandwiches laid on by an accommodating local pub landlady (again, Peggy was that kind of woman!) I was very much the baby of my' generation' in the family , and still get called by the   nicknames of my childhood by the others. Its disconcerting to say the least, to be called the equivalent of bossy bessy in what is apparently an otherwise normal conversation with what i feel are my contemporaries. When  four of them began comparing hearing aids I realised that maybe I am not part of that club yet.
That week was hectic as the darling boy was in a production of Dr Faustus in which he played the lead. Its a huge part and he had worked very hard . He pulled it off magnificently! I was the proudest mother possible. Lots of his family and friends came to the theatre, and I was touched by how many people supported him . His sisters were as puffed up with pride as I was. Then at the end of the week SBF and I travelled to Wales for his nephews wedding. It was a great proper family do. SBF's 86 year old mother and I had far too much to drink and were no company to SBF on the long drive home as we were both snoring, swinging, suspended by our seatbelt sleeping dummies (apparently ...)
Anyhoo, moving swiftly on continued to be a source of stress, as the takeover and resultant staff departures began to bite. I will particlularly miss my adopted daughter at work, she took the opportunity of the golden handshakes offered to go back to uni to get her PGCE. I told her she had given me  all the pleasure of a daughter everyday, without the annoyance of wet towels on the floor  and tweezer stealing. She told me I had given her mother something to aspire to and that she had also saved me the trouble of sleeping with a black man (she is mixed race).
Seriously, not be be overly dramatic (moi?), work will never be the same again. Which is sad as I loved my job. Loved the gypsey nature of my campus to campus week and the different atmosphere at each.
I am trying hard to put all thoughts of my return to work out of my head until the end of the summer.
Since then we have had D No 1's Bday brunch which included smoked salmon and champagne , I have taught her her well! and D No 2's Bday gathering at my house which included BBQ, Olympic medals, Fifty shades discussion ,(even my sister is reading it!),  fizz and falling down.
SBF and I are off on holiday to the Isle of Mull on Saturday. We went last year en famille with daughter No 1, her husband, his mother and sister,though sister went home in a huff after a few days (long story)
We had a great time. SBF and Son In Law loved each others company and did lots of boys stuff together, mainly photography related. Lovely for them as SIL lost his father at far  too young an age  7 years ago and SBF is estranged from his eldest son, who hasnt spoken to him for about 8 years. We plan to do the family hol again next year but this time SBF and I are going alone. Its a very beautiful island, stunning scenery and very few people! which is a big  selling point for us. Highspots for me last year were, a trip to Staffa to see Fingal's Cave, which was amazing in itself, but on the boat trip we were followed by a school of dolphins  who swam and leaped so close to our boat I could have touched them!  It was so moving for me I cried! Also  seeing Sea Eagles and Otters We all photographed everything with varying degrees of success, but even my piccies, with such fabulous subjects couldn't go far wrong.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Permanently Deleted

Rambling so apologies
Two Funerals.
Half term.
I love a leisurely start to the day.
Curling stretching in my nest of a bed. Listening to the headlines at 6 a.m. and smugly relishing the fact that I don’t have to jump on that early morning treadmill of chores, making lunch, rousing son, feeding cat etc etc ... padding downstairs to make tea and taking it back to bed.
I have done all of the above , but this morning I have to write some memories of my Aunt who died last week for the Minister who will be officiating at her funeral. He doesn't know her, in fact has never met her or any member of my family, so I really hope I can somehow prĂ©cis her 93 years of life into an acceptably short  enough  (for him) memoir so that he can compose something relevant to say in Church.
She was a church goer. She was a lot of things before her failing health 7 years ago required her to sell up and move into a residential home.
This place was as close to Agatha Christie’s Bertrams Hotel as I am ever going to encounter in real life.
 Genteel. Only 16 lady residents, proper dining room, sherry before Dinner and not a whiff of wee!
She loved it here. Enjoyed being bathed and talced. Found no indignity in this kind of care. In fact, saw it as no more out of the ordinary than the things she had done for her nieces as children, it was now just her turn.
 Three years ago, due to failing faculties she moved to a nursing home. This place reminded me of a large real life (old)dolls house, where the inmates residents were got up, washed and tidied , dressed, fed, aired,  fed ,washed and put to bed only to start all over again next morning. 
On my last visit, indeed her last visit , when she appeared peacefully asleep, but was in fact slipping away due to a combination of old age morphine and recent surgical assault, one of her carers , a young girl showed me a picture on her phone of herself and Peg. They were both grinning broadly , the girl hugging Peggy close to her  and I felt eternally grateful that she had been well looked after.
In my writing for the Minister I tried to convey all that Peggy had done for us, the small family whose father had died all those years ago. How  after a days work  Aunty Peggy would feed and take care of two small girls  and put them to bed, while their mother worked a twilight shift in a factory, the only work she could fit in with home life.
Peggy had no children, and her beloved husband is dead, so there is no one left to send sympathy cards to. No one to confirm favourite songs, colours or films. In my memoir for the Minister, I hope I have conveyed enough of the woman who liked foreign holidays, designer clothing, jewellery and Hello magazine who also always put family first.

Last half term, my daughters and I went to funeral.
The 41 year old woman in question had been suffering from a brain tumour and had very sadly come to the end of her journey. She had been both daughters dance teacher from when they were tiny until they went to university. None of us had seen her for almost 10 years, but when the news came, we all felt we had to go to her funeral
She had been an enormous part of our family's life for so many years. First as a graceful, long limbed teen who helped with the younger children at the dance school. Then as a teacher, when she took over the running of the School.
 Very calm and patient she generated an aura when she danced. Her movements were so beautiful, so measured. My daughters adored her; they hung on her every word as small children and came to admire her as they grew up. They spent all of their Saturdays with her plus Monday evenings  and also  helped with Summer Schools and Concerts ,  for more than 18 years.
 I look back on those times, when the most serious thing we ever did was prepare for a ballet exam, as some of the most precious in our family life.
Her funeral was unusual. She never married and lived with her widowed mother, who seemed to be her closest friend. Her dogs, huge great dignified St Bernards, led the coffin in. A coffin covered in pictures of a meadow. Many dogs were in the Church and at quiet times in the service all I could hear was the panting of those comforting animals.
Many past pupils attended the service, little girls, now grown , with degrees in Fine Art, Chemistry, English , Photography, name it they went on to study it.
 But they still valued that time when as small children they all came together and danced

 The Darling Son has been playing a game called Diabolo 3. I don’t know if you have heard of it, I certainly wouldn't have if I didn't live with 22 year old gamer.
It is apparently enormously popular. I can’t give you any stats relating to this game cos I can’t really be arsed to look em up, just take my word for it, it is a huge worldwide online role playing game.
Darling son has periodically been calling me up to his room to, look at his character, marvel at his progress and skills etc etc, (see previous post ‘ holding the wire’ ) and the other day, he showed me what happens if you choose to play in Hardcore Mode. In this mode your carefully created character is 'mortal' in the sense that,  it is not possible to have any save points in the game and when it dies it dies!! All you have won or gained with said character in this mode will disappear. You will never be able to play using it again and it will appear in your list of characters as a grey robed figure. Apparently in this mode, the game is better, more rewarding, more edgy, more real!!!
 There is a warning before you hit the button to play in Hardcore Mode that advises that once a hardcore character dies it can never be played again. Customer Service cannot revive any Character lost when using this mode ...(this tells me they have had calls).
 Your Character is Permanently Deleted!
We laughed about this, but my son did say that he could imagine that after spending many hundreds of hours (yes horrified reader hundreds...), he could imagine the rage and frustration that would erupt if your hardcore character died, especially if it was due to an internet connection problem outside of your control.
 It got me thinking...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Holding the Wire

A  productive weekend, major progress made in the ongoing project of the staircase and its decor. This involved ,repairing, stripping, scraping, sanding, filling.  For most of this I was the gofer , fetching tools making food and drinks finding the elusive miscreant pencil/ruler/cloth..I held the wire.
Some years ago daughter number one and her future husband were doing some gardening for me.It was a lovely day , not too warm yet sunny,a perfect gardening day. DN1 loves gardening and they both seemed keen to share the task. Future son in law got out all the heavy duty gardening weapons, mower, strimmer, etc and outlined his plan of action. DN1 noticed quickly, as did I from my vantage point downgarden pulling weed out of the pond, that he had bagged all the fun jobs for himself. When she asked plaintively'what can i do?' his response was 'well you can hold the wire!' This phrase has become embedded in family folklore, and aptly sums up the attitude of her man and mine  to practical activities such as DIY and gardening. They like their women to 'share' the task with them , but in a watching , and fetching and carrying kind of way. SBF in particular likes an audience , and gets a bit short tempered if i am distracted from my adoration of his DIY skills. I am in fact genuinely in awe . He is astonishingly good at practical things and can make and mend anything! I am also eternally grateful for his help in my very old house which needs , it seems, constant attention to keep it from falling down. So for the most part I am his happy assistant, but sometimes ...
On Sunday i was chatting to my next door neighbour as I hung out the washing, when her husband ambled over. I told him we were gossiping and said if only the fence were lower I could  hoist my bosom a la Les Dawson over it. His response to this was that the thought of my bosom pressed against the fence had made him feel all funny. Now this is good news as he suffers from a degenerative illness, so any 'funny feelings' of this nature are to be celebrated! Much giggling ensued with references to spring and rising sap and secateurs , in a carryonesque fashion. Suddenly there was a shout from the house
' Besssy! Beeeeeesssssssyyyyy! where is the metal ruler?!' and SBF appeared at the bottom of the garden. Catching me out, off task. My neighbours giggled all the more, (they know all  about holding the wire), and I scurried off praying I could find the offending missing ruler quickly.Fortunately for me I was able to locate said ruler in a short enough space of time to placate SBF, but I didn't venture outside again.
Darling Son on the other hand has had a weekend of filming  a friends music video ,where other people held the wire. From what I have seen it looks suitably moody and atmospheric. Shot on a derelict site with drifting smoke and hints of hauntings and insanity. He said how surreal it felt. To be a few miles down the road from his home, with an L.A. film director. What a life eh?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Quote of the Day

Well it was last Friday actually, but I thought it was worth passing on.
Said by by Talented Only Son about a particularly twattish person on his course

'It was like he had removed his brain , placed it in his trouser pocket and it was dribbling down his leg...'

I knew exactly what he meant..
Hell IS other people!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Act of Rememberance

I went to the Crematorium today.
 I haven't been for a  while , possibly years.
I wanted to take some flowers to my Mum's memorial as Mothers day is coming up . It had been on my mind ever since I knew I wouldn't be at work today and would have the opportunity. Anyway the desire became more of a compulsion and I bought the flowers and pointed the car in the right direction almost without conscious thought. As i parked I could see the plaque with my fathers name and dates  on it  and bid a mental 'Hello Dad' to it.I would, as i always do, place a flower or two on the grass below.  I realised that it was their wedding anniversary today. My father died when he was 38 . I was a baby so I have no memories of him at all, but the legacy of his death and my Mothers subsequent hard life, cast a very long shadow.
I had a difficult  relationship my mother , as she did with me! I was  an emotional, clingy and anxious child (still am to be honest) and while I think a small child is quite nice to cling to , especially when you are a young widow and in mourning , as I got older it probably wasn't much fun. 
 As I grew older , I had the feeling that she viewed me with distaste and I in my turn had no patience or understanding for her .  I didn't find her loving or warm . She favoured my sisters company over mine and would only ever grudgingly help with my children. She did seem to like my children quite a bit , but when she died, her oldest friend told me that she knew that my sisters son , her first grandchild, was my mothers favourite .  My sister was there at the time and tried to kindly reassure me that it was simply because he was the first. Nevertheless it hurt and a  metaphorical door clanged shut! I asked myself why I was mourning a woman who had not been able to be the sort of mother I would have hoped for, and who, it now turned out, had extended her habit of favouritism down the generations. That was probably harder than accepting her lack of feeling for me . How could she not adore my amazing children?
My sister and I were also told by our aunt, that just before she died, my mother had said , she had never been happy. That made me both very sad and very angry.How awful that anyone , nearing the end of their life, couldn't summon up any memories of happiness. The anger came from the fact I couldn't really see why my aunt felt the need to pass that on.
 Nonetheless, she was still my mother and I think of her very day. In her defence,life for her was a struggle. She had increasingly poor health , and  suffered from depression. The way she bought me up, has had a profound effect on the way I have raised my children , as I never want them to feel as I did. I am happy to risk annoying them on a regular basis in order to let them know just how important they are to me.  
I have some understanding of my mothers actions as I get older. I  try to let go of any sad feelings or resentment , but I dont always succeed. 
Reading latest post  was very uplifting and pertinent for me today. I loved my mother, despite our poor relationship, but it is time to lay all the hurt to rest.
I bought yellow roses. She liked yellow, trimmed the stems ,arranged them carefully in the stone urn.  It was empty today. Often when I do visit, there are flowers there , taken I know, by my sister. Yellow is a good choice on a grey day and those roses seemed to glow and shine. I kept two blooms and walked back towards my car , back towards my fathers resting place. I laid them below his name and stood for a few moments looking the stark fact of the carved 'aged 38 years  Now at Peace'  and started crying.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Christmas Past

Did I have a good Christmas?
I have to say I did. I didnt feel as lacking in Christmas Spirit as I did last year , but neither did I feel the same excitement and gleeful anticipation I used to. I have realised though that it may have been many many years since I actually felt the sort of childlike thrill i am nostalgically remembering. Maybe I have finally grown up!
Only Son made a comment that he was glad I felt more Christmassy this year, so he must have been  aware that I  didnt last year
I did make a concious effort to be positive and count my blessings in the run up to Christmas and to enjoy things as they come.
That sounds very 'worthy' and forced but it wasnt. I am aware I tend to look on the bleak side (blame my mother) and I could undervalue the many many good things I have in my life by doing so. Looking back I think I am lucky that I have experienced most of my adult (and all of my childhood) christmasses as magical. Thst 31 years when I  catered and entertained at home, ( that number allows for one at my sisters , one in bed with flu, one at daughter no 2's) , somthing that many people view as a nightmare. Almost every adult I know doesnt feel the 'magic' anymore
I think the shine wore off a bit as I went through seperation and divorce, when money and logistics became a problem. Since then of course both daughters have moved out and although I see them over Christmas , D1 and hubby on eve and D2 and partner for Christmas dinner, it isnt the same. I had blamed my lack of Spirit on my own mood and worried that something was wrong , with myself or my relationship with SBF, but I think its just that I had failed to recognise that life moves on , as it should. Working full time ,which is fairly new for me has also meant that its been blimpin hard the last couple of years to organise the festive celebrations, especially since I 'lose' every other weekend at  SBF's house. Anyhoo, this year when lovely things happened I revelled in them, and tried not to get pre occupied with worries . The Nutcracker did set me up well I must admit . So what did I do ?
We drove to Cannock Chase to get the tree early(ish) on the 11th Dec as I was expecting to help D1 move house the following weekend . It was the best tree we have ever had. The top brushed the ceiling , and we didnt have to trim at all. It was the perfect shape and so beautiful. All SBF did was cut the very top to fit the star on :). I love getting up to the scent of pine and light the twinkly (all white of course)  lights  at every opportunity. The tree gave gave me such pleasure . I tried to explain to SBF how important it was to me ,and that the constant nagging every year about my choice of a real tree does hurt my feelings. I thought it had gone in , but he made a few jibes, which he thinks are funny so I dont know if he did understand at all. He  says ' I have to express my opinion ', ..well yes, but I KNOW your opinion now since you express it every year and at great length, even though I dont ask you for it . However, for the most part he was kind and helpful about it. D1 did move on the 17th so that saturday was taken up with humping lifting and cleaning followed by an exhausted early night. Sunday we just chilled. I was on holiday after that. Monday visited Mad Aunt  in the home . She was fine , in pretty good spirits considering she is still convinced that her sister (90) has shacked up with her dead husband. His death doesnt seem to be a bar to adultery, and he has apparently asked for a divorce.
That week I shopped and cooked, wrapped ,in this years theme of brown paper, green twine , ink stamped motifs and homemade tags, then delivered presents. Christmas itself followed much the same pattern as always. Meal on Eve with Daughter1 and her husband SBF and Only Son (Paella) . Smoked salmon and champagne breakfast on Christmas day, then traditional turkey dinner with D2 her boyf , Only son and SBF, followed by games and arguments! Result!