Are you ready for this?

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Location: United Kingdom

Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Almost normal.

This picture was taken yesterday when Eli came to me and said " Iss wezday aday, come on, mamma's house, come on titty Leah a wezday" ( I'm pretty sure he was just hoping it was wednsday, pretty good guessing on his part!) He always goes to gramma's on wednesday but hasn't since dad was first ill, I took him over and then we all went out for the day, he loves titty Leah and just breathed in the very essence of her all day, if she sat still, he sat with her and twiddled with her ear.....the boy was happy.

Today was an almost normal day. H and I went and bought a printer/scanner at last. How nice to just have an hour or so on our own and wander around a shop without having to do the 100 yard dash after an offspring or 3, I can hardly wait to start printing. I have no idea what I want to start printing but I am very keen to begin, because I can, as soon as H has set it up.
How marvellous to be all girlie and useless and unable to think about such things as setting up printers, I swore during my 10 years as a single parent that should I ever have the chance I should become completely dependant and fluffy and never so much as change a lightbulb myself again. I am sort of happy to say that I haven't gone that far, I still do many many things I thought I wouldn't do like, take out rubbish ( grudgingly) change plugs and mend things but wiring and me, instructions and me...forget it. Don't ask me to put together furniture ( Sophie's great at that- hoorah!) and nothing, absolutely nothing will get me near anything that needs reading instructions written by people who take sadistic delight in wording the directions in such a way as to make me question my intelligence. So, lovely printer/ scanner/ copier will sit behind me in it's nice box until H feels he has enough time to set it up unhindered.
The school run was great today, grandpa from L.A. sent a parcel and in it were some wrist watches from the 99c store, the incredible hulk and spiderman, oh joy of joys.......2 little boys who could scarcely wait to show off their new watches. Seth was beyond thrilled and Isaac, dear Isaac made sure his watch was just peeking out of his sweat shirt sleeve in the hope that everyone would see it but not actually mention it. What a treat to take them both in without a single tear or clinging moment. Thankyou grandpa.
Seth came home today with a note in his reading book to say he has been advanced again, he is now on orange level, just 2 more I think until he is at the highest expected level for the year above him!! Clever little poot! He took full advantage and said that boys who are on orange books have to stay up late on thursdays, I suspect that in the morning he will tell us that because he is on orange books he can stay home until the other kids catch up!!
Jordan is home from work, I think he wants the computer, it's 11:52 pm I told him I was just trying to think of a witty way to wrap up my blog tonight.
" Ooooh, I know" he said " THE END" Smart arse.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I really, really thought that being a mum would get easier as time went by, the more kids I had the simpler it would be.
Oh dear.
Actually, I now can tell you all that raising Daniel was a sinch, then I sort of lost it along the way. Have I just got weary, am I more relaxed? Am I too old? WHAT?!?! I have to say that I find it more amusing as I get older, things that would have made steam come out of my ears with Dan make me pee with delight with Elijah. I can stand back and appreciate the artwork in indelible marker on the pristine walls ( appreciate or not care? Is it the same.....probably not) There is something a bit amusing about swearing from the mouths of babes too these days. Not when ( or if) they were to swear at the 'right' time of course. An expletive if they drop a toy would be horrifying but an episode like we had tonight cheered me no end ( eventually).
Seth is having a phase. I hope it's a phase because it's not fun and I won't like it if this is actually how he intends to be forever. I am saying it's a phase and determining that it will be. He hates going to school, he has the hardest time with playtime, has no idea how to play with other children the way they want to play. His face when confronted with a sturdy 5/6 year old begging to play is something akin to horrified- with a touch of glee. He so desperately wants to play but gosh darn it, there are no instructions for playing, in the playground, with other kids. Look at them for heaven's sake, they just run around and shout and drag each other by the sweatshirt...where's the fun in that? So, we have the run up to school time, every morning it's a new reason why he can't go, we've had most every illness and we've had the fact that it's just boring and he knows everything he ever wants to know.
Today he had a dry foot. " My foot is dry so I have to stay home" Hmmmmm. That's OK son, there's rain forecast for later, take your shoes and socks off and run around in the puddles, problem solved, time to get dressed.
When we get to school, after we have taken Isaac to reception class and stuck his name on the packed lunch board and his name on the what to have for snack board, when we have waved goodbye and kissed and taken him back into his classroom 7 times and eventually peeled him off me and attached him to his helper or the teacher or Carol who is nice, we go to Seth's classroom. In his classroom, after I have kissed him 19 times, hugged him 8 times, picked him up 37 times and then actually managed to leave him there, he learns all kinds of fabulous things, he is almost at the top of the group for year 2 in most subjects, even though he is barely through half of year one, even though he is almost a year younger than the other children in his year. He is learning a huge amount, very quickly. At the same rate that he learning all these marvellous things he is learning the stuff we don't want him to learn.
He is sooooooooooo mean, when he comes home, having been the bit scaredy sort of quiety nerd person all day he feels it only fair that he should become the tough mean big one.
" don't even look at me Isaac or I will kick you in the head" " get out of my way Jerk or I'll punch you in the face" Lovely. Not the kind of thing you can ignore, at all. Ordinarily I think I would have an answer, right now I find myself wishing I could just say " try it buddy and I'll slap you sideways" Thankfully, so far I have managed not to say that as Seth is too quick, too sharp and he'd use that as quick as a flash the very next time he felt like taking his frustrations out on the Isaac boy.
Tonight, I could hear the conversation from outside the room they were in and it was sort of like this....
" I don't want to play with you jerk...get away from me"
" " ( that's Isaac not answering he also obviously didn't take a blind bit of notice of Seth )
" I said get away from me or I'll kick you, just get away you jerk"

ME "Seth, the way you are speaking to Isaac is mean and totally not acceptable, be nice RIGHT NOW or YOU will come out and he gets to stay right there and play"
" Don't you even try to talk to me jerk" ( this was to ME....ME )

Oh......OHHHHHHH!!!! Right that's, I was sitting at the computer, and to get to where he was I had to stand up ( yes, really) and walk almost in a straight line and go down 5 stairs across and up 3. Super nanny be damned, I was going to get that kid and show him what for. He was going to know for sure that he isn't going to speak to ME like that and get away with it and while I was on the way I thought a particularly loud and terrifying roar was in order.
Marvellous, to help me with the loud and terrifying roar, as I stood up I smashed my left foot into the computer table, my bare foot, should probably mention that. The good Lord somehow managed to muffle the words that tried to scream out of my mouth, all that came out was the loud and painfilled roar and a sort of weepy sound mixed in, I stumbled down the stairs and across and up the 3 stairs and by the time I got to the bathroom I was just a hobbling, frustrated, ' burbulurballerber' ing idiot.
Angels are watching, their silent notes taking. As well as stepping in and watching over my kids ( if not my feet) what a shame they are having to be protected from me!! ( and also, angels, while we're at it, could you not, do you think, find it in you to protect my children from me by filling me with Godly love, surrounding me with peace and serenity? why would breaking my toes and having me near faint in pain be the best way to stop me battering the bejeebers out of them? )
Anyway, when all was settled and calm, Seth, Isaac and I had a chat about how we should speak to each other.
We discussed how it just isn't right to be so mean to each other and we should say nice things....Isaac grasped it immediately.
"We not say Jert at me, Seff not say stupid jert at me, ( actually he lisps so he said , "thay Thupid Jert" etc but it gets ridiculous when trying to write it all just as he says it!) we not say bloody, we not say shut up....deffaly not say futtin' do we mummy, never say futtin' nat a ferry bad word Seff, we not say FUTTIN'" I thought he would burst from the excitement of saying so many forbidden words all at once!
I remember being 5ish and discovering that a bitch was a female dog, oh the joy of being able to ask mum 30 times a day if " that dog is a bitch?" or if so and so's dog was actually a bitch, you know a girl dog, a bitch?
I was sent upstairs to wait for punishment when I was 6 because I had learned that crumpet was something other than a toasted tea-time treat and wore it out until mum's ears bled.

I am sure that Seth is doing nothing more than taking out his fears on Isaac when he is at home and feeling safe. He's just so good at it, my teeny little bespectacled brainbox. I wish he could be happy at school and we are all working at it. I also wish that there werent mean kids in his world. I am pretty sure that no-one is mean to him. He is watched quite closely and I am told that he is popular and that the other kids love him. I see how happy they are to see him every morning but he sees things so differently to us somehow. His world is very different to mine and when he tells me things his side of the tale is so far from what I have actually seen. To him though, what he feels is real, what he understands is how it really is.
This mothering thing SO doesn't get easier ( does it mum?!?) no matter how many kids you have, no matter how old they are or where they live, no matter how tall they get, what size they become, being a mother is just the hugest and most demanding job we will ever have. It is also ( thankfully) the best job, the most rewarding job. I am very, very happy I did it six times. I am also very, very happy I stopped when I did!!! My heart is full.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Not much to blog about today, it feels like one of those days that is spent running on the spot.
Isaac's speech therapist came to the house today after school to see how he is doing and catch up with him, the school have told her how mute he is at school.....well I think I can quite safely say that she saw how unmute he is at home! He was very loud.....ignored her so perfectly even she was impressed and then, THEN..... yegads... the devil's spawn came to tea!! What in the name of all that's psychotic came over the boy? He just went so beserk that I was hard put to make a joke of it. He screamed and kicked, fought and screamed and screamed some more. Eventually Beverley the nice speech therapist sort of scuttled out of the front door with a thankful look on her face and I think she said she would call me, it looked as if her lips were saying something like that but she could just have easily have been saying ' bless me father and pass the garlic'. I think she was impressed at the way I tucked the spirited youngster under my arm and carried on talking to her as if I didn't actually realise just how completely demonic he was being.
I have no idea why he did it, it may have been that after the 3rd whack in the head from the flying power ranger binoculars, I took them away and put them out of reach.......hard to say.
Within minutes of Beverley leaving and a 4 minute spell in his room he came out as meek as a lamb and the child possessed was no more. We won't think about him being 14 and having that kind of rage will we? WILL WE????
I am old. I feel old. My like aged friends are talking about new conservatories and quiet holidays without their children who have left to go to college. They talk about retirement. Ha ha ha ha ha ha...... H and I talk about how we will raise these boys and then just sort of crumble in a heap of osteoporitic bones and pray they visit us at christmas, as we sit in a stupor facing each other in an old folks' home ( where neither of us will be incontinent because we have our pride) Please let us be in an old folks home, because I don't want to cook meat and 2 veg for H when the boys are out in the wide blue yonder, I want a fish finger and some bread and marg. at 4 pm and to be tucked in bed with a talcumed bottom by 7.30pm. I shall be worn out by then, when Eli is 18 I shall be 61. That's not too young to be in a home. It's just right. Let those other old biddies walk around the world and work in charity shops if they like, I'm sitting down in a plastic covered chair, in some nice stretchy elastic waisted trews, reading a large print book and waiting for someone to bring me cake and cups of cocoa, just let anyone try and talk me out of it.
I had a taste of it today when mum gave me a lovely dinner in her front room on one of those little foldy tables in front of me, some warm crumble and custard for pudding and then left me all alone in the quiet.....heaven. Never let it be said that I am difficult to please.
Lawks, H has been ill, chest infection, he has been very poorly with absolutely no sympathy from me because I have been feeling hard done by. If anyone is going to wallow in bed it should be me in my state of mourning and heartache......he can get a cough and sore throat any old time, selfish as ever, trust a man to get ill and even have the doctor verify it and give him anti biotics just when all the attention should be on ME in this house right now. I can't get to be the centre of attention even at a time like this, that is SO typical.
H must be feeling better because there is some mighty zippy music coming from the bedroom. Well, let him feel better but the music will be the only zippy thing in that bedroom tonight I can tell you. It's all very comforting to think of your dearly departed watching over you but there are times it could be a bit unnerving.
So, that's it for another day....I'm definately finding it hard to write much at the moment, if you think that's bad you should hear me try and speak, hopeless. Mumbling nonsensicle muttering. Complete pathetic-ness unless I am shrieking. Great stuff.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's mothers' day in England.....whoppydoo.

Somehow the days you look forward to most are the ones that let you down most. Mothers' day is a let down for me most years, this one was no exception apart from deciding that I wouldn't sit at home wishing I was being spoiled, I took myself to MY mum's house and had a lovely peaceful afternoon , lunch by Leah, girlie DVD with mum and Julie and back home to chaos.

Sophie and Jordan have booked a lunch for tomorrow, I couldn't face the crowds of today so tomorrow will be perfect. I know I'm not H's mum but I am the mother to 3 of his sons and I would think it a good idea for him to help THEM do something. Completely hopeless in these things but he irons my clothes all year round..... and does the dishes every day, all of them....shouldn't complain but I AM. Na na na na na.

Actually, funny how it's on the days I should be gushing in the glories of motherhood, I find myself thinking I should have had cats. Shove them out the door at night and if they really get on your nerves you can have them put down. ( I know, I know..mean woman, shouldn't even jest about it in regards to a defenceless animal. Defenceless? Have you smelt what they can do in a litter tray? Ewwwwwww anything that can create a stink like that and still walk around with it's nose in the air is anything but defenceless I tell you.)
Mum has a cat. It's called Buzz lightyear ( named by Sam aged nearly 2 and 3/4) the cat is actually a kitten and is on it's 3rd home. It is quite the maddest cat I have ever come across. It thinks it is a person but it is a mad person, really mad, certifiable actually.
Buzz has been a lifeline to mum because he is worse than having a toddler in the house. He attacks with such ferosity that there is no hope of wandering around in a depressed and mourning state. Mum and Leah have to have their wits about them at all times. I think he goes for the throat but he's a bit little so he gets the top of the thigh, hard. He unplugs the cable for the TV and I think he laughs. He fills his litter box at the same time every morning and that reminds mum and Leah that they are alive and all senses are functioning. There is a glimmer of hope that the removal of his manly bits will calm him down. I suspect it will actually make him want revenge. Perhaps having cats isn't the answer. Maybe fish?

*sigh* I am a bit bored. It's 8.32pm, we put the clocks forward last night so it's really 7.32pm........nothing to do ( that's untrue of course but there's nothing to do that would please me so I'm not doing it)
Ho hum....... Oh oh.....I have noticed a few new names on my comments, lovely. I love comments, I love knowing people read me, it's almost as good as thinking people listen to me when I talk but I've seen the glazed looks so I can't really hold onto that joyful feeling.
Sara M....mum said you are reading, I saw your comment but didn't know it was you! Hello, how exciting that someone who actually has seen me is reading too!
So, because I am bored and it is a fact that I am a tart for anything that makes me feel good, I think it's time for a roll call, a plea for anyone and everyone to leave a comment telling me they are here...that even means mum who thinks her fingers will drop off if she touches a keyboard, Leah, drag her over and make her say hello!!
Thankyou, in anticipation. May I be among the double figure bloggers!!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Give me someone to slap.

So we read ( and are told ) that there are 5 stages of grief.

  • Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
  • Depression (I don't care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)
I'm not entirely convinced that there are only 5 or that the 5 are always experienced in this order.... but today, I can absolutely and categorically say that number 2 is the emotion of the day.
I do have a particular target for my rage ( and it is a rage, forget cross, grumpy, annoyed or a bit mad) and truly he is well deserving of my wrath, however, because my dad didn't feel this anger towards this person, because he, being so much more forgiving than me, continued to love and give space to this person who actually should have had many good slaps and even the odd punch throughout time in order to make him either see the error of his ways or just get the hell away from somehow isn't for me to take the rage out on him.
I know he is actually so pathetic as to not even deserve my wasted energies ( try telling that to a heart that aches and feels that somehow some release would be gained from just one chance to give back some of the horrid meaness) my ordinarily sensible heart tells me that we all know this person is sad, he has nothing and of course sad, nothing people almost always feel the need to bring happy, everything people down to their level, subconsciously or not.
My unsensible, wish my dad wasn't dead and why is he gone when this miserable nothing is still around to make me feel this way? heart just wants to slap someone.
I won't slap my kids even if they are fighting about EVERYTHING and manage to somehow do stuff like jump on my shins with stomping great shoes on ( why have you got your damn shoes on in the house? Get the bloody things off!!!)
Not even when they tip the duplo out and then not play with it.......almost when they ( Isaac) have the fridge phonics not quite in my face ( just far enough away that I can't grab it and hurl it through the window with the crooked and twisted net curtains from having Elijah swing on them despite my threatening to smack him if he doesn't get the hell off them) and push the button over and over and over again so we hear A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A gazzillion times rather than the slightly annoying but cutesie song about how A says "A" A says "A" every letter makes a sound, A says "A".
I won't slap H because his dad is still alive and well and is 4 days older than my dad, and anyway I love H's dad too. Or because he downloads stuff onto his I.pod all day every day and makes this computer so slow and that makes me even madder.
I won't slap Jordan who borrowed some money that I could scarcely afford to lend him the week the rent is due and somehow he doesn't have it to give back even though he promised- and managed to go out last night and get drunk...actually, scrub that, I might slap him after all, he's big enough to take it, 6' 6" now, lanky git, I just may need a step ladder and what's the betting I won't be able to find it because some blighter will have used it and not put it back .......
I won't slap Sophie because saints alive, she is a bit gorgeous right now and is being very kind to me and anyway she isn't here, which is why I shall be able to think of her as gorgeous until 5pm when she comes home and gets on my nerves.
None of these people ( except Jordan and he will probably redeem himself very soon) shall be on the receiving end of my twitching backhand today....... ugh rage isn't a nice thing, I hope it burns itself out before I clap eyes on the subject of my loathing. Not sure I can exercise such restraint as wise and gentle mum or forgiving dad.
Just let me at him, let me tell him what I think and let me kick and scream and spit and rage.
I envy, just briefly, those people so able to give vent to their feelings without actually feeling remorse, just doing what feels right at the time. The trouble is I've been raised so well, taught so beautifully that there is a bigger picture and when we feel like this we should take a breath, a step back and ask what is really the right thing to do.
I am pretty sure that when the time comes, I will be just as I have been shown I should be, I will be quiet and see the eternal picture, keep my mouth shut and my fists to myself..... but today, oooh it'd feel so bloody brilliant to just smack him right in the gob.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Next stop Rickmansworth.

Oh weary me....I am a traveller returned, my Jane and her delicious babies have gone home to Utah and I helped her on her way, ME....I drove her the whole way to the airport, near London...that big place where people aren't used to sharing roads with cows and sheep, where ancient farmers on antiquated tractors don't write the rules of the road, the ones that say that 'tidden no need for rushin', "better to get there 30 minutes late in this life than 30 years early into next one my lover." Up there in that fast paced world, well- they want to get there yesterday and so they have big old roads with fast important looking shiny cars without bits of hedgerow in the wing mirrors.
The original plan was that I merely accompany Julie as she drove the American bound family to the airport so she would have company on the journey home....oooh, a road trip, fun. Julie is completely unafraid of unfamiliar roads and fast moving traffic, getting lost doesn't happen to Julie, me though..well I have been known to drive through Wales ( which is a whole other country the welsh will tell you, in my attempts to get just 3 counties up in THIS country..Devon, somerset, Wiltshire, in a straight line on a map.....Wales is right over there on the left but that won't stop ME enjoying it's beauty.Thankyou!!) However, Julie's husband was violently sick all night and so at 3.15am I found myself driver and navigator and rather cunningly woke Jordan to come with me ( he had a day off ahead of him) he was dressed and in the car before he was awake enough to understand what he had agreed to, HA!! teenagers are gullible creatures when you catch them at the right moment.
So, 4 adults, 2 babies and more bags than I reckoned on, still plenty of room in my lovely old bone shaking mini-van, between us we thought we could gather the funds for this trip....nearly 500 miles in a gas guzzling tank of a vehicle, much loved but feared and spoken to with respect and pleas for good behaviour and safe travels. Petrol is £.89 a LITRE, thats roughly ( very roughly- I'm as good at maths as I am at reading maps or finding airports,) between $7 and $8 a gallon, gold juice my friends. The coach was fully booked and the train is daylight robbery and expected them to change not once but twice, with babies and siree , my carriage awaits and was still shiny in between the scratches and rust spots following a pre funeral visit to the only hot wash in town.
We had room a plenty for passengers and snacks and off we went.
I stunned myself. I did it...... our destination was a mere 32 miles away with signposts showing me the way so clearly I actually KNEW I would get there, first try. That was until Jane said
" It's no good, I need a pooh"
" Nearly there" said I.
" nope, it won't wait, NOW, please stop somewhere NOW"
Now, as a rule, I would tell her to practice her pelvic floor exercises, thank the powers that be that we are so close to getting where we intended even though I am driving and just grit her teeth, but we are in a car without the wife of a man who has been vomiting for England all night, the very man whose house Jane and family have been sleeping in for 2 weeks. Did I mention also that dearest Izzie, aged 2 1/2 has been puking in the back seat the whole way up? When the mother of a puking child who has been staying in the home of a puking adult says her bowels feel unsteady and should be allowed to do what they are screaming to do, it's best not to argue and off the motorway we came.
Why is it that these things tend always to happen when you are nowhere near a toilet and it's so early that ( remember we are in England) nothing is open. NOTHING. Also, my family tend to find such horrible humour in the discomfort of another human being in such situations. Imagine hearing Jane's plaintive pleas, begging now for even a relatively high hedge to squat behind and Jordan replying " hmmm, 5 miles to Staines.... Jane might get there quicker than us" Just in the nick of time we found a corner shop open and Jane was told she was welcome to use their facilities, she came out looking considerably more comfortable than when she went in, even though she told us in great detail that a hedge would have been preferable and infinitely more sanitary.
All is well, except that unlike Hanzel and Gretel no-one had thought to throw bread trails out of the window and for some unknown reason the highway people omitted to put up a single sign for the M25 or Gatwick airport. Bugger.
I did it though, we made it, in plenty of time and 2 babies, 2 adults ( dosed up with every kind of anti pooh / puke medicine and some soothing just feel better medicine for good luck) and a ton of bags were checked in and sent on their way.
I have no logical reason for feeling this way, but it is true to say that I am never worried about getting HOME from somewhere. I always have the utmost faith in the fact that I will simply get in my car and it will somehow remember how we got to wherever we have been and simply point itself in that direction and take me home. Not on the M25 however.
Why, I ask you, can there not be simple, easy to follow directions to the very end of this country? I wanted to get to the bottom bit of the 'boot' the SOUTHWEST. How hard would that be to just have signposts that say "the SOUTHWEST" Suddenly I find myself and my well behaved but thristy car, having already guzzled its way through £60 of petrol , on a fast moving motorway with a choice of going to London, London and Reading or...... I forget where but I knew I didn't want to go there.
I want the southwest, I don't want to go INTO London, no-one in their right minds wants to go INTO London....I am pretty sure we didn't go anywhere near Reading on the way up so why would we go there on the way home?!?
So we went to Rickmansworth.
Dear life...... how does this always happen to me? Bloody Rickmansworth, I know you've probably never heard of it and I have only heard of it because my uncle lived there once when I was about 5, of course he doesn't live there now or it would have been a happy mistake and we could have dropped in for a drink and a nervous breakdown.
Jordan thought that this might be just the perfect moment to find the roadmap, look up Rickmansworth and say " We are SO far out of our way you know" The marvellous thing about driving an automatic car as opposed to a manual, is that there is almost always a free hand available to punch someone should the need arise.
The need arose.
He then rather cleverly looked at the map and said that Reading was indeed on the way home to the southwest, no need to drive through it but head in the general direction and we were on the right road. Halle-blinking-lujah.
We are home, our ears can still hear the rattling of the loose bits in my dear car that got us where we needed, where we didn't need ( or want) and home again.
It cost £110 in petrol. My bed is beckoning and I am on my way. I hope my Jane and her family have had a good trip and can enjoy the bliss of their own beds very soon too. Such a sad reason for this visit but the joy those 2 babies brought with them was priceless.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Just as it should be.

“ And now I bid unto all farewell, I soon go to rest in the paradise of God, until my spirit and body shall again reunite, and I am brought forth triumphant through the air, to meet you before the pleasing bar of Jehovah, the Eternal judge of both quick and dead. Amen.

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So, it's done, my dad has gone and we said goodbye in a way so fitting this man that there were tears of such joy, pride and sadness, though the sadness is just for us, never him.
Dad's brother came and we think maybe he has been trying not to believe that his brother was dying, then gone. He seemed very fragile and we were aware how blessed we are in that we have a faith and true belief that dad isn't gone forever from us, just from this world. We have loved and been loved by him, his life was rich and filled with family and love, whether he thought he wanted it or not! We saw today such a bringing together of his life, people who have loved him for years, who remember him from so long ago. Tales of his service and devotion, again and again the fact that he was full of such integrity. Known for his love of his family and service to mankind.
Thanking people for coming to his goodbye and hearing "how could I NOT come?"
Once, when a relationship with a man I believed I was in love with came to an end, he cried and said that it was hard on him because not only would he not see me anymore but my whole family would be lost to him. Today I saw my sisters husband put his arms around her ex-husband as they carried a man they both loved into the chapel. When I saw 6 of the men most loved by dad and our family carry him with such pride and reverence it was impossible not to give release to some of the emotions such a sight brought out.
I saw a girlfriend my brother had more than 30 years ago standing as the man she had loved as a father was carried in.
I watched grown men weep and shoulders shake at the realisation that this man was lost to us for a while.
The mourners were so many that the chapel had to be opened out and made larger, the singing was such that I was in no doubt that somewhere was the spirit of a man conducting and rejoicing at such musical praise for his life.
We heard tales of his life, the great thing about a funeral such as this is that every single person involved in this day was known to, and loved by, my dad, from the funeral director, the bishop, the speakers, even the ladies who worked to set up a feast , all of it done with the perfection needed when someone wants their love to be evident. It was.
Apparantly we were unlike most mourners on the 20 mile trip in the posh car to the crematorium.... because we laughed, that legacy of fun came out, not irreverance, never that, just the abilty to laugh in any circumstance, the humour in any situation. As we drew into the beautiful grounds that held the crematorium, mum said " oh how thoughtful, look- they have labelled the lavatories so clearly, because you know, life and bladders go on" I thought the driver would choke! We even mentioned what a shame it was to be in such a vehicle and not be able to pose for pictures for fear of it being unseemly....guess what? The driver must have told the funeral director and he came up to us as we were about to leave and said "where's a camera then, I'd better get some pictures of you in this car hadn't I? " And he DID.

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The family went for a great meal where the kids could run and play and we could eat and talk, a perfect end to the day really. I have to say that my little boys were remarkable, such good boys, Seth seemed to be so in role as he wept and looked so forlorn, repeating something that sounded so heartfelt and sad......I hated to tell that actually he had posted his favourite pen in the donations box and was mortified that it was locked and the pen was lost to him forever, he just looked to cute with his 3 piece black suit, gelled hair and tearstained face.....I felt we deserved for people to talk about that little boy who would miss his papa so!!!
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Isaac was so overawed by it all he was immobilised and silent.
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Elijah fell asleep in the glorious tender arms of titty Leah who is fabulous at soothing that squirmy maggot that is Eli into a slumber as soon as a hymn begins.
My mum, of course, was the very epitome of dignity, she oozes such serenity ( not lost on us that somehow none of us snagged that particular gene- darn it) She was thrilled that she had ordered a beautiful wreath of lillies for dad, when she saw it it was filled with daisies too, her most favourite of simple flowers.
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So, now our work is done, as far as all the details of saying goodbye go, now we have to go on without him here, live in a way that ensures that when our time comes we can be sure of the same kind of goodbye, not one regret...not one moment of sorrow for things unsaid, deeds undone. A life that will see us meet up with dad and be able to look him in the eye and tell him that his example was exemplory and we were proud to follow in his footsteps, joking all the way and missing not a single chance to spread some of that joy around.
Bye my dad, for me try and be as good a parent as you and mum have been. I will keep my promise and look after your Peggy, I will help Leah to have that life of her own and be unafraid of what life has to offer her.
I will keep that promise that was between you and see if I don't.
I love you my dad, I will miss your face and long to see you, but I will be happy and I will try always to make others happy and glad that they have known me. When I cry, it will be because I wish that you were still here, if only for a minute. I am so proud to have been yours, to BE yours. Helen.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A'int nothin' right in this house......

I just don't know what is goin' on, usually I am pretty much in control, they love me.....I think they adore me, I just flash 'em a grin with my goofy teeth and they fall for it, suckers.... but lately, things haven't been the same, my mummy has been out a lot and she's been crying. I know they keep talking about my papa and I haven't seen him in a while. I always go to gramma's on wednesday but this week I didn't. My auntie Leah ( I call her titty Leah because Auntie is hard to say) snuggles me and plays with me and gives me CHOCOLATE..ha ha the others only have treats like that on saturday but titty Leah sneaks me some on wednesdays. This week, nothing......What is going on??
I kind of was alright about it all until tonight, mummy took gramma out, something about making the church look just right for saying goodbye to papa ( where is he GOING? Won't anyone tell me???) and I get left with daddy, who is great fun and I love him, he gives me good stuff like french toast for dinner and ice cream when I feel like it. The thing is, he's not quite the same as mummy in some things.
Like bedtime. Clean PJs, chocolate milk and snuggle me, with my blanket, in the front room, please. How hard is that I ask you? What is it with daddy's that they forget stuff like that? Look, I have the evidence, look where mummy found me when she got home tonight.......

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It's just not on is it? IS IT? I meant to just put myself in bed but I was just sooooooo tired, those stairs are just so steep and there are so many of them......I hope things get back to normal soon, I need some of that pampering deal, some of that 'who's the most glorious 2 year old in the world, how come out of all the little boys in the world mummy and daddy got the best ones?' stuff again, this looking out for myself business just has to end soon. Enough already. Elijah.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Not far away at all. ( edited to add and include pictures.)

I didn't write an entry yesterday because somehow it was a heartaching day and if I had tried to write, I think the ache would have won over strength, not that that is a bad thing of course but I just want to hold onto what composure I have until after monday and then the wailing can do it's worst.
We drove about an hour away to dad's bank so that mum could settle his affairs ( ham, egg, chips) she did that and heard his will ( sticky toffee pudding and custard) . that's the last official business that had to be done, phew. I have found though, that the worst days since he died have been those NOT filled with busy, busy get that done stuff.....I worry about after monday.
The funeral is arranged, it is going to be so beautiful......if you could see mum's house with the piles of cards and beautiful flowers, having read the words of love and stories about dad it is easy to feel loved and supported. One story has been repeated more than a few times.
One sunday, dad was chorister at a very large church meeting, members from the southwest of England had gathered for a conference and dad was asked to do what he did so beautifully. One of the hymns was master the tempest is raging He loved this hymn ( we ALL love this hymn), sung properly it is quite simply the most uplifting and rousing of hymns....well, he conducted and the roof was raised, his face was a huge grin, his arms had the congregation sing with such joy, one arm telling us when to sing, the other telling us when to sing softly and when to give it our all, he was on tip-toes with the vigour of it all .Everyone sang with such meaning and feeling that quite honestly we all felt sure the angels were rejoicing right along with us. Right from the start mum has wanted to have this hymn at dad's funeral but just cried every time she thought about having to try and sing it, yesterday when another lovely note came retelling the story and how fabulous that occassion was, mum knew that we had to sing it. If I have a prayer for monday it is that a) the person conducting the music gives it her all and b) that the same spirit is there when we sing this hymn, I just know dad will be there and he will be urging us all to belt it out!!
Every step of the way throughout this week we have been swept along and guided in everything we do, things have fallen into place in such a splendid way that although physically we have had to go and do these things, we know that there is a greater hand in it all. Things like mum trying to withdraw cash for funeral arrangements and necessities and having her card swallowed by the machine, bank closed ARGH!!!! Except there was one lady still working, who OPENED the bank and sorted mums money out, gave her an overdraft and told her not to worry. Can you beleieve it? Who has ever known someone open the door of a bank after closing and work on transactions???? Dad's friend being the funeral director, another dear friend who was asked to speak on monday suddenly having that unavoidable meeting in London cancelled so he CAN be there, CAN talk about the kind of man dad was........ we see so clearly that dad is loved by more than just us and we are comforted beyond words by the knowledge that he is in a place so glorious that we can't be sad for him, only for us, left behind without him.
We are going to see him today, I drive past the funeral home every day ( on the way to school) and last night when I came home I noticed that although it was closed, the lights were left on. Comforting to me, even though I know 'he' isn't there and it's only his body, it's the body we knew and we, as mere mortals with a small understanding, find it a good and safe feeling to know that his body is being treated with such reverence and compassion. Heartsad I might be but the greater part of me is happy to understand that this dad of mine isn't at all that far away!

So we went to see my dad, how splendid that although ( of course) he didn't look quite the same as when he was here and 'him,' he did look better than when he was in the hospital, the most fabulous thing is that he had a look on his face that he would get when he was being a bit wicked, if he was teasing or trying to blag his way out of some trouble with mum, he would bite his bottom lip and sort of half smile, he has the teeth that we all so love in Elijah, goofy and hugely cheeky, so we saw those teeth biting his bottom lip as if to let us know he knows something we don't know...perfect. Needless to say, in keeping with all other experiences, we finished with gluttony and enjoyed fresh cream cakes at my house...we are all ( thank goodness) now heartily sick of eating such treats and have said most definitely that this was the end of the sickly comfort eating!! what a way to end it though!!

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes.

There is something so gloriously innocent and hysterically funny about a childs' view on the world. Here are some of the things that my children have said about Papa and his passing.

"Boys? Do you know mummy took you to see papa at the hospital, how poorly he was and how sore his tummy was?"
" well, he is so poorly that the doctors can't make him better, they can't stop him being poorly and so he is going to go and live with Heavenly Father and Jesus"
( Seth) " so, what you're saying is, he will be dead"
" Yes, his body will be dead and so we won't be able to see him anymore, we'll be sad and we will miss him. But..he won't have any more pain and his spirit will be so happy because he will be with heavenly father . He will be with HIS mummy and daddy and he has missed them so much since they died. Do you know that the spirit is like a hand and the body is like a glove, if you wear the glove you can move it and it looks like a hand, if you take the glove off, it can't move, it can't do anything, it just lies on the table and is empty, our spirit is like the hand and our body is like the glove. Papa doesn't need his body anymore"
( Isaac) " um, if you det a poorly body I won't haff a mummy anymore, if daddy det a poorly body I haff no daddy, maybe I haff no family"
" Oh we don't need to worry about that darlin'. we aren't going to die for a long time and you will have your family, we will love gramma and auntie Leah and see them ,we will have each other and look after you"
" Um.....mummy, but I fink that you will be so sad wiffout a daddy"
"well I will miss him so but I still have YOUR daddy and he loves me and I have you and gramma and auntie Leah, lots of people to love."
"oh but actually I still really like my papa"

On explaining about coffins ( so they understand when they see one on monday) we were astonished to see how excited they were about them, they looked at the brochure and Isaac in particular was enthralled.
" When I die I haff nat one . I like nat silver one, wiff pillows, I like nat one, I haff nat one. See nat one? I haff nat one I die"

(Seth) "When I grow up and am old I am going to buy my WIFE that one, that's a cool one"

They have played ' when I die' they have talked and discussed and planned.
Isaac stood outside mum and dad's house and seemed very worried....
" I duss need a know is that still my papa's home?"
Seth is very matter of fact, down to earth, Isaac is thinking every aspect over and trying to take it in. I thought perhaps Eli wasn't understanding or thinking about it at all until today when I asked him if he wasnted to come shopping with me
" Yes please, pictures"
"what pictures darlin?"
" my hand, papa's hand, my hand"

I wish.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Let them eat cake.

It has been noticed by us, as a group of mourning females, that every time we do anything to do with the funeral, the legalities of dad passing, feel sad, move, or even think about what to do next, it is quickly followed by a trip to the nearest cafe, restaurant, coffee shop or Mac Donalds.... ( that is a last resort but not to be sniffed at if it's 7 am on a saturday morning and we need food.)
Oh dear, have to go to the hospital and collect the cause of death certificate? Better go and have a nice lunch afterwards.
Hmmmm, registering the death? Oooh coffee shop here too, nice cake and hot chocolate.
Choosing flowers? you get the picture?
We are finding some heavenly places to sit and eat, and cry and laugh and cry some more.......we thought that before long we will be reduced to saying "HEY! It's the 5th anniversary of when we remembered dad cutting the lawn...better go and have some cake!" It's just as well we are charging around ( actually I think we might just be charging around in our heads, in reality we are trudging along with leaden feet and weary hearts) do you think grief burns a lot of calories? I would appreciate it if it did because when you have to do all these horrible and sad things before you have had a chance to let rip to the throat gulping sadness of it all, it is only kind to eat cake and scones with jam and nice comforting hot chocolate with frothy cream on.
It would be churlish NOT to eat the bags of chocolate chip thingammies that I saw left on mum's hall table, ( yes Leah I did see them , don't think you can hide them and not tell me!!) or the delicious basket of goodies that is so huge she is DEMANDING we help her eat it, wouldn't it? I think that God would be unkind if he let any of this stuff be fattening when he has our dad with him and we are trying to be brave and generous and understand that the angels deserve a bit of putting in order. So, if we are settling for cosy cafes and stodgy food after dealing with officialdom ( which it must be said has been the epitome of kindess at every point) the least we can expect is that any and ALL calories be ignored by our bodies. Thankyou.
I bumped into a church member today while I was hunting for some fat lady tights that won't make my legs feel as if the circualtion is being cut off or roll down my belly if I bend down to grab a tissue to weep into on monday. She is a young woman with 2 babies and a sweet husband and she told me a story I didn't know....I am beginning to think there may be many..... dad went to visit her family one evening, on church business. They were just going to eat dinner and she dropped her dinner. No big deal she said...anyway, visit over and off dad went...only to return with fish and chips for Gail, he said he couldn't bear the thought of her not having dinner. I love hearing these stories, it is balm to an aching soul. He was a good man, but I knew that already.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All out of brave.

Today we went to collect the death certificate for dad, made the appointment to register his death, had lunch in the hospital cafe as a sort of closure to the whole experience, took chocolates and a card to the nurses who excelled themselves in the care of my dad ( and us, it has to be said, was it my tantrum or the fact that the ward re-opened, who knows, what does it matter?)
The funeral is almost organised, the clothes and finery are found and bought and almost ready ( thankyou my friend Julie you will never know how much you helped us with that one!!) Child care for the bits they won't go to is arranged.
My dad is no longer at the hospital but over the road in the nice Funeral home, which is incredibly comforting to me...I didn't know how much the idea of him being in the hospital was freaking me out until he wasn't there anymore.
I suddenly reached a pitch where I knew that my ability to be straight backed and calm looking was about to abandon me part of this 'stage' is done, my legs became heavy, my heart weary and I knew that I just had to come home and be mummy or Helen. An hour was enough, followed by 45 minutes on mum's sofa. Ready for a new day.
Tomorrow, mum is going out with Julie and Jane to choose family flowers, I'm staying at home, after 3 weeks of standing upright I'm ready for a day of being a crumpled heap. Crumpled sounds so good to me.
Dear Leah says every now and then " I think I am all out of sociability" just when she is sick of looking at people, talking to people and being nice....... Today I am all out of brave, a few days before the final, public goodbye on monday to gather a new reserve, a store of brave to get through what will be a glorious and emotional day and I'll be fine again.
The outpouring of love for our family is mindblowing, a stream of such genuine and sincere love and exclamations of love and respect for this man who, lets face it always, ALWAYS said it as it is, it has been so wonderful to see how much he was loved by so many.
I want to share one story with you about dad because it is one known and remembered by so many who knew him.
He was a chorister, would conduct the music in church and gave it his all...Leah and he would conduct the Hallelujah chorus with knitting needles until they were fit to bust. He never stood and mildly waved his arms, his whole body leapt with the music, he loved it. I swear there were times when his feet would leave the floor--- He also expected people to watch him when he conducted and many is the time he would wait, just a split second, before beginning, just to see if he was being taken seriously! On one occassion it was clear that too many people were thinking of other things, dinner maybe, the weather? Who knows, anyway the singing was feeble, he stood for a moment and waited until people noticed he wasn't conducting, when they did he admonished us all and reminded us that singing, in church, was meant to be a way to praise the Lord " we'll START AGAIN, and let's do it properly!" you've never heard such singing, the roof was raised.....I suspect there is some singing in the heavens already and I bet he's not letting a single angel start until he's ready!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Life's a funny old game.

It's been a day of phone calls and questions, answers and details, between us we have made some good progress and are much closer to having mum and Leah all set up and secure. Some of it has made us laugh ( though not much and if honest, the laughing was a tad hysterical) much of it has made us cry but all of it has made us feel closer and more settled.
The funeral director is one of dad's old friends, a fact that makes us all feel very peaceful about him being brought from the hospital to the funeral home which is, quite literally, over the road from here. I quite like that thought. We will be able to see him aain which is good for me, I want to see him looking better than the last time at the hospital, they say he will look much better. The funeral will be on monday at noon...I think it will be beautiful.
When I came home on saturday, I spoke to Jordan and Sophie and made it very clear that from now on there will be absolutely NO tolerance with anything to do with smoking, they are not to smoke anywhere near this house and if I see tobacco I will throw it out, the same goes for lighters, roll up papers, in the bin, no questions asked.
Last night Sophie came home and said she had smoked her last cigarette, bless her- she had given away her cigarettes and told me she would never smoke again, she said she didn't want me to worry about having to watch her get cancer and so she'd stopped. Today has been a hard day for her and she called as she was due to leave work and said " come and meet me and stop me buying cigarettes on the way home" I am SO proud of her and told her that while she doesn't smoke, I will eat well, if she is taking care of herself, I will take care of me. A good deal. What a good girl. ( albeit a very grumpy one today!!) H said she was a star while I was busy at the hospital, she helped above and beyond the call of duty. I am thrilled to watch them being kind to each other...long may it last. She is 17....SEVENTEEN?!?!? Typical, just getting to be a joy to have around and she'll fly the nest soon (although she says she is staying til she is 30!!)
Jordan hasn't smoked in 2 days either, he has taken up at the gym again and I am hoping he is on a health kick and will stop the disgusting habit for good too.
I bought a swim suit today, lawks a mercy!! Will I ever wear it that's the question! I just love to swim and am feeling so strongly that life is too short to keep putting off what matters or what is fun, whether I will brave the world with all things flapping is another matter, shame they don't do dimmed lighting, women only sessions at the pool!!
So, weary me is off to bed, gathering strength for another day, tomorrow I am having a change, which, they say, is as good as a rest . I have a meeting at school with the education specialist for children in the autistic spectrum, that'll be fun, we are discussing Isaac's " selective muteness" or stubborn git streak, along with his social disorders. Ha! Seth was fretting today about not having people to play with at playtime, Isaac looked at him with a look of absolute incredulity...... "Seff, duss play on your OWN" What's the problem buddy? Shut them all out, run 'round the playground all on your own and have a ball.....on reflection, which of these children appears to have a problem? Life's a funny old game as they say.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Actually, I think I'm handling this really.......

....OH... OH!!! It's real, he's gone, really gone and I won't see him when I pop in the house every morning. I'm so sad and it feels as though I won't be able to do this, but I have's real and we have to deal with it.

I thought, while in the hospital with dad, that if it were H and I were watching him die, it would be so painful that I might go mad...after 6 years. It's impossible to imagine what mum must be feeling after 48 years. I promised over and over again that I would look after her and I wish that meant I could wave a magic wand and somehow help her not feel whatever she must be feeling. All I can do is the practical stuff, try and ease some of that without taking from her the chance to serve him this last time. This is all so hard.

The price, for having had such a great dad, is that is hurts so much to lose him. All the faith in the world, all the surity that this isn't the end, being so sure that he is somewhere so glorious .....none of it actually stops the gut wrenching awfullness of him being gone from us.

At the moment, I seem able to recall the horror of the hospital stay so much easier than the wonderful bits, the funny bits are kind of easy to bring back so that's going with him for a scan on thursday, he was so hot and so uncomfortable and while waiting for his turn to go in, we were in the corridor, just briefly....he suddenly wanted to pee and began to throw off his sheet and kick his legs. I tried quite quietly to recover him and calm him down. In a booming voice he bellowed "WILL YOU ALLOW ME MY FREE AGENCY?" to which I replied
" absolutely, just not here in this corridor, when you have no drawers on"
I keep hearing the noise he made when the pain was so awful it brought him out of that slumber. I can't stop seeing his face when it was screwed up and he wept " oh please, oh PLEASE help me...."
I know that it will go away and then the happy stuff will come back, I will begin to see that face as it lit up when mum showed him she was there, I know all this, it just hasn't been easy today.

I keep feeling suprised that I am so sad and then , of course, I remember why and it all seems so unreal...but it IS real.
Oh how horribly, painfully sad.

Saturday, March 11, 2006


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At 6.20 am this morning my dad went home. His Peggy Sue was holding his hand and as they began their lives together and alone he ended this life alone with her.
There was the most perfect sunrise as I drove into the hospital car park just minutes after he died, which just made me feel as though the Lord was happy to have this man home. My dad smiled as he died but when I arrived soon after he had gone, there was no smile and there was no dad. So obviously was this mortal body no longer anything but an empty shell. How humbling to see that this physical shell that we lay such store by, is nothing more than an outer casing we need while on this earth.
What struck us this morning is that we have such a legacy of joy in our family, such a sense of humour that has seen and carried us through times that perhaps could crush us. This morning was no different.
The hospital is on a hill, the entrance to the ward dad was on was at the top of this hill. The room he was in was on the 8th floor. I parked my car and although I almost knew that there was no need to hurry I ran, up the hill. As I ran there was a part of me still able to think " Oh I do hope no-one can see me, if anyone can see me they'll be thinking ' blimey, she hasn't done that often enough in her life' When I felt my belly slap the top of my thigh even I knew there is a limit to pushing what's right and proper and settled for a brisk walk. Perhaps it is time I do more brisk walking........
10 minutes after I arrived came Julie and Jane. Whistling and out of breath, kissing that body that was dad, they managed a snort and told the story of their ascent up to floor 8, Jane is considerably more bothered by her appearance than the rest of us and does yoga and goes to the gym, walks for miles and so when Julie got out of the car and told her to hurry, she did.....quite easily jogged up the hill with a puffing Julie wheezing that maybe she couldn't quite keep up, the lift was WAY too slow and so " bah, we'll take the stairs" when met by the fabulous nurse at the entrance to the ward they were both completely out of breath, wheezing and puffing as the nurse said so kindly "I'm sorry, your dad's gone," all Julie could do was lean her haed on the nurses shoulder and say " Fooof, oh, I didn't even clean my teeth" ( a point we are pretty sure she gathered all on her own as the 'fooof' hit her nostrils)
Mum, having been just more amazing and calm for this whole experience was obviously weak and tired. She found the fact that the restaurant wouldn't be open for another hour or so just enough to make her almost weep. Mac Donalds is very near and so, because none of us felt any need or desire to watch the rapid changes in dad, we went for breakfast. I don't suppose there was one of us who would have imagined that a bacon and egg Mc muffin or some porridge at Maccy D's would be the perfect thing for such an occassion- but it was.
We took mum home and I made some phone calls. There is nothing we can do until monday and so hopefully we can take a breather, follow mum's lead and just be sad.
As I arrived home, the 17 days of this emotional rollercoaster slammed into me. I walked up the steps to the house and out it came, howling like a wounded dog. Then my H took over, MY children loved ME, families are the greatest gift.
As the time has passed throughout these days we have all had such waves of realisation hit us, a feeling of such massive sadness about how huge a gap there will be when he was gone. As the feeling hit, we would push it aside so that we could do what needed doing right then......enjoy the absolute honour of being with him as he made this journey. It has been an honour. It has been uplifting and life changing. It has been so spiritually huge that we were thrilled to be allowed to experience it with our dad.
Now we have to let in that feeling that we are going to miss him. All those stupid thoughts about how we won't see him in his dreadful winter hat with the flapping furry ear bits, just a tad too small but he wore it with such pride we had to love it.
We'll never hear him not swear again, he was so bloody good at not swearing " Oh F..luff under the bed" " Oh BLAST that thing!" " oh SH---ugar" I don't think I will ever hear anyone say "cheery bye darlin" again, because I've never heard anyone else say it. Yesterday he managed to open his eyes and look for mum, when he saw her face he smiled and said " goodbyebye"
After they doctors had told us that he would be in a drug enduced coma, unable to feel pain and know we were there, he said, more loudly and clearly than anything else he had said for days
" I - LOVE - YOU!"
"you wouldn't lie to me would you my darlin", said mum.
" OH- NO!-------NEVER"
What made that more beautiful and memorable is that he said it so loudly and was obviously so determined to say it clearly, that it came out in the most fabulous 50's black and white movie voice, perfect diction and very upper class. Glorious.
So many memories packed into these last few days, on top of lifetime of memories to treasure and none of them shady. Not one memory that we have to pretend didn't happen, not one that we wished we didn't have. What a man, what a husband, son, brother. What a father.
I wonder what I did that earned me the right to be born into such a family where fear was never an issue. Where such integrity, dignity, humour, joy, fun, honour, respect and above all love was the key. Whatever the reason, I hope I will never take it for granted.
Goodbyebye my dad, til we meet again.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Humilty, elation and rage.

I am at home, after 8 hours of extraordinary emotions and experiences. For the most part is has been a day of such joy, such peace and greatness, the smallest part has been rage filled and questioning.
Jane arrived and dad saw her, he looked at her and was happy she was there. He has been peaceful and relaxed and we have had some spiritual highs. Our family has enjoyed such a time of immense togetherness. Nothing, I hope, will detract from that.
This evening dad had an hour and a half of such hideous pain, despite enough drugs to floor an elephant he was still aware and still crying in pain, still so afraid of the feeling that he was falling and begging for help. I asked how much more he should take and then remembered that this has been such a short time, he could have been going through this for months, even years.
I thought of Christ when I saw that through the pores in dad's swolled legs he was weeping fluid. Christ bled from his pores so great was his agony and still He said " Thy will be done." I left because in room 4 there is such a feeling of peace, such an overwhelming calm, my anger doesn't belong there.
I drove home and stopped at Sainsburys and bought treats and pop for my boys, we are going to have our friday night of American Idol and fun.
If my dad dies while I am away, it was meant to be. My mum is fantastic, she is so strong and so righteous and so dignified. I adore her. My dad is so strong that I am in awe of them both. Honour thy Father and Mother that thy days may be long. This is one commandment that has never been in the least difficult. Honour demands honour, they are the most honourable parents any child could be blessed with.
Then sings my soul, my saviour God to thee, My God, how great thou art.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Still holding his hand....

Mum holding dad's hand after 48 years....

Helen holding dad's hand.

Julie, holding dad's hand

Leah holding dad's hand .

This is, quite truthfully, the most incredible, painful, beautiful, humbling, exhausting and exquisite experience of my life. I am honoured to be spending this time with my dad. My testimony of the existance of a living God and His son, Jesus Christ is so strengthened I am ( for now) at a loss as how to describe it.
I am home to put my boys to bed, to love my husband and gather some strength for the next stage.
Thankyou for your words and sincere comfort and support. It is giving me the strength to give it back to those around me who need it too.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A long day.

00.19 march 9th 2006

My dad is dying. He has a cancer so agressive that in 24 hours he has beyond healing. As I type he is peaceful and not in pain, he has had a hard day of fighting terrible pain and saying goodbye. It has been an honour to spend this day with him and every minute, though heartbreaking has been a spiritual and incredible experience.
My prayers have always been that he not be afraid, 3 weeks ago he was still working, he was still driving and doing church work and worrying about dry walling the loft. 2 weeks ago he had a pain, until today he was thinking that he had an infection in his liver. This morning he was told he had cancer but they still didn't know where the primary tumour was, by this afternoon we all knew that he was dying, no fear for him, pain until they cracked that bugger and he is sleeping with his right arm above his head taking deep breaths that are obviously hard work. We cleaned his mouth and cooled him down, he was fast asleep.
Some of the things he said today.....
" It's all over you know"
"what is my darlin?"
"well, that's alright, isn't it? For now. Are you afraid?"
"no, not afraid but...oh dear...."
"but you're worried about mum."
"well, you know that we will look after each other don't you?"

"It's my wife you see, I don't want to leave her, I want her with me"
"well, you know that for now, she has to stay here and finish what she is here for"

"Do you know that we are all so proud of you? That you have been the very best there could be? "

" I am so weak though, they'll think I am weak"
" we are all so amazed at how strong you are, how strong you have always been, I married Howard because he is so like you. He's a stubborn bugger at times but he is like you, I love him because of that."

" Oh Jean, Oh Helen"
" I just want some peace"

"Yes sweetheart"
"come over here and give me a snog!"

Everyone has seen him, except Jane who is flying in from Utah on friday. For some reason, he was so distressed at the idea of her seeing him and said that he needs for her to remember him as he was. Maybe he will get his wish but that will be sad for her.

How amazing that in a family as large as ours, not one person has a bad memory of this man, every grandson has mentioned the outing on the moors, he took all of these little boys, now grown men, on the moors and ate beans out of the tin. They remember that. every time someone else came into his room and kissed him, he managed to open his eyes and smile. He loves us.
Tomorrow, or later tonight, if the hospital calls I am going to take pictures of his hands. He has the most beautiful hands, strong, square hands that have been the kindest hands to everyone. Despite his body being ravaged by this disease his hands are still beautiful. I sobbed when I looked at them tonight because somehow it is so important that they haven't changed.
It isn't a terrible thing being with him as he goes through this, it is an honour. I know that when he is gone we will feel such emptiness, for now we are all so grateful that prayers have been answered and he hasn't been afraid, he never has had to suffer being an invalid, or worrying, he is surrounded by love and family.

We feel afraid having left him but also feel that tomorrow he will need us more, the hospital will call if he changes and we will be there. May our prayers continue to be answered in that he feels no more pain and when he takes that step towards the next life we are there to see him go.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Some things are just much bigger than us.

There are innumerable situations that we face throughout our lives that will humble us. Most of them are unpleasant. Something in our nature will have us rebel against anything that makes us feel small and insignificant. If we allow it, we can grow enormously from the worst of these times, or we can crumble.
As each day with dad being ill passes I find myself feeling less and less significant, I realise more and more that we are so not in control of anything of any great importance and so much of our lives are filled with such trivia it is beyond ridiculous.
As we moved into this glorious house I have been relentless in my pursuit to make it more glorious, I have been e.bay crazed and furniture obsessed. Not at all a bad thing, in fact a bit of a lovely and cheering thing, but not important. I guarantee that in my final moments I won't give a farting ferret about my somewhat grand TV cabinet or the fact that the boys have divine little armchairs all of their own.
I don't suppose I will even remember that I had my hair cut in a posh hairdressers twice in one year. None of it matters in the grand scheme of things.
Family matters. Always and eternally. You can't take your stuff with you but you sure as eggs can have your family. I know it. I have to do something about it and am remembering that just believing it isn't enough. I am lazy and have been enjoying the blissful state of not thinking about times to come.
Back to earth with a bang. Being at the hospital has done more to humble me than any other experience I have ever had. When push comes to shove you are forced to stare right in the face of what truly matters.
We still don't know what is the matter with dad and we are praying and hoping against hope that despite all the horror we will hear the news that this thing can be stopped. Inevitably, the thoughts come about what if. What is overwhelming is the fact that this man is SO loved. How marvellous that he knows it and we know he knows it. Even when he can't quite remember our names the very look on his face tells us that he still knows us and loves us. His thoughts are still all about how we are. Even when he whimpers in pain he follows it with " it's OK, I'm OK" he has been more demonstrative and openly loving than we have ever known him, which actually could be a worrying sign of we allowed it to be but we won't, it's what matters. No-one is remembering that he has always ben uncomfortable with hugging and kissing and handholding, he is being hugged and kissed and handheld at every opportunity and I do believe he likes it. I think he has always liked it, he just never quite new how to cope with it, good old morphine will snatch that old care away and being so poorly will help you say those words that hitherto have stuck in your gullet. He loves us, as if we ever doubted it, it doesn't hurt to hear him say it.
Funny thing, we are all his favourites too. I am his favourite, so are my other sisters and of course my brother is his favourite ( for real he's the only boy) Dan came down to visit him today and his first words were " oh my Daniel, I feel better for seeing you, you're my favourite you know"
Daniel wept when he saw papa and asked if he could just be on his own for a few minutes, as we walked away we saw him ( through a gap in the curtain) fall to his knees, put his face against papa's and his hand on his head, what we didn't know until afterwards was that he was praying with papa, papa's hand on his saying "oh it hurts but don't stop will you Dan....carry on Daniel" That's what matters, a 20 year old man feeling enough love to get on his knees on a hospital ward and pray with his papa.
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I am humbled beyond words that I am the daughter of one of these men and the mother of the other. I have what matters and I have so much of it. I will probably never be able to show enough gratitude for such richness.

Monday, March 06, 2006

If I think really hard.....

....I might just find a glimmer of hope in there somewhere. Dad wasn't any worse today, and that as things stand, is as miraculous as it gets. Yesterday was aa tough one for me, I couldn't get in to see him until the evening and heard from those who had been to see him that he was very poorly. I drove over just to kiss him goodnight and found him asleep, looking so cosy after mum had been. When we were little and poorly she would do this magical thing with our pilows, she would make a nest and settle us in it. He was in his nest, curled on his side surrounded by pillows, swollen legs and feet as supported and comfy as possible. I sat next to him and just allowed myself to remember being 7 and being the chosen one to go with him to Wales. Sleeping in the cab of a hired truck, delivering someone else's furniture. 2 whole days, just my dad and me.
If we woke in the night we learned very young that the person to call for was daddy, mum is profoundly deaf in one ear and she would sleep on the good ear, the perfect recipe for a sound nights sleep in a house full of children!! He was never grumpy if we woke him up, always kind and ready to scare the ghosts away. Just the sort of person any child would need in the middle of the night.
I sat next to him and he woke with a start......" Oh, who are you? Oh wait" ( closed his eyes again) " oh wait, oh yes...hello sweetheart" What a fight for him to wake up, but he STILL wasn't grumpy, still ready to be what I needed him to be.
Today he was quite chipper, struggling to remember who we were and admitting that he is seeing double...eyes as wide as he can get them in order to try and focus. I took the 3 boys in to see him today, he was thrilled, he showed them his owies (which when you are 2, 4 and 5 is quite the best thing ), lots of "0h poor papa" and stroking of swollen feet. I felt they had to see him because when they last saw him he was Papa, the same as he has always been and they have been without me so much while I visit him, they couldn't have understood that papa was poorly, now they have seen and understand that he is in the hospital and are happy that he is being cared for.
I saw him today and felt the tiniest glimmer of hope that having been so ill for 12 days, maybe, just maybe, he can just stay the same for another day and then we may have some answers, maybe there will be something that can be done to help him. If he can just not get any worse.
When I left him with mum for a few minutes, apparantly he cried , sobbed, and said that he was so worried about her, told her she was stubborn and must let people help her. He told her that 'Helen is a good girl, she will help you, she'll be there for you and can help', touchingly, he said " if she asks you if you want a sausage casserole, say no thankyou but can you have a chicken one" !! I have no idea why he thought I would offer her a sausage casserole!! What matters though is that he knows I am here to help and how uplifting to know that even as ill as he is, he knows I will look after her.
It's very good to be able to talk freely with mum, I feel closer to her than ever before and she said something so wise today. She was saying how all our lives we are taught that the ultimate goal is to return to our Father in Heaven, to live this life in such a way that we can show Him that we have faith and a true belief that He is there and loves us. We say we believe that this life is merely a step towards the next one, a chance to progress and learn, grow and go on to the next step. She said how she hopes that she and dad have done just that and yet, she said, why is it that when someone we love appears to be on the threshold of that very next step, just as they seem to be close to moving on, we feel we have to do everything to fight it, everything to stop it happening, even if staying here means pain and suffering?
We spoke last week about the fact that everyone I have seen die, I have noticed that even in the very midst of what would appear to be a physical hell, those people have always been so serene. I have often thought that while many are bitter and ask why God would allow such suffering and wonder why He lets it all happen, I have felt that actually the people suffering most are the ones watching. All the people I have seen near death have had such a peace around them, such a calm and restful sort or aura, even when in pain, somehow their spirits are peaceful. I knew one man who was dying that wasn't at peace, who was miserable and fighting and almost in hell, he is the only person I met that hadn't and wouldn't accept he was dying.
I wonder if the spirit goes ahead of the body? When I visit dad and he is asleep, or if he is resting and peaceful, when disturbed he seems literally to be dragging himself back from somewhere and it's such hard work. His eyes open and it's almost as if he isn't there, it is possible to see a physical struggle to 'come back' and I feel so guilty for having brought him back from wherever he was that was so peaceful, so restful and so comforting.
Dad has always lived with fear, none of us know what he is afraid of, he doesn't know himself, but he wakes every morning afraid of what the day may bring. I have long been so proud of the fact that even though he is so afraid of so much, he still gets on and does it, lives life and has never held any of us back because HE was frightened ( except mum, who would have tried many things and taken many risks if dad had only agreed!). It's astonishing to me to see how unafraid he is now. I think the angels are holding his hand. I don't think for a moment, not even a second, he is alone. That is an enormous comfort to me. Actually, today, I don't even have to think very hard to find that glimmer of hope and a realisation that whatever happens, he will be fine.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

The cause of all our worries!

Here he is, on what has been, for him, a good day.....the jaundice is beginning to set in and he is a bit yellow, which doesn't show too much in these pictures. He was thrilled to have pictures taken and posed quite cheerfully, especially for the ones where he bares his big old swollen tummy and shows off his oozing biopsy wound. I shall spare you all those!
Julie, I charged his smart card with your kinder than kind donation, he has a rather posh contraption that has TV, phone and internet and uses the smart card , he now has enough for a day or three to view, call and browse to his hearts content. Thankyou!!
He is now in a room with 3 other men and this has lifted his spirits enormously, he is a nosy old bugger and loves to know what is going on with other people, he now has plenty to think about other than how poorly he feels and is enjoying the coming and goings of the bustling ward. He told me today that the man across and to the right of him was up til 2am with his solicitor making a living will. I replied that I hoped he had been very clear in HIS will that I am his favourite child, not that it would matter as he hasn't a bean to leave, trust my luck! When I was a petulant teenager I often used to say that I knew I was adopted and that my REAL parents were probably I reminded him of that, the gap in my teeth and my quick temper tell me that actually, the chances of my having been adopted are slim to none, I am my father's daughter.
I do want to make it clear that in my ramblings about the nurses etc I never for a moment wanted to complain about the care they have given dad, he is as cared for and pampered as they have time for, they have been kindess personified. Now we are allowed in to visit we can see just how fabulous they are with the patients I was just feeling so frustrated with not knowing anything, not being able to see him for more than 1 - 2 minutes a day and feeling as though he was suffering without any of us near him. It is soothing to our battered souls to see that even if WE are struggling, he is actually being kept in the picture and is being cared for so beautifully, our gripes seem so much less important.
I can say that this whole experience is exhausting, humbling, terrifying and we all feel so numb. I am almost fascinated by how differently we are all dealing with it.
You would think ( wouldn't you) that we would be feeling the preciousness of family, nurturing and savouring every second? How weird is it that actually I find myself wanting to look up gypsy camps to see if they want these boys, I would have swapped them for a sprig of heather and a basket of pegs without so much as a second thought today. My brain aches and my heart is weary and I kid you not, these kids have driven H and I to the edge of reason, if it weren't for the end of that tether we're gripping onto by the skin of our teeth, we might be quite mad by now. Are they always this bloody revolting or are my defenses down? Would I normally want to string Isaac up for throwing a sports bottle of juice at me? The fact that the lid was open might have pushed me over the edge, the added fact that he had a satanic grin on his face as he witnessed the spraying of me from head to toe was the very limit.
How bored am I with Elijah's biting?
How much longer can I care about whether Seth has curly noodles or pointy ones and not feel the undeniable urge to make him understand that they TASTE THE BLOODY SAME!!!!!
I had just wearily placed Seth in his bed, was just about to breathe that heavenly sigh of thankyou Lord...when Sophie, who is celebrating her 17th birthday this week as she will be away next week, decided that THIS was exactly the right moment to stomp up the stairs, dressed in army fatigues ( rather sexily jazzed up, though not as sexily as her friends thank heavens) yelling at me to take pictures........I took pictures, do you want to see ? In one of them is a girl who Jordan had described to me, she is stunning and SO beautiful, she is wearing pink and I think she is used to having her picture taken, I have a sneaky feeling that he hasn't actually ever looked at her face.
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Just a feeling I have.
I hope they have fun, I hope even more that they don't wake me up when they get home.

Friday, March 03, 2006

All change.

So, yesterday we went to the hospital and nothing much had changed, after a near blowout with one of the nurses ( where Leah was impressed with how 'controlled' I was but mum was holding her breath for fear that the control was about to be abandoned), I handed the nurse a printout of my blog and left...yikes!! I was immediately horrified that I had done it ( but not horrified enough to stop me eating a huge lunch in the cafe of course) my life has been full of impulsive think I would have learned something by now, in fact, mum had printed the blog and said to put it in my bag in case anything happened to make me feel desperate again, and it did.....anyway the upshot was that when mum went back to get some news on dad's scan she was told that every nurse had read it, they all felt that they had learned something and perhaps I should write a column for a paper or something!
Dad had his CT scan which really only showed that the whole of his liver is affected, it is very swollen, very inflammed and he is very poorly. Today he has had a biopsy and the results of that will take until tuesday to return, the immediate news is that it could be hepatitis, another infection or we wait and see, although no tumours were found, maybe there is a different kind of cancer that causes this kind of damage.
The great news is that visiting is allowed again and wouldn't you know it? The one day I WOULD be allowed in , I didn't go...... I hit rock bottom yesterday, a reaction to the whole deal I think and so today mum went with Julie and Leah, he had just had his biopsy and was in pain and tired so I'm sure he didn't miss me, typically, in his one lucid moment of the day he managed to gather himself together in order to call me and give me a bollocking, even though he hasn't read the blog he heard that I had caused a stir and was very cross indeed. Pttttttthhhhh.
I drove to a delightful village about 30 miles away to collect a very tasteful e.bay bargain in the form of a pine hall table.
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I so love these excursions made so thrilling by the bloody useless mapquest directions that never fail to take me miles and miles out of my way. Why do I keep thinking that THIS time it will actually direct me to the place I need to go? Today, I sailed past a turning that my heart told me was the right one but mapquest told me was 7 miles too soon, I carried on for the seven miles and ended up , well 7 miles too far down the bloody road, now, I have the most none existant sense of direction, so when I turned around and went back it was hopeless because now I was going backwards ( if you know what I mean) and Seth and I had quite the scenic route . I am still sort of buzzing from the fact that we actually FOUND the place and got home again, miraculous! It did take us 3 hours however......not so clever after all. I took Seth because I knew I would get lost, I ALWAYS get lost and somehow if you're not alone getting lost is funny, on your own it is anything but. I did ask Sophie and Jordan if they wanted to come but they've been with me before and knew that although it was only 30 miles away the whole of their friday night would be swallowed up and so very politely they declined, Seth is still young and innocent, I am enjoying his company before he gets wise.
I got very lost once, in L.A. on my own, 12 weeks pregnant with Seth and I found myself downtown somewhere , stray dogs on the streets running around old men in broken armchairs smoking ( the old men not the dogs) and staring at the stupid lost looking woman in that shiny minivan.....I couldn't stop and ask for directions because I knew in my soul that as soon as anyone heard my English accent I would be shot for my travellers checks and seeing as I didn't have any it seemed sort of silly to risk my life so needlessly.
Todays journey got me a great table though and a veritable steal, so worth the time and trek through the countryside. I love e.bay, it is my place of escape and when I feel a lull in my self esteem I read my feedback and see what a jolly good person I am and lift myself up to A+++ status, where I am recommended and have good comms. Hoorah e.bay. I wonder if you can get livers in good working order, you should be able to, if you can get toast with Jesus on it, a gently used liver ought to be a sinch.
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can you believe it, you really CAN get the most bizarre things on e.bay.....i wonder if he'd get the joke!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The man in room 4.

To nurses and doctors and carers everywhere, this is for you.
Let me say first that I know you are busy, everyone knows you are busy, it's part of the territory and although noteworthy and deserving of much praise when handled well, it must be said that because it is such a well known fact that nurses and doctors are busy, I think, in fact I KNOW that you knew it before you chose your career. So, being busy is no excuse.
I am going to be specific in my particular gripe and talk about MY dad, MY mum, ME, however I would lay money down on the presumption that the world over there are other families feeling exactly the way we do right now. Listen well.
In room 4 is a man of 70 who is father to 6, grandfather to 18, greatgrandfather to 2, he has been foster father to innumerable children and teenagers, around 100 I am told. He has a wife of 48 years. He has one brother, his mother died a few years ago at the age of 99, his father committed suicide when my dad was young, in his teens.
He has worked all his life and even at his age, right up to the day he was taken ill, has worked and supported his family and others. He is beloved. He is respected. He is clever to the point of stupidity, genius often brings eccentricities and certainly sees common sense off at the door. When his father killed himself ( gassing himself under the stairs to be found by his oldest son) my dad had to forgo his scholarship to a prestigious university and work in a god forsaken car factory to help support his mother. When he met MY mother there and eventually married her he was told that he would 'get nothing' from his mother when she died.....she kept that promise. My dad helped his brother ( who never married because nana managed to prevent the chance he had) with all the legalities of that will without a murmur. He is a good man.
The man you see in room 4 isn't the man we all know. He is afraid and he is lonely and every day, through no fault of his own he is alone. He didn't bring with him the violent bug that has ripped through your hospital, he has been stricken with it and been forced to use a cardboard bedpan in a commode, he has been forced to feel humiliation waiting for you to empty it. He has been stuck in a room without his family and friends allowed to visit him. We are all trying to understand that for you, this is an extra burden on your already heavy workload, we're flouting your rules and pretending we haven't seen your handwritten DO NOT ENTER signs on the door, we are thinking up excuses for ignoring the NO VISITING rule, we are disinfecting ourselves and risking our health every time we walk through those doors ..why are we doing that?
We're doing it because the man in room 4 is beloved. He is ill and who knows, he could be dying and guess what? To hell with anyone who tries to make us stay away. There won't be a single day that we will stay away. He will see the face and feel the hand of someone who loves him every single day he is with you, whether you like it or not because HE likes it, it makes him feel safe when everything else is making his head spin.
I'm writing this tonight because today, when I 'popped' in with some clean sock,a C.D player, some batteries and a stack of Harry Potter book C.Ds so that while he is in that room and while he is too weak to read or do crossword puzzles or those Sudoku puzzles that make my brain explode at the very sight of them, he can listen to something he enjoys and maybe even take himself away to a happy place for a while...while I was standing across from your desk and was told ( without you even looking at me I hasten to add) that he wasn't in his room because he was having a CT scan and anyway the ward was closed so "don't bother waiting because we don't know when he will be back and the longer you stand there the more chance there is you'll get the bug" While I was taking in the fact that *sigh*you didn't know WHEN visitors WOULD be allowed, tomorrow is another day yada yada yada... I was overwhelmed by the urge to do something so outrageous that you would remember me for ever.
So I may get the shits ( pardon my language, I have no idea how to spell diarrhoea and spellcheck was no help, it wanted to replace with a choice of diary, dear or dire, the last of which is probably the best choice but I'll stick with 'the shits') I can live with that but I know I would never be able to live with looking back and wishing I had risked it for a chance to make my dad happy.
You were saved from who knows what outrageous act , by the gentle voice of a doctor who hasn't yet been jaded by the cares of the NHS or, just imagine, actually has a heart and is the kind of Doctor that everyone prays for when they, or a loved one, are really ill... when I said my dad's name, he stood up from his corner where he was obviously writing some notes, he came over to me and shook my hand , he introduced himself to me and he spoke to me as if I was the daughter of a man who is loved, imagine that!
I had asked one of you if we were right to be as worried as we are by this illness, you had stared through me and said " the doctor will review the scan results.. blah blah blah"
He told me that yes, we were right to be worried.....oh wait, dad has been with you for 8 days, I know that every time you come on shift you are given the lowdown on everything of importance pertaining to every patient. I know that perhaps you can't give details but what you can do is be nice. HOW HARD IS NICE?!?!? How hard would it be to say " it must be so worrying for you, tomorrow the doctor will have some answers, maybe if you call around sometime o'clock"
In 3 minutes that one doctor told me that dad is getting worse, his blood results are getting worse, they have no idea what the problem is but they are trying to find out. They have ruled out the obvious and remain baffled. He is ill and they don't know why.
Nothing he said was good news, nothing he told me was promising but the very fact that he looked at me and spoke to me as if I was a human being and took those 3 minutes to make me feel as if my asking a question was a normal and valid thing to do, well he helped me, he cared and isn't that what your job is? Don't you, when choosing to be a nurse or a doctor, by that very step, sign yourself up to thinking and CARING? If speaking to relatives and patients is an inconvenience, if it's just too much to ask, then for heaven's sake go and work in a car repair shop, you could look at every customer and suck in your breath, mutter about how expensive it'll be and no-one will be think a thing of it.
There is a scripture that says be careful to entertain strangers for thereby many have entertained angels unawares. What I think that is telling us is that we should be careful to treat everyone we come across with respect, we never know who those people are, they could be angels, who knows? Well I'm telling you that the man in room 4 is our angel, he has watched over us and protected us all our lives.
Everyone entrusted into your care belongs to someone, if not, well then those people deserve even MORE of your time, even MORE gentleness and compassion.
Please care for the people you have chosen to work with, treat these people as if they were your loved ones, try and be patient with irritating relatives who are terrified for their loved ones, imagine that the maddening wife, son, father or daughter is you, because God forbid, one day it could be.