Gone Tomorrow

Gone Tomorrow

When my Mum got her first wig, it was a pretty shameful experience for me. In the 90’s,wigs were hugely expensive (if you wanted anything half realistic) and so you had to go to a specialist. Then, the only place that was suitable was a section upstairs in Debenhams and if you wanted one, the hospital would give you a voucher to cover the majority of the cost. My Mum and I had had a cursory look at them before, whilst out shopping but, I never really took it seriously. I completely denied that she would ever need one because… well, she would never become that poorly. She would have her hair.

When the time had finally come around that she would get one, she had quite obviously planned the style she wanted; kind of dirty Princess Diana meets Joan Collins. I really could not have been less supportive about the whole thing! Fifteen years old and facing up to seeing my one and only beautiful Mum look like an alien. There was a series on at the time where the main characters were bald aliens (I can’t remember the name) and we would joke, as we always did in tough situations,that this was our future. Anyway, the lady that styled the wigs had told Mum that she should start to wear it before her hair fell out, so she could get a feel of it and feel altogether less self conscious. This particular day she had planned to collect it and wear it to showcase how it would look to me and my brother. When I saw her outside M&S, waiting to meet us, wearing her wig, I was horrified. Totally horrified. Not because she didn’t look great, not because she looked like a dirty Princess Diana, Joan Collins lookalike but, because I had to face up to it. Right there and then, it hit me like a brick; right outside the food store of M&S!! I am not proud of how I reacted. I was horrible. I probably made her feel absolutely crap but, at fifteen, I only cared how I felt. I tutted, rolled my eyes and said ‘What are you wearing that for?’ What a cow!! Ironically, that wig, in the last months, weeks and hours of my Mums life, gave her back to us. For just a little bit.

I don’t remember a time when my Auntie Kay didn’t wear a wig. It was just a given to me that she did but, when Mum’s turn came around for hers, my Auntie Kay wasn’t here any more to help her through it. She wasn’t actually my Auntie, she was my Godmother and a massively important part of my life growing up, in many different ways. Auntie Kay was the first real loss I suffered. It was the first time that Cancer came into our lives and started to take people away. A peaceful and happy time before she left us, the time before the Big C really started to drop into our lives.

Now! even though Auntie Kay died when I was just 11, I was not so young that I never appreciated just what she was. She was a warrior! One of the most elegant women that I have ever known and ever will do. Who,like my Mum, even whilst spending her last few years of her life, being slowly eaten away, she continued to stick two fingers up to the disease and took my Mum along with her for the ride. Her support, her rock and her saviour. The Thelma and Louise of the Radiation department! Two best friends growing together and sharing so intimately, the part of their lives which would ultimately tear them apart. However, wonderfully bringing them together also. Everything in life can have a positive side, or a side that will teach us that we will not be beaten. Even Cancer.

I know! What an attractive child I was! With Kay at my Christening.

 

Friday was our day! Every Friday my Mum would collect me from school and we would take the drive to Kay’s. It was only really a ten minute drive but, like the trips to horse riding, it was our time together. We would talk about my day at school or what cake we could expect to find on our visit to Kay’s. If it was nice weather, I would hang my arm out the window and let my hands drag along the hedges by the car. Her house was in a lane and hidden behind hedges was the large driveway and secret gardens that were hidden by trees. They were secret to me because if I were in them, leaving Mum and Kay chatting, I would sit on the swing and imagine I was the fairy Princess in her woods. Usually the cat would be with me. I loved that cat. He was the reason I always dreamed of having a cat; a crazy cross eyed ginger moggy that would follow me everywhere I went in her garden. Naturally, he knew a fairy princess when he saw one!

There was never an assumption or talk that Auntie Kay would have a partner to share her life with whilst I knew her. It was always just her and that was accepted. She had loved and lost and that love was so strong that she always remained true to the memory of it. Plus, she had her daughter (who remains today, an important person to me to help remember) I am sure she may have had ‘dalliances’ but, as a small child, it was not information I was privy to. I know she had admirers but, there was certainly no one serious. Just amazing teapots. She always had such lovely teapots! When she had her final house built, it really was ahead of its time. She designed it and had it built because, well, that was just the type of thing she did. It was her. Elegant, fun and really really modern. I loved going there; especially before the kitchen was completely finished because we could walk in on planks of wood and it was so fun. We still had the same lovely tea pots though.

A special gift that can be left behind to remember someone is a certain smell. Instantly, something simple as a particular smell can take you right back to a place or person that you treasured. If I wanted to be with my Auntie Kay, I would spray the perfume Anais Anais. With my Mum, it was Opium, which is really a shame because Opium smells like a camels back passage. Which is really why I have never quite brought myself to actually wear it but, I’d love to own a bottle and sniff it when I needed to. I wonder what smell would remind my loved ones of me?

My Brother and I when things were ‘normal’.

 

When the time had come that Kay was beaten, I remember feeling suddenly detached from her. I had wanted to see her in hospital but, Mum told me that I was categorically too young to see her when she was so poorly. She said she was very sleepy and on a lot of medication but, I suspect that, as happened with Mum when it spread to her brain, she was in a condition that left little of her remaining. I made her a card with a sun on it and I couldn’t wait to see her when she came out. That never happened. I never got to say goodbye to her, to see if I were special to her like she was to me. A lesson I wish I had learned when it came to watching my Mum die but, at eleven, I had not appreciated this gift I had been given and I wasted that time. A mistake I never made again.

 

I never talked to my Mum about it in great detail but, I so wish I had been of the age to confidently ask my Mum how it affected her and her own fight. I was too worried about broaching the subject and actually hearing the truth so I just kept quiet. Mum and I still took those drives together to see Kay but, it was to her grave. We still chatted and we knew that she was there with us in spirit but, there wasn’t much place for cake. Gradually, Mum became too ill to go anywhere. She had been there at Kay’s end, she had watched her best friend leave her behind to deal with the same, just without her strength and humour. It must have been terribly lonely for Mum. Having an 11 year old now, I don’t really have any friends that I hold such a strong relationship with and I realise how lucky they were to have each other. I wish that Mum had Kay for the next and last four years of her life so that they really could have gone over that cliff together, holding hands until the end. You can bet your life that they are enjoying that road trip together now though!

Purpose

Purpose

This week I am really feeling like I’m just a Mum! I’m bored! So bored with being the everything to four little people to the point where there’s nothing left for me. I currently feel like one of those batteries with a strip down the side that shows the energy remaining . Mine is very much empty. I know every Mum goes through it and I am grateful I am not raising my girls on my own but, I am totally and completely depleted.

There have been times since having my little girl that I find myself in this ‘funk’. Do I think I have Depression or mental health issues since having her? No! I’m just being honest with how I feel. Fourth time around and you can freely say that it is ok that you don’t feel ok all the time. It is tiring. It is lonely. It is completely and utterly boring sometimes. There are times when I find myself singing the theme tune to Paw Patrol, even I have a spare 5 minutes to myself. It really is ok if you don’t feel like Mary Friggin Poppins all of the time. It is completely normal. It is hard to fight against it when there are times when you don’t even leave the house. This is where I am at today!

Its amazing how your heart can give just as much love without diluting.

 

When I was pregnant with my third daughter, I had the most incredible midwife. I felt like she was 100% there for me and only me whenever I was with her. She was quirky and she was a little bit bonkers. She was very much like Marmite, that was obvious but, that is exactly what I loved about her. If she liked you, you knew it and you felt akin with her. She would go on herbal retreats and stay on the side of a mountain for days, just for fun! I just loved her. I could have imagined that, should my labour had been a straight forward one, she would have advised me to have a bit of fruit tea and wave lavender around and all would be fine!Naturally, I would have ignored her and gone straight for the epidural anyway. Just as I had my daughter, she retired, which was fine with me as I wasn’t going to have any more children anyway…how wrong I was !!! Anyway, a couple of months ago when I was feeling particularly low and fed up, I spied her out of the corner of my eye leaving the supermarket as I was queued up (Yep, in Waitrose again!!-Other supermarkets are available). I more or less chased her to her car, as much as my saggy bits would allow that is! There was a brief moment when she caught sight of me and I was unsure if she was actually going to recognise me, thus crushing all my admiration and realising I was just one in a line of many. Thankfully, unlike a large number of exes, the flash of recognition came over her and she gave me the biggest hug ever. It really was a pivotal moment for my mental health. It was kismet that I had seen her, especially as she had moved away over a year ago. I instantly knew I could do this, just as I had the three times before.

I am fully aware that some may think that on my last post, I was talking about needing counselling following a miscarriage and now I am saying how hard it is to be a parent and how it can make you feel down. It just goes to show that one most definitely does not cancel out the other. I have friends who can’t have children but desperately want them and I have friends who have had one child but unable to have another. Some were given the gift of children after years of trying but, it was not all they dreamed of when they finally got it. Some don’t want children at all. It is not our right that because of our particular circumstances, we are unable to be unhappy with our own situation at times. It really is relative and we are all so different that I fully believe we should simply support those we love, respect and are friends with, in whatever ways they suffer.

One of the biggest regrets in regards to my children is that they will grow up never knowing my parents and my parents will never know them. When things are tough, I would give anything to have a parent to turn to, to make it all better. My Dad was the absolute best for this. I could tell him I was due to be sentenced for international espionage and faced either a life stretch or a stoning and he would still make me feel that everything would work out ok in the end. This is exactly what I try to do for my girls, so that they don’t worry about things. I am not sure it works with my 8 year old though as she hangs onto things, keeps them dormant until the truth pours out; like the time she was beside herself with worry that the head teacher would pull her out of assembly for putting Playdoh in her pants. It wasn’t even the action that was ridiculous, it was the fact it happened in Year 1 and she was now in Year 3!!! Yet ironically, her maximum capacity for holding onto negative situations is currently around 7.2 seconds. By the time she had slammed a door after an argument, she had forgotten why she slammed it.

Never take a parent for granted. Love you Dad xxx

 

Recently, it was apparent that neither of my older girls knew exactly why one set of their Grandparents were no longer here, the younger assuming that they had ‘just died’ which seems incredibly unfortunate! I felt like I had done my parents a huge disservice by not sharing this information but, when I thought more of it, I actually felt really positive about that. Their death really had no bearing on their lives and it was clear that the stories I had shared over breakfast, were the things I wanted my girls to know about them and not how they left me. When I struggle or feel down, it’s compacted by the fact that I can’t do what so many people can; go and see their parents or parent for a cup of tea or for dinner. I am always so jealous of anyone that can do that and find it incomprehensible that those people that can then don’t! I can’t visit my Dad to make it all better or borrow £10 because I’m worried about money again or needing something before the next pay day. He never wanted me to worry, even when he was dying and that is why he remained the most amazingly humorous and positive man. He dealt with that and I’m moaning about being bored! I just always want something to look forward to even if it’s a drink in a beer garden or a visit to good friends.

If you can, please go and visit your parents today, even just for a cuppa. Take them for dinner at ‘Spoons’ (I’m easily pleased) Maybe forget about the £10 bit!! Go for £20! 😉 Remember just how amazingly lucky you are and never ever forget it! Never!

Its good to talk

Its good to talk

It is absolutely not a mirage! It is me! As I was writing that, I was completely thinking; ‘It is I! L’eclair!’. Sadly, that would neither be funny nor make any sense to any other than a certain generation. Anyway, I can only apologise for my huge lack in supplying any literary stimulation for quite some time now. I am mostly on maternity leave, in my pants, eating cake but, in the reality, since I last wrote, I have made two babies (well, half made them) One I kept and one I could not. As I have come to expect from life’s little kicks in the fanny, my bodies ineptitude to do as I ask has been yet again a source of immense frustration. Subsequently, even the most hardy person’s physical and mental health could do little but, be affected.

For those that first started reading my ramblings from the beginning, about 2000 years ago, you will remember why I started to write things down. I had been seeing a counsellor who suggested that I write a letter to my Mum. The letter was to act as a cathartic experience to tackle any anger I had towards her for her dying . A letter just seemed like a little too meagre an offering and that is exactly where and why my blog began. I really had wanted to write a book tackling child bereavement and dealing with grief but, I decided to have 24 babies instead. Ok! Four! Four that stayed anyway and so I have to jot down what I can, when I can. I never really have time but, I borrow it, like the fairy Godmother. Noone turns into a pumpkin, I just have a little more poo to clean up!! Anyway, the original admittance that I should see a counsellor was an epiphany for me. Just making the appointment made me feel stronger and more empowered. I never felt like a failure or that I was going mad, I just knew I had dealt with too many things and some of them still hung around me like a cloud. Ironically, it was not until I visited a different counsellor more recently that I really made changes. This time I really found the right one! I will not use her name so I am going to call her my angel.

At the start of last year, our life became unexpectedly more complicated with the knowledge that we were going to become a family of six. Quite out of the blue and unprepared, we found ourselves having to make an enormous decision; far larger than whether I would have to give up Pinot Grigio or not! Finding out that you are having a baby when you were convinced your life is complete is a hard journey to consider. Three children and you can make do with one car, the same house, less stretch marks but, four is a huge and megasauraus change to your already hectic existence. It is natural that when a women loses a baby, she questions every little thing; what she ate, what she drank, if she sat on an overly bumpy bus but, there are rarely any definitive answers. So, not surprisingly, I was fully convinced that the reason I lost that baby was the initial  ‘contemplation’ of even bringing it into our lives. There life goes; ‘well, you had to think about it anyway!!’ There is, in my experience,one thing a woman wants when she loses a baby and that is another baby. Regardless of whether our little one was planned, the minute you know that baby is there, you have changed the course of your entire future. And you want that back. I was not sure that my heart could cope with losing another baby but, could it ever cope with never even trying ?

I am very trying!!

This time was different. It was not just a weight of feelings that were burdening me that perhaps I should offload, it was a weight of darkness on me that was pushing me down to half the size (unfortunately not horizontally). Just because you already have one, two or three children, it has no bearing on the grief and emptiness you feel when losing one. If someone loses their Mum, would you tell them it’s ok because they still have a Dad?  No one ever has the right to try and make you justify a loss and no one can tell you that something was not meant to be either. I liken the feeling of early pregnancy to a crane toy you find in arcades. You pick up the toy and whilst you watch it travel through the air, you squeeze your hands and tighten your tummy, willing it to keep hold until you reach the trap door. Really, really willing it. That was how I felt for weeks, probably because I already had some sense of what was to come. Get to 12 weeks and you will be fine. That is, unless you get to 12 weeks and you aren’t fine! I knew my baby had gone the second I had the first cramp. Why did we take even a minute to consider whether we would go through with it because, in that moment and just like that, it was gone! That is when the complete darkness set in. A darkness that I felt I could never ever come out of.

Don’t get me wrong, my first counseller was lovely. She was kind and she was calm and she wore home made earrings that I always focused on. I felt positive after seeing her. I did not feel that my time with her was useless. It is only in hindsight I realise that she was just not right for me. When I finished my sessions, we just kind of ran out of runway. I had said all I needed to say and rather than feeling better, I just felt like I had exhausted all my depressing life stories. Plus, she made me do role play and no one enjoys role play!! Unless it’s in an ‘Officer and a Gentleman’ type way of course.

I found my ‘angel’ in the same manner as before, by going to my GP and being referred. My doctor is pretty fastidious with me after the whole complaint issue I had after my Molar pregnancy (for those that may remember and on a previous post) and I am pretty sure he was beginning to regard me as less of a bitch by this point. She, being ‘my angel’, actually first called me when I was at the till in Waitrose. I remember it so well as the lady serving had tutted at me so loudly, if she had worn false teeth, they would have shot straight out. It was well founded. Bloody rude when people do that! Naturally, I was worried about my bank balance and how my first session would fit in with my poor three weeks of the month (probably because I was shopping in Waitrose)! I really needed it though. As much as I joke about being out shopping, it had taken all of my energy to even leave the house during that time so I rarely ever did it, or wash my hair. In short, I was a mess.

Wood for the trees.

Confidentially, I can tell you everything we said, who she was and where we were but, she is unable to. I do not disagree with these rules but, it’s because of that and the respect I have for her that I will not divulge it either. I do hope she reads this though and I will do my utmost to ensure she does. In the weeks that I saw her, which stretched into months and subsequently into the beginning of the next pregnancy, I became a different person. That sounds dramatic but, I totally and utterly believe that is true. Anyway, I have digressed slightly: in that time, one woman made me feel like I was actually a little bit alright. She made me feel like I was interesting, like I was fiery and confident and of course, hilariously amusing. She had a way of empathising with all my idiosyncrasies and rather than feeling irrational, I was able to filter out the part that made sense, and forget the ridiculous (of which there were many bits). More important than anything, she gave me the ability to step back and see myself from the outside, how others may and it gave me the gift of rationality. I had to learn that if I wanted to live a life that had not been wasted in sorrow that I must realise what I was and not focus on what I had lost. It’s ok though, I will always be a bit wibbly around the edges and I fully accept that. I will use that as one of my positives. Everyone likes jelly! I will never ever get over some of the things I have been through but, I refuse to let them defeat me.

Social media was important for me during this time. It is impossible to have a completely even balance of how much you share and how real you portray your life. I know that some people would think that I share too much. I would not say that I share a lot of dirty laundry but, I am honest and if I only ever wrote the good things then no doubt, I would be acused of not portraying the real me also. At that time it was actually beneficial to share so much of my pain for all to see as, not only did it help me to release some of the hurt, it resulted in hearing from so many women, some that I knew well and others that I did not know so much.We all had the same thing in common though and one woman in particular went through almost exactly the same journey with me, even to the point that she also now has a baby of almost the same age. I will always be grateful for her reaching out to me too and I feel like we will always have a special bond. So Yes! This has been such a busy time for me: Making two humans, building strong friendships, meeting an incredible lady and gaining a confidence I never believed I could have.

New life does not replace old, it just changes the view.

So.. If you are lucky enough and I have finished my latest packet of bourbons, got bored of sitting in my pants and finished every single Real Housewives episode, you may get a new post much sooner than this one took to arrive. Depends how big the packet is!

 

The Dark

The Dark

The Dark

Until I was around 12, I slept with the light on! Not just a little soothing nightlight: the actual 3000 watt (or whatever it was then) light bulb than hung from my bedroom ceiling. No one cared about energy saving in the 80’s! Quite salubriously, I had the matching brown flower pattern lamp shade and wall paper that adorned half of my bedroom wall and bed cover. I think that brown was much more fashionable then. Not a pretty brown. Dirty protest brown! Usually matched with yellow. Of course, I did have a Glow Worm but, boy those things were tough to keep going…who can squeeze for that long?!

If my Dad would come in and turn my light out, I would instantly wake up. The dark did terribly frightening things to me. If I laid in the dark for too long, my eyes would make everything bright green and swirly, like some kind of kaleidoscope and the feeling of total unreality would be too much to bear. If I got past the swirls, I would feel like I was falling. Falling into a big black abyss. In hindsight, this was probably the warning of my anxiety issues that were to follow. Nothing to do with grief at this point; both my parents slept in the room next door. When she was not working, my Mum was busy having treatment or breaking her tooth on a Kitkat (never going to forget that one), so I was just like any other pre hormonal pre teen!!

The dark

There is always light!

It was for this reason that I did not particularly like staying away. Thankfully, I very rarely stayed at either of my Nannies; one lived next door and the other lived in Wiltshire, so with the amount my Mum and Dad worked, it was unlikely they would take the time out to travel (and we only had one car). Little Nanny lived next door. I separated them both by calling one little and one big. My Mum’s Mum was not big in the slightest but, in comparison to the other, she seemed it! Little Nanny’s house was always a bit spooky . She had a ‘healing room’ next to the toilet which was always closed (not that you would want to go in there anyway). There was a spooky picture of a grey bearded man on the wall that watched you if you peeked in. Not to mention Jesus! There was a giant tapestry of The Last Supper at the top of the stars and between Jesus and Beardy weirdy, you only went to the toilet if you absolutely had to. If by chance you did make the bearded gauntlet safely, your bits nearly froze in there anyway. Plus, the huge pile of Mills and Boon books gave you a very unrealistic impression of manhood. Not to mention the idea of your Nan reading them whilst sat on the throne!!!!

Big Nanny had a carpet in her bathroom. She also had a teas made and one of those silky fluffy blankets over the bed instead of a duvet (what kind of madness is this!). She also had one of those clocks that came out of a little case and then went back in it. To travel apparently. If I ever did stay there though, my Mum stayed with me and we slept in the same bed: probably for warmth due to the lack of duvet! Funny how you associate things with people. With Big Nanny it was peas with a roast; Birds Trifle and that cream in a tin that you have to shake for 53 years until it resembled anything dollopy. Little Nanny was Mills and Boon and Jesus.

The Dark

I am going to hell!

From when I was just old enough to understand; even though I am not sure I understand it now, my Mum had made me aware of her childhood and how my Nanny had lived her married life, or rather, not really lived, depending on how you look at it! When I see a patronising meme stating ‘We used to work at relationships when we were young and didn’t give up……’, this always makes me think of my Nan and I feel angry for her. Just remember,patronising meme creator: some women stayed in abysmal and aggressive relationships because they had no choice. There was no help and no refuge then. She had nowhere to go and four children to raise. But hey! , at least she did not get divorced !!!!!

I know what you are thinking. Do I still sleep with the light on? 🙂 Of course not! I have children so I sleep in whatever circumstance I can: at the bus stop..in the park! In the same way I had to rationalise with all my fears to alleviate my panic attacks, I have grown to realise that the world is still the same whether you can see it or not. Things are tough or they are not. Demons still exist but, not in the way we thought of them as children. I wish I could go back and tell my 7 year old self that these were the times I should treasure because these are the times before my life was turned upside down. I have been in the dark for quite some time recently. My other half tells me that I tend to dwell on the past when I have a hard time but, this is how your brain deals with now. I know that I will not stay in the past or in the dark in fact but, for now, I am grateful for my life. It has made me who I am. I just wish I still had my 3000 watt bulb!

 

Home

Home

Home

It was like an Aladdin’s cave! The wonders that it held were simply untold. Particularly if you were 11 years old. Naturally, I was never allowed up there but, sometimes (and only sometimes), he would go out and the minute he was out the door, I had free reign, providing Mum and Dad weren’t looking that is. My brother had his own floor of the house and being a tall 1900’s Victorian town house, it was full of lots of nooks and crannies that were so appealing if you were a child. Sometimes with curtains covering; sometimes with stairs that stopped.

Mum had loved this house for such a long time. She loved the garden and all the high ceilinged rooms and quite amazingly, we had been able to move into it and see her dream come true. Plus, it was only next door. As we lived above the café (in the scary house that I had mentioned before), we never really seemed to have a proper family space like other people had. Mum was always popping in to see the various neighbours to help out with things or just to have a chat and our immediate neighbours house had always been her dream. It was my dream too, but only because I look back on it now and remember how I loved it so. How exciting it was as a child and as a grown up, with a Dad in a wheelchair, I pretty much had the top two floors. Apart from the time that Dad crawled up the stairs like a snake so he could nose at the neighbours building project. This was the time I called him an ‘utter idiot’ and slammed every possible door; whilst he slivered back down the stairs again, giggling and then calling me to help him back in his chair….’Shuiieeeeeeeeeeeeee’….still giggling. What a sod he was!

So, when our neighbours wife sadly passed away, he told my Dad he was going into a home and my Dad was to have first refusal. Effectively, he bought it for my Mum. He never held it in the same regard because he spent all his time working. The day before he went into hospital and never walked again was the day he finished paying off the mortgage on my Mum’s dream house. She had been gone for five years by then. It wasn’t exactly an ideal house for someone that was disabled, especially when your ramp(s) are delivered from the NHS and they only have one available! Rather annoyingly, Dad still had the very old fashioned four wheeled wheelchair! But, we made it work. Whilst Dad was in hospital, I made it as suitable for him as I could. I decorated the bathroom downstairs and with the help of some friends, cleared out the downstairs ‘room of crap’ to be his bedroom. We added tiny ramps to each room so he could get around and were massively grateful for the Victorian town house which used to be self contained flats as he had every room he needed downstairs.

Home

Mum and a monkey….sorry, I mean my brother.

I worked hard on that house. I worked hard getting it ready for Dad and I worked hard clearing it out when I had to leave. Thankfully I had my previous in laws, who, now treat me like the anti-Christ but, actually, without them, I probably would never have managed. Or at least I would have completely lost my marbles. Sadly, it was the case that nearly everything got chucked. A five bedroom family home to clear is not the easiest task and although, I regret it so much, I had little choice but, to simply skip the majority of my memories. I can never get those things back but, I always have them where it counts. For as long as I keep those marbles anyway.

After I had finally moved and negotiated the sale of the house to the same person that had bought our café next door, I came to the house again. The new owner had some post for me and asked that I would come and collect it. I was hesitant because I really didn’t want to go back in. It was no longer my house and I wanted to only remember my house as it used to be. I wanted to think of my Mum catching me smoking in the upstairs loo (God knows how because I left the window open!), finding my brothers giant porn stash behind the curtain in his bedroom and, most importantly, those last months with my Dad. Buying him treats from Waitrose. Going to the dairy to buy chocolates, and then dropping them and running over them. Shouting at him for slithering up the stairs and trying to get him back into bed when the dog had pushed him off. Against my better judgement, I knocked on the door and was faced with a sea of builders inside, whacking the crap out of the banisters with a massively huge sledge hammer. I cried all the way up the road until I got home. It was only junk mail!

Due to our house previously being flats, we had our own fire escape into the garden from the second level. Under the stairs outside was an old dresser that used to temporarily house my guinea pig(s). My Mum bought me one from Devon County Show when I was 11. It was a boy. Magically, the little boy guinea pig grew a vagina over night and gave birth to eight babies. My Dad was thrilled. Anyway; the dresser now held my special offerings to Fairy Folk. General crap that no fairy would actually want. You know? Butchered ‘4’ Leaf clovers and a saucer of stagnant water. The Fairies left me notes all the time. They would apologise for their shaky writing but, it was tricky to hold a pen. I knew it was Grampy writing them actually and the writing was a combination of age and difficulty in holding a fag whilst corresponding.

Home

I wish my kids had the garden I did to play in.

He had the whole top of the house. My brother did. One room housed the ginormous video collection. One, the general living area with games console but, the room I loved the most was the one with the entire wall of CD’s. There was everything you could ever imagine, from Hole to Barbra Striesand to Gorky’s Zygotic Monkey and I couldn’t wait to get in there. After I had selected the video of my choosing, pilfered a book (usually Fantastic Mr F0x), I would peruse the collection of music available to me. This ensured that I could sing and watch myself in the mirror pretending that actually, I was most talented and attractive. After I had watched my video that is; usually skipping bits in case he came home and caught me. He always knew I had had one though because I never rewound them. Mr Anal 1992 would never have let that happen! It was only when I was older and he would let me play Trivial Pursuit with him (whilst wearing gloves), that I thought to peek behind the curtain in his room. That was when I discovered the giant stash of porn magazines. I will leave that there.

Home

My Love of music extended to my girls. This was my 3 year olds birthday cake.

I miss my home town a lot lately. I want to go and visit, walk around with my girls and visit the dairy. I would like to walk to the fields where my brother and I would take our dogs; Candy and Floss. Where we would spend all day. Have a Chinese curry that my Dad and I would enjoy every Thursday, after I had been to the pub. My Mum and Dad are still there and I am all the way over here; in a town that never really felt like my home. I am very happy and have a lovely life but, I miss it. I miss them. They will always be there but, it feels completely alien to be somewhere where they are not, even though they are in the ground. It may as well be a million miles away, particularly when you reach the part of the month when it is bread and water all round.

Whatever happens, I will always remember that I was lucky. So very very lucky and I am grateful every day. I have so many stories that I can tell my children to take me right back there whenever I want. Perhaps I will refrain from mentioning the special stash behind the curtain though. Perhaps!

Work Work Work

Work Work Work

Work Work Work

I am so slack! It has been an obscene amount of time since I actually sat my rather large bottom down and wrote a post. I have been agonising over it slightly because I keep thinking that I do not really have anything to write about. Not that anyone would be interested in anyway. Then I realised; that doesn’t matter! This blog is meant to be cathartic for me and simply sharing last years Facebook CooeyMrShifter memories rather than writing again does not really cut it for me.

As I have always said, I never plan anything that I will write. I make a conscious decision to either go back in time or write about now and that is about the limit of my planning. I find it incredibly stressful if I start to write a post and I do not get a chance to finish it in one day. I am slightly OCD about this kind of thing. I could not go to bed knowing that there was a CD in the middle of the living room floor (for example) and this is the same. As I write, it clears tension out of my brain. A little like unwinding a knot. That is why I do it. Plus, I am not particularly good at anything else. Apart from possibility having children but, I did fail at that a few times too. Not from my own choosing.

I hate not feeling just quite good enough. I always feel like I miss the mark on everything really but, when I write, even though it is about my own life, I could be anything or anyone I want. Someone far more interesting than I actually am. Unlike the people that I Love the most.

My eldest daughter has the kindest heart ever and combined with her natural aptitude to literature, I am 100% that she will go amazingly far in life. Middle child (as I have three now. Don’t know if I mentioned it!) is so completely and utterly free from any anxieties and negativity that quite frankly, I find it hard to believe that I created her. I know that she will live the fullest life imaginable because with her attitude, she will take from it exactly what she should. Something that very few of us can say we really do. The 10 month old does very little yet but, she appears to have an equal measure of eccentricity and an obvious love of music so perhaps she will be the Artistic Savant.

Work Work Work

A bit of light reading for the girls.

My Fiancé is a man of much fulfilment and offering. which, considering that he would rather stay in the house all day every day is ironic. He decides to do something and then he just does it. No speculation, nothing. He just does it. An admirable and frustrating quality all in one. He thinks that he hasn’t achieved much but, he has achieved everything. Me! I write this Blog. Also, currently, I am watching aforementioned ten month old cover the floor in sweetcorn. I bet I shall still see a lot more of it later though.

FB_20150210_13_11_40_Saved_Picture

We have a great relationship. We are each as hard work as the other.

So, I digress! At lot has happened since I last forced my Life Story onto you. The very thing I was dreading since I left the Maternity Unit has happened. I had to go back to work! Yuuuuk!! I am not sure what aspect of it petrified me the most. but, I hated it all. The drive. Leaving my daughter(s). Having to get up early and be so much more organised. But, probably it was the reality that I had to return to ‘normal’ now. I had given birth months and months ago and the flowers were long dead, cards in the memory box and I had to accept that I had to be me again. I didn’t want to do that. For such a long time, you live in your own little bubble of being a new Mum, however many times you may have done it before. Plus, I got to watch as much as crap on Television that was physically possible. Good old Breast Feeding!!!

Getting in on the selfie action.

Getting in on the selfie action.

I have worked for the same company for 15 years. I am certain that my Boss (who also happens to be my future Brother In Law) has found me hard work from the start. I do like my job though. I wouldn’t have stayed there as long if I didn’t. Even if it would be a pain to find a new one. To be fair though, I have had three days off sick since I went back so I may well get fired anyway!

This is why I also felt so negative about returning to work; It was a job I enjoyed. I still had friends there. Although, as new staff were employed, I seemed to be becoming the older generation of staff. Who wants to be the elder of anything? For the first time ever, it did not bother me that I could have a hot cup of tea or that I could have ‘me’ time again. I did not want ‘me’ time. I wanted to be at home with my little girl. It was unfair that I had to miss things from her growth and two days each week is a long time when you look at how fast she will grow . I felt resentful that I had to do this. Resentful towards who, I don’t know! The Universe. Life. All those crazy invisible entities that have a lot to answer for when I am hacked off! I also felt sad because this is the last time I will do this. This is the last baby I will have and all those first moments gone are gone forever now. Which is an irrational way to think. Totally unsurprising coming from me.

But, actually, now I am back at work (when I am there!) I feel totally different. It took a little while and I will still always be just a little neurotic but, I completely become involved in it now and find that I can concentrate on what I am doing with little distraction.  I am hardly sales person extroardinare but, I think I am OK at my job and it is good to add something else into my Life which I may be OK at. Strangely, I do not really find it stressful like I used to. I enjoy that my brain still works the way it used to before I expanded my Uterus for a third time. I am hoping the stressful part of me has changed. In the same way that I won’t mind if I don’t finish this post today. But, hopefully I will.   More importantly, now that I know that I can leave my Nancy with anyone else and she has survived, I am OK with that too. Now I am a high flying executive and all!! In actual fact I really should be a little less selfish and let Daddy and The Grandparents get some of the cuddles also.

1958031_631377390306670_7994413915372849754_n

No More Babies!

Next step, an actual date with my Other Half before he remembers that I am just a bit saggy and not nearly as attractive as over 75% of Instagram. But, I do have my own eyebrows!

 

I'd do anything

I’d do anything

I’d do anything

Well! I expect you are surprised to hear from me again! Trust me, if I could type one handed then I would have written hundreds of entries by now but, breast feeding somewhat limits your computer abilities. In the last six weeks, I don’t think I have eaten more than one meal with two hands; fine if it’s anything but peas. Peas are tricky. I think I still have one in my bra.

I'd do anything

She’s here! I am not in the pub yet!

I can almost hear you all groaning from behind your computer screens but, I can assure you now that, although I have now had my beautiful little girl Nancy, I will not be writing about her today. Or my perineum. You can jolly well wait for that! Although it is about Mums. My Mum actually.

It isn’t until you become a Mum that you realise what your own Mum went through. When I was 14 and an absolute bitch, My Mum would tell me all the time that when I had my own teenage girl, I would realise how horrible I could be. Now, I will have three! I understand now just how fantastic my Mum was, particularly as at this time she was having pretty horrific Chemotherapy. But, I will not be able to laugh with her about it or relive stories from when I was young and as I get older, I struggle to remember the things we did together. In truth, the main thing that I attribute to my Mum; is that she died. If that was the legacy I left for my three girls, I would be devastated. So, I am going to try my hardest to remember this as an adult, not with the brain of a 16 year old girl. That’s who I revert to when I think about my Mum as that is when she left us.

The majority of times that Mum and I talked the most were when we were in the car together. That sounds bonkers but, as my Mum and Dad were working in our café a lot, My Mum and I had time on our own when she ferried me around to various activities (as most Mums do ) I moan about it frequently!! Otherwise, we were all together as a family. Horse riding was on a Sunday morning and I always used to love it when she picked me up as we would visit a random garden centre or fruit picking farm before we went home. I didn’t really take to horse riding even though I did it for such a long time but, because of Mum’s background in the stables, I did it because I knew she wanted me to. But, I never loved it.This time in the car was when, as I mentioned before, that I can remember all the music Mum would play. When I have a bad day or need a pick up, these songs can take me back there. For example: Curiosity Killed The Cat – Down To Earth was a firm favourite and I have it on my special playlist. I felt safe at these times. This was when my childhood was as it should be. Before, it became about loss.

Our car had a certain smell; almost hot, whatever the weather. We had a dark Maroon Volvo and the seats were almost carpeted, as they so frequently were in the 80’s. My Dad never allowed us to have any other car because he always said that we would never be safer. That was true actually: Mum and I had a crash once on the way to school.Well, I say crash but, our car never actually moved from its stop position. Someone drove into us from behind and their car crumbled in half almost. We weren’t hurt and we didn’t need to be checked out but, I had the day off school anyway. I had toast and tea when I got home, in Mum’s beloved Willow pattern china and watched musicals all day. I collected them! Should have been on the stage really. If I hadn’t just become a ‘normal’ person.

I'd do anything.

My gorgeous girl is now the same age as I was when my Mum would take me Horse riding.

I was fascinated with my Mum’s life as a teenager. It always seemed so glamorous. Sneaking out of the house with my Godmother Ro to the latest party. Stories of her boyfriends and working as a waitress in a beautiful country pub. Of course, the side she never talked about when telling me these stories is that she never actually wanted to be in that house. She wanted to avoid a beating and not have to hide under her bed when her Father came home. This was her childhood but, she never told me stories about that: just of the fun she had. That was the type of person she was and that despite her childhood and the horrendous things she saw, she always remained loving, elegant, strong and fun.I knew from her stories that she was definitely a little wild and who would blame her.. Naturally, I did not follow in these footsteps as an adolescent.

She had a few notable boyfriends, always older than her, much older in fact but, who treated her like a Princess. Based on the father she had, this was unsurprising. Her relationships with men were always for replacement father figures who cared for her which, was really what she craved. Thankfully none of these relationships resulted in a broken jaw, only very beautiful jewellery. This was until she met my Dad: Tony. He was her savour. I know what that’s like!

I'd do anything

I try to teach my girls to enjoy every minute as a child and fill it with love.

The reason we were always milling around those garden centres and flower farms was because of my Mum’s passion for flowers. She loved them. Her interest didn’t really start until later life and after she was diagnosed as I guess she found it therapeutic. I say ‘later life’ but, she was three years younger than I am now when she was diagnosed. I never found these places boring, unlike my girls do now (until they realise that there may be cake involved) Instead, I loved listening to her talking about all the different flowers and what she was going to do with them. Always such beautiful colours and smells. Naturally, we would have cake too and I always ended up with something to bring home. A glittery butterfly or fury rabbit which were on a stick and ordinarily meant for a flower arrangements. The health and safety on buying a child one of those bad boys now would be unquestionable.

Mum ended up arranging flowers for our local church. There wasn’t the massive conglomerate of florists that there is now who simply arrange the flowers and deliver them ready. Mum would design them, buy them and trudge up to the church with her basket and her oasis and spend hours making the most beautiful accompaniments for a wedding or funeral. Most of these times she would take me with her and there was always some kind of adventure with it. Also, I would sit and watch and she would talk to me, sometimes about the flowers but, mostly about other things. The smell of oasis brings those times back to me. And that church, although, having both her funeral there and my Dad’s a few years later, the memories it held became slightly different for me. I still felt her there that day though. The day she wasn’t really there anymore.

I'd do anything

Rocking them socks..

Once, the vicar said I could take the tiny windy stairs to the steeple if I wanted and look out over the town. It was amazing. I wouldn’t do it now though! As a child you have no idea of your own mortality. As I grew up and more people left, I grew fearful of everything. Plus, I’m really claustrophobic so would probably poop myself! Ultimately, Mum would come up and find me so, she wasn’t fearful of that either. Thinking back, this was a gift of time together that most Mum’s don’t always get. For that I am grateful and when the memories of my Mum are taken over by simply remembering that she left me, I shall try and replace it with the times when she was there. When she was my beautiful, beautiful Mum.

I'd do anything.

Miss you Mum.

Mo Problems

Mo Problems

Mo Problems

As time moves on, I remember my Mum less and less. I remember how she sounded when she talked, how her skin felt when she washed me in the bath and how it felt to hold her hand. I also remember how she smelt: Opium she used to wear, the perfume not the barbiturate!

If it was not so ruddy expensive, I would buy a bottle, just so I could sniff it if I felt sad or missed her more than normal that day. I would not wear it myself though. Personally, I think it smells like old lady knickers!! But, I mean that in the most respectful way.

I also remember how she used to stare at me in the car. It drove me insane! Invariably, my brother would sit in the front seat, which was great as he was an annoying little toad and it got him out the way, if just for an hour. Mum and I would sit in the back; my Sony Walkman constantly attached to my bonce, where I would stare out the window and dream that I was on stage performing or modelling in my spare time as Cindy Crawford’s understudy (no one ever said imagination was similar to real life!). I would look at Mum and there she would be, staring at me again! ‘Mum! For gods sake!’ She knew what I looked like. She had produced me from her Vagina. She would always just say, ‘I like looking at you’. It is only since I became a Mother myself that I could understand what she meant. I could study every inch of my girls faces, day in day out. I am hoping that in years to come they will laugh about me staring at them in the car, not reminiscing that they wish I was still around to stare at them, like I do now.

What I do not remember as much now is things that we used to do together. I can recollect a couple of instances that she picked me up from school, especially when she bought me a brooch shaped like a camel and I thought it was a piece of honeycomb! I remember that she used to put on a silly voice when she saw my headmaster and I used to tease her about it. He was always far too ‘tracksuity’ in my mind. No good ever came of a man always wearing a tracksuit. She definitely seemed to like him though!

Mo Problems

I love my girls faces. Even when they are full of stroppiness and bogies.

I struggle now to remember the Disney World trips. I remember going on Space Mountain with my Dad and accidentally catching a peek of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ when I should have been asleep but, the rest is fading. It scares me that I may run out of things to tell my children about my Mum, about their Grandma. It scares me to think that by the time Rusty can understand, the stories will be even fewer. But, it has reminded me of one important thing: that we cannot spend our lives looking backwards and if we do, we will hinder the possible achievements we can conquer now.

Even after everything, I have always had this naïve sense that there will always be a miracle when you least expect it. God knows where I got this from! The very fact that I perceive it though and it is yet to happen, only cements my belief even more. I think things like all our money worries will be sorted somehow when we least expect it, that we wouldn’t have to struggle anymore and that maybe one day we will wake up and the Universe has decided that it is our time to be rewarded. It is daft I know but, if I lose this belief, I would worry even more. You never know what is around the corner I think, negative or positive. So for now I keep hoping and thinking that tomorrow may be the day.

We are wealthy in other ways though and I am never ungrateful for that. I am lucky enough to have someone that loves me, that does not make me feel like I am not good enough or want to change me and I feel the same way about him. I have two lovely girls and as much as I would like a holiday, to take them to Disney World ourselves or not worry about paying the next bill, those things are the things that are important really. It is just hard on a daily basis to remember that. More importantly though; we have our health. Although I now struggle to complete more than one physical task a day and if I could, would spend the majority of the day in the bath to ease my aching joints. I do currently have the boobs I always wanted though. 🙂 Ironic Shu as you brag about your boobs whilst talking about losing your Mum to Breast cancer.

I have also come to realise that I need to concentrate on my small family and stop spending time worrying about other factors. I had always hoped that the relationship with my parents family would improve but, really life has taken over and they are busy with their own immediate family also. I say parents family because they really stopped being my family from the point my parents left.We can never go back. I just know that if my Mum and Dad were still here, that would all be very different. They were a cement almost that kept everyone together. It is difficult for me because that aspect of family see me as a grown up but, when I think of them, I feel how I did when my Mum was still here: 16 and part of a large caring family. The spectrum for me now does not span so far and I would have loved that for my children but, it is not to be.

Mo Problems

Ahhh yes the 80’s frog willies (and my toad of a brother) Ha ha!!

So, I shall just carry on. Being happy with my life I have here, trying not to look back. I could look down but, I wouldn’t see very far at the moment! And I shall be grateful for what I have been given and remember every day just how precious it is. For those around me who are there for me and make me complete, mainly my Tristan, Thank you for helping me to remember that what life can take away from you, it also gives you back, usually when you least expect it.

Tony

Tony

Tony

I have never really had much problem with sleeping. I am one of those people that can awaken during a dream and pick up where I left off if I want to: depending on who is in it that is! This week though, I have suffered a little: probably because of Rusty deciding that he/she is not a child but actually a jumping bean! At one point, in Lidl, I thought that Rusty might even be coming early. Other supermarkets are available obviously.

One night this week when I was struggling to nod off, I began thinking about my Dad, as I normally do. I know I am 35 and I have my own family but I sometimes cry into my pillow and think that I really want my Dad! Not much shame in admitting that, I do. My Dad had the ability of making everything alright, as all Dad’s do of course but, it was almost like he could inhale your worries and bury them deep inside of him: like that massive bloke in The Green Mile (if you haven’t watched it, you should have). There are times when I need him to do that for me: not just because I want him to make me feel better but, because he gave my life light. It was only when the light went out that I realised I would have to live in darkness for a while.

Tony

My boyfriend sent me this once: if you had met him you would know what a grand gesture that is (he’ll moan at me for that)

I have thought to myself on many occasions: what is the point in being such a fantastic human being and then not having anything to show for it when you are no longer around. This is part of the reason that I started this blog and part of the reason that however small my effort, I will always do my best to ensure people know what happened to my Dad so they can make sure it does not happen to their loved ones. I wish I could go back. By that, I mean that if you have read my blog, you should be nagging your Dad to have his Prostate checked. It’s not just an ‘old man’s’ disease, just like Breast Cancer does not only afflict woman over 50. My Mum was younger than me when she first found a lump. Just because you don’t have any symptoms, does not mean diddly squat!! My Dad was born in 1945 and he died in 2005. He never went to the doctors for 25 years but, there was no prize in obtaining this milestone, in fact, it was the opposite. He most definitely got the wooden spoon.

I recently visited a local Prostate Cancer support group to talk about Travel Insurance for people with pre existing medical conditions (because that is what I do as a day job) and of course, my own experiences. My Dad would not have been the youngest one there, I would! I would have given anything to find a group that we could visit together and talk to. Although, it may not seem much, I felt like I really achieved something that day, like I did something about it, instead of just feeling sorry for myself and questioning why the Universe can be such a terrible bastard sometimes. And I know I am not the only one, there are people that have suffered much worse but grief is very inward and its hard to think of others. I do think of others now though: knowing my Dad made me a better person. I hoped that my Dad would have been proud of me too.

Cancer leaves a massive trail of destruction and not just to the one it affects. My Dad said to me once that he had the easy job because, I would be the one that was left behind to deal with it and he was right. My Mum never said a lot towards the end, she couldn’t talk and so had to use a magnetic sketch pad to tell us things. Hard to convey all your final wishes in a matter of sentences eh? So why do we not do it when we can.

Tony

My Daddy! Make sure you hang onto yours tight: with both hands.

I know that I am a bit bonkers and those who know me will know that my brain and mouth have no connecting off switch. But, whatever you think of my Blog, whatever you think of me, just remember that you have a chance to change things: before it’s too late! And so why wouldn’t you?

If you were me and I was you!

If you were me and I was you!

If you were me and I was you!

Happy Birthday! to my Mummy for yesterday. She would have been 68 (I think) That sounds terrible but in all honesty, My Mum has been dead for longer than I actually knew her. In that respect, do I think it is maudlin to mark those occasions like a Birthday for someone who has gone? Of course not! It is only maudlin if I spend the day feeling sorry for myself, which of course I didn’t as I do that daily anyway! Just joking!

I spoke to a Psychic once who told me that my Mum was upset that I never had photos of her around. Well, you can tell her that I am upset with her too…for dying! Of course, I always had to have the last word! Apparently she also wanted to have some reference to her in my girls names. That is how I knew that it was my Mum because she had an amazing sense of humour: Maureen Freda Joan…Mum really? Her Mum was called Joan and my other Nanny was called Phyllis Mildred: if that wouldn’t be the universe having a giggle, I don’t know what would be!

On the weekend, I am sure my other half would not mind me telling you, but we had an enormous row! Sometimes I think it is good to clear the air with these occurrences as we spend a lot of time together but, we don’t always talk (not about important things anyway) Human beings in their very nature always want something that they don’t have: I would like a house in Taormina (look it up) with a cable car, a lunch of  Buffalo Mozzarella every day and a Pinot Grigio tree but, that is not reality.

We live each day doing the same things, going to work, looking after the children and if you are anything like us, sitting on the sofa at night, eating chocolate and watching television. It is natural to think that life should be more interesting and when you are busy looking at Twitter and some 18 year old blonde with a wash board stomach is jumping off the Empire State Building in her bikini, why should you feel special that you are merely enjoying ‘Benefits Britain’ with a glass of Shiraz! Truth is though, what if you didn’t do that anymore? What if your life changed and it was all taken away? Then you would realise that you were happy and life was important to you. I am under no illusion that I may create the vaccine for Ebola or end world hunger, but that does not mean that my life has been wasted: nor that I should have done something else with it. Really and truly, if I did now jump off the Empire State Building in my bikini (although it would be more of a belly flop for me), I would really want to be sat at home with my boyfriend watching ‘Benefits Britain’. That is the irony! Why can’t we just realise that now before we have to lose something to make it important. This is what I tell my boyfriend when he is feeling rubbish about himself and that he has achieved nothing. We have all achieved something, whether we have been kind to someone when they needed it or told our child something that they will always remember and subsequently tell their children, we can’t see what we have or what we gave because we are too busy thinking that we should be something else.

In 1990, my Cousin Emily was 11. She was the daughter of my Mum’s brother Terry and she was my penpal. I used to love getting her letters and she was always particulary good at drawing mice. Her and I were exactly the same age and many said we looked the same too. I can still remember her vividly, she had a huge smile and she was so kind and caring. I am sure that she would have been a primary school teacher and probably sit on her sofa at night and eat chocolate but, she never got that far. One day she went to school and she simply never came back!

If you were me and I was you!

Left to right: Emily, her brother Simon and me.

I can remember those storms. I was at school and my classmates and I were watching the slates fly around outside. Clearly the buildings we were in were 2 million years old and so we were marched to our school hall, which I always thought was a bit mental as we then had to dodge said slates on the way there. Personally, if I had known I would have to sing Kum Ba Yah for three hours accompanied by Mr Pearson on his accordion, a light concussion may have been a relief!

I should not say that. For my special Emily simply sat at her desk and the roof fell on her. My Mum was really affected by her death. She never spoke to me about it, as I was 11 too but, I always knew. I wish I had spoken to her as maybe it would have helped her but, probably I was too busy wishing that Patrick Swayze would suddenly like goofy 11 year olds. My Mum would have traded her life for Emily’s, I know this to be true! In actually fact, she was not that long behind her but, my point is, when my Mum was dying, she did not spend her time thinking about what she wished she had done with her life or what she regretted but, merely how she had lived it and that she would now be leaving it behind. Don’t wait until it’s too late!