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.

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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.

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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!

 

Bananarama

Bananarama

Bananarama

Mum was 46 when she died. Death carries so much guilt, not for the departed naturally: they don’t give a monkies! But, for all us poor bastards left behind! Life is full of so many ‘Shoulda Woulda Couldas’ no matter what the circumstances were that took them away from you. When my best friend was taken, it was instant. Boom! She was gone. I felt guilty that I was not with her as she had asked me to be (except then I would not actually be writing this) and I feel guilty for that as well. Why was I not in the car? Why was I at home in bed? Although, actually I woke up at the exact time that she left and could not get back to sleep. I have always been a bit strange like that. I get it from my Granddad don’t forget. Anyway, I digress!

Yes! Mum was 46 and I was 16. The first thing I remember feeling guilty about, apart from the whole;New Shirt, Pat Butcher incident of course was the day that I was taking the entrance exam to get into secondary school. Mum and I used to  visit a particular pet place and garden centre in these years and I would look at the guniea pigs and she would look at the Dahlias, or some such boring stuff. We would often visit ‘floral related’ places just the two of us. I expect my brother was at home counting and cleaning his Smurf collection. (If you know him, you will know this is not me attempting to be funny). Anyway, I was really nervous about the exam and Mum had promised one of these outings on the way home: with cake and a toy from the gift shop, which was usually a collectable fluffy pencil. I was so excited that I thought about it all the way in the car to my exam. We chatted about what animals we might see today and what cakes would be available. So much so that I forgot all about my Exam and just listened to my Bananarama tape on the car stereo. Mum had removed The Manhatten Transfer just this once as a treat for me!

Bananarama

The obligatory 80’s Frog wellies there!

When we arrived at what would be my new school, I happened to see a girl that was in my current class and I was so relived to see a friendly face. My Mum and hers chatted and they offered me a lift home with them via their house for a milkshake. I felt so grown up coming home with a friend and looked to my Mum for approval. She simply looked back and rather than say, ‘Don’t forget we were going somewhere’, she just said, ‘If you are sure that’s what you want to do’. It was only in the car on the way home that I remembered our planned outing and my stomach dropped. I remember it like it was yesterday. I still can’t believe it went clean out of my mind and yet I think about it now and see it played out so vividly. That was one of those times I would go back to in my time machine (as soon as I finish those plans).

Now! I am no psychologist! Again, if you know me, you may chuckle at that but, now I am a grown Woman I think that is why I was so angry with my Mum for dying and leaving me. If I was angry with her it would be all her fault. It would only be me that people felt sorry for and there was no space for me to feel guilty. I could not possibly feel guilty then for being such an utter bitch! I am not saying this was a character trait. It was all about timing. I was a hormonal teenager and I could be such a cow bag in the last months of my Mum’s life. My parents embarrassed me and they were always unfair to me by not letting me do what I wanted and buy me fags and stuff…(sense the tone) So I would repay them by behaving like the utter toilet water secreted in Satan’s bum hole. At least, I think I was. I feel like I was. When I look back I think I was.

On car journeys I would plug myself into my cassette player and stare out the window. In actual fact I was imaging that I was actually in Bananarama and wearing black tight satin pants, leather bra and a big cross necklace. My performance was always second to none. It wasn’t actually me of course, it was the mythical me: I was 25 and I was gorgeous. Good thing about fantasy, it can take you where you want to go. The years previous had not always been that easy. My Mum didn’t just get Cancer one day and die the next. She fought for 8 years and we watched. The world I escaped to was uncomplicated and made me forget, it was fun and vivacious but, more importantly, absolutely no one was dying or losing their hair.

Bananarama

Mum and Dad (and Teddy)

When it spread to my Mum’s brain, she didn’t go ‘Doolally flip’ as you may expect. In a way, it would have been much easier if she had. She simply started losing the ability to do the most basic things: swallow, smile, talk and lastly of course, breath. She was still in there and that was the hardest part. I know she was there because she wanted an Etch a Sketch type thing to write messages on. Although, now I think to myself, how did she initially ask for the Etch a Sketch type thing because she couldn’t actually talk……Hmmm! But, I digress again!

Actually, I know that my Mum didn’t really think that I was a bitch. One of the last things she wrote was that she knew I would always be ok, that I would have a good life or do my best to make one. Maybe she knew I would always be strong and that I would have to be. I am only that way because of her. I have had and do have a good life. Life is precious and you must enjoy every last bit. I wish mine so far had been a little less painful and I wish that parts of me had not gone missing but, I will always try and show my Mum that she was right in what she said. That I will make it be alright.

Bananarama

Happy and a little bit weird!

 

Dignity

Dignity

Dignity

Lavender candles, lovely warm bubble bath and a magical feeling of love and new life. This is not what childbirth is like in any stretch of the imagination. Even those annoying cow bags that pop out a baby in one hour and slip into their size six jeans for the post birth journey home would agree! However, if you are having your first baby, the minute you discover that the miracle of life is forming in your uterus, you cannot help but think that for you, it will probably be just like this. Let’s face it; Technically you are the first person to ever go through it and God Damn you are going to have the easiest birth since Copulation began!

Luckily, and unsurprisingly for me, the tranquillity and beautiful magnitude of my first ever pregnancy lasted for a whopping two days. Two days because no sooner had  I discovered I was pregnant than I was spending my days crawling round on all fours and sitting on the toilet for forty five minutes at a time. Just a little ‘nodule’ on the Ovary apparently. If that was a little one, I would have had to bite down on a whiskey soaked rag in the weeks that followed to cope with any bigger. Bugger, it really hurt! Any woman that has suffered with something on her Ovary or generally in her womanly bits will know that really, you just feel like you constantly want a giant poo but, it has taken the wrong turn! Still, it was better than the alternative we faced, as for a few days the doctor had told us to expect the worst and that this pregnancy may well be ectopic. Thankfully it was not but, in true spirit of Gynaecology departments all over, unless you were dead, you could wait a few days to find out for sure. (Although, my Gynaecologist rocks!! and looks like Louis Spence 🙂 )

Dignity

I have used this picture before, but it is disgusting and I like it!

So, apart from the constant need for a poo, the daily navigation of a spiral staircase on all fours and the hourly requirement for grated cheese in a white roll, the rest of my pregnancy seemed to pootle along quite nicely. The determination of this as an in-utero pregnancy was discovered during an internal scan but, I feel the intricacies of this particular procedure may be too much for some. Ironically, they cover it in what looks like a giant condom first but, as I said…I must stop there!

The fun really began when it was realised that all those grated cheese rolls had ensured a very yummy environment for my daughter and she clearly did not want to budge from where she stayed. Even after two weeks, she was not in the mind set to make an appearance and all the things they tell you that will encourage labour are about as useful as the birth plan they tell you to write beforehand. What you should really write in your birth plan is: give birth. In whatever way works for you. Oh, and remember the time you said that whatever happened, there was no way you were having an Epidural….Ha Ha Ha…..that was a good one Monty Python!

If when overdue, you are fortunate enough to have a ‘Sweep’, you will have had a lovely little insight into what might be waiting round the corner for you. I have had five in total and its a wonder I don’t have lady bits that could safely house the car keys. To be fair, I have never actually tried! I have friends that are nervous to have a smear test. Us Mum’s will have a little giggle at that. Blimey! When you have had a child, you are pretty much willing to save time for future gynaecological appointments by going in your pants!!

 

Dignity

To look at her now you would think she never caused me any trouble at all.

So…What happened for me the first time round?

As I have mentioned, my daughter Lani was two weeks overdue. Technically she was two weeks and ‘God knows how long in labour’ overdue but, lets not get pedantic! I had three sweeps (which incidentally is not a type of spring clean) and was booked in for an induction on the 14th day. Almost every Mum that has been induced kindly informed me of exactly how much more painful my whole experience would be with induction, which was kind! However, if I knew then what I know now, I would have demanded that Epidural from the car on the way in…Best invention ever!!…After wine.

I honestly can’t remember where I was or what I was doing when the contractions started. I do however, remember that I was wearing an orange top! I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t bad. Give it an hour or so and I shall be pushing my lovely (and tiny of course) baby into the world’. Well, on the second night…yes night..of these pains, I was ready to reach in and pull it out myself. The pain starts off like the feel of a fart collecting in your bottom region. Except, it doesn’t escape giving you immediate relief, it goes upwards where it shouldn’t. It swirls around your back passage and creeps up towards your tummy like ‘The Scream’ and the skin on your abdomen has become so tight that it would make Joan Rivers jealous. Encompassed with all this is the feeling that you must dispose of every fluid remaining in your body and you have the urge that you never thought possible to wee, poo and vomit all at the same time. Oh, and all those baby magazines you bought which suggested you have the special raspberry flavoured lip balm for this joyous occasion can stuff that lip balm right in their print press!

It starts off as a little trickle at first. I was watching Vicar of Dibley, the Christmas episode where she has to have several Christmas lunches and stuff sprouts into her mouth. I was thinking that I had to do just the opposite of that and feeling like it too. I also remember being really grateful at this point that I had a leather sofa (and that I was wearing my ex husbands trousers) but, it is not till you stand up that you realise the full fun of the ‘Gush’ that you are about to incur and the way that it actually feels, just that little bit satisfying…..

To be continued…. (because I realise I have not even got to the hospital yet and the fun increases by ten fold then) Oh and obviously Joan Rivers was alive when I had my first baby. RIP Joan (I know she wouldn’t mind)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Multicoloured

Multicoloured

Multicoloured

Pink or blue? This week we find out! Actually though, this one is Rainbow! A Rainbow baby is a baby that has followed a loss and my little Rusty really didn’t fancy hanging around in the ether for long before he was given to me.

We are not going to tell anyone what we are having, but I will find it incredibly hard. For purposes of clarity I always refer to Rusty as a boy and so will continue to do so: I would like a boy, purely because I don’t have one. Naturally, I just want everything to be OK and this is the first concern.As a mother you worry from the moment they start to grow but, I will not be disappointed with a girl. After all I know how to deal with girls: I am an old pro at it really (OK! maybe not so old….shhhhhhh!!) I just have a horrible horrible feeling that as both of my daughters were just so amazingly good (in hindsight), that this one will be a terror. Completely in a good way of course! When they are 17 and staying in bed all day, I am sure I could then look back and laugh. Whatever happens, I have been blessed with Rusty and he is my (I should really say our) Rainbow that’s for sure!

It happened when I was at work. If I am honest, I had a niggling feeling from the moment I woke up but, I tried to put it down to wind! Sorry that was bad taste! I started bleeding and I remember thinking, ‘Please just let it be a blip, they say it happens, I have read it in magazines’: but, really I knew that this was no blip. I left and I drove home, worrying because I had left work early.I tried to focus on what I would cook for tea and what the evenings viewings would entail.Anything other than focus on what I knew was really going on in my body. I didn’t make tea and I didn’t watch the television, I just went to bed. I did this to try and forget for a bit, not breathing too heavily so as to keep it all inside. Keep it safe. And I willed everything that was there to keep growing, to hang on like a limpit with rigamortis. But, of course it didn’t and by the next day, it was pretty much completely gone. My baby had gone almost as quickly as it came.

Multicoloured

I didn’t feel like a real person again until I was given Rusty.

It was a small comfort that I could indulge in one of my favourite hobbies again: Pinot Grigio! However, it was nice to go back to the gym and work off some frustrations and of course concentrate on my flabby bottom. Which, coincidentally is now flabbier that Pavarotti’s bicycle seat! There was however, one major hindrance concerning the gym and basically moving/walking/cuddling and this was that my boobs felt like they were in a juicer! Three weeks this continued to the point where I was genuinely worried. Given my Mum’s history and the fact that the surface area of my boobs was ordinarily so small that I barely knew they were there half the time anyway.

I have given my doctor some real ‘stick’ in the past but, to be fair! After the whole Molar Pregnancy debarcle, he deserved to be prodded with it, very hard and in his nether region. He was very kind to me now though and he humoured me as no doubt he remembered me as the nasty complainant who had wanted to poke a stick in his nethers.( He did not know this of course, mainly because I have just said it now) He is my hero now though. I weed in a pot and went on my way to indulge in my favourite hobby again I expect. Incidentally, straight after,we met my Boyfriends old friend (again, he’s not old) and wife for coffee on their way down to Cornwall.They told us of their unexpected pregnancy and how they were also given one that was slightly more challenging than their others. This is course does not still play on my mind…no no no!!

Multicoloured

I am pretty sure my brother was the troublesome baby and I was the good one!

I suppose he called me around three hours later. ‘We had discussed your fertility earlier following your miscarriage Shushanah’, ‘I don’t really think that is an issue any more’. Blimey! That was quick!! I have absolutely no comprehension how it did not even cross my mind that I may be pregnant. I had tried to stay away from the internet regarding pregnancy after miscarriage but, what I did read was all pretty woolly. This bit is scientific: I must have ovulated exactly 11 days after and Rusty was given to us pretty much on the next love in. I know exactly what day it was too! I know! I don’t get out much!

And so to the pressing question: how are the hormones? Well, they are still having a party like its 1999! I continue to try and explain to my beloved what it feels like to be pregnant.Mentally I mean, not physically. Obviously, I am over the moon and incredibly happy with our Rusty. I do not, like some, feel like I am carrying an alien and despite the wobbly bottom, love showing off a growing bump. I do however continue to be frustrated with the feeling of sheer irrationality and irritability and what’s even more frustrating is that I do not care when I act this way because it comes from so far within the depths that if it did not come out, I would surely spontaneously combust. I am sure that most of the time, my boyfriend would prefer this option greatly.

Like a lot of people, I moan on Facebook sometimes and it helps for a while but, really I want to have a regular rant to the person closest to me. His obvious avoidance of any such instances merely compounds the feeling and not only do I get in a teenage strop but, I also feel like he does not actually want to know and does not care. I understand though that I probably would not want to talk to me either. I have to though as am kind of attached! Being pregnant can make you feel vulnerable, like you want to be looked after and anything other than 100% attention 24 hours a day just feels like the total opposite. And so I remain, horrible, selfish, unreasonable and absolutely no fun to be around but, I am doing quite an important job at the moment and it is easy to forget that. I am still me and I still have a big heart, which I want to use to its full capacity on a daily basis. It is also easy to forget that I will do anything for those I love and give everything I have for them…right the way to the end of that rainbow. I just might kick a few leprechauns on the way…..

Ghosts Part 2

Ghosts Part 2

My Dad was always falling out of bed! Sometimes the dog pushed him out and sometimes he simply turned over a little too far in his sleep and…doink! He could just about feel his legs but, he could not weight bare in any way. He could get onto the commode himself and from his wheelchair to the bed was ok but, there was generally a struggle each day. Once, he was so determined to come to the next level of the house and look out of our fire escape window at the gardens next door, that he tried to drag himself up the stairs like a merman. I was fuming with him that day! He got half way up and then slid to the bottom like a sausage. He thought it was hysterical (as he did most things) I, on the other hand was furious with him for taking such a risk to his already crumbled spine: I slammed doors and called him a ‘Bloody, Pissing idiot’! Again, he thought it was hysterical.

When my Dad was in hospital, I had some help to get the downstairs ready for him coming home. We were lucky enough to live in a large town house which used to be flats so everything was pretty much self contained for him. He had a bedroom downstairs next to the living room and a bathroom where I could empty the luminous green wee from his catheter bag.We built slight ramps so he could easily wheel from room to room.The house being so old, there were tiny drops into each downstairs room. Dad could pick up things with his special ‘claw’ which helped him grip and lift things that were slightly out of his reach. Mostly, he would use it to pinch my bottom when I was getting something for him or lifting the cats tail while giggling and singing ‘Pixxxeeelina’. Some utter bastard who drove like a numpty ran over my Pixxee after my Dad had died. I was devastated to lose that connection.

It sounds completely bonkers but, there are nights when I am feeling really sad that I will close my eyes and hold out my open hand, in the anticipation that my Dad would hold it: even if just for a second. Some times I beg him to do it or to come and sit on the end of my bed so that I know he’s there, that he misses me in the way I miss him. That he still thinks of me as I do of him and if he is proud of me at all. In reality, if he did come back to me, he would probably just pinch my bum again with that bloody claw!!

Ghosts Part 2

My heart will always be just a little bit broken.

There were some nights that I would stay away and although I worried about leaving my Dad, I needed a release sometimes. He had nurses come in and help him also. I loved my dad with every single ounce of my being but, sometimes the pressure of looking after him was too much and I needed to escape. I was happy for it to be just the two of us but, it did make me feel very negatively towards a lot of people who I felt had forgotten us. Something I am still working through!

My Dad’s prognosis was very bleak right from the beginning. He was given months because his Cancer was discovered so late and was extremely aggressive.He was a right stubborn old sod and he died almost four years later (even after Merman and slippery sausage incidents) He waited until I was married so he knew I would not be alone and he died five weeks after that.

Ghosts Part 2

My beautiful girl: if not a little bit weird!

Only weeks before, something happened which should have forewarned us. I often wondered if it was a consious forewarning  for my Dad. He would never have dreamed of admitting that to me, never. In the same way he would never admit about the baby in our previous house. But, it has always left me wondering. This is what happened:

I had been away overnight at my in laws and was returning as I usually did if I had stayed out,around late morning.The image of my Dad in his chair is one that I will never forget. He was sat in the living room watching the television and as his head turned to look at me coming in the front door, he turned ashen. My Dad carried a lot of expression in his face but, this day it was one of confusion and terror. There was a split second where I contemplated that the Cancer had spread to his brain and perhaps he had no idea who this intruder was. ‘Shu’?…..’You haven’t just come home?’ ‘You came home last night’. I hadn’t.

My Dad went on to explain that just as he was drifting off to sleep he was aware I was home. He said he had not heard me come in the front door but had seen me furtling around in the landing (I did and still do furtle an awful lot) and had called out to me to see what I was up to. I had walked to the entrance of his bedroom and stood in his doorway for a couple of minutes without speaking and then simply turned around and walked away. Of course, I say me, but it wasn’t me, I was 17 miles away watching trashy TV and no doubt drinking wine. My dad said there was no doubt in his mind that he was seeing a person, a solid entity (what he thought was me) that he had called out and asked me to get him a drink. We made a joke of it of course and japed that it would have been more than a little unsettling if whatever or whoever that was that night had actually brought him a drink.

This has always been a comfort to me, not frightening in any way but it is something I will take with me to my own grave and I will always wonder who exactly it was that came to collect my Dad. Dad didn’t have much time to worry about it as whoever it was accompanied him to the next world shortly after. I hope someone comes for me too when I am ready to go. I will have that drink though: Pinot Grigio naturally!

 

 

Ghosts

Ghosts

I can remember my old bedroom like it was yesterday. Actually, in truth, it was bloomin hideous. I had cream wallpaper but it was covered in brown and yellow flowers so actually it just looked brown. Half the wall was covered in a wood panel which had been painted white and I had a poster of Patrick Swayze which surreptitiously moved from the wall to the door, depending on how I was feeling at the time and how easy it made it to kiss him. He always kissed me back. Good old Patrick!

Ghosts

Of course Dirty Dancing was my favourite but he wasn’t too bad in this either!

Because our house was above the cafe then, the bedrooms at the very top were all attic rooms with the sloped celings. I would spend hours looking out my window. You had a birds eye view of our garden below. It was a large garden.My Mum was mad about flowers and gardening (hence my name) and she would potter outside for hours on end. She always made my dad build her things and when he had to build her a pond, there was almost a divorce thats for sure! I would sit out with her into the evening somedays,on my swing and making up songs.

My bed was in the corner of the room and I was incredibly scared of the dark. So I would sleep with the light on every night. Not a side light: a full light. I say I slept in there but until I was about 11 I had a tendency to creep into bed with my Mum and Dad. I could not understand their constant frustration as I only wanted to be close to them. However, now as I have my own children, the thought of my daughter still coming into bed in years to come fills me with dread. My whole future sex life eradicated until she was old enough to leave home. No doubt I would become one of those frustrated retirees who goes to yoga and looks at their Vagina in a hand mirror.

If I had the gift of fortune telling or hindsight though, I would have got into my Dad’s hospital bed and proclaimed that I would never leave until he left me. I would hold him for as long as I could, for every second that remained and he would know I was there, holding tight. In actual fact he would have probably thought I was the milkman as he was definately a little less lucid towards the end.

Anyway, one night when I was asleep in my own room, I was woken up with a start. It took a little while to register what exactly the sound was but, in the corner of my room I could hear a baby crying. It was so loud that I was sure my Mum and Dad would burst in at any time. I told myself it was a cat outside and merely took myself into my Mum and Dads bed. I would hear that baby cry once a month, always in the same place and always really loud. There was a particular night that I was already in my Mum and Dads bed and the crying woke me up from the other room. It woke my Dad up too because he sat up and looked around the room in a daze. I know for sure that he heard it. When I asked him the next day he denied all knowledge but what person in their right mind would confirm to their eight year old daughter that they had also heard the phantom infant in her room?

Ghosts

One of our Sundays out. Pretty sure this was Cricket St Thomas.

I was scared of that house. Even when we moved into our own official proper house next door and we used the old place for storage, I would rarely go in.If I did, I would run up the stairs and run out again, always feeling like someone was hot on my heels. I still have nightmare about it to this day and I often wonder if that baby was trying to tell me something.

When my Dad was well into his final months, I had decided to practice Reiki so that I would have a hobby to give me a break. My Reiki teacher was lovely and we would spend a lot of time on other spiritual subjects such as Tarot and past lives. We were talking about spirit guides one evening: not something that I really agree with and purely because if it were true, mine should have been sacked years ago! My teacher was convinced that I had a male sibling who was always around me but, it had only ever been my brother and I and I had confirmed with my Nanny that Mum had never lost any children.

When we first moved into our house, our actual house next to the cafe which my Mum had her ‘eye on’ for years, it was great fun. Effectively we had two houses and I would play in the new house all on my own for whole days on end. I would cook with the pots and pans and lone bottle of white wine vinegar that was left in the cupboard by our original neighbours. My Dad would tell everyone that listened that when he was decorating the front room he had removed seven layers of wall paper and on the last layer he found a newspaper cutting from the wedding of Queen Victoria’s son (or daughter, I can’t quite remember) It wasn’t until I was in my late teens that my Dad told me that all the time he had been decorating, he was aware of a figure stood behind him. It was even more surprising because my Dad was never really like that. He was very much straight forward and he certainly was never superstitious. That was surprising based on his parents background too. That house was everything to me though, I loved it and it loved me back (as any house could and showed itself to do so!) There were often times that I would hear someone walking around outside my room when everyone was in bed but, it never bothered me. I never saw anything and we always discussed that whoever or whatever was there was willing to live with us too. My Dad was adamant he had seen a dog running around too and this was before he was on large doses of morphine. Just two weeks before he died, something quite incredible happened (that will be continued)

One of the last things I cleared from that front room when my Dad had gone was our long mahogany dresser. The things I found in there meant what was thought to be a quick job took hours.I sat there on my own and took everything out of those drawers, one thing at a time. I found old dog pedigrees from when my Mum and Dad went to dog training classes (with dogs of course!) and I found umpteen letters and cards that me and my brother had made for them over the years. I even found a dried up old condom which was more than perturbing.

As I cleared the very last thing from the musty wood and moved the dresser away from the wall, a brown envelope that had been wedged in the back of the drawyer fell to the floor. In that envelope I found my Mum’s NHS card and our baby bracelets. Most bizarrely, the envelope also contained my Mum’s two maternity cards from her pregnancies with my brother and I. It wasn’t very interesting, mostly her weight and sugar levels etc.. However on her maternity card when pregnant with me there was a prominent section which stated in scrawly handwriting….’One previous full term pregnancy and one miscarriage at 11 weeks before this pregnancy’……………………