Wednesday 10 August 2011

The Cycle of Life

It is difficult to write when you are constantly away from home and the travelling leads to exhaustion, no matter how enjoyable things might be along the way.

July/August was supposed to be a fun month – a reward to ourselves for all the hard work we had accomplished beforehand. Friends were joining us for the storytelling festival at Much Wenlock. The weather was much better than forecast – only a few heavy showers and some sunshine. The stories were wonderful and the music lovely, but my mother (who is registered blind and has vascular dementia) decided to go for a walk on her own and had to be returned home in a distressed state by a passing neighbour. She then refused to enter the house for several hours, necessitating calling out the doctor and the ambulance.

When I rang my father to tell him we’d arrived at the festival, it was all over, but I could hear the fear in his voice. He’d been taking a nap when it happened. I had to phone my sister in Italy to brief her on events and she visited the following weekend to make sure everything was safe.

The next weekend I was presenting at Herbfest. It was a wonderful weekend full of enthusiastic herb lovers who welcomed the opportunity to make their own herbal concoctions and wanted to expand their experiences.

It was a long and exhausting journey to north Somerset and I was wiped out with the stress of it all when we returned.

The following Tuesday, my cousin rang me to say my aunt had died. Although it was not unexpected news, it was very sad to share the pain of his loss and worry about breaking the news to my mother. The two sisters had been estranged since my grandmother died forty years ago, but I’d tried to keep some level of communication between the two families and was grateful I’d taken time to write to my aunt and sent photographs just before her death which she had been able to take comfort from.

At 7.15am on the Thursday my eldest son rang to say his wife’s waters had broken and she was in labour. I went into work to be told that because I am managed from the Sheffield office and worked mostly from home, I would no longer have a desk or any shelf space. I was devastated.

To put this in some kind of context, it must be explained that although we have a fairly large and comfortable house, in the past month we have finally, after thirty years of no maintenance, had the roof insulated along with the cavity walls, the gutters and facias replaced, the front door, back door, garage doors and porch replaced and the lounge furniture recovered and the lounge redecorated.

This has meant Chris had to clear several spaces including the roof, box room and our daughter’s bedroom as she decided to come home to live permanently after four years away. The front room which houses both Chris and my computers and the piano where I give lessons is completely filled with extra furniture and piles of books and papers. There are only tracks through the debris and I can’t turn my chair round without hitting something.

The thought of bringing the contents of my work desk and two bookcases/shelving units home was too much. I spent the following week in tears. It brought back all the grief from being made redundant eight years ago when I had to literally put fourteen years of work into black rubbish bags to be thrown away when we cleared my office.

At 5.50pm on Thursday 28th, Richard rang us to say we were now grandparents to a 7lb 14oz boy called James Michael. We heard the first baby snuffles as he lay on his mother’s tummy in the labour ward of St Peter’s hospital in Woking. Laura followed the family tradition of short deliveries, only being in established labour for 5 hours and managing with gas and air.

After a two hour journey and then a further hour wait in the hospital the following day, it was wonderful to finally hold the tiny, warm bundle in our arms and marvel at the tightness of his grip. Everyone else remarked how much he looked like Richard, but I could only see the face of someone I’d never met before, a new person to welcome into the family and learn more about.

The Warwick Folk Festival was very enjoyable, with stunning performances from The Spooky Men’s Chorale and Show of Hands. We also appreciated the lazy days last weekend spent with our friends in The Lake District finalising the details of our American holiday in a month’s time.

The joy of all these events has been tempered by the sadness of my aunt’s death and my mother’s increasing frailty. Every time I speak to her she asks me when I am coming to visit. It doesn’t matter I have been there every three weeks for the past year and will be there again tomorrow and every two or three weeks for the rest of the year. It will never be enough, but it is all I can manage.


Sandies' Patch said...

I'm sorry for your troubles and hope life is smoother for the rest of the month at least.
Awhile ago, I wasgiven a scrap of fabric with herbs/plants on and put it next to a piece of fabric given to me by a neighbour who said she couldn't bear to throw it (and others pieces of fabric) away as they had belonged to her mother. She had heard from other neighbours about my love of textiles and sewing. In the bag of bits was a piece of faric that was left over from making a jacket, so I put the scrap of fabric on it and to cut a long story short, I made a tote bag with the fabrics. When it was completed, I thought of you.
So, I was wondering if I could send it to you, as I think you would be able to use it?
Let me know and I'll post it to you.

Warmest wishes,

Sandie xx

Stella Jones said...

Oh dear, troubles never come singly do they. I do sympathise with your problems and congratulate you on the birth of baby James. I had a new first grandson last October so I know the joy they can bring. Please just take each day as it comes. You no doubt know the saying: God will only send you the number of troubles he knows you can deal with. Then again, you have the Goddess to help you too don't you (wink).
Blessings, Star

Ali said...

*big hugs* cycle of life indeed - it never gets easier though, does it? I sometimes think that life is nothing more than a dizzying rollercoaster of great highs and terrible lows... though I suppose life wouldnt be so colourful if it wasnt that way! I'll admit to occasionally thinking 'stop the world, I want to get off!' wishing your new grandson the best of health, and hope that things settle down for you from here on - sounds like you could do with some down time!

Looking forward to meeting you next month hon xx

Sally said...

So sorry to hear of the difficult period you are going through, it is never fair when so much happens at once and life is filled with such chaos and sadness. Much love to you and your family, particularly you and your Mum. As you know I've had a difficult time recently with one thing and then another. Taking one day at a time and trying to find calm and joy in the little everyday things has been a real comfort to me. Very many congratulations on becoming grand parents, how wonderful for you. I hope you've managed many cuddles! After a horrible few weeks I won a pair of tickets to the Wilderness Festival this coming weekend, which made my week. The universe will provide!! Much love and will still be coming on Saturday for a few hours. xxx

Simpleton said...

That is so much to carry. Your mother's circumstance is most distressing and I hope that begins to resolve for all of you. So difficult. Just know that we all hold you in such love and esteem. Separated by great distances, but close in heart. Love to you.

Jenny said...

That is a lot to take in. I'm sorry for your loss, and I wish you all the best.

Congratulations, however, to you and Chris on becoming Grandparents, and to Richard for becoming a Dad. That's amazing.

Be well

Denise said...

I'm sorry you've had to go through so much pain and sorrow, but that in the midst of it all the blessing of a little baby has come into your life. Sometimes it certainly seems overwhelming, but I will keep you in my prayers and send good thoughts your way.
God bless you!

Sarah Head said...

I have been very touched by all your comments - thank you. I'm pleased to report I'm feeling much better although I could do with a couple of week's rest without any responsibilities! Just my mother's birthday and the herb festival to get through and then we go on holiday!

Jenny said...

I'm glad to hear you're feeling better. Take care, Jen.