Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Is that the time?

Is that the time?

Everyone from the funeral director to the minister was befuddled by the kitchen clock – indeed all the clocks in the house, and there are many.  A little foible of MTL was to have all the clocks ten minutes fast.  When the clocks needed to be changed he would sweetly offer to do my watch and now, for the first time in 30 odd years my watch tells me the correct time – thanks to one of the boys.  It does save a lot of calculations.

When he first became ill, with atrial fibrillation and then later cancer, I determined I wasn’t going to spoil what was left of our time together by living in fear.  It worked and we both remained positive.  However during the last month or so I awoke feeling dreadfully sad.  I thought maybe I was getting depressed and thought about getting some happy pills from the doctor.

I think we both knew our time together was coming to an end and we seemed to be enveloped in a loving tenderness stronger than ever.  I miss his sweet smile, holding his hand whenever we were close and his warm embrace when we passed going about our daily chores.  And the loving teasing.

I thought at first - that’s it now!  The worst has happened – but I daren’t tempt fate –there are still precious souls here on earth.  Most of the time I’m coping and concentrating on keeping life as normal as possible.  I was told about a bereavement group today but I’m not sure it would be right for me.  Joy – who lost her husband almost a year ago understands how it is and we give each other a boost when necessary, which is a great comfort.

I wanted the service to be a celebration of his life.  He used to say ’Why does no-one ever mention Jesus these days?’  So one of the hymns was Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light which I used to sing at Sunday School, and the minister made a point of using readings that mentioned Jesus.

I asked the five children – all grown up with families of their own if they would like to say something about their father/step- father.  Two knew they wouldn’t be able to and three said they wanted to but may not be able to.  The minister advised them to write it out and if they couldn’t cope he would read it for them.

I suggested that they practised by reading it out loud to me till they got bored with it - but they didn’t want to do that.

 Finally I said: ‘Imagine Dad is on trial and if you blub he’ll be shot!’

 ‘No pressure then!’ said our French son.

In the end the three of them spoke with such love - bringing out his humour, his goodness, his tiger hunts with the grandchildren in the woody part of the garden – armed with his antique pistols, showing them the badger trails with the claw marks - proof positive there were tigers there - and they didn’t falter.

I was so proud of them and also the way they all mingled with the guests at the reception, so that everybody knew who was who.

My eyes misted when his elder son said the last 33 years of his father’s life had been the happiest.

 Nancy, the kid sister of two of his Scottish pals who used to play with MTL and his big brother when they were children wrote ‘A was the quiet, helpful one.  D and L led the band but it was A who stayed behind to help me jump the stream or jump from the high barn door.’

His daughter said he was an early version of Google.

My granddaughter Alice in Florida at Uni wrote:

You and I were both so lucky to have such a kind, loving man in our family, and I have only the fondest memories of him.  I’m sure I seem very far away, but we can be close in our thoughts of Grandpa, who I know adores you, and I’m so grateful that he is part of our family.

Our youngest son said:

He left us suddenly, but not unexpectedly.  He would be pleased to go out like that- in a flash-without protracted suffering.  But he would deeply regret leaving behind his beloved Pat, and all his extended family.

Sheila, my help, sat with Karen the gardener, Mick the handyman and Jan his wife and she said when ‘Loch Lomond’ was played they all fell apart.  Another misty moment for me.

The organist said afterwards he had never heard such tributes.

Years ago – when Dad died, I found looking after Mum at the funeral helped me to hold it together.  Similarly this time the five children and grandchildren were my priority.

I wanted MTL to be proud of me.

Sometimes one goes down and down.  Then very slowly a gentle breeze composed of family, friends, loving thoughts and memories raise you up again.

You know who you are.

P.S. For cancer sufferers please note that we beat the cancer.  His surgeon told me all the tests after his treatment were negative.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Alter Ego?

My Alter Ego?

Enjoying  an aperitif with our French son at Brazz in Taunton I realised I was being warmly embraced from behind.

“Marigold!  I just couldn’t leave without saying hello.”

I turned to see an attractive middle aged woman about to plant a kiss on my cheek.  Over the last few weeks I have become accustomed to being hugged by kind people I hardly knew.  So I smiled at her, but her jaw dropped.

 “You’re not Marigold are you?  I’m so sorry – you look just like her from behind.”

“No no – that’s perfectly alright.”

So very English but I would have loved to have known a little bit more about Marigold.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Earlier days

 Our first visit to Vermont together in 1981.  P and A at rear, his niece bottom L, his nephew bottom R

Another niece bottom L

 Very early days in the Lake District 1949 - a year that ended in tears.

At a nurse's Reunion in the Lake District.  ? Late eighties?
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Three weeks on.

Three weeks on.

Today the sun shines, the birds are singing their little heads off and the first camellias are out - as are my camera batteries.  Drat!
 The two poems below I find of immense comfort and could you have two more disparate people:  a Baltimore housewife and a famous British Canon?

My thanks to Wikipedia for research details

Do not stand at my grave and weep, 
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow. 
I am the diamond glint on snow. 
I am the sunlight on ripened grain. 
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush, 
I am the swift, uplifting rush 
Of quiet birds in circling flight. 
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep. 
I am not there, I do not sleep. 
Do not stand at my grave and cry. 
I am not there, I did not die!

 Mary Elizabeth Frye

Mary Elizabeth Frye (November 13, 1905 - September 15, 2004) was a Baltimore housewife and florist, best known as the author of the poem Do not stand at my grave and weep, written in 1932.[1]

She was orphaned at the age of three and moved to Baltimore when she was twelve. She was an avid reader with a remarkable memory. In 1927 she married Claud Frye, who ran a clothing business, while she grew and sold flowers. The poem for which she became famous was originally composed on a brown paper shopping bag. Because people liked her twelve-line, untitled verse, she made many copies and circulated them privately. She never published or copyrighted the poem.[1]
The identity of the author of the poem was unknown until the late 1990s, when Frye revealed that she had written it. Her claim was confirmed in 1998 after research by Abigail Van Buren.[1]

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away into the next room
I am I and you are you: whatever we were to each other, that we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,

Speak to me in the easy way you always used.  Put no difference into your tone; wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.  Play,

smile, think of me, pray for me.  Let my name be forever the same as it always was.  Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same as it always was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.

I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.

All is well.

Canon Scott Holland

He was born at Ledbury, Herefordshire, the son of George Henry Holland (1818–1891) of Dumbleton Hall, Evesham, and of the Hon. Charlotte Dorothy Gifford, the daughter of Lord Gifford. He was educated at Eton where he was a pupil of the influential Master William Johnson Cory, and at the Balliol College of the University of Oxford where he took a first class degree in Greats. During his Oxford time he was greatly influenced by T.H. Green. He had the Oxford degrees of DD, MA, and Honorary DLitt.

After graduation, he was elected as a Student (fellow) of Christ Church, Oxford. In 1884, he left Oxford for St Paul's Cathedral where he was appointed canon.

In 1910, he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University, a post he held until his death in 1918. He is buried in the churchyard of All Saints church, Cuddesdon near Oxford. Because of his surname, Mary Gladstone referred to him affectionately as "Flying Dutchman" and "Fliegende Hollander"[citation needed].
While at St Paul’s Cathedral Holland delivered a sermon in May 1910 following the death of King Edward VII, titled Death the King of Terrors, in which he explores the natural but seemingly contradictory responses to death: the fear of the unexplained and the belief in continuity. It is from his discussion of the latter that perhaps his best-known writing, Death is nothing at all, is drawn:

Wikisource has original text related to this article:









Friday, February 15, 2013

Great film - lovely song.

Is it Irish or Scottish?  No matter.
 I was fifteen when I saw the film and fell in love with Scotland, then I  met MTL.
We didn't have 'our song' but this was pretty special.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Good Scot's Thinking

Most of the American clan had passport problems.  You don't need them in the US.  But they asked if they could supply the centre  pieces at the reception - " and then Pat can take them home with her."

They fell in with the general scheme of things but thoughtfully stipulated there  must be some heather.  Can you see it, peeping out?
MTL loved yellow - even had yellow tooth brushes before the electric ones.
"Daffodils," queried Trish the florist?
"NO!  He's Scottish - not Welsh."
MTL's American great nephew -  a young doctor, represented the American branch and was a very
welcome guest.  He last visited ten years ago with his Grandfather, MTL's older brother, and took back for him a much worn scarf, a cap and a lock of hair.
All the rest of the family flowers stayed with MTL.  I asked the FD If I could have the cards on the flowers afterwards.  He misunderstood and eventually arrived with all the flowers.  We agreed that they should go to a local care home- and I kept the cards.  We had some touches of blue in the other arrangements - for Oxford and Scotland.
The ones I have are still beautiful.  I have taken the small sprays of heather out and put them by my bed-side photo.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Ten days on – still standing.

The sudden bursts of emotion are manageable – healing almost, except tears and make- up cause me real smarting pain – but that is diminishing.  No the baddies are the moments of bleak despair or blind panic.  The great comfort apart from my back- up of family, friends and my blog mates is that I still feel MTL is just in the next room – certainly close by, and I hope to keep that feeling as long as possible.

I put a letter in his casket and thought – that is the last letter I’ll write to him, but who says so?  I shall talk and write to him whenever I wish.  Type written of course – neither of us can read my handwriting.

 It wasn’t the cancer.  With the help of our surgeon and oncologist we beat that and the surgeon said every test he had after the treatment was negative.
It was a pulmonary embolus.  I asked the coroner if we could have done anything to stop it.  He said no.  I asked if there would have been any pain.  He said yes but not for long.  So up until an hour or so before the end he was still enjoying life – still being chatted up by old ladies at the supermarket.
It’s ironic – as I told the coroner - for the first time for ages I had cooked him a steak pie with puff pastry and had to scold him as he was serving it and sampling it at the same time.

Coroner: Did you have some?

Pat:  Yes – it was delicious.

Coroner:  Then I think we can discount the pie.

 MTL would have appreciated that.
The emergency services were exemplary.  In my panic we were cut off as I was speaking to the operator but she must have traced my call and they arrived within ten minutes.  I think it was too late then but they worked tirelessly.  They didn’t want to leave me alone and were anxious I should phone family.  Then a policeman came - a most caring man who offered to remove MTL’s wedding ring which I have on a chain round my neck.  He even offered to clear every thing up – but I wouldn’t let him.  The ambulance woman said her father had recently died and her step-mother didn’t let her know for a few hours and she regretted that.
That galvanised me and I phoned Australia, France, America, London, Norfolk and Wiltshire and before lunch time I had family with me.

Our French son arrived and said he would stay as long as it took.  The boys have learned well from their father and it was noticed as they wandered round the kitchen it was like having two MTLs.  Our French son even dealt with the enormous bouquets being delivered.  One of them was from my childhood friend Elsie who lived next door in Rossendale.  We were 2 year olds together.  Her Dad had lost a leg in WW1 and when he died I had just started nursing and took a bunch of freesia next door.  It was the days when the deceased lay in their home until the funeral and Elsie put the freesia in her father’s hands.  When she ordered the bouquet for me she insisted there should be freesia and how lovely is the fragrance.  I’m burbling aren’t I?

Routine is a lifesaver – regular sleep, meals, tea and coffee breaks – avoiding tiredness as much as possible, and fresh air with Horlicks and Quiet Life at bedtime.
Anything for a quiet mind.

More later.


Kim's Great Gift

All taken by Kim http://kimayres.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, February 09, 2013

My True Love

Sing no sad songs for me - I have been loved and cherished for 33 years by the most wonderful of men.
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Grateful Thanks.

Thank you for all the lovely messages - here and elsewhere.  They really do help and I am so glad to have your support - along with our wonderful family.  The clan mustered from America, Australia and France and the rest of our extended family from the UK.
 I shall be burbling on for some time.
We had this song played at the end of a beautiful ceremony.  It was the same song and singer but a more haunting sound with pipes.

Monday, February 04, 2013

My True Love

Sing no sad songs for me.  I have been loved and cherished for 33 years by the most wonderful of men.