Liebster Award

Thank you to Perth Girl for nominating me for the Liebster award. I’m not sure what to do, so I’m following the instructions on your site… It’s all very mysterious but very exciting for a term-time early Monday morning. I think this is a very special Aussie honour.

As I look more closely, I see there is quite a bit of work to do to accept this award in the spirit in which it is given, so I’ll have to attend to it later.

I follow Perth Girl’s blogs because they reflect a real Christian life and are full of common-sense, humour, compassion and hope in day-to-day modern living (with an Aussie flavour 😀 ).

The Liebster Award is internet based and given by bloggers to fellow bloggers. The idea is to help connect with and support other bloggers.

The Rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Share 11 facts about yourself.

3. Answer the 11 questions the blogger
asked you.

4. Nominate 11 bloggers and make them happy!

5. Make up to 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

6. Notify your 11 nominees.

11 facts about myself

  1. I ‘m a child of God
  2. Some days my name is Mammy
  3. Some days I’m Nana-D
  4. Sometimes I’m Aunty Beany
  5. Some days I’m “Miss!”
  6. I’m a sister and a friend
  7. I don’t have a TV, but I watch lots of DVDs
  8. I love other people’s stories – hearing, reading and watching them
  9. I write all the time to try to hold my thoughts still
  10. I like walking and exploring and playing with children
  11. I love words – in any language and none – I called my friend a Brexpert this morning and myself a lexpert. A child drew me a neepo later at preschool.

Perth Girl’s questions to me are:

  • Describe yourself in 3 words? Spirit, Body, Mind
  • What is the hardest lesson you have learned? Saying No
  • If you could leave one thing behind that people will remember you by, what would that be? Encouragement
  • Name one book you have read more than once? Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendac
  • Have you ever conquered a fear? Every day, but I haven’t killed them yet.
  • What do you wish you knew more about? The Kingdom/ Heart of God
  • What has been the most unexpected thing you have come across in your blogging journey? This Liebster Award and all the questions
  • What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their life? Grow a fruit or vegetable from seed and eat the harvest
  • Road trip or Train trip? Train
  • Favourite Tv show, ever? N/A
  • What is the best advice you ever received? Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins- (because by then you’ll be a mile away and you’ll still have his shoes! 😀 )

My nominees are: ( I hope I can find 11 – sorry, but I’m struggling to find 11 who have fewer than 200 followers…)

https://medusamoon.wordpress.com/

https://denisehardy.wordpress.com/

https://carriersofhope.com/

https://marihowardauthor.wordpress.com/

My questions to my nominees are:

1 – Do you prefer writing or speaking?

2 – What thoughts get you up in the morning?

3- What’s your favourite quote?

4 – How many names do you have and which is your favourite?

5 – What do you like most about yourself?

6 – Where is your favourite place in the world?

7 – if you could change something in the world, what would it be?

8 – what is your favourite film?

9 – what is your favourite story?

10 – If you could be an animal for a day, what would it be?

11 – Who are your heroes?

Week Nine

Chapter 6

The current night-time routine goes something like this – Mum comes to say prayers and join our ‘goodnight time’, usually in Conor’s room, as Josh’s room is up the second flight of stairs. Simon and I take turns to be with each child. Then I take Mum to the bathroom and for night-dress, medication and bed. Medication is only a mini aspirin (against strokes), a Simvastatin (against cholesterol build up) and two puffs of the Salbutamol (to stop the wheezing). She is usually so tired by this time that her eyes are flickering and she cannot think for herself, so getting undressed is very much a guided affair. I give her a tablet into the hand, she pops it in her mouth and then looks into her hand and at me – back and forth.

“Do you need your water?” I’ll ask..

Then we get ‘the shakes’, a few attempts to swallow and then the next tablet. Lastly, the Salbutamol – she looks surprised to see it, screws up her little nose and squishes it against the mouthpiece – she looks like a little pig – and we both laugh – it’s part of the routine.

“Suck!” I instruct… “Now breathe out through the nose… Suck…out through the nose…Well done!”

Nine times out of ten, she will giggle and say something along the lines of,

“What is it supposed to do?”

And I take a deep breath, smile, and explain all over again.

***

I awoke to the sound of Joshua’s alarm this morning, at 6:30am. Mum came down then with her trousers on back to front, but that’s OK, as her tummy is bigger than her bottom, so they actually fit better that way. She had her shoes and socks on and an open cardigan on top of her bra. Something else wasn’t quite right though and she was particularly unresponsive.

When finally all the boys had gone and we sat down with a second cup of coffee, Mum said, “Oh yes, there’s something I need to tell you.”

In essence she said that she had got up in the night, looked around and wondered where everybody was, come downstairs, looked this way and that, and had gone ‘out onto the road’ to find us. Then she had come back in again, but couldn’t find anyone.

“It has been such a long night!” she moaned.

I don’t think I handled it correctly. She clearly hadn’t been out onto the road, or out of the house, because she cannot get out. She has never yet managed to get out of the front door, nor close it. The door is so stiff that you need two hands, elbow grease and a knack. And it is extremely noisy to open and even more so to slam shut.

But she had her story firmly in her mind. Somehow this sticks in her memory as real to her. Was she hallucinating? Had she dreamt it? Had she heard the road and looked out of the window? Was she remembering a childhood reality or fear? I don’t know. I tried to explain all of this, but she refused to accept it, “because I was there!” she insisted.

So I asked her to go out and show me what she had done. This was perhaps cruel, but I didn’t want her believing that she was unsafe and able to wander in danger. Needless to say, she couldn’t even find the door to the road, so I showed her the door and asked her again to show me where she had gone. She could not open the door. Of course, then she was frustrated that I didn’t accept her story and was ‘scared’ by the confusion. More hugs and a chance for her to release some more tears.

I should have pretended that she was right.

I tried to make her laugh with the idea of her story in this evening’s papers – ‘page three lady, out in the road early this morning, looking for talent.’

The bus came ten minutes later and Mammy still seemed ‘flat’. I hope she doesn’t carry it with her all day.

***

Mum has been dissatisfied and ‘bored’ all day. I’ve had some chores to do, but we went shopping together and visited Pat, she spoke to her sister on the phone, did a tour of the garden, had tea and cakes, and listened to ‘Far from the Madding Crowd” on cassette. By 7pm, I thought she was going to burst, she looked so angry and huffy.

“All I do is wander about, with nothing to do. Just walk about.”

She cannot remember going out today, or anything else she’s done, so she does believe that all she does is wander about. Sometimes I have nothing useful left to say. I do recap on the activities of the day for her.

Today she did apologise, after my explanation. She does seem to realise when she has been ‘mardy’.

I’m also a bit nervous for Conor on Wednesday – he goes for his general anaesthetic and teeth pulling.

The boys don’t know I’m pregnant yet. That’s the other thing – this is the start of my 7th week, and the last baby died during the 7th week, they said. That is making me out of sorts too.

***

Today we’ve been busy all day and it has felt good. After the usual Monday routine, we walked up to the church where I recently discovered that Mum’s mum and dad both have their ashes ‘buried’. Mum and I sat contemplating in the beautifully peaceful memorial garden. I discovered that the vicar lived next door, so, feeling brave, I rang the bell. He was very accommodating and took us to see the plan of the garden and the book of records – their names were there: Elsie Marjorie Cowen, died 1982 (A8) and James Alvin Cowen, died 1992 (B39). It was very satisfying and felt quite strange, that after all these years, Mum and I should end up living a ten minute walk away from her parents’ place of rest.

We have decided to get a marble memorial ‘flower-pot’ made as soon as possible. Mum is very pleased with the idea and wants to pay for the work, which is fitting. Anyway, with the back pay coming from the Pension Service, she can afford it now.

I want to be buried when the time comes.

I asked Mum, but she doesn’t seem to know. It became a family discussion and Josh said he wants to be ‘left to nature’ or fed to the lions and Conor wants to be cremated and his ashes thrown to the wind from the top of a high mountain.

***

I loved my Nana and Granddad Cowen. They were the only family to ever to take us on holiday and they told amusing stories, sang songs and were a bit ‘risky’, cheeky and daring. Nana wore make-up, fur coats, perfume and lots of smiles, and she chain-smoked. She was riddled with cancer when she died – only 65. Granddad was 5 years younger, wore a cap, braces and smoked a pipe. He was not much liked by his own kids, but loved by his grandchildren. He was 70 when he died. Nana was an Anglican and brought her children up through the church to confirmation. I remember Mum telling me, many years ago, that she had decided at the wise old age of 13, that the Bible was a ‘bunch of lies’ and that she was a non-believer.

Years later, when Daddy died, Mum used to experience ‘him’ coming to visit her regularly and this caused her to ‘know that there is life after death’ and accept Christianity for herself. As she put it in a letter to her ‘Aunt Grace’, in December 1995, “It’s my first ever experience of anything ‘unusual’ and now I’m a firm believer!”

***

Last night was the ‘Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat’ presentation at Conor’s school. It was all a very welcome distraction, because I was getting nervous about today. We were up at 6.15am for Conor’s general anaesthetic and operation. All were good-humoured at home and no one dawdled getting up. Then Mum collapsed again at the breakfast table and fell off her chair. We kept it low-key, as again she didn’t know it had happened. Simon has taken the morning off work to help. In the car to the hospital, Mum had another turn. Simon will have to inform the Day-Centre when he drops her off later. I keep a record of all her fainting fits.

Conor and I arrived at the hospital in good time, but had a very long wait. At first we had fun, playing a game with two soft toy characters that he’d brought with him, then we had some great chairs to play in and two and a half-hours later we were called to the operating theatre. The anaesthetist was excellent. He kept Conor distracted beautifully whilst he put the needle in. I watched it go in, then looked at Conor and got such a shock. He was out cold. They told me to kiss him and go. His eyes were open like a corpse, and it was all I could do not to close his eyelids or to cry as I kissed him.

“Look after him please.” I pleaded.

I went and prayed, marched around and drank some coffee.

He was ‘down’ for 70 minutes, due to his little body, they said. He was very woozy afterwards, but he wouldn’t sleep. He kept trying to stand up, only to find his legs too weak and would fall. He was feeling sick and of course his mouth was still all very numb from the anaesthetic, which made drinking water and eating ice cream satisfyingly messy.

Then we had a heart tugging film to cuddle up to – just Conor and I. I feel like I’ve been awake all night and day – that spaced out feeling.

Mum is home from the Day Centre now and Conor’s got a big fat lip and is complaining of a bad back. After tending to him, suddenly I felt compelled to look out of the window, just in time to see Mum disappearing out of the back garden. Down I ran and caught her at the corner, heading for Burton Road. I suppose I should have waited to see what she would have done, but this time I couldn’t leave Conor, so I had to bring her straight back. She insists that she knew where she was and how to get back, but I don’t have the energy to risk losing her today.

Ticky-tacky

As I march along my daily route, movements catch my gaze hither and thither, swinging my head from side to side, up and down… the water gushing from a hole in the roadside, being splashed onto unfortunate pedestrians, by indiscriminate wheels; a tail of hair trailing behind a cyclist whizzing down the last part of the hill; a child in uniform dragging a buggy and parent from a red front-door with coloured glass panels; two birds flitting indecisively between the trees…

“And they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same…” I sing… but no, if I stop to think, or look a little closer, I know that those birds have names – not Peter and Paul like the childhood rhyme, but “classifications” I think we could call them – so these I know are blackbirds; I recognise them by their size and their orange beaks. The trees, I said – another generalisation (useful in some contexts perhaps, but lazy often) – though I don’t know all the types and names of trees. At this time of year I recognise many types by their shade of green and their blossoms… so, here on the hill are cherry, lilac, laburnum, apple, chestnut, hawthorn, elder and dozens more… and some aren’t even trees, but bushes and creepers and other types of plant and vegetation. When summer comes I shan’t recognise most of them, though I may remember that the one on the walled corner is the magnolia, with the pretty maple in the hollow… some I know best as they shed their fruit later in the year and others only as the autumn waves her wealthy palette of gold and copper upon them. Such beauty and diversity, yet I called them trees! How do I know the names of some and not others? Five decades of loving the trees, eagerly learned from a mother who fought to grow them on a wind-swept island and, later, who hugged the trunks of trees whose names she had quite forgotten… Some types I will never forget due to emotions grafted into their association: laburnums were my father’s favourite and we would watch as he made himself a tea from their poisons, saying he wished to be buried under the yellow boughs in our garden; the cherry blossoms that snowed on us infants their pink confetti in my first year of school…

As you walk up the hill beside me, you may not even see the trees, but you may know the cars, their classifications, their makes and even their names, of which I am a complete ignoramus. To me, “there are red ones and the blue ones and the pink ones and the yellow ones, and they’re all made out of…”

I do this with people too; we all do – I generalise based on immediate observations and emotional responses. We each have our alien groups, which are “all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same” – they may be a certain brand of politician, a religious group, a criminal type or “deviant”, or a favoured type who sit on rosettes and can do no wrong… but if I take a closer look, listen carefully and am interested enough to identify unique features, I may learn who you are and next time, I may recognise you again and smile…

Fighting to keep a grip as it all slips away… Dementia

Hello, it’s me!

I am…

Here I am, of course!

I’m not doing anything much…

It’s just one of those days.

Who are you?

Oh, you are… yes…

Ah yes, you!

Do I know you?

 

Today is…

It is now… Silly.

I am me and I am here…

What do you want?

Why are you here?

Thank you for coming…

Or is it me?

Are they here?

Where are we?

 

My family,

My children… yes…

They are… around

Somewhere… You know…

I saw you!

I haven’t seen them.

They were here…

Doing this and that.

They don’t come anymore…

Who are you?

 

It’s gone!

Did you take it?

I had it…

Before… it was here.

I think I’m lost.

I was here…

Or there?

But the light fell out.

I’m scared.

It’s gone.

Where have they gone?

 

Yes, you are… Thingy!

That one…

Aren’t you?

I forget!

Pleased to meet you!

I’m tired.

Where am I again?

Can I go home now?

 

In Memory of Dick Haynes

AR was one of Daddy’s few friends in Graemsay. He wrote this in memory of him.

In memory of Dick Haynes

 

When the moon comes flying over the sea

and the call of the curlew reaches me,

when sunrise turns the stony shore to jewels,

and golden dewdrops gleam on mushroom stools,

I think of island days, oh days of old,

and some were days of grey and some were gold.

 

We talked of trailers, tackle, a boats prow,

oh many things. And I remember how

we talked the sun down to the ocean’s rim,

and messed about until the yard grew dim.

 

Oh man, what days were they that passed us by,

under the wind’s wail and the gulls’ cry.

Never another day, oh never another day

and some were days of gold, and some were days of grey.

 

                                                                       A.R  Copyright

 

Soliloquy

 

“SOLILOQUY January 2007 – on hearing that Avril will not be returning to Graemsay.

 

When I think of you I see flowers

pushing through the ragged grass

and you in your garden.

I keep the picture in my head.

In the tall grass of a garden

where wall meets wall at an angle

and little trees thrive, spore of silver lichen sweat

for times gone by.

I hear the roaring shingle at the shore

and see the moonlight

on the ocean’s rim.

The stars in the sky are singing tonight;

a myriad stars are singing and dancing.

One star alone is silent, drifts

down the night, silent.

I rage but she does not hear me.” 

AR 2007.

Waller – by A.R.

 

This poem is in tribute to the many stone walls that Mammy laboured for many years to build on her land to protect her sapling trees…

 

‘Waller’ by A.R.

 

Stone waller, my dear, dry-stoned and love laboured.

With stone all day labours, lovingly,

each stone caresses. No line;

eye alone is her level.

Stone waller, my dear, day long

in her garden. Dogged. Stubborn.

Stone from the shore, sea quarried,

wheelbarrowed and muscled,

stone-bedded and blessed. Stone,

stone, stone,

                    stone

shelters rose, willow, wren.

Avril – by A.R.

My mother lived over 20 years on the island of Graemsay in Orkney, in a home called “Clett”. My father died there in 1995 and within years, in her 50s, my mother – Avril – was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Cared for for many years by a gracious community in the island she loved, here is a poem, written by a friend on the island. Copyright A.R.

 

‘Avril’  by A.R.  February 2007

 

If you came by Windbreck over the hill

or by Scarataing under the broken cliffs

to the silent house above the shore

it would be the same: your wall stands firm

and the tall ships of your willows blow

and all is well.

 

The raggle-taggle fuchsia by the garden door

in hard midwinter waits

and in the rank grass sleeping now,

Veronica, wild iris, rose, montbretia, meadowsweet

in innocence and silence wait

and all is well.

 

A stone hut by the shore

stone on stone to the eaves,

a flagged roof, a plank door.

Remains of tackle, tar, caulk, creel,

scraps of net like lace.

 

The season passes.

From the South West a breeze

bringing hope and resurrection.

 

Her Circle of Friends

 

Today she lights one candle for the birthday of her circle of friends.

She recalls how she gently delivered them all at once and joined their hands tightly together

Forming them carefully into a circle

Beholding them all with the nervous love of an inexperienced mother…

She held close the baby swaddled in a papoose, to free her hands

To hold the small fist of the toddler on her left,

Who clung to the four year old at her side…

Right around the circle she gazed with awe, recognising them from the photographs

Incrementally ordered, growing and aging in a stepped time-frame,

She knew quite well the lady affirming her connection to her right hand.

To look with love and silently affirm was all she could do

Before scooping them all back inside with a promise –

Grateful for the introduction to these familiar strangers –

She would behold them all again soon,

And one by one, she would hear their stories.