Sunday, 30 October 2011

Get Me Out Of Here

Last few days? This just about covers it.

Housefuls of people ain't my thing.

(On a plus note, I have now discovered the majorly awesome Hyperbole and a Half.)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Nuggets Of Joy

To be honest, I won't miss this sort of shit:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dad and I are watching the news. We learn that some scientists have decided using mobile phones might increase the risk of getting a brain tumour.

"The use of mobile phones may be carcinogenic, with the same risk as lead or coffee," intones the newsreader.

"They banned cigarettes for much less than that," scoffs Dad.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It's a beautiful day, so I sit in the garden to drink a cup of tea and flick through the Sunday magazine.

"It's lovely out there," I say when I return to the kitchen.

"Good way of getting skin cancer," he scowls.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Andy Murray has just slogged his way into the Wimbledon semi-finals, and is thanking his family for their support after the game.

Dad watches the televised interview with gritted teeth, then suddenly erupts.

"Christ, it's enough to make you want to nail your head to a coffee table," he roars, with real disgust.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The funeral's on Friday. Let's just say I'm expecting it to be difficult.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

One Year On

A year ago today, Niecey texted me this:

I'm sad there's nowhere to go today to see nan! We should really let her ashes go somewhere else! Happy birthday to a super nan!X

I wrote about it here.

When I started looking after Dad, I found the letter mentioned in that post tucked away among his paperwork.

...Have you thought about getting a bench somewhere or tree planted in her name? It would be nice if there was somewhere family and friends could go to focus on memories of Mum, a special spot...

I wrote him a lot of letters after Mum died. This was the only one he'd saved.

That got me thinking.

One day when the time was right, I asked him why he hadn't done anything to commemorate Mum.

"I wanted to, but I didn't know what to do," he said.

I'd realised by then how scared he was of life, of everything; how difficult it was for him to do the things that everybody else took for granted; how weak and useless he thought he was, and therefore was.

So I'd said, "Want me to organise something?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There is now a memorial bench in place at Elmley Marshes RSPB reserve.

It was put up on Tuesday, in time for what would've been Mum's 91st birthday today.

Dad was looking forward to a run out to see it.

But he died in an instant on Saturday morning, sitting in his armchair, a cup of tea beside him.

Just popped like a lightbulb, and was gone.

I so wasn't ready for that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The bench is in a good spot - windswept, raw, remote: an elemental place.

There was a beautiful sunset tonight.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

14-01-32 - 15-10-11

My dad, the man who got everything wrong.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Perhaps I Have Been On Holiday

Weekend one:

I say goodbye to dad at the hospital, and drive to Bristol.

I stay at my brother's. He has moved to a new house: I approve, it is splendid. Me and Bethan are sent to B&Q to buy some paint. We appropriate a new catchphrase and use it with relish all weekend, to the annoyance of the grown ups: "Where's the paint? Therrrhhh." I help empty and redecorate the flat they've just vacated. I eat good food, drink good coffee, hang out with the kids, and in my spare time help my brother's missus deliver 180 Avon books.

We don wellies and walk to the pond. Mia practises her football skills in the park opposite the house. I roadtest my new frisbee. Bethan nicks the book I am reading (The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-time). The sun shines. For once the Fluffmonster is full of love and not savagery. There is mayhem and laughter.

It is a fabulous couple of days. I feel like I've been on holiday.

I drive back to Kent, and resume hospital visiting duties.

Weekend two:

I say goodbye to dad at the hospital, and drive to Cornwall.

It is a special birthday weekend for My Lovely Brother-In-Law, organised by my wickedly cunning Niecey - he doesn't know it, but family members from all over the country are hiding in the wardrobes, cupboards and small rooms of his holiday cottage, waiting for him and my equally lovely sister to arrive. Surprise! He is surprised. There is cake, champagne, hugs.

It is astonishingly hot outside, and there are lush lawns to sprawl on; inside, there is a swimming pool, a games room, comfortable couches on which to collapse. There is a perfect beach nearby: I swim and swim under a cloudless blue sky. At night there is food, wine, yahtzee, gossip.

It is an exquisite couple of days. I feel like I've been on holiday.

I drive back to Kent, and resume hospital visiting duties.

Weekend three:

Dad is out of hospital, but I have arranged carers.

I catch a bus to Paris. BK is there, waiting for me at the bus terminal, on a two-week visit from New Zealand to pick up some stuff and see his folks. It is the first time I've seen him for three years and time has melted away the bad stuff, like it always does. We walk, talk, eat, laugh, chug down beer and croissants, like we always do.

He has brought me a gift from New Zealand - Kiwi rock behemoth Jon Toogood's autograph, obtained at a gig recently attended (BK got him to write "To Grandma, u fuckin' rock, Jon x"). I have brought him a gift from Britain - a mountain of 'only in the UK' chocolate and crisps, and a copy of Viz. Paris is secondary to the delight of spending time with the only person in the world I am comfortable farting in front of. Downstairs Monkey is pleased to see BK again too.

It is a soul-repairing couple of days. I feel like I've been on holiday.

I get the bus back to Kent, and resume caring duties.

But only for another couple of weeks: I'm handing over to professionals, and getting my life back.

It will feel like I'm on holiday.