Friday, August 31, 2012

Edinburgh on a sunny evening

Yesterday we had Grandson for the day again. I took him up to meet Daughter 1 from work and then wandered down through Princes Street Gardens to join friends for a meal at the West End. I felt as if I were on holiday because there was no particular reason to hurry home: no marking to do, no Mum to visit, no children - just Mr Life and the cats, who would be happy, I felt sure, with each other's company.

It was a lovely evening but the days are shortening - look at those long shadows on the grass even though it wasn't much after 6 pm. I felt happy to be meeting up with friends but sad that Mum - who was a great lover of warmth - wasn't enjoying the sunshine.

Today, however, it's remarkably chilly and somewhat damp, so she wouldn't have liked it. Which was - in a daft way - somewhat comforting.

It's strange how life goes on as usual - trees wave in the breeze, birds sing, the seasons roll round - with or without our loved ones. We know it will, of course, but it's still slightly surprising. And one day these things will happen without us too. (I like to end on a cheerful note...).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Young and energetic

I'm always amazed how good the photos are that I take on my phone - see above and below. This is nothing to do with my brilliance as a photographer, particularly as with these shots the sun was so bright that I was just clicking vaguely in the right direction, unable to see the screen. I'd love to tell you that these photos were of me; but no. They're of one of our very special visitors, last week, on the Fife coastal path.
Do I remember being that young? Well, yes. But I don't remember being able to turn cartwheels because I never could. Gymnastics and I never understood each other.
Talking of being young and energetic, we're enjoying having Grandson three days a week and he's being angelic but the house isn't as tidy as it used to be. I wonder why. I arrived home from my piano lesson yesterday to be greeted by Mr Life and the Tornado. "Ah good," said Mr Life. "Here's Granny. I think he has a dirty nappy" - and he handed the boy to me. So kind.
He was right about the nappy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dear Mummy and Daddy

I thought you would like to see some of the things I did on the first day that Granny and Grandpa looked after me while Mummy was at work. For example, I smiled charmingly.
I examined Granny's glasses.
I emptied my toy basket.
I did a very intellectual jigsaw.
I talked on my phone.
I played in my play tunnel.
It was all quite tiring. For Granny and Grandpa, anyway.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


When you've been away from blogging for a few days - especially a few days which have been somewhat action-packed - it's a bit hard to know where to start again. But our recent experiences have involved quite a lot of Grandson, who beams his way through life in a very heartening manner.
Last weekend Daughter 2 was in Edinburgh and she, Daughter 1, SIL 1, Grandson, Mr Life and I all had lunch with Son and Daughter-in-Law at Gloagburn Farm near Perth (greatly recommended). We felt the need to be together. Here, Son gives Grandson his first driving lesson.
Then on Monday of this week, our bloggy friends arrived on a visit. They allowed us to accompany them to Fife, across the water from Edinburgh. The sun shone (mainly).
We had a lovely day. We had planned to walk more than we did - chatting over lunch got fatally in the way - but it was very pleasant. We also met up with Di of Woollie Wanderings,, which was very nice. Another blog to follow... oh dear.
Then on Thursday morning our visitors left and on Thursday afternoon, my brother and his family and later Daughter 2 arrived (she had been back in London for the beginning of the week). The funeral and thanksgiving services happened on Friday.
And they went well. An amazing number of people came, considering my mother's great age.
But I feel a bit... dizzied. A lot of beds have been changed. Many cups of tea and coffee have been drunk. The fridge has been emptied and many dishes washed up. There has been laughter; we have exchanged reminiscences. Most of us went to see SIL 2 in his company's Fringe show (Showstopper, the Improvised Musical - excellent). And it's always seemed very odd that Mum hasn't been here. Very odd indeed. And sad.
So now... what? To some extent, we feel astonishingly free of everyday commitments - but tomorrow we start looking after Grandson three days a week while Daughter 1 goes back to work. Not for all that long, since Volume 2 is on the way. But I think we may be kept rather busy by the Giggling Tornado whooshing very fast around the house. He's not quite walking yet but if there were an Olympic crawling race, he'd get the gold medal.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Who are these people?

I have not fallen off the edge of the world. Things are okay but life has been busy. And we've had some very special bloggy visitors - here they are with Mr Life yesterday. I'll tell you who they are in due course. This evening my brother and his family are with us - the cremation and thanksgiving service are tomorrrow - so I'd better go.

Normal blogging will be resumed soon. I hope you're all well. Thank you again for all the bloggy good wishes (imaginary friends are so lovely). I also hope that you haven't been posting too often or I shall never catch up.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thank you

Thank you for all your kind thoughts.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The circle of life

My mum died yesterday at 1.45 pm. Mr Life and I were with her. It's a time of very mixed emotions - relief that she's freed from her sad state and sadness that she's gone.

Earlier that morning, Daughter 1 went for the first scan of her second pregnancy. Here is Grandson's little sibling, so far known in the family as Volume Two, which is what's written on the front of his/her medical notes.

And so the world turns... .

Monday, August 13, 2012


Last night, lying in bed, I suddenly thought: SLUGS. Do slugs eat gerberas? I wondered. Are they eating my new gerberas (price £7.50 for the six) at this moment? I asked myself.

Well, I'll give you three guesses.

So today I bought some net and Mr Life cut rounds out of it with the hope that the scratchy nature of it might discourage the slugs. As we went out for a walk at 10 this evening, we had a look to see if this was working. Was it?


On the subject of eating: when our minister talks to the children, he always sits on the steps leading up to the platform at the front of our church and invites them to come up and sit beside them. Yesterday, Daughter 1 took Grandson up and perched there with him on her knee. The minister was talking about Olympic glory and relating this to other types of glory, and, presumably about to make a relevant point, picked up the plate of communion bread which was still on the table from the earlier (communion) service.

Grandson, who'd been gazing idly around, brightened up at the sight of the plate. "Num num num!" he suggested hopefully. Everyone laughed. The minister gave him a bit of bread, which he munched with enthusiasm. Everyone watched. The minister sighed. "I think I've lost my audience," he said. And he had.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The staff

"That little rockery has never really worked," I said to Mr Life yesterday.

And hey presto, he swung into action.

I did the washing, hung it out and brought it in again. Cassie helped.

She stuck loyally to her post even when there was nothing left in the basket but some socks.

Such helpful family members. What would I do without them?

Friday, August 10, 2012


I babysat today in Daughter 1's house while she and SIL 1 took one of their guinea pigs to the vet. Grandson played with his toys for a while... 

and then took off.

He found a handy step provided by Daughter 1's workbox.

It allowed him to reach more of the stuff on the shelves.

Spoilsport Granny moved a box of bricks on to the "step". He accepted this with his customary equanimity.

(PS - I had one hand stretched out towards him in case he fell. But he seemed very practised at this feat.)

Thursday, August 09, 2012


In moments of slight crisis in Grandson's life - of which there are not many (he is blessed so far with a sunny nature) - he sucks his thumb. His parents refer to his mood on such occasions as being "a bit thumby". This also describes my feelings since Daughter 2 left for London; and my thumbiness has increased with my mother's illness. When she improves, she's weaker and unhappier and more puzzled than when she was apparently unaware of anything, and naturally enough it's been very stressful to witness.

However, as I left the hospital last night, a nurse - while sympathising - said to me, "It's just part of life." And it was precisely the right thing to say to me at that moment. I did already realise, of course, that we all decline and die; but somehow I was still at the stage of feeling that I ought to be able to do something to improve my mum's lot. And when the nurse said that, it was as if a mist had cleared and I suddenly felt - well, sometime soon is my mum's time to go and that's just the way it is.

I can't necessarily be sure that this feeling of acceptance will be permanent (watch this space) but last night at least it also extended to some extent to accepting the loss in our everyday lives of Daughter 2. Again, I know intellectually that children leave home in the end. But I need to remind myself that it's "just part of life" and there are other, better, parts.

Such as Grandson.  We had him for six hours yesterday, without his parents, to start preparing him for the time when Daughter 1 goes back to work three days a week and leaves him with us. I did enjoy it! He's at the beginning of life and he's so cheering. Which reminds me of the celebration of babyhood - "A common-sense / Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode" - in Sylvia Plath's poem to her unborn child. The imagery in this poem makes me wriggle with pleasure:


Clownlike, happiest on your hands,
Feet to the stars, and moon-skulled,
Gilled like a fish. A common-sense
Thumbs-down on the dodo's mode.
Wrapped up in yourself like a spool,
Trawling your dark, as owls do.
Mute as a turnip from the Fourth
Of July to All Fools' Day,
O high-riser, my little loaf.

Vague as fog and looked for like mail.
Farther off than Australia.
Bent-backed Atlas, our traveled prawn.
Snug as a bud and at home
Like a sprat in a pickle jug.
A creel of eels, all ripples.
Jumpy as a Mexican bean.
Right, like a well-done sum.
A clean slate, with your own face on.

Monday, August 06, 2012


These are not significant lilies, just the ones in the dining room.

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts. My mum struggles on. She's very weak and sometimes extremely confused but, as she said apologetically today, "I'm afraid I'm fighting it." The nurses are amazed that she's still here but I'm a bit less amazed because this was the fourth time that some very nice medical person had prepared me for the worst and then Mum rallied. Well, rallied a bit. She can't manage to hold the weight of a plastic beaker and sleeps most of the time. But the heart beats on.

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Sadly, Mum deteriorated on Wednesday and now isn't going to be able to come home - indeed, isn't aware of where she is. Most of my time since then has been spent at her bedside at the hospice with various other family members taking shifts with me. Such a horrible time - and not over yet.