Remembering

 

”When one person is missing
the whole world seems empty.”
Pat Schweibert, American Author

Twenty-one years ago today, the light went out of my world. My DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) had died. There are no words to tell how I felt for the next few months. Nothing and nobody could fill the void.

I was lucky that there were three young grandsons around to cheer me up. The eldest, three-year-old James, said “Granma, when it stops raining, will you stop crying?’ and ‘Look Granma, the sky is crying because Grampa is dead”.

Of course, he was far too young, as were the others, to understand the devastation that had crept /crashed into my life.

At that time I didn’t know how I was going to go on with the rest of my life;  but it doesn’t come with a choice. One just has to go on living.

I had no friends or family who had suffered such a loss, and while they were all very supportive, I really was on my own on this journey.

But through this, I found a reason for being. I became a Life Coach and directed my energy towards others who were grieving and attempting to survive. My volunteering was (and still is) in a hospice where people were struggling with their loved ones imminent end of life. How quickly I realised I wasn’t the only one on this survival journey.

I wrote a small book Suddenly Single and gave it to my clients and then friends who found themselves in this situation.

And I found I could go on with my life. Even without the person with whom I had grown up, and who was most supportive of everything I did, and eventually, I realised that life could be good again.

Later, I started blogging and through this medium, I met others who had survived and who became friends.

And now, twenty-one years on, I have made a happy life for myself. There were a couple of major hiccups along the way – the death of the Architect in 2015 followed by my disastrous misadventure in 2016 – but in all life has been good to me.

I know that some of you are just starting on this journey, or are new to it. Please believe me when I say there is a way out of this storm of grief and everybody’s journey is different. If you are suffering, please contact me. I should like to send you a copy of the newest version of my book. This edition is called Stepping Stones.

 

 

I propose to publish it and put it on Amazon but until then, I’m happy to give you a copy.

End of misery post. Tomorrow I shall be back to normal. As my children always say – Pollyanna is alive and well and living in Wellington, New Zealand.

And for now, as Shirley MacLaine says:

“I think of life itself now as a wonderful play
that I’ve written for myself and so my purpose is

to have the utmost fun playing my part.”

 

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Celebrating

“It is a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning, in this broken world.”
Mary Oliver

We know that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote – 19 September, 1893, and we are vocal in celebrating this.

Now we have more reasons to celebrate. Our Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern has been named in FortuneMagazine‘s list of the world’s greatest leaders.

She came second only to Bill and Melinda Gates, well known and acknowledged for the great charity work they do and in particular their involvement in vaccines for the poor and work against poverty.

Ms Ardern is the only elected official in the top ten. ‘”Jacinda Ardern had already broken new ground as a pregnant woman – and then a new mother – leading a nation. And this year, the 38-year-old Prime Minister showed the world her fullness as a leader as she deftly, empathetically, and humbly navigated New Zealand through the worst terror attack in its history, after 50 were killed at two mosques in Christchurch in March,” the Fortune profile read.

She has also been featured  in Time Magazine‘s list of the most influential people of 2019.

Her blurb is written by London Mayor Sadiq Kahn, who writes how Londoners were “heartbroken to wake up to news of the horrific terror attack in Christchurch, shocked by the callous targeting of innocent civilians for no reason other than their faith”.

Kahn states that Ardern’s leadership since then “has been an inspiration to us all”.

And we find she is also featured in Forbes Magazine’s list of TheMost Powerful Women  in the World. Angela Merkel has remained at the top spot since 2006 and we celebrate this for her. She is, Forbes said  the ”de facto leader of Europe, leading the region’s largest economy after steering Germany through financial crisis and back to growth.”

Our Prime Minister is at 29 and of her Forbes said she had used her platform to “create a path for other women” to follow in her footsteps and, at age 38, was the youngest female leader in the world and New Zealand’s youngest PM in 150 years.

So while she wasn’t my choice for leader of our small nation, she is doing very well and has become a world leader in a very short time. I hope this continues for her.

Applause

End of bragging and politics for today.

Here it is Easter Saturday. When I grew up and when I first came to New Zealand, Easter was celebrated with church services. That was more important than the easter bunny, eggs and buns. But that has changed. Our country is no longer considered a Christian country. New Zealand is home to a diverse range of religious groups, including Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs and Jews, as well as Christians. Twenty five languages are spoken amongst our very mixed community now and the reason for Easter has fallen into the background.

So commercialism once again thrives. Shopping trolleys are full of Hot Cross buns (although last year there was a movement to change the name), Easter eggs and bunnies.

And now I could like to wish all my friends Happy Easter however you celebrate it.

Adventure

 

 

 

 

The Deadly Disease

“Listen, whatever you see and love—
that’s where you are.”
Mary Oliver, September 1935 – January 2019

I have written before on the subject of Alzheimer’s, the Deadly disease. Many of us have suffered with our parents, mother or father, as they struggle through this journey. We have watched them change from the lively, spirited, strong people they once were to this shell of themselves,  trying to make sense of who and where they are.

I wrote about a few days in April 2016 when, following a major misadventure, for a few days I didn’t know who or where I was. I mistook my son for a doctor and didn’t recognise my grandsons. But luckily for me, it was only a few days.  For that short time, I could bond with my fictional character Jane and those people who are living with this full time.

One such person, and someone I have written about before, is Wendy Mitchell. Wendy says “On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young onset dementia. I may not have much of a short-term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget.” Wendy was only 62 with a busy full life ahead of her. Please go over to her site to read more about this fantastic woman.

She is living with dementia every day of her life, and is filling it with activity not only to help herself but to help others too. She is active on various organisations, has written a book and writes a blog post daily.

In today’s post she writes about Tove a woman in Finland from whom she received “the most wonderful email”. Tove had read Wendy’s book “Somebody I Used to Know” and felt moved to write to her,

Tove’s mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 56 and sadly died at 64. But she was a poet and before that ability was taken from her, she wrote several poems. With Wendy’s approval and I trust Tove’s as well, I am sharing  two of the poems with you.

Let me stay

among my dreams and memories
yet a while
Let me see the ocean in the sunset
and the beach
Let me listen to
grandchildrens laughter
and notice one more day, please
Don’t run towards me you cruel reality
Stay. Take another way
So when you finally knock on my door
I’m not at home.
I’m perhaps already gone
Lillemor Eklund 2005
and then this one…
When I no longer can pronounce my name
When the silence is hanging over my thoughts,
like a mountain
Hug me, keep me close. Make me feel safe
Whisper my name over and over again
Til I know who I am
Wish me wild and beautiful dreams
in the darkness that has captured me
Hold my hand follow me some of the way”
Lillemor Eklund 1949-2013.
……
Often, in the face of this or any disease or a terminal illness, we tend to forget the other people who are also affected – Wendy’s two daughters, Tove and many others are suffering along with the sufferers of the disease.  They need our support, a phone call, a letter or a visit to show they are not forgotten; their suffering is acknowledged.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Tuscan Sun

On turning the calendar card I was confronted with this –

 

The wording on the card reads –

“The Italian enthusiasm for cycling come to the fore every spring during the Giro d’Italia, a three-week-long road race across some of the peninsula’s most challenging terrain. Thrills, hills, and spills aside, two-wheeled vehicles are an integral part of Italian culture and an uplifting fixture of daily life”

I was immediately transported back to my brief sojourn in Florence in 2013. Can it really be six years ago?

On October 23, 2013, I recorded Day 16 in Florence and noted that the World Road Cycling Championship had just been raced in and around Florence. Cycling memorabilia was on display and for sale everywhere one looked. I succumbed and purchased two little battery operated bicycles with pedalling cyclists whizzing around the footpaths. If you are interested, click here for that post.

Oh, how I enjoyed my short time alone in that wonderful city. I did go back the following year with the Architect, my late love, but somehow just wandering wherever fancy took me, and on my own was really very special. Those few weeks will remain n my memory until my memory fades. I am so glad that I took the chance, made the decision and had the adventure.

Note – I thought after the gloom and despondency of the last two blogs, it was time to lighten things up. I hope I have done so.

 

Sunday, 17 March 2019

“Never take life for granted.
Savour every sunrise because no one is promised tomorrow
or even the rest of today.”
Eleanor Brownn, American Speaker, writer, coach

We are still reeling from Friday’s horrific events; looking for a reason and finding none. It’s all anybody speaks about. If you meet someone on the street this is the first thing they mention. It’s seemingly overwhelming. How do we combat it?

We are always told that time heals’. But will it? Certainly not for those worshippers who were caught in the middle of it, and those who will never come home.

What could possibly cause someone to act in the way in which this perpetrator and his cohorts did on Friday? As a nation, we mourn with those affected and my reaction as an individual is to heap love and friendship on all I meet in the coming weeks and months. Their hatred will not overpower us.

And a reminder – Most people who died on Friday had plans for today.

 

End of today’s rant.

Christchurch, 15 March 2019

It’s Saturday morning here in New Zealand and we are waking up to the fact that our little corner of the world is no longer immune to terrorism and terrorist attacks.

As one, we reeled at the unfolding news yesterday and asked the question – how can this be. Yes, we had foolishly convinced ourselves that as we are so far away from what happens in the rest of the world, terrorists wouldn’t invade our peaceful and peace-loving country.

We commend the quick action of the police in arresting four people within hours of the shootings and we mourn for those forty-nine worshippers who lost their lives.

Today, as flags hang at half-mast on all public buildings in New Zealand, we realise that we are no longer protected by our distance from the rest of the world.

Because You Are Different …

I saw this post from Caterel this morning. It is very apt at present with all the wars and fights over religion, colour, ethnicity.

I was brought up in a home in a small enclave of Christians in a mostly Jewish neighbourhood. And in our home, Mother was from a Jewish family, Father was a Methodist and we three girls were brought up in the Church of England.
In our school, there were no people of a different colour and it wasn’t until the late 1950s when we had an influx of Jamaicans into Britain, that I saw people of a different colour.

To this day, it matters not to me what your religion is, your ethnicity or colour. Are you a good person is what matters to me.

catterel

I grew up in a white working-class area of the English Midlands in the middle of the twentieth century, and didn’t meet anyone who wasn’t white till I went to university in Liverpool in 1959. In my hall of residence, among others, there was a jolly Jamaican making delicious dishes in our shared kitchen, a sweet Chinese girl who played the piano like a professional, and a beautiful Indian girl with long hair down to her ankles. We also had a black Jamaican President of the Students’ Union in the early sixties. So my primary reaction was Wow! Awe and admiration! These were amazing, talented and exotic people, interesting to talk to and be with.

My first personal encounter with racism came a couple of years later in France, where my landlady was most upset because her niece was set on marrying an Algerian. I was studying in an international…

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Even More to Think About

Those of you who have followed my blog know that I was fortunate to be brought up in a a caring, loving family where domestic violence wasn’t even hinted at. In fact, it wasn’t until I started to post on my blog that I found so many of my followers/readers hadn’t been so lucky.

And in reading others’ blogs and the daily news reports I know that domestic violence is prevalent in our society, and to my mind, more of a threat than even terrorism.

Some years ago, visiting one of my mother’s many aunts, she told us of her daughter who was stabbed by her husband, and left to die, alone on the kitchen floor. So in some way, it does impinge on all of us.

Today I received the advance copy of Charlie Gallagher’s latest Book –

He Will Kill You.

I haven’t started to read it, but with Charlie’s agreement, I am posting his author’s note here.

“There is a strong theme of domestic violence throughout this book. Some scenes describe actions that are brutal, inexcusable and shocking, and may be harrowing or traumatic to read.

They are based on unequivocal fact. Two out of three murder victims in the UK are killed by an intimate partner. Most victims of domestic violence take years to seek help, if at all.

This book carries a message; if you recognise even a small part of your situation or yourself in these pages, any part of it, then know that you don’t have to suffer it; you don’t have to live it. You’re worth so much more.

Tell someone. Tell the police or a mate or one of the many domestic violence charities that can be found on the internet, or whoever you can.

Get yourself safe.”

Charlie is a serving, front-line police detective. He obviously, comes into contact with victims of domestic violence more often than most of us. He doesn’t appear to have a website but tells a little about himself – https://www.femalefirst.co.uk/books/charlie-gallagher-bodily-harm-1027718.html.

Apologies. I’m now told by Charlie that he has a website – http://www.writercharliegallagher.com.

The book – He Will Kill You will be published on March 15 and is currently available to preorder on Amazon .

Look out for my review in the next couple of days on my other site – https://booksandmorebooks2017.wordpress.com

 

Another Life Being Well Lived

Have you met Wendy Mitchell? Wendy says “On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young onset dementia. I may not have much of a short-term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget.” Wendy was only 62 with a busy full life ahead of her. Please go over to her site to read more about this fantastic woman.

On reading the Guest Post on the 28th I was immediately transported back to a few days early in 2016 when I didn’t know who or where I was. You may remember that post – A Few Days or the Rest of My Life. Fortunately, I have recovered completely; Wendy is still living that life.

wendy

 

This amazing woman has written a book. “Somebody I used to know” I’ve just received my copy and am looking forward to reading it.

Thank you, BethAnn Chiles, at Its Just Life for introducing Wendy to me.

 

 

And now, because it fits in so well with this subject (and if we are allowed to be proud of something we have written) may I once again post “My Name Is Jane, I Think”?

They’re calling me Jane
Is that who I am
I am perfectly sane
but I don’t know their plan.

I look in the mirror and what do I see
Someone who vaguely resembles me
But why am I here and why all the tears
They are beginning to scare me, what is there to fear?

 It seems like only yesterday I knew who I was and
Proud, strong and upright my life in my hands.
But now you tell me that isn’t so
Well if I am not me then where did I go?

 I remember a time when my children were small
But yesterday and last week I know not at all
Where did those days go and why am I here
I wish you could tell me why did they disappear?

This young woman calls me Mother but I don’t know her at all
She looks kind of familiar, lovely smile, soft hands and all
And the young boys with her they are calling me Gran
But again I don’t know them why are they taking my hand?

Perhaps I knew her when I too was young
When life was before me and everything was fun
And losing one’s self wasn’t even thought of then
So how could I have landed here – is this the end?

 I think I know you – are you a nurse
And where are you taking me, I know the way
Well I did before this curse
Came upon me and befuddled my mind
And now I feel that I have left me behind.

But I am still me though I can’t make you hear
I’m still your mother and hold you all dear
What’s that you say my name is Jane
And I really feel that I’m perfectly sane.

But they’re calling me Jane
Are they talking to me
Is that my name and
Who I used to be?

 

That’s all for today. Thank you all for reading and following me. and please check out Wendy Mitchell. A woman to be followed.

 

On Knowing Mary Oliver

 

“What misery to be afraid of death.
What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.”

One of the comments I received on my post recording Mary Oliver’s death, was this one from Tokens of Companionship –

“This is a nice remembrance by a former student of hers:

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2019/01/17/passing-mary-oliver-at-dawn/

How I wish I had known her other than through her writing. How lucky was this young woman to have been in one of her classes! How I envy her that!

 

“And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful,
calls to each of us to make a new and serious response.
That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning.
“Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”