Category Archives: Death

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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Mary Oliver

“maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–”
Mary Oliver 1935-2019

Those of you who have been following my ramblings these past years, know that Mary Oliver has been a favourite poet of mine for so long.

Many of her quotes grace the pages of my blog posts and may I say, that indeed she did add grace to the pages.

So rest in peace Mary after a life well lived. You will now never know the new readers who find your poems from whatever source, nor will you ever know how much your words affected this elderly woman far away in New Zealand.

Read the New York Times obituary here.

And now, Goodbye Mary. May you rest in peace with your dearly beloved  Molly Malone Cook.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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RIP Charles Aznavour

Aznavour
Charles Aznavour1924-2018

It was with deep regret that today I learned of the death of Charles Aznavour. This is a singer who has travelled with me through life, always just singing the right song at the right time.

I remember the first time I actually saw him on stage. It was at The Royal Albert Hall in London in 1967. This was a special treat for me for my birthday. And then later in 1970, we saw him again at L’Olympia in Paris.

In 1970 he topped the singles chart in the UK for several weeks with his rendition of She, but I prefer the Frech version – click here to see and hear him sing in French.

But my favourite Aznavour song has always been and will remain Yesterday When I Was Young. I used his song as the basis for a post in March 2011 at the beginning of my blogging adventure. If you are interested, here’s the link.

What is not so well known is that Aznavour took an active part in his family’s efforts to hide Jews in Paris, risking their lives under the German occupation. In fact, he received a humanitarian award with his sister from Israel’s President Rivlin.  At the award ceremony, he reportedly said,  ‘We have so many things in common, the Jews and the Armenians, in misfortune, in happiness, in work, in music, in the arts and in the ease of learning different languages and becoming important people in the countries where they have been received.’

From its inception, Aznavour lent his name and his energy to the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.  This organisation was launched on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviours.In his memory, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will launch a new annual scholarship as part of the Gratitude Scholarship Program.

So Rest In Peace Maestro. You will be greatly missed by many.

 

Spring Bulbs

If you have read any of my posts recently you will know that we are having a particularly wet and windy Spring here in New Zealand.  We have one beautiful Spring day followed by three of the other kind.

spring-ads-beauty

But the Spring bulbs are in bloom and in my garden, there are a couple that are really special.

Last year, in the week before my accident, I went to the funeral of a  close friend.  If a funeral can be described as happy this one was.

People recounted memories and tales of fun shared with the deceased.  Then, just before the coffin was taken out of the chapel to the sound of “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye” we were told to take a couple of bulbs from the box at the rear so that next year when the Spring came, we would all remember Jilly.   And that is what has happened this year.

 

Isn’t that a lovely thought.  I have suggested to my daughter that they do something like that so that my friends may remember me.  Oh no, I don’t plan to die for many years yet, but just saying…

“Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye 
Cheerio, here I go, on my way
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
Not a tear, but a cheer, make it gay
Give me a smile I can keep all the while
In my heart, while I’m away
‘Till we meet once again, you and I
Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye”.

And of course, having thought back to that time I am again thinking of the two men in my life, both of whom are now gone but both of whom are remembered always.

 

What Has Gone So Wrong?

There’ll be love and laughter
And peace ever after.
Tomorrow, when the world is free

So sang Vera Lynn and many  others during the Second World War. So what has gone so very wrong in the intervening years?  Love and laughter has been taken over by hate and tears and the world is not free.

From this quiet and peaceful little corner of the world we have looked on at the hate and disruptions caused by the hate, taking over our world.  We even have one of the Presidential candidates in the USA seemingly encouraging spread of hate at least to the other candidate, and of course to Mexican, Muslims etc etc.  How can this be we ask ourselves.

Have we forgotten all that was learned at such great cost?  Children are still living in areas surrounded by bombs as did we in the early 1940s.  They are still being injured both physically and emotionally and the bombing now is so much worse than during the Second War.  Bigger and more directed bombs and these children are right in the middle of the war.

When will we learn that we can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.   When will the powers that be, those in position to make a  stop to these non achieving wars, accept that something has to change.

Daily on TV we see the result of the bombs on the lives of families who have done nothing more than to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And apart from the damage to the humans what about the destruction of buildings steeped  in history and meaning for the population and of course, the damage to the earth.  All of these things will take centuries to repair, if in fact they can be repaired and renewed.

Now is the time for us to stand up and be counted.  A petition has been taken to our politicians objecting to more money being spent on sending troops to the wars.  What else can we do other than sign the petitions?  I don’t know but what I’m doing is spreading love and kindness wherever and whenever I can.  If we all do a little, maybe something big will come out of it.

End of today’s rant.

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief, Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”

Mary Oliver

The Streets of London

“So how can you tell me you’re lonely,
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind “

This is the chorus from Ralph McTell’s song The Streets of London”.  

This is one of those songs that remind us just how lucky we are.  Oh, we all have something about which to complain but unless one is battling a life-threatening or terminating illness, put alongside those who are homeless and without any hope that things will improve, they really are minor.

If you follow my blog you will know that, until I came to live with my partner (the Architect), Thursday was always Mary Potter Hospice day.  Once a week I volunteered and helped serve lunch to the patients or should we now call them clients?

All these patients were battling terminal illness but in the years that I volunteered there,  I only met one person who was rude and ungrateful for the care he was receiving from the dedicated staff.  Of course, it was understood by everyone why he was like this at the time.  And his charming wife told us that he was never rude before coming into the Hospice.  Apparently, he was a gregarious, lovely fellow who was finding it difficult to come to terms with what was happening to him.

And then recently, I experienced the other side of the service the hospice offers.  My partner, dying from a brain tumour, was transferred to Te Omanga Hospice close to where we live.  And what an amazing place that it.  The love, care and attention showered upon us both was absolutely unbelievable.  Nothing was too much trouble for any of the staff.  Cups of tea in the early hours of the morning; a friendly ear to listen when it all became too much for me; food brought to me even though I didn’t want to eat and in all an outpouring of love to help me when the inevitable time came for the Architect to leave this world. And when that day came, the love was showered on our families.

So if today in your travels, you come across an abrupt, grumpy person, give them a smile.  We don’t know what demons they are battling in their lives and maybe a smile will help them.

“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.”
Chad Sugg, –  Monsters Under Your Head

Missing You

A sunny Saturday afternoon here in Wellington, New Zealand, but the sun isn’t shining here in our house.  A black cloud hangs over everything at present and  I cant see through the tears to  tell you all how I feel.  But I found this quote in a book the other day and it say what I can’t.

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around
in the daytime and falling in at night.
I miss you like hell.”
Edna St Vincent Millay
American lyrical poet and playwright.
1892-1950

The book is entitled “Goodbye for Times of Sadness & Loss” by Melanie G Mason.

And now I should like to thank you all for the outpouring of love, kindness and support at the recent tragic event in my life.  But my darling Architect would not have wanted me to fall into that slough of despair where I have been once before.  So I am working on picking myself up, dusting myself off and starting all over again as Jerome Kern exhorted us.

So watch this space.  Who knows what will happen next.  But do all take care and cherish each and every day because tomorrow may never come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

“Lazy Sunday afternoon,
I’ve got no mind to worry,
Close my eyes and drift away,”

Are you old enough to remember the Small Faces singing this song in 1968?  The group was formed in the mid 60s by four boys from the East End of London and this song reached No 2 on the UK Singles Hit List in 1968.  How innocent we all were then.

But this post is not about the band, or even about that song.  It just came to mind as we were sitting devouring the weekend papers in the sunshine in our garden on a Lazy Sunday Afternoon.  We had a busy morning and now we’re relaxing.

How different is our Sunday in this peaceful corner of the world, from the mayhem that is happening in most other places.  Do these terrorists think so little of the gift of life that they can rampage through peaceful communities bent on destruction?

Yesterday we heard of the latest in the string of atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram  – At least 10 people were killed when a young girl, thought to be aged 10, blew herself up at a crowded market in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri.  Apparently she had bombs strapped to her body.  Was she given a choice?  I suspect not.

So friends, take care as we never know when something awful might happen

And from my little book of dog wisdom* :-

“Life is a precious gift.
Treat it delicately and be grateful for it,
but most importantly celebrate and enjoy it”

 

Lotte on desk

Another helping hand

Writing 101: Personality on the Page

Today’s Challenge and I still haven’t caught up but decided I should like to do this one now.- The Challenge is: – We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears. Today’s twist: Write this post in a style distinct from your own.

This looked like a real challenge.  Where to start?

I have breezed through life with very few fears but

  • I have always been afraid that something bad could happen to one of my loved ones
  • I have been anxious about my aged parents on the other side of the world; both now dead
  • I was afraid of cats until I took a course of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or Tapping as it is sometimes known.  Now I am no longer afraid of cats and have even been known to stroke one but
  • My worst fear was realised at 2.28am on April 22 1998.  My Dashing (not so) Young Scotsman died.

I wondered/ feared :

  • How would I live without him
  • How could I live without him
  • Where would I live without him
  • How could I go through each day knowing he wasn’t waiting for me at home
  • How could I smile and pretend that life was “normal”
  • What was normal anymore
  • When would the “time heals” kick in
  • When would I stop counting the hours, days since he died and move onto the months and years

And I found that while my worst fear had been realised on that ghastly day, I could:

  • Live my life without him though I missed him madly
  • Move house and so find where I could live without him
  • Go through each day with his memories to help me
  • What became normal was different to anything I had expected or experienced
  • Time didn’t heal although the hurt was lessened as time passed
  • Now I say he died 16 years ago.

And now after so long, my whole life has changed as I have a new partner and we are making a new life together.

Note: I don’t know if I have met the challenge in the way in which it was designed.  

 

Writing 101: Serially Lost

Day 4 and the challenge is – Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more. and Today’s twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-post series.

I have tried writing a serial before.  It was about two women and their hats and their adventures.  I really enjoyed that.  But now we are asked to write about a loss and then to make this the first in a three-post series,

So what to write about?  Apart from the great loss in my life, the next loss was that of my darling companion Miss Lotte. It was a beautiful summer day; I had just had lunch and was sitting down to a cup of tea and a new magazine when I heard this horrendous sound of someone in great pain.  I looked around and found my darling little Tibetan spaniel writhing on the ground.  She had been lying in the sun and once before she had been affected by the heat.  At that time the vet told me to pick her up and speak to her quietly so she would know all was well.  I did that but I could see we were in great trouble.  So I wrapped her in her blanket and drove to my vet.  Apparently, she was very near death – he didn’t know if she had eaten anything poisonous, unlikely as she was confined to our garden, or whether she had suffered a heart attack.

I left Miss Lotte at the vets and spent a miserable afternoon without my loving companion.  But I was allowed to pick her up some hours later.  She was to be kept quiet, no walks just rest and hopefully, all would be well.

Lotte sleeping after her trip to the vets.

Unfortunately, there was no happy ending for Lotte and me.  She had to be put to sleep a few days later,  She suffered another major heart attack one evening and I had to take her to the emergency vet, where I was told that the best thing I could do for my darling was to let her go.  How sad that was.  But although she had a very short life it had been a happy and full life with me, my friends and grandsons who all loved her.

So I said goodbye to my friend.  And farewelled her with the words I used when my husband died – “Soar high; Fly free; Breathe easy”.

LotteLotte Baxter,
Loving friend, faithful companion
2006-2013  RIP