Sunday, 13 May 2007

of death and ashes and flowers

I read Mousie's blog from 9th May and was so moved I just had to get this down.

My own mum's ashes are scattered on a beautiful hillside overlooking the sea. It was a favourite picnic spot for her and my dad in their (too short) retirement. They had planned to move to the sea but events overtook them and when she was in remission they used to drive here with an M&S picnic and gaze for hours at the beauty of it all. When we knew she had only weeks left we all discussed with her what kind of funeral and so on she wanted. At her 65th birthday party I sat writing down all the hymns she hated and all the ones she would put up with (and this from a former sunday school teacher). Her instructions were no black and no sad faces and no wasting money on expensive flowers or coffins. Summer dresses and joyfullness at her life please. On the day she died we phoned and booked the funeral negotiating with the minister who was shocked as we were actually calling BEFORE she died! We were on a tight schedule, my sister was over from the US and had to get back to her boys. She died a few hours later. And we are control freaks.

In our best summer frocks we went in the pouring rain ('god crying for granny')to George Herbert's tiny little church at the evening service and sang our hearts out. Grandchildren cried. We cried. Friends cried. My dad, stoic, refused keeping his tears for a private moment. It was beautiful. We actually taped the service for my sister to take to her boys as they couldn't come over. The cremation was held a few days later and the ashes scattered a day after that. My pooor sister from the US was torn, her adopted religion forbids crematation but to me it is a fitting ending place. We had lizianthus (which make me cry now) and my beloved sisters put in a flower for my (first) lost baby with the flowers from their children.

And now my (third) tiny baby's ashes are scattered under a conker tree in our tiny local churchyard. I go there to sit and think when I need to be alone with my memories. All the children know it is 'Toto's' tree as we have never hidden it from them - a somewhat surprised grandad was taken to it recently and had it all explained to him by a serious 8 year old (my second baby if you are counting, the one that made it!). And when for the first time I took her to 'granny's hill' she took it all in her stride and looked for my bouquet that I had strewn there 2 years after her death. Long gone of course. Like granny but never far from my thoughts.....

Friday, 11 May 2007

a kind doctor

Well, we are doing well! Last night an emergency visit to the out of hours GP service (awful location, impossible to find, and in the driving rain that has replaced our glorious weather (sod the garden)). She is still unwell but had started perking up. I'd talked to her about maybe going back to school to see all her friends but with no swimming lesson! Arranged a tea with a friend a whole week away to give her something to look forward to.

Then at tea time she started complaining of a sword stabbing her in the neck and a knife in her side (good use of imagery?) and then throwing up. After 28 times where only one missed the loo/mixing bowl on her lap and me finding her on the bathroom floor writhing we decided enough was enough. Phoned the GP got the number and called in. They were delightful - thought it could be appendicitis and could we please go down there as soon as possible? We went down there loaded up with loo roll, sick bowl and the cuddly toy she always sleeps with. Forgot the inhalers though.

The GP was a real sweetie and waiting for us at the desk. Very kind to her. Gently examines her all over. Doesn't bat an eyelid when he says he wants to rule out urinary tract infection, chest infection, sickness bug and she says 'oh I've had that!'. Turns out she has tonsillitis with really swollen glands everywhere. He gave her some antibiotics and told her she was very brave. She cried when he gave her pink medicine - she's most definitely off pink this season.

And back we went. She cuddled up on daddy's lap while he watched newsnight and I stacked the dishwasher and made tea/hot water bottle and sent a text to a friend.

Up we went. Tucked her into my bed and went to kiss my lovely husband goodnight. At the bedroom door. And then I remembered! ' Happy Birthday. Oh my god I'm sorry'' 'Oh don't worry, it made a change from the usual routine.' Oh god now I have to make up for that. Takeaway tomorrow perhaps? God I am running out of steam this year already!

And this morning he revealed that he was probably over the limit when he drove to the GP. I hadn't even noticed him drinking the half bottle of wine. In my defence I was in the loo with her all evening.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

of sick children

I am so not a good mother! My 8 year old has been off school for 10 days out of the last 13 (and one of those was a bank holiday). What an earth am I doing to her? We thought that chickens and the dog and the country air would be really good for all the children which was why we moved here. But I'm beginning to wonder whether I'm doing something wrong.

She has had a chest infection, then laryngitis (me too actually couldn't talk for a week much to the merriment of all) and now simply has a cold. But oh my goodness it brings with it a great big hacking cough. She has eczema (badly, really badly) and asthma now has crept in. So she puffs and she steams and she sleeps propped up (in my bed last night, it was the only way I could think of getting some kind of rest for myself, I also have a soaring temperature) and kissed husband good night chastely at my bedroom door. Maybe it will bring back Romance. Somehow I doubt it.

We went away at the weekend on the assumption that she might as well be ill away as at home and we'd paid for it already. Disaster! Freezing cold. Children all arguing. Us 2 arguing. Dog fed up. Too many chips and chocolate and no wine whatsoever. Oh well, it spurred me on to book our summer holiday and that is giving me something to look forward to.

At the weekend we shall buy new chickens, lets hope the fox keeps away...

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

death and foxes

so yesterday after school Rosie was to be found in with the remaining chickens. She picked up and cuddled chick chick and sang to her. Mostly in tears. She asked why the things she loves always die (her goldfish died at the weekend too). She is also worried about me. She has often asked why I am so old (she has a slightly more disarming way of putting it) and yesterday asked when I would die, did I know? Oh god! How to discuss death with an eight year old? I won't lie to her and say I won't die as she knows only too well that it is a real possibility. And of course the thing is that my mum died at 65 and her mother at 62 so I guess I may make it to 68 or so - less than 20 years away! I have promised her not to die until she's big enough to manage by herself but who knows when that will be? Truly I doubt I am at that point yet myself. It was never in the plan to have children so late - my age just sort of crept up on me.

But yesterday evening we talked about new chickens and whether to hatch some from fertilised eggs or get point of lay hens. I would like to get some point of lay hens and take it from there, there are too many worries in hatching eggs and they may all turn out to be cockerels like the last lot. Last summer we found ourselves in the actual Marans in France and idly went in search of some hens. Marans are lovely hens, they lay dark brown eggs and are friendly and good natured. Excellent pets that also lay lots of eggs, so they would be nice.

We shut the chickens up early and went to bed as normal. Then just before 4 am the dog started to bark and bark. He never does this so we knew something was wrong. When I went to him and opened the back door he rushed outside and ran straight down to the chickens and barked more. He then went around the entire garden sniffing and checking on everything. He spent lots of time near the rabbit and was in a state of high dudgeon really. We got him back in and hoped that the noise and lights would have frightened away the fox that must have come into the garden again. In the morning my husband found digging at the place where he had buried the few remains. And the rabbit was very jumpy too. So tonight he will wee all around the garden (it's supposed to help warn off the fox) once it is dark.

Today has been a strange day. I have worked a little but distractedly. I am not feeling well which doesn't help but my spirits were raised by the walk I took after lunchtime. Our dog sprained his wrist a couple of months ago and so has been resting. Over the last couple of weeks we have been building him up again, watching anxiously for any sign of a limp. As a consequence I have hardly walked and it was a joy to go the entire length of the field and back with him trotting alongside me. With the blue skies and the oak trees dotted about the field it is the most beautiful sight in the world. Though I did wonder why, for the first time ever, the farmer has planted broad beans one side of the footpath and 'something else' on the other. In all the years we have lived here I have never known broad beans in the field. I confess that part of our annual ritual is the first family walk with the dog and children in tow through the field at the height of the barley crop. The children rush off (along the network of footpaths) and we hold the dog. Moments later the signal is given and we say 'where is Rosie' or 'Michael' or 'Katya'? The dog stands still, nose in air and then races off to find them. He looks like a dolphin in the waves, swimming through the crop. His head and tail dipping and diving. And then he finds them! The kids jump up, laughing and spitting barley as the dog jumps on top of them licking and tail wagging madly. I want this ritual to happen again and again, press rewind for me please. The crop this year isn't familiar to me and I fear it will not bring the joy of the hide and seek. Changes, changes.