Blackberries and a Baby

The man with the two lovely collies and the equally lively yellow Labradot told me there were damsons at the end of the path. 'Some are very big,' he asserted. But although I followed you he path I found no damsons. I did gather my fourth box of blackberries, and had I had more containers I could have gathered yet more.

Quite a lot of the smallest container, about half I reckon, I have already enjoyed for pudding after lunch. A lunch which featured a poached egg. I bought the egg this morning and it was still warm from the hen. Although I do not think I want to live in the depths of the country, car culture is one of my main objection, there are compensations. My neighbour having, though with the best of intentions, killed my thyme plant, I have bought another. I have freshly picked spinach and salad. Janet Eggs is reserving some eggs for me to take home with me tomorrow. Das Boot is brightened by a bunch of sunflowers.

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Twenty Years in the Making

Having not opted to ay for WiFi during the flight, this post will be published sometime later today. For now, it’s less than two hours until we are due to land, and it am increasingly excited, and even rather emotional about meeting my old friend on her home turf.

This journey began, though I didn’t know it then, twenty years ago when Vicki and I worked alongside each other in overlapping but quite different rôles. We got on, which was just as well as the management wasa shambles, and those of us further down the food chain were taking the flak. At least I had others doing the same work as I was, Vicki was on her own, and she became the scapegoat for many failed and failing management decisions.

The list of tasks for which she was suddenly deemed solely responsible became as long as the London telephone directory. It took its toll. Her husband, initially sympathetic, started to glaze ver when she talked about what was going on at work. She’d come round to mine, and while I made meals, she told Cat her woes. As I’d been telling him mine too, he was well on the way to completing the hours needed to be a counsellor, though I don’t know who his supervisor would have been.

Things got worse and eventually we both quit. I baled first. Vicki headed back to Melbourne telling me I must visit, and me saying yes of course I would.

Time passed. I had increasing responsibility for Mother, and long haul was not on the cards. Cat died. Vicki drank a toast to his memory and mourned him almost as much as I did. Her marriage came to an end. I can’t recall whether it was Mother or her husband who died first, but her parents and sibling also needed support, so our hands were pretty full. Continue reading

One Week On

This whole media access thing is very strange. I know I have comments on the blog, because I have had notifications via my ‘phone (battery how dead), but I cannot view them or answer them via my iPad because despite positive bars apparently the signal strength is insufficient. It was also insufficient last night when I posted via Blogsy, which is where I am typing now. Does Blogsy have some special deal with the internet? Why is it that nine times out of ten I can post from Blogsy but be unable to view anything else online? Not being technically savvy, these things bemuse and bother me.

Older Nephew came to das Boot today shortly after a text from Celia had alerted me to the fact that the Brexit narrative had again deviated from the expected path. This time it was the announcement that BoJo is not going to stand as a candidate to lead the Tories. Unable to face up to the crisis he has created, was Older Nephew’s opinion. I agree. Continue reading

Aunt

Aunt is definitely thinner. When I hugged her, I could feel every knob of her spine and her ribs were clear under my hands. Her lovely cleaner Linda, now an honourary member of the family, was there when I arrived. Linda is a huge fan of Uncle Bill. I keep reminding her he is spoken for. Linda is the person who allows Aunt to continue to live independently. She is more carer than cleaner these days. And throughout her years of working for Aunt has become a trusted companion, a confidante, a surrogate daughter. They love each other with an uncomplicated trust and respect. They are good to and for each other. Their relationship is good to see.

In the spring, when I spoke to the Specialist Nurse, I tried to find out how long Aunt might survive her cancer. The nurse, who is lovely, but worked off her feet, told me my aunt could well die of old age before the cancer tightened its grip. However, by the end of the conversation I knew it would be unlikely Aunt would see the end of the summer.

Yet today we were talking about winter, and where we can go when the weather turns cold. As we had both wanted to enjoy Linda's company, it was quite late before we set off for an outing. Our destination was a local hotel where I had been told we could enjoy tea in the garden.

The drive took about five minutes. Maybe less. Aunt usually feels the cold, so I was surprised when she said she'd like to sit in the garden, and laid her fleece across her knees. We were the only ones outside until we saw a tabby cat emerge from a flower bed. We sat and talked, and I asked her about how it felt to know that this might be her last summer. She was philosophical. At 92, death could come any day, cancer or no. Seeing the flowers, the colours, the cat. These were the things that counted. A teapot which poured well, and a more than generous jug of milk, sunshine on the plants and the peace of the garden, moments to be stored up and enjoyed over the next weeks.

Earlier I had found her mother's signature on the. Ulster Covenant. It's available on the PRONI site. Aunt was just four when her mother died. Her memories are scant. She was moved by the sight of the signature. I should see about taking a screen shot and storing it with her photographs on the tablet.

My little Olympus with its wifi wizardry is a hit when I visit Aunt. She selects the photos she wants and I load them onto her tablet. She has a lot of MasterB. When we go out, I take more pictures so she has a record of where we have been and what we have seen. Continue reading

Reactions

The other day someone asked me if I felt relieved that Mother had died. It’s a fair question and I discussed it with Aunt last night. In the long run, I am sure we will feel some sense of relief. The knowledge that Mother is not going to decline further, is not going to descend to a state of unknowingness where we cannot connect with her, is not ever going back to hospital, that she died peacefully, yes these things will be a relief. But at the moment neither of us is feeling that.
Aunt describes it as a big dark space. I am still wrapped in grey fog much of the time. While Mother lived, I knew where she was, had a picture in my mind of her at the home when I wasn’t with her. Now, she isn’t. I can imagine her ashes in the drum that matches her coffin, residing with the undertaker until such time as we can arrange for Dad’s ashes to be exhumed so that we can scatter them together, but where is Mother? Maybe that’s why the video continues to play in my head while I try to locate her. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

These photos were, fairly obviously, not taken by me. But they are of my family. I was looking for a different picture, one of my father with his three siblings, but I found these first and enjoyed looking at them.

My grandfather’s (my father’s father) two sisters looked fairly alike as these two pictures show.

Great Aunt Doll (Dorothy)

Great Aunt Evelyn

As the pictures also show, they were quite different characters. Evelyn was the glamourous one who died young in a traffic accident. I don’t know what became of her husband, but her daughter, Cousin Gwyn who developed Alzheimer’s and died a few years ago, having been one of the most lively and entertaining of my many relatives, became an extra sibling for my father, his brother and sisters. Continue reading

Northern Ireland Lights

In the city there is always so much light pollution.

Not to mention buildings.

Generally speaking, I’m not a great fan of sunset pix, but I took these on Tuesday, my last night in Co Derry, when Cousin joined me for a walk down the lane past the fields, looking towards the Sperrins.

I didn’t expect them to come out very well, but actually, I’m quite pleased.

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