Unconditional Love

I spent yesterday with Nephew, his partner and their baby. We walked and talked and ate, cooed over the baby, talked about dogs we’d like to have, cooed over the baby again, talked about love. The usual. Quite a lot of people talk about their pets giving them unconditional love as though that is a rare and wonderful thing. It’s definitely wonderful, but I should hope that the humans getting a pet are also giving unconditional love, and that parents would not have children with the love conditional on their exam results/looks/sporting achievement or whatever.

Among some papers I was sorting last week I found this photograph. Continue reading

Dishing the Dirt

I don’t know what I expected. Certainly, a dishwasher wasn’t my top priority when I began to think about a new kitchen. Maybe the novelty will wear off, but at the moment I am loving it. Super clean glass jars; MasterB’s Catcher cleaner than it has been since I bought it; gleaming saucepan lids; the rotation of plates, mugs, glasses; the full size cafetière that I hardly ever use these days is living in the dishwasher in the hope that the ingrained coffee stains will lessen and it can be passed onto a charity shop.

Celia came round to help and advise me the first time I used the dishwasher. She was completely au fait with the vocabulary which had left me adrift. I had been to the shop and bought the tablets, the freshener and the rinse aid. How to use them was a mystery.
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Aunt Kath 1916-2015

I got the news when I woke up; an email to say my father’s elder sister, the last of his siblings, had died in the early hours.

It wasn’t altogether a surprise. My cousin Helen contacted me on Sunday to say her mother was very unwell and receiving palliative care. I don’t yet know the details. At Christmas the news was that she was in great shape and the family was confident she would reach her hundredth birthday in March next year. I was thinking of going to see her. She lived these last dozen years or in Gozo where both her daughters had moved with their husbands.

So it’s a while since I saw her, and she hasn’t been able to write for some time. I am not sure she would have known who I was, but I am sure the connection would still have been there. She was the dearest and loveliest of aunts. I spent many hours in her company. We watched Diana Rigg in the Avengers on Friday evenings, walked her dogs across the common and down by the river.

She had a foray into dog breeding – wire haired Dachshunds, great little dogs with big personalities. Her Saluki, Penny, aka The Duchess, disapproved of their rough and tumble ways and how they would commandeer her bed. Continue reading

A Candle for a Cat

Out all day working – hurrah, some money! – theatre this evening, then a couple of drinks and some chat with a friend, so this post is a bit late. But hey, NaBloPoMo and not that long to go now to the end of the month and mission completed, etc etc.

I lit a candle today for a cat. He belonged to the neighbour who adopted Cat and his brother from the rescue centre. She is again working abroad, and decided the best thing to do was rehome her cat J.

Unfortunately, he did not settle. Always a cat with issues, he was peeing and pooing all around the house; upset and upsetting, A physical exam showed nothing wrong, and eventually his new owner decided to have him put down.

Today was the day he died. I was in Westminster Abbey so I lit a candle for him. There were prayer cards, and a notice that explained that prayers would be said at the shrine of Edward the Confessor for those named on the prayer cards if the details were given in clear print. Continue reading

Because

Because it’s National Poetry Day. Because I am missing my mum. Because this is a poem she liked to hear and which I have not read once since she died until tonight. And reading it, I feel her hand in mine, hear her breathing, see her face in relaxed concentration, her pleasure, our connection, our shared enjoyment.

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face; Continue reading

A New Day

It is a beautiful evening. The marina is quiet; MasterB is curled up opposite me and purring; birds are trilling, the sun is beginning to set. I am glad of the calm and the sun. Both feel respectful and right.
Mother died this morning. It was early, half past six; the time in days past when she used to get up. The connection here failed and I did not learn of her death for a further two hours. I lost the butter. Somehow between the call and coffee I misplaced it. I found it tonight in a cupboard where it does not belong.
I took my time. MasterB had some shore leave, and then I went to see her. My nephews were already there, but left me for some minutes alone with her. I drew back the closed curtains and let the light in. Mother loved daylight. She opened her curtains at night before she went to bed so that it would fill the room in the morning. For a moment it looked like she was breathing, but she was too flat, too still. I anointed her forehead with lavender oil and kissed her, told her again that I loved her. When the boys came back, it seemed natural to include her in our conversation, lying there as she was between us. Her face was recognisable, but less like herself and more like John Milton’s death mask.
It was time to go, to let the undertakers come and collect her. Once more the boys let me have some time alone with her, just a few moments, another goodbye.

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Tonight’s Debate

I saw a Stonewall poster the other week. It said something like, Some people are gay. Get over it.
Living in London, while homophobia certainly exists, it isn’t the same deal as in other parts of the country where a lot of isms still run wildly. I have gay friends, male and female. It doesn’t matter to them that I am straight, and it doesn’t matter to me that they are gay. What does matter is that they are my friends; people whose company I enjoy, who I admire and love.
So it’s not surprising that I support the result of tonight’s vote in Parliament. I’ve been to a brilliant Civil Partnership party, I am now looking forward to being invited to my first gay wedding. Continue reading

Unseasonal and Untimely

I used to joke with C that we should make a map of our local area and mark the spots where we saw each other. This was because often we would see the other from the bus, a car, passing by the shop where we were paying for purchases. When we did catch up, there would be those conversations that began, “I saw you the other day…” We could have added the spots where we met face to face too. Marks and Spencer would have featured quite largely, especially the fruit counter. I met C when she moved in with O. Shy, with a dry wit, knowledgeable, a sommelière manquée, she had a smoker’s laugh and was someone who I appreciated and liked increasingly as I got to know her. I never hid from her if I saw her near the fruit.
Coming home last night I looked at my ‘phone and saw a message from O with the title ‘terrible news-C’. The message explained briefly that C had died, that it had been sudden. For all the brevity of the message, O’s love and loss and sense of shock stalked each word. There was a picture of them attached, two smiling people holding glasses of champagne. A picture to treasure. Incongruously I found I was smiling at it. Death is always dislocating. When my father died I remember seeing people going about their normal business and I wanted to go and shout at them,”Don’t you realise the world has changed? Go home. My father has died.” At this time of year when everyone is hellbent on celebrations and jollity, that dislocation is even stronger.
I hope to see O later.
Life’s a bitch sometimes.