All Souls Day

Mother’s name was said aloud in two churches today. Two candles were lit in her memory.
I wasn’t there. None of Mother’s close family attended. Not because we didn’t want to, but distance and other commitments, problems with transport, all mitigated against.
One of Mother’s closest friends attended the service where her funeral took place. I hope he said her name loudly, that it rang remembered around the chapel that she never attended except in death. He was unable to be at the funeral, so it was right he was there today.
I do not know why the knowledge that her name was said out loud in front of others feels so powerful, but it does. I don’t ‘get’ Hallowe’en. I do ‘get’ All Souls day. Continue reading

A Day on the River

A rather lovely day, and hoping to have some photos to post from it when I get home tomorrow. Today is six months since Mother died. I hadn’t thought about it before, but it seems right that I should be at das Boot and right that the day should be spent with Older Nephew. He came to help out with taking das Boot to the pump out, helmed like a champion and was great company to boot. We moored at a free mooring, had a pub lunch and came back. MasterB spent the entire time hidden under a pillow.
I made coffee, tied up and took photos. I did helm for a couple of minutes, but realised Older Nephew was gradually shuffling me out of the way, so I yielded quite happily. He lives fairly close to the marina, so we talked about him using the boat when I’m not here. I realise now I should have talked about him helming the boat when I am here, but maybe that’s for another conversation. Continue reading


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

Other Lives

The Guardian newspaper has a section called Other Lives to which friends and families of the not famous can contribute obituaries of their deceased loved ones. Every life is extraordinary. Every contribution to Other Lives underlines the power individuals have to effect change through their actions. That’s what makes it hopeful and inspiring reading.

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Of Dying Flowers, Cameras, Last Classes and Dead Cats

The amaryllis is on its last legs but still strangely beautiful, especially close up. I met one of my neighbours on the stairs this evening, and was surprised when she said three times how much she loved the amaryllis . Now I am wondering what to plant there for the summer. Your suggestions are welcome..
Here is my amaryllis, delicately transparent in its dying:

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Farewell Caroline

Back at the house, we ordered take-away pizza. By we, I mean O. I am not long home after the funeral. It was great. As a send-off to the afterlife, you couldn’t wish for more.
The wicker coffin and the flowers were beautiful. That was the moment when I think I really began to comprehend that Caroline is dead. This is it. There will be no more random meetings in local shops; no more exchanged texts or gifts of squash. Caroline is dead. But. The crematorium is a distance away. O had first organised a fleet of limousines and then, in an inspired and radical moment hired a Routemaster instead. We traveled in style behind the hearse. The front of the bus said “Goodbye Caroline”. In the two hundred history of Albin’s this was their first Routemaster cortège. They took photographs. For once, I didn’t.

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One Year

It is a year ago tonight since Freddy the Gorgeous Boy, known on this page as Cat, died. Now, as then, I’m preparing for bed. Next Sunday, I am going to ask you to join me in the evening by putting lighted candles in your windows to remember all the pets we have loved and who have enriched our lives.
Last year I asked the same, both here, by email, phone and face to face. The word spread to more people than I could have ever imagined. Friends here and in foreign countries passed the idea on and I got messages telling me of people who I have never met in the real or virtual world lighting candles. People told me stories of their pets. I heard of much loved dogs, of guinea pigs, cats and rabbits. There were memories of ponies, horses, donkeys and pet goats. It felt like people had kept these stories bottled up, and there was joy in the telling. Everyone’s pet was the best, which is just as it should be.
So dig out your candles, chill that bottle of good wine, and on Sunday night, let’s remember all the great times we have had with our pets, and how much we have loved them.
Tonight, I’m going to have a single candle, a glass of wine, and repost one of my favourite pictures of Freddy taken eleven months to the day before he died.

Perfect Happiness

Full of the Joys

If Not Cat does not sleep soundly tonight I shall worry.
He has been on the go since lunchtime. I can see that if I want to enjoy his companion animal services in the warmer months, I may have to put a tent up in the garden. This is his first spring with me.

Playing With the Sensor

Unbelievably, it is nearly a year since Cat died. A year since Mother hovered between life and death, and, as I now know, the beginning of her move into the nursing home.
Not Cat has eased some of the pain of Cat’s death. He, like Cat, has unknowingly provided support through some of the darker days of Mother’s decline. He has given us pleasure, and somehow, hope. Continue reading