Monthly Archives: May 2013

Gone …

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About an hour after posting my last post, my lovely brave Daddy slipped away from us. Surrounded by my Mum, the love of his life, and his five children (plus one son-in-law), he died knowing that he was loved and cherished.

He had given Mum instructions on what he wanted done once he’d passed … ‘paying the ferryman’ with coins on his eyelids, his mouth closed (I sat there for an hour holding his chin to keep it closed until rigor mortis took over and kept it closed), the window open for at half an hour so that his spirit could escape (we kept it open for four hours, just to make sure he’d gone!) … and finally, when Mum pulled back the covers so that she could cross his arms over his chest (a Catholic tradition, apparently), we found that his arms were already crossed.  That beautiful man must’ve known that he was breathing his last, and did it with his dying breaths.  That somehow means so much … he was Dad to the last.

There’s now a huge hole in our lives … but we are a close family and we will learn to adapt to a life without him.

RIP my lovely Daddy …

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Still Waiting …

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Time seems to go so quickly, yet so slowly. Dad is deteriorating before our eyes, and it seems that the moments of lucidity are few and far between now. Though, when I was sitting with him this morning and holding his hand, he looked quite with it, so I told him what a lovely old bastard he was, and that raised a smile. We’re at the point where he can’t suck through a straw any longer, so we’re trying to get him to take water from a medicine syringe … but he’s still not having enough, so he’s dehydrated and now in renal failure, which I suppose means that the end is now not far away. But we’re all here for him, my brothers and sisters and Mum, so at least when the end does come he will go feeling loved and cherished.

It’s really odd to see how this man, who less than two weeks ago was still my lovely Daddy, has now changed beyond all recognition. That bed contains a living skeleton, instead of the big strong man of not that long ago. The skin on his hands is paper-thin, his face is gaunt and his eyes sunken and dull. I feel so disloyal for thinking that I hope the end is near, but I just can’t bear to see him suffer like this, and I want him to be at peace. Life really sucks sometimes, doesn’t it?

Waiting …

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It’s 4.40 am, and I’m sitting in the living room at my parents’ home. Insomnia? Far from it. As I write, my Mum is curled up on the other couch, sleeping under a lovely soft fleecy blanket. My Dad? At the other side of the room to me, in his ‘hospital’ bed … a shadow of the man he was just a few short weeks ago. Around a year ago, Dad had surgery for bowel cancer. He’s been champing at the bit for months, wanting to get back to normal, back to the days when he could do a hard day’s work in the garden or around the house and still have the energy for a five mile walk … sadly, despite the all clear a couple of months ago after several scans, he developed jaundice and further tests revealed secondaries in three sites. So, I’m sitting here, 120 miles away from my own home, waiting and listening.

Seeing a loved one go through this kind of living hell puts things into perspective, it really does. Watching this proud and private man that I’m privileged to call my Dad deteriorate alarmingly is bloody hard. The last few weeks have been full of remembering, memories that were long forgotten have resurfaced, and I’ve come to realise just how much I’m like this man who we affectionately call a miserable old bastard. Facing the inevitability of what is happening is so difficult … never before in my life have I wished I could change things more than I do now. Dad’s deterioration has been swift … he’s so weak he can’t get out of bed without help … this lovely proud man is reliant on us to feed him (not that he’s eating anything of any substance, despite gentle coaxing), provide pain relief, copious amounts of water, and attend to his toilet needs. So here I sit, watching and waiting, for the inevitable event that we fear will happen soon.

It’s all about perspective. I wonder why I get so stressed about things in my life that in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter. I wonder why I let stuff from the past kick me in the teeth still in the present. The truth is, none of it matters at all. What really matters is recognising those people who are the most important in your life, and making sure that they know how important they are. One thing the last few weeks have shown me is just what a remarkably strong woman my Mum is, whether she thinks she is or not, and how much like Dad I and my siblings are. For him, I believe he’s in no doubt that he’s very well loved by those in the family circle, and how highly regarded he is outside the family circle.

Finally, I’ve realised that there’s more to life than meets the eye, and I’m going to stop fretting about nonsense and start living life to the full. But not just yet … for now I’ll sit up all night for as long as it takes, because my parents deserve every little care that I and my brothers and sisters can give.

I couldn’t do this without the support of my own family unit, 120 miles away but here with me in spirit.

Life, my friends, is a funny and fragile thing.

Niff No More!

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Now, I know you’ve been on tenterhooks all day, wondering if I managed to get rid of the nasty sludge-induced smell … I’m happy to report that by the time I got up this morning, the nasty niff was gone. 

I had to go over to the other Hospital site this morning for my course – I’m doing an ‘Adult Apprenticeship’ through work, which will result in a certificate in the Principles of Management, functional skills certificates, and an NVQ3 in Business Management.  If I’m honest, this isn’t really what I want to be doing, but as I can’t afford to finish my degree unless I win several billion on the Lottery, I’m going to take any and every opportunity to add more qualifications and skills to my CV.  Developing my skills is obviously a sensible and valid thing to be doing, and I am enjoying it, but I do find that a morning spent out of the office is counterproductive because I end up having a stressed afternoon trying to catch up with everything that didn’t get done because I wasn’t there.  I find myself getting more and more stressed these days over stupid little things, when really I should realise that I’m not superhuman and I can’t do everything … but with so much going on it’s difficult to fit everything in.  I got really stressed this morning about the fact that the shuttle bus between the two sites was late and that I might potentially therefore be late for my course … I need to step back and stop stressing over things that I can’t control.  Well, I can try …

Something Stinks Around Here …

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Recent trips into the garden have brought forth a rather unpleasant smell … not much investigation needed to know it was the outside drain.  Let me explain … He Who Shall Remain Nameless (ie, the ex) left us in a right shit mess, both inside and outside the house.  He seemed to think it was okay to use the garden as his personal dumping ground, couldn’t be arsed to finish any of the jobs he started and made a bodge of the ones he did deign to do.  For example, the outlet pipe that takes water from the shower and bathroom sink … not attached to the outside wall at all because he was too bone idle to put a clip on it … hence the pipe now bows in the middle and fell off several months ago because it was unsupported, leaving the waste water from the shower/bathroom sink to pour out on to the garden … and the stack pipe with a nice hole where the pipe should have been attached.  After a couple of months I managed to coerce him to come back and put the pipe back … but apparently he ‘definitely put a clip on it’ and we must have ‘taken the clip away’.  My arse we did!

Anyway, I digress … one job that was always too much effort for him was putting a cover over the outside drain … I mean, it’s such a complicated job, right?  And due to his penchant for dumping all manner of crap in the garden and not keeping on top of the brambles (he had a blowtorch type thing with which to kill them), the garden up the side of the house consists of brambles galore, and the drain was inaccessible.  Sean kindly burnt the hell out of it all a couple of weeks ago, and hence made the drain accessible once more.

It was full of slimy black sludge … I kid you not.  I would have taken a picture to show you, but you would be gagging, so I thought best not.  Using my dustpan (good for scooping) I set to this afternoon … when I got to the point where I couldn’t really scoop any more out (it’s a long drain which drops down a big hole) because the dustpan was too big to go down the hole, I had to resort to using my hands.  My drain is deep … shoulder deep, in fact.  Yep … all the way down.  I scooped out handful after handful after handful of nasty stinky black sludge.  I was covered in it by the time I’d finished, but Sean very kindly hosed me down before I went off for a long hot shower.  Despite my very long shower, and washing my hands around 30 times since, I can still smell sludge on my hands.  Nasty.  But on the plus side, the drain is draining again.  It’s going to get a good dose of bleach tomorrow, followed by Jeyes Fluid later this week and then I’m going to sort out a cover for it to stop leaves and God only knows what other crap finding its way in.

Following the stinking theme, Ethan was dropped off earlier by his Dad and his Dad’s current partner.  I was sitting on the front wall with Sean waiting for him – earlier today we (me and Mike) severely pruned out my lavender bushes in the front garden.  To be fair, Mike did most of the actual pruning – I came down from my shower to find that while I’d been unblocking the drain etc, he’d pruned out most of the bushes – such a lot of it was dead wood.

Anyway, Ethan came home, and when his Dad was pulling off, he told me that he had something to tell me.  His Dad’s current partner (let’s call her Her Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned) on seeing us sitting on the wall amongst our severely pruned bushes, said something along the lines of ‘I can’t believe it, she’s actually got off her arse and done something’.  Charming, yes?  This from someone on the distinctly chavvy side of the spectrum who doesn’t work and spends most of her time taking ‘well deserved’ holidays with He Who Shall Remain Nameless, while her kids are dumped off on their Dad.  I, on the other hand, work full-time, own a business, have a second job, am studying, and still find time to try and keep on top of the house – so let’s face it, if I do sit on my arse occasionally I should bloody well think I deserve to, don’t you?

Yep, something definitely stinks around here, and it’s not the drains …

Skinny Lasagne

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So I find myself with a new bloggy home to call my own … Posterous has gone, never to return (well, who knows) … so here we are, giving WordPress a try.

In creative news, tonight we’re trying the Skinny Lasagne recipe from The Hairy Bikers Diet Book. In Weight Watchers terms the recipe has 51 points and serves six people, but we’ve substituted ‘proper’ mince with Quorn mince to get a total of 41 points. And there are only three of us here for dinner … however, it is almost ten and I’m starving …