Category Archives: Family

Back To Blog …

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Hello, blogland … have you missed me?  No?

I’ve been hiding away for several months, busy in a whirlwind of work and stuff, with not much to say.  Let’s face it, 2013 was not the best year I’ve ever had, on a lot of levels.

Unbelievably, it’s now 10 months since my beloved Dad passed away.  It’s gone so, so quickly … I thought that by now I’d be starting to feel better, but I’m not.  I miss him so much (as do my boys).  The house is filled with pictures of him (I’ve even got what I call ‘Martin corner’ outside my bedroom – a chest of drawers covered in photos of him), so he’s an ever present presence – which is funny in some ways, because I think he only came to this house once – and I’ve been here for 14 years!  I suppose it’s probably easier for me in that respect, because I don’t expect him to be here; but when I’ve been visiting my Mum, I still expect to hear the front door open and him walking down the hall, but I suppose that’s natural.

I wish I could say that losing Dad was the only low point of 2013, but it wasn’t.  The latter half of the year brought with it an extreme amount of stress at work, which was definitely not a good thing.  If I’m honest, the stress is still there to a certain extent, but I’ve learnt to manage it, and I’m far more conscious of my stress level these days.  But at least I can say that work has kept me busy and distracted over the worst times.

On the other hand, despite all the negative things going on, and the sadness and unhappiness associated with losing Dad, I’m lucky that I can say that I’m extremely content overall.  Despite everything, life is good – and I appreciate how fortunate and blessed I am to have such a fantastic man in my life, along with my (sometimes extremely challenging, but incessantly loveable nonetheless) boys …

Things are changing here at Martin towers … after describing myself in a blog post some time back as someone who knits strictly vanilla, following patterns to the letter, I found myself thinking ‘ooh, this pattern would look good with THIS pattern … and so I decided to take the plunge and get those ideas out of my head and down on paper … as a result, I’m delighted to introduce ‘what Kate knits …’ a (very small as yet) collection of original patterns, available from my Ravelry store here – and I am hoping to get links uploaded here on my blog for purchase of individual patterns.

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There’s a fair few ideas clamouring to get out of my head at the moment, so look out for more patterns coming soon …

Blogging On A Plane …

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I’ve been in Germany since Tuesday with Ethan and Mike, and I started writing a blog post on the plane, which I then promptly forgot about once we arrived …

‘I’m blogging on a plane … well, to be more accurate I’m writing this in the notes app of my phone as the WordPress app doesn’t work in flight mode! I’m currently on a plane somewhere above France with Mike and Ethan, en route to Stuttgart. We’re heading to Friedrichshafen to spend a week with Robert and Andrea, my ex’s dad and stepmum (that’s right, he whose name we don’t mention). Myself and Ethan have been many times before, but this is Mike’s first trip. Quite how he feels about staying with his girlfriend’s ex in-laws I’m not sure, but Robert and Andrea are the most friendly and hospitable people I know (unlike he whose name we don’t mention), so by the end of the week I’m sure Mike will feel like part of their family too.

We’re flying with Flybe, on a very small plane … and we’re currently going through a pocket of turbulence – eek! I’ve never flown with Flybe before, but I’m impressed with their staff, who I’m finding to be friendly and helpful, which definitely helps when you are a nervous flyer like myself and Ethan. This is a different route for us – when we land we’ve got a two hour train journey to Friedrichshafen – but given that Birmingham airport is a mere 10 minutes from home I can’t complain as ordinarily we’d have a 2 1/2 hour drive to Stansted and then an hour’s drive from Memmingem to Friedrichshafen, so I’m hoping that this turns out to be a much better route for us …’

So, that was our trip here. We had a couple of hours in Stuttgart before our 2 1/2 hour train ride to Friedrichshafen, which in itself was quite eventful. There was a horrendous thunderstorm with huge hailstones, which we were sure would smash the windows of the train as they smashed against them with such force. But we were quite safe, and arrived safely eventually.

We’re having a very relaxing time, which is just what the doctor ordered after the events of the last few months. I’ll try and blog more later, but for now I think I’m going to go and put my feet up for a bit …

Good Times, Bad Times, and Some Very Sad Times

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It’s been a long while since I blogged … time has gone too quickly. It’s eleven weeks today that Dad passed away, and to be truthful i haven’t been feeling very communicative in that time. The last few months have been bittersweet, laying Dad to rest (the funeral was lovely, with a big crowd of people – so pleasing to know how popular he was), trying to stay strong and supportive for Mum and for my boys, and just generally trying to make sense of it all.

In the days after Dad’s death, I set up a Dropbox folder especially for photos of him, which the family have all contributed to. There must be almost 500 pictures on there now. I’ve got a huge pile more that I need to scan in, but I’ve been putting it off for weeks, and I must knuckle down and get it done.

People have been surprised that I went back to work on the Monday after Dad died – although I went back for one day and then took two more days off. Apparently, I should’ve taken more time – but why? Dad is gone and nothing can bring him back … and taking several weeks off isn’t going to make things any easier. I think keeping busy helped immensely, though maybe I should’ve taken the time to grieve then. The thing is, eleven weeks on, the enormity of it all has just smacked me right in the face – my lovely Dad is gone. I’m never going to see him or speak to him again … no more covering his face in slobby kisses and hearing him tell me to ‘feck off’. No more seeing the odd way he’d hold a fag. No more hearing him call Mum ‘woman’. None of it. But you know what, still I can’t grieve. I can’t let go of that incredibly tight hold I have on my emotions, because if I let go I might not be able to get control again … and that is so scary. So at odd moments when a thought of Dad comes to mind, I have to push it back and swallow it all down. But it’s getting harder and harder to do and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed.

I didn’t even cry at the funeral. I resolved that I wouldn’t, and I didn’t. Because you know what, I can’t let myself be shown at a disadvantage to anyone. All around me people were weeping, and at the graveside one of my brothers almost collapsed … but I kept it all in. That’s not to say that I didn’t feel it, I just couldn’t let any of it out. And that’s how it remains. This is going to bite me on the arse at some stage, I’m sure. And when I feel like this, when there is stuff that hurts that I can’t deal with, I create voraciously. Something to occupy my mind and my hands … so there’s been an awful lot of knitting going on recently, more of which I will save for my next post.

I’m never going to stop missing my Dad, but I’ve got so many memories to cherish … I will get through this, won’t I?

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Love you, Dad xxx

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 …

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.