Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

Roll on 2012!

It's going to be a hot summer in the UK!

The London Olympics will be fabulous with the UK winning its most ever medals and the country will not end up bankrupt as a result!

The Queen will have her Diamond Jubilee and there will be a lot of partying and having fun amongst the peasants!

There will be a cultural resurgence of some sort, through art or dance or music, and fashion which will see us lifting our sights and pulling us out of the current depression!

My business will take off and by the end of 2012 we will have a good income, some savings and our debts paid off. Our health will be good and we will be very happy. My 22 year old will find a new direction in life that she is very happy with and my soon to be 18 year old will land a wonderful job that will lead to better things for him.

May 2012 bring you and yours happiness and health and prosperity.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Sore throat

After the last post about mental illness it feels like a very long time since I had a physical illness and here I am feeling very sore and poorly with a sore throat. It came on suddenly on Friday night after I had a very long evening doing a party-plan type party at someone's house and suspect that I caught something from one of the models. The product I was demonstrating was skin care so I was working on people's faces.

Yesterday was completely wiped out whilst today is rather busy from early afternoon. I'm going to be like a Japanese tourist and wear a face mask as I have treatments to do that people are wanting and can only fit in today. What I'd rather do is to curl up and not go anywhere today. I think though that I will text each in a while to give them the choice. I know I would rather cancel than risk bringing unnecessary bugs into the house.

On the plus side, yesterday there was one of those 100 best TV programmes during the day which was about Christmas TV moments. Cue the Christmas tree. Ours is a gorgeous pencil slim tree so not too big or heavy but I had to keep stopping to rest my aching arms - and they still ache. It was a rather nice few hours to put that up and looks gorgeous all decorated though it stands alone without any supporting decorations in the room. Not up to those yet.

I have drunken so much herbal tea and regular tea this past day. At least I am well hydrated.

Joy to the World!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Sudden Suicide

Assuming it was suicide..... assuming it was depression ....

When a (now) high profile person commits suicide it will make society look up and consider depression and suicide and I'm hoping that out of the death of Gary Speed (football manager for Wales) that there is greater discussion and acknowledgement of mental health issues.

I think when you have someone who can be seen talking live on TV less than 24 hours before he was found dead, it brings it home:

If depression was at the heart of it I can relate to the way he can look so relatively normal and participate and yet have such huge turmoil going on inside. I can not say anything about this particular case as I do not know the man or his circumstances but I do hope that something really helpful and positive for the world can come from his sudden death.

Mental health should be as central to our lives and as easy to talk about as our physical health and whether we have a cold or sniffle. In reality, to talk about feeling down or out of sorts, or to feel like one is failing or feeling like one is a fraud or undeserving can lead to jeopardising your position. Or to back slapping encouragement that really you are OK and to pull yourself together when in fact you feel like a fragile glass ornament perched precariously on the edge of a steep precipice with wild winds whipping up all round and no shelter or comfort. Terrified, desperate and alone.

Ultimately, a person who commits suicide takes that action and it is their responsibility, but society as a whole needs to take a collective responsibility and to look at what it is that we do, say or expect that binds all of us.

Friday, 11 November 2011


Thinking about myself and my own family, this year is a poignant Remembrance Day. I feel our lives are bound up in the atrocities of World War I and the psychological aftermath on my grandfather which I wrote about in 2006. And then the effects on my mother which she in turn inflicted upon us and which I in turn have tried very hard not to inflict upon my children. Of my siblings, one is incredibly scarred and screwed-up and the other does a brilliant job of keeping all the hatches tightly bolted down. There is half-sibling with whom we sadly have no contact.

From 1917 when my grandfather was first gassed to 2011 when my mother died is ninety-four years. My grandfather had nine children of which the eldest committed suicide, the next died youngish in a road accident and the next is a recluse knowing he had to stay away from people though is quite charming when I visit him, and then the next is my mother, the eldest daughter. After my mother the rest of the siblings, although damaged, did not obviously inflict the level of pain and suffering on their children that my mother did. But then, by the time he had fathered the rest and they were still young, he was finally and forcibly evicted from the family home so the rest did not experience or really know the violence experienced by the elder siblings and were left with a loving mother.

This is not to say that everything is blamed on the aftermath of the war, but if someone has something like Aspergers, especially from way back then when it was not acknowledged, then the brutality my mother experienced and witnessed from her father was easier to replicate on us. What if she had been brought into a loving environment that cushioned and supported her, life could have been so very different. I would be someone completely different. I have said it before, I do not subscribe to the idea of giving thanks for my childhood making me into who I am. Such brutality and psychological traumas are barely able to be survived. Cue my elder sibling who amazingly is still alive despite a lifetime drowned in drugs to escape reality.

Yesterday I was asked by a friend how I am since my mother died a few months ago and I said how strange it feels. This person who was so omnipresent and such a character is suddenly not there. Nothing. Nada. Wiped out. Gone. It is puzzling as to why a person could ever have had such a hold. She hated Remembrance Day and condemned the going on about the past and these old fogeys dragged out each year. Yet there were years, as kids, we'd all be stood to attention at 7am in the cold greyness to get the "best" spot at the Cenotaph in London. I do not have fond memories to remember and I do not cry for her. Yet, it is Remembrance Day and I do feel an interconnection and strangely sad and tearful. More for what could have been than anything that actually was.

All those lives and families affected. In contrast, there is a lovely article on the BBC News website about the Thankful Villages.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Licking wounds?

Nah, not me, not this time. Yesterday was two weeks almost to the minute since I was ingloriously sacked that the postie arrived with a box of gorgeous printed postcards promoting my re-launched business. Within half an hour I was out on the streets popping them through letter boxes. A few hours later and with the help of the darling Mr Doris and my sis about 400 have been delivered. Another 600 to go out tomorrow. Oh the joy of action.

An incident slightly blurred the proceedings with a sticky letterbox. A dog on the other side snapped at my leather gloved fingers ripping the glove clean off my hand and leaving fingers stinging red for half an hour. There was no sign warning about dogs. Further down the road I chatted to a passing postie about it and she pointed out a house opposite where the mail refuse to deliver post any more because the dog there had ripped a postie's hand right off. I went off and delivered elsewhere. Those wounds I did lick for a while.

With the clocks jumping back it is a dark grey watery light outside. Goodness knows what it will be like when we have double summer time in place. What is time anyway ..... some arbitrary label that says it is 7 am or 10am. Hmm.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Frog Filosophy

Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off.
How many are left?
There are still five - because there's a difference between deciding and doing.

Five Frogs on a Log by Mark L Feldman and Michael F Spratt


I did it, I took that jump and although it didn't work out, at least I tried and in the end I have ended up on a different lily pad. In the process I learned just how many wonderful people there are in my life and am even more thankful and grateful. Onto my next jump which involves re-launching and adding a bigger ticket service. Oh yes. Rock on.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Waiting Game

The not knowing is very difficult and I am trying to hold tight and am keeping busy - once again the kitchen gets a good going over. So I sent off my carefully worded email which did not hold back on the strength of the situation. I received a quick reply that was conciliatory and a tad dismissive, wallpapering over the cracks in an attempt to move forward. I responded with some further moving forward thoughts and proposed actions whilst also clarifying a couple of details. Then this morning I was up since early putting together some bones of a business plan with a covering email with further moving forward proposals. That email I sent to both husband and wife. In reply from him was a curt appointment set for me with him on Monday morning. I no longer seem to have access to the server.

Least said, soonest mended so I am writing this here. I have already talked this over with valued and trusted people in my life but you know how it is, sometimes we feel the need to keep talking it through to make sense and I am finding it difficult to not think about it every moment. I do not want this job at all costs but there is no doubt this was an exciting project. Maybe it still is and maybe this is something to work through. It is the not knowing. And what a bitch of a thing to do to send such an email for someone to stew over for the weekend.

Friday, 14 October 2011


The dream job is rapidly looking like a rabid beast slathering menacingly at me as the only target in its sights. Or perhaps it is better to think of derailed analogies and we are skidding along off the rails knowing something is not right at all. And hey would you guess, I suddenly seem to have a psychotic woman in my life again. Oh joy.

Today I stopped the whole thing and got off. My boss has phoned and said she was wrong and I was right. She sent me a pacifying text, but this is not about who is right or wrong. There is something fundamentally wrong and for once in my life I know it is not due to my lack or to do with me not being good enough. It is also not her fault either. It is what it is and it needs looking at and either fixing, if only we knew which bits need fixing and then how to fix it, or calling the whole thing off. I'm still at the stage where I think it is worth trying to tackle it.

Having had my customary pre-sleep sleep on the sofa I am now awake in the early hours. It is quiet and still and I can sit and compose the right words in an email to her. There are some very interesting dynamics going on and I feel this project and I are somehow in the middle of some major stuff going on in her and her personal life. Others did warn me against getting involved in the job, almost for those unknown reasons. I'm trusting in the universe to help the words to flow now. Something in me feels sure and confident about that. However, the outcome is entirely in her court and we need a reality check as to where we all stand. For this project to be viable it needs to be big, otherwise it should be one of those self-start one-man-band projects that grows over time. Not something like this where another individual is being employed on a full time salary. I'm out of magic wands just now so the next few days will be interesting.

Oh yes, and did I actually mention for the record, that I opened the salon this week and did three trial  treatments? Highly successful treatments I might add, with the potential for retail sales and a confirmed second booking for which the client is wanting to pay? Odd that instead of this being a cause for celebration it has been completely undermined with her snapping at me that there will be no more free treatments after this week and that those I had arranged are all to be converted up to some serious retail sales. Bearing in mind that these are the usual test client situations one does in order to trial a new service. And that I had targeted people who would be excellent ambassadors for us. Cheaper and more effective than any Groupon promotion.

And did I also mention that the boss had turned round and told me today that she herself would be going on such and such a training and not me. I was gobsmacked and this pretty much shows something has gone majorly wrong that the person they have recruited with the skills and training and experience and who had been employed to be the lead therapist to develop, carry out and disseminate these new skills has suddenly been side-lined. It is not even about the training or me wanting to carry out this procedure. I am not insured to carry out the procedure if I have not been properly trained but she seems to think she wants to re-write what are already the lax laws of this country in the field of beauty therapy. No wonder she wastes so much time asking my opinion on this or that flim flam for the decoration in order to avoid the major details such as the training. Either I am going to make this work and and I am going to be empowered to do so, or I am gone.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Month One

Coming to the end of month one of my fabulous new job. It would safe to say I am so tired but thanks to the wonderful Mr Doris who cossets me and pads out all the edges of my life I don't have to worry about running a home or making meals and all those sort of things. If I had to I would probably be crashing into the ground with exhaustion.

Today I have the third day of an intensive three day course learning so much. Tomorrow I may return to painting our new head office and what was going to be our training salon but since a good change of fortune for my employers we'll be getting the snazzy new salon up and running in November. I'll not be doing any painting beyond this place as we'll get painters in the future. I was a tad over-optimistic saying this place was easy to paint - three small rooms - and offering to do it but I learn from experience.

The lovely BT have graciously brought their dates forward again to install phone and internet, having started off offering the next week and then shifting and shifting week by week so now I feel strangely grateful they are saying next Monday. Hmm.

I am very excited about non-surgical facelifts. A little procedure I learned about yesterday and had done on me and I did on someone else. It is logical and all about re-educating the muscles which for me, a good logic behind a procedure is always helpful. I am so underplaying how excited I am. After all, if I can lift someone's eyebrows after just a few moments of work - and they stay there and will stay like that for a couple of days, then this is very compelling. Whether a one-off for a special event, or as part of a series of treatments over a month and then maintenance monthly, I think this treatment rocks. The teacher demonstrated this procedure on one side of my face and my cheek was visibly perkier and my eyebrow also lifted. A little more work and my proto-jowl would also lift. It is not painful as such - apart from having a number of nervous students working at me and poking for ages that I was quite fed up. I wonder if anyone else will notice today that one side of my face is ever so slightly perkier than the other?

This weekend the good Mr Doris and I will be zooming off to an English hotel for a romantic weekend together. Booked weeks ago using the proceeds of our supermarket coupons who was to know this weekend is now scheduled to have such fine weather. There will be snuggling up and taking it easy with picnics in the sunshine. Glorious.

Saturday, 24 September 2011


   Six am




Monday, 12 September 2011


Since my mother died in May my life is beginning to read like a fantasy. Unbelievable and fantastical. In my last post I wrote about "the" amazing new job and my upcoming journey to Thailand. So I started my new job and then jetted off to Thailand with my dear friend and saw her through another painful and difficult set of operations that were ultimately very successful. It was a privilege to be there and to really help though it was exhausting. I returned looking forward to my new job and developing my own business.

Within a few days of arriving back my name had been put forward for another job and if I had thought the other job was amazing this one turns out to be stellar. A part of me was terrified thinking who am I to even think I could dare to do it. Wondering if it went pear-shaped it would be down to my incompetence. On the other hand, a part of me thought "why not me". That actually I could be great for this job. And I get to get a salary that would make a difference to our lives.

So I said "yes". And I am doing amazing. It is a new business with big plans for the future. I am to help set it up and get it running and once I (yes, me!) have staff in place (under me!) then to go help set up the next branch. And then the next branch after that. A simple salary for now, increasing a bit in January, a pension plan and a car next year ..... whose life is this?

Something in me has shifted. Something in me says yes, I can do it for me. Something in me is not so scared of being successful, of earning some money. Something in me knows she can do it - at least most of the time. I'm still a bit scared, though less scared than I have ever been. I speak up and speak confidently from within. It feels like me. It sounds like me. I'm not having to pretend.

Doris Day is on Channel 4 in the background and her 70s fashions are just gob-smackingly distracting that I am not sure I can follow my thoughts any more. In some scenes she looks like something off a knitting pattern and the rest are a document to the outrageous or appalling 70s. Such bright lemon yellows. And thick striped blusher like a third degree burn!

Talking of fashions, thanks to my local dress agency I have a whole new fabulous wardrobe worthy of my new job. It is a joy to open my wardrobe doors and decide what to wear that day. All at a snip. Pay day has not yet arrived and I am already feeling it and feeling good. The old poverty mentality seems to have melted away.

There is a lot of work. I am working very hard and also having to up some of my qualifications with some sharpish distance learning. Let no-one ever say this is easy, or I have had it easy. On the other hard there is a flow and it is flowing smoothly. Like a dream. I almost can not wait for the next episode of my own life.

Here's to sharing the love. And luck.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

New beginnings

That last post, written on that Saturday, reflected where I was at on my career front. It was upbeat and hopeful and positive. Within 24 hours of writing it - yes, on the Sunday - I received an email out of the blue offering me a part time job with benefits. The benefits were the training being offered and this training was what I was hoping to do after I completed another year at college. Thereby short-circuiting the year of college. The job offer was coming from the work placement I did a matter of weeks previously so I knew full well what the deal entailed and as I sat there during my work placement I had said to myself "I'd love to have a part time job like this" and then thought no more of it!

The negotiations have progressed and I do my first bit of training tomorrow. By September when I would have been starting college I'll already be a practitioner of IPL hair removal, thread vein and pigmentation removal. Building up the priceless experience. Then there is other training I will be doing which will involve electrical facials and could involve laser work. I'm especially wanted for my writing and grammar skills so will have a sideline in helping them with their marketing and newsletters. I love it when a job is so multi-faceted. Barely minimum wage mind you and that is how it is in this day and age. In this case the benefits make it worth so much. A whole new and perfect beginning that I could not have predicted when I wrote that last post.

In other news in my exciting life, I shall be off to Thailand on Tuesday for two weeks with one of my closest friends. To hold her hand during a very special time. It is an honour to be there for her during a time of new beginnings. I feel like a mother hen with my little one and want her to be safe and happy and for everything to go smoothly, which I am sure it will. I have no doubt she is in good hands and that she will cope better with the anaesthetics though I can not help also seeing myself in tears. Tears of happiness and joy and that feeling of wanting to burst with the enormity of it all. Oh yes, this is quite significant for me too and it is not even my life.

When I'm there I'm hoping to get a few massages done. Purely in the interests of research don't you know? Learn a few new moves whilst experiencing it myself. I fancy some leg and foot massage, head massage, back massage ..... just for starters. Maybe I can get some threading done too so I think I will save the few stray hairs in my brows for then. I've messed around with threading, learning it on Youtube, and I could do with experiencing it in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. The other thing is that I am going to travel light so I have room to buy some cool cotton clothes to use whilst I am there and to bring them home. The exchange rate is very curious and to our advantage. For example, a 90 minute intensive spa like full body massage is in the region of £14. I think back to the Thai women I have known who have left families behind and come to work in this country in order to send money back and I wondered how it was possible to earn enough to buy a property at home whilst still living in our expensive land and that is why. Money is on a completely different dimension out there. And so too, I would expect, is the poverty out there.

It will be a very interesting journey. The last time I was in this part of the world was when I lived in Singapore as a small child when my father was in the navy. Coincidently about the same time my friend was also in the area with her father who was in the army. We may have even been to the same Combined-Services swimming pool at the same time - we could have even played together as playmates. On Tuesday we travel out to Thailand together and I bet it will be fun at times too.

"But" count = 2 found and exterminated!

Saturday, 18 June 2011

That lovely feeling of confidence

This time in two weeks I will have completed my one year beauty course. I did it. Put in the time and the energy and on the verge of completing, even though I shall be up to the line with the required assessments. It has been a mostly fabulous experience: nearly fifty years old and going back into a college environment with all the students and most of the tutors much younger. We have been a great group which has bonded well, been enthusiastic and worked our butts off. There have, however, been times when it has been extremely tedious and I have seriously wondered the merits of why I am doing this and what are the gains. Especially when I am repeating over a year most of what I had learned on very short and sharp courses it has sometimes seemed a time occupier that has kept me away from developing my co-existing beauty business and actually earning a decent income.

Now that I have also passed the entrance exam and been offered a place on the next level beauty course I am questioning the merits of another year at college. With a timetable that occupies more of a week I wonder if the end qualification is worth the time and investment involved. The pros and cons have been looked at and darling Mr Doris has been helpful in the discussions. Son even offered up his thoughts on the matter and really embraced the idea of his mother asking for his opinions. In the midst of discussions, an unofficial offer of a small financial present that would cover the enrolment and kit fees, or even towards expenses already incurred, came through. Is this the universe saying, "do it"?

This time next year I'd be completing that course and one thing I know I will have, is that delicious feeling of confidence in myself and my profession. Something that has been missing for so long. I remember it in my early twenties when I was a bit of a chef or a caterer. I just knew my stuff and that was all there was to it. Not a cocky arrogance, just a lovely feeling. I also had it when I worked with children. After two years of study and apprenticeship followed by some years experience I had that feeling of confidence in myself. Ever since I seem to have felt on the edge, not quite in control nor ever feeling quite so confident in me. I've walked the walk and talked the talk and generally given others the feeling I am very confident whilst inside was scared and barely holding on at times.

Already, in my new profession, I am feeling stronger and more confident and can see that growing even more. Whilst I might question the viability of taking out another year at college, and keeping business development on hold, I can not underestimate the gains to be made for my inner sense of peace and confidence.

"But" count = 0 found and none exterminated!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Counselling Treasures

These are from yesterday's session and if I don't write them down I may be scratching my head trying to remember them and at this stage I think they are well worth remembering or giving a try. And in no particular order:

  • Time in itself is not the healer and you do need time. It is barely three weeks since the funeral and I seem to be expecting everything to be fixed and Rome to have been built, interior designed, decorated and fully functioning. Der!
  • Change the "but" to "and". The subject of "but" came up in terms of negating or undermining, and I reflected how I had recently noticed I used "but" far too often in my writings. It was suggested I just simply change the "but" to "and" and see what happens.
  • It takes four positives to counter-act each negative. I sort of knew that as an idea and not as a specific calculation and somehow that makes it workable. It accounts for so much now in the way I still find it hard to accept positives about myself because I am still in deficit. This gives me hope as I know the power balance WILL shift.
  • It is a jigsaw I am still trying to work out or make some sense and that is OK. The glorious picture show I have created (not yet mentioned here on the blog) is of the wonderful, perfect mother I wanted, and that we all want and there is nothing wrong in that. The picture show is like the finished picture on the jigsaw box and I have still to sort out the pieces. And that is OK too.
  • A person who had such a big impact in life will continue to have a big impact in death. At least for a while longer.
  • Perhaps the things that are failing in my life are because I shouldn't be doing them in that way. Instead of beating myself up about my failings, acknowledge it is just not the way for me. Modern life is so stressful and we think we must do it this way and maybe there are different ways that are better for each of us.

We still talked a great deal about death; how the mind and the body are considered differently when they are interrelated; and quite a bit more. It was a good hour and I am back again next week on a weekly cycle for the moment.

"But" count = 3 found and exterminated!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Middle of the night

It is nearly four weeks later and I am not sure what I was thinking before but things sure are not whatever I thought they might be. I thought the holiday would create a brilliant curtain through which I walk from my old life into this brave new world. That all that was wrong would suddenly be right but hey, that has not exactly happened. The holiday was great, and just what the doctor ordered and am so glad we did it, but it didn't entirely provide that doorway. I have been up and down and in and out of some sort of stupor. Some parts of my life are getting back on track but other parts just lay around. From inside my body I look out and just look. Some things like answering the phone to clients are vital to any sort of a business but I just don't and I wonder why.

It is the middle of the night and I can not sleep so I have made camomile tea and sit here writing. I am about to dig out some of my writings about my childhood. All those things bounce around and seem to need some further processing. Some sort of attention. I am not crying but I am shocked and amazed and can not quite figure it all out in relation to the daughter I have been these past couple of years caring for my mother and looking out for her.

The night before last there was an episode of CSI Miami that had me pinned to my seat hardly daring to breathe. It was the case of the murder of the soccer mom who it turned out was abusive to her children in private. Her husband was complicit in the silence and web of lies to cope with her behaviour. The writer pressed buttons I had forgotten I had. One of the characters said she had an abuse test where she would go to brush a bit of fluff off a child's shoulder and if the child flinched she knew there was abuse. I am not sure what age I was before I stopped ducking but it did get a bit embarrassing when as a young independent adult no longer living at home that I still did it. All the way through the programme, the CSIs showed their disapproval of this deceased mother's behaviour and yet they showed only a mere fraction of what went on in our household. It once again struck me the night before last that I was abused as a child. And I suppose I can not reconcile that with now.

Tomorrow, or later today, I have a second session of counselling and then later a well woman check up. I think it a good idea in the light of my mother's illness that it is recorded on my notes that she did die and what from. I think I am in shock but I don't know why. I didn't expect this.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A new era

Yesterday - Saturday - my mother died. Her body closed down bit by bit and when she finally went, after a false alarm over twelve hours before, it was peaceful. I was not with her when she went but had been with her the entire first night in the hospice and during the false alarm. My brave and wonderful daughter stayed with me throughout it all and has been a rock.

It is a curious and strange time. Adjusting. Reflecting. Thinking and coping. I feel stronger and maturer than ever before. I have had moments of complete tears crying for the wasted times and the good emotions that could have been. But I have not cried since she died and wonder about that. The song "All cried out" comes to mind.

The funeral is this Wednesday and I am looking at going on holiday as soon as possible afterwards with my darling Mr Doris. As a sort of physical recovery time and a curtain between my old life and the new life to come.

More words and reflections will be forthcoming in due course.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The obvious

A person is laying there pretty much comatose, now no longer eating whilst drinking just a little. The diagnosis of the advanced spread of secondary bone disease has been given and yet I still ask if there is any chance of her rallying. Could her symptoms be down to just the medication suppressing her. I half expect her to get up from her bed angry there are all these nursing people in and out the house and start ordering for the place to be cleaned up. It is actually pretty good, my dad has done a good domestic job for the last few years, but old habits die hard. And as I write that saying I wonder if many habits may die now. Maybe I can let go of my negative self-imploding habits.

Today she is to be moved to a hospice "if she is well enough". Apparently it is a possibility that she is actually not well enough to be moved and could die on the way to the hospice on the next street. The ambulance people could refuse to move her! And then it will be just a matter of hours.

Can this be really happening?

The grandchildren have been to say their goodbyes. My daughter has decided to stay and be here. She has been amazing in so many ways considering what we are going through.

Words now seem a bit superficial.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Searing pain

Since the early hours of Tuesday morning she is now on the happy meds and stronger morphine. She has stopped fighting my dad. Mostly sleeps. And keeps saying "thank you" in a servile way, which was always a contradiction within her that would come out at times. Tomorrow, a bed may become available at the local hospice.

Monday night was possibly the worst with her screams of pain, and saying she wanted to throw herself on the floor and die. I looked at the pillows and wondered if there was anything I could do. At times she would hold my sister's and my hand, gripping tightly through the spasms of pain. She said this was worse than childbirth. And then she could not bear to be touched - anywhere. What do you say? It is going to get better? Soothing nothingness words are hard to find especially when my mother does not put up with any patronising. The nurses finally arrived with their hypodermics and arranged for a syringe driver to be fitted up at midnight so that it could automatically dispense pain relief and happy meds.

According to a district nurse, the difference in her between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning makes her wonder if the cancer has gone to the brain. Last night we began bringing the grandchildren to see her and maybe say their goodbyes. My 21 year old daughter arrived late last night to visit today and my 17 year old son later today.

My life had been put on hold with clients being postponed or cancelled and no new enquiries being taken. Yesterday evening I was expecting a call from someone about after life arrangements and instead picked up the phone on a potential new client. I was obviously distressed but tried to not let her feel bad on intruding. Poor thing. I bet she will remember that call!

Yesterday was emotionally the worst for me. And I continue to feel raw. Is there ever a straightforward death with emotions that express sadness for the person passing? I do not think I am crying for her and I think that is sad. So sad. Meanwhile, we would not let a four legged animal endure that level of pain.

Yesterday my father gave me the name of an obscure book he wanted to obtain for my mother. Something about science and healing and the scriptures. I look at this slip of paper in disbelief trying to work out the purpose of this book for someone who was at the last days of life and was out of it. I delicately probed. He told me it was for her to carry on her journey. Stupidly I couldn't quite get my head around any journey my mother might be taking and wondered to myself if he had gone mad or something. Thinking of hot holidays in Tenerife. He matter of factly told me it was for her to hold in the coffin. I think I missed a breath and had to hold myself from doubling up from the emotion of it all. Service resumed within seconds. That possibly began my very bad day yesterday. I sobbed and sobbed all the way home later that day. But I am not crying for my mother and do not know why I am crying.

As for the book, I texted the details to my darling Mr Doris and within minutes he had located a good copy, purchased it and it is in the first class post. My dad was really delighted.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Dying is hard to do

We didn't think my mother would last until Christmas but she did. And to each family event since. Not that we knew it but she's been living with a falling blood count, it went down to a fraction off 5 just a few weeks ago and after a transfusion that went some way to immediately relieving pain and her struggle to move. That honeymoon lasted all of a day or two and the pain returned. This is the psychotic, aspergers mother who refuses to have anything to do with the medical profession or any proper pain relief. Such that me, her sane-ish and non-drug using daughter has procured weed and made her weed cakes to help with the pain. That only worked for one night.

The latest news from the one specialist she will have anything to do with is that the secondaries have spread significantly to her neck and spine. He spoke in hushed tones to me on the phone - I was the one that then had to relay this news to her - with regret about how no operations could be done on those bones and we could only make her comfortable. He was going to write to the GP she never uses and also the local hospice. He had previously arranged a Macmillan nurse for her which up until now she had refused to have owt to do with her. Coincidentally, the same day that news came through I had forced my mother's hand and begun to organise an appointment with the Mac nurse. At this time my mother felt she had some other condition entirely which was responsible for her symptoms and not the diagnosed one of cancer and bone secondaries. I suggested to my mum that she accept pain relief even though she might think differently about what the diagnosis might be. And I also broke the news to her that although her chosen diagnosis might have those symptoms so do the symptoms of bone secondaries.

The Mac nurse was brilliant and pitched it just right with my mother. I had previously spoken to her about my mother's singular ways which I am sure must have helped but I suspect this nurse was just brilliant anyway and used to dealing with people at this stage. All that was discussed at the first meeting was pain relief and some technical details regarding benefits my parents had not been claiming. It was all in the tone of getting my mother more comfortable and and back in action rather than comfortable to die.

My dad insists on having my mother at home for as long as possible and doing what he can. The thing is, he continues to be the poster boy for the abused husband. For some months now she has remained on her sofa only making sorties to the toilet and the rare visit out to us. Screaming that this or that has not been done right. She has a mobile phone on her and calls dad in the kitchen on his to demand this or that. He has no imagination for cooking or anything much, which is no surprise, and therefore his food is pretty dull and uninteresting or just plain wrong. So she is eating less. And then blames him with no reference at all to her condition because of course she doesn't have cancer or secondaries.

Last week the Mac nurse prescribed morphine. I was with them for that appointment and I left my parents in a good mood at home waiting for the prescription to come through later that day. In a very few hours I had the first of the really hysterical phone calls from my mother on my work mobile. Incoherent but simultaneously screaming at my father. In the background I can hear my father wailing and saying he has had enough. On an important afternoon I drop everything and drive back over to them and find the diplomacy to calm things down - dad is sent off early to get the prescription (or just wait for it) and I sit with mum trying to find soothing words, listening to the diatribe coming out of her mouth, and then making her the fastest most delicious chicken soup in the history of the universe. By the time dad is back with the morphine she has eaten a little and calmed a lot. The morphine liquid is wonderful. A second dose an hour later and then she is sleeping calmly for the next eight hours.

For the past week or so I have been going every single day to see my parents and to give my dad some respite. Easter has been very useful. Since that episode though, there have been a further two hysterical phone calls - the last one late last night. No, she doesn't want me to drive over, she just wants me to tell dad to co-operate with her and to be kind and yet does not give the phone over to him. My direct number has become a crutch over which she can still, at times, spit out her words with such daggers that they come flying through the ether. It distresses me and yet I feel I have to help.

At other times, she lays there propped up on her sofa, physically crumbling into herself going over inane stuff again and again. Telling me how good her strategies are with setting out her cups and bottles on her "bedside" table. She is meticulous to the nth degree with things having to be just so and woe-betide if it isn't. That old chestnut of her wanting things in one way and then suddenly out of the blue it is now another way it should be done. My dad clearly does not listen to what my mother is actually saying which does not help, but I find I am increasingly unable to hear what she is saying too.

And still, there is no mention of dying. In fact the opposite and you can feel that vibe in her - that strong will to live even though she gives lip service to saying she is not afraid to die. We have not been given a time and in some ways I quite agree with that. In other ways I find my life is on such hold as she becomes the focus with the fear that maybe she isn't really going to die any time soon, or indeed ever!, and she has finally ensnared me into her egotistical web of making her the focus of the world.

Coincidentally at this time, my brother has been getting help from a psychiatrist who could not believe the stories of our childhood and wanted to check with me. My brother is a pathological liar so once I had stripped away the heroic and exciting stuff, as I told the psychiatrist, that the truth is actually far worse. And then I asked her had my brother told her about the way he used to beat me up and no he hadn't but that there was stuff he was not proud of and did not want to talk about. So I coolly told her that I was not just getting it from my mother but also from him too. Those wounds of my youth ripping open once again.

News of contact with this psychiatrist finally blows my sister apart after some week or so of mulling it over, so angry our brother has continued to impinge upon my life. Even though I was more than happy to help and would prefer to have helped than not. And finally my sister now speaks about our awful childhood and her experiences afraid that if she goes much further the cork will pop and never go back on the bottle again. The addictive drug of choice for her throughout her life has been work and a stiff upper lip. And suddenly she is stopped. Apologising to me that she has not been able to help out more with our parents at this time. Me being the big older sister and actually feeling bold and brave and together I am taking charge. Some days I am OK and some days I am not though I still keep doing for my mother. It might only be a couple of hours out of the day but each time it wipes me out for the entire day. Emotionally and mentally. The self-destruct button in me is eating lots of sugary foods and alcohol - that is my current addiction. In due course I will sort that out again and luckily my weight has not ballooned too much and I've escaped from the migraines. Darling Mr Doris continues to be amazing and supportive.

On the practical front, I've been visiting possible green burial sites and sorting out potential details for my mother's last wishes which she had talked about a lot up until she became really poorly. I've found the most amazing and beautiful place that I think my dad and sister would agree to too. A place where I think I would visit and sit with the wide open sky above; the birds tweeting in the trees and the farmlands rolling in the distance. I could see relatives coming to visit there, reflecting on our lives that have been so impacted by my mother's presence. I do not know if I will be crying for her or for me. I can see her cardboard coffin in the grave and I am horrified at the thought.

For now I am her strongest advocate for living and making the most of what there is of life. She clearly has no intention of letting go, even as she screams with pain at the slightest movement.