Given the circumstances.

Yet again its hard to believe another Christmas is upon us, over the years I have come to accept the fact that as I get older, then so the years appear to go faster. This year has been no exception, the year has fled by, which in some ways is good and in other ways not so good.

Each Christmas time and New Year I take time out to reflect on the year past and the year ahead. This year is no exception. It has certainly been a very mixed one for me, one of personal achievements, some enjoyment, new challenges and one of sadness and sorrow.

Just one year ago this week I was breathing a huge sigh of relief at the fact that although my dad had a major health scare, twice in the space of a little over a week, he was still alive and able to enjoy his Christmas with us all. What none of us realized at that time was the fact it would be his last one. looking back at 12 months ago it was all very scary.

As 2016 unfolded and I started to make plans for the year ahead, I knew it was going to be an uncertain year, more so on the job situation than anything. Not knowing if the lady whose job I was covering was going to come back or not. Only one thing was certain I knew I had another 8 solid months of commitment to my job, one that I loved doing. How many people today can honestly say they love their job I wonder. I  had made some incredible new friendships with the team I had been working with, and we still stay in touch and meet up for a meal and a chat every few weeks.

I was looking forward to a holiday, and actually ended up having two different breaks… a week up in Scotland in August as well as a much-needed long weekend break down in South Devon in early July visiting Paignton, Plymouth & Dartmouth. Then in September I started my all new important permanent job….only to find 5 weeks down the line that I am going to be made redundant in the coming April/May. Having to have more surgery, to sort out the first lot that didn’t work

In the February I was diagnosed with diabetes, which has meant some big life changes over the past few months, but the one really good thing that has come out of this is that it has encouraged me to take a lot more regular walking exercise. As  I love to go out and explore nature, and do some photography, it has encouraged me to visit new places and get much more exercise.

Earlier in the year I drew up a ‘bucket list’ I have had the opportunity of going out and doing different new things, for instance for the first time I have been able to go to Charlecote Hall & Park to see fallow deer and shoot them close up (with a camera that is!) In October I finally got to go to see London Zoo, in July the Monkey Forest nr Stoke On Trent, in October, Warwick Castle where I got to see close up an amazing birds of prey display. Early November I achieved a long time ambition of mine to take an Alpaca for a walk, also in November I got to go to the West Midlands Safari Park and a little over two weeks ago I saw the most amazing colourful display of lanterns at Longleat House and Safari Park. In August I managed to finally make the trip to Liverpool to meet up with a very dear friend.

Overall it has been a very mixed and eventful year, and despite the turmoil in my life it has been a year that I have manged to cope with and stay pretty well on top of and come through the other end of it. I’m not going to kid myself or anyone else for that matter, but the combination of the right medication, positive thinking, photography, keeping busy with the new job and an incredible group of family and close friends is what has kept me going.

This season however doesn’t have the same feeling for me. Like many others they too have lost family and friends throughout the year, and it has felt very strange that as we approach Christmas day I have had to come to terms with the fact that my Dad won’t be with us this time or ever again to celebrate Christmas.

Because of my Dads failing eyesight the last couple of years, it meant my sister-in-law and myself would sit and write Dads cards for him. This year however I have found it an almost impossible task for me to sit down and write my own cards to family and friends. this past couple of weeks or so it has hit me more harder than ever and I have found myself having a little cry every time I think about how much I miss him, and how much I will miss him not being around at Christmas for the first time ever in my life.

My Dad was always very much a man of tradition when it came to Christmas, and this is something I have always embraced, he always used to look forward to his Christmas lunch, he had to have the turkey leg on his plate with the usual mix of sprouts, carrots and roast potatoes and always lemon & thyme stuffing, a pint of bitter and then Christmas pudding and custard to finish (in the old days every year my mom used to make her own for all the family, from scratch and my dad brother and I used to have a hand in the preparation and mixing of the puds) At 3.00 pm we were always ready to sit down to watch the Queens speech and then later on a cup of tea and mince pie.

Every year since I can remember, Dad  always bought himself, my sister-in-law and me a Poinsettia plant for Christmas. Usually after a couple of months they would shrivel up and die, that’s just the way it is with this type of plant.  Dad always had the knack on how to keep his going for several months. When he passed a way earlier this year, his Poinsettia from last Christmas was still sitting on his kitchen windowsill. I decide to take it home with me, not really expecting it to last very long. Dad had given me a tip earlier in the year as to how to best water it, every few days put some warm water, never cold water, at the bottom of the plant pot and sit the plant in it. The plant is thriving, and it is a year old this week, although it doesn’t have the usual big red leaves, it is full of healthy green ones, I’m sure Dad has been helping me to keep an eye on it these past few months.

 

 

 

 

The year ahead will be another very challenging one for me, come the spring I will have to start the process all over again of looking for another new job. So much uncertainty ahead. Hopefully the chance to go and explore new places and do lots more photography. Health and finances permitting, I am already planning my holiday for next Sept. One of my main ambitions for over 20 years is that I have wanted to go on cruise to see the Norwegian Fjords. I have heard of so many people say what a beautiful and unique experience it was for them, and this is something I feel will be absolutely spectacular to photograph.

At the moment in my thoughts it’s all about trying to remain positive for the year ahead, and getting though my first Christmas without my Dad……and as the poem says, For I know that in my heart you’re here.

 

To all my family, friends and readers I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year ahead.

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Felt by my heart.

The past month has been really tough. In the space of a little over one week my father had gone from sitting with us at his bungalow merrily chatting away to each other about steam trains, birds & animals, his national service days and family and one of his favourite TV shows. We had even been making plans with my brother and sister-in-law to take him to Weston Super Mare for a day trip in June, and then in September to The Severn Valley to see the Flying Scotsman whilst it was on tour and stationed on display there, something we were all very much looking forward to. We were having our usual conversations that we have on a Sunday morning gathering, or on the phone of an evening, and then suddenly a week later my dad was gone.

Although it has been in my eyes more noticeable about how much frailer my dad had become over the last 6 months I had never thought we would lose him. It just seems that you feel that your parents have always been there for you in the past and I suppose you feel a sense that they will always be there for you for ever.  I can remember when I was a child I always though mom & dad will ALWAYS be here for me, they would never leave. As I got older and began to see the truth and the ‘negative’ side of life and existence I then realised my dream of them being alive and with me  for ever and a day was just so unreal. Life can be so cruel.

Part of my depression which started just a little over 15 years ago was caused by a really bad year prior to my moms death on 29th April 2001. I had been very unwell physically after having to deal with 2 lots of serious surgery, and then depressed for several months before hand, without really realising it, but as they say the straw that broke the camels back was when I had to face my moms death, and then a few weeks later I had to face major life saving and life changing surgery, and for the first time ever my mom was not there for me anymore, at least not in the real physical sense. Fortunately, my dad was there for me and has been there for me ever since.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Shortly after my mom passed away, I can remember thinking to myself I never want to go through all that again, I hoped and prayed I never would have to. The decision to stop all medication, agree to a DNR and no further intervention was something  my dad, myself, my brother and sister-in-law had to mutually agree to. All moms organs were failing, and to agree to resuscitate her was pointless. We had to agree the same reasoning  for the same nightmare with my dad. I know deep down the horror of all of this will never go away, and having to make that decision again brought back so many bad memories. Despite of all this, over the past couple of weeks it has been good to talk to family, friends and work colleagues about the good times, the good memories and some of the wonderful times we have shared over the years with both my parents.

After Dads funeral service, as we all came out of the church into the area where all the flowers were laid, people came up to us, family members as well as friends of the family, dads club friends, old friends and  neighbours  from many years ago when my brother and I were still kids,  My sister in-laws, sister and her husband  came up to me, we hugged as normal and then Mick said it all in one simple sentence which truly summed up my dad, he said  ”your dad was a really good man, a really great bloke, a proper gentleman”. And I knew how true this was. The same thing has been said by my family members as well as dads bungalow club friends and his neighbours.

Dad has never been a drinker, only on social occasions or the occasional can of stout or bitter at home. He gave up smoking in 1981/82. He never gambled, just the usual couple of quid on the Grand National each year. Over the last 12 or so years he enjoyed his games of bingo, which for him was more a case of having a bit of a social life with his friends and was a way of maintaining his level of independence. When mom passed away, despite the rest of the family being there for him it had left a huge emptiness in his life.  Being part of the ‘bungalow club’ helped him in some ways to rebuild his life without mom.  It  gave him the chance to take some holidays to Weston Super Mare and Weymouth, as well as odd days out for coach trips or meals out with friends from the club. It was his social life outside the family, but first and foremost he was a family man and with that he was a true gentleman.

I have so many wonderful memories of the times spent with my dad. His passion for coarse fishing was passed on to me and my brother. I can still remember the first time I went fishing with dad and the first fish I caught. I don’t know who was more excited,,,,dad or me. Another great passion was his gardening which I have continued to learn from him over the years, and still love doing when I get the chance (although I have to admit the last 16 months have been difficult to maintain it as I have been unable to do the work physically due to recovering from 3 lots of surgery in that time) I only have a small garden area in the yard behind my flat, but have learnt how to get the best from it thanks to my dads knowledge and expertise. There is a certain satisfaction in growing your own runner beans, tomatoes, rhubarb as well as growing several Fuschias from my own cuttings and nurturing 3 or 4 roses.

My knowledge and love of birds, animals, butterflies, fishing, gardening and the countryside have all been down to my dad. Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s dad rented 2 allotments from the local council. Each weekend and in the school holidays my brother and I used to go there with him a lot. The allotments were adjacent to one of our local parks called Jubilee Park, and each time we went down there we always used to have a game of football or cricket in the field before starting to work on the allotment…just the three of us. Then we would cross over the little brook, and see who could get across without getting their feet wet…..being the smallest and youngest I always lost, but as I got a little older, I also got a little wiser and started  taking  my pair of wellies with me 🙂

I can still see dad now in my mind, at the height of each summer season when it was time to reap the benefits of his hard all year round work, pushing his wheelbarrow from home to the park…empty, and then filling it up with sacks of home-grown potatoes, onions, runner beans, carrots, broad beans, garden peas and beetroot.  Bunches of Sweet Williams and Chrysanthemums for mom as well as containers full of homegrown blackberries and raspberries ready for the pies and jam making.  But there was nothing better than eating a few fresh peas, broad beans or berries straight from the garden. At the bottom of the allotment he dug out a small pond and each year we used to watch the frog spawn waiting for them to become tadpoles, then frogs.

As dad got older, then so his health began to give him problems. Late in the 1980’s due to severe arthritis in his ankles and feet he had to give up first one and then the other allotment. But by then my brother and I were both growing up and those days of kicking a ball around down the park with dad had gone. Dad was now content to grow what he wanted to in the garden and greenhouse at home.

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I became a Special Constable, and despite mom and dad being very proud of me for becoming one, I was always their little girl and I know how difficult it was for them to see me go out on a late night/early morning shift knowing I was on duty at the pubs & clubs emptying times, where even back then there was always an element of danger involved, and always the fear of being assaulted or hurt on duty. Ever the worrying, caring parents.

It’s always important to hold on to all those good memories, and they have helped me get through these past couple of weeks. I have been happy to share my memories with family and friends. I am so going to miss our little chats, and showing dad my photo’s of my latest find in the nature reserve, his stories of the days in national service, his childhood in Knowle, his grandma who bought him up, but I am so glad he has told me so many stories from his past. My father touched my heart like not other person could, and for that I am truly grateful.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt by the heart. Helen Keller

 

The week from hell!!

It’s so true in the saying that we all have our week from hell. I think mine has been during this past week  or so.

Following on from my last blog about my cousin Janice, tomorrow  (5th November) we will be paying our respects and saying our final farewells to her at the funeral, but hopefully later in the day going over some wonderful memories as we shall also be celebrating her life. It is never easy to accept the death of a very dearly loved family member or close friend, but somehow we do learn to cope and  get on with our lives. It is way difficult for some than others. I know that tomorrow for many family and friends it is going to be a very difficult and emotional day.

Having heard that particular news about my Cousins death the other week, our family have been hit with another huge blow. On Thursday of last week we received  the news out of the blue that my Mom’s only remaining sister Aunty Ethel (or Aunty Titch as she has been affectionately called by family for many years) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. There are only three options available to treat my aunt and her life threatening illness, and one of those is unquestionably not an option, however at the tender age of 86 and suffering heart problems, we have to grasp at that little thing called hope and try to remain positive and hope that she comes through this with the removal of the tumor and two weeks of intensive radiography treatment.  And yet the strange thing is, over a number of years, I have noticed as a general rule, when we go through this type of situation, we tend to have more hope for others than for ourselves if we were facing the same problem. I wonder why that is the case? I wonder what it is with that element of humanity that we feel that way?

Having been somewhat under the weather myself last week, and especially so throughout the latter part of the week and weekend, on Sunday morning I found myself wondering whether I should or should not attend my local A&E dept, hoping they could discover why and put a stop to some very heavy rectal bleeding which had been going on for about 3 days and nights  on and off. I decided that with modern medical technology the way it is, there would be a simple answer and a simple solution, deal with it and be able to send me happily on my way back home….job done.

On reporting the A&E reception, explaining my problem and being seen within 30 mins, I found myself being sent by ambulance from my local Solihull A&E over to the Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham as an emergency admission, on route my BP fell uncomfortably low enough for the ambulance  team  to have to stop the ambulance in order to monitor me and administer IV fluids and oxygen and get my BP back up and of course the good old-fashioned raised legs posture works very effectively for blood loss and shock.  I do remember very suddenly my eyes went very blurred and I couldn’t focus and felt like I was going to pass out,  I have to say the whole experience has been very frightening.

I was duly seen  by the ward doctor shortly after my arrival there, who did his initial assessment, examination on the ward where a bed had already been booked for me, but I then had to wait to see the Consultant Surgeon on call who was already in theatre doing emergency surgery, before a decision could be made as to whether I would need to be operated on to discover the cause and site of the bleed and put a stop to it.  Or whether they would do a camera investigation, the first instance was to see if the bleeding would settle on its own.  As a result of the uncertainty I was not allowed to eat or drink anything until very late Sunday night….. a roast beef salad sandwich at 11.30 at night. Over 24 hours without food or water, despite what people say about hospital food…. it was the best sandwich I had tasted in ages.

Fortunately I was able to avoid emergency surgery , but I was kept in for 2 days and overnight until the bleeding had decided to stop of its own accord  Sunday night.  Further investigation, blood tests, poking and prodding believes at this stage  to be a nasty little polyp in the bowel, but since the bleeding had stopped they did not want to disturb me any more and start the bleeding off again by putting a long tube and camera inside me. Although my hemoglobin level was very slightly low it was within normal acceptable range, and come Monday another test also showed a very slight dip but still within a safe range. I was finally released home Monday night, pending further investigations via an outpatients appointment in the coming weeks via a Sygmoidoscopy procedure.  However I have been given instruction if it happens again before going in for the camera test, I have been told to call an ambulance or get myself straight back to A&E.

Just when you think things can’t get any worse, I returned to work today only to find termination of my contract waiting for me for the Friday of this week rather than 25th  November. Now that the lady whose job I was covering has returned almost 2 weeks, I am now surplus to requirements. So come next Monday, yet again I will be going through all the turmoil of trying to find another new job. There are two more temporary contracts at the place I do currently work, one which I have applied for and am waiting for an interview date, and one which I will be applying for when it becomes advertised, and my manager who knows both of the dept managers/team leaders has promised me a glowing reference.

I think I can say in all honesty his has been my week from hell….and I can only hope it does get better.

It is when you get weeks like this it is so vitally important to try and remain positive and focused. And I do have to question myself, just how much can any individual take in such a sport space of time? And despite all the various emotions I have been experiencing over this past week, I do think I have learned to ‘deal’ with it better than I thought I ever could. So there is a lot to be said for thinking positive, and trying to remain that way.

 

Thanks for stopping by.

Sweet smell of success!!!

As you may remember in my last post I was saying that I love this time of the year,  a fresh start and a new beginning…….and so it has come to pass.

Having had a much-needed and deserved break these past couple of months, following my redundancy last December, I have this week managed to land myself a new job….so for me personally this has been that all new fresh start and new beginning.

I have to be completely honest, there have been times over these past few months  ( in fact over a number of years) I have doubted myself about my ability to find a new job. But it seems the only thing holding me back was me!  Lacking self-confidence is a very strange thing.  Many of my family, friends, old work colleagues and even my GP had more confidence in me and my abilities than I had in myself. Knowing for over two long years I was going to lose my job only fuelled my depressive state, lacking that very important level of confidence I needed in myself, and then taking my early release in December and not having a new job to walk straight into added even more worry and self doubts about myself. Having said all that,  I don’t for one single minute regret  my decision to go for early release, having that all important breather from the stress it was putting me under, has enabled me to enjoy my life, see things a little differently these last 3 months. This time off gave me a chance to really think about what I wanted to do with my future, make some very important decisions, it gave me the chance to spend time with my friends and pursuing my hobbies…….and in between those times I continued fervently to find that all important new job.

Now I want to share some wonderful news with you all, this is something I rarely have the opportunity to do, but at the moment I want to share the sweet smell of success with all my followers. As of this week I was offered and accepted a new job, initially it was for 3 months as a temp, then a chance of becoming permanent. However on leaving the office tonight I was approached by my new manager who has asked me how I have felt about the last couple of days, which I have to say in all honesty has been so enjoyable in my new role in administration, and an absolutely smashing bunch of people I am working with who have made me feel very welcome, ( and we all enjoy the same type of music…which is an added bonus when you have the radio on in the dept and you feel at ease with the great flow of music and the music is from an era where you can actually understand the lyrics and all sing along!!)  Overall although it’s only been a couple of days, it has all ”felt right” it’s as though this was meant to be,  but imagine my surprise this evening when I was offered the job permanently effective immediately if I wanted it, rather than wait three months down the line. Of course…..I said yes.

What can I say, but at the moment life feels good, and all this in a year where the number 13 keeps popping up, it may be unlucky for some, but so far this year 2013 has been a good year, oh and today was 13th March….the day I was offered a new contract.  All these positive changes  have made a big difference, once I have given myself a little bit of time to settle in and get back into a routine, I feel that the next right step forward for me will be to talk to my GP about reducing my medication steadily over the coming months…..because for the first time in a very long time, I do feel my life is heading in the right direction.

And so another new chapter in my life begins, a new and exciting one. Cheers everyone.

Many thanks for stopping by.