Into October we go – celebrations and shocks

September brought some great sunny days and included birthday celebrations and some shocking news. We had a fun filled day at Oxwich celebrating my youngest grandson’s third birthday. Seeing him play with two of his cousins and watching my sons together was just heartwarming. Paddling in the sea was a special delight. They have a capacity to transfer their joy at jumping waves which is like a medicine for me. The shock came when my American penpal of 56 years told me her cancer was worse and she has been given just two months to live. How do you deal with that news? It has naturally put my thoughts back to death. I’m still grieving for mum and continually feeling sad. But this is not about me. My dear friend will soon not be here and it feels so unfair for her and her wonderful daughter. Yesterday I walked on the beach that she walked on when she was here for her first visit in 2019 and she came into my thoughts. I was making a list in my head about what I needed to do including a new will and get myself financially organised. I just felt l wanted to talk to her. I was watching the calm sea and the greyness and a blue streak on the horizon. There were two paddle boarders on the sea and they both had a dog with them on the board! They looked so calm. On my return to my little beach chalet I just looked at the time difference and went for it. She answered straight away. It was so wonderful. I’m sure I spoke too quickly and rambled, but we just chatted as if she was close by. I even spoke to her daughter. Take a chance and do what you feel is right. So I’m emotional thinking about it. Now I have to plan a visit although flying so far in these Covid times fills me with dread.

Watching the rain falling August 2021

The rain is gently floating down here in Oxwich. I’m contemplating a walk on the beach soon no matter what the weather is like. Feeling a huge gap in my life after a wonderful family day yesterday with my grandkids. How strange as I should be feeling uplifted and blessed. They are all so full of energy and delight. I usually enjoy being here by the beach. I’m also in the aftermath of a nasty unexpected encounter on WhatsApp that has left me battered and bruised. I’m trying to minimise its impact and be mature so that’s why I’m probably going to have a walk in the rain soon and watch the sea.

Sunflowers at Rhossilli August 2021

Had an amazing day on Saturday wandering through a field of sunflowers with my grandson. He disappeared as the flowers were above his height. The views across to Worm’s Head on the Gower Peninsula were magical even in the strong winds. The Gruffalo trail was fun. It was an uplifting simple afternoon. And we brought home sunflower seeds and a huge sunflower. ( And huge smiles)

Ruby wedding anniversary 1st August 2021

For better or worse……

Concentrating on the better is the only way forward. I had a quiet day in Oxwich with my son, grandson and husband. I didn’t want a big celebration that would have been hypocritical. My emotions are mixed. I have looked back to that special day remembering my delight at lots of moments. In particular the happiness of mum and dad, gran and grandad, the lovely church in Bilsborrow where they are all buried now. We decorated the church with blue hydrangeas from our garden. The choir lined up for me and dad to enter the church. It was a magical day for me. Truly magical. I am still finding it hard to rise above my sadness. Some days are better than others, but I’m trying to learn to live with it rather than get consumed by it. I have a future.

July heat and emotional rollercoaster

As I sit at the side of the house in Brecon in 30+ degrees in the shade in the middle of “an extreme heat” event, I am recovering from a horrid dose of norovirus. I will spare you the details. This month brings Mum’s 94th birthday rolling in with amazing memories of celebrating her birthdays particularly since she was 80 as well as the blackness of the space she’s left in me. I’ve been down at Oxwich every weekend since Easter slowly healing and giving myself the space to do that. I visited Cardiff on the way home each week to see my gorgeous grandkids and daughter in law. Keeping on with my weekly stints being a Samaritan listener has given me a strength nothing else can give me in my life. So many complicated lives to share and care about. Looking after Monty continues my joy with the added weekly swim/ splash now fully in place. Nothing like a special treat box to keep a two year old still in the changing room! His imaginative play has grown again. It goes into realms I can only guess at. Quite inspiring. Then as I finally get the completed bill from the solicitor ( that’s 1 year and 5 and a half months) I go into a tailspin. The expenses are ridiculous and so high it took my breath away. But absolutely everyone in the family has told me to walk away from it all for my sake. One hundred per cent the same advice from them and my best friend. It is unheard of them to be in unison! On anything! So I must do that. My first instinct was to fight for every penny of Mum’s money for her and dad’s sake. They had worked so hard for this. It was their gift to me and Laury. But I had a long reflection in Oxwich and decided to take everyone’s advice. It will always be their money in trust to me ready for my kids. Then my thoughts turned naturally to what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I feel as if I’ve been either drowning or at best treading water since mum died. This can’t go on. It’s making me ill. No peace. Almost 18 months. My thoughts went downhill again regarding my personal relationship. One late night phone call later and unbelievably some progress about the past happened. But it was extremely painful and the edge was not a pleasant place to teeter on. It could have gone either way. Everything had come to a sharp point. I can analyse why easily, but that’s irrelevant. There’s the beginning of a path cleared so we’ll see where it leads.

April passes, May begins, 2021 rolls on

April was lovely as I could spend my weekends in my little chalet in Oxwich and my midweek at Samaritans and looking after my youngest grandson. Towards the end of April I decided to do a rather large detour of 45 miles to my eldest son’s house and spend some time with his wife and meet two of his children from school, play with them and tell them a Rhodri Rabbit story for bedtime before driving home. The afternoon was spent playing with Isaac- the one grandchild I haven’t looked after and I miss that closeness, so I decided to build up our bond. He doesn’t talk yet so it’s sometimes frustrating for both of us to understand each other, but I’m working on it. I value my time with him and his mum before the others invade our space. It gives us all warmth. Connecting. My younger son has started to come to my chalet with his son for Sunday lunch and cook it too, staying overnight. It’s so lovely.

I’m still in another place emotionally. A strange place and I just don’t know when this will end. Someone last week really understood the way I am feeling about photos and memories. He’d lost his mum 5 years ago. It was a few minutes conversation that gave me a real lift. Yet as May starts I’m feeling so awful, missing mum more than ever. It’s like I’m not really here. Just can’t focus on the future. Or the present sometimes. Just death.

Easter egg hunts and bunnies

I’ve never been on an egg hunt before. On the site where my chalet is they ran their first one on Saturday. My youngest grandson is was with me so we joined in. Since leaving teaching I’m not happy surrounded by screaming excited kids. Watching my two year old running about with older kids joyfully following and running excitedly my heart went out to him. We helped him find a few as he ran past most of them. The other kids were kind and brought eggs to him. He had fun and we even met the Easter bunny- I thought it was quite a scary character myself but my grandson was fearless as usual and wanted to give him an egg! It was a nice event as it wasn’t too big. On Sunday we had our own little hunt without neighbours’ children and it was also lovely and I added the Lancashire tradition of rolling painted boiled eggs down the hill. I have memories of doing this in Avenham Park in Preston at a huge event in my childhood and also often with my own children. I didn’t realise it wasn’t going on all over the UK until I left Lancashire! I had such a lovely weekend with my family. It was a good lift for me. Earlier today after a wonderful windy walk on the beach I had a deep reaction to a programme on TV. A low howl came from somewhere when I thought of mum, dad, gran and grandad not being here any more. It was not controllable, I just had to let it pass over me. I thought these moments were past, but they happen less often now. On my beach walk today I came across an amazing tree truck washed up last night. From a distance it looked like either a ship wreck or whalebone. Quite special.

April 2021 A beautiful day

Here by the beach in my little haven of calm I am still floating along feeling myself unwind. I’ve had my second vaccine this week and hope my sons and their partners will get vaccinated by July. Sitting on my patio I’m looking forward to my youngest grandson to visit today. He’s like a whirlwind at two and a half. But what a delight. We’ll be going down to the beach and lollies will be required! This week I walked to Port Eynon along the coastal path. It was a long walk 4 hours, punctuated with some lovely fish and chips, absolutely spectacular. The rocks are amazing, feeling the immense age of their formation. The angle and jaggedness is mesmerising. The little sandy sections are like secret spots of delight, some with makeshift ropes down a crevice in the cliffs. Very tempting, but not with my problem arm! The rock pools look clear and might hold some interesting surprises.

Escape to the beach March 27th

On Saturday 27th March 2020 I got up early after a restless night. The car was packed apart from the frozen food. I was so excited to be able to visit my little chalet in Oxwich Bay.. Of I drove with a smile on my face but also a few doubts- will my key work ( ridiculous), will everything look ok- no damp, no stale smells, will I remember how to switch the water and electricity on ( more ridiculous). After a lovely drive with no problems- I’d envisaged long queues of cars trying to get to the beach- I almost began to think I’d got it all wrong and I was going to be sent back by the police!

Of course everything was fine and I could see my new glass balustrade around my patio for the first time fully completed with no problems ( long story). As I opened the door for the first time it was joyous. It was calm and beautiful. I just keep smiling- all the time. It is just wonderful. As soon as I had emptied the car I was off down the lane to see the beach. Still no traffic jams or hoards of people. I stood and looked at the bay stretching away towards Three Cliffs Bay. A fantastic 6mile walk later I returned to my favourite beach takeaway cafe and Gary the cook for my guilty pleasure for lunch- chicken goujons and chips with Mocha coffee sitting on the beach watching the tide come in. Just felt deeply happy. Watching the waves crash and roll on to the sand is mesmerising. My eyes delighted in the texture of the rocks and the sand puddles, the patterns of the shells scattered along the shoreline were a visual delight. It was like I was high on nature! I knew I liked it here, but as this place has helped me grieve for mum last year I feel she would have loved being here with me. She would have understood. Perhaps the only one who does. I still miss her so much.

March18th 2021 The past haunts and enchants

My brain filters out memories at different times. I thought I’d remember every good moment in my life and suppress all the bad things that have happened, but that’s not how it is working out. I know how damaging my thoughts about what has happened to me are. There’s lots of ways of dealing with negative thoughts about those people who have hurt me and I’ve tried most of them. So what should I do? My sadness is not good for me. My hatred and distrust of some people is not want I want in my life. These people probably have no thought about me and what they have done. Do I want to be defined by others actions? I worry about my own decisions at moments of intense stress caused by the actions of others were the right ones. I say to myself that I cannot change any of it so move on. Concentrate on the future and my grandchildren. Enjoy so many great memories with my family and students. Sounds simple doesn’t it?