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A new perspective

I have had a number of sessions with a counsellor.  She rarely speaks.  She just sits and listens, only occasionally asking pointed questions.  I spend the time recounting tales of how I felt when my father died, how I missed his funeral, when I visited his grave.  I expect I will always feel guilty for not being there.

However, since my father in law has died, I have a new enthusiasm for life: I have my husband and his family to look after.  I have a future to focus on – a living family that need me.  I told my counsellor that I found it odd that with the death of one good man, I could drop into despair while with the death of another good man, I remembered my strength.   My husband doesn’t need my strength – he just needs me to be there for him.   Believe me, I am.

I’ve discovered, quite by accident, a metaphor.  One of the few things I’ve enjoyed all along is taking photographs.  I like seeing things from new perspectives and showing my perspective to anyone who would like to see.  I try new angles.  I look at colours.

Foxy

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Counselling

I was back at work as per usual on Tuesday this week.  There seemed to be something surreal about being back in my normal routine.  I had my annual appraisal at work where they acknowledged how wonderful I am.  How could they not?  I’m hoping that my good scores will lead to a pay rise.  I can hope!

I went to my counsellor on Thursday.  The loss of my father-in-law has left me feeling as though there’s another grey cloud around my heart.  In talking to her I remembered my father-in-law, a gentleman with a kind heart, and how happy he always appeared.  Remembering that I didn’t attend my own father’s funeral, I felt I wanted to do all I could for this one.   OK, it won’t make up for missing my dad’s funeral but, considering the circumstance, I have to believe that Dad wouldn’t have wanted me to travel 4000 miles and six time zones away in order to attend a funeral only to quickly hop a flight back home so that I could get back to work in good time.  It would have cost me thousands and I would have ended up struggling with jetlag as well as grief.

In my mind I thought if I brought the family together by being at this funeral, that my karma would go some way towards making up for missing my dad’s funeral.  I’m not saying that my English family aren’t close, but step families can be difficult.  I’m hoping that by being kind, I can keep lines of communication open.

I’m finding my counselling sessions to be a help.  I am remembering that I’m only human.  I’m remembering not to be too hard on myself.  When I feel bad, I send gifts and make people laugh in order to make me feel better.  I’m a good person, I just need to remember it.

Foxy

Funeral

I was full of dread going to the South West.  For ease of travel, we decided to go by train.  I wanted to be able to chat in comfort rather than wade through traffic for four/five hours.  Also, I am getting to the great part in my book and I wanted to try to finish.  It was a lovely journey.  At one point we were on the coast and I took a number of photos.

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We had some fish and chips for tea with Helios’s mum that first night.  I had a heart to heart with his mum.  The trouble between Apollo and his grandmother is that he doesn’t get in touch enough.  I gently reminded her that there is a certain loyalty that children have for their parents – especially children raised by single parents.  Helios’s children are only now beginning to have the emotional maturity to question what they used to take as truth without question.  They are only beginning to realise that truth can have several sides.

The next morning we got up and got ready for the funeral.  I wore my black dress, black tights and black boots.  I swept my dark multi-coloured scarf around my neck.  Helios’s sister and I had a hug when the hearse arrived.  Flowers in the shape of DAD were at the foot of the coffin.  We set off in a limo behind Helios’s dad.  I was in the back seat with Helios’s mum and she and I held hands to the service.

Apollo was there when we arrived and I threw my arms around him.  I wanted to be sure he sat with the immediate family – including me.  People from the funeral home carried the coffin into the service.  Immediate family went in first followed by other family and friends.  I sat with my brother-in-law on one side and Apollo on the other.  Helios and his sister were on both sides of his mother.

I managed to keep from crying until the vicar said the following words from First Corinthians 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I sobbed and grabbed Apollo’s hand.  We held hands throughout the rest of the service and, when we were directed to leave the church first, we remained holding hands until we got outside and began to meet friends and family so that they could offer their condolences.

Initially we stood together.  I confessed that I only knew a few people there – I knew Apollo would have the same problem so I introduced him to the few people I knew.  I tried to ensure he was comfortable.  I think he’s rather shy.  He has always been good with me but, having been shy as a youngster, I know how uncomfortable being in big crowds can be – especially if the crowd has a particular expectation of you.

All of us piled into the limo and headed for the pub.  I told Helios’s sister that every time I saw her father, he was had a smile on his face.  My father-in-law was a lovely man.

After the service we went to the pub for catered sandwiches and drinks.  Apollo and I again sat side by side for a bit.  I didn’t want to monopolise his time so I wandered off from time to time.  I figured he needs to know these people – most of whom are family – a bit better.  He didn’t move much and only drank a soft drink for the hours that we were there.  I know the feeling – if you don’t have much money you don’t want to accept drinks because you’d end up owing people an expensive round.  However, at this kind of occasion he could have let us treat him.

I learned that Apollo wasn’t always so shy.  When he was very young (about 4) he used to walk up to complete strangers, clamp himself to their legs and say “I love you!”  Helios’s mum said “You had to watch him!  Before you knew it he’d be off again and around someone else’s legs!”  Apollo grew red with embarrassment when he remembered.

There was more than enough food but we had only hired the pub until 3pm so we each headed for home.  Apollo went home and we did the same.  I gave Apollo a hug before we sent him on his way.

The next morning we went back to the funeral home and I took some photos of the family flowers.  I managed to take the photos without crying.

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It was the next morning when we realised Apollo had sent flowers for the funeral.  What a thoughtful boy.

The rest of our time in the South West was spent going through my father-in-laws items with my mother-in-law.  She gave Helios a number of small items.  My concern is, as always, for them.

Foxy

 

Get back up!

I’m finding it strangely ironic that, when it seems as though I finally found a permanent end to my pain, I’ve been struck with anxiety and depression.  If there’s a God of Irony, He’s laughing His polka-dotted socks off!

So my battle to feel better continues.  I am managing to go to work and stay there all day.  Oh sure, I get a little panicked right around lunchtime.  I find myself thinking “I could just go home” but I tough it out.  The more I’m there, the more I achieve just by being out in the wide world.  The more I’m in the wide world, the more natural it feels to be at work and interacting with people.  My list of “out of the ordinary” things to find intimidating is therefore lessening.  I even had lunch with my work colleagues on Friday – something I’ve only done once or twice before.

Unfortunately, due to the death and funeral of my father-in-law, I think my anti-depressants aren’t working as well as they were.  I’m hoping that, once my extra stresses diminish, my tablets will start working well again.  Also, I’m skipping two weeks of counselling sessions due to not knowing when the funeral was taking place.  However, this does mean that I’ll have LOTS to talk about when I get to see her again.  She’d better be ready for me!

I would like to thank Syn at Expiation for getting in touch.  Your blog is an inspiration!   I am grateful in particular for The Spirit of Counting Spoons and reminding me that I am not responsible for my illnesses nor my current depression and anxiety.  I am responsible for getting back up.

Foxy

Christmas Break

We had quite a journey to the West Country between Christmas and New Year.  I thought it would be a good idea to take the train – a more relaxing way to travel.  We got there in the end but public transport doesn’t always go to plan.  Our transfer at Reading Station took a lot longer than we’d anticipated and we spent nearly two hours standing in the cold awaiting our next train.  Luckily for us, we hopped on and found a seat where we could – in first class – and stayed there.

Our journey in first class ended at Tiverton Parkway where we took a bus replacement service to Exeter because there was flooding on the rails between Tiverton and Exeter.  Ultimately our journey that should have taken about 4½ hours took nearly 6½.  Understandably, we were pretty tired when we arrived.

My mother in law had a pizza on hand for us together with a wide variety of cakes, sweets, drinks and other food that we may or may not like.  I was reminded of visiting with my mom – who stocks up with enough provisions to feed the Romanian Army when we come to visit!

The next morning we awoke and got ready to see my father in law.  We have to time our visits well because he tends to be easily distracted and has been known to forget to eat.  We were told that the best time to go is 11am.  Thanks to my time with my dad, I feel I have an idea of what to look for in a nursing home.  It’s set in what could be a manor house.  There is a large dining room to the right just inside the front door.  To the left, a few comfy chairs where my father in law was sitting.  It seemed a clean and bright place where the staff smiled when they saw us.

My father in law beamed with a smile when he saw Helios.  It’s clear that he recognised him but was unable to put a name to his face straightaway.  He got my name right though and we were thinking that there is probably a reasonable explanation: he has only known me as an adult whereas he’s known Helios all his life and may be trying to match the mental pictures he has of a child to the adult standing before him.  My father in law was on good form as he was hoisted from his chair and wheeled to the dining room where we could have a visit in private.  While the move was being undertaken, Helios went to his dad’s room.   In the meantime, I sat with my father in law and listened to how much he liked the place and how nice it was festooned with festive paraphernalia.  He loved the attention and I was pleased to be there.

Later that afternoon we met Apollo, Helios’s son.  He’s a lovely kid and I just adore him.  I made sure to tell him how much my mom appreciates him looking in on her every so often.

The next day we visited my father in law again.  I found this visit to be harder because he looks so frail and, as we were going, I couldn’t stop myself thinking: “I may not see you again in this life.”  It’s hard not to adore such a kind-hearted and positive individual.  I fought  back the tears as we were leaving.

That afternoon – perhaps to take our minds off how ill my father  in law is – my mother in law has arranged to see a number of her family at the Conservative Club in town.  Uncle R met us at the flat and walked with us to the Club.  Lucky thing he did, one of the door handles fell apart in Helios’s hand so Uncle R fixed it (with a bit of tin foil in the end) and we were off.

One of the things I love about blokes in families is the lively banter they affectionately give one another.  The teasing can be relentless but it’s never malicious and, I think, is a replacement for the more obvious affection that women give one another.  Well, Helios was being teased something chronic that afternoon but he gave as good as he got.  I couldn’t stop chuckling.  So when they started playing darts, we ladies joined in and had a great time.

That evening we had a Chinese delivered and enjoyed a quiet evening with my mother in law.  It’s unusual for us to spend so much time with her because her flat is too small to comfortably sleep four people.  With her husband in the nursing home, I think she was glad to have company, if only for a couple of days.

The next morning we went to the train station and started our epic journey home.  Luckily the flooding had subsided and the rails repaired so we didn’t have the problem of taking a bus-replacement service near Exeter.  Our connecting trains were all on time and we arrived home in the early evening.  Good thing we had New Years to get ourselves prepared for more work and daily routine.

I hope you had a peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Foxy

Holiday

Normally Helios and I stay at home over the Holidays and relax.  However, Helios and I are planning to go to his hometown on 27th December to see his family.  His father is dreadfully ill.  After several months of him going downhill and going in and out of hospital, and his mom trying to cope with him when he’s out of hospital, he’s finally gone into a nursing home.  His mom sounds a lot more like herself on the phone and his dad is getting the attention he needs.  It has been a struggle since his dad has had a number of infections and is now unable to walk at all.  I think his dad is still losing weight.  Anyway, I am bracing myself for the worst.  We will be coming home the afternoon of 30th after spending the morning with his mom on her birthday.  I’ve decided we can take the train for the journey – it will be more expensive than driving but I figure Helios and I can focus our attention on one another for the trips (4 hours each way) or read and relax.  I just want to be there for him, you know what I mean?

Foxy