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Just What I Needed



I have returned home after four days across with my Mum and I have to say that I feel it has probably been what I have needed. I was worried about how I would react to being on the boat and sailing into Liverpool without Tom by my side as he has been for the previous 20 years. I didn't cry and was even able to look across the river to the Meols lighthouse without filling up. Meols is where we stayed last year whilst Tom had Radiotherapy at Clatterbridge. We stayed in a caravan that we hired for a month and it allowed us to have different people staying, including Skipper our dog. I didn't spend the whole four weeks there as I had to balance it with looking after my menagerie, but I did spend around 2 1/2 weeks and we came home each weekend. It was probably the best place to stay for us as it was right by the sea and we had lovely walks each day, including a lovely walk to Meols Lighthouse. Now back to my break.

I arrived at my mother's at 10.30 a.m. on Monday and wasn't there long before we went into St.Helens town for some lunch with my sister Janet and niece Beth. Of course I had to update myself with all the changes and the usual questions arose when one wanders around their home town which they left nearly 40 years ago. The roads are one way, the picture houses have either gone or are something else with big new picture houses built somewhere else. The building I started my first job in has gone, but the memories remain. I worked for the co-operative in the divi office sorting out the little slips and calculating the divi. As an office junior, I along with another junior were given the task of telling people what there divi was when they queued each year. It didn't take us long to realise why when the customers started arguing that they should have more and we would have to go off and recalculate the slips that had been sorted into the little trays throughout the year. There was some pretty aggressive customers I can tell you and not a time that we looked forward too. I also remembered meeting my first serious boyfriend, our meeting place, his family and jaunts we'd had. We stayed friends on and off for years and he came to see me just after I married Tom and I never saw or heard from him again. I think he has also died before his three score and ten according to information I have heard.

Tuesday I was taken to the Trafford centre which I have never been to and it was worth the visit. There was so much to see and buy but a day wasn't long enough. All the time I was with my Mum and sister Janet and we have laughed until I couldn't breathe. We get on so well together and obviously have the same humour. My poor old Mum has been walked all over the place but has also enjoyed herself. Tuesday evening my other sister Jacqueline, with husband Lawrence and my other niece Fi called at my Mums. I returned the favour on Wednesday evening and called to see them and see the lovely changes they have done to their home. In the morning I called on my Aunty May and we went into Warrington for a bit of lunch and a catch up. She lives near some woods and I had a little walk with her before I went back to St.Helens and was rewarded with a squirrel quite close and observing me as I did him. As we have no squirrels on the Island, I am chuffed when I get to see one. My sister Janet lives at Billinge or Orrel near Wigan. I'm never quite sure of the exact area, other than to say it is lovely. She has a Senegal parrot and in the course of a visit there I managed to sex it for her once and for all. It is definitely a boy as his courtship display to me made it very apparent. Janet had never witnessed his courtship behavior before and was fascinated. Janet's husband Carl is not given to saying much, but the hug he gave me when I saw him said it all. He wasn't able to come to Toms funeral and so I haven't seen him, but that one hug and no words expressed more than any words could. I took a few gulps but still managed to contain myself. My nephew Matthew is forging a career in filming and I managed a rare meeting with him as well. He is at university and doing an evening job as well, but at the moment he is making a film which is going he and his friends are hoping to sell in America. I don't know the ins and outs properly, but that's the gist of it. As you can see it was a busy four days with lots of catch ups, retail therapy and laughter. Along with what I bought, my mother and Janet also gave me lots of things to bring back home. There was so much that my mother couldn't stop laughing in case my camper got searched on the boat. She reckoned they'd think I'd been on the rob. I had a toaster, a flat screen TV, 2 12volt TV's, an Oreck vacuum and bags & bags of shopping. It lightened the mood when it was time to leave. Tom wasn't one for visiting people and preferred for them to visit us instead. It has worked fine since we have been married, but now I am alone it did me good to get away.

Coming back on the boat I had a book with me that my Mother had read and said she couldn't stop laughing whilst she read it. I decided that it would be good to have a read of it on the boat and it would take all sad thoughts away. It certainly did that and I had to keep checking if anyone was watching as I chuckled away. The book is by Paul O'Grady and it is northern humour about his childhood which was from the same era as mine and his experiences bring back memories long since gone, but so funny told by him.

Driving off the boat gave me the thrill I always have when I come home, but it was dark and all I wanted was to see Skipper, Suzie and Orry. As I drove along suddenly became aware of the sweet air. Tom spoke of the sweet air coming from the silverburn and that is something we live with all the time. As I drove home it was beautiful to smell it like that in the dark and I just wanted to inhale as much as I could into my lungs and savor it.

Karron and Pauline have looked after my menagerie and they have done a brilliant job. It isn't easy dealing with an African Grey that is missing his mum and jealous of a moorhen. Skipper is in love with Pauline and I knew he would be fine. Karron knows my birds nearly as well as me and treats Orry in the same way as I do and so there is total continuity. He has been stood on my head singing the cuckoo waltz since I started this blog and now he is happy to groom himself and my hair whilst he is on my shoulder. I am sitting in my bedroom watching and hearing the birds in the fir tree, my cockatiels are whistling in the aviary below, baby sparrows are being fed by their parents, doves are cooing, rooks are calling in their grating voices and a jackdaw is trying to help himself to some seed through the aviary wires. It was very misty when I first work at 6.30, but now it is beautiful, just like the place I live.

It was lovely to go across and see the family. There was even the odd conversation as to whether I would ever think of going back to across. The answer is a firm no. I have lived on this Island for 36 years and I love it as much as Tom did. This is my home, this is where my friends and Toms family is and although Tom is not with me in person, I feel so close to him here and so much of him is a part of me. We thought the same, loved the same and became as one. He was a very profound person and would have a take on things that would leave me open mouthed. I have been going to a physiotherapist friend of ours who is also blind and he has said on more than one occasion that Tom was the most positive blind person he had ever known. I second that and I am trying to so much to be like that but I fail so often. I do feel now that I have a renewed strength after the break and I am going to try my best now to go forward. There will still be times when I am fragile and it is to be expected, but I now feel able to move my life forward.

Orry is now a telephone and standing on my head again. It is time to bring this blog to an end and empty that camper van of mine. My nice tidy house will soon look like a jumble sale and anyone calling will know for sure that Barbara is home.

Love from Barbara on the banks of the beautiful Silverburn River.

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Hi ya! So glad you're back home safe and sound with all the pets happy to have their mum home! Seems you had a wonderful time, the blog has such feeling I'm catching it all the way round the world! Mmmm, know what ya mean about coming back home to the place you love. Thanks for sharing your experience with us in such a way that you brought us all along to enjoy. XXX :D

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