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Life still continues to be one of continual challenges, albeit brought on by myself. Just after my last blog I decided to have a gathering. Toms friend Tony has sisters living in Manchester and every time they came on holiday to the Island, we always put on a buffet and invited friends around. I did this a week last Saturday for Tony's sister Joyce and her partner. I was very nervous to be honest and I wasn't sure how I would stand up to having friends around without Tom here. I was determined that I wanted to do it as I wanted to bring everyone together for the first time since Toms funeral and try to carry on as I would if Tom was with me. The morning of the buffet I had a strange happening in the house in the morning. I had been feeding the ducks and geese on the river and when I came into the house, it became apparent that a bird had been in the house. I cleaned up a few spots here and there and as I went upstairs I had another little deposit left on the window on the landing. I began to wonder if the bird had actually left the house or had it gone further up the stairs and if so, where was it. It didn't take me long to find out but it was a shock to pop my head into Toms Office only to find a male blackbird sitting in a cage I use to take Orry camping. It sat there as still as anything and we just eyeballed each other. It didn't stress or anything. Eventually he went out when I opened the bedroom window and at some point in the day, it flew off. I'm finding amazing the amount of wild birds I have encountered over the past few months that have entered my life and just seem to have been quite chilled about our encounter. Don't get me wrong, I don't think for one moment any of them are Tom reincarnated, but it does sometimes seem as though he sends me comforting little visitors to let me know he's with me in spirit. Possibly its wishful thinking and Tom said before he died that if ever I ever wondered if something happened and wondered if it was him, that I would know for sure if it was him. For now my mind just knows what he would say in certain situations and they pop into my head. Anyway, back to the buffet. It turned out very well and at one point there was over 25 people in the house. I laughed and I cried. How could I not? I asked his friends as they were going if they felt it hard when they sat in the same room as they did when Tom was here and they reminisced. All said that they didn't feel that Tom wasn't there and it felt like he was with them. They were all very happy and said that Toms presence was felt keenly and he was close to me even if I didn't feel it now. That made me cry good style.
I picked the new motor home up on Friday night and it's lovely. I haven't had time to kit it out or go anywhere in it at the moment as I have been very busy with all sorts. Toms mum was taken to hospital on Tuesday evening and she's had another bad do with a chest infection. I have had her at the doctors for the past few weeks due to a chest infection and I've tried so hard to keep her well, even so she still got very ill. I want her fit for the end of this month for our trip to Dublin. I know she'll love staying in the Gresham and seeing her sister.
If that wasn't enough I also offered my services to the Church in Port Erin to play the Last Post for them today. As I haven't played a cornet for over 3 years and hadn't felt emotionally able to join a band again, I certainly put myself in a challenging position. So it was agreed that I played at St.Catherines morning service today. I also had another request for me to play at Malew Church this afternoon. I didn't know how I would feel with that as I have only been in the church twice. Once for Toms father's funeral and then for Toms funeral. Anyway I practiced quite a bit yesterday on a cornet I bought 2 years ago when my chest was very bad and I thought it was because I wasn't playing in a brass band anymore and I thought my lungs may have needed the exercise. It turned out that I had chronic asthma which went eventually and I hardly touched the cornet. As I was adjusting my poppy and was about to leave this morning, I could hear Toms voice reassuring me that it would be fine. I always got nervous when I was playing solo's and Tom would always give me a little hug and reassure me. He was really proud of my cornet playing. Anyway I did the Last Post this morning and it was ok. It gave me the confidence to tackle my next task of playing at Malew Church. I sat in the gallery and had to wait until almost the end of the service before I played. I didn't hang around afterwards when everyone else stayed for refreshments. I had held my nerve and I wasn't going to tempt fate any longer. As I went outside, instead of heading for the motor home, I walked across the road and stood at Toms grave. The tears flowed and I couldn't tell you whether it was because I had been quite worked up and it was now over, or because Tom wasn't with me. Probably it was a combination of the two. As I stood there sobbing with my cornet under my arm, a line of a eulogy that Tom wrote sprung into my mind, "Tis only bones before you lie." That pulled me together and I headed home.
I had been out all day and I needed to have a walk to wind down and I decided it was time to introduce Suzie and Skipper to our new vehicle. I drove to Langness and it was a cold, but absolutely beautiful evening. The sun was going down and as I drove through past the golf links, the reflections in the water pools, contrasting with the sky was impossible to ignore. I stopped to take a couple of pictures and a male pheasant flew across the front of the vehicle, his silhouette standing out against the evening sky. The dogs and I were on our own for the walk, apart from the wildlife in the area. The birds were looking for nesting places, evident by the agitated territorial cries coming from them. A curlews mellow call carried on the night air along with a herons aggressive kraarck. I could hear the sea lazily lapping onto the rocks below and even a snort from a seal cut through the peaceful night. Again, my thoughts turned to Tom and how he would have loved the sounds and smells this evening. The Chickens Rock lighthouse seemed to wink off the coast of the Island and all around the lights of Castletown and across the bays to Port St.Mary, the lights shone like tiny fairy lights. Even the airport looks pretty at night time. Suzie kept close to my legs on the way back as the light had gone altogether and she is blind in the dark. I did daydream about getting her one of those lamps that joggers can buy which they put on their heads and can see where they are going without having to hold a torch. I thought I would get one and put it round her neck when it goes day and we walk. It might be a totally nutty idea which may not work and then again it could be just the job.
On the animal front, Gerty the goose is doing ok in the garden and rules the hens. of the new hens I got, the 3 light Sussex that were a year old are fine, but the 3 pullets who are 30 weeks old have suffered badly with the very wet weather. They started sneezing last week and 1 in particular became very poorly coughing. I have her and another on antibiotics and she does seem to be responding. It hasn't spread to the older ones and so it must be that the young ones have a very low immune system. I have to be very careful and change my clothes and shower when I've had contact with them so I don't pass it on to Orry or the aviary birds.
I have added a couple of pictures. There is the blackbird on Toms braille keyboard and Tony's sister Joyce with a very happy Orry on her shoulder.
This is Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn, wondering what my next challenge will be.