It has been the longest I have been without blogging or editing Toms Blog but now I will give a catch up.
First of all, who wants to read about how someone is struggling over Christmas, the New Year and Birthdays with depression. That was where I was at leading up to Christmas and after, continually dipping. It isn't something people want to read on a blog or perhaps that I want to write in too much detail. One of the effects is a lack of motivation and the blog fell into that category as did lots of other things.
Anyway, before Christmas I took on a task which has gone some way to keeping me going and a reason to get out of bed besides looking after my animals. The Vicar who buried Tom has become a friend of mine, along with her husband. She has been very supportive to me since Tom’s death and we share some interests. Her father fell and broke his hip at the latter end of last year and he has come over to the Island to be with his daughter and also to be looked after by her. I volunteered to help and since the day he arrived a week before Christmas, I have been going to her home each day to wash and dress him. He is a lovely elderly gent who will be 94 in March. It gave me someone to focus on and help. His face beams when he see's me arrive and that makes all the difference. He didn't come over here to recuperate, rather to be nursed, but he has come on leaps and bounds and is playing the piano each day and doing exercises to try and improve his painful hip. In the first instance he did well to survive the operation on his hip at his age, but to find a zest for life and a motivation to improve is pretty cool. I could do with a bit of that zest and motivation myself. I have only been going for around 2 hours a day and I sometimes take him out in the car so he can watch the sea whilst I walk my dogs. I printed off every one of Tom’s blogs for him which he has read, including Tom’s book. His eyesight is better than mine and he has a sense of humour that is noticeably quick in which he never misses a trick.
For the moment I have had to have a rest from looking after him as I did too much at the beginning and didn’t pace myself. I am at the moment having some time away so I can concentrate on myself for a while. I tended to put all of myself into the task and haven’t allowed myself time to rest and be quiet. I went each day to the vicarage since the middle of December and in all I only missed around 2 days up until last Saturday. Now I am resting and taking time to be with me.
My mother came over to be with me just before Christmas and stayed for nearly two weeks. I continued to look after my menagerie, my patient and each day I took my mother to dinner with a different friend. Christmas day I went to the flying club with my mother, Tom’s mother and his Aunty Trudy who also lost her husband last year as documented in Toms Blog. It was a lovely dinner and it was a change to everything we would normally have done on Christmas Day. We were out of the house and supporting each other, being waited on with a lovely meal at the Flying Club. No shopping, cooking, stressing or washing up to do. We just sat down and enjoyed being spoiled. I didn't allow my mind to wander over past Christmases with Tom and to be honest; I did try my best to ignore the festive part of it all. It has been very hard not to think of the previous Decembers and January's with cancer, scans, specialists and worries dominating our lives. That has probably been at the root of my dip in spirits and the fact that I still find it almost inconceivable that Tom and I have been parted. I felt sad for all the people who would be going through those same emotions that we had been through the previous years and knowing how they will have felt isolated and sad, whilst everyone celebrated. A young friend of ours lost his mother the week before Christmas and he came to me for advice on everything he should do about the funeral etc. He was devastated and had looked after his mum for a few years. He is 25 and had to bury his mum on Christmas Eve. We cried together as I tried to guide him through his grief and also tell him the practical things that had t be dealt with. He likes to look in on me and check I'm ok and he is coping with his loss. Christmas will never be the same for him again; even when he has children of his own there will always be a tinge of sadness.
I did start back in Castletown Band and I’m aware I do tend to work on whims at the moment. I still have a lot of practicing to do to get back to not exactly my best which isn't that terrific. I'm enjoying playing with the band and there are quite a lot of new and also young faces which is encouraging. Again, I am incorporating this in my break whilst I just slow down a while.
This weekend I am going on a direct flight to Paris with Eileen. It is only for 3 nights and is just over £200 including flights and hotel. I’ve never been and I’m excited. Eileen is the friend that can make me laugh and this is what I need at the moment. Neither of us speaks a word of French and we have decided to just go with no plans for what we want to see and we will just take in the atmosphere and see where we end up. I will report on that next week when I get back. I’m not sure if I’m nervous of the flight or not. It is 2 hours and whilst I appear to have got over my fear of flying, I have only done half hour flights.
When I return I am determined to paint again. I am going to set aside some days which I am going to use for just painting. Once I start I know that I won’t want to stop and that is the place I want to be at. The last time I attempted it was when I was ill with pneumonia but I was so ill I hadn’t the strength to hold the brush for long.
I have been listening to the dawn chorus each morning. The Thrush is the first bird singing and the rest follow some time later. There are stirrings in the bird world now and changes in their habits. The herons aren't as frequent and I know they are busy nest building. In a few months they will almost camp on my shed roof when they expect me to supply them with the food to try and feed the brood they will have hatched. I have been enjoying watching the Lapwings dipping and diving in the fields and by the shore. I love their aerobatics and the unusual calls they make. The weather wasn’t conducive to long walks early on Sunday mornings but for the last few weeks I have resumed my wanderings with Anne. For the first few weeks we walked from Hango Hill to Langness along the shore and marvelled at the flocks of birds feeding in the seaweed. Our walks started in freezing weather, but last Sunday was a much milder day. We decided to walk to the Silverdale Glen and back via Tom’s grave. I had some flowers to put there for Valentines Day. I was followed all the way to Ballasalla by one of my herons who hadn’t been fed and he decided I was going to pull a fish out of my pocket. On the way back there was a field of herons all stood absorbing the sunlight and my previous escort spotted me and resumed his duties all the way back to the house. He was duly rewarded and no doubt went back to his pals.
I have been reading Toms Blogs which a friend of ours in America has collated and sent to me in a word document. It is amazing how his words have an impact on me even now. When I read them it is with a different view than when he was alive and with me. The words speak to me, but in a different way. I feel ashamed of my low spirits when I read what Tom wrote with everything he was going through emotionally and physically. I have decided to have the entire Blog put into a book for those people who never had access to a computer as I feel he can still inspire even though he lost his fight for life. The profits of the book I will give to the Hospice on the Island as they are an unbelievable charity.
In my animal world, Orry is improving his vocabulary and also other sounds he has picked up along the way. He is the only parrot I know that only has to look at a bottle of Fentmans Dandelion & Burdock to do a rather loud burp. His territory has grown and I'm not sure if I have retained my position as head of the household. Suzie made a great recovery from her rather big operation before Christmas and is a little cutey. Skipper is about the same as he ever was but I am more able to cope with Skippers mad collie side. I was sad over the Christmas period when I lit a fire in Tom’s room, put the TV on and closed the door. Skipper went frantic at the door to get in as with the sound coming from the room, it was obvious he thought Tom was in there. When I opened the door he dashed in and stopped dead when he saw and empty settee. It was only at that point that I realised that he hadn't forgotten Tom and still lived in hope that he would return. I have to say that I am finding it increasingly more comforting to sit in that room surrounded by all the models with nothing changed. There is a peace which is felt by all who I invite in. That room is largely left shut and used to bring visitors into and as I say, it is lovely to light a fire and sit contemplative like Tom used to do.
It is a month ago since I attempted to put a blog on the internet, but there has been a little problem with the webpage that allows me to post my blog. Now that I am settling down again, I hope to blog more often and keep people up to date more. To everyone who has emailed me and I have not replied which includes Wendy who came over in January with her fiancé Sean, I can only apologise as it has been due to my total lethargy and depression. I now know the different levels that depression can take and I have actually been into the darkest of places. I don’t want to go there again as it is totally debilitating and no-one can really help. All I can say is that I now understand the hopelessness and I hope that in the future, I will be able to draw on my own experience to help others who are in that dark place.
As I look out of the bedroom window as I write this, birds are busy nest building. My aviary birds are singing their heads off. Orry is whistling, barking and chatting downstairs, I can hear the hens clucking away, the ducks seemingly laughing on the river, Gertie the Goose is shouting to her pals who will be waiting for me to feed them, there is cooing, rooks cawing and the whole world of nature is alive and happy. I have almost been a year without Tom which has been the longest year of my life. I now want to shed the misery I have allowed to engulf me and start to live my life like Tom. Taking time to think things through and seeing the positives instead of the negatives. Instead of dashing about trying to fill my life with things to take me away from memories, I want to be comfortable with those memories and in my own company. I have lots of friends that have tried to support me over the year despite my frenzied comings and goings. I have to include my family in that also, as I haven’t been the easiest person to deal with. To those I apologize and also thank for still being there for me.
Now it is time for me to feed all the ducks, birds, hens, geese, swans, herons, dogs and parrot that are willing me to move my backside.
This is a contemplative Barbara on the banks of the Silverburn River, with a heart that is full of joy at the beauty that is all around me.