Friends

Over these past few months I have learned to really value friendship.  I have received love, care and support from so many people.  From those who were already my friends, and from those who I now class as my friends.

I have felt genuine love and understanding, people willing to hold out their hand, offer comfort, give their time, offer their shoulder – and expect nothing in return.  People who have sent a message of support, just to let me know me and my family are cared for and thought about often.

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I don’t think I really ever appreciated before the necessity of these people in my life – took them for granted I suppose, didn’t give it much thought or concern.  All these people form either part of my inner or wider circle, some whom have a daily impact on my life, some who just add that bit of something here and there.  But without them, without their words, messages, letters, cards, thoughts and prayers I’m not quite sure where I would be right now.

I have had people share some of their most personal and heartbreaking experiences of their own grief, the journey that they took, and how they have survived it.  It has helped so much to know that whilst no-one can really experience exactly what you are going through, its so unique to each individual,  but that they understand, they will listen, they can reassure.  I don’t feel a burden to them when I express how I feel, when the outpouring of tears and sadness won’t stop – they have listened, they have hugged, they have understood.

What a privilege it is to have those warm, loving, caring people around me, to lift me up, often to drag me a long (whether I want to or not!).  So many people in this world are alone, have no-one, have to bear their burdens without anyone there to help.

It feels pretty amazing to know that I am not alone, and I never will be.

 

 

 

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Mums the Word

“Mums the word” – definition – to keep quiet, stay silent

No-one really likes talking about it.. death that is.  Everyone feels a little awkward, not knowing quite what to say.  Knowing that no matter what they say it doesn’t make anything better for those affected.

The grief I am experiencing from losing my mum is beyond anything I could’ve expected,  some days totally unbearable, all consuming, a crushing abyss of despair and pain.  There are days that I cope, there are more days that I don’t.. and most of it you keep to yourself, you hide away, cry on your own..

People care, of course they do, they ask the question with a bit of trepidation – “how are you feeling?” and they smile with just a hint of relief in their face when they see  a slight smile from you and hear an answer of “ok, fine, thank you for asking”.  They know and you know that on the inside you have the deepest sense of loss, abandonment, loneliness and fear, but you don’t mention it, its not talked about.

My mum passing away has hit me hard, its hit all of us hard – well.. thats an understatement to be honest.  This is a distressing entry to write and probably read, but one I need to record, a cathartic exercise maybe.  For anyone reading, feel free to stop here, do not feel obligated to go further.

The weeks leading up to mum passing I want to remember, the night she actually died and the events of that evening I would rather forget, but in reality thats never going to happen.

Mum had a chest infection, a bad one, been to the docs, given anti-biotics, a week later she was no better.

Monday
In the morning, she was struggling to breathe, so called an ambulance.  The paramedics arrived, checked her over, said she was ok and advised her to see her GP, which we did that very same morning.  Her breathing was really laboured, she was getting no sleep, so added to her being unwell was her total exhaustion.  She also had swelling in her ankles and legs, and it was all this put together that prompted the doctor to refer her to Blackburn Hospital that day.

The hospital were concerned and on an ECG picked up on an irregular heartbeat, prescribed some blood thinning meds, arranged a cardio echo and we went off home (this did take a full day of sitting in the hospital).

Tuesday & Wednesday
All seemed ok, mum was still tired and not well, but didn’t appear to be getting any worse.

Wednesday night
I’m a bit of a night owl (get long periods of pretty severe insomnia), so was up late, around 1am.  I heard the familiar sound of mum in her slippers shuffling along on the floor in the hallway (the times I thought ‘I wish she’d pick her feet up!’), figured she was off for one of her numerous night time trips to the bathroom.  I decided it was late enough and to attempt to get some sleep and take myself off to bed.  Going in to the hall I could here odd noises from the bathroom.. I stood, waited, listened – I didn’t really want to just walk in, but the odd noises continued, I knocked on the door and went in to find mum on the floor, she wasn’t able to get up.  She had a severe cut over her eye and was very disorientated.  Ron and I managed to get her up, got her back in to bed and tried to settle her.  A bag of frozen peas on her eye, and a make shift bed on the couch for me.

Thursday
Arranged for a friend to come and sit with mum whilst I went to work.  She clearly wasn’t right in herself, but given I would be back by lunch time we thought we’d see how she got on.  On my return I found mum to be very confused, disoriented still.  Most definitely time for a trip back to Blackburn hospital.

Following scans and examinations, the hospital advised that mum had suffered an acute stroke and she was admitted.  Her sight had been affected, her mobility was fine (well, no worse that it had been before), but she had some cognitive impairment which would need to be assessed.

Mum spent the next week in hospital undergoing further assessments.  She was bright within herself, for the most part was lucid, clear of thought, recognised and understood most of what was going on.  She needed assistance now in showering and dressing.  She had no appetite (in fact, was going to write to the Prime Minister on the shocking quality of food in the hospital!)  But generally, it was felt, with assisted care at home she could be discharged.

The most worrying thing however, was that following a Cardio Echo, they had discovered that mum had severe Ischemic Heart Disease.  They prescribed the necessary medication, made the referrals to specialists that were required, made arrangements for support at home – and she was discharged.

Over the next week mum was doing ok.  I assisted her showering, washing hair and dressing (on the couple of occasions she tried to dress herself, most items were on back to front, or she forgot what she had already put on, so ended up with trousers and a skirt on, or a couple of jumpers – she did laugh about it and insisted she was starting a new fashion trend).

She was able to go to church, and one of the most wonderful things to see was that she went straight back to playing the piano  – all be it hitting a few (well, quite a few) wrong notes, and playing the intro to hymns a few too many times.  But she loved playing the piano at church, it made her feel useful and needed, and it brought me such joy to see that she was still able to.

I had started to make adjustments to my work schedule, knowing that moving forward she was going to need extra care.  In the meantime we received such amazing support from her friends who came and sat with her during the times I had to work.  Who kept her company, talked to her, stayed with her whilst she dozed off.  Made sure she was safe and loved.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the help and support offered so selflessly during those 2 weeks.

Friday
Mum had had a really good day.  She’d had company, the carer had been round for a chat and under supervision mum had made herself a sandwich and warm drink.  Some additional mobility aids had been ordered to make her life a bit easier.  Ron and I had come in from work after lunch, sat and had a good chat with her.  It was our wedding anniversary, and we were meant to be going out.  The children were off to Ron’s mums for the night and we had planned to go out for dinner.  But I was tired, and decided we would stay at home and order a takeaway instead.  However, the girls were excited to go to Grandma Betty’s, so rather than cancel and have them home, they still went off for their sleepover (I can’t even begin to express with hindsight the relief that they had gone)

Mum was tired early evening, I helped her shower, wash her hair, clean night clothes on and got her in to bed with a book.  I explained we weren’t going out, and did she want anything from the takeaway – Chips and Gravy was what she wanted, and so its what she got.  My Aunt Jean phoned around 8.30pm and I took the phone in to mum for her to have a chat.  She was so bright, telling my Aunt about her day and our plans to go out for a drive on the Saturday.

It was later that night, around 9.30 / 10pm that I went to give her a night time tablets.  She was in bed, the lamp on at the side of her, duvet tucked under a chin, eyes closed.  I didn’t want to wake her, but she needed her last lot of meds.  I tapped her lightly on the shoulder, but she didn’t wake.  Mum was deaf as a post without her hearing aids in, so I gave her another tap and said her name a bit louder, but still no response.  I got louder and gave her a gentle shake.  There was no breath, there was no movement, but she was warm, normal colour, she just looked asleep.. but I knew.

Then things got crazy – I ran for Ron, he called the ambulance and they instructed to start CPR – I am first aid trained, but you never in all your life expect to have to perform CPR on anyone, let alone your mum.  With each compression I knew in my heart that she had gone, with every breath I gave her the fear inside me grew.  We had to get mum on to the floor – I know it was necessary, but it seemed so wrong, so undignified.  She was so peaceful, so comfy, and in the space of minutes she had been dragged from her bed, I felt her rib crack with one of the first compressions, and I was frantically trying to pump and breathe life in to her.. but I knew

Ron and I took it in turns to continue CPR until the ambulances  arrived – what seemed like a lifetime was in reality 11 mins.  A team of 4 paramedics continued to work on mum for 40 minutes. I prayed, harder than I have every prayed before… but I knew

Ron phoned my sister – she had to come, and come now – but she lives near Doncaster – a good hour and a half drive..

They got mum in to the ambulance, I travelled with her, the paramedics as gently as they could advised that the prognosis wasn’t good, that whilst they would continue to administer CPR on the way to the hospital, the likelihood would be she would be pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.  I sat by her in the ambulance, watching, praying, trying not to vomit.

I witnessed the most horrific sight I have ever experienced.  CPR is not a gentle process, it is severe, it is a violent assault on the body- essential I know to try and sustain life.. but I knew

Mum was pronounced dead at 12.44am Saturday 24th February.

Her passing had been painless, peaceful, the aftermath was anything but.  The only comfort I can take from our actions and everything I had to witness is that my mum whilst not frightened of dying, wasn’t ready to die and she would’ve wanted us and the medical professionals to do everything they could, no matter what to try and keep her with us.  Sadly, and devastatingly, it wasn’t to be.

Her last meal – Chips and gravy
Her last conversation – with her much loved sister Jean
I was told by the Coroner after the her postmortem that her heart would just have stopped beating.  She would have closed her eyes, and her heart stopped.  There would’ve been no shock, no fear, no pain, no knowledge.

Her heart stopped, and mine broke.

I feel very blessed in many ways for the couple of weeks leading up to mums death.  If it wasn’t for the chest infection she would never have gone to the doctor, the doctor wouldn’t have referred her to hospital, the hospital wouldn’t have been put her on blood thinners, and the stroke she had a few days later would likely to have been fatal.  Having the stroke gave me the opportunity to care for her for those 2 weeks.  To do things for my mum that were a privilage.  To show love and compassion in a very special way .. my mother – a formidable woman, whom I didn’t always have the closest or easiest relationship with over the years.  For those 2 weeks, I will be forever grateful –  she knew despite our fall outs, differences, arguments – that I would have done anything for her, that I loved and cared for her, and was willing to do what ever it took to take care of her.

 

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Back to Blogging

Its been a while, probably about 3 years in fact.  But with recent events and changes in my life, I’ve decided to return to the occasional blogging.

As a teenager I used to keep a journal, a daily record of all I did, thought, woeful teenage angst etc etc – I kept them for around 7 years – and wow, to read back on them now is totally cringe worthy for the most, but a good reminder of how I felt and the events that helped shaped the person I am today.

This was what I had in mind when I started a blog some 3 years ago, it was to just be a personal account of our daily (Daly lol) lives.  Just a way of keeping for posterity stories about our lives together, and sharing our experiences with anyone that cared to have a read. But suddenly (or rather over a few months), I found I became more concerned with what I thought people might want to read, how I would be perceived and were the photo’s good enough!  Everything we did, everywhere we went became a photo and story opportunity for the blog.

So I stopped.. I was doing things to blog about, rather than just because it was part of what we were doing for a family.  This was not what I wanted my blog to be, so I stepped away from it.

Life over the past 2 1/2 years has changed so much.  We moved from the big smoke, a large Yorkshire City, to a small Lancashire town.

Ron and I are still adjusting to sharing a life together

My girls are growing up quickly.. too quickly

My mum recently passed away .. she had moved and was living with us, so currently, adjusting and accepting life without her here is the biggest, hardest life changing event I’ve ever had to deal with.  It is all consuming, and I’m not really sure if I am dealing with it yet.

So.. here I am, back to the blog, but with a fresh approach, to keep a record of my family as we move through time.  Something for me, for us as a family, and a read for anyone else that might want a little peak in to our lives from time to time.

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{The Ordinary Moments} #3 Frocks & Fairies

Following a major clearout of the Jessica’s wardrobe this week left her with very little suitable summer clothes meaning that a shopping trip was in order.  Generally neither of my daughters enjoy shopping trips.  The mere suggestion has always been met with cries of ‘do we have to come?’  The answer to them this time was a resounding YES YOU DO! Jessica has recently started to get an opinion about clothes, what she likes, what she doesn’t, what she’s prepared to wear and what she won’t.  Where previously I could pick up a few items, put them away in her drawers without a second thought – now I have to do a whole consultation on my return home with purchases, and her new found thoughts on what looks good and what doesn’t has meant that I’ve had quite a few items to return to shops. So, no more, if she wants to express her opinion, she has to come with me, choose her own and try them on in the shop.

This was really the first time we had done the whole girly shopping expedition, choosing outfits, deciding what goes together, when she would wear it and then with armfuls of tops, skirts, dresses in to the changing rooms.  It felt GOOD!  I loved it, and I think she did too.  Standing in front of the mirror, turning one way, and then the other, a quick twirl here and there, checking herself out.. my girl is growing up.  Personally I love to shop, I love even more finding a bargain, and I can’t wait to share more of this mum and daughter time together. A successful shopping trip of course must be rewarded – hence the cookies

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This week saw Natalie lose her second tooth.  I dealt with it better than I did at her losing her first tooth a couple of weeks ago!

Her losing her first tooth was a bit of an emotional wrench.  I suppose because I wasn’t expecting it.  She has only just turned 6 a month or so ago, she didn’t her first tooth until she was almost 15 months old, so I suppose I figured she would starting losing them quite late.  However, on collecting her from school one day, she ran to me, beyond excited to tell me that her tooth was wobbly… REALLY WOBBLY – and she kindly demonstrated it to me by pushing it forward and backward with her tongue (eeww!)

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After a few palpitations, jiggly tummy feelings and a wave of sadness I managed a smile and feigned excitement about the prospect of a visit from the tooth fairy. I know its a normal, expected part of growing up, its just I wasn’t quite prepared for this milestone in her childhood.  She is my youngest, she is my baby and it brought home all to quickly how fast both my girls are growing up.

So, just a matter of weeks later, the 2nd tooth is out.  It got wrapped up, placed carefully under her pillow.  That night she brushed, flossed and mouthwashed her teeth like never before! (I tell them that the tooth fairy checks their teeth when she visits to make sure they are looking after them properly!)

Jessica reminded me (AGAIN!) that her last tooth got lost before it reached its destination of under the pillow and I’d promised we would write a letter to the tooth fairy to explain the situation and see if she could find it in her heart to still leave her the £2.  I’d forgotten (bad mummy status – see prev blog for more bad mummy/good mummy) So we set about rectifying that with drawing a nice picture, and including a letter (a bit of a begging letter – Jessica certainly knows how to pull the heart strings!)  Letter was placed on the pillow and Good mummy status was reinstated!

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Jessica – thoughtful as ever came back downstairs, just to let me know she had opened the window slightly in their bedroom so the tooth fairy could get in easily, and she had left the fairy lights on around the bed, so that she could see better and not bang her head on the bunk beds.  You’ve got to smile!  I’m not sure how much longer I have of her believing in the magical, make believe world of faires, santa clause etc, makes my heart sink a little when I imagine the day she lets me know that ‘I know that they’re not real!’

But for now, they believe, they get excited, it prompts questions I’m not sure how to answer – my favourite from Natalie on the tooth fairy – “Who leaves the toothfairy her £2 when she loses her teeth?”… errrm??

Such conflicting emotions this week of loving the fact that they are growing up, that we are sharing more but wanting to hold on so tight to their childhood as it disappears before my eyes.

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Linking up with Ordinary Moments

Blended Family – Their Two Dads

There are many challenges being part of a blended family.  Balancing parental duties and responsibilities is often one of them. Trying to maintain positive relationships between everyone is another.  Ensuring regardless of what is happening in the adult relationships, that it has minimal impact and bearing on the children.

These are not easy things to do.  There are ups and downs along the way, a bit of a juggling act of people’s emotions and opinions.  It feels like a constant (rather steep) learning curve that changes continually.

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For instance – there is the childrens ‘real’ dad.

He is in the childrens lives regularly, he loves and adores them I’m sure.  His relationship with me is a bit of a rollercoaster.  There have been periods where we have got on great, almost returned to a solid friendship where I’ve been sure that he’s finally moved on.  And then there are periods where for what ever reason (and usually I am unable to figure out the trigger or the reasoning behind it) that the relationship is terrible, communication stops entirely and this can go on for months.

The effect on the children is what worries, frustrates and makes me down right angry.  I do as much as I can to protect them, with reassurances that whilst mummy and daddy don’t always see eye to eye, what we both do is love them to the moon on back.  So no matter what, just remember how much we love you and don’t worry about anything else.

It is so difficult to explain to children the intricacies of adult relationships when to be honest, I don’t understand them myself.  When your 4yr old (as she was at the time) tells you that Daddy says ‘you broke the love mummy.. why did you do that, can you not fix it‘ or when your daughter says ‘Daddy doesn’t want to talk you anymore, why aren’t you friends?‘ the hurt that it is obviously causing them breaks your heart.

Them being witness to the ups and downs has an impact on how they view other relationships.  For the first year of Ron being in their lives they fully expected us to split up.  Their assumption was that nothing was permanent and even with reassurance from Ron and I that we would be together forever (here’s hoping lol!) their response would be, but you and Daddy aren’t together now.  Even after we married Natalie once asked ‘mummy, when will you get deevorced again?’

Trying to reassure them of the permanency of Ron in their lives has been trickier given that we don’t live together.  This is of course set to change, but at the moment the facts are that the children have a part time dad, and a part time step dad. However, 2 part time dads, do not a whole one make!  What the children do get is just the good bits from their two dads.  Which is great for them, the laughs, the fun the excitement of seeing them.  However, what they don’t get is the continuity, the discipline and structure.  .

The alternate weekends at their ‘real’ dads consists of no rules.  No bedtime, no brushing of hair, a bath only occasionally.  Food that a child would choose rather than what constitutes healthy well balanced meals.  So for them Daddy is amazing, its all fun times, no telling off, no boundaries.  I try not to be too critical – afterall, this is his time with his children and his parenting style is his choice.  It is only every other weekend, and how much can it hurt for them to go a weekend without brushing teeth or hair, eating too much junk food and running riot.

But I have to be honest, it niggles, I can feel the hairs on the back on my neck rise when they come home like ragamuffins full of tales of staying up till midnight, having icecream for breakfast and nutella sandwiches for lunch. AND if I’m really honest, I’m jealous.  How can life with me compare, at home they have bedtimes, they have to eat their vegetables, we have routines and rules about behaviour and consequences for non compliance.  Is there any wonder that occasionally during fall outs they throw at me ‘I want to live with Daddy’ – heavens.. who wouldn’t! (Well, actually me, been there, tried that!)

The girls know which day Rons here, and they look forward to seeing him.  They know he’ll play games with them (limbo and the quiet game are their favourites, and Monopoly occasionally too), they will be able to climb all over him, receive big bear hug cuddles.

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They are still learning the boundaries with him, they push them here and there (generally when I’m not around) and to Rons credit, he is calm, never raises his voice, is consistent and rational with them (ha ha.. things that generally I’m not when the girls are pushing my buttons).  But in the main, as they only see him for a few hours a week, its all positive fun stuff..

They see their two dads as the men in their lives that play games with them, that throw them in the air and tickle them till they scream, that give them treats and money when the icecream van is outside the house.

Where does that leave me?  

  • The person that offers stability
  • The constant in their lives
  • The person who they know is there day in day out, night in night out.
  • The person they turn to and want when they fall, when they are upset and need comfort.
  • The person they learn from, who teaches them

Overall – the person who blends it all together for them and tries to make sense of their unconventional family

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