So much has and hasn’t happened since I last blogged here that it would silly and somewhat impossible for me to recount the moments that have filled the months. But one thing I will mention for those who will not know and may wonder.
After ten years of struggle, blind fear, anger and misery ‘The Man’ made the final stage of his journey gently and with some sense of peace in the days before he decided to take himself off to bed to dive deep and learn to swim in another universe. He died on the 27th September 2010 at three minutes to 6pm. He was surrounded by people he recognised as friends, in a place he called home and with someone holding his hand till the final breath.
I wasn’t there but the day before I had spent six hours with him reading the Sunday paper aloud to him, playing music I knew he loved, singing along and falling asleep in the chair, when the infection I was being consumed by took the upper hand, for a moment much to the amusement of the sister in charge who came in to find us both asleep and my breathing way more laboured than his. That visit finished me off really and I knew I’d not be back the next day but also knew he was going to die the next day.
I saw many members of staff who kept a steady flow of visits whilst I was there, some who were not in work but had heard the time of his death would be probably whilst they were not on duty that week so came to say goodbye.
I spoke with three of the youngest members of staff who had not been in the job very long and ‘The Man’ was really the first person they had seen purposefully dying and were astonished and a little scared by the physical changes that were clearly happening hour by hour.
I am very clear that death is a wonderful promise never reneged on, is often a gift to be embraced with joy and is the moment for diving deep and learning to swim in another universe; that the energy of a life is freed to swim in waters never guessed at but familiar beyond knowing is the wonder of death for me. Being involved in the final days of anyone’s life is a privilege if one is able to help the person be as comfortable physically as they may be and peaceful in mind.
I thanked the three young women for their care and attention of ‘The Mans’ needs beyond rote or imposed policy. I told them that if they could manage to look every resident in the eye, lay a caring hand on a shoulder they would discover why their job was very important and more than that they would discover the magic held in each of the people who now called the nursing home their home.
Before the final week of ‘The Mans’ life I had sat down and written the letter I had promised him I would write, outlining what his wishes were for his final day and then had a meeting with the nursing team to draw up the plan which would be agreed by doctors as well as all staff at the home.
It turned out I am a rarity and that they have a hard job trying to get people to even consider this very important part of their relatives life. People clinging on for themselves rather than trying to understand what is good and true for the other person is much more the response which means nursing staff are faced with the agony of racing dying person off to hospital to be resuscitated for a third or fourth time to bring them back to the home each time further diminished and I would say dehumanised by the frightful pushing, pumping and alien sounds and sights that the resus room can present.
‘The Man’ tested the waters quite a few times before his final journey began, each time I was aware he had not really packed for the journey so was never surprised when two or three days later he’d be found doing his circuits of the establishment with a care assistant valiantly trying to keep up with him.
However, there were some serious questions asked in the month before he finally took himself off to bed, all of which I answered as truthfully as I could, which he knew would be the case as I am renowned for not exactly gilding the lily when asked for an answer. So when he had his hair cut, checked he had a full compliment of clean PJ’s and informed me he didn’t want to eat anything anymore I knew he had pulled the ticket for the voyage out of his breast pocket and had stamped it himself.
For me the timing could have been better but then it is only a good moment for the person on the real journey so mega doses of antibiotics and much else made sure I managed to complete all ‘The Man’s’ wishes even if I very nearly got arrested when it came to his ashes and their sprinkling; lets just say he will always be where he was happiest and the benefits of bone meal are well known for shrubs and grass, just wonder if the bowls will roll faster:0)
There have been times in the months since I blogged last when getting out of bed has been a difficult conundrum but there is always the less than graceful slide and bump to the floor then crawl to the flushing goddess; it at least always entertains Flo the cat and signals to patient waiting RnB downstairs that it’ll be a slow day but kitchen door is soon to be opened on the garden.
In this almost year I have learnt more about how to live life moment to moment. Some of the moments have felt hellishly long and deeply dark but they have only been moments, though many do often seem to crash in to each other which makes it feel like an aeon but tis just a life lived on the edg:0)
Today the sun is shining brightly the birds are singing and canoodling in and out the budding and blooming shrubs, flowers and trees in the garden so what better time to throw open the windows of my cottage and open the door on this blog once more.
I have many reasons why I’m starting to blog again lots just for this heart and mind but one thing will become obvious to anyone looking over my shoulder at these meanderings – some things never change:0)
As from May 1st I will be blogging more regularly, not quite sure what that actually means quite yet and whether there will be asides in other places like Three Elements, which I would like to crank back in to life and see what a years collection of photo plus two / four lines might bring.
I have definitely decided to keep a ‘Housekeepers Journal’…to make note of how much I am spending on food, books, fibre, cottage crafts, garden etc. By spend I do mean money but will also include time, energy and ingenuity:0) so, not only the greengrocers bill but what I do with the produce, if I have to throw any food away etc.
I feel I need to be aware just how much I ‘spend’ I will probably be a little shocked but know I want to become more aware of how I use and probably misuse precious resources, those of the Earth and those of my self.
In each day there are many moments when I am aware but there are many more when I am not. Sometimes this is because of a degree of pain escaping the meds and me getting focussed on the ugh rather than the smile of a dog, a beam of sunlight falling on the bed or the afternoon conference of Sparrows carrying on loudly in the shrub near the kitchen, so loud indeed that they drown out all sound from the busy main road below the end of my garden.
Sometimes it is because the brain is not firing on even a few cylinders let alone all so circles of the ever decreasing kind mean confusion at best and total sense of being lost being the bad.
I have strategies which help get me back to the now but I wonder how much they cost me and this will I suspect be part of the ‘Housekeepers Journal’
I am thinking, may be a weekly post of my notes, as I intend to use pen and paper for this journal just have to discover if I can scan written pages in and put up in this blog – ah another learning process seems the cylinders of my brain will need to fire all at once at least once a week:0).
But, as with this post, this blog will be about what pops in to my head when I sit in front of a blank screen and concentrate on something I’m trying to think through, something I have consciously sought, something I come upon unexpectedly, something planned and progressed or abandoned in pique, something that makes me smile, question, angry, excited or just plain stops me in my tracks as I catch my breath at its beauty, undeniable logic, scarily brilliant proposal, undeniable seduction.
In other words I’ll write about life as it is lived and experienced in this small world of my own making which is constantly gloriously broken up and rearranged by life itself to leave me breathless, battered but believing ‘more please’ is the only truth I need to hold on to as the rest will take care of itself and if it doesn’t then I’ll know it’s my moment to take out the voyage ticket from my breast pocket, stamp it in preparation to dive deep and learn to swim in a new universe.