Saturday, 6 September 2008

Hopping about on lily pads

Life is so complicated... we jump from one situation into another, thinking we have a plan, but all the while we just seem to be governed by some kind of universal destiny of which we have no control.

Today, while in the south, I happened to meet an old acquaintance who looked so much older than I remembered him. His wife joined us too, we hugged and asked each other how we were, not having seen each other for at least 14 years. He is recovering from chemotherapy and having non-hodgkins lymphoma... no wonder he looked so much older. He was optimistic and upbeat, knowing he had just one more session of chemo to go. His wife used to be a student of mine and became a friend. She too looked much older than she really is. I also learnt that mutual friends were suffering from various illnesses, job losses and financial difficulties. My daughter was with me and remarked afterwards how much younger I looked, and how much laughter and life I had in me. She said that I looked no different now than I did fourteen years' ago, yet my life has been in no way better than those I met and discussed today. What is it that makes us age or not?

I came away feeling humbled and grateful for what I have, even though I've lost my lovely man. My old friends still have their partners, but life has affected them all. It's like a lucky dip... none of us know what's around the corner.

In view of all that, let's all just enjoy every moment we have on this planet. Jumping from one lily pad to another is all we have, so let's keep jumping!!

Friday, 5 September 2008

An elevated view of things

I've lately found that I seem to anticipate happenings and things people say. For example, I was driving my granddaughter back from a trip out and as I turned down the narrow country lane towards my house, for some reason, I said out loud, "Oh No"! Simultaneously I stepped on the brakes to slow right down. My granddaughter looked at me and said, "what is it"? I didn't know why, and edged the car around the corner. There before us was a large lorry with an attached crane, blocking the lane with several cars queued up waiting. I reversed into a driveway and went back the way I'd come, wondering about my momentary premonition - if that's what it was. My granddaughter looked at me for a few moments and then said, "Wow Nana, you're psychotic"!!

She could be right!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Ghostly Monks and bad behaviour

For the second time in a couple of weeks, I and one of my grandchildren, crept about a bit in the crypt at Oxford Castle looking for 'Bernard' the ghostly monk who likes (it is alledged), to play tricks on visitors. We were told that sometimes ghostly images turn up on photo-shots... not on mine! Although, some of the electric lighted candles went out while we were creeping in the crypt. I assume it must have been Bernard's day off!

Two of my four grandchildren are embarking on a new scholarly term at 'big' school and both, this week have been very nervous. I cast my ageing mind back to my first day at 'big' school and remembered the fear and then the feeling of inadequacy when trying to find my way along endless corridors, dodging very tall and grown-up pupils who seemed a world away from my childish experience. I don't envy my grandchildren, but, it is one of those necessary steps towards adulthood, which some never make successfully. And on the subject of growing up, I am constantly dismayed by those around me who haven't managed it!

Today at Green Gym, we dismantled a crumbling dry stone wall in order to repair and rebuild it. And what happened? As usual, when it came to assembling, the men took over! We mere women who have been trained, (and got the certificate I might add), were sidelined. I tried to get close with my chosen bit of stone which looked as if it might fit... but was told "We've already tried that"! So, I watched as one of the men repeatedly hammered away at a rock to make it fit. Then the instructor in charge, appeared, assessed the protruberance of an old tree root and proceeded to rectify it, before finding the proper stones to fit. Inwardly I punched a fist in the air at the intervention of an expert. So, I raked up some prunnings, pruned a bit more Ivy off the walls and poured the Teas and coffees. It wasn't worth the argument, but sometimes, I wish dominant people would just let the rest of us 'have a go'. The sun shone, there was a light, fresh breeze and a French Camera Crew filmed and interviewed us... hmmm, perhaps that's why some were more dominant and visual than usual!

I often compare my lovely man with those I have to work with now. No comparison. My lovely man was not overly dominant and always put others first. He did not boast about his achievements, nor 'muscle in' on a group task. He empowered his staff and praised constantly. He was just lovely. Having said that, he had many faults (none of them major) which I do not gloss over, and neither do I put him on a pedastal - a common mistake and occurrence of we the bereaved, thus preserving them in perfection.

In my three years' of grief, I have analysed myself and others repeatedly and no longer get too annoyed at people's failings or idiosyncrasies. If I get annoyed, it doesn't last long... I move on and let go of my feelings, letting them drop off me like raindrops - something I could not do just a few years' ago.

It's not age that has made me wiser. It's the shock and loneliness of losing my soul mate which has put everything else in the shade, hence I don't get so emotionally upset as I used to, because the worst thing that can happen, has actually happened. Nothing else matters so much any more.