Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Toilet humour

Well it's obviously been an issue at some point in time for signs to be put up.

I've never considered flushing clothing down a toilet, have you?

These are common signs in South African toilets, trust me, you'll be very grateful that the instructions are followed.

What's the strangest toilet sign you've seen?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Care package for a solider

My son, child 4, was deployed to the Middle East this summer. He's based in the UK and I live in Dubai. I've spent the summer in the UK and will return to Dubai in October. I visited him and his girlfriend and her family in June and sadly as my father passed away in July, they both spent a lot of time on the mainland with me before he was deployed. I've seen far more of child 4 than I normally would.

We chat most days on social media and skype weekly, post flits too and fro. But while he's based in the Middle East and it's more important to me and him that we keep the channels of communication open as much as possible.

The British Army offer a free service to send loved ones when they are based abroad 'gifts from home' free of charge via the Post Office via a BFPO number, up to 2kg in weight and recommend packing items in a shoe box.

Now I am a dab hand at packing shoe boxes having worked as a volunteer for 5 years with the Santa Shoe Box Project in South Africa where in Pretoria as part of a team we collected and distributed up to 10,000 shoe boxes to disadvantaged children in the area, with 110,000 collected countrywide.

Due to personal circumstances, this will be the first year I've been unable to take part in the project. We lived in Pretoria for 4 years, before moving to Dubai and I returned last year for 6 weeks to help out. I hope to back on board next year.

Like the Santa Shoe Box Project there are certain items that can't be packed in boxes and requirements for the way items are packed.

Toiletries and liquids must go in zip lock bags to prevent spillage.
Chocolate melts in temperatures in excess of 30c. Pack sweets and high energy snack bars instead.

Now my son has access to shops on base, he can pretty much get everything he needs, he just has preferences and somethings such as toiletries are expensive.

When you're 1000's of miles away from home and as an expat I know and appreciate how lonely and difficult it is, any contact with family and friends, regardless of however small it is, is greatly received and as child lived with us in South Africa and took part in the SSB projects also, he's rather keen to receive his very own shoe box.

He's moaned a little at some of the stuff I've put in, not doubt I've probably caused a few raised eye brows, but he has photo's, letters, sweets, toiletries, sun cream, playing cards, magazines, plasters, foot creams and what he doesn't want or need he can share with his colleagues or those who maybe don't have family or family who realise just how lonely and isolating it can be living so far from home.

I've got 3 themed boxes lined up to send as well as the regular ones for my mum to post out at set times. There's a Halloween one, a Christmas one and one for his Birthday.

There are a couple of rules and tips on packing a box which are:

  • Keep the box plain, don't identify the country where the solider is deployed to and write your return address inside the box.

  • Write the number of the box and date sent on the outside, that way the receiver will know if they're missing a box.

  • Write messages and decorate the inside of the box. Pick up postcards of where you've been and just write random messages.

  • Don't wrap individual items, customs may check the contents.

  • Wait to seal the box until you've had it weighed at the post office, put the roll of selotape inside the box, as tape can add a few grams to the parcel, once you've got the weight right, remove the roll and seal the box.
One final tip........

Don't forget the girlfriend, send her a box too.

You can read more here about my Santa Shoe Box Journey 

Sunday, 17 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 142 - C is for Cave

Peter and I spent Friday at Wookey Hole, exploring the caves and a game of crazy golf that I won, only because Peter lost his golf ball in a water hazard.

One Daily Positive - Week 37

A roller coaster of a week. We went to Lyme Regis for a few days and I was a mess. It was the first time since my Dad died 9 weeks ago that I'd been away for more than 24 hours and I felt very frightened about returning to Dubai in the near future, knowing that when I next come back to the UK my Dad won't be here. It was also the first time I had time with Peter on my own to really talk properly and not be the person everyone else was turning to for support. I had a panic attack in a shop, my legs went from underneath me and I couldn't breathe. I've also had a bad does of the flu, nut a few days on the beach, the fresh air, some time alone while Peter went fishing and finishing the week off with a shopping trip and catching up with friends, I feel a lot better.

253 Sunday What's the story?
My sister took me to Ledbury and I caught the train to Birmingham airport to collect Peter, we sorted car hire, picked up the teen from Stratford and returned to South Wales.

254 Monday TV
Off to Gloucester to visit Child 1 and then collected my niece from school, we explored the castle, some tunnels and had ice cream.

255 Tuesday My World
We drove to Lyme Regis, stoppimg off in Keynsham to visit MIL for coffee, checking in at the B&B and finding a pub for dinner after a walk along the sea front.

256 Wednesday Sharp
We set off after breakfast to Weymouth, but after getting halfway there turned round and went to Exmouth for the day, where we battled the wind and rain and walked along the sea front. My parents were due a holiday in Weymouth this week and I just couldn't face going there, knowing that we would've been meeting up with them under different circumstances. Peter's friend came down for the evening and another pub dinner.

257 Thursday If Pets could talk
Peter and his friend took the boat out for the day, I wandered around the town, went back to the B&B after my panic attack then pulled myself together and went hunting for fossils on Monmouth Beach. Back to the pub for dinner.

258 Friday Music
Up early for a walk on the beach and stopped at Wookey Hole on the way home, we had a game of crazy golf, lunch and got lost in the hall of mirrors. Called in at MIL's on the way home. The teen went back to Stratford for a few days.

259 Saturday Hug
Met Mum in town for coffee, dumped a weeks worth of washing on her and headed off to visit child 1, took her to the Quay's and did some shopping. Met up with some friends for a drink, called in at mum's for an hour and spent the evening chilling out in the flat.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - A is for App, Arrivals and Aeroplane
PoCoLo TriumphantTales TweenTeensBeyond - What makes a strong woman?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

What makes a strong woman?

I actually can't answer that question, but it's something I've been called several times over the past few months.

In fact it's something I've been called since I small along with many other names.

Independent, strong willed, stroppy, bossy, determined, controlling.

I of course don't think I'm any of the above, I am just me. I just get on with things. I don't necessarily find things easy. In fact I find most things a challenge, I find it difficult to ask for help, not because I'm controlling, but because I don't often know what help I need until the situation unfolds and I often find that at that particular point in time no one is available and I just throw myself into sorting it out and then on reflection realise what a stressful and difficult situation I've just got myself in and out of.

My life is quite challenging to the outside world and it's often said that I attract challenges or go seeking them out, but I don't.

I have 5 children. One is profoundly disabled and in care. I'm married and live in Dubai. I don't currently work.

In June I was ill, I went to the UK.

In July I underwent tests, child 5 left school, my Dad died, family came over for the funeral, child 3 moved to Australia, neighbour from hell harassing me and an anti social behaviour order obtained.

In August the house was sorted, stuff sold, family visited on and off, several skip runs, my friends Dad died, another funeral, a friend from Dubai died.

In September, so far, a friends Mum died, child 4 was deployed to the Middle East, child 5 still looking for an apprenticeship,

Life just happens and I have no choice but to deal with it, I make mistakes, I cry, I scream, I often throw the towel in and walk away. I argue and shout with my nearest and dearest, accuse them of not helping me, of often causing me more stress, I cause people to back off from me, I push people away, then I scream at how unfair it is that no one is helping and supporting me.

I don't have a job, I don't have children to look after, I don't actually have a role in life other than to be the fixer, the sorter. I get pushed to the front, I push my self to the front, to sort, to help, to save the day.

I get no thanks, I feel used.

I get thanked and I feel it's unnecessary.

I just do what I do, because I am me, I'm not strong, I'm just like everyone else.

I just do things my way, sometimes it's appreciated and understood, other times it's considered unnecessary and often unwanted, but that's just how I am, take the rough with the smooth, like it or not. I am just me.

If you think I'm a strong woman, if that makes you feel any less, then you don't really know me. I'm not strong. I'm just doing what I do, when I do, because it's what I do, it's what I am.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 141 A is for Apps, Arrivals and Aeroplane

Isn't technology marvellous? At 7.15am this morning, my Husband sent a Whatsapp message from this very plane with a picture from the window captioned 'Iran' I replied with 'Actually you're flying over Iraq' 

I was tracking him on Plane Finder.

I made my way by train to Birmingham Airport and tracking his flight I made sure I was at the arrival window to take this photo as his flight from Dubai landed at 12.14pm.

I then went for coffee in the cafe opposite and waited for him to pass immigration and collect his suitcase and clear customs, before collecting the hire car and returning to South Wales for the next 2 weeks before I track him when he returns to Dubai. 

Hopefully he'll be tracking my return flight sometime in October.

One Daily Positive - Week 36

It's been a tough week, it's been 8 weeks since dad died, child 4 was finally deployed and it was Dad's 78th birthday. It really does feel like we're slowly getting rid of every part of Dad's life, as if it never mattered. We know that isn't the case and the reality is we can't keep everything and I know we're probably moving at quite a speed but a) Mum is moving and b) the reason we're doing it so quickly is because I'm in the UK so might as well make use of me being here and they were wanting to move so why not just get on with it. Is it any easier to do this in 8 weeks, 8 months, 8 years? Who knows? We have nothing to compare it to. Others who have done it over different timescales can't tell us whether it's better or not because they only did it one way, their way and we're doing it ours.

246 Sunday Roast - Dinner for 1
Took the teen to the neighbouring town to spend the day working at an event with his cousin and I popped in to see child 1, didn't take her out as I was on my own and the weather was poor, did a bit of shopping and popped into see a friend on the way home.

247 Monday Back to School - Job hunting for the teen, our school days our over now
The plans for the day were scuppered when Mum had back spasms and sister and I decided we were unable to physically get her in the car so called an ambulance, the paramedic who arrived was the one who attended Dad 8 weeks ago, I almost had a break down when I saw him pull up. After sorting mum out and speaking with concerned neighbours, I cooked dinner, tidied up and my front tooth fell out, seriously I couldn't make these things up. This then threw the whole week out.

248 Tuesday My Passion - Researching the family tree and writing letters
Went to the dentist first thing then to Mum's to tidy up ready for a viewing in the afternoon, had coffee in town, bought a couple of birthday cards and a gift and I spent the evening writing letters which I love to do, sadly, not as many ever come back these days. Child 4 was finally deployed to the Middle East, a delay of 8 weeks.

249 Wednesday Tasty - Looked better than it actually tasted
I'd made arrangements with 'webuycarstoday' to sell Dad's Jaguar, they came in the morning to check it over and arrange payments, it was Dad's pride and joy. Mum and I took the teen to Newport for some shopping and spent the evening watching TV and caught up with Mondays missed paperwork.

250 Thursday I'm Thinking - Exploring the places Dad travelled to and comparing destinations
Dad's 78th birthday, I'd already bought his card and gift before he died. His gift was added to the train set sales and his card still sits in the plastic wrap in a drawer. After school, mum, the teen, my sister, her 6 yo daughter and 22 yo daughter with her 3 boys and I all went to Wetherspoons for our tea, we'd have probably gone here with Dad for his birthday tea. I just wanted us to do something nice to mark the day. I had a migraine and went to bed early.

251 Friday Looking Down
Drove the teen to Stratford upon Avon to spend the weekend with his girlfriend. I met up with the lovely Mary (over40andamumtoone) she drove over from a neighbouring town to see me for the day. Mary has been one of a number of people who has supported me via messages since my Dad died, just 'thinking of you' 'how are you today?' it's been so nice to know people I've never met to date are so caring, in fact (you know who you are) project 365 people, you've been bloody wonderful.

252 Saturday Beautiful - Missing home and looking forward to next week
Peter arrives tomorrow so I spent most of the day cleaning the flat and trying to tidy up all the stuff I've been storing of the teens and child 3 since he emigrated to Australia at the end of July. I really need to get the teen moved and settled before I return to Dubai in October. Popped over on the bike to see a friend for a couple of hours and borrow her printer, did a food shop on the way home.

Peter and I are having a few days away next week, which I'm very much looking forward to and desperately need, especially as I finished the week with 'man flu'

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - V is for View
TweensTeensBeyond, TriumphantTales & PoCoLo - Age appropriate toys for special needs adults

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

What are age appropriate toys when you have Special Needs?

This is my almost 30 year old step daughter, she has multiple special needs and physical difficulties. She does not communicate verbally or with PECS (Picture Exchange). She does not respond well to hand over hand activities, anything and everything will be put in her mouth, sand gets rubbed in her eyes, paint would be smeared around, play dough eaten and water trays would be emptied all over her and she really does not cooperate with a clean up process.

She needs 24/7 supervision and full support to do everything. Dressing, feeding, going to bed, getting up, toileting, finances etc.

She lives in a care home with one other woman and full time care staff, she attends physio, horse riding, swimming. Has visits from the Occupational Therapist, has trips into town for cake and lunch, enjoys visits to the supermarket, walks and trips out in the car.

A full and busy life, but there is lots of time when she is in her home, she has access to a sensory room, but due to their being a ridge to access and another service user and often only 1 staff member she rarely uses it and if the staff member is in the kitchen managing paper work or cooking she will stand and watch, but once they have to do something else, she wanders back to her room, where she favours and just sits for hours on her bed.

The staff are unable to restrict access to her room, they're also unable to encourage/make her stay in the sensory room. They are also unable to lift her off the floor or move her manually into another room.

She receives a lot of 1:1 time and care, but does not entertain herself, she will follow you from room to room and if you're busy will just wander off back to her room, she doesn't seek out activities or toys, you have to keep her supplied with items that light up, make a noise and have a sensory feel to them. They have to be indestructible, sturdy, but not too sturdy that they won't hurt you when after she's put it in her mouth she throws them across the room.

She doesn't stack things, sort things, work out that if she pushes a button, there's a reaction, she just shakes it, tastes it and lobs it.

This makes it difficult to find things that she can entertain herself with. She has access to a ball pool, a water filled floor mattress, there are fibre optics in the room and cushions and soft toys. I introduced a CD player to the room on the weekend and suggested furniture was moved and that the staff member did their paperwork in the room to encourage her and the other service user to stay in the room, which they did.

I then went out shopping for some new toys. I was faced with a limited selection. I tried several shops, too many toys were unsuitable, small parts, too sturdy and likely to cause others damage, too many small parts that could be swallowed, too flimsy and could be ripped apart.
I usually end up buying her baby rattles and musical instruments, but they're made from plastic or wood and after being biffed several times, which really hurts, I'm always on the look out for alternatives.

It would be nice to buy toys for her that were a bit more age appropriate, toys that weren't manufactured for babies or had peppa pig or paw patrol on them, regardless of the fact that doesn't register with her anyway.

This is what I've come up with so far from Asda, The Range and The Works. Total spent £18. I'm still looking out for some stretchy toys, handheld stress balls, solid enough not to hurt anyone, but not too soft to be bitten into and more toys that light up or make a noise when shaken, so if you know where I can get these from, please let me know.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

My Sunday Photo -Week 140 V is for View

Life is starting to return to normal after my father's sudden death in July. A new normal, bearing in my mind my home is in Dubai and I'm going to be in the UK for a while longer yet.

The original purpose of my visit was to help the teen with his apprenticeship applications and to find him somewhere to live, we've been delayed by 8 weeks, but I'm on it now. I was also here to sort out our new flat in South Wales and house we rent out in Malvern as well as paperwork for investments, UK tax and a few other bits and pieces.

Slowly I've started to get round to doing some of the above now and I'm on top of things with mum. Peter arrives next Sunday for 2 weeks and we'll be travelling around the UK having a bit of a holiday and hopefully seeing a bit more than the inside of the shed, garage, attic and the view of a field from the car boot.

The view from the Wyche Cutting, Malvern.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 35

I've been a bit preoccupied over the past 8 weeks after my fathers death and have let an awful lot of things slide. The flat became a dumping ground, it's now clean and tidy and organised,w ashing up to date and the fridge stocked. While I've been sorting mum's paperwork and affairs out I'd let mine slide and I'm spending next week sorting out the stuff I need to do in relation to our UK property, banking and investments and prioritising the teen with his apprenticeship applications which was the initial purpose of my UK visit.

What I haven't let fall by the wayside is keeping up with birthdays and other important events. I have been saddened though by the lack of response I've received from some friends in regards to my dad's death, it takes 2 minutes to send a message on face book to say 'thinking of you' I've managed to pop out and buy a birthday card and send it on time, there's been no condolence card sent or even a message to say 'thanks for the birthday card/letter/gift' I've been particularly upset by the lack of interest from some who I have supported in the past with the loss of their loved ones, people who have lost their parents and even family pets, or have had ill relatives, long term hospital stays or accidents who after the initial 'sorry to hear about your dad' haven't made any further contact. 

On a positive though, my friendships with others have developed further, some people I've never met message on a regular basis to let me know they're thinking of me and to ask how I'm doing and to offer words of advice. People who have obviously been or are going through similar, some who have never experienced it. I have 2 close friends who have lost a parent this year. 1 friend lost her mother in January, her father 5 years ago, she has been sorting the same levels of collecting out as I have, the other friend lost her father 2 weeks after mine died. We've been able to support one another though the initial stages and the funerals. My father's cousin's wife died the same week also, their daughter and I have been friends from childhood, we're in touch daily, sharing emotions, experiences, feelings. 

I've never lived in the town where my parents now live, I've been here almost 3 months, the first 2 friends above, live here and in a neighbouring town where I did go to school, and when I had children I lived just over the border. I'm making new friends here, chatting with their neighbours, being a regular in the local coffee shop. My friends in Dubai have been in touch and I much as I've loved being around my family here, I do need to go home and return to my life over there, but with a different set of priorities of who matters and who doesn't anymore.

239 Sunday Ice cream
Mum was away for the weekend with my sister, so I tidied and cleaned the flat and had a walk into town, before popping in to visit Thing 1 and Thing 2 for ice cream.

 240 Monday Bank Holiday Fun
A morning in town with my eldest niece and her family, then sorting papers at mums, collected mini me, my 6 year old niece and baby sat for the evening, putting her to bed and chilling out, waiting for my sister and mum to return from Brighton.

241 Tuesday Sand castle
 Today's photo prompt didn't fit so I made an impromptu visit to mini me's to play with the sea shells I've brought her from my travels around the world.

242 Wednesday Creation
Visited my Aunt in Cwmbran and set off to find my Gran's parents family grave, no headstone, but with help from one of the council workers we were able to locate the plot in Christchurch cemetery.

243 Thursday Happy
Thing 2's 2nd birthday, off to McDonalds at lunch time, followed by a birthday tea and cake.

244 Friday Children - finding out about my great great grandparents and their great, great, great, grand children, which would be my children.
Sorted out my old bike at Dad's ended up wheeling it into town to get tyres blown up and chain fixed, then wheeled it up the hill to my mates, where we sat and researched family trees late into the evening, ended up wheeling the bike home as I didn't have working lights.

245 Saturday Calm
Day spent blogging, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, researching the family tree, off for a bike ride later to mums and will be having an early night.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo M is for Memories
PoCoLo and TriumphantTales Things to do before you die

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Things to do before you die

Losing a loved one is a very difficult time.

My father died suddenly last month. As an expat, I was fortunate to have been in the UK and to have spent some time with him in the days before his death and to have actually been with him when he died as I have a flat in the same town and was able to be there shortly after he collapsed.

My father wasn't a well man, after a heart attack in June 2012 and I had to make a 24 hour journey from South Africa with little contact not knowing if he had survived until I arrived in the UK.

Since that trip, leaving has been hard every single time, not knowing if I'd ever see him again and I'd always make sure that I'd call in at Mum and Dad's to say goodbye and tell them that I loved them and that I'd see them again soon.

In between visits there would be phone and skype calls and letters written. Sometimes the phone would ring and I just wouldn't be in the mood, they'd forget the time difference, I'd moan, but I'd answer the phone or I'd call back straight away.

Over the past 7+ years since I've been outside the UK there have been other calls to say various family members have been unwell, including our children, there have been deaths in the family and I've been able to come over for the funerals. I've also planned my travels for weddings and other happy events.

Prior to this trip, I was last in the UK in March and April. I'm not sure why I planned 2 trips so close to one another. This trip June till October was planned to help the teen with finishing school, find an apprenticeship and somewhere to live, but I decided to visit in spring also.

In April it was clear to me my father's health had declined, he was having difficulty managing the stairs, doing jobs around the house, my parents were talking about moving. Mum was looking at properties, Dad was contemplating selling some stuff to be able to downsize. Dad spoke to me about the finances, not the details but where I would find things, policies etc. Told me he had funeral cover for them both and he had started the process of sorting his stuff out. But there was plenty of time to go through everything on the next visit and we'd do it all then.

I had 3 weeks with my dad when I arrived back in June. He didn't go through the rest of the stuff with me, he didn't expect to die.

My father collected things, he wasn't a hoarder, but he had a lot of stuff. It's been a bone of contention between us for years. I've told him for years that when he's on his death bed I'm going to call in house clearance, as I sat there with my father the night he died, waiting for the paramedics, that was the last thought going through my mind. I never said it, but I knew it was something I'd be doing in the next few weeks.

It would be my father's 78th birthday on September 7th. I'd already bought him this card.
Seems so apt now, all I've done for the past 7 weeks is sort, tidy, sell, recycle, donate, tip box after box of stuff. Fishing gear, golf clubs, train sets, toy cars, real car, pub ashtrays, sports memorabilia, stamps, cigarette cards, newspapers. All of it of great value and meaning to my dad, all of it a chore to me to get rid of. Some of it of value, most of it he thought was of potential value, but sadly unless I become a full time ebayer, it's just £20-£50 here and there and I have no where to store it whilst I try to sell it.

There will be no house clearance, but there will be an auction. The stamps are more specialised, there are a few other items I will take time to sell on properly for him as he has requested. He would get really upset at the thought of us just breaking up his collections and selling them on for next to nothing after he died, but we told him when he was alive that the reality is that will just have to happen, unless he spent the time sorting through things himself and at least making a start.

My father had started to label items of family and personal interest. His father's pocket watch, his footballing days and trophies. Items he'd picked up on his travels and of course Mum is able to add to the stories, identify items and tell me what things are, their history and personal value and meaning to help decide whether they should stay or go.

I'd been nagging my father for so long about getting his affairs in order that I'd started the process to sort mine out back in Dubai, between trips. Peter and I are downsizing in December and I am determined I will not leave this task to my children to do.

The grieving process for my father has been difficult, I've not had anything else in my life to measure it by to know if I'm doing OK or not, but it really hasn't been helped with all this added stress. I've been angry at him, I've had unanswered questions, I've screamed at the unfairness of why I'm having to clear all this shit out. I've cried in despair at the number of fishing rods one man needs and FFS he's never been deep sea fishing in his life, why so much gear? All the years I've asked for something but he's not let me have it, yet now, there's no satisfaction in it, and besides the bloody thing doesn't work anyway and he'd have known that. The glue sticks had all run dry, the envelopes had all lost their stick.

There are a lot of things I've learnt from my father's death, both good and bad about what needs to be done and I thought I'd share a list of what I'm going to do and/or have already put in place so when the time comes and I'm no longer here it will hopefully make things easier for my surviving relatives.
  • write a will, include funeral wishes and instruct the solicitors to act as executors and do probate where needed (particularly helpful if you predict family issues or family are spread far and wide)
  • write a separate list of every single item you want to go to each person
  • prepare your eulogy (my father had a pack with his CV, brief history of his football career, suggested hymns, readings)
  • arrange finances for funeral cover
  • ensure all policy documents are clearly labelled, keep a list of current/active documents, policy numbers and contact details in the front of files
  • if you have social media accounts set up a legacy and/or leave a list of passwords with someone you trust
  • leave a letter for your loved ones, even if it is 10+ years out of date
  • have your photo taken with all your family at every opportunity you have to do so
  • tell your family you love them and make sure they understand it's not just words
  • tell your family you are proud of everything they do
  • tell your children stories about your childhood, talk to them about the older generations and if they're too young to listen or don't seem interested then write it down
  • listen to the older generations, spend time with them, let them tell you the same stories over and over again, write down the stories
  • take a little sticky label and put it on the bottom of an ornament, object with who it was from and when (christening gift, aunty xxxx 19xx)
  • research your family tree, add photo's, snippets of info, dates, interesting facts like your great grandfather waking the railway lines from Wolverhampton to Newport with his brother to Newport till they found work in the Steel works then sending for the family
  • declutter, tidy, sell, get rid of stuff, only keep what you use/need. Donate items of personal interest to museums etc. Don't leave it to your family to do, they will bin it, they don't have the time. Remember everything can be found online these days.
The most important thing you can do though is just send time with your family, create memories, take photographs and enjoy the moment. At the end of the day, all the stuff you bought will be sold or given away and all the time you spend collecting your stuff together will just be dismantled.

I value this photo, taken 3 days before he died, more than any trinket he could could've have given me.
We spent the morning with mum at 2 boot sales before stopping at the Speech House for coffee. I wish I'd asked more questions. I know what day and time your died, as I was there with you. I know what day and where you were born as I have your birth certificate, but I do not know what time you came into the world.

I have your handwritten notes, but I have nothing in your handwriting written to me.

Dad, sadly over recent years we've not spent much time together as a family, we've all had our own lives, things to do, lived in various places around the world. But since you've died we've all come together and spent a lot of time making new memories, having fun despite the sadness, putting our differences to one side to support one another through this difficult time. We've all learnt that it's the who and not the what that counts these days. I wish you could've been here to see all your Children, grandchildren and great children together, probably for the first time. We did make the effort before you died, back in April for the teens 18th birthday, but sadly we never got to take a photo with you in it.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 139 M is for Memories

You can't keep everything when someone dies.

But with every item you sell, donate or chuck in the bin, you get rid of a memory, not your memories but someone else's. Someone who is not there anymore to share that memory with you, to tell you why they saved that newspaper, why that particular item was saved and stored in the attic and moved from house to house for 53 years of marriage. But it has to go, regardless of how upsetting it is to throw it away, they are someone else's memories, not yours.

My father was a collector of things, he attached great value to items that are of no value or worth to anyone else. There were stacks of newspapers in the attic. They had to go. The temptation is to keep them because they meant something to my father, therefore they mean something to his family, simply on the basis because they were his, but where do you store them and why do you keep them and what happens to them in the future? Do his great, great, great grandchildren end up inheriting a pile of newspapers because they were important to their great, great grandparents? It's the same with everything else.

The difficulty comes with knowing what maybe of personal or family interest or of actual value when someone dies. Fortunately my father was a great story teller and would tell us about things over and over again, there were some finds in the house amongst his belongings that have been a surprise to us, but asking around it would appear one or two of the family have been privy to a story that others haven't. My father had also labelled a lot of things over recent years, like his sporting trophies, with the name of the team he's played for at the time and had put smaller items into bags with a piece of paper with a brief story of where that item came from i.e. his father, mother, grandparents etc.

What surprised me when going through my father's belongings where just how many of my memories I found.

I spent the first few weeks feeling quite angry that all I could see was me in my father's belongings. Things I'd bought him, things I'd given him over the years. Like my father I've travelled extensively over the past 20 years. He travelled with his work in the mid 70's to mid 90's. I've travelled with my husband with his work and on my own and have lived in South Africa and Dubai. I'd visited many of the same countries, cities and tourist attractions, skyped my father from these locations, sent photo's bought back souvenirs and compared notes on how places had changed, the people the landscape, whether the countries were any safer to visit.

My father was an avid sportsman, playing professional football in the 50's/60's, then cricket, tennis, golf and finally taking up fishing in the later years of his life, but he loved to watch all sports. Mainly from his chair in the conservatory in the latter years. Peter and I and various children have attended sporting events all around the world, from golf tournaments in the UK, South Africa, Dubai. Football matches FA Cup finals, local derby's, England games. Rugby 7's in Hong Kong and Dubai and England at Ellis Park. Cricket in South Africa.

My father would tune in on the TV back at home, we'd update Mum via FB with our seats and he'd look out for us on the TV, more often than not spotting us live and recording it to show us on our next visit over and phoning us in the evening to ask about our day and question why I was always on my phone when the camera zoomed in on us on Match of the Day and not actually watching the football.

He kept all the programmes and tickets stubs and flags we saved from the events and brought back from our travels, the last one being the Rugby 7's in Hong Kong this April. These our my memories, we recycled them, took one last look through them and threw them away.

What we've kept that we're sorting through and putting in an album for future generations to keep are the football programmes and souvenirs from my fathers professional playing days. The one's where his name is listed as the goalkeeper, the newspaper cuttings he had kept from his school boy playing days at Newport Technical College, the team photo's, the letter from Joe Mercer, former England Manager, who called him up to play when he was manager at Aston Villa in 1960, but sadly my father missed the train that day, we're adding our own notes to each and every photo, letter, newspaper article with what he told us when he was alive and shared with us. His stories about the Munich Air Disaster, the players who survived that trip who he was friends with and went onto to play with at Cwmbran Town. His European playing days in Malta. The FA cup game against QPR. The footballer he played with who went on and won a world cup medal for his country. It's all being added bit by bit, put into date order and will be kept in a box under my bed, clearly labelled for the next generations to find.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

One Daily Positive -Week 34

Feeling frustrated this week, stuck in no mans land, in limbo, trying to help the teen find an apprenticeship, helping mum with dad's stuff, given notice to the landlord in Dubai to move in December and had another run in with the neighbour. Peter is over 10-24th September and we're planning a holiday.

Everyone around me seems to have a normal life, regardless of what crap they're dealing with. Work, kids, spouses, home etc. I have none of the above right now, although I'm busy every day doing things for other's I don't feel anyone is doing anything for me. I know it sounds selfish, I just feel like I need someone to put me first for a change.

Something changed over the weekend, nothing triggered it, but the consumption of grief shifted, I went to bed on Sunday night and felt different, all week I felt the same, still thinking about my dad, but in a different way, no more anger, what if's? frustration or sadness.

232 Sunday Hot Dog Legs
Had a lovely lie in, soak in the bath, blogged and had a latte at Caffe Nero and round to my mums to collect the teen and spent the afternoon at an 18th birthday party. In the evening I sorted some papers of my dad's and returned to the flat for an early night.

233 Monday Grateful to have such a tall teen who is willing to help
I had a blood test, been getting random shooting pains in my bones, followed by heavy aching. Dr suspects it's stress. Spent the rest of the day sorting papers at mums and sorting through Dad's treasures in the games room

234 Tuesday Oh Yes!
I'm really enjoying having the flat to myself, having some space, getting proper space and able to do my own thing in the evening and having relaxing mornings. Over to mum's to finish the games room then off to Malvern to catch up with a couple of mates and join the estate agent for an inspection of our house and meet the tenants. All went well.

235 Wednesday My View
Day spent at mum's. Helped the teen with more online applications, sorted more paperwork, tidied the garage. Had enough of being stuck indoor and in the same town so I drove down the A40 to the services for a coffee and a change of scenery.

236 Thursday Up Close
Emptied the attic now, now have to clear the landing, there were stacks of newspapers Dad had collected marking significant events, sadly it all has to go in the recycling, we can't keep everything because it was of importance to him. The teen and I took Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the park with my 6 year old niece. That was hard work, keeping an eye on 3 kids aged 2, 4 and 6. Called in at Thing 1 & 2's house in the evening to visit Thing 3 who is 4 months old..

237 Friday Straight Lines
First stop nail bar then visited Raglan Golf Club to get some advice on selling his golf clubs, met a few of the members and it was lovely to hear some of their stories about my Dad and his 2 brothers from their time spent there. Visited the tip and I kid you not, a true story, a guy commented that it was typical that the weather always improved before he went on holiday, assuming he must be going somewhere hot and sunny, when I asked him where he was going he replied 'Cwmbran' I burst out laughing, it's only 40 mins down the road. I spent the afternoon sleeping off a headache and had my niece for the evening, we had a picnic tea and a visit to the park.

238 Saturday Dream(ing) that this will all magically clean itself up on my return
Getting some good sleep, no idea if the nightmare tenant has moved out but it's been quiet the past week since he called me deranged last weekend, a couple of the neighbours told me they had witnessed his abuse, maybe they've stepped up a gear now. I do know the local police have randomly called in on neighbours and asked if they've witnessed anything and a few have spoken up now. Started the morning with coffee and blogging, hoping that by the time I return from a day out with a friend that the final bits and bobs of dad's paperwork and personal items will have randomly sorted themselves out and all I'll have left to do is a few car boot sales, sell his car and help mum move.

I have this plan that one day I'll take photo's that are of interest and will inspire, but then I remember that the purpose of this weekly post is my One Daily Positive and isn't about readers and stats, it's about keeping a record of my life for future generations of my family. Often the pictures are exciting and are of exotic locations, but mainly life is mundane and ordinary, therefore the photos reflect that.

On the blog this week:

My Sunday Photo - W is for (future) wives