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

Sunday 20 August 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 138. W is for (future) Wives.

Son's 2, 3, 4 and 5 have girlfriends. For the purpose of the blog they are numbered 2a, 3a, 4a and 5a. Occasionally I name them when I tag them on social media. I'd used up both the letter G's for this year, hence W for (future) Wives and not G for Girlfriends.

My father died last month. 3 days before a party organised to say goodbye to 3 and 3a before they flew out to Australia to start their new lives. We went ahead with the party. Peter and I had met 3a in May when they came out to Dubai for a holiday. 3a was due to meet both sides of the family. My lot and some family friends on the Friday and the following day my ex's family for another farewell do.

Now in my mind that's quite brave. There's an awful lot of us, but to still come and face us all while we mourn the loss of a husband, father and granddad, that deserves a medal. 3a was unable to make the funeral as she was saying goodbye to her family before they flew out to Australia the following week.

4a wasn't able to come to the funeral. 4 was supposed to be deployed the day his granddad died but it was delayed and he was able to fly over the following day and stayed until a couple of hours after the funeral. 4 and 4a visited in June, 4a met the entire family on both sides. Peter has yet to meet her. I spent a long weekend in Northern Ireland in July to meet her and the family. They both flew over last week, bless her what a trooper. 4a helped clear the garage made several trips to the tip, randomly ran across the kitchen to give out hugs to both mother and I as events triggered tears, she came to a wake after I went to my friend's Dad's funeral, visited with 4 his Granny in hospital, helped transport a commode ready for Granny to come home. 4a understands my need for coffee and meet my needs.

2 and 2a live nearby. They come when they are called to help with various things. To help me with 1 as I can't take her out on my own. 2a drove me to the funeral with 2, met my demands for coffee also. Patiently waited for me while I visited my Gran in the Crematorium afterwards and supported me through a breakdown when we went out for dinner and as I entered the room remembered that the last time I'd been there was with them and my Dad back in April, with the rest of the family.

5 has spent some time over the summer with 5a and her family. I've met 5a only a couple of times and her father once. But I've been grateful that 5 has been able to have a break from Mum and I over the past 2 months. He was with me when my father died, he has been staying at both the flat and at mum's being moved a round as visitors have come and gone and it's been good for him to spend time with people his own age.

Left to right.
3a 3 Me 5 Mum 4 2a 2
4 and 4a

And to complete the family album.

Dad and Peter.

Saturday 19 August 2017

One Daily Positive - Week 33

It's been lovely having child 4 and 4a back again, I hadn't thought I'd see so much of them them this summer, despite it being a sad summer with my Dad dying suddenly, the timing in respect couldn't have been better with all the kids being around for the funeral and to help out and provide ongoing support over the following weeks.

I feel like all I talk about these days is my Dad, I guess that is natural and to be expected. My life is consumed with grief, everything I do makes me think about my Dad. People keep saying my Dad would be so proud of me, the way I'm handling things, helping my Mum, organising the finances, sorting his things and giving/selling them to a new home where they'll give others pleasure and I should take pleasure and pride from that. Sadly I would not be making my Dad proud, he would be going bloody mad at me right now, if he was still alive, if this was a job I had to do because he was in ill health and the house had to be sold. Him and Mum were in the process of wanting to move, but Dad would've taken years to have sold his stuff, to have downsized, he had started, but he found it hard and he would never have accepted help in doing it. I used to beg and plead with him over recent months to sort his stuff out and not leave me to have to do everything after he died, sadly this has been the case, but during my last few visits he had spoken to me about finances and left everything in order, neatly labelled and had shown me where everything was, although not shown me what everything was. He had pointed out items that he thought were of particular value and had spent time telling me about items in the house with family links so when the time came, which we all thought was much further away, I'd know what to keep and what to sell.

225 Sunday Cocktail Emptied out Dad's drinks cabinet, neither him or Mum drank.
Sold some of Dad's stuff at a boot sale this morning, child 4, 4a and 5 came along for the morning before going to visit their Granny in hosptial.

226 Monday Bling. Visited the old Rank Xerox plant in the Forest of Dean.
Took Dad's fishing gear to be valued and called in to see my friend, not a good day as we start to empty the house of Dad's things.

227 Tuesday Ticket. Birmingham City v Bolton 0-0
Off to Tenbury Wells to my friend's Dad's funeral with 4 and 4a, then off to watch Birmingham City play. I was very upset during the match. Think I only ever went to 2 or 3 games with my Dad, but I'd always buy him a program and give him my ticket stubs.

228 Wednesday I Love.
Mum and I baby sat great grand son no 2 for an hour then went into town for some shopping and bought cakes to eat at home. The train set, toy cars and subbetto were sold and taken away. That wasn't easy to see them go, it was more about the hours my Dad spent in the garage putting the tracks and buildings together than it was the actual items.

229 Thursday Spots. We seem to spending most of our time here in the garage.
Spending a lot of time in the garage sorting through things. The train base was dismantled and a family effort to tidy the garage and sort through stuff for the boot sale. Out for dinner with 2, 2a, 4 and 4a and back to Mums to finish tidying the games room.

330 Friday Traffic. We rarely used the front door when Dad was alive, it was saved for visitors and the lock was dodgy.
The Estate Agent arrived to measure and take photo's to put the house on the market. We went into town with 4 and 4a for coffee and cake and some shopping, showed Mum how to check in on FB, upload a photo and tag others. Gave up the will to live. Spent the evening sorting Dad's study. Mum cooked dinner.

331 Saturday Soft Focus. Take that photo, don't worry about make up or hair, just live the moment.
Child 4 and 4a left early back to Northern Ireland at 4.45am, I have the flat back to myself till I collect child 5 this afternoon from Stratford on Avon. I didn't get back to sleep so cleaned and tidied and watched some TV, had a bath and went for coffee and blogged. I'm off to sell some more stuff at a local boot sale. Decided I need some time to myself and some space to switch off, so I'm leaving child 5 at my mum's where he can stay till the end of the month until the internet is switched off.

On the blog this week:
My Sunday Photo: P is for Paraphernalia 

Sunday 13 August 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 137 P is for Paraphernalia

Most of the stuff my Dad bought was from the Boot sales. Him and Mum loved spending their weekends mooching around them. Dad loved a bargain, he loved flea fairs, auctions, charity shops also. He loved to look at things that reminded him of his childhood, historical events etc. He loved to pick up toys for the kids, ornaments for the house, tools, items to supplement his hobbies, such as his fishing and golf.

Dad also loved a good moan and to pass comment. He'd complain about the prices of things and love it when he got a bargain.

Dad would find it very sad when people sold off stuff belonging to parents and grand parents after they had died and would often talk to me about the how important it was to him that we didn't just take all his stuff to a car boot, take collections apart and sell it all for next to nothing, that the value was in his collecting and not in the items. He'd tell me there were items that were worth a bit of money and to make sure we didn't get ripped off and to take our time selling things and if needed to pay for storage to allow us to do things properly.

Dad and I argued over this a lot. I'd tell him that what was of value to him wasn't of value to me and that he should start the process of selling his things and enjoying the money while he could and that I would rather he did that than inherit what I considered to be such a chore after his death. This upset him greatly. I often joked with him that I'd call house clearance in when he was on his death bed and the night he died, those words echoed around my head, those were not the last words I said to him, but those were the last words I thought about.

Sadly the reality is that today I was at a boot sale. He died 5 weeks ago this Tuesday. I was selling some of his stuff. His fishing gear is going off to a buyer tomorrow, someone is coming on Wednesday to look at his car and train collection, several trips have been made to the skip already, the shed is being sorted this afternoon, the attic later this week. The pool table, golf clubs and other sporting memorabilia is being sorted for sale, items are being sorted for flea markets and a few pieces for auction, the rest sadly is for the boot sale though.

One Daily Positive - Week 32

Finally got round to going back to the GP to find out the case of why I'd been unwell prior to my Dad's death, more bloods taken, more symptoms, same as before. Probably all stress related, didn't even get to the bit about the neighbour. GP asked how mum was doing, difficult to answer really as I've nothing to measure against, but in my opinion mum is doing better than OK.

Due to my time being limited in the UK and mum's desire to move, prior to dad's death, we've started clearing the house ready to put on the market next week. I know this is quick and many will have their opinions on this matter that I'm steam rolling mum and she needs time to reflect but really mum and I aren't those types of people. We're practical people, yes it's difficult clearing out Dad's so soon after he's died, but I guess it will be difficult at anytime. I do feel like I'm being disloyal, getting rid of collections he's spent his lifetime building, dismantling units he's lovingly constructed, but that was HIS hobby, HIS passion and while he was alive it was respected, but now he is dead, keeping all this stuff achieves nothing.

Dad was from the generation that threw nothing away, saved things as they may come in handy one day. When we moved to South Africa in 2011 he took most of the stuff we left behind that we couldn't sell in the 3 months we had, I never realised exactly how much stuff of ours he had kept. The kitchen block he used in the garage as his work bench, the hoover just for cleaning his car, the kids TV he rigged up in the garage to watch the news on, the frames and slats from the kids ikea bunk beds and the bolts all labelled so they could be reassembled if anyone else wanted to use them in the future. We were ruthless, we didn't take things apart with care, we didn't save the nuts and bolts for future use, we broke things up, we chucked it in the car and we threw it in the tip. It felt good to so, Mum stayed out the way and let her 2 grandsons, niece and grandson in law and myself just get on with it, make the decisions about what we got rid of, under my supervision. There were moments when I found it too hard, when I felt disloyal, but he's my Dad, he isn't here any more and the one thing I have learnt since my Dad has died more than anything else is that it is the people that matter, not the the things they have.

218 Sunday Smile
Slow cooker on and off in Dad's car to Newport for coffee with friends. Cooked a Sunday roast for 6 adults and 2 kids.

219 Monday Family Trip. Not going out as a family, but spending a lot of time together this summer doing things.
More paperwork and financial stuff, sorted through Dad's football papers and spent the evening with friends, mother, daughter and grandchildren. Ended up playing sports day with the 5 year old after tea.

220 Tuesday Wide Angle
We started clearing the garage. Dad didn't do things by halves, there were 23+ fishing rods and associated paraphernalia, we have a similar scale to work through in the rest of the house, made several hundred phone calls to line up potential buyers for a lot of his stuff for next week.

221 Wednesday Clouds
Down to Newport to collect Dad's will and to Abergavenny to drop of the financial donations in memory of Dad to the coronary care unit

222 Thursday Amuse
Took the teen to visit his Granny in Gloucester Royal Hospital in the afternoon and I wandered around the outskirts of the City

223 Friday Pets. Missing home at the moment. Been away since 19th June.
Catalogued and complied a rough guide to how much the fishing gear was worth ready for Monday so I have a rough idea how much to expect. Dad never really spent much money on it all, Mum is realistic that we won't get anything near what he spent though and although we've been looking on Ebay to see how much things are selling for, it doesn't tell us how long people have listing items for before they sell and we've noticed that most buyers are selling items in bulk, if we had time and patience and ran it as a full time business I'm sure we could achieve a lot more money for his stuff, but we neither have the time or the space.

224 Saturday Wet. Thankfully the weather is staying nice and dry to allow us to do the jobs needed.
I drove to Birmingham airport to collect child 4 and 4a, he's like a bloody yo yo, back and forth from Belfast this summer, but I'm loving having them both around. We spent the rest of day dismantling the garage units, it took nearly an hour just to clear the door, locks, cut a shelving unit to open the up and over door and 3 car fulls to the tip. There's still one more run to do with paint and chemicals that need disposing. There's a train set and several golf clubs that need to be sold, but now we have room to actually put the contents of the attic next week so we can sort what's rubbish (years of news papers) what's for the boot sales and what we can now look at selling online and at auction and flea markets. Fish and chips all round for dinner and loaded the car for the boot sale in the morning.

On the blog this week:
My Sunday Photo: J is for Jag Driving Dad's car, it was no big deal.

Sunday 6 August 2017

My Sunday Photo - Week 136. J is for Jaguar

I got to drive my Dad's car today, it was his pride and joy. he never would've let me drive this while he was alive. It would've been too big for me. Too heavy to handle. Too difficult to park. Too much to add me to the insurance.

I drive a 4x4 back home, I've driven in numerous countries around the world in both left and right hand drive cars.

It wasn't that my Dad didn't trust me. It was just his car and he didn't want me to drive it.

Since he's died, I've understood that, I didn't need to drive it, I didn't need to prove any point that I could drive it. I should've just respected he wishes and not gone on about it.

It doesn't matter now. I drove it today and quite frankly, it was no big deal. I teased him about the cost of fuel, joked about how he'd need to refuel after going round a round about, but I got 44mpg out of it today.

So what if he bought himself a Jag, so what if we teased him about it. It was his pride and joy. I know I have many things that my Dad considered a waste of money, in fact he used to go on at me and the boys about the cost of designer shoes, clothing, handbags, that it was a waste of money. But like the Jag, it gives us pleasure.

One Daily Positive - Week 31

It's now been over a month since Dad died, the first few weeks all merged and it seemed for ever to get to the funeral, now it's been almost 2 weeks since we gathered to say goodbye and time is moving fast now. I guess 'normal' will return eventually.

The neighbour has been given notice to vacate end of September, but he's notched the harassment up a gear with standing outside my flat door with his mates making stupid, unnecessary comments, fortunately he has a loud and distinctive voice and following police advice I now have recorded evidence. I really don't need this right now. 

All the paperwork is now complete and the process of sorting Dad's stuff to sell is beginning, Mum needs to move to a smaller property, as the 4 bed house has large running costs for one and there is work that will need to be done soon, so estate agents are booked for next week, we just need a kick up the arse to get going sorting out the sheds, garage, games room, attic and study. It's not all Dad's stuff, Mum will have to declutter also and storage is expensive so we need to start making decisions now, ready for the move ahead. 

Mum and I really need to sort our diets and shopping out, Mum isn't a big eater, but while the kids were here we were cooking a proper meal each day, since everyone has left we're back to snacking and I need to rectify this. I've also started returning to the flat at nights, leaving Mum on her own for longer periods of time. I will return to Dubai at some point in the future. I'm only in the town if she needs me.

211 Sunday Colour
Discovered the communal door unlocked again and lock damaged, called 999 and reported suspected break in. Management company not really interested and hung around all afternoon waiting for a locksmith, getting majorly fed up with this now. Popped in to see a friend in the evening for a couple of hours. 

212 Monday Swim
Door wide open again. Full list of complaints sent to property management and all police crime numbers. I've had enough now. My time is being wasted by the tenant, it's the landlords responsibility, not mine. Took the teen to Stratford to stay with his girlfriend for the week, Mum and I wandered around the town, had lunch, ice cream by the canal, several coffees and made our way home. Our first full day out the house, none funeral, none death related. It felt odd, it also felt strange.To be fair this is something we would've done without Dad anyway, as much as he would've liked to have joined us, he really wouldn't have managed all the walking and would have probably gone fishing that day anyway. I spent the evening stalking child 3 and 3a on their 3 flights from Manchester to Sydney online. 

213 Tuesday WOW. I really am getting too old for this malarkey. Too noisy and too cold for me to stay out for more than one beer.
A visit to the bank in the morning and In the evening I met my sister in town with her 6 year old daughter for the musical festival and a pint. Also listed Dad's Jag for sale on Auto trader.

214 Wednesday Hot.
Child 3 messaged to say him and 3a had arrived safely in Sydney after 28 hours of travel and had no idea what time their body clocks were on. Visited the police station in the morning to report last nights shenanigans from the neighbour, went to Newport Retail Park with mum, sister and her boyfriend. Found it difficult as this is somewhere I would come with my Dad. Had a visit from 2 burly policeman in the evening and there was no way I was asking them to take their boots off, my mother was inwardly crying as they entered the house....lol. A nice hot bath and an early night, trouble free.

215 Thursday Message. Feel a bit better having caught up with stuff.
Total meltdown today, needed company outside of the family. Chatted on FB messenger to a friend in Dubai, had a long telephone call with another friend in the UK and hubby picked the right moment to call. I had a breakdown in caffe nero and had a real hug from one of the members of staff who knows the family and my dad was a regular in the branch, picked myself up, pulled myself together, made some more calls, sorted more paperwork and got on with some blog reading, commenting and writing. The friend who supported me when my Dad died and took my hysterical phone call in the morning, called me early afternoon to say her Dad had died.

216 Friday Food. The teen is back tomorrow, best get some shopping in.
Met a friend in town for Breakfast then visited my ex MIL and SIL for the afternoon. MIL really isn't well and SIL is recovering from cancer surgery. I hate life today, it's shit. Bought a card for my friend on the loss of her father, that was hard also.

217 Saturday Tea. Why do the British make tea when someone dies? Seriously had enough of the bloody stuff now?
Early start to collect the teen from his girlfriends house in Stratford on Avon and the rest of the day was spent with my friend visiting her Mother in Gloucester and a spot of shopping for her eldest daughter and the teen. We called in at mums and went out for dinner with my niece and her dad. They all went off to the music festival, I returned to the flat for an early night. Neighbour has stopped harassing me, but is being deliberately noisy, I'm just ignoring him, which is what I've been doing all along, all I ever did was speak to his rental agent after a weekend of excessive partying, following numerous complaints about excessive noise from the two other residents.

On the blog this week:
My Sunday Photo - U is for Unexpected
Parenting - The Next Generation have taken over

Tuesday 1 August 2017

The next generation have taken over

How did this happen? I'm only 46, they haven't even made me a grandparent yet, yet they've slowly taken over and put themselves in charge.

I recently spent the weekend in Northern Ireland with my son and his girlfriend.

I'm using his car for the summer while I'm in the UK as he's going away with work for 6 months. I booked my flights, airport parking and a B&B and travelled their all by myself. I mean I even managed to get from Dubai to the UK in the first place.

But on arrival, my bag was taken from me, I was sat in the back of the car, driven to the B&B, settled in, checked that I had everything I needed and was informed of what time I would be collected, what I'd need to wear, bring with me etc.

Days out were planned, again I was sat in the back, coffee was brought to me upon collection to save them having to stop to fulfil my needs, I was informed of toilet stop availability and asked if I needed to go before setting off between sites and told quite firmly to put my purse away.

I'm 46 FFS, in control of my bladder, most of the time as long as trampoline's aren't involved and as far as I'm aware I still have all my faculties.

The 27 year old is no better, he's worried I'm taking on too much. Am I resting enough, eating properly. I'm doing no different now with helping the 18 year find a job than I did with the 27 year old when he left school and at 46, I'm still a lot younger than most of the 18 year old's school friends parents, in fact a lot younger than all the 27 year old's friend's parents. (I'll just add here, technically step mum, but just mum to him) He's also informed me I am NOT allowed to take child 1 out on my own from now on, as I struggled the other day getting her in and out the car, she is profoundly disabled and whilst she is small and light weight for an almost 30 year, she does have challenging behaviour, this is nothing to do with my age or ability, just to do with mine and her safety and risk of injury to us both.

The 18 year old has also stepped up a gear. We're sharing a 1 bed flat, I really thought I'd be pulling my hair out after a week, but I'm not, he's keeping his part clean and tidy as well as the communal areas and is nagging me to fold up my sofa bed daily as it'll make the place look tidier and less depressing and feel more like a home than a bed sit. He's right of course (don't tell him) and it does make it nicer to come home and be able to sit together to watch TV in the evenings. He writes the shopping list and helps with the budgeting, I shop, he tells me off for lugging the shopping from the car and up the stairs alone, he makes me a cup of tea, has run me a bath, tells me to relax.

The 25 year old is doing no such thing, he still wants looking after, with his list of diva demands, that I'm happy to make. He is the one I've spent the least amount of time with over the past 7 years since we moved abroad, he's always lived the furthest away, been the most independent and is now moving to Australia. But he is the one that comes to me the most for help, guidance and support. 'Mum, how do I ......... ?????????'

Sadly the boys had to step up a gear 4 weeks ago when my dad died suddenly at home. The teen and I were with him when he died and over the past 4 weeks he's been amazing. He's been doing jobs in the garden, entertaining the great grand children, cooking meals, fixing the toilet door locks and taps. Child 4 flew over from Northern Ireland, thankfully his deployment was delayed and he managed to make the funeral, he ran errands for his nanna, did all the driving to save me from having to do it and food shopped. Child 3 and 3a came down from Leeds for the weekend, cooked a couple of meals for us for the week ahead, but had to return to work and child 3 made it back down for the funeral, he also had to pack up his life, flat and job as he flew out to Australia with 3a whilst I was writing this post. 2 and 2a live near by and have been back and forth, driving me to and from the funeral, fetching coffee etc.

I have the most amazing boys. Peter and I are very proud to call them our sons. Their girlfriends are wonderful also. Sadly 4a wasn't able to make it over and Peter missed 3a as she was saying goodbye to her family ahead of the move to Australia.