Category Archives: Real life

Weekends and reflection

It’s a funny old thing living without your wife, you tend to eat alone, think your thoughts alone without anyone to discuss them with, in fact everything you do on a daily basis you’re alone unless you’ve a supportive family.  Fortunately I’m lucky enough to have that support.

Julie and I always nurtured our family, not because we wanted anything else but for them to grow into well rounded, loving human beings.  Luckily we succeeded, not by design but by accident really.  Sure, Julie read all of the “parenting” books but none of them really prepare you for the task ahead.

So what has this to do with being a widower?  Last weekend I spent a couple of days ripping my eldest daughter, Leah and her husbands’ garden apart to remodel it to make it grandson friendly.  This weekend I spent Saturday with Leah and my two youngest grandsons first at an aviation museum in Tangmere ( let’s face it, all boys like aeroplanes, right?) then on to Porchester Castle because all boys like castles too!

Sunday morning, the younger of my two girls, Hannah and her partner Matt pay a visit with his two daughters (eldest grandson Jack is with his father for the weekend).  Then off to Julie’s mum and dads for lunch, back around 3.30pm to sit and write my first blog for several weeks.

So what has all this to do with being a Widower?  It makes you feel wanted when you feel empty! I’ve met people from all walks of life throughout my 60 plus years and one thing I’ve learnt about folk is they really care only about there own lives because basically it’s human nature to do so! Do I blame them?  Of course not, so I try to live my life quietly and within my family circle which includes a few friends too.  One thing I know though, my life although filled with sadness has purpose in the future.

When you lose someone you’ve been with for two thirds of your life you change.  Your outlook on life changes and somehow I’d like to be able to imprint my life knowledge into others.  I’d like to tell politicians to stop pulling the wool over our eyes.  I’d like to remind doctors that in years past, a medical career was a vocation albeit well paid.  I’d like to remind big organisations, their staff are what makes their companies, not the greedy shareholders.

Finally I’d like to share a little spiritual knowledge, in the light of the upcoming EU referendum:

Change is not something to be frightened of, but, something to be embraced and used to your own advantage and to the advantage of others.

 

 

“Synchronicity”

I learned last Friday one of my relatives passed over.  You get to a certain stage of your life and it’s true, you do go to more funerals than weddings.   My cousin, Michelle contacted me to let me know her mum,  my Aunt Mary moved to the next life early on that Friday morning.

I hadn’t seen Mary for maybe forty years, so was it coincidence on the Tuesday of the same week I had told someone about a period during my early life while still at school, when I lived in her home?  No it wasn’t,  it was synchronicity, that little thing that drives the universe, call it fate, karma, whatever you want, if you know about synchronicity you start to understand life and the way it works.

My heart goes out to Michelle, her older brother Vic and her sister Val because their mum had been both mum and dad since the mid 1960’s when their father, my uncle Vic, died after battling cancer.  So Mary has moved on now and as hard as it seems my three cousins, life goes on and you’ll never forget her and you’ll always love her.  Nor will she ever leave you entirely, she’ll always be there to guide you when you need guiding, influence your decisions when you’re undecided and love you when you feel unloved.

This is what synchronicity is and does, it not only drives this life but all life, before, now and future, pulling together little things that match then gluing them together, making life go on and be purposeful.  Hard to believe with so much pain, horror and greed throughout the world?

Thanks for reading?

Life As A Widower 2 (6 months on)

IMG_0069I can’t believe it was six months ago today the love of my life for forty years, Julie, died from cancer.  Do I miss her?  You bet I do, she’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and the last thing I think about before I go to  sleep.  Only someone whose been through this would understand and I hope although against hope you won’t have to live through this experience, although unfortunately life dictates a good percentage of you will.

Luckily my family are all grown up, although I’m unsure whether this makes it harder or easier for  them,  my two lovely daughters, Leah and Hannah and my son Nathan have been and still are very supportive along with their respective partners, Simon, Leah’s husband, Matt, Hannah’s partner and the lovely Georgia, Nathan’s fiancée.  photo(29)These six, along with my three grandsons, Jack, Archie and Freddie are the main focus of my life, as they too need support from time to time of course.

So what about me?  Well I went to Tenerife in January to visit my long time friends, Linda and Peter, Julie and I had some great times with them and they’re the sort who no matter how much time between  talking or seeing each other, we just pick up where we left off.  I’m off to Gibraltar on March 27th to meet them and to be best man at their wedding on the 30th at The Rock Hotel 🙂  Then back to Tenerife for more celebrations, really looking forward to that trip!  I love the island, I’m able to sit and write without disturbance and have been able to concentrate on my first novel, “Soulmates” which is, apparently, so I’m told, turning into a really good read!

In November I’m flying to Florida with Nathan, Georgia and her parents to look over the wedding venue with them ready for 2018, looking forward to that trip too. 🙂

I’ve learned changing my bedding and fighting the duvet cover every week is a much better workout than jogging.  I’ve found I can deal with almost any problem now because life’s too short to tolerate most of the bureaucratic bullshit that confronts us all throughout our daily lives.  I’ve also learned to say no whenever I feel I’m being taken advantage of.

I’ve found out I’ve high cholesterol, high blood pressure and may be diabetic which is quite strange really because I cook and eat healthily, and I’m always active.  So armed with information, I eat more fruit, don’t take sugar in my coffee and only drink red wine generally at weekends.  I’ve also cut out the medication which treated me for depression, (before I lost Julie and not as a result of).  Do I feel better?  I don’t know, what I do know though is now life has a certain clarity to it, the sort of clarity which makes you unafraid to forge ahead, not be coerced into doing things I don’t want to do just to please.

Are there things I miss apart from my wife?   I miss travelling with her, her witty conversation, her wry humour, companionship, her undivided love.

The one thing I don’t miss?  Julie and I were instrumental in setting up a comedy drama group twenty years ago, did they support her when she was ill, no.  In fact I had to go to a meeting and explain to them how ill Julie was and still they expected us to go down and “help”, they expected me to go and build sets, even when she was having chemotherapy and dying.  Well members of that drama group, I hope you all can live with yourselves, maybe now you believe just how ill she was!  You know the beauty of not naming them is they know who they are, they have to live with themselves because when we resigned from the group due to Julie’s illness, we were never even offered a lifetime pass even though for many years Julie and I worked hard for the group, many times at financial cost to ourselves.  In Julie’s words “Fuck ’em, they’re all up their own arses and have to live with themselves”

Being a widower (or a widow) I guess,  sends you into a world of sometimes darkness, sometimes despair, loneliness at times when you miss the love of your life,  but I think also a voyage of self discovery until you meet the love of your life once more xxxx

Thanks for  reading 🙂

“BREXIT” Bullies?

I posted on Facebook this week regarding the threats from the French Leadership saying they would ensure the UK would suffer the consequences of EU exit by opening up the borders in Calais thus flooding our country with migrants.  They, (and David Cameron) seem to have overlooked the contents of the 1991 Canterbury Treaty, this 24 page document was brought to my attention by my lovely niece Rebecca Goodson, who having studied politics and obviously concentrated on her subject,  remembered the contents of the said treaty.  It’s far too long to post on this Blog but here’s the link:-

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/273131/2366.pdf

It’s worth a read because as Rebecca points out, The 1991 Canterbury Treaty is legally binding, thanks Becca 🙂

The French also threatened to entice banks and business to their already over taxed country, as a businessman, I can’t envisage any company wishing to pay 60% corporation tax when the rate in the UK is 20% less, can you?

German motor manufacturer BMW have also been in the news this week, writing to their UK employees.  It starts:

“The decision on whether to stay in the EU or not is for British voters to decide on in June. The BMW Group and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars believe that the UK is better as a member of the EU than it would be outside it.” It continues:

“Finally, we get a significant benefit from the easy movement of our people between the UK and Europe. This allows the rapid transfer of expert knowledge throughout Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and BMW Group networks, building the skill level of our UK workforce. Our employment base could also be affected, with skilled men and women from most EU countries included in the 30 nationalities currently represented at the Home of Rolls-Royce here at Goodwood”

The whole of the letter can be read online but I draw this conclusion, BMW are making veiled threats to their employees, a typical action from the other half of a bullying duo made up of Germany and France!  An alliance only interested in ensuring the longevity of their own countries.  Sound familiar? Shades of the past?

I apologise to any of my German, French and Spanish friends, as I don’t place you in the same bucket as the above minority of your countrymen.

I ask our government, politicians, indeed all parties, to lay out honestly the pros and the cons of leaving the EU.  Not to further their own careers, nor to court popularity but for once be totally transparent because this is not about you alone but the future of your children as well as ours!

Finally on this subject, there has been an awful lot of talk about the threat to national security.  Don’t forget we are still members of NATO, as are France and Germany and by association, most of Europe.  So what changes?  Not much.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

“BREXIT, it’s got to be said!”

Brexit, the term invented and adopted by the press to describe the negotiations for so called better terms for us, the UK to stay in the European Union.  So here we are in the fifth decade after Prime Minister Edward Heath took us into Ted Heaththe then “Common Market”.  The average man and women who had lived through the second world war were of the opinion back in 1975 that the main players in Europe, Germany and France were only after the wealth of the UK to prop up their own failing economies than the future of Britain. Even so 66% of us voted to join because then as now we were told it would be good for our future!  As a young man, I too voted yes, to apparently secure the future of our country and our children’s future.

41 years on, how do I feel as a 60 year old business owner, father of three and also grandfather?

When we became part of the now called European Union, our health service was free, including dental. We had care services for our elderly, free school meals for all our children, pensions for all and housing supply was not at an all time low.   Our farmers were working and the only fields left fallow were those in crop rotation. There were no “butter mountains” or “milk lakes”and so forth because farmers could produce what they needed to and not what they were told to by the Eurocrats.  Any shortfalls, we imported from our trading partners throughout the globe, meat from New Zealand and South America, grain from Europe and the Americas.   We had doctors who were satisfied with their pay, the police and fire fighters were well staffed and we had armed forces who were the envy of the world.  Not to forget the City of London which, as now was always a global financial hub.

What as gone wrong?

We as tax payers give the EU £55,000,000 per day (yes fifty five million pounds per day!) to achieve this we have to borrow and this increases our national debt hence on-going cuts to all the services we hold dear here in the UK.  Imagine how much our services would benefit from this amount of money injected into their coffers, doctors paid what they are worth, police, firefighters and ambulance crews, satisfied with their salaries (well almost, after all you can’t please everyone!) and a defence force having the resources to be capable of actually defending!

Jobs could be created in all of the above professions, farming, construction and manufacturing.  Manufacturing, I hear you shout with surprise? Yes, because gone are dark days of the seventies and eighties when Trades Unions had forgotten their main goal was to improve conditions for their members but instead were only interested in bringing down the government of the day!  We have the opportunity to have a new Industrial Revolution, manufacturing and trading with the world again!

David CameronDavid Cameron, our Prime Minister and of whom I’m an avid supporter, is warning of “a leap in the dark”.  I’m slightly concerned, Germany, France and other member states trade with us, they need us now and in the future to ensure the future of their own economies.  This said I applaud the tireless efforts of Mr Cameron.

So what would change?  Nothing much really, we will still trade with Europe, we can trade without penalty with the rest of the world but more importantly we hold on to our sovereignty and once again are masters of our own destiny, not beholding to faceless Eurocrats who have their own agendas.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

Inner Peace and Sanctuary

IMG_5722Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife, situated on the north coast is a tourist destination but one which, away from the main seafront, maintains it’s old world buildings interspersed with a mix of terraces and restuarants.  Walking around this small Canarian town with Peter, Linda and Matilda, their lovable beagle only seems to pull me closer to this island.

GarachicoHistory is abound throughout Tenerife, on one of our journeys we drove through Garachico a small town filled with reminders of its violent past.  Up until 1705 this picturesque town was a thriving sea port, exporting Malmsey wine and food then,  on May 5thIMG_5635 Mount Teide erupted.  Apparently, the large rock in the picture to the left was washed down by lava flows during the eruption which lasted several weeks.  Garachico’s residents lost their livelihoods and the port was destroyed!  As you travel though the town even today you can see the black volcanic soil that marks the direction of the lava flow down the 500 metre (1500 ft) steep cliff the town nestles below. Garachico 1The few old buildings which remain standing are testament to the beauty of old Spanish architecture.  I’ll be returning here on my next visit to investigate further and to quell my curiosity for knowledge about this old town which was rebuilt after the disaster!

Over the years Julie and I made many visits to the Canary Islands but this time, alone after her passing, it has been different, probably due to the change in my outlook on life and my attitude to growing older.  We both had noticed the sharp differences between Canarian and English culture many years ago, however, I’ve felt it more than before this visit.  I know this is the easiest place for me to write my book.  Indeed, prior to my return this time I’ve written the first chapter!

Over the years I’ve travelled to America, Russia, Europe and Australia but the Canary Islands seem to carress me with a gentle, relaxing peacefulness.  Here in the UK, life is about money, it’s fast paced and stressful, I’ve noticed parents have little patience with their children.  In Tenerife, you still need money but life is such the residents are more content. I’m not and never have been motivated by money, although have had to work hard to support my family and to give them a reasonable standard of living.  The native Canarian population are more family centred as am I, preferring to go to the beach or out for a simple family meal rather than sit in front of the television night after night.  Weekends are always special to them, some driving out to the many picnic areas for a barbecue, while others simply walk around with their dogs, call into a bar, sit and have tapas with their children, who also are content. I watched two boys of about eleven playing, not with playstations or XBoxes, but spinning tops.

The Canarian children have plenty of exercise and are respectful and polite.  While in Puerto de la Cruz, sitting with Peter and holding Matilda, a little girl rode up on her bike and asked “Puedo yo para mascotas tu perro?” which means “Can I pet your dog?” “Ce darling!” I replied, and gently she patted and stroked Matilda until called by her brother who was calling her for tea I guess, off she went with a “Mucha grasias, adios” and a friendly wave. Women and men alike have respect for each other and stop and talk in the street.  If you pass them on the pavement they will always respond if you wish them “Buenos dias” or “Buenos tardes” (“good morning” or “good afternoon”).  People in the UK either look away or look down, generally preferring not to answer and go about their business!  It’s almost as if being friendly is a crime.

I’m lucky enough to be able to travel, but while I’m in this green and pleasant land, I’ll try and spread some of that Canarian charm and cheer to all I meet, hopefully some of it will rub off! 🙂

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

Rest, relaxation and clarity

Arriving at Tenerife airport to see my longtime friends Peter, Linda and Matilda, their new baby imagehas been the highlight of the last very dark months.  Julie and I would have liked to have come back sooner but of course that was never to be.

Thursday was a day of conversation, wine and catching up, it’s a rare thing in life when after not seeing each other for so many years, you’re able to just pick up where you left off.  Pete, being the straight talking Yorkshire man he is greeted me with “bloody hell Acky you’ve put on some weight!” “Mate, I’m back to the weight I was when I got married” I laughed in reply before proceeding to take the Micky out of his new haircut. Linda unfortunately has laryngitis, which of course is not so good, except for Pete ??.  She seems to be ok but I think she is suffering more than she is letting on, all in all though they both seem pretty good and the Canarian lifestyle definitely agrees with them. ?

Look at the picture, how can you not feel good when you wake up to this every morning! image

Julie and I had planned to live in the canaries when we finally stopped work.  The only selfish dream we had was to move out here and merge with the cosmopolitan, less violent population and live our days out.  Julie, my darling, visiting our friends, has given me new resolve to live out our dream here albeit without you in body, I know you’ll be by my side all the way whatever I decide.

My talents are varied and plentiful, so if I can rebuild my life on this beautiful island, while writing my long planned novel I shall do just that.   The flowers are always in bloom, the people friendly and the sun shines most of the time.  If I can’t produce a written piece under these circumstances then I probably never will……????

Thanks for reading ???

2016 a New Year, a New Start

IMG_0102I picked this photo up this year off the web, the words describe perfectly the life I lived with Julie.  We laughed even through the hard times we had when we were younger.  We cared for not only our own children, but also worried for our extended family when they were facing their own battles.

We felt a sense of loyalty to our friends with some of the activities we were involved in, many times putting our own lives and work second to ensure they got the enjoyment they expected.  Sometimes this was appreciated but as we came to learn, many of those “friends” actually just take without thinking of those around, preferring to whisper and jibe, not realising or understanding the emotional wounds they inflict.

However, as you get older you realise you have a number of extremely close friends, those who will just come and sit for a couple of hours just talking about life because they know every little helps, some who you see on a daily basis, quite a few who you’ve sat with and listened to their problems and a few who, no matter how great the distance, will always be there for you.  Thank you to all of you, both family and friends for understanding and for being there over the last couple of years, you all helped Julie and I to cope and face what life threw at us, even though the outcome was tragic.

Enough of the past!  What about the future?  I’ve resolved to make some changes in my life!  I’m fortunate to have a couple of very close friends in Tenerife, so finally on the 7th of January I’m going to pay them a long overdue visit because Julie’s illness prevented her from traveling any distance.  IMG_3945Linda and Peter became longtime friends when both Julie and I, (then later our daughters, Leah and Hannah) worked for them at  local (now a housing development) pub they were running about twenty years ago.  We had a lot of laughs along with the other staff during our time there.  With their “anything is possible” attitude, they built an esablishment which became the “go to destination” throughout the year.  Was it hard work? Yes, but it was one of the most enjoyable times of our lives.

In Julie’s final letter to me, which I opened about three weeks after she died, she wrote “Do all the things we’d planned my darling, travel and go fishing, I’ll be with you don’t worry!” “When you sit in our beautiful garden (I’m not doing that as sit in my office writing, it’s raining and windy!), I’ll be there holding your hand.  Wherever you are, don’t forget, I’m just in another room”

So 2016, I’m going to travel.  I’m going to take more photographs.  I’m going to write more, including my blog and the story of my life before and with Julie and of the struggles we faced and overcame together and with our family.  The story of two people who were real soulmates.

Watch this space and thank you for reading XXX

 

 

Adapting To Life…..As A Widower

Now heading into my fourth month without Julie, how am I coping?  Well ok I suppose, life has to go on.  I’ve children and grandchildren to think about so giving up has never been an option.  I’ve always been methodical so keeping house is straightforward, of course I did that when Julie was alive.

Cooking too, not an issue, I cook for myself and for Nathan and his fiancé, Georgia, so no problems there, plenty of veg and so on.  Even when they aren’t around I cook. Washing, cleaning, yep the whole nine yards.

Little things make a difference now, like when Nathan and Georgia sit downstairs and talk. When Hannah texts and tells me she loves me, when Leah tells me the boys are missing their Grandad.  I spent an evening with some friends in the New Forest recently, a meal, wine and conversation?.  Then last Sunday, another long term friend, Doctor Sam came for a coffee and chat.  When she dropped me a text a couple of days earlier I found a spring in my step because she was coming.  We had coffee and talked, not about anything in particular, but just a general catchup.  It’s all of those little instances and episodes that lighten my heavy heart.

Conversation with Julie, now I really miss talking to Julie!  Julie and I could sit and talk for hours about all sorts of things.  We could talk about anything and everything, only couples who really “click” can do that.  In fact as I write this I’m drinking tea out of one of her favourite mugs which had the words “everyone is entitled to my opinion” imprinted on it.  To be fair she wasn’t opinionated, she was intelligent and funny!

My children all are very supportive, of course they would be, we’re all code and they miss their mum, but as I tell them, “You’ve your own lives to lead so don’t waste your time, live it!”

So really where am I?  I feel empty, like my reason for being has gone.  I feel numb, like I’m looking from the outside in. I feel guilty because I’ve not shed a tear, so maybe I’m in some delayed state of shock?

Finally I feel anger because no one will ever convince me that had the consultant at the Queen Alexandra Hospital, a certain Mr Gollund, been more efficient and not misdiagnosed Julie’s cancer, then treated her for a fibroid, then Julie would still be here!? Thank god he “mysteriously?”retired on the day the surgeons removed a tumour the size of a six month old foetus from Julie while giving her the hysterectomy he should have recommended two years before.  Mr Gollund, thank you for depriving my grandsons of their Nana, thank you for depriving my children of their mother, thank you for depriving Julie’s parents of their only daughter! Thank you for destroying the dreams Julie and I had!  You’re inefficiency has hurt so many ?.

If you’re reading this, thanks for being my therapist and thanks for reading ????

Julie’s influence, Lessons to be learned?

I was sat in the garden one evening recently and remembered something Julie had said to me in her final letter. “When you sit in our garden, think of me and I’ll be sitting with you” These words prompted  me to think, especially with recent events across the world.

imageThis is Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, most famous for leading and winning the battle against General George Armstrong Custer in 1876.

Custer, it has been well documented, was by all accounts, an arrogant man who had political as well as military ambitions.

Following the defeat of Custer, Sitting Bull said, and I quote ” Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights because no one has the right to take another life.  The warrior is someone who sacrifices himself for the good of others”. “His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenceless, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity”

The wise chief also commented ” Man belongs to the earth, earth does not belong to man”

Those quotes come from a great man who died 125 years ago but the philosophy should apply today. Our leaders throughout the world could learn from those few simple words.  As in Sitting Bull’s day, when Custer was in full warring and greed charge, these simple phrases seem to be just as important.  Maybe our leaders ( I have great respect for our Prime Minister), and the leaders of all the civilised world should read, digest and think how those words are relevant to the lives of all humanity as we war with each other and rape world of all its resources!

Finally, I was drawn to another quote from the Chief ” Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing so gentle as real strength”. I’m sure Julie drew me to this as sometimes I feel such emptiness until my family and grandchildren descend to our home and fill it with laughter???

Thanks for reading?