Tag Archives: Hannah and Nathan

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

 

 

Space, space and more space

imageYou know when you love someone for over 40 years, you tend to forgive all their little foibles.  When you lose someone after that amount of time, you also realise just how much they’ve taken over your life, and your office, and your attic, your cupboards and your wardrobes and drawers.  The lovely Mrs Atkins, pictured left, was an expert at covert occupation.

It’s been nearly six weeks since Julie moved on into the next life and her next adventure and things have become so much clearer both emotionally and space wise?.

Business has had to carry on more or less as usual, fortunately my two lovely daughters, photo(29)Leah and Hannah along with Nathan my strong son have got to “de-cluttering” the family home.  I’m glad they did because I cleared out the first set of drawers and produced enough underwear to fill a small department store, enough pyjamas and nightwear to kit out a Royal garden party and 50, yes 50 pairs of socks, I don’t think I’ve owned 50 pairs of socks my entire life??

I’ve a theory about all of this, I reckon you ladies get taught the art of slowly turning your homes into clothes shops and boutiques at school! I’m pretty sure, when you all got carted off for the “private lesson” without the boys (we boys thought it was about periods and sex) you were actually being shown the gentle art of “domestic occupation”.  Otherwise known as how to fill up your home with clothes, handbags and shoes.   As I’ve already laid out in a previous paragraph, my beloved Julie was an expert. Ha ha she could squeeze a hand bag inside a purse if it meant she could buy another.  Laugh about it we did but that was her persona.?

I digress. After a day of attacking our (now my) wardrobe, I returned from work to find Leah and Hannah a little upset, now I assumed their mood was because they’d been turning out their mum’s clothes, but no. ” Daddy” they announced ( they still call me “Daddy” even though they are in their thirties) “Daddy, do you realise how many clothes Mum had?” Asked Leah ” Have you any idea how few clothes you have Daddy!?” Hannah said with a genuine sadness.  “Come and have a look” they both were excited, then I spotted the sea of black sacks in the lounge.  “Jesus! What’s this?” I ask with shock.  “38 bags of clothes for the Charity shops!” I’m told “Mum had lovely clothes, sometimes the same top in 10 different colours!” One of the girls tells me.

I enter my bedroom and there it is….an eight foot long fitted wardrobe which the last time was that empty was when I built it!!  Leah and Hannah were right, my sum total of clothing was contained in 2 drawers, and about 10% of the wardrobe, that shocked even me!!

A couple of days later, I went out shopping for clothes for myself, as I wandered around various shops with firstly Hannah then Leah, I wasn’t extravagant, I never have been but gradually I began to feel less guilty about spending money on myself.  Julie never ever begrudged me anything and nor I her but I couldn’t see the point of buying for myself to put the clothes in a wardrobe where they would get swallowed up in an ocean of dresses, tops, blouses and trousers!

Nice to be able to see what I have to wear now and nice to have a choice but do you know what? I’d sacrifice the lot just to feel her hand in mine again or to smell her hair or to stroke her soft skin xx

????, to be continued.

Thanks for reading

Birthday party, garden parties and The Circle of Life

imageOne week following Black Wednesday and life has become clearer to a certain extent, plans have been made for the near future and we were back in London for a “handover meeting ” with Julie’s consultant at the Royal Marsden, Charlotte Benson.  “You’ve given it all you have got!” She tells Julie in her comforting bedside manner voice, this is a voice of genuine concern and humility because she feels that she has let down this patient.  Charlotte also knows this won’t be the last time she feels this way because as a general in the army fighting cancer, she knows cancer is a formidable enemy and won’t give in lightly.

Strangely though after we’ve gone through and exhausted all questions I found myself thanking Charlotte for all she has done over the last year or so, after all it wasn’t her fault the cancer had been missed for two years by an incompetent consultant at our local hospital!  No, the team at the Marsden worked hard to try and stem the advance of the cancerous devil.  Enough said!

We had an early dinner at the hotel that evening because we had been treated to a visit to the theatre to watch The Lion King.  While we were getting dressed to go out, Julie came out with another of her now common attacks on her disease.  “This was the only f*****g dress this shitty piece of offal will let me get in to!” She said half to me but mainly to herself.  “Don’t you worry sweetie, you look good whatever you wear” was my reply with a smile and off we went.

Once sat in the Theatre, I found myself sat with a little girl to my left.  It turned out this was her first trip to see a show and she was absolutely captivated.  The irony of this encounter wasn’t lost on me, to my left a little girl who was so excited and lucky to see the vibrancy on stage for the first time and to my right, Julie who had been on stage many times as well as in the audience, knowing she might not get to attend many more performances.  The number being performed while these thoughts drifted through my mind? “The Circle of Life”…..

On the train journey back Julie announced, “I want a party!, it’s going to be my last birthday and I want a party!”  “Ok” I reply, somehow knowing there was more to come. “When would you like it?”  ” As soon as possible of course, and I’ve decided on a few other things as well!” She carried on looking out of the train window.

Once back at home our tribe start descending.  Party was the word of that evening.  The evening became night and the night became an impromptu family party, it was heart warming to be sat at the table in our garden watching Leah, Hannah and Nathan laughing and bantering the night away, a definite memory making moment of love and pride, knowing our three cubs had grown up into independent, hard working Lions and Lionesses.  🙂

One of our really good friends dropped by on the following Saturday to see Julie.  “I’m going to have a party Mel and soon as possible” Julie explained.  “Leave it to me and Michelle” We settled on a date, the 13th of June which was a week following Julie’s birthday then off tromped Mel to break ther news to our other friend, Michelle that she would be helping!  We of course (that’ll be the Royal “We” i.e. me!) would be financing the bash. 🙂

DSC_0003During this period of time, between the beginning of June and the 13th, Nathan and I started to rearrange and generally re-model our garden, not because the party was to be held at home but because Julie wanted us to create a memorial garden for her, “somewhere for family and friends can come and sit and have a drink when I’m gone” she announced prior to the operation.  Julie has a flair for design and Nathan has inherited it.  Nathan and Julie, designed, Nathan and I did the heavy work and everyone had a good time spending on this creation.  One end of the garden had become overgrown, we cleared it and laid down bark and gravel, we trimmed shrubs, and pulled weeds.  Nathan decided a well was required, we built it, Nathan added blue l.e.d. lights, we installed a further water feature and solar powered lighting.

 DSC_0105Julie came up with other little gems, such as the “Beach/sea” theme, “we do live by the sea” she told usphoto(31).  Over the last four weeks we’ve moved and added to our little garden, we’ve spent many of those nights sitting in the garden chatting, sometimes alone and sometimes with our DSC_0113family or friends who’ve dropped in.  Either way the project has given Julie much pleasure.  As for Julie’s Birthday party, that went without a hitch, Julie never got in until 3 in the morning, enjoying every minute in the company of family and a few friends, she couldn’t have everyone we know as friends because my budget couldn’t take anymore of a battering in June.

We’re now into July, how are things now?  Well since that “Black Wednesday”, Nathan and I have tried to go for lunch with Julie every Friday.  Leah and Hannah come in to see their Mum as often as their lives allow and I’ve been spending as much time as possible with Julie, only leaving her when absolutely neccessary.  Her Meds have been modified during the last 24 hours to try to stem the pain but this, at the moment is fighting a losing battle.  However, we remain hopeful, after all how much pain and for how long is a woman, even one as stong as Julie able to withstand the onslaught?  To see the woman who you’ve known and loved for forty years crying in the middle of the night, not because she has life shortening cancer but due to the sheer physical pain she is having to endure hurts.  Knowing there is nothing I can do except try and comfort her as she fights just isn’t enough!  I want to take this vicious disease out of her body, punch it in the face and give it a bloody good kicking!!

Hopefully, the new Meds will kick in sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading and keep your fingers crossed 🙂

To be continued…..