We’ve been to see my Nan today for her birthday. That in itself is enough of a happy time, but seeing how much the kids love going to see her makes me very happy. As a child I used to love rummaging in her cupboards and she would always find some box or other for me to look through. And today the kids had that same pleasure and both came home with a “treasure” – stuff that maybe in a few years they won’t even remember where it came from (although knowing my two they will remember exactly when and where). But the pleasure of rummaging in a box at Nan’s flat is still carrying on even after all this time and long may it continue.
Today didn’t go as planned. I was meant to be meeting a friend for coffee and to hear all her news from the last year (since I last saw her). I was then meant to be buying a birthday card and gift for my nan, to take to her tomorrow. I had books and magazines to return to the library. Then I was going to buy something nice for K and I to have for dinner after the kids were fed and occupied elsewhere. None of the above happened. Instead I have been at home all day with A off school with yet another tummy ache. A tummy ache that was up to a score of 8 (we score things like this out of ten with ten being no pain whatsoever) by lunchtime. Again.
I’m not a heartless mother. I would rather chop off my right arm than see either of my kids in pain, but really could she not have had a tummy ache yesterday when I was going to be at home working all day? I could have sent her to school (I have on the previous two occasions after the miraculous recovery on the occasion before that) but would have spent every minute of the time with my friend wondering if I was going to get a call from the school. And that call is far more guilt-inducing than sending her in feeling poorly.
So, instead I have done the ironing (loathsome), changed the beds, baked nan a cake (which I was going to do, but had to resort to a crappy cake mix instead of from scratch as I needed ingredients) and supervised A doing a school project (a score of 8 is well enough to get some homework done).
But in the midst of my (childish and pathetic) sulking were some happy moments: Mrs F bringing me a jam doughnut and staying for a cup of tea; getting one and a half sections of my knitting done; Mrs L and J coming by after school to see how the (not very) poorly (at all) girl was; watching the first Harry Potter film (again).
My day may have not gone as planned and I am probably going to be rushing round like a fool in the morning getting all the things I was supposed to get done today but it could have been worse (she could actually have been ill) and I had some happy moments.
A few weeks ago I bought a knitting magazine (I know, I’m only 42) because I have been wanting to start knitting again after a brief fling with it a while back. The magazine was spotted by my shopping buddy when she was out and she suggested it to me. There was a kit enclosed with it for a very cute knitted owl, which I completed and who now sits happily on A’s bed. One of the projects in the magazine was for a cowl made up of 4 different patterned sections. I am a bit of a sucker for scarves and snoods, so decided to use some of the money I made selling my old iPhone to buy the wool suggested for the project. I haven’t chosen the colours suggested as they were pinks and blues and as the end result will be for me,and not a gift, I have chosen colours more in keeping with my style (or lack thereof…).
So, happy moment for today…..my wool has arrived and I can start my project. I totally expect to start, unravel, start, unravel as I usually do when beginning a knitting project but that’s part of the process for me! Hopefully, I will have a picture of the work in progress fairly soon…watch this space. You never know, it may be ready for me to wear before the end of the cold season!
Now that, hopefully, all the sadness and worries of the last few months are behind us I have decided that I am going to start another 100 Happy Days. My blog, of late, has become too much of a diary and outpouring of my gripes and groans and that’s not why I started it. I would love it if you joined me on my journey, but appreciate that it may be a bit same old, same old (although I hope that I will discover lots of new things to make me happy!) so will understand if you decide to let me go it alone. So here we go – another 100 Happy Days coming right up.
Things I’ve learned today:
1. K’s nan was born the day before Armistice day in 1918. I knew her birthday was November 11th (we have, after all, been sending her birthday cards for years) but never realised it was actually the day before WW1 ended.
2. K’s nan was a dinner lady when her children were small.
3. Catholic services are quite different to C of E. There are bells and smelly incense stuff and sprinkling of water. And words you’re supposed to know and say when the priest says certain things.
4. Burials are not too bad. And not as dramatic as on TV. True to the word of my funny friend (you know who you are) there were no men handcuffed to a police officer and no fights broke out and no-one fell in the hole.
5. My husband has a sick sense of humour (ok, I already knew this).
6. I can’t go anywhere without getting into a slightly awkward situation (again, I already knew this).
It all went very well. We made it there in time and met at K’s nan’s house. Bit of a wait during which K’s mum made a few inappropriate remarks. My favourite was aimed at one of the great-grandchildren who she hadn’t seen for a while and confirmed this by saying “Hasn’t Jessica changed? Or is it just all that make-up she’s wearing?” Classic.
We then headed off in the funeral cars, at which point A had a little wobble but after a magic pastille (Rescue Remedy) she was ok. At the church there were a few moments when she cracked a bit and she did ask if Grandma was actually in the coffin…. “Yes, but only her body, remember. She’s all around us now, looking after us.” An idea which was reinforced by the priest and the tone of the service. Who knew? I’ve been an unwitting Catholic all this time ;-). I found it a little awkward not knowing all the responses and the genuflecting but on the whole it was a nice service. Nan had chosen all the hymns and K’s dad did a lovely eulogy (imparting the info in points 1 and 2). During the service they had communion which I would normally partake in (I was confirmed during sixth form, in an uncharacteristic and not since repeated religious phase) but stayed back with the kids. It was during this that I spotted an elderly lady in the row behind us, who was the spitting image of K’s nan. Assuming she must be one of the remaining sisters, I discreetly pointed her out to K. To which he replied that yes she must be a sister….. unless…..maybe nan’s not really dead?……Sick, I tell you.
T and A bravely went up to place their roses on the coffin before the four male grandchildren carried it out to the car. ( I say carried but it was more “wheeled on a trolley”.) The kids then stayed with mum whilst we went off to the burial. It was here that my awkward moment occurred. K had gone ahead carrying (properly this time) the coffin again and I followed behind everyone with the rose that he was going to place on the coffin. He didn’t come to find me so I had to squeeze past people to give it to him. The graveside bit (plot?) was quite close to a large row of high bushes and I had to manoeuvre my way between the people and the bushes, thinking I would pass it to him and then go back. But no, the priest started while I was handing it to him and so I had to stay there, in the bushes. The whole time. I had to bend my head to avoid injury and so I’m hoping I just looked quite respectful and somber and not like I was some nutter lurking in the hedgerow. Awkward.
I didn’t mind the burial too much, despite a terrible fear of enclosed spaces, and no-one got too upset which was a surprise. However, I did find it a bit perturbing when a few of them stood looking down at it once the service bit had ended. The moment was soon lightened though when some joker (guess who?) piped up that they should have “chucked a goody bag in there for her” – nan was famed for always producing a sandwich bag filled with treats for every young visitor, even on completely unexpected visits.
We then headed off to the “wake” and the kids drank “pop” and scoffed their body weight in sandwiches, having not eaten since 7am. The usual “them and us” (loving the quotation marks tonight!) situation, with one side of the family sitting miles away from the other, ensued and of course more inappropriate remarks from certain members of the clan.
All in all, we couldn’t be happier with how the day went. Two unfazed children, but glad grandma was there on hand, and the right decision made.
R.I.P. Edna 1918-2015
If there’s one thing I hate about being a grown up it’s having to make decisions. I don’t mean decision like what to have for breakfast or should I buy that handbag (duh, yes!). I mean decisions that affect other people, namely the little people. (No I’m not living with The Borrowers. I mean the kids.)
When Auntie B died A was really upset that we wouldn’t allow her and T to attend the funeral. It was K that really didn’t want them to attend and I understood his reasons – we knew from attending Uncle Howells funeral the year before that there would be lots of tears, possibly more as we had not had any warning of Auntie B’s death whereas Uncle Howell had been poorly for some time. Also, it was a sad time for my dad and we didn’t want the children to be upset by him being upset (if you get my drift), My kids both idolise my dad and would hate to see him upset.
So, when K’s Nan died we knew we would face the same question from the children. After much deliberation we agreed that as she had been poorly for some time and we had prepared them for the worst outcome that it was important for them to be able to say goodbye properly. Their cousins had decided to attend (although the youngest is a couple of years older than T so they are old enough to decide for themselves) and so we thought that would be a good thing. But even now on the eve of the funeral I am still having that little nagging doubt as to whether we are doing the right thing.
We know our children inside out and I think that T will probably be fine. He’s very laid back and is quite practical about things so I don’t think he will be too fazed by it. We have spoken to them both at length about what will happen, where we will be sitting, that the coffin will be there, that people may shed a few tears, etc etc, the list goes on. But I am still a little anxious about A. She is very sensitive and thinks about stuff – A LOT. She was asking me this morning about what happens at the burial (K and I both agreed that there was no way we would let them attend the graveside part of the service) and I have to say I was a little flummoxed. I have never been to a burial so can only go on what I’ve seen on TV. I gave her the basic gist and said I would answer any other questions she had once it had taken place. I know it’s good that she’s asking, I’m glad I can prepare her as much as possible, but I’m still worried.
My mum and dad had kindly offered to come with us – they liked K’s Nan very much and would have attended anyway – so that they can offer support to the children while we attend the burial. (As it turns out Dad is not well and won’t be able to come.) So at least she will have grandma to look after her, but I am going to feel so awful if I have to leave her upset and go.
I guess only time will tell. They are writing notes tonight to tie to a rose that they can place on the coffin. K’s dad and siblings will have one colour rose to place, the grandchildren another colour, and the great-grandchildren another. Which is a lovely idea. A has also written her a letter. I hope that they see the day as a celebration of Nan’s life and that it can be a positive experience.
That’s how I’ve been feeling for the last few days. Just bleurgh.
Not unwell; but not quite right either. Not fed up exactly; just not on top form. Just a bit crappy, bleugh sort of thing.
However, a few things have made me smile today so, in memory of my 100 Happy Days challenge, I am going to list them and think about them and then maybe the bleurgh-ness will just melt away.
1. Seeing Harpenden common looking like a Christmas card this morning, beautiful in it’s frost covered splendour with the sun breaking through at just the right point.
2. Walking into the office and hearing Radio 2 playing. Not Heart FM. This meant that my day would not be spent listening to the same rubbish songs being played over and over on a loop and rubbish adverts for local places that have been using the same advert for the last 20 years. My colleagues had finally figured out that you can play the radio from a computer rather than just through a radio (I didn’t feel it was my place to suggest this modern way of thinking) and so we now have a whole new world of radio channels to make our way through rather than the only one we can get a reception of.
3. As a result of this new-found radio happiness, hearing three of my all time favourite songs (it’s a long list): Sorry Seems To Be The Only Word by Elton John; Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush (this was ruined by my colleague squealing along like a cat in an attempt to parody the song); Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino (dad used to play it and I love it) and one of my current favourite songs: Take Me To Church by Hosier – just brilliant.
4. Managing to chat with a mum friend at school who I haven’t had chance to speak to for ages, and it was like I had spoken to her only last week.
5. K arriving home early despite indications that he may be late. We are due to go out tonight for dinner as part of our new “quality time together” plan (our neighbour happily agreed to the reciprocal babysitting idea and is coming round tonight. She even said that she owes us about a million sits for all the times I have already done it for them, so no need to reciprocate – yet) so I am glad that he is home nice and early and I won’t feel bad for dragging him out when he has only just walked in, knackered.
6. Seeing a brilliant post by one of my lovely book club ladies about things only “book people” will understand. (I have been avoiding Facebook since the New Year in a bid to not be drawn into all of the nonsense that was going on with the one-upmanship. But, I had to check an advert that my colleague posted today and had a quick shufty).
7. Checking my diary and realising that tomorrow night is Book Club! Nuff said.
So, seven things today that made me smile. Surely that bleurgh feeling is not going to be seen for dust..?!
……..Ooh, a late addition…..
8. Checking the website for the pub tonight and there is whitebait on the menu. Life just can’t get any better.