The alphabet of things I like

I saw something like this recently posted by another blogger and wondered what it would be like from a canine (that’s me) perspective.

A – Ashridge Estate. I love going up onto the common so I can stroll through the long grass, get far too many scents in my nose and then get back to the car with a happy smile on my face. It isn’t far from me so quite easy to get to.

B – Beds. I have seven of them. I have to share my day time snoozing beds with Lenny but we have an unwritten code that we just go onto a bed and don’t hassle each other when we are sleeping. I have my night time bed whilst Lenny has his night time cave bed and never the twain shall meet.

C – Chesham. Where I live. I like the town with all the friendly people and other fur friends I have made here. It is surrounded by open fields and countryside so I get to walk the highways and byways to sniff out squirrels, rabbit and deer to my hearts content.

D – Dad. I have the safety and security of parents who look after me and make sure I am ok. One of them is my much maligned dad who, I must be honest, loves me to bits and who worries about me far too much. I am his first dog and he does some silly things which we all laugh at. But his heart is in the right place. Lenny and I know that he would always do stuff to make sure we are safe, loved and happy.

E – Exploring. I am able to explore for quite some distance locally and nationally. All the paths and byways near my home have been walked. I have also visited many places in the UK and always enjoy seeing new sights and exploring new scents.

F – Friends. What would I do without them? Life would be so much less interesting if I had no one to woof with on Twitter and on here. I always enjoy listening to my friends when they have good or bad news. It is nice to be friends.

G – Grandad. He is my only grandparent so I always have a fun time when we see him. Since he first met me, I have shown him that I am a friendly lad and he need not be worried about me. He is getting much better at tickles and I am going to take credit for that.

H – Home. A place where I can live in safety and security. I am fortunate to have a home now. I remember when I was in kennels at the nice rescue centre. I always wanted a forever home and now I have one, I will always feel lucky.

I – Icy cold weather. For some reason I like it when it is chilly. Maybe its because I can wear my warm coat and that the scents are close to the ground. I always seem to have great fun slipping across icy fields in pursuit of the next good smell.

J – Jerky. Beef Jerky. We get this as a treat sometimes and it is very tasty. I am not allowed too much of it as it can upset my tummy a bit.

K – King sized bed. My bed for sleeping at night time. It is big sturdy and heavy. It has high sides and is fully padded on the base. I get another bed within it for extra comfort. The best bit is that Lenny isn’t allowed in there, and he doesn’t try to break that rule.

L – Lenny. My brother who isnt actually bloodline related but we are the best of friends now I have got used to his nefarious activities of trying to bite my neck, ears and ankles at every available chance. After a turbulent start we have settled into a daily routine and have now got to the stage where we more than tolerate one another. In fact, I wouldn’t be without him.

M – Mum. The best mum of all. I know everyone will say they have the best mum but, in my case, it is the truth. Someone kinder and more thoughtful toward me I cannot think of. She always look out for me, looks after me and I look up to her.

N – Night time sniffs. Before I go to bed, I am allowed out into the garden to do “my business”. There are often many scents lingering from the nocturnal creatures who inhabit the tress around my garden. I get to smell them before I go to my bed. I may be in the garden for some time.

O – Outside, as in, out in the countryside. To see trees, lakes, rivers, big skies, rainy skies even, is to be free in mind and spirit. I am lucky to have some countryside on my doorstep as well as visited some wonderful places further afield.

P – Pednor. Probably my favourite walk around here. The views from most parts are lovely and I can see for miles. The roads are usually quite quiet so we can stroll along at our own pace without the fear of being run over. Also the hedgerows and paths allow me to scent way too many creatures.

Q – Quiet times. Sometimes Lenny gets to walk with dad whilst I go out with mum. We aren’t in competition for scents or territory and the walks are therefore quieter and we can have a chat without having a young beagle nose suddenly pushing me out of the way. When I first arrived I had the walks to myself and enjoyed them. I think mum and dad appreciated that, and try to ensure I still get some down time away from the playful lad now and again.

R – Relaxing after a hard days work. Always good to chill out when I have had a hard day of chasing, sniffing and avoiding sharp vampiric teeth.

S – Sunpuddling. What a treat. Finding the shaft of sunlight coming in through the window, on a cold day, and lying there allowing my fur to soak up the warm rays. We tend to sun puddle close to one another but without encroaching. It is probably my weary bones that need the suns rays the most.

T – Tube trains. I get to use them when I travel into London for exploring the city. I thought I would be scared when I first saw one, let alone boarded it, however once on board and moving I enjoy seeing the world go by. Even going around the actual underground sections doesn’t worry me, usually because I am accompanied by mum or dad.

U – Up on the sofa. I was allowed up on the sofa soon after I arrived. They were covered with throws so I could try and chill out after a hectic day. Now I can take up one sofa, whilst Lenny stretches out on the other. Not sure where our parents will sit but, hey, I am sure they will find somewhere.

V – Vegetables. I know, it’s a strange one for a canine. However if they are mixed sufficiently with my meat food, I can hardly tell they are there and I know they do me good.

W – Walks. They are the best. We always get to walk and explore with our parents. Walks are a vital part of our beagling armoury and help to keep our scent and sight skills up to scratch. Fresh air and wonderful scenery abound locally.

X – being e(x) – rescue. The feeling of safety, security and love all the time makes me content to my very core. To have been rescued and homed is a wonderful feeling. Add to that the fact that my rescue freed up a kennel for another fur, then I am doubly happy.

Y – Young at heart. I feel young when I am happily running around the garden with the sun on me. Chasing my brother is always a bonus. I like to feel youthful as I think it is important to stay young at heart for as long as possible.

Z – Zooming around the garden. Running at full tilt around the garden is fun, especially if I am chasing Lenny. We tire ourselves out whilst having fun. I suspect there is an ulterior motive in there somewhere.

These are my first thoughts on things I like, what are yours?

What happens when the novelty wears off?

It occurred to me today, in the middle of this latest quarantine lockdown, that it is ninety days since my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge to see grandad and all my buddies who have departed. And it made me wonder again about my life. I know I seem to be quite cogitative recently and maybe its because of the current situation with this virus and many other things happening. The time has flown since dad took the fateful phone call in mid August. Nanny and grandad are still in our hearts and minds. Sometimes I think I can see dad looking toward the heavens when I have allegedly done something silly.

I know I am a little disparaging about Lenny but it’s good to have a little brother to run around after, play with and generally share my life. I say it often enough however I am a very lucky dog to have love, safety and security showered upon me. Walks every day come rain or shine, food twice a day, biscuits and treats on other occasions and the pick of seven beds to sleep in all add up to me feeling happy. I am happy also that Lenny has somewhere safe to call home. He deserves it.

There are way too many other furs who don’t have the singular luxury of a bed, love, food or security throughout their lives and this makes me sad. Since the global virus marched its way through almost every country on the planet, I read about dogs being sold for extraordinary amounts of money because the demand outstrips the supply. Thousands of pounds for a puppy sold over the internet, on the back of no visit to see the little fur in its “home” environment, not seeing it with mum, sometimes a lack of health certificates and no check on any breeding or bloodlines. Are we a commodity, to be sold and bought in the same way as traders sell wheat, coal or motor cars? As sentient creatures, should there not be a more respectful and measured approach to us. I know that there are some people who look after us, breeders who make sure that they see where we will go, ensure we will be looked after and keep in touch for further questions.

People are at home for far longer than they used to be and crave company to combat their lack of social mobility. What happens when, or if, the virus is controlled a little and people start to carefully return to their places of work. What is to happen to the many pets who have been purchased and who may be left alone at home, almost fending for themselves with no walks, interaction with their humans and losing the regimentation of a regular daily life? I fear that a large number will merely be surrendered to a rescue centre, or shelter whose facilities will become bursting at the seams with the influx. I hope I am wrong, I really do.

Then we turn to the dreaded “C” word. Not Covid, but Christmas! How far will “pester power” stretch this year? How many dogs will be introduced to a new home with all the noise and joviality going on around us. Sitting there bewildered by this new places, brightly coloured surroundings and not knowing what to do, how to interact and feeling completely confused with it all. The novelty often wears off quicker than a Christmas Day dinner and we look for some guidance and interaction to make us feel wanted and loved. Maybe this year should be the time for people to do their homework before bringing us into a new home. Speak to a rescue centre, ask what would be the best dog to suit the human and canine needs and then see if there is an unwanted dog at the rescue or shelter. I was a Christmas rescue dog, my parents did their homework as far as they could, they spoke to the rescue centre, saw me three times, walked me on each occasion, asked questions and thought about me for about three weeks before I came home. I was, and remain, lucky because they persevered with me despite some difficult early months for us all. People will say “oh but the rescue centres and rehoming centres aren’t allowing visits” which is often times true at the moment. That doesn’t stop them from researching our traits, which would be the best type of dog to get and then ask more questions.

Maybe what I am saying is this. Instead of “What will happen when the novelty wears off” it should be “Don’t let us be a novelty in the first place”. We are a serious and timely commitment. We will love you, play fetch, sleep in strange places, make you smile and be your best friend. However we will also make you sad when we have accidents, fall ill, run off on a walk and need you to take us to the vet and clean up after us. This applies to puppies who have their whole life ahead of them as well as older dogs who want only to have their years of dotage in a warm comfy place with gentle ear tickles and soft cuddles.

Are people ready for that? If not, then think really carefully about our suitability.

When I get old.

Today I was looking back over some of the photographs of my life here for the last 7 years. This first one was taken about a year after I arrived. I was all sleek and tricoloured as some Beagles are “supposed” to be. I hadn’t settled properly which is why I have a bit of a face on me.

Then I saw this picture which was taken last week. Oh my dog, I thought, what has happened to me? I have aged so much that I look old and tired. I would hasten to add that the picture was taken in the evening and I had undertaken many shenanigans during the day.

I have heard it said that I look thoughtful and wiser but I am not so sure. At this point I admit it sounds like I am after compliments but that isn’t actually true.

Maybe I am wiser, I cannot say. I am certainly older and my bones ache quicker. And the fact that I am forced to chase my brother Lenny around the garden when he tries to chew my ears and legs doesn’t help my attempt to retain my boyish good looks. I am certainly more thoughtful than in the days of my youth.

We all age, and sometimes our life is written large upon our faces. I am having a good life with many fun and interesting things to do. Maybe the perceived wisdom written upon me, is that I am enjoying it all and want more to come my way. I wish it upon all my friends, pals and buddies.

As autumn falls

Sometimes there is no reason to post a long and winding blog about where I have been and what I have got up to. This is one of those occasions upon which I will not verbally ramble. I shall instead let my paws do the walking and the pictures do the talking.

Lenny and I went off on a stroll around the fields yesterday. The early morning mist and fog was beginning to release the land from its nocturnal slumber. The air was fresh and cool enough to see our breath as we ensured the deer population in the vicinity were aware of our presence.

Come out my deer.

There is a stark beauty to the fields when the leaves are falling and the sun is lower in the sky.

An ethereal beauty

Then it is home for a well earned rest.

Lean on me, little brother

We are very lucky to have this on our doorstep.

A life in the day of a Beagle

Apparently I am obsessed with squirrels. I have no idea what this means. According to the people who make my dinner and get taken for a walk by myself and Lenny, I am forever walking between vantage points in the kitchen and dining room so I can spot when the grey furry invaders dare to enter my garden. In order to prove their point, one of my parents has watched me almost continuously today. If he hasn’t, it certainly feels like it. So, here begins the story of one day in the life of a Beagle (Harrier).

Where is it?

I woke up, got dressed and was immediately introduced to the overnight scents in the garden. About forty five minutes later, the scent of the first breakfast wafted upon my nostrils and I decided I would grace Lenny and the parents with my presence. It was somewhat of an unwanted interruption from squirrel scenting but sometimes needs must and all that. Having eaten my porridge and kibble (it’s actually quite nice) and then the obligatory marrow bone biscuit, Lenny and I were harnessed and off we go for our daily constitutional. Lenny went off with Dad separately today so I was off to pull mum around the fields. We reconvened at home and my baying at deer was duly reported to dad. Second breakfast was taken in the kitchen and we are supposed to go and lie down to sleep off our shenanigans. Herein lies the first problematic area with the request to snooze. Lenny being the goodie four paws goes and lays down and is quickly snoozing off his exertions. On the other paw, I always get this feeling that there is an invader in my garden. My favourite window pane has plenty of nose art on it. As I cannot see all my garden from a single vantage point I have to move around to the other window so I can see transversely towards the trees. It is at this point that certain parents want to know why I cannot just lay down and go to sleep like a certain younger brother of mine? And how was I to know that dad had a breakfast bowl full of cornflakes (other cereals are available, kids) when I decided to “stand under his feet”. Anyway, there wasn’t any movement in the garden so I retired to my bed on the sofa. Twenty minutes later I thought I might have heard something in the garden which would need investigation. I managed to wake up Lenny as well which meant there was double the quantity of parental eye rolling at our ability to stand in the wrong place at the wrong time. Use of “the” eyes is thus required to allow our release into the garden and we find ourselves running up and down the garden in pursuit of a squirrel that might have been there, some twenty or thirty minutes before. After a further thirty minutes or so, we decide that it is time to scrounge some training treats from a pliant human so we stand dolefully and quietly at the door waiting for our paws to be wiped upon entry to the house. Well, Lenny was quiet whilst I aroooed at the top of my lungs just out or dads reach. Sadly I didnt see the squirty water bottle with which I was squirted very expertly by dad. We retire to our beds once more and peace reigns. Suddenly its lunchtime which can only mean one thing. Off my bed and to my favourite window pane, I see a squirrel, arooo and whine constantly until I am released and I can chase it out of the orchard. I am tricked once more, this time by the scent of my most favourite snack of beef jerky. I am extremely obedient when beef jerky makes an appearance. Ok, I must admit that lunchtime is often when I can snooze for more than twenty minutes or so. The squirrel obsession count was five or six wanderings to the favourite window pane and five sessions of “annoying” whining. All before lunch, I was quite proud. Not sure where they get this obsession idea from though.

I can hear a squirrel.

On to the afternoon and it is clearly time for the windows to be checked, both vantage points assessed and ensure that the garden is clear. There might have been a squirrel so this means I have to patrol and bay at the top of my lungs for forty minutes. Back in from the garden, I lay down in mums office and then I hear a noise that may be within a five mile radius. This means it may be in the garden, which means it may be a squirrel. Dad has to let us out again and then gets the blame when we arooo loudly and mum is trying to concentrate. This may have happened twice more before our dinner was served, somewhat late as usual. A quick snooze and I am back to the window pane for squirrel bothering and whining until I am released again. This time the garden patrol is only around twenty minutes so I can retire to my bed for a short time before Lenny and I are both released pre-teatime for our standard run around. Today it was a bit different as by the time we were ready to return to the house, dad had closed the curtains which means that my sight lines are closed off and I have little choice but to admit defeat for the remainder of daylight hours.

Wake up Lenny!

So ends the story of the day in my tormented life. I don’t think I am obsessed with squirrels, despite needing to chase them or at least try to spot them, every twenty minutes or so during daylight hours. Sadly Lenny doesn’t seem to share my love for all things squirrel shaped as he just does the bare minimum in chasing them off. Then he’s off to chew a stick or trying to annoy me with unplanned bitey face. I remain a bit worried by his apparent lack of concern for the squirrel invaders.

Hardwired hound

I am aware that I haven’t blogged for some time so I want to rectify that omission on my part. There is no excuse on my part however I have been busy. In any case, I can now dictate my latest missive for publication.

What can I blog about?

Lenny and I have had a hectic few weeks. I blame squirrels. I also blame the earth for spinning and orbiting the sun. Finally I blame the seasons, specifically one of them namely Autumn. Maybe I should try to explain.

As a beagle harrier I am hardwired to chase small furry creatures that dare to enter my line of sight. Recently there has been a plethora of creatures present on our walks. On our walk through hill and vale we are restrained so any sighting of an unsuitable creature bounding across the road or field ahead of us means we are only able to advance to the end of the industrial strength leads. Worse still they have been invading my garden in the search for food for the forthcoming winter season. We have apple trees which should provide us with tasty and nutritious fruit for eating in their natural state as well as being baked in pies and tarts. This is in an ideal world and doesn’t account for the activities of the local squirrel, magpie and blackbird populations. I say local but it seems to attract all and sundry from around a ten mile radius. If it was only the magpies or blackbirds, the world would be a sane and reasonable place. Sadly, with the addition of squirrels, the facade of calmness is removed and replaced instead with frantic door scratching, constant whimpering and persistent marching from one door to another so I can get a better view of the pesky creatures whilst they cavort in my garden, eat apples and then try to bury their winter food in the grass. Being a beagle harrier with expert vision up to a mile or so, it is extremely difficult for me to miss seeing them in the garden. I have to constantly remind the parents that I should be chasing these furry little chaps and I need to be let out. At this point I should also comment that my little brother Lenny doesn’t help the situation much. He will fly out of the door with me and chase the squirrels up and down the garden. Once the invaders have been repelled he will wander nonchalantly up to the orchard and pick an apple off and start to eat it. I need not describe the look of sheer horror and abject disappointment that I feel.

Having said all the above, Lenny and I actually caught a squirrel last week and were about to play tug of war until we were foiled by our parents. We were strolling around the patio having a sniff when all of a sudden, from the left side, this squirrel wandered towards us. We were stunned at his bravado. Did he not realise who we are? Did he not understand that we are hardwired to “attend” to small furry chaps such as himself. In any case it didn’t matter as within a second his head was in my mouth and I was trying to cuddle him with my teeth. Lenny ran around cheering me on whilst asking to pay tug with the squirrel. My fun was short-lived as a dad shaped object advanced quickly upon our shenanigans and I was told in no uncertain terms to “DROP IT”. I followed the instructions but Lenny then picked the squirrel up and started to practice his dental lobotomy on the furry little chap. We knew we were in big trouble when mum appeared on the scene and the fun was over. Dad still had to remove the very scared, and somewhat drool covered, squirrel from the garden. Fortunately he was wearing gloves as the squirrel bit the finger of the glove to show his gratitude at being saved from a certain doom. Dad had the foresight to loosen his finger from the glove so he wasn’t bitten.

Come on Dex, lets play tug.

So there you have it. I blame the seasons, the earth spinning and orbiting the sun and the fact that Autumn is upon us. If it wasn’t for all of these factors combining there wouldn’t be as many squirrels in my garden and I wouldn’t be driven to absolute distraction by them. That’s my story and I am sticking by it.

Wotcha Dex.

I do think that Lenny looks at me sometimes and wonders why. Just why?

We live in strange times

Dad went to my nans funeral on Friday. Lenny and I knew there was something not right as dad seemed a little apprehensive on our morning walk. We had a nice walk and dad told us what good lads we are, but there seemed to be something in his voice that told me things were a little different. We didn’t mess about too much on our walk or when we got back home. We got a big hug and a kiss on the head each before he left.

He said everything went ok on Friday afternoon, kind of as you would expect a funeral to go, really. Due to the current restrictions on people attending services, there were only 26 people so it felt a little more personal than when grandad passed away and there were about 50-60 people there. He did a talk and said to people about the link with the past being cut, abruptly and leaving you with regrets that you didn’t say what you wanted to say. When he got home, dad told us that he loved us very much and we got another round of tickles. I might have scored a couple of gravy bones too, whilst Lenny was walking around the garden but he doesn’t have to know, does he?

Then on Saturday we woke up, had our first half of breakfast, went on our walk, returned to our second half of breakfast and proceeded to settle in for a nice snooze. Suddenly, knock knock on the window and Raffa Beagles mum is standing there waving furiously at us. What a lovely surprise for Lenny and I. We greeted auntie J in normal beagle fashion and then proceeded to play hide and seek in the garden. She lost as we are quite good at finding people.

You go that way Lenny

After an hour or so we calmed sufficiently to roll over and snooze whilst the humans had a chat and caught up on life. We haven’t seen auntie J since early December 2019 and then were very saddened when poor sweet Raffa went to the Rainbow Bridge on 4th February this year. We had been saving up our leg leans and licks for her since then. It was a lovely sunny day so we went into the garden and showed everyone how fast we can run circuits around the flowerbeds and across the patio. I think they were impressed. We were just settling in for a long laze and looking forward to tickles when auntie J said she had to leave so we gave her a cheery beagle send off. Then it was off to sleep.

Strange days clearly follow one another. From sadness and reflection to a feeling of joy seeing friends in the space of 24 hours. Take life as it comes everyone as you won’t know what is around the corner. As Raffa said, never give up when faced with challenges and live life to the full.

We only get one shot at this.

The joy of life

I was going to call this article “The Joy of Dex” but that may attract a different type of reader.

I’ve been watching my brother recently and noticed that he has settled so much faster than I did when I arrived. I am forever on the go, I need to see whats happening, when its happening and why. If someone goes out of the room, I will be right there dutifully trotting along behind. It has come to my ever increasing notice that Lenny just stays on his bed, lazily opens one eye to survey the scene and then falls back to sleep again.

Chalk and cheese we are referred to. The rare times upon which he will move swiftly usually involve food or going into the garden to run around like hounds possessed.

On our walks around the local lanes Lenny has started to find his own trails more often although we still sniff the same scents now and again. When we look at him, he is trotting along with his tongue hanging out, happiness writ large over his cheery little face.

Today I was in the office with mum whilst she worked away and dad made dinner. Lenny strolled to the door and asked politely if he could go outside, so dad obliged. Within five minutes there was a quiet bump on the door and Lenny was playing happily with a small unripe apple that had fallen from one of the trees in my small orchard. He picked up the apple, tossed it onto the patio and play bowed with it. He was so engrossed with such a small thing that brought him so much joy that he hardly noticed dad watching him.

Apparently he is a little heart melter just like me. We may be the same breed but we are so different in our nature. He is the epitome of a rescued dog living his best life with love and security showered upon him.

Freedom. Of sorts.

I have been very busy with one thing and another. As a result I have failed to let you know about some shenanigans that took place last Saturday and which were wholly unexpected. Sometimes they are the best ones so I shall seek to remedy my omission now.

We had heard mum and dad last week hoping that the weather at the weekend would stay reasonable, however we couldn’t quite find out what they needed good weather for. We were out on our paws early on Saturday last week which was a bit strange but a walk is a walk after all, whatever time it was taken. Upon our return we had a quick breakfast and found ourselves bundled unceremoniously into the car and off we set. To where, we knew not. Around the motorway and down the road, around the roundabout and across the cross roads. Up hill and down hill we went, on our merry way. It was only when we pulled across the driveway of grandads house that I realised where we were. Maybe the fact that I slept most of the way there didn’t help with my navigation skills. Lenny seemed eager to see this new place, despite him being here in December last year.

Having been released from our travel crates we went to explore the local playing fields and then the inside of grandads house. We remembered from our previous visit the best places to play which included but weren’t restricted to standing at the top of the stairs and baying at each other followed by running up and down the stairs. According to mum and dad this isn’t acceptable behaviour. Who knew? Anyway, we got a bit bored after a few hours of playing indoor snout jousting so it was decided we would get back in the car and go to the beach. Fortunately it wasn’t too far away so we only had to put up with dads driving for a short time. When we arrived at the beach it was windy. Very windy. I knew how windy it was as my ears were flapping behind my head like a world war one fighter ace. Tally ho, off we go.

Great ear flips Lenny. Pardon?

We strolled with the wind at our backs and watched as the sea crashed upon the shingle of the beach. Lenny and I were each harnessed to a heavy parent so we wouldn’t float away, which was quite possible. We went up to the edge of the waves and I stupidly forgot that seawater tastes awful. Lenny just laughed at me. We wandered along smelling all the new scents for a mile or so and then were told we would return to the car which sounded very boring as there were still many scents. However this is where the fun really started as we were now walking into the wind which was whipping up the sea spray and blowing it all over our faces and fur, even into our eyes. Mum was the only person to forget her sunglasses so she suffered quite a bit with “sea spray eyes”. Fortunately we could walk behind some shrubs which had established as a windbreak along a section of the beach and thus gave us some respite. When we got back to the car we were all covered in a salty film of seawater spray. Lenny and I were able to shake most of it from our fur and then lick ourselves clean. The humans accompanying us on our adventure were not quite as fortunate. A short drive later and we were back at grandads house. We ate our dinner and then for some unknown reason felt very tired, almost as if we had just had an adventure along the beach, all the while pulling and scenting.

Wonder what time we get dinner around here?

We knew our adventure was over when we were returned to the car for the homeward journey.

Snooze.

We slept most of Sunday, our brains and paws overworked with sights and scents. We were dreaming of another escapade and hoping it would come soon.

It was a day of freedom of sorts. We had been able to do shenanigans for the first time in a while and it felt good.

The frailty of life

I am going to let my dad write on my blog today as, in the early hours of this morning, my nanny passed away in hospital. She made her longest journey to the Rainbow Bridge, as it were. I loved my nanny, she was the best.

Watching the person who gave you life, who then preserved and progressed your life, gradually deteriorate is a strange and slightly surreal experience. Seeing my father shortly after he had died was somewhat of shock to the system and I suppose the only redeeming factor to his death was that he did not apparently suffer toward the end and indeed the end came quickly.

Conversely I, along with my siblings, have watched as our mother at first slowly and then more recently deteriorate markedly to what is sadly the inevitable conclusion. Looking at the person who gave you life, now being relieved of pain by medical means at the very end of her days is a thought provoking thing. It is said that as people near the end of their life, they seem to become a shell of their former selves and this seems to ring true in respect of my mother. Seeing her in the last seven days she seemed at once to have no cares in the world, yet at other times had her life etched upon her face. We were assured that she passed away in peace and was not in pain. This provides a modicum of solace to us all.

My mother and father had five children in eleven years. They watched as one of their children died at far too young an age. The family was raised in the age when predominantly dad went to work and mum kept the house, along with the children, in line until they flew the nest. In addition she managed numerous jobs for around fifty of her eighty three years on this earth.

Born prior to World War two commencing she was evacuated and then returned to her home in south London at the time of the Blitz. She was one of four children (the others were boys) so she would have been used to the general disorganisation of life that conflict brings to any scenario as well as having many children in the same house at the same time.

Malta

She met my father who then served his National Service in Malta between 1958-1960 and they returned to the UK to set up home and start their lives together. Along with my father they worked hard to ensure that the children had a roof over their heads and that they would grow up with a good moral compass and a clear understanding of right and wrong. Maybe I messed about along the way with some of their efforts at showing us the good from bad, but overall their teachings have succeeded I hope. In her later life, as her health failed to a constantly greater extent she relied more and more upon my father until his untimely demise in December 2017. Dad had been, to all intents, an unpaid and on site member of the wider care team that looked after her needs all day and night. At the point of his death both of my sisters stepped up admirably and assisted mum where they were able to do so. Without their help, she truly would have been lost. Problems with mobility as well as various further health scares and the odd fall meant there would be a move from their house of some 50 years to a flat where it was easier for her to get about. Subsequent visits to hospital for various ailments ended with her being looked after in a nursing home for the final 8 months of her life. It seems to have been a fairly painful end to a life lived fully by someone who felt that her task was to try and ensure her children were level headed, reasonable and didn’t get into trouble. My mother, along with my father, achieved these goals.

Best mum in the world

The inevitability of the end doesn’t dampen the feeling of emptiness in your stomach, the knowledge that you will no longer be able to call and tell of good and bad news, to be able to sit down, have a cup of tea and chat about whatever comes to mind. The contact with the past is broken, abruptly and permanently. However she said she doesn’t want sadness, foreboding and a sense of navel gazing. To her life is to be lived. We get one chance to get it as right as you can so we have to take it.

Thank you mum, for giving me and my siblings that chance.

I love you nanny. Fly free.