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 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.