I’ve just spent hours and hours, and days and days on the web.
I’m searching for an apartment in Paris to stay in for several weeks in the Autumn. Lucky devil, I hear most of you say.
Some of you who know me know that a close friend of mine died two years ago: she was not well for several months but no tests not even chest X-rays produced anything. I finally persuaded her to go to hospital for an out-patient consultation, they ended up admitting her instantly and she asked me to be her designated next of kin (essential part of paperwork for admittance).
Two weeks later, still in hospital, she got the results. Terminal, aggressive, multiple sited cancer. No treatment possible for such an aggressive strain. She was told she had months rather than years, and weeks rather than many months. She did not want to know more than that, but the Consultant told me in private, that she had possibly three to eight weeks maximum and should put her affairs in order. (In fact, she only had four more weeks of life.) My friend did say that she wanted to go home to spend the rest of her life there rather than in hospital. So to cut a long and very painful story short, I took over the running of her life, liaised with social services, local health support, nursing services, meal support, pain relief, hospice, etc. etc. and helped her put on a ‘goodbye’ party for all her friends and family: this she was determined to do and it fell to me to try to persuade her to do it fast, rather than wait until she felt stronger, which is what she was going to do. I also had to persuade her to put her affairs in order, fast, which again took some tact.
She asked me to be the Executor of her will since she had a lot of belongings and paperwork which she did not feel strong enough to look through and sort. This I did when she died, whilst her Financial Advisor took on the Executorship of her business affairs.
However, her house was FULL and I mean full: of everything. She had been a compulsive hoarder. One room only had an eighteen inch pathway through piles of books and papers. She also had about five containers in store, all full of papers as well as furniture. The whole took me 7 months to sort, working five to seven days a week, often eleven hours a day. There were quite a lot of family strains at first: she had no really close family but the ones she had lived in other parts of the country and were the major beneficiaries under her will, and there was some quite understandable suspicion of me at first.
Anyway that is now all history. The point is that by the end of all this, my health deteriorated quite badly. I had to take leave from my teaching for two Semesters and found that I was also suffering from shock. My friend had been relatively young and stronger and fitter than I (although she had been a lifelong smoker), yet had had to leave life so fast, without time to do any of those Last Things that many of us might want to try to do. As I began to slowly creep back to health I decided I wanted to attempt some of the many things in life that I want do which had not been possible before, helped by the small legacy my friend was kind enough to leave me. So I have taken a year off teaching, to catch up and consolidate my health.
I am spending more time on my music, hence the Music Diploma with the Open University and I have joined a choir and a singing group. I am trying to see more of my friends and family, several of whom live around the globe: I have begun by managing a trip to the US. Travel has been fairly impossible for me for about 15 years, when my impossible migraines began. However, these are now less bad and responding most of the time to drugs. But this latest trip to the US was a real test of my stamina and migraine health. And seems to gone OK. Its like being released from prison, believe me!!!!!!!!!
I have become a Polling Clerk for our General Election (I also wanted to be part of the all-night count but they have no vacancies this time round). I am trying to get fitter – which is a slow process if like me you have ME (which is now low level I am glad to say) and migraines which are brought on by too much exertion (really good excuse for not doing housework!) and hope to get back to my riding soon. This is because I harbour a long term ambition to ride some of the long cross-country trails in the UK.
I want to take up my painting again and read more and get to see more live theatre and music: I am playing my flute more, gardening more and generally throwing myself into life. I want to write and be published: I have already had my two minutes of fame on the BBC. I want to visit India to see my grandparents’ graves and the Himalayas where my father was born: I want to visit Africa to see the wildlife, and New Zealand and Australia (where there are some distant cousins) etc. etc. But before I am tied to lecturing again next year, I want to spend some time in France: I lived there as a young child and have always wanted to live there again for a while.
This Autumn I am aiming to live in Paris for about seven weeks. My American friends will be over there at the same time, so I will have a chance to spend some time with them and have contacts, while I roam around trying to live la vie Parisian! So I am spending hours and hours on the web looking for a well placed apartment at a good deal. It is very exciting and I hope some of my friends and family may be able to come and stay with me for a bit while I am over there. I must also brush up my school girl French.
And I must tell you about Fodors forum. This is a website run by the famous Fodors Guides where travellers, and would-be travellers, go online and exchange info. about places abroad. I put up a plea for help with planning my Paris trip, and I have had a tremendous response: such kind, helpful and informed people who have taken the time to post me all kinds of suggestions and tips. http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/
So if any of them read this, thanks again.
As I get organised I will post my plans on here, and of course, keep a bloggers’ diary at the time.
My next deep laid plan is to do something similar in Sweden – another country I have always wanted to live in. My mother was half Scandinavian with grandparents from Norway and Sweden and I have relatives living over there. So I must learn some Swedish, I once knew a little, and begin thinking a couple of years ahead to that trip.
So if any of you begin to think this blogger is living the life of Riley with all these hobbies and excursions, you will know that this is not how my life has always been up to now: after years of ill-health I am trying to make up for lost time.
As my mother said, the things you will regret most on your deathbed are not the things you did and regret (because we all make mistakes – its as certain as death and taxes), but its the things you never did, a life not fully lived.