Posts Tagged ‘blogging friends’

I have missed my birthday.

To celebrate I will put up a widget of my most popular posts in case anyone has missed them, or would like to revisit them.

I must apologise for the gaps in my posting history over the last two years, sometimes life has just got on top of me and I have ‘dried up’ or not felt I had anything worth posting about.  Mind you, I never feel I have anything worth reading anyway, just things that I want to record.

It seems extraordinary that so many posts have been read: now I am  going also to add a countdown to 50,000: numbers that I never, ever dreamed of.

Happy Birthday - happy-birthday, 2, be-happy, happy-or-sad, happy-birthday-birthday Pictures

So, a very big

to all those who have kept looking-in despite the arid patches.

Good health and happiness to you all:)

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Woke to another silent house this morning.

I love silence, often crave it.  But it is the kind of silence in which you can hear the wind blow, the insects fly, the leaves flutter, a cat purr, a hen cluck to its chicks, a tail wag, a parrot quietly singing to itself, a clock tick, embers in a fire fall, and a dog snoring quietly on the landing.  Not this dead silence.  Even the parrots are quiet this morning.  I suppose the dynamics of the household have changed so much that they feel differently in some way.

We used to have to keep a dog gate on the stairs to prevent the pack running up and down stairs, claws clattering on the wood as they saw something pass along the lane and got ready to defend the castle.  Can two dogs form a pack? Indeed they can.

I often closed the study door so that I could concentrate against the rowdy crowd, or used to shut them away downstairs to get some peace.  Be careful what you wish for.

There is plenty of peace now.  A dead peace.  Not a squeak.

When out walking I never gave  thought to my safety even deep in the woods: you hear of mad men who murder women out walking even with a dog.  Ulf was far too large for anyone to mess with: for one so sweet he looked very intimidating.  When he stood on his back legs he could put his paws on a man’s shoulders.  I have not only lost a friend I have lost my feeling of freedom and security to walk wherever I wish with not a care in the world.

Last night I was typing away with the study door open: suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ulf lying in the doorway as he used.  I turned quickly, but nothing.

Husband is talking of getting another dog to cheer up No. 2 dog.  I see his reasoning.  But it is not a case of one out, one in: it is not another dog I want, it is Ulf.  No.2 dog is a nice dog: he has come on very much over the years we have had him after his cruel start in life.  But ultimately he is a self-reliant, self-contained dog because he has had to be.  He does not like other dogs and animals or vehicles and is very strong for his size.  Walking him is never relaxing as he is always on the look out for something to fight and I can barely hold him back when he is determined or frightened.  He learned early in life that attack is the best form of defence and that his very survival depended on his ability to be strong and fight for food.  I am so pleased to be able to give him a new life and a loving home.  But he will never be my reliable friend because he is a doggy dog and has issues.  Ulf was lucky enough never to have to face such harsh realities

I am very lucky: my blogging friends have been beyond wonderful and they have made a huge difference, I really do feel physically supported by them.  You know who you are, thank you so much.  Locally, another friend rang me up to commiserate and one neighbour came by specially to sympathise – he was fond of Ulf too.  My new neighbour down the road thoughtfully came up the other day to go for a walk.  Without my saying anything she knew that it would be difficult for me to walk the old paths so she kept me company for a long walk.  But it was still so hard: I could hardly concentrate on what she was saying, I could see Ulf walking or bounding along beside me.  And there are so many paths and places, so many different times of day and weather.  No one can accompany me along them all.  And frankly I do not want them to.  I did not want that walk.  I wanted to go away to somewhere different.  This is between me and Ulf.

Today is glorious: a crisp morning, bright blue sky, no clouds, full sunshine.  Asking for a walk.  No way.  Not yet. Not again.

Many people will be irritated with my maunderings: there are so many worse things in the world, so many worse losses.  But they miss the point.  Given my history, trust is a big issue.  Animals cannot let you down, what you see is what you get.  They are my ultimate security.

R used to argue with me over that.  She was not a huge animal lover although she would never have been cruel to one.  She once said to me that if I were starving I would eat my dog so I should get a sense of perspective.  Perhaps she was right.  But I cannot imagine doing so. Mercifully I have never been in that position.

My friend has been texting me: people have been protective and helpful as she has had to clear R’s room in the Nursing Home.   The neighbours of R with whom my friend is staying and who reacted rather badly to my going to support my friend have indeed be supportive and ‘shadowing her’ in her sad task.  She says she is managing OK although she has frequent attacks of ‘water works’.  I texted back that that made two of us.  R’s funeral will be in the tiny village church my friend was married in, and she will be buried where her parents, her husband, his brothers and parents are.   It is a church R knew from being very young and is situated in beautiful English countryside, with a tiny picture-postcard graveyard.

My friend’s younger sister came up to help her yesterday for a few hours and today my friend thought she would spend some time with her cousin to whom she is very close.  There has been a lot to organise and many practical tasks for her to do, which always helps.  But I wish so much that I could be there just to quietly keep her company.  Here, I have been cooking and freezing lots of meals to leave for my husband when I am in France.  Today I shall pick the last of the top fruit and clean the house.  Keep busy.  Do not sit down and notice the emptiness. Do not  think.

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I am posting this long before I thought I would be ready: partly because I  found a message from redriverpak on facebook which showed me how much I am missing my blogging friends.  Who would have thought that people you have never met could help so much.

In fact, it is because this is the kindness of ‘strangers’ that it does matter so much.

Saturday 16th October.

Strange, yesterday I could not write anything to anyone.  Today I am full of things I need to note down.  Not to post to anyone yet, but things I need to write.  Its so much easier to write than to talk.  You can still type while crying, you cannot talk when weeping.  And no one can see you making a fool of yourself this way.  So I am using this as a diary for the moment, perhaps to post later, we’ll see.

Saturday morning and some things are in hiatus others so acute.

Other people share my memories and feelings for R.  No one actually knows what my relationship with Ulf was like.

So many people loved R and want to be involved at the moment: I feel it necessary to step back to give others room.  Emotions run very high at such a time and already it has become clear that some people felt quite defensive and truculent at not being of direct help if I was to be too much in evidence.   I can cope and since I am not feeling like that it seems only right that I am the one who leaves space for others: a bit hurtful that my responses could be so misconstrued but I totally understand that people have a lot of ‘business’ around a death.  I hasten to add that it is not my friend, her elder daughter, who has any problems, we are of a complete understanding.  But it would only make things even harder for her if my presence were to upset others at the moment.

I spent time with R last month and we had such a good visit: my heart is at peace on that score.  I managed to get a message to her on the afternoon she died.  I have no guilt or feelings of regret.  Just a huge loss: but also thankful memories of a full life, and a quick and loving end.

The funeral is in four days time: then I think feelings will get stirred up considerably.  We four women, who grew up together as girls, me, my sister, my friend and her sister, will have lots to talk about.  Already the memories are flowing.  I and my sister were reminiscing the other evening.

Our mother went out to work so we were latch-key kids, but R often had us round to their house after school with her daughters for a family tea: her chocolate cakes, Victoria sponges, fresh bread, butter, chocolate spread and home made jam made for such a jolly tea table.  We all sat in the dining room round the table while she presided over the tea pot and  laden table as we talked about our days at school, or the journey to and from.  Sometimes afterwards, we would play a game or go up to the girls’ bedrooms and talk.  Or sit and talk to her mother who often sat in the corner by the fire.  It just depended on when our mother finished work. Sometimes the uncles would be there too,  or a neighbour would pop round.  To us two  girls from a small family, who came home to an empty, cold house, it was such a treat.

There were other times in holidays: when we roasted sausages on a foot scraper over a barbeque built from bricks in the back yard: when we indulged in an orgy of tie-dyeing in the large room which used to be a shop: when we painted a huge mural on one wall of the ‘shop’: when my friend and I were allowed to scrub out the old chicken house to turn into our ‘den’: the times we all sat in a dark cupboard under the eaves forming a ‘club’: the time R gave me a wonderful, nylon petticoat, all standing out with stiffness and layers of lace just as she made for her daughters.  I felt so special, so pretty with that petticoat.  Our mother just did not normally have time to spend with us in the way R did.

When I got married R wrote down all the recipes she used to make for us and gave it to me as a young bride.  She also gave us her electric cooker so the meals I first cooked were on the old stove that used to make so many things I ate.  She used to talk about her marriage, her early married life, her days in the RAF, in South America, in Europe, as a child.  Whenever we dropped in for a visit, she would just tell us to sit down at the table in her chaotic kitchen,  give us a cup of tea and a slice of home made cake (she always had cake) and carry on with the cooking or washing or ironing while she chatted to us.  She was always busy but never made us feel in the way or a nuisance.  Our mother tried hard and I am not judging, but her circumstances made it very difficult if not impossible for her to be anything other than tired, irritated, or in a hurry.

It is very interesting, but if you talk to R’s older daughter, she found that her mother could be impatient with them!  And her younger daughter used to come to our house to talk to our mother.  Something we could not do.  The mother/daughter relationship is so complicated.

So for the moment I am at peace where R is concerned with a head full of memories.  The funeral will be a different matter, bringing up all the emotions of my mother’s death too, they were friends, and being back in the places of my youth will make things very sharp focus.

Here, at home, things are hard.  The house is so silent.  No. 2 dog who always used to jostle for position is completely quiet now, no more rushing round or barking.  He just sits.  The vet came out to our house to put Ulf down at home so that Ulf did not need to make the journey to a place he did not like, with strange smells and strange people.  When we showed No. 2 dog Ulf’s body he rushed round the room not looking at Ulf, bringing us presents, clearly wanting something, desperately hyper and wagging his tail.  What?  Reassurance that we would not that to him too?  That things were still OK?

He keeps going into the sitting room looking for Ulf.  We showed him Ulf in his grave, he knows what has happened but does not seem to have taken it in.  All his doggy high spirits and joy have left him.  When we come in there is no rush of happy dogs to greet us now, no wagging tails: No. 2 dog does not even get up, he just goes on lying there.  Before they both used to rush around, bring us toys, talk like mad and generally be so pleased to see us.

Yesterday when husband had to go out, I was actually lonely.  I don’t think I can remember ever being lonely, at least not since we have had dogs.  The house was empty, something so special was missing.  Going for a walk was torture.  Everywhere I could see Ulf just a couple of days ago.  The wonderful walks we have had recently.  His happy nature, young outlook on life, you would think he was two years old in a ten year old body.  I can see nothing which does not show him to me, having fun, playing with me, bringing me things, keeping me amused, happy, filling me up with good emotions.  He was not just a dog, not just a pet, he was a friend, a true friend, who kept me company through many a hard and difficult time.  I have had many dogs, but he was someone different and I miss him more than I can say.

He was so intelligent: I would hide things and tell him “to go further, come back, go away” and he would quarter the ground, looking at me for further information, tail wagging, ears up, in close communication.  And he was so thrilled when he found it.  But then he was always thrilled: everything  I used to stop and look at he would look at too.  Every mushroom, plant, tree, leaf, all the things I was interested in, interested him too.  For different reasons of course!  We tramped through snow, hail, rain, blizzards, ice, frost, sun, wind, he was never miserable or had enough, just looked to see how I was doing, did I want to go on, in which case we would, did I want to go back, Ok we’ll go.  Without noticing it, you were having a conversation with him the whole time.  And he loved life so much, and by doing so enhanced mine.  He loved everything, people, babies, other animals although he was not keen on cows or horses, he liked to make them jump.  The vets always remarked on what a sweet nature he had.

I cannot go and watch the TV now: Ulf used to sit either on my feet or leaning against my legs.  His huge, warm bulk companionably leaning against me as he snoozed beside me.  Usually after a long walk.  Both of us pleasantly tired after our outing.  Now I sit there by myself with cold feet and lonely legs, so I don’t do it.  For the last couple of nights I have been dreaming about him: yesterday just before I woke I was dreaming that he was dead, his body still lying down in the sitting room but nonetheless I suddenly  felt him behind me, leaning on my legs, trying to push past to go somewhere and investigate something, as he did when excited.  I was so pleased that I had got it all wrong and that he was alive still, and then I woke up to reality.

When I was a very young woman I heard of an elderly Aunt who lived alone and committed suicide when her cat died.  We never understood it at the time and felt so guilty: but I completely understand it now.  Some animals become such an integral part of your life that you cannot imagine going on without them.

My head tells me differently: that I have known enough of grief to brace up, sit it out, tunnel through, grit the teeth, wait for the sharpness to pass.  And of course I shall.  But it helps if one wants to, and at the moment I don’t.  I cannot imagine life without him.  I don’t want to imagine life without him. I was not ready to lose him.  All my other dogs have made it to fourteen at least, several to eighteen.  He was fit, healthy, all major organs in wonderful condition: it was just this wretched motor neurone disease that was affecting his back legs so completely.  And it swept through  him so fast, we did not have months or years of slow deterioration to try to get our heads round it.  I made the decision, I called the vet, if I got it wrong I have deprived him of more of what he loved.  Life. There is no one else to blame.

I am the author of my, my husband’s and No.2 dog’s grief and my dog’s death.

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Blogging images

Redriverpak has been posting pictures of lovely ladies to illustrate the female blogger friends he has been highlighting recently.  If we are that wonderful, I assume he is too.  As I said to him I am most suspicious of his motives: so here am I getting my own back.  Ladies and gents, I give you our blogging hero as I envisage him, lets hear it for redriverpak:


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