A Day Well Spent

I think we overcame a huge hurdle yesterday, with Mum’s first birthday without her around, and it being a significant birthday too. It was not easy but we survived her 80th and I felt surrounded by love and support all day long. I felt empty when I woke up and unsettled with my grief. It was raining and that seemed the right weather to match my mood. I took the dogs a walk to shake off my gloom and i headed towards a park that we used to picnic and walk in, but I drove passed the entrance I was looking for as it was more overgrown than I remembered and so I parked in a rural car park , unloaded the dogs and started walking up a track that I had walked along many years ago. After a gentle climb of around 5 minutes, I stumbled across a small  homemade chapel where I was invited to sit a while and light a candle  and I did both. It was such a peaceful spot as I looked out over the misty hills and I felt so much better just being there. I did not know that this chapel was there and I felt that something had guided me there as it then changed the tone of my day as it made me feel better as I read this bible passage on the wall :

” You shall go out with joy and be led out with peace; the mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands”

I went on to walk through the hills with a smile on my face, albeit with tears in my eyes, and with gratitude for having known Mum, rather than focusing on our loss.

Soon after I got back to Mum’s house, my sister arrived and so we hugged ,cried and laughed together. We achieved a lot yesterday : we survived and celebrated her 😯 th birthday and we finally made a start on clearing her house. We want it still to look lived in and so we agreed to tackle the kitchen as what felt like the least emotional room. But while I waited for my sister, I opened the kitchen cupboards with her baking tins and bowls in and I shut them quickly as even they had memories. I tackled her food cupboards instead ,  rescuing what we could use or that a food bank would use, and throwing away a lot of opened packets and half-used bottles. It was rather satisfying to make some progress but it also showed us how much work there will be to do in the coming months. If getting upset by throwing away a half used jar of mincemeat – as her mince pies were unbeatable -then how much harder will it be to look through her wardrobes and photo albums for instance, but I am hoping that we get better at it and perhaps become more discerning.

We walked down Mum’s high street and we ate lunch in a cafe that she loved. In the afternoon, the sun came out and we sat in the garden and we invited one of Mum’s friends around to join us for a cup of tea as we knew she would be missing Mum too. All in all we think that it was a day that Mum would have approved of and that she probably had a hand in too. Happy Birthday Mum x

birthday chapel 1Birthday chapel 2

Happy 18th Birthday son

So here we are, Joshua’s 18th birthday, the day that we have been waiting for and planning around. Today Joshua becomes an adult in the eyes of the law and according to both the NHS and the local authority. According to his date of birth, he can now legally drink alcohol in a pub and vote, even though I am still dressing and changing him. This day 18 years ago, changed our lives immeasurably, more than anyone could have predicted. When I was pregnant with ” Bean”, Joshua was not the outcome that I had envisaged for our family;  but as well as worry, frustration and fear, Joshua has brought immense love, pride and fun to our home.  We have celebrated every success and achievement with him and have been awestruck by his outlook on life : he takes everything in his stride,with a smile on his face, even though he has suffered so much over the years. He has smiled and hugged his way through adversity, seizures and surgery and never appears to feel sorry for himself or feel down, as so many of us do.

Joshua’s smile and twinkling eyes can brighten up a room and nobody can resist his charm. Although he is in school all day today, I am hoping that they will make a big fuss of him so that the day feels special. Just so that I can spend more time with him today, I have decided to take him and his cakes with his photograph on, into school and to collect him to bring him home too. I have bought him a birthday card with a badge on it, so that even people who did not realise that it was his birthday, will be able to make a fuss of him as he loves to be the centre of attention – in fact, often he insists on it!

Today is a day to celebrate, not to reflect on ‘what ifs’, and to remember just how far he has come from that skinny, 6lb 3 oz baby in special care to the tall, handsome young man that he is today. So Happy Birthday Joshua Fred, enjoy your special day xx

Birthday celebrations Part 1

For Joshua’s birthday, I had booked tickets for 6 of us to see Abba Mania – an Abba tribute band and that was last night and we had such good fun : I had suggested that we dress up in 1970s costumes, so that was fun pulling together the outfits, blue eye shadow etc. Joshua did not dress up, but we did, both of his aunts did and our friend did. There were not many in fancy dress when we arrived at the theatre but we made a lot of people smile and the young girls sitting behind us had also made the effort so we were a cluster of gaudy colours , flares and sparkles.

We started our big night out with a meal together. Joshua was sulking at first as we had passed his beloved  Donalds, just unfortunately as I asked ‘where are we going Joshua?’ so he began pointing and when we drove passed, he was not amused and started to smack the car window and kick the floor in protest! But I had chosen a good restaurant and once his fish and chips arrived, he settled down to enjoy them.

We then walked through the city to the theatre, arm in arm, where a really helpful lady showed us to the lift as we were right upstairs in the gallery. The view was great and the show began almost immediately, so that was good as Joshua is not a great waiter. His eyes light up as the music and lights began and he was fully absorbed immediately. He would shout ‘thank you’ after the songs that he enjoyed most. The performance was really good, they sang well and we all sang along to the familiar tunes. Joshua enjoyed stroking his aunt’s hair next to him but Just towards the interval, Joshua was too tempted by the range of ladies’ long hair in front of him and so I had to be fast to catch him before he stroked it! A few times he was too fast for me and I had to apologise for him making them jump.

After the interval , Joshua  began to tire as it was his bedtime by then. He rested his head on my shoulder a few times but did not sleep and we all stood up and danced for the last couple of songs. Joshua joined in much better than I expected him to and he really seemed to enjoy it.It felt like a grown up Saturday night out rather than his more recent theatre outings to children’s musicals, which we have also loved but this was especially appropriate for his 18th birthday.

So Abba, thank you for the music, the songs you were singing, thanks for all the joy they’re bringing…..

Table for two

Joshua and I had yesterday off school/work, as we knew that we would be 3 hours away from home still, after the family wedding. I sneaked out of bed at my usual 5am and ran myself a bath, but as it was running, a sleepy Joshua appeared to join me. So he had the bath water instead. He wore a hotel dressing gown after his bath and sat on the bed settee to relax, but within 2 minutes, he began to have a cluster of seizures. I timed and counted them and thankfully, he only had six and then they stopped of their own accord and he tried to curl up on the settee. So I walked him carefully back to bed, where he enjoyed another two hours deep sleep and slightly delayed, I enjoyed my turn in the bath.

Surprisingly, we were first downstairs in the smart hotel dining room and we were seated at a table for two beside the window, overlooking the gardens. Joshua had his medication in some  very posh yogurt with rhubarb compote and then my husband’s Aunt, Uncle and two cousins arrived to join us. Joshua was delighted to see them and kept shouting across to them ” I like you”, spoiling the quiet atmosphere of the smart restaurant but at least he was shouting something pleasant. He enjoyed cornflakes but  rejected the pancakes that I ordered for him, as he is not used to a cooked breakfast and he decided that cereal would suffice. The bride and groom arrived with their friends  and Joshua was oblivious to the fact that the other guests might be feeling delicate the morning after, as he continued to shout out.

We left them all in peace and packed up our things as we had an appointment to keep : an hour’s drive away, Joshua’s new off-road wheelchair that we ordered back in July, at the start of the school summer holidays, was finally ready for collection. The designer of the clever “trike” showed us how to fold it away and lift it into the boot, after Joshua had a brief ride around the car park to ensure that it fitted his long legs and that everything worked. We were very soon on our way again and we had another three hour drive home, where my husband was waiting for us, before opening his birthday presents. We took him out for a birthday tea and later I got my apron on again and made him a victoria sponge for a birthday cake.

All in all it was a jam-packed weekend again and I was certainly ready for my bed.

The 28th of September has always been a significant date in my life, as it is my birthday! So I turn 52 today and I am left wondering, how did that happen? It sounds like a big number but I don’t feel that old – well apart from my sore achilles that is. It doe s not seem that long ago that I was spoilt rotten by my newly acquired flatmates as they felt sorry for me to be starting university and away from home ,so soon on my birthday, these were friends that I had just met, so it was a bonding experience and I am still friends today with two of them . I can remember missing my own birthday party at home when I was a little girl, as I made myself sick during the preparations – I wanted to help blow the balloons up with a pump and I was not strong enough, so I pushed it against my tummy and made myself ill. My 21st birthday was special and I was spoilt and surrounded by my precious family. I chose grown up dinner parties in special restaurants for both my 40th and my 50th, surrounded by the important people in my life….

This morning I am going to be surrounded by cake, some of which I have been baking this week and some of which has kindly been donated by friends and family, and some which will be donated by both pupils and parents alike!  I am devoting my birthday morning to hosting a Macmillan Coffee Morning at Joshua’s school and I hope to raise lots of money, as well as having plenty of fun. So I am sure that this will be a memorable birthday too, lets hope that it is for all the right reasons!