Time to Grow Up

I thought that the day of the funeral would be the most emotional day of the week , but yesterday came close too. Maybe because we had been so busy and had been so brave on Thursday, emotions found their way out yesterday, when we least expected them:

After two hours sleep, I could not sleep anymore and I began pottering around Mum’s house; I wanted to bake , as that is my solace, but Mum’s eggs expired in April, so I was cursing Waitrose for not being open at 3 am for me to buy some fresh eggs. So I put a load of washing on and I read, and eventually I catnapped on the settee. I was delighted when my sister and Joshua joined me downstairs for breakfast around 8 and we discussed our plan for the day and more reflections on the funeral.

We invited Mum’s three sisters,and their partners, round for coffee at 10 and it was lovely to see them all again. We sat in Mum’s lounge reminiscing , while Joshua breezed in and out. I had discovered a singing dog that, when you squeezed his foot sang ” Singing in the Rain”, that Mum had bought for young Joshua and he had played it over and over again whenever he was at Granny’s house. When I produced it yesterday, initially he had thrown it across the kitchen dismissively, scattering the batteries across the floor. He seemed to be saying that he was an adult now and had no interest in such childish toys now, so it sat in the kitchen. While our Aunts were round and the crowd became too overwhelming for him,  he would disappear to the kitchen where the dog could be heard singing in the rain on repeat, being watched by a happy Joshua.

We had to leave the sisters behind as we had an appointment with Mum’s solicitor at 11, so we said our goodbyes and told them to make themselves at home there for as long as they wanted. We both shed some tears at the solicitors; for me the thoughtful provision that Granny had made for Joshua’s future ,in terms of a trust, was overwhelming.  But as we left, I felt reassured that Mum had left her affairs in such order that we could manage to do the necessary , with just a little advice and guidance. Mum had faith that we were adequate executors for her will, so once again, we will step up to the job in hand and do our best to ensure that her wishes are adhered to.

When we got back to Mum’s house, we were ” wrung out” and all sat in shock ,drinking endless cups of tea. It was with reluctance that we packed up our belongings and left her home clean and tidy, until we visit again, and we made some loose plans to return together again before too long. But for now, we all need a quiet weekend at home, doing normal weekend things, crying some more when required, and trying to adjust to the next phase of our lives, one where we are the grown ups!

Back to Normal?

Today I am leaving home early to go to pick up my sister and together, we are heading back to Mum’s home town for another day of jobs to be done : we are meeting a potential caterer at the church this morning, so that they can view the kitchen to assess what they would bring with them. It will be the first time that we have been in ‘Mum’s church’ since she died so that will feel odd and we might even see some friends of Mum’s there, she used to go down there for coffee every weekday. But it will be helpful to confront the space before the funeral next week, as it will be hard enough next Thursday.

We have an appointment with the church minister this afternoon, but she will be coming to the house to see us. We will discuss the bones of the funeral service with her : the readings, the eulogies, the hymns etc. We know what we want to happen, but might need some help with the order and some advice on the length of the service perhaps. She announced the date and time at church on Sunday, so the congregation will all know by now. There was a music concert in church at the weekend, by an instrumental group that Mum was very fond of; we have heard from three people now that they dedicated their final piece of music – based upon the hymn ‘How Great thou Art’ – to Mum’s memory. I found that very moving, even though we did not attend to hear it for ourselves. Fortunately, the violinist from that group will be playing at the funeral, so that is a lovely link that Mum would have approved of.

While we are over, we will also call in at the funeral director to sign some paperwork and we will review old family photographs to use in the order of service. So this promises to be a full on, emotional day. But then, they all have been since Mum died even when we have been quietly at home, trying to relax as we are constantly being advised to do.

Joshua returned to school yesterday and I went to the office, trying to be ‘normal’ , when nothing feels the same any more. I was able to do quite a lot at work in the morning, but then I began to flag later, so I came home mid afternoon. I planned a brief nap before Joshua got back from school but that did not happen, with emails I chose to write and phone calls that I received. Having stayed dry-eyed and calm in the office, I was more emotional at home, so much so that I had tears in my eyes still when Joshua arrived home, so I turned on the smiles and loud, excited voice for his benefit and he responded happily in the way that I knew he would. There was no time to wallow once he was home: he wanted his boots and splints removing, I gave him his medication in a chocolate mousse, he told me that he wanted to watch ‘Robbie’ on DVD and then I got his tea on. On the plus side, I had hugs and kisses from him, but much less endearing was his door slamming and his bashing of the telephone on the  mirror in the hall, both to demand attention. Once he had eaten,he dragged me upstairs and into the bathroom, as he wanted an early bath, so we were both in our PJs by the time my husband got home from work.

Joshua was up and down stairs through the evening but he settled into bed around 9 pm , but he was back downstairs later as he had some seizure activity, as he was still gently fitting by the time he reached us. I took him back to bed and lay next to him to observe his seizures, even though he smacked me at first, I persisted and sang to him in the darkness. I fell asleep next to him, so I got my nap, just  7 hours later than I had planned, and when I awoke, Joshua was snoring next to me. Joshua helpfully takes the focus away from what I am feeling , as he needs such practical care. I was asked yesterday if Joshua would be going to his Granny’s funeral, and I replied quickly that of course he would : he loved his Granny and she adored him, so there is nowhere else that he should be. He is unlikely to conform during either service, but we will be surrounded by friends and family who either know him or who have heard Mum talk about him, so his outbursts  will be excused I am sure and he may even prove to be a useful diversion on the day.

Life Goes On

Having had the long weekend, both my sister and I decided to return to work yesterday. I was greeted with some surprise, with people asking ‘what are you doing here?’, as I was expected to be off work for sometime and was expected to be tied up in funeral arrangements. However, due to the Bank Holiday, we do not yet have Mum’s Death Certificate so we are unable to register her death and progress with her funeral. We were expecting a telephone call from the Bereavement service yesterday but as it had not come by 4.30 pm, I called them and was told to chase the Coroner myself from 9 am today. So given that we will need later in the week off work, it made sense to us to go into our offices and to face concerned colleagues. I had left my desk last week in a state of chaos and I wanted to go in, to tie up any loose ends and to contact certain clients.

As it is May half term holidays, Yorkshire Grandma arrived to take Joshua out for the day. I was giving him his Weetabix in bed when she arrived, and he gave her an excited grin and an enthusiastic wave, so he was pleased to see her. I left her getting him dressed and discussing her plans for the day with him and I was confident that he was in safe hands. So I drove to the office – which only takes 5 minutes across town – and took a deep breath as I walked in, feeling that nothing was the same as it had been last week when I was there, as Mum was no longer around. I was immediately given two big hugs and I warned my colleagues not to be ” too nice to me” or else I might begin to cry, and never stop. So after a brief explanation of the events of  the end of last week, I made myself a cup of tea and headed upstairs to my office, where emails needed my attention in my inbox. So I got stuck in and time flew by, as I knew that it would once I was distracted. The Chairman of this small family business came to see me and offer me his sympathy and his advice from the perspective of someone being of Mum’s age. All day I felt surrounded by support and nobody questioned my need to leave work at 3 pm. I am still finding that I am overwhelmingly tired between 3 pm and 4 pm, and I started to feel faint and rather nauseous then, so I chose to come home.

So although I did not stay for a full day, I still consider that I returned to work and that I achieved what I needed to do; and now ,having faced everyone, it will not be so daunting next time I return to work. Although you want, and expect,  the world to stop, it is true that for everyone else, life goes on and there is some comfort to be gained from doing familiar tasks and activities. I know that Mum was proud of what I achieved at work – she told me so recently –  and so she would want me to try to get back there, to pick up where I left off.