Christmas, The Holidays How are you spending them?

This was going to be my “Happy Christmas” post when I began it last week.

We are still enjoying or enduring the Holiday period here in the U.K. As we head now towards New Year. I am grateful for the fact that I am enjoying it.

This Christmas I knew would be vastly different for us and I honestly did not know how it would go. After the year that we have had it couldn’t help but be. It is the first one where we have not had Kato physically with us, he was here only in spirit. He entered my thoughts daily and although I looked for signs I did not see any. However I still felt that he was part of the family here enjoying Christmas morning together.

The past week we have been getting ready for the occasion and I have never felt so unready before. I went for a job interview the week before and it went well. I came out with such a positive feeling about both the job and myself and hoped that I may be offered one of the two positions they had spoken about. That weekend, my partner told me to call my friend who was emigrating this week and book a ticket to visit her. It was a wonderful thing to do, I feared that she would be too busy but she jumped at the suggestion. So I had a fabulous time with her and her family before they went, I came back having felt such love, I was on cloud nine.

On coming home I tried to fit in getting the house “Christmassy” but had only just enough money to get food and a few small gifts for family, so had to buy gifts wisely. Whilst my partner and I sold a few items, the people came to collect. The truck went this week, I didn’t feel stressed about letting it go. The relief that we would have funds for the shortfall again this month outweighed that.

It also meant that Hope, my Beautiful blue car has been brought out of the garage and I  able to drive her again for the first time in months again thanks to the assistance of friends who made sure that she was safe for me. I played Santa and delivered gifts and cards on Christmas Eve and got to see and hug another friend I have not seen this year.

So being broke has been the new norm for this past year along with so many other emotions. But as we end the year I can’t help thinking we have lost a lot of people. Not just the ones who are old, but the ones who are taken far too soon. When faced with this situarion, you cannot help but rethink how you wish your life to be as the new year approaches.

I did not hear about the job, but that did not stop me from applying for many more this week. At some point, someone will offer me one, when the time is right so I must trust that the right one will come along too. It felt like I have turned a corner being invited for an interview can do that to you. Lift you up spirits and all and make you concentrate on the positives.

However recently my partner has been ill, he is feeling very stressed out about making ends meet but it has all come together just in time and he is wondering where the next bit will come from, looking for things he can turn around for a little profit to keep our heads above water until that elusive job comes along. But his heart is heavy and it’s making him tired and he is in pain with the various health issues he has and damage to his body over the years. He has been told to take it easy by the doctor, but the doctor knows that he doesn’t know how. Which can be a bit of a cycle for him, it also makes me worry about him.

This Christmas we did not get fancy gifts for each other. He bought me something lovely when we were in Scotland in the Autumn and I have kept it for Christmas. I bought him something he needed, a pair of boots to keep him comfortable whilst we walk the dog together and our present to each other was our beloved Roki. For Birthday, Christmas and my Birthday. No other gift is necessary as we have the love and happiness that he brings us. We collected our new baby seven weeks ago and he is the family we craved to have again.

We awoke on Christmas morning and all piled onto the bed for a big family hug. The day was mild and bright and we made plans to go out and see it. I did not spend the morning wrapping gifts for others as I had in previous years. I had managed to wrap the few that I had bought and most had already been given by then.  We sat talking, played music and had a lovely breakfast of smoked salmon omelette which is an all family favourite. I thought about the big Meal that I would make later and planned to speak to my friend to wish her a safe journey.  Our Christmas Day was non eventful to the outside world but just right for us. We sent and received messages of good cheer to family and friends but to see the face of your child as you give him presents on Christmas Day was just the perfect way to spend it.

Our boy had two fleece blankets which were donated by the emigrating friend and he was so thrilled with them. He had a rope toy which I had given him a couple of days earlier when I had returned from my trip and a woven cloth toy, which in our house is known as “A wonderful fling to be flung” which my mother had made for him. He also had some treats and was so ecstatic that he didn’t know what to play with first. So he just decided to pick up as many as he could at once, throw them all into the air and then roll on them. He is happy. I sent a message to his old family Thanking them for the most wonderful gift to us and received a touching response.

It was late evening by the time I had prepared and cooked our Christmas meal which meant we were up until very late and watching the films on the TV till the early hours. It didn’t matter so much. On Boxing Day I collected my brother and took him to our sister and her partner’s house for a feast. It was lovely, I haven’t seen any of them in months it was just nice to sit around and enjoy a meal, we also watched a funny film and laughed together.

They say it becomes different as you get older, but that is the true meaning of Christmas to us. We have love. We are not in Scotland for the first time in three years we have stayed at home. That in itself felt a little  bit odd but less stressful for me as I didn’t have to pack or travel Christmas week and it never quite feels like the holiday until you arrive at your destination.

My good intentions as to how we should spend Christmas did not come about, again we did not decorate the house for the occasion. My partner said it wasn’t important and we just ran out of time before the big day. This Christmas was about sharing Love and Time, after all who knows how much of it we have left, that was the most important thing and we achieved that.

So however you have spent yours and however you choose to spend the holiday time you have left, I hope that you enjoy it.

I want to Thank you for following my blog since I began in February, for the friendships that grow along the way and the support that you have shown me over the past few months.  I hope that we all continue on our journeys through the next year and find new inspiration, experiences to write about and I will enjoy hearing about yours.

The Daily Post – Festive

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A Child Substitute

DSC_0334I never thought that when it happened, he would fill so many of the gaps in my life…

These were gaps that I didn’t even know I had, but somehow my partner did. He knew that I wanted so badly to be a mother to something and that I had so much love to give. I would make a good mother he said. After the loss of a child in my younger years, a hysterectomy and many further childless years, we had always said that one day we would get a dog. In my mind, the time wasn’t right at all, there was way too much going on and I was working around 50 hours a week in a stressful job.

So a little over five years ago, we were told that our friends Alaskan Malamutes were expecting puppies and that when they arrived, I would have to go and choose one. He felt that the time was right and when I saw them, I knew that it was.
I visited the puppies whenever I could and although they were all lovely, I thought that I couldn’t make up my mind, so I just kept visiting. One in particular would not leave my side, he was not interested in eating with the others when I was there and when I talked to them all, he listened, paying extra attention. He snuggled in tighter and gave wonderful puppy kisses and when I felt that I really should make a decision despite thinking that I would go for a grey and white, I chose him.

I asked the question you see, “Are you going to be my Kato and am I going to be your Mummy?” He placed a small paw upon my knee, instant ownership and gazed into my eyes. I actually caught the moment on camera too and it remains one of my all time favourites in a sea of photographs spanning his short life, all of which I cherish. But I knew that from that moment, there was no other. I had found my baby and he had found me. He was the best gift that I could ever have had.

The thing about having a living, breathing member of your family as a child substitute…

Is that one day, they are suddenly not there and your little comfortable part of life as you know it is suddenly ripped wide open. Laid bare for people to dissect, they say harmful things at their will and whilst you deal with that on top of your grief, you are just expected to get over it.

If you are part of a family then it is not just your own feelings which are left raw and damaged, with your own life with a huge gaping hole, but also that of your loved ones.
The thing about being parents is that there are two lots of grief to understand and deal with. You must try to understand what goes through another broken mind whilst you both try to fix it and figure out how to heal, being careful not to break each other with a misplaced word or emotion is so tough and we often get it wrong.

You cannot wrap yourself up in your own grief, since you are shutting the other one out, so grief is handled in an entirely different way to how you would normally. This is alien to you and you find it hard to deal with.
New, raw emotions appear and you hope that you are both able to peek out of the wreckage together and rebuild after the tornado has hit.

I think that I am getting better, but I still have not stopped talking to him, looking around before I move the chair, so that I don’t catch him, he was almost always at my side. His remains have come home, it makes it a little bit easier since it feels like he is here with us, although I do not yet often feel his spirit although there have been signs of him.

I have dreams which he is sometimes in, some good, some bad but he is somehow different in them slightly. In the last one I was saying that I want to see my son, who I haven’t seen in ages. I am in a hospital awaiting an operation and I am explaining this to the nurse. I hear him run up the stairs and drop his ball outside the door and I open the door, but he is coming in another door, greeting everyone there first as I say, where is my Kato and he is suddenly there. With my Hero’s welcome, my face and hands buried in his wonderful translucent fur again, being smothered in kisses.
Oh how I wish for that welcome again, but I am so very grateful for those five short years that I was his Mummy, I am sure that they made me a better person than before.

The Gift

IMG_1134She bought me this gift, a witches ball.
Just when she got it, I don’t quite recall.
It remained so long in the box,
Found it again when looking for socks,
Put it to the back of the cupboard for sure,
Hadn’t a clue of the things in store.
It is said that you fill the vessel with scent,
It sends spirits away, they came and went.
Hanging up there in the light,
They can’t get in, try as they might.
They bounce off the window, tumble and fall
It offers me protection from them all.
It brought a pivotal change in my life,
When I found out it was made in Fife.
Not far from where we go off to hide,
Off up there in the countryside.
The place where our thoughts we gather,
Oh to be there, whatever the weather.
A place which has me bewitched,
The life I have here would be switched.
Off where future thoughts are rife,
Where we have a different life.
To when where I can make and toil,
A home, with soft garden soil.
Where things will grow, be abundant,
Herbs and foods, self sufficient.

Well my friend, she knows me well
As she weaved her magic spell.
Around the space it would drape,
As the dreams began to shape.
The places about they’d start to drift,
As they began a momentous shift.
To create someone refreshed anew,
Stopping to sip in this unusual brew.
Perhaps a life was better spent,
Doing the thing of which you’ve dreamt
Herbs and spices in the mix,
You think she’s up to her old tricks.
On a journey and make haste,
In to the country you have chased.
Now and then her power to surge.
A moment to Thank her for the urge.
A well thought gift that she would send,
Protecting me, her very dear friend.

Learning to Fly

It was a time, when Nectar points meant fun! Nectar points for the uninitiated, are store card points as a Thank you for shopping, whilst your spending habits are dissected. But at the time the possibilities were endless. You could save them up indefinitely and use them for experiences, instead of falling back on them to cover the emergency shop when you are broke, or being sent vouchers with an expiry date, which you would find weeks after they had run out and your rewards would be useless.

We had been saving them for a couple of years, to do something fun together and not knowing at that point that my partner had a fear of flying, I had booked the surprise for both of us to have a flying lesson as an anniversary present.

The day came and we checked the weather report, jumped in my car, a Saab convertible put the roof down and headed to the countryside I had selected a different airfield to our local one, so that we could see different scenery and explore it. It turned out that my partner had other plans, he would collar the instructor and see if time would allow and they would swap his part of the deal so that I could extend the experience. He would have his feet planted firmly upon the floor watching from the club house whilst I took off and he would enjoy a pint or two of Guinness and a cigar, it was a beautiful sunny day in the countryside and a pleasant place to pass the time. He succeeded in his plan, and since I had only ever travelled by air once for a holiday, I was excited, I knew that this was going to be different and I was looking forward to it, but slightly disappointed that he would not get to enjoy it with me. However I was going to get a long lesson, which was great.

I was introduced to the Pilot, a man who shared the same name as my father, but thankfully had a much more relaxed manner about him. He was friendly and informative and showed me all of the controls in the Piper 125 which we were going to take out. I clambered in, full of excitement and hoping that I would remember it all. I asked what happened if the engine failed. He told me not to worry since this type of plane could still be landed safely if the engine cut out, it basically glides. As we took off, he took us up over the countryside, I was in awe, I knew it would be beautiful. But it was so calm up there, I took a couple of photos in the cockpit. I seem to recall that we travelled at around 2700 feet, but may have that wrong.

As we climbed everything grew smaller, people disappeared into dots, cars and lorries, into matchbox figures disappearing completely and trees and green spaces turned into a blanket of fields as we floated through the bumpy clouds. Colin allowed me to take the controls and told me how to move the rudder to change direction and the pedals to keep it steady. He could see my interest and excitement in the process and when I asked him to show me how to loop the loop, he obliged. We travelled quite some distance and talked along the way, I was able to see my home town, fly over my parents and our house. Along the Estuary past the pier and up to the docks, where I could see small cranes and brightly coloured containers being unloaded from the ships, It looked so much better there from that height. I was on top of the world. I loved every minute of that flight and decided that I would love to do that again as soon as possible. As someone who was claustrophobic in certain environments, I was not sure how I would feel up there, but to my relief it was wonderful. We had the small window open in that plane and the thermal breeze floated through.

I remember saying to him that I had to resist the urge to put my foot on the accelerator like in a car, since it would upset the balance of the plane and there seemed to be no sense of speed up there, but you were still travelling, it took some getting used to, but I think I mastered it.

As we headed back, Colin explained that it was a wonderful job, that he could fly over to France in less than an hour, have a nice lunch and a bit of sightseeing and be back in time for tea. I was hooked on the idea, that one day I would learn to fly and when I got that lottery win, there would be a small plane in there somewhere to do just that.

He asked me if I was sure that I hadn’t flown before as I seemed to be so at ease up there, I must admit that I felt no tension, it had all just floated away whilst I was up there. Flying back, Colin told me I was going to land the plane. I asked if he was sure, he told me that he was confident in my ability, we came in to a lovely smooth landing and I couldn’t help but be pleased. As I taxied the plane back to it’s parking spot, past the bar, my beloved was standing there, waving and with an ear to ear smile.
I jumped out and he ran over to me, he’d been worried since we were only supposed to be an hour, an hour and a half had passed and we hoped that I had not got him into trouble. He asked Colin “how did she do?” “An absolute Natural she should learn to fly”…. he replied.

I had to tell him all about it as we drove home around Sunset, he decided that if we ever could afford it, then we should make it happen. Six months later we returned for another lesson.