The C Word

I wrote this some time ago and I felt that I’d like to share it tonight. Another leg of the caterpillar. 🐛 As always, comments are welcome.

Eski Caterpillar

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Six months isn’t very long. Not really. When you’re a little kid waiting for your birthday or Christmas, the time is utterly immeasurable, interminable. When you’ve been given six months to live; terminal.

Grandma must have known that she wasn’t well for a while. Surely that size of growth, that sort of invasion, you’d realise, if not recognise; wouldn’t you? But, while not one prone to impenetrable silence, she was never one for dramatic proclamations either. So even if she knew, we didn’t.

And then, just as suddenly, we did. I don’t remember the moment – not at all a movie moment where the thundering minor chords loudly announce the arrival of some devastating disease; not like that. We were all told. My cousins travelled out of season to see Grandma while she was still well. She made a point of doing things with them while they visited. I’m sure she did that for me too, but, shamed to say, I don’t think I noted it then, for I don’t recall it now.

For six weeks she was away for treatment. For some reason our base hospital was ill equipped (no pun intended) to offer the assistance she required. My uncle and my great-grandmother both spent blocks of time with her – ostensibly to help, but I recall overhearing that Nanna’s help was probably easier done without, although it was given in love.

I also overheard, not from Grandma herself, but my mother and aunt’s frustration and my Grandpa’s useless silence. Certainly not renowned for many outward displays of affection, he seemed unaware of the momentous happenings around him – surely they affected him most of all? I think though that he certainly was aware, and affected, but unable to express or even comprehend his emotions. We all chided him, behind his back of course; but I’m sorry for that now as I was sorry for Grandma because of it then. I never told her either how much I would miss her. I never spoke of love, or anything that might have been read as, “I’m admitting you’re dying.” It wasn’t consciously done – just unaware or unable to admit or comprehend what was going on.

I knew about the doctor’s sorrowful admission that all that could be done, had. I understood, but as for what I felt? Mum got it. She understood, then again, you would about your mother – I hope I do if ever the occasion arises – which I am praying not.

The last thing I did for Grandma; more for mum really, was buying a bedpan the day before she died. Isn’t it strange, the useless things we remember? Of everything, all the emotion, I remember that! But of course, by the time I got it there, it was too late; she’d died. For a week afterwards, I carried it in the boot of the car, not sure how to return it. No one asked any questions when I did.

Grandma died the day after / of my Grandpa’s birthday. That I felt sorry for him for, certainly no celebration to be had and always then that anniversary.

I wonder if people often feel entirely inappropriate planning a funeral. My sister and aunty visited the funeral directors only to be struck with the giggles, as we all were when they shared, by the man’s sincerely meant, but utterly inane question, “So, I understand we’ve had a death in the family?” Is it wrong to want to laugh at that? The comment still raises a smile today. I was proud of us, we weren’t wailers, we kept our sense of humour and practicality throughout the planning. It’s hard to mourn continually. The trite line, “Life goes on” is true. For the rest of us it did. Nanna understood. Considered more than a little old at 92 and particularly scatty at times, this time she understood. She discussed some and agreed on most points. Of course, we all cried here and there, I don’t remember it often. I can’t imagine having to plan my daughter’s funeral or my mother’s. I don’t want to imagine it – but that’s what they did, these amazing women. They carried on, smiling through tears and holding it together. It’s a girl thing in my family, I think.

I’d never been to a funeral before. I’ve been to three since and I’m not interested in having too many more experiences of it, thanks all the same. Grandma’s minister did what he did. We sang some hymns that none of us really knew the words to, but the church people did. I don’t remember what they were. Mum, Katie and I sang “Precious Lord”, which chokes me still, although I love it. I don’t understand it, maybe it’s just me, but there is kind of a perverse pleasure in outward displays of sorrow. We’re not an unemotional family, but we don’t dwell too much on the “negative” emotions. Anger has a limited place in our family and we’re ‘cross’ or ‘frustrated’ rather than angry. There’s a therapy session in that! Sorrow isn’t something I’ve had much dealing with and this was one of those few times. I was certainly ‘movie’ dramatic enough in that one moment. I never want to see anyone’s coffin be lowered again! Death I can cry about and cope with. Since believing fully in Jesus, I can learn to celebrate a little at times – but it’s still a hard thing. Lowering of coffins – never again!

Just for one moment, when the ropes tighten to lower the coffin and its silver handles – which have been for all intents and purposes useless at a graveside service. But you can’t have a plain wooden box for a much beloved family member – optional extras courtesy of the funeral director – waste of time and money but they assuage the guilt you’d feel if you didn’t do it. When the coffin lowers, I cry out – unintentionally – the term “wrenched from her throat” makes much more sense now. I cry out and stumble – almost to my knees. Silly really. Useless now she’s gone. But the feelings. Such conflict with my joyous mood later, when we went that night to a dress up charity collection. Odd, the things we do. But then it’s finished, and again, life goes on.

Reflecting, I think I’ve learned more about Grandma’s illness and her life as a person since she died. Even since writing this, mum and Katie and I have discussed more about that time than we did then. I don’t want to think that about my mum more than eleven years after she dies. Or anyone I’m close to – bit of a hit in the head – a wake up call. Talk to your family! Let them know what you’ve done, what you’ve felt. Share what you’re doing now and tell them how you feel. Take the time to do it now, while you can – my mum does that and I want to. It’s not morbid, it’s more important. Why not?

To my child

I want you to be independent, but I like being needed.
I want you to learn from your mistakes, but we’d both be more comfortable if you didn’t make any.
I want you to grow, but you’re so cute and little.

I just haven’t met you yet… (🔊)

Before you arrive, I wonder who you’ll be. What will you look like? Me? Dad? Will you be happy? How will I know what’s best for you? I’ll you even like me?

Sometimes, probably not, I’m sure. In fact, I think that’s my job. If I’m not irritating you fairly frequently during the teen years, there’s something odd happening.

For the one that got away

What was that I did that made life different for you? Why couldn’t it all be figured out? Why do I feel like such a failure? I tried so hard to keep you. I did all the things I knew how to do. I wanted us to be a success story, but it was not to be. I feel like I failed.

Broken

“I think I’ve broken this one.” I wonder if other people ever think the same? Bloody stupid genetics. Personalities are one thing. This is life. And it’s hard. I’m sorry.

FTW!

When you are smiling; when you laugh; when life gives you lemons and you make sorbet, I love it! I’m so happy for you. When you have problems and we can find solutions, we are an unstoppable team! When you cry and I can be your comfort, I feel invincible…and just a little bit devastated at the same time.

I’ve always wanted you. I always will.

😍 Eski.

While the cat’s away…

With two of the big kids away and Mr 17 giving a very creditable performance of a cave dwelling hermit, Theo and I have spent lots of one on one time these holidays. We’ve made much use of our Thermomix , which is a reasonably new acquisition for us. Apart from numerous jams, sauces and yummy meals, we’ve found a smooth and long lasting playdough. You can see the recipe HERE with thanks to “The Organised Housewife.”

Our pink and blue playdough, now a delightful mauve, has been stored in the ever helpful snap lock bags and has lasted about a week now. Theo has made snakes as he’s rolled out the dough and created numerous iterations of his farm yard. The unfortunate residence of which have been struck by the lightning fist of the toddler only moments after enjoying their first meals.

[Click this link for more about FINE MOTOR SKILLS development]

We’ve also started “Theo’s Wall” this week. A large, bare wall in our lounge room is slowly transforming. Yesterday’s addition is a weekly calendar. Theo knows the names of the days and this will help him learn the order as well as some tenses; today is, yesterday was etc. I’m all about building children’s ownership and responsibility, so this should help. Future inclusions to the wall will be alphabet friezes; a “Getting Ready” checklist and a chalk or whiteboard.

So, with another week left of holidays left for me and two for the kids, what other adventures will we have? What adventures are you having? Let me know in a comment below.

Veritas, Eski!