Monday, 31 January 2011

Be Lucky;Stay Lucky

My Lovely Girl

Just know you will be delighted to meet Felix, our latest grandchild.

Felix arrived safe and sound - if a little ahead of schedule - at 9.25 on Wednesday, January 19.

We were all geared to an early February birth but events transpired to a date a little earlier than that.

It all kicked of at an appointment Charlotte had with the midwife on January 4th. 

Nothing too serious, but the midwife felt that, as the baby was still breech, it would be best if Charlotte was admitted overnight to check everything with the baby was OK.was able to come home the next day.

Her next appointment with the specialist - one that had been booked before Christmas - was on Friday January 14. 

So once again I went across to look after Caitlin and Reuben while she and Ivan kept the appointment with the specialist.

Hadn't heard from them until I got a phone call from Ivan towards 12 o'clock, asking if I could rustle up some lunch for Caitlin and Reuben.

The consultant was recommending that Charlotte had a C-section on the following Wednesday as the baby was breech and they were a little concerned over the position of the placenta.

They were then in the queue waiting to see the midwife and were then going to see the anaesthetist.

When they returned it was clear timescales had shortened. and that here was a lot to do before Wednesday.

Over the weekend, I made arrangements for Cali to go into the cattery.

Although Ivan had paternity leave and could work from home some days, clearly I would be needed to help look after C and R while Charlotte was in hospital and after she came out.

No lifting and no driving for six weeks.

Well before 7.00am on the 19th, Charlotte and Ivan were up and moving around and left for the hospital a few minutes after 7.30, a sure sign Charlotte was at the top of the queue for theatre that day.

I wasn't surprised when Ivan rang to tell me Charlotte had had a baby boy weighing 7lb 6oz at 9.25am and that both Charlotte and the baby were doing fine.

  Because of the risks from swine flu and other 'bugs', nobody but Ivan was allowed to visit Charlotte and Felix in hospital.

But, as you can see, you were with him from the first moments of his life. 

Charlotte and Ivan had some ideas about names for him but wished to have a little time before finally deciding.

If the baby had been a girl they had already picked the names Phoebe Elinor (a nod in your direction) Rose (your favourite flower).

By the time Charlotte was able to come home the following Friday they had decided on Felix Gabriel Quinn.

They decided to wait until Caitlin and Reuben were asleep before Charlotte and Felix came home, as they thought the excitement would be too much for them.   

The next morning was rather special.  Not only was 'Mummy' home but they got to meet their new baby brother for the first time.

Opa got to hold his new 'kleinzoon' too.

'Felix' is Latin for 'happy' and 'lucky' and I hope sincerely he will always be that.     

'Gabriel' is, again, a nod in your direction.  As the story goes, that is how you were to be called Gabrielle until your father got a change of mind on the way to the Registrar. 

And earned the considerable wrath of your mother.

'Quinn' reflects Charlotte's desire for there to be a Gaelic names in there somewhere.

Don't think she was aware that the name is derived from the Irish 'Ó Cuinn' and means 'descendants of Conn.' and means 'wisdom' or 'chief.' 

A nice touch that, you'll agree, even if was happenstance.

But then Felix does mean 'lucky'. 

Just know you will always 'look out' for him as he goes through life.

As you do for all of us who are left behind - and who miss you so much.
Will love you

For ever



Sunday, 30 January 2011

Reflections in the Rain

31 January

My Darling Eileen

Early January can be a bleak, cold grey month at any time.

But never more so than this year.  

Wasn't looking forward to the 12th in particular - the first anniversary of the day you left us.

But life has to go on...

As you can imagine it was a sad and emotional day - with miserable weather to match my mood.

Got some nice cards with lovely messages in the post, and some phone calls too, underlining just how much you are missed by so many people.

A sad and emotional day - with miserable weather to match.

After the rain had eased a little I headed out and drove to Hanningfield.

Hadn't been back there since the last time we were there together in September 2009.

The last time, in fact, you were able to leave the house, so I felt it was a good place as any to go and sit and remember, on this day of days.

I drove into the car park, switched the engine off and sat there, totally alone, while the rain fell and heavy grey clouds hung low over the surface of the reservoir.

A few bedraggled geese and ducks came around the car but then gave up and waddled off when they realised there was nothing for them.

They looked as miserable as I felt.

I would have been miserable company for anybody that day.

Only one person could have lifted the gloom - and my mood.

And she wasn't around.

No other cars came, just a few vans heading down the lane to the cafe.

I remained there until it was almost dark and it was only when I was leaving that I noticed the sign saying the car park closed at 3.30pm.

A good twenty minutes earlier.

Luckily they hadn't closed the gates.

So I drove slowly up the lane and turned for home along those once-familiar roads.

And spent the evening alone with my thoughts, a glass or two of wine, some of our favourite music and a host of precious memories.

Will love and miss you 


Tuesday, 11 January 2011

"After You've Gone"

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My Lovely Girl

Listened to a moving and inspiring programme on Radio 4 on New Year's Eve.

Apt too, coming on the last day of 2010, that bleakest of years in my life.

It was called 'Widower's Tales'.

Beautifully produced, it featured four men who were left alone after the death of their partner and how they went on to find a new identity late in life. 

No annoying interviewer to come between them and the listener.  

Just their voices relating their stories.  Punctuated with brief snatches of the song 'After You've Gone'. 

Guy, now in his eighties, had lost his wife Daphne.

'(Her) death had been so clearly coming for so long. I didn't expect death to be a shock, but it turned out to be a much greater shock that I had expected.

I suddenly felt distraught and alone without my 'prop'. I would walk around in the garden with tears streaming down my face, just missing her.'

Barry had lost his wife, Noreen, 11 years ago.

'She had lung cancer but it wasn't diagnosed for a long time. She died within three weeks of the diagnosis.

I'm very close to crying all the time. I only have to hear the plaintive call of a bird in the garden and I start filling up.

We were married 31 years. She suffered from arthritis and I worked from home so we were together most of that time living in the same house.'
Peter, now 80, has been widowed for 40 years.

'She died in Bart's Hospital giving birth.

Life has been pretty terrible. It comes to you in bursts. The more distractions there are the better. Bringing up the children and working.

Then you get the grief and it doesn't go away. There I was a grown man, constantly struggling against bursting out crying in public.

That went on for five or ten years.'
Bob, now 68, lost his wife, Chris, three years ago, suddenly and avoidably through want of antibiotics.
'I'm now a sad old man who walks around with carrier bags, talking to people in charity shops and buying stuff. Simply for someone to talk to.
I was planning to retire. For years we had saved hard to build a nest egg. Our 40th anniversary was approaching and we had lots of plans.

I miss looking up and seeing her.'

Barry has given up watching TV.

'It wasn't the same without her.

After a few months I realised it was time to do something interesting. Something new.

Noreen would be amazed at the things I am doing now.

There I was approaching 60 and could not drive or swim.

Now I can.

Although the driving took me three years and cost me the equivalent of a small new car.

The swimming took a year.'
Guy admitted that, when Daphne was alive, they didn't do much entertaining.
'She didn't like mixing with people or having them in the house.
I've always been keen in cooking.

Even in Burma, fighting the Japanese, I would heat up the supplies we were dropped by air, using an old kettle over the fire.

When she did die, I said to myself, "Buck up Guy. Don't mope. Get on and do things."

Now I entertain and have even written two cookbooks.

You have to adjust; you have to cope.

No point in thinking 'I wish she hadn't died', because she was obviously going to die.

You have to get used to it and used to the idea and make the most of things.

If you don't make a new life, you're wasting yourself and making a complete mess of things.
You have to get out and do things.' 


'So how are you coping?' I can hear you asking, as I sit here on the eve of the first anniversary of the day you slipped away from us for good.

'I'm doing OK', which is what I think you would hope you would hear me say.

It hasn't been an easy year. But both of us knew it was never going to be.

I am able to cook and care for myself.  But then I had a good tutor. 

I now even have a new cookbook - 'Solo in the Kitchen' - to help me broaden my repertoire.

Unlike Guy in the programme, however, I don't see myself getting into  entertaining on a grand scale. 

The children have been really supportive.

There when I need them to talk to but respecting my need for solitude and space.

I fill the house with music - old favourites and some new ones - when I need a lift.

There's an easy chair on the landing where 'your' armchair used to be.

I sit there and read a lot.  Or sit in quiet contemplation and let the memories flood in.

And what of this second year without you?

Well, these 'letters' to you will continue. 

They have been a great source of comfort to me, knowing we can still 'talk' and share things, just as we always did.

But I sense the need for them to be more outward-looking.

More exploratory.  More adventuresome.  Just as my life now needs to be.
As Guy in the programme advoctes, I will get out and do things.

Gifts this Christmas of sketching pads, pencils and notebooks have given me the motivation and encouragement to do that and look at things through fresh eyes.

At last I am getting to grips with writing my family 'memoir'.  I am now comfortable with the form and structure I want it to take.  

These, like the research I have done so far, have raised more questions.  

So I need to go back and ask those questions and do some more 'digging.'

Above all, I want to spend more time with our four lovely - soon to be five - grandchildren. 

It's such a delight watching them them grow and develop - and so rewarding to be with them.

I know that the thought of missing out on all that was devastating for you.

So I want to be there for them as much as I can, to make up for them not having you to share things with.

I will travel too.  

To places we never got to see together and some that we did and thought special.

Wherever I am - or whatever I'm doing - I know you will never be far away, just as you were for the last 50 years. 

And will be for the rest of my life.

Miss you so much.

Will love you,
For ever

Trevor xxx