The Gift of Love

To be honest when it comes to adults we’re not big on giving fancy expensive presents in my family – we prefer to go with smaller, thoughtful gifts that have some meaning attached to them…

Today is my 58th birthday, and my husband has given me beautifully designed hardback copies of two of my favourite Jane Austen novels – Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. My original well-thumbed paperbacks from my younger years fell apart years ago and in time were replaced by very similar regular paperbacks which by now are also a bit dog-eared and worse for wear. So I’m absolutely delighted with my new copies… I suppose I’m going to have to read them again now, just to make sure they’re just as good as I remember… πŸ™‚

But the best thing is that in showing that he knows me so well by finding such a thoughtful birthday present for me, my husband has given me so much more than just two relatively inexpensive hardback books, he’s given me the gift of love, and that is something that is truly priceless… ❀

Word of the Day Challenge: Prejudice

The Waiting Game…

Impatiently I clock-watch, counting time

Each taunting tick precise, accentuates

Reality like slow motion sublime

With bated breath in-drawn, exaggerates

I feel my heart-beat loudly fill my chest

With rhythmic regularity at base

Internal cadence pulsing without rest

As in-built metronome increases pace

Distressed, I try my best just to distract

My mind from life-blood pounding fast and fleet

But can’t escape the solid soundless fact

This β€˜now’ exists, exquisitely complete

The time has come where I can only wait

Till time itself unfolds, reveals my fate…

The Water Babies, Psycho, and Goldilocks

What are some red flags to watch out for in daily life?

Only two red flags for me… People who piss me off, and things that piss me off… yep, that’s about it!

What obstacles would you include in the ‘world’s most amazing obstacle course’?

I would devise a ‘Water Babies’ style of obstacle course that magically transformed itself depending on your behaviour, like the beautiful character of Mrs Do-As-You-Would-Be-Done-By and the nasty, ugly character of Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did. So basically an omniscient nice-ometer would judge your thoughts and actions and produce appropriate obstacles accordingly as you ran the global gauntlet of life.

Who is the best movie or book villain in your opinion?

In movies, probably Norman Bates, from the original Psycho movie… Or a few of the Batman villains, they’re pretty awesome adversaries – much better baddies than the relatively tame Bond villains… Can’t actually think of any particularly memorable book villains, just all-round cads and bounders like Jane Austen’s Wickham or Willoughby?

What, in your opinion, is the most beautiful/ handsome part of your face?

Actually I quite like the shape of my top lip – it’s not too fat, not too thin, not too curvy, not too straight… I suppose it’s a bit of a Goldilocks top lip πŸ™‚

What are some foods you enjoy for your festive celebration dinners?

My husband and I like to have smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on brown toast with Bucks Fizz for celebration breakfasts… And for fancy festive dinners we don’t have one specific traditional meal, but will usually choose something extra-special as a main course with lots of yummy side dishes allowing for plenty of leftovers followed by an indulgently decadent dessert of some kind, until in true Monty Python fashion we have no room left for even a ‘waffer thin mint’… πŸ™‚

Share Your World

Skyline

An atmospheric city skyline across the River Ness in Inverness, looking from Bridge Street over towards Huntly Street, taken tonight on my way home from the hospital after visiting dad.

There had been a beautiful orange sunset, and this moody, darkening pink and purple sky was all that remained by the time I reached the river πŸ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Skyline

Say Cheese!

OK so maybe I’m being a bit literal here, but this cute little soft-toy dragon’s big cheesy grin always makes me smile every time I look at her, even when life is overwhelmingly stressful, so she is my Weekly Smile for this week:-)

Holding On…

When I walked into the hospital ward this afternoon to visit my 85-year-old dad, he looked astonished. ‘How did you know where to find me?’, he asked, before frowning and adding a little forlornly – ‘I’m just baffled, I don’t know where I am…’

Dad has been in hospital for almost four weeks now, and sadly does not seem to be getting any better. If anything, he seems to be deteriorating visibly. His level of confusion gusts and lulls with the wind but his mobility is consistently a lot worse and to cap it all he’s now not eating and drinking properly. This is in spite the best endeavours of all the wonderful staff at the hospital who try so hard to coax him and cajole him to eat and drink and stand up and walk. But dad is having none of it, so today he was put on a saline drip to bring his fluid levels up.

Dad has vascular dementia, the result of several past strokes, and was admitted to hospital at the end of October after a bad fall at home resulting in a bash on the head, which has now healed beautifully. With the help of home carers coming in four times a day and additional weekly respite, my 79-year-old mum has been caring for dad at home over the last five years but it is clear to all of us (except dad) that this arrangement simply cannot continue any longer. Dad needs proper 24-hour nursing care now, and so we are working behind the scenes with dad’s Social Work team to find an appropriate Care Home for him.

And in the meantime dad has better days and worse days, sometimes knowing where he is and others not, sometimes chatty (though confused) and sometimes all too quiet and uncommunicative. When I visited dad this afternoon my mum had already been in earlier in the day, so I knew dad had been up sitting in his chair when she first arrived but was sound asleep safely tucked up in bed when she left. So I asked him – Have you had a wee sleep today? And he answered quite animatedly ‘No I haven’t had the time, I’ve been too busy trying to get my brain to work!’. Poor dad…

And so I continue to visit him for my allotted hour as often as I can, and just be with him. Sometimes he looks sad, or fed-up, or puzzled, or tired, but I just let him be in whatever frame of mind he is in, and sit with it. I sit with him as he sleeps, or talks about things that confuse him, or most recently as he just looks at me, holding his gaze for ages. I too keep eye contact and see him looking deep into my eyes for answers to unasked questions he can’t even begin to fathom, and I know I can’t help him find what he’s looking for.

But I can be there with him and for him and hold his hand and hopefully let my being there bring him some little comfort to his lost word, however momentary. Because I am still his daughter, his first-born, and he is still my lovely dad. Thankfully for now he still knows me and I will always know him. Within me I carry his genes and have inherited his high cheek bones and blue eyes, and amongst other traits his quiet nature, his love of the outdoors, his brick-wall stubbornness and dry sense of humour.

So I sit with him and I treasure every moment because I know I am so lucky still to have him here. He is still very much part of the fabric of my life, however unravelled and frayed and worn his memory threads may be these days. Right now I feel as protective of my dad as I do of my children, as if in his vulnerability I love him even more than I did before. Dementia brings such an urgency to love, a need to make the most of what you have while you have it because you never know when, in the blink of a vacant eye, it will suddenly be gone.

I do realise that one day dad will no longer know me, no longer know any of his family, but until that day comes I’m holding on with all my heart to letting him know quietly and constantly how much he means to us. It’s not much but in the circumstances it’s all I can do, and so I try to do it with as much patience and understanding and comfort and love as I can… ❀

Early Morning Inverness

At this time of year it can still be slightly dark when I walk to work – this was taken the other morning on the footbridge crossing the River Ness. I love the semi-silhouette of the skyline, the greys and whites of the sky and water, and the different blacks of the buildings. Even in full colour there’s a calming monochrome quality to the view…

So I’m going to cheat and use my post for both today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday and this week’s Cee’s B&W Challenge πŸ™‚

Grunge

When to comes to fashion I’ve always been quite taken with the grunge look from the late-ish 20th Century, mainly because at the time it pretty much suited the way I liked to dress anyway. There was just something in its creative shabby-chic scruffiness that really appealed to me – there’s an ease of comfort and an eclectic softness of outline that gives a subtle nod to non-conformity without ever being aggressively in your face or screaming anarchy like punk rock had done previously.

Grunge brought a satisfactory sense of belonging to me as a young mum with neither room nor desire for high fashion in my life – I wore a lot of carefully chosen second hand clothes and put them together in a way that spoke to me personally, a kind of non-style style, if you like. And now I’m in my late 50s I still like the idea of rocking a non-style style, although over the years I’ve adapted the look to be slightly more age-appropriate – sadly what looks cool and trendy on a 30-year-old tends to look far more bag-lady at nearly 60!

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Grunge

The Tempo of Life

If I were to divide my life up into musical movements, I would say my life from birth to about 15 was lived vivace, lively and fast. From 15 to 30 life was lived allegro, fast, quick and bright, and from 30 to 45 things slowed down slightly as I preferred a more andente tempo, a far more comfortable walking pace. From 45 to 60 I’ve been living more adagio, slow with great expression, and from 60 onwards I’m looking forward to life lived largo, slow and broad πŸ™‚

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Tempo

Tattoos

Fandango asks provocatively this week:-

Do you have any tattoos? What is the meaning or significance of them? If you do have tattoos, do you have any regrets about any of them?

Ooh, good question! I have one tattoo, of a small purple butterfly about to fly off my back just on the cusp of my left shoulder.

I had my tattoo done when I was around thirty, which makes it not far off thirty years old. Its significance for me is as much to do with choosing to get a tattoo than the design itself, in that it was a sort of creative expression of independent self-hood, and my choice of a butterfly represents a taking off in life, a new beginning. The tattoo artist drew it freehand straight onto my skin, adapted for me from a similar design. Sadly the black outline is a little blurred these days, and the purple infill colour a little less vibrant, but I still love my little butterfly tattoo and I’ve never once regretted having it done.

Both my daughters also have tattoos, my eldest daughter has several smallish artistic designs all meaningful to her, on her upper back and lower back and inner forearms, and my youngest daughter has two tattoos – a pink flower on her foot and a purple butterfly on her back similar to mine. In fact, we actually traced mine off my shoulder and took it to her tattoo artist who copied the design with his own individual flair, so our butterflies are very similar but not identical.

Thinking about it both sons-in-law also have full sleeve tattoos on their arms, so I suppose overall we’re quite a well-inked family πŸ™‚