“A purrfect life…“

We got Molly cat when she was a tiny little kitten. She was abandoned under a bush rather the worse for wear.

Our friends rescued her and in turn gifted us with our beautiful girl. We were incredibly blessed to have Molly as our cat. She was so loving with an incredibly loud purr.

Losing her in September after almost 19 years was incredibly painful. It’s hard to explain to those who don’t know how much a beloved pet can leave their paw prints on your heart.

“Goodbye Mog” is a beautiful but heart rending story about a beloved cat who died, written by Judith Kerr. In the story in time the family go on to adopt another little kitten.

So today we found space in our heart to welcome little Penny who was found living with her Grandma, Mum and sister at the bottom of someone’s garden.

Penny doesn’t know it yet, but she will have a purrfect life with us, just as Molly did.

Molly Cat

She arrived into our lives as a small feisty feral kitten but mellowed into a beautiful big old cat.

She loved nothing more than to have a tiny dab of butter to lick, and was delighted when she was able to score tidbits such as ham and chicken.

In her older years she would demand food loudly and position herself in the kitchen to be the first in line to eat!

As a young cat she had a male admirer in the shape of Dinky, one of our neighbours’ cat who thought she was simply the best thing since sliced bread. She was aloof but allowed him to come and sit near her in companionship.

She was not ameowed when Harry cat joined our family but he soon won her over. You would frequently find them snuggled up happily together.

Then the children started arriving. She adored our eldest and would follow her around, snuggle up and get worried when when she was upset. This love continues until the end where she would choose to go and chill out in our eldest’s room purring like mad when being stroked by her.

She took a bit more adjustment to the next two arrivals but soon adapted.

She was a gentle cat and tolerated a lot of “love” from the children including them dressing her up in silly hats etc.

However if they annoyed her she wasn’t averse to giving them a warning growl before smacking them if they didn’t toe the line.

If anyone was sad or ill, she would often go and sit by them purring loudly to provide comfort.

Dodger cat joined our family and she was most definitely not impressed with him. He adored her and she hated him equally. Over time she mellowed and would on the rare occasion let him come and sit near her but never to snuggle despite his best attempts to persuade her otherwise.

She has faced a number of illness over the years but battled through them stoically. She loved taking her medicine much to our amusement and was always good at the vet bar the one time she swiped one for prodding her a wee bit too hard.

She loved most of all to eat and sleep. As she got older she had a set routine for her day and would complain if we failed to comply in carrying out her demands.

Many a day has been spent just stroking her whilst she purrs, lifting her up and down onto chairs and beds on the days her arthritis was bad along with meeting her demands for food.

For a feral kitten she has had an amazing long life full of love. What more could a cat have asked for?

Molly cat on her 1st and last day with us.

Aunty Betty

Today our beloved Aunty Betty went home to Heaven.

She was a lady full of determination, a passion for life and loved her family deeply.

She was at her most happiest when spending time with the youngest members of the family telling stories, playing games with them or just simply enjoying watching them playing.

The joy in her face when meeting the latest additions to the family was always lovely to witness.

When Ian and his siblings were younger she used to make up stories about a boy called Jonathan Jim who was a goody goody by all account. She was not amused when they decided to kill him off!

She was also a great talker who would talk for hours on end. Often used to repeat stories or got crossed with her nephews and nieces if they didn’t recall who she was talking about. It usually transpired that said person has long since died before they were born!

To look at her you would have never known that this was a lady who had travelled the world and has so amazing stories to share about her life such as when training to be a Midwife living in the community under the watchful eye of the Matron who was a stickler for rules.

She cared deeply for people and ended her working life late as a warden for elderly people. It used to amuse us greatly that this elderly Aunt of ours would talk about all the old people not realising that most of us saw her as elderly too. It especially tickled us that she would go on holidays abroad telling us that she was acting as an escort for the elderly.

She adored animals and in her later life enjoyed coming to our house as our cats would happily curl up purring on her lap whilst she stroked them gently. They weren’t always best pleased when she ejected them to go home!

She used to drive us nuts by deciding to go to the loo at the last minute just as we were about to sit down to eat, or standing in the doorway talking totally unaware that she was blocking access to anyone else wanting to enter or leave the room.

She was a teetotaller so it caused great amusement amongst the family one year when she accidentally drank a small glass of wine declaring it as the best apple juice she has ever tasted. I don’t think any of us dared to tell her the truth.

She had a strong faith and this was steady-fast to the end. She loved God with all of her heart and took time to pray and share her faith with others.

Today she has gone home to be with her Heavenly Father. She is free of all her aches and pains. In that we rejoice, but we hope she isn’t blocking the door talking to her beloved Heavenly Father or there’ll be a long line of impatient people behind her waiting to join the Heavenly Party.

Aunty Betty

“My Lighthouse”

As someone who gets anxious easily the unfolding crisis of the Coronavirus is not the best event to be witnessing.

It’s almost like being forced to take part in a horror film where you don’t know what’s going to happen next, or what the final outcome is going to be.

It’s hard not to feel panicky and want to run and gather those you love to hide in some bunker somewhere safe until it is all over.

But in the midst of this storm there is hope and we need to hold onto that. We need to look for our Lighthouse, focus on it and ride the storm out no matter how fierce it may get.

Where there is light, there is always hope.

Psalm 27:1

“Anxiety”

Anxiety,

That old chestnut.

The one that fills you with dread,

Jolting you awake from your restless slumber.

Leaving you unable to sleep.

You feel totally exhausted because you have to battle to get through the day without becoming an emotional wreck,

When all you want to do is run and hide until you feel in control again,

Because your brain is running at hyper speed overanalysing and installing fear into every decision even if it isn’t one that will make a jot of difference in the long run.

Some days it just hovers at the edge.

Other days it totally overwhelms you,

And you just don’t know where to turn,

Or what to do,

Because you’re so afraid of it all falling apart,

Even if you know that logically it won’t do,

But it’s hard to reason with anxiety,

When it is in full panic mode.

It can be so hard for others to understand your anxiety,

Or how it can impacts on you,

Because it is not visible like a injury.

We’re so used to “just getting on with it”,

That it can be hard to take a step back and admit that we’re struggling to cope.

What can you do to help?

You can listen without judgement,

And allow us to offload,

Even if none of it makes sense to you.

You can hold us tight because we need that physical comfort to reassure us.

You can be there,

Reminding us that no matter how much we are struggling,

That you are there and you care.

“Stepping Out…”

This week I’m stepping out through one door into another.

After 16 years and 4 months I’m leaving my job to go and do something different.

Most of you won’t be aware that this was in the pipeline as I’ve not talked about it much.

So it’s odd sitting here now knowing that this is my last week in the job that I’ve invested so much time, energy and passion into.

I shall miss aspects of my job but there are also other parts that I won’t.

I am looking forward to fresh challenges and experiences that my new job will bring,

But at the same time it’s a little daunting to be starting over again as the newcomer.

So think of me this week as I step through the doors for the last time in my current job and out into my next job.

“Frustration”

Frustrated. That’s how I feel right now. Others around me are feeling frustrated too but mine is heighten further as we are stuck on a train going nowhere fast. They can hear the announcements but all I heard is garbled words. I have literally no idea what is being said thanks to my hearing.

“Oh but you have a cochlear implant?! That restores hearing doesn’t it?! Ooh it’ll be just the same as a hearing person right?!” No. Quite simply no. A cochlear implant improves the sound quality but it’s still not on a par with someone with normal hearing.

People take hearing for granted. They jack up the volume on their headphones, mobiles, tv and other gadgets and when told they run risk of damaging their ears roll their eyes and say “Won’t happen to me!”

The irony is that I’m the one often telling my own family to turn the noise down as it’s too loud and I’m the deafest person in our house. That’s got to be saying something if a deaf person saying it’s too loud surely?!

You take it for granted that you can go out in a group of people and hear every single word. You walk along the road chatting and I’m there desperately trying to pick out and piece the words together to make sense of what is being said so that I can feel part of the conversation too. Imagine doing that sat in a loud meeting room, pub or anywhere where there is more than two of you in a room day after day.

Imagine being me trying to listen to information, processing what is said and understanding what to do whilst still listening to next bit of conversation. Now throw in having to write that info down whilst trying to lipread at the same time in a noisy room. I don’t just mean people talking, I’m talking about background noise like photocopiers, coffee machine, telephones ringing and so on.

Maybe then you’ll understand my frustration, why I’m so exhausted at the end of every interaction and why it’s a struggle for me to follow conversations and not feel like I’m stood on the edge every single day.

“0ld Spice”

“Old Spice…” the mere mention of the word jolted me from my daydream and I instantly thought of my Dad whilst out with colleagues from work for lunch.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard about or seen “Old Spice” and it’s difficult to recall the exact smell now. Yet I suspect if I smelt it as it was back in the 80’s I would instantly recognise the smell for it was my Dad’s aftershave of choice.

I recall the bottle of aftershave on the dresser placed next to his comb and brushes that he used to use to groom his beard. He has a cracking beard and could probably give hipsters beardies of today a run for their money in the beard stake!

I recall snuggling up to him and resting my face against his beard and thinking it was so prickly whilst finding the familiar scent of “Old Spice” aftershave so comforting at the same time.

I wonder if my Dad would still be wearing “Old Spice” if he were here now, or whether he would have been persuaded to switch to another product?

“Old Spice” there’s nothing extraordinary about it, but for me it reminds me of my Dad who is much loved and missed. As the years go by it is harder to remember stuff about my Dad, or to remember how he sounded but little triggers like these help to keep the memory of my Dad alive.

“The Crazy Bunch”

A number of years ago when I was at Uni I met a group of friends who become my kindered spirits and life long buddies. We nicknamed ourselves “The Crazy Bunch” due to the different personalities we had in our group.

In fact if you had met us at the start of our friendship, you would have been puzzled as to why we were all friends, due to our different personalities, interests and outlook on life. Yet somehow we bonded and became firm friends.

At times over the years there have been moments when the friendship has been tested. Life has made it more tricky too, to arrange regular meet ups or to be able to chat for lengthily periods over the telephone.

Arranging a time to meet up has changed over the years, as in the past it would have involved dressing up, a few drinks, maybe a meal and a night out in town partying into the early hours.  Nowadays it’s planning a venue to meet, arranging activities to appeal to our families, with a cheeky drink or two in the evening whilst lounging on sofas in our pyjamas struggling to stay awake past ten o’clock!

As a group of friends we have seen our fair share of lows and highs in life. Throughout these times we’ve been supported by one another and drawn strength from this. We know that we can be totally honest with one another and that advice/support given will be the truth and not sugar coated. Most of all we know that regardless of what has happen, our little group totally has our back if we need them, and we draw strength from this.

We may not meet regularly or get the chance to chat for long, but when we do get together it’s like putting on a comfy pair of slippers, knowing that we can be totally at ease in each other company and that we don’t have to put on a front, because we all know one another so well.

I am so thankful for The Crazy Bunch’s friendship, love and support because without them my life would have been so much poorer.

I can only but hope that each of our children are as fortunate as we were, to find  a group of friends with whom they can totally be themselves, and know that whatever happens in life, their friends totally has their back.

“Left Behind…”

A couple of years ago we lost some family members, though not in the usual tragic way that you would think of. We lost them because they made a decision to walk away and disappear, without an explanation.

For those left behind, we have experienced a range of emotions since they disappeared. It’s almost like grieving a loss, but without actually having a reason why.

I don’t know if they still think of us, or if it has affected them the same way it has affected those of us left behind. 

I don’t think there’s been a day gone by, where not one of us has thought about them, wondering if they are ok, or caught a fleeting glance of someone in a crowd and pondered for a few seconds if it could possibly be them.

It’s hard to explain to our children why we can’t see these family members any more, or get in touch. To them it doesn’t make sense at all, how people can just be there one day and then chose to walk out the next.

It’s heartbreaking hearing our children grieve for those they have lost, and expressing their fears that they are beginning to forget what they look like with such raw pain.

This is the reality that we have to live with, and is echoed all over the land when people choose to walk away from their families and friends.

I don’t know if we’ll ever see them again, or find out the reason why, but this I do know; they will never be forgotten and the hope will always burn fiercely in our hearts that one day maybe they will make the choice to reconnect with us.