Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Things We Do For Love

The day before we take Ma home, we decide to poke around a cavernous bric a brac shop close to where we live. Above a sea of sad sofas and heavy dark wood furniture, something catches my eye and I feel a little sharp thrill and edge nearer but suddenly a hand shoots out and beats me to it. ‘I like this!’ says Ma, hanging on to it. ‘So do I,’ I gulp. I’m truly not a covetous person, but, gosh, how I would like the jewel blue vase with its mysterious swirly depths that Ma is holding. I tell myself to grow up and stop being a tad disappointed about something so trivial as we return to the car. Then suddenly Ma turns to me and places it in my hands. ‘You have it,’ she says. There’s a bit of a tussle but Ma wins again, so now this beautiful piece of glass lights up our room not just for its gorgeous looks but also a reminder of everything Ma’s given up for me.

We drive Ma back home to Surrey then continue on to West Sussex where FiL is trying to make sense of his changed world. When my dad died, I think we all felt relief that his suffering had ended as well as great sadness but my mother-in-law’s final weeks were so difficult, all of us are struggling to come to terms with what’s happened. It’s something we get to discuss later the same day when we call on dear friends in Hampshire. Jan and Roger have moved on from sailing to new adventures in their motorhome, Molly, so have boxes full of useful boaty stuff which they generously give to us. During the course of the evening they also open two bottles of ‘special occasion’ champagne, feed us, listen to us offloading our troubles and give us a bed for the night. Surprisingly I don’t have a banging head in the morning, but as we head back to West Wales, my heart feels lighter thanks to the kindness of good friends.

Two days later, we’re back down the M4 again this time to move Rose and Si from their first floor rented flat in Bristol to their very own home, a three-storey townhouse between Bristol and Bath. Si’s mum and stepdad are there too, but we still climb an awful lot of stairs between us! Si’s dad and stepmum have been hard at work too installing new plumbing and an electrician's also been busy but somehow we manage to clear enough space to get the new home owners moved in. Si’s mum produces a tin revealing the wonderful cake she’s made - and after all those stairs, there’s no better way to celebrate! To Rose and Si, wishing you every happiness and much love in your new home.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Good Times

‘Ooh, lovely!’ I say as Bee bestows two big wet slobbery kisses on me. She’s quite frugal with her kisses so I can’t help but melt with love even though Bee has a stinking cold, a very runny nose and it’s only a few days until I run my half marathon! Ma’s here too and is thrilled to see her great-granddaughter but we still take the precaution afterwards of stocking up on First Defence and snorting it like crazy.

We’ve had something of a respite after so much sadness; Ma’s been here this week and we’ve had some wonderful weather to enjoy getting out and about. I’ve also been able to show her my second article for The English Home this month which arrived in time for her visit.

And so the day of the Llanelli Half marathon dawns - a dawn we see as we’re out the house by 7 am. Despite the forecast for mild weather, I’m so used to running this race in half a gale and driving rain, that I overdress and by mile 8 with the sun in my face I’m beginning to swelter. I think about stopping to strip off but that will add at least a minute to my time whilst I faff about. I push on but a horrible swirling sensation in my stomach suggests I might be calling dinosaurs at any moment! At the next water station I take a few sips then pour the rest of the bottle over myself and hope that I’ll get round. By mile 13 there’s so little in the tank I have to drag myself to the finish line but, gosh, the sight of Ma and Tom looking so proud and pleased doesn’t half cheer me up! I’m so exhausted that I can’t work out how to stop my watch so at first I don’t register what time I’ve done.  I'm  not optimistic as I fear the heat has taken it’s toll. Later that evening when the official results I’m amazed to see that not only I have I run pretty much the same time as last year, 2:03:39, but I’m the runner up in my category and my overall position is well up too. All those miles of running in the cold, in the rain, up hills and through various health glitches have paid off and it looks as if I’m eligible for a prize … a free entry to next year’s race!

All smiles - despite being photobombed by a hand pouring water into my head