scribbles tagged ‘Dad’

Amongst the jolly chatter

Thursday, May 5th, 2016 | tags: , , , , ,  |

That night in the Turkish bar Mumzie made some witty quip that reminded me of how clever and entertaining she can be in the most unexpected way. Impulsively, I leant over, hugged her, and gently kissed her neck. She whispered

That’s what I miss

I knew she meant dad. We had barely talked of him. At that time, 6 months after his passing, I hadn’t even seen her cry. Not even at the funeral. I was amazed by her stoicism. I’d burst out in floods of tears as soon as I saw the coffin and couldn’t stop until it disappeared from view. Some people were disturbed by mum”s lack of emotive expression, some thought it meant she didn’t care. I didn’t think that. We talked of practical things, of all the bureaucracy, furniture shifting, and belongings sorting that follows a death. We worked our grief through engaging with things and doing.

American Swedish InstituteHere, in Minneapolis, almost a year to the day after his death, I first saw her cry. Mum had accompanied me on a trip here to help me choose a place to live. We visited museums, historic buildings, art galleries and the American Swedish Institute (ASI). In the ASI we looked at traditional Swedish glassware, stoves, decorations, weaving. It was beautiful and very reminiscent of things in my parents home. As we walked into one room mum whispered ‘your dad would have loved this’. She was right, I could see his happy face and hear him telling us stories about his childhood in Sweden as an evacuee during WW2. I gave us a big hug. She knew why I’d wanted to come to the ASI. He’s part of me, I seek happiness in the things that made him happy. Mum and I share memories of dad’s being in a way that cannot be spoken. I think we miss him in a similar way, though I’m more prone to talking, writing, about it.

Recently, during a skype call, mumzie enthusiastically described her first trip to the Lake District. It sounded marvellous, snow capped mountain hikes (she’s 79!), lakes, windy roads, old trains, and then she mentioned the mill. An old mill “Your dad would have loved it”. This time without tears, and I smiled. I visited a Mill here in Minnesota recently and thought exactly the same thing. He’s with us on all our adventures, in spirit. Then mum started talking about the Russian formula 1 race that was on her TV. She described how it’s not as much fun to watch when she doesn’t have someone who cares more about it to share watching it with.

I know what you mean” the words sounded weak to convey the depth of understanding. So many experiences loose their ‘edge’ when the partner you’d shared them with, enjoyed them with, even enjoyed them because of that partner, is no longer there. So many everyday things that I once engaged-in with agust,  have faded from fun things to enjoyable things. As if the loss of a loved one throws a permanent damp blanket on one’s capacity to fully engage with those things.

Loss seeps through the jolly chatter of everyday things

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Time to stop

Friday, October 2nd, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Tissot watchDad’s watch stopped again.

It was a bit flaky during Dad’s life. I invested in an overhaul, with a 20year guarantee, from a UK watch specialist. It went back a couple of times while I was in the UK. The watch specialist definitely worked for their guarantee.

Now I’m in the USA and the watch has shifted from ‘flaky’ to dead. It’s stopped. It stopped last night. I was annoyed. It’s Dad’s watch. I love the look and feel of it, I love what it represents. But a watch that doesn’t work is too sad to wear. I wrote mum a short email and sadly said that I was giving up on the watch and that my previous watch hung limply around my wrist, I’ve lost weight since arriving in the USA.

A few hours later my brother contacted me to let me know that Mum’s favourite brother had died that night.

When it’s time to stop. Time stops.



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Friendly distribution

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |


frequency distribution graphWarnings:

  • All charts are fictional,  not based on any real data
  • All axis show interval data on proportionate scales, even if they don’t look it
  • All typing, grammar and spelling mistakes are  gratuitous
  • All titles and labels are slap-dash
  • Any resemblance of anything or anyone is purely coincidental

Not all of my Facebook friends are alive. I watch my fathers 2 accounts wondering whether Facebook will proactively do anything to remove them through sign-in inactivity. They were a source of comfort soon after he died. Family and friends posted photographs, stories, goodbyes on his timeline and the experience was shared. Because of this we decided not to proactively try and close the account.

Meanwhile several friends have closed their Facebook accounts as a protest against the way the data is used. I miss their presence, can empathise with the reasons for their choice.

The people with over 700 friends intrigue me. They appear to be using Facebook in a qualitatively different way to myself and most of my friends. I suspect these are extreme extroverts and their friends distribution graph will have a centre with people having 500 friends on average…


what do you think of that »


Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dad and I, spring of 1990. Mum and dad had come to visit me while I was studying for a PhD.

Mumzie took the photo. It captures a lot of us both and our relationship. Our profiles are very similar, though dad had these wonderfully entertaining wild, overgrown eyebrows that luckily I haven’t inherited.

Dad and I in 1990

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small things are big things

Friday, August 8th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Mumsie: Is there anything you want, before you go (to America)

Wendy: it’s difficult to ask because all the things I want are probably thongs that are special to you too

Mumsie: Oh, I’m going to have to get rid of lots of stuff.

Wendy: The black and white Rackham that I bought dad for his birthday?

Mumsie: Oh good! I’ve never liked that, I managed to get him to keep it in his office for a few years but then he moved it into the front room. I was going to ask you if you wanted it

Wendy: the Bullova watch, I remember him wearing it as an everyday watch

Mumsie: Oh yes, that’s probably quite valuable because it was the first of the new modern watches. It doesn’t work and might not be easy to get fixed without damaging it’s value

2 bits of fabulous banter »


Friday, July 4th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

For some reason today my spirits have been unfeasible low.

I took dad’s Tissot into a watch makers to have the movement replaced. It stopped soon after I inherited it. For some reason I asked the watchmaker to give me the old movement.


“I’ve never seen the movement of a watch close up”

“I can show you now if you’d like”

“I want to play with it, poke it around, take it apart, can I have it with the repaired watch?”

He agreed. I didn’t really understand why I wanted it.

In the evening I watched a TV programme about Niel Sedaka. Mumsie had chosen “this is our lost song together”  for dad’s funeral. I searched for the song on you tube and found a Swedish version by Agnetha. So many small reasons to cry. I guess this is melancholia, seeking-out the sadness. Feeling self-centred, lonely and guilty for letting myself wallow in these feelings.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

estimating the odds

Monday, June 30th, 2014 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Seattle, 2006, I’m 43. A weekend phone call home. Dad always triages the phone calls. One phone is next to his computer. He doesn’t chat, but I’m prepared with a question primed by my annual medical check-up

“Dad, how old was mum when she started the menopause?”

“56 and we’re still suffering!” She was 66 at the time

I was still giggling when mum picked up the extension line…

1 wonderful musing »

Spring is here

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 | tags: ,  |

General Cemetery - beautiful on a sunny dayI seem to have stopped crying about Dad’s death.

My body’s stopped grieving.

Only 6 months after his passing, is it my Britishness that leaves me feeling a bit guilty? Shouldn’t I be upset for longer, is this ‘improper’. It feels right and doesn’t hurt anyone so it can be right. I miss dad, but that’s not the same as the tired, distractedness of grieving. Sadness happens in everyday life, grieving is different.  Maybe now, now the grieving has stopped, saying goodbye makes sense, feels right.

Bye bye dad, miss you, love you.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

time pieces

Sunday, April 20th, 2014 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

Rotary Watch

Tissot watchThe watch I wear has a fixed-length strap. The watch tells me the time and fluctuations in my size.  Since starting my new job in July 2013, I’ve lost weight. The watch used to be a tight fit, now it swivels around my wrist and slides over the nobbly bit of bone at the base of my humerus

In my previous job I’d gradually grown pudgy and the watch had tightened on my wrist. It didn’t move, the strap left pink patterns indented on my skin at the end lf the day

Dad left two watches when he died. One, a beautiful Longines watch that mumsie had secretly saved for from her meagre housekeeping budget, a birthday surprise for dad. The second an almost identical visual design, a Tissot, that he wore on a daily basis. It’s a little scratched, battered. I remember it and can see it on his wrists in photographs

When I was a child mumsie gave me  t-shirt with the word “Tissot” on it. I didn’t know what it meant, but the word was on the fast cars in the formula 1 racing that we watched on the TV every weekend. It was an adult size t-shirt, much to big for my gangly teenage body, I wore that t-shirt to school, proudly. It meant nothing to my friends. To me it was a present from mum, something special to her and dad

After dad passed, Mum gave the Tissot watch to me. I love that watch way beyond it’s aesthetic or monetary value. I get very attached to things

6 months after dad’s death and I’m no longer spontaneously crying. I wonder about mum…



1 wonderful musing »

ancient games of strategy

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 | tags: ,  |

Ancient games

Soon after moving home in 1968 Dad started to make this Marquetry games box. On one side is a chess board, on the other is a Mills board. The box has 2 drawers on each side to store the game pieces.

When dad got home from work, in the evening, and at the weekends, he’d either be using his Stanley knife to carefully cut and place the thin pieces of wood, glue or varnish them. I don’t know how long it took him, but I remember being fascinated by the process and watching the box slowly take shape.

Once the box was finished dad taught me, age 5, to play chess and mills. I loved it, quality time with Dad, the look on his face when he won or I made a good move – equally pleased. His pleasure in such things was inspiring and made learning fun. I’ve never lost the desire to learn something new, look for a strategy and ‘have a go’.  A special box with special memories. Mum found it when tidying out the old games cupboard which included over 5 different chess sets. I only had 1 set, now I have 2. Both precious well beyond their financial value.


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heavy weather

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

deconstructing dad's studySudden storms.


So much stuff.

Mourning is exhausting, relentlessly rolling, invisible to the people around who’s daily lives bring temporary relief.

The hangover tiredness hasn’t lifted 3 months after his leaving.

By the end of the year this room will look like a guest bedroom; shelves removed, walls papered and painted, new carpet. Dad’s stuff long since reorganised and prioritised. It’s this removal that hurts the most. I can understand why people keep rooms untouched as memorials to their past owners.

1 wonderful musing »

a House trip to the Ukraine

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Mum and dad had booked a holiday cruise through the Ukraine this summer. Unfortunately dad can’t go (dead). Mum liked the idea of my taking Dad’s place.

The internet is full of news about the rioting in Kiev. Police throwing Molotov cocktails at people protesting their lack of a right to protest.  Two too-cute-to-harass elderly ladies should sneak past easily when chaperoned by professional tour guides. Mum says “we might not get to go into some buildings dear, if they’re rioting nearby“.

Kiev and the Crimean Peninsula (Odessa, Yalta, Sevastopol)…. wonderful and rather more exciting than my normal vacations!

2 bits of fabulous banter »


Thursday, January 16th, 2014 | tags: , , , ,  |

Today, at work, in a one-to-one meeting with another woman – she interrupted the meeting to take a personal phone call. Afterwards she explained by saying her father had died in November. This was the first time I just burst into tears in a public, work, situation. She sweetly went on to explain how loosing her father had changed her life. She didn’t cry but commented on how she tended to spontaneously cry.

I told her of how my mother emptying her fridge of the stuffs that she would not eat; things she’d bought because my father liked them, had made a painful impact. Mostly because everything mum wanted to dispose of was something I loved to eat…. it’s these small pragmatic details that bind us and demonstrate the loss in such a concrete way. I enjoy eating. I remember, with

  • Blue cheese
  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Pickled beatroot,  yummy!


1 wonderful musing »


Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

power thingiesPower adapter thingies who’s devices have long since escaped.

Dad’s study is full of boxes of things he’s kept that might one day come in handy. Neatly organised. It’s difficult for me to value them beyond the stories they tell of his own values, which make me smile. Deconstructing dad’s study is full of pain and smiles. Mum follows me in and I talk to her about what to do with things. She’s thrilled when I find one box that holds an inbound book dated 1896, a present she bought for dad that she had thought lost.

Dad teased, irritated, and fascinated me. I loved him, he knew it. I’m so glad he’s left lots of puzzles and surprises to unravel and left us all knowing he was deeply loved.

1 wonderful musing »

sudden storms with high winds and flooding

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014 | tags: , , ,  |

Lamp and Wing Mirror on Bridge in rainy traffic jamAfter 6 weeks

Sometimes I don’t cry on short car journeys.

The real crying has started, home alone, listening to music while cleaning the house. The sort of crying that splatters the inside of  your spectacles, a thunderous downpour without windscreen wipers inside of my spectacles. Needing a big hanky to clean the streams of mess. Temporary disabled in a sudden storm. It feels like some form of progress.

6 bits of fabulous banter »


Monday, December 30th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

My dreams have taken a slightly sinister turn. Not nightmares because lucidity takes them to a peaceful conclusion, but they all start with a variation on one theme; Someone has broken into my home. I never meet the intruder, I see the results of their intrusion.

During last night’s episode the intruder broke in to connect a 2nd phone, identical to my current landline phone. The new phone produced calls of a baffling nature, they were for me but came from people I didn’t know who sounded confused and distressed. They needed help and I’d try to unravel their needs and sort their problems. I didn’t want to answer the phone with the disturbing calls. As the dream progressed the calls gradually stopped.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

All change at Yorkshire

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Mumsie: I think you’d better read this letter I received with a Christmas card dear, I can’t really explain it. It was a bit of a surprise

She passed me a page of A4 printed letter. The first paragraph thanked mum for her letter, apologised for losing touch over the last decade and talked of how difficult life had been, using vague terms. I assumed this was from one of Dad’s old work colleagues that cared deeply about him and wanted to convey sadness at his recent passing.

The second paragraph explained the ‘difficulty’. This letter was from a woman who had undergone sex change therapy and surgery, now she is a man. Her male partner had also undergone sex change therapy and surgery, he is now a woman. They had changed genders, sexes and swapped names. Living in Yorkshire, they were trying to avoid persecution from ignorance and prejudice. I’m a wee bit surprised, who is this? I skip to the letter’s signature.

Oh, it’s Dad’s half-sister, who I’d encouraged mum to write to, to let her know of his death even though we’d had no returned letters from her last known address for over a decade. Ah yes, a relative. Another one of the colourful House family. Of course, it all made sense. Mum didn’t mind that I laughed.

Wendy: I’ve always thought of myself as being boyish, but happy in who I am, drugs and surgery seem like something people do when they are deeply unhappy with who they are

Mumsie: Dear, you’re not boyish, you’re just the 3rd child with 2 older brothers


what do you think of that »

3 days for parental death. You cannot be serious?!

Monday, December 16th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

When I told my line manager that dad had died he offered condolences and said “take all the time you need to grieve and stay in touch“. An awesome reaction, just what I needed. Later I went to visit personelle, official leave for bereavement is 3 days.

  • 1. Day of death. When I heard the news I was unable to work. Had to leave.
  • 2. Day of funeral – For a close relative (Dad) I can’t imagine not attending the funeral. Luckily, I love less than 2hrs drive from my parents so there wasn’t a major flight involved to and from the funeral. That could easily add a day either side of the funeral to the ‘needed’ leave.
  • 3. Day after funeral – so with the wake alcohols is consumed, stories are told, relatives are staying over. It’s highly probably that the mourner os going to be able to turn up at work on the day after the funeral. This day needs to be taken off.

3 days compassionate leave  is woefully inadequate for parental death.  Luckily my dad had a will and solicitors in place and was financially organised, my mum is competent, organised, pragmatic and impressive. If any one of these things were not the case. My personelle specialist implied that I could take more leave unofficially and no one would cause a fuss, she said I should consider taking sick leave if necessary.

I’ve taken 2 days, and an hour here and there, of sick leave. It’s necessary to be healthy. The unofficial attitude of staff and colleagues enables me to contribute while being tired (grieving disrupts sleep) and a bit grumpy.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

flahsbulb memories

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |

Service program coverSo much from the day of Dad’s death is etched onto my memory, it will stay for decades without the aid photography or digital recording.

I was due to go on a business trip, had just driven home to pick up my bags. As I was about to leave the house my phone beeped with a message that I had a voicemail. My parents home number is filed under dads name because he nearly always answers the phone at their home. Dad had called me. Dad has only called me once during the day. The day his brother died. So I knew instantly it was seriously bad news. No point listening to the voicemail of I can talk directly to Dad.

Mum answered.

Wendy: dad just called, um, I just got a call from this number

Mumsie: It’s your dad dear, it’s not good news

I could hear she was not her easy self

Wendy: How are YOU?


Mumsie: he said he was feeling strange when we were having our morning coffee, feeling strange – what do you do with that?  I didn’t know what to do. He said call an ambulance, so I did and when I got back (from the hallway phone, she doesn’t use a mobile yet) he had keeled over. He’s dead.

The maritime reference was a beautiful, natural, touch. They live in the old port of Bristol, dad loved ships, Britain is an island full of nautical sayings. She went on to describe what happened next which involved helicopters. Dad would have approved, many of the retired engineers he mixed with worked on helicopters, he’d shown me video of the testing of  the “Bristol” a helicopter with two sets of rotary blades. She’d been busy on the phone since the paramedics had taken his body. She listed who’d she’d called. How organised and thorough. Mum sounded like me.

Wendy: I’ve got my bag packed for a 2 day trip in front of me, can I come over to your place and get a hug instead?

Mumsie: yes, yes, that would be good, drive carefully though

Wendy: I’ll be there in 2 hours

When the call ended I was stood by my front door with my bags at my feet. A bag with a William Morris print, the strawberry thief. The sofa in dad’s study is a William Morris print. I called work to tell them (about the death, not the William Morris prints). That’s when I started crying. The call ended somewhat awkwardly as I trailed-off into tears and my manager said take all the time you need….

My mind was busy during that drive:

  • I’m glad he died quickly
  • I’m glad I visited last weekend to tell them about my route66 trip adventures and share a birthday (Chinese take-away) dinner
  • I’m glad I moved back to the UK and enjoyed his company for the last 5 years of reasonable health
  • What do you say to a mum who’s just lost her life-long partner, over 55 years living together?
  • I must cancel my hotel
  • Are my tears blocking my road vision or just making my cheeks itchy?

I stopped at a motorway service station and picked up some wine, chocolate and dried apricots. It’s not clear what works for the recently bereaved. I don’t eat chocolate or apricots but I remember a friend telling me that a constant supply of food was useful and both these products would last if not eaten immediately. The wine was more for me, though later I only drank a glass.


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smiling in her sleep

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

pumkin chooses an odd sleeping postionThe cats at Mum’s house are calm and carry on. Some of their habits have been disrupted but they don’t seem too put out.

Sampo is so glad to have me home she’s sleepy smiling. The cats don’t show sympathy, they appreciate here and now and get on with being a cat. I find their being around very grounding and comforting.

I’m getting increasingly tired, everyday has less sleep than I normally need and more stuff to fill the day. The funeral wasn’t a relief and I just want this to stop. It’s only been 3 weeks since his death.  I’m hoping that being patient keeping active and engaged with normal life will bring back restfulness and a background of good cheer. I need to be more patient.

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building myths

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Boiler on fullPseudo Shakespearian, myth-making, coincidences emerge. For example, my boiler broke in

  • February 2013, the morning my mother had her first stroke. insurance fixed it by replacing the fan, mother recovered.
  • November 2013, the morning my father died. Insurance fixed it by replacing a valve.

Just in case the myth created by coincidence has any basis in reality I thought I’d head-off the proximity of the next boiler breakdown by paying for a thorough overhaul and upgrading a few elderly components. I didn’t replace the boiler because all the Heating Engineers I’ve seen have said that it is an excellent, well designed boiler that should last for decades yet. Evidently “they don’t make them like that anymore“. Like my parents.

2 bits of fabulous banter »

who are you?

Sunday, December 8th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Wake attendee: Are you (mum’s name)’s sister?

Mum’s only sister is more than 40 years older than me, I was a bit thrown by the question and thinking of myself in relation to Dad:

Wendy: I’m (Dad’s name)’s youngest daughter

Wake attendee: But he’s only got one daughter

Wendy: that’s me, youngest and oldest daughter, at the same time

Many of the people at the funeral remembered me, from when I’d baby-sat their kids, or some other event that my memory had filed somewhere too dusty for me to find. Mainly the guests seemed like strangers to me. They enjoyed the PowerPoint slide deck we’d put together illustrating Dad’s different passions, it prompted conversations across club members as the Gloucester Richard the III society started talking the Retired Professional Engineers Club (Bristol) members about history.

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mourning of the funeral

Friday, December 6th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

Poppy checks funeral detailsDad’s funeral was just right for him. The funeral directors were excellent. A man from the funeral directors in a top hat with a silver-tipped long cane walked in front of the hearse as it approached the crematorium. Something wonderfully reverent, respectful, about this little show. I couldn’t deal with the physical presence of Dad’s body. Being in the same room as the body that no longer hosted the dad I knew was overwhelming. From the moment the hearse pulled out in front of our cortege car I was in full mucus-soaked tears, unable to pull words together.

Despite dearly wanting to say some words at the ceremony, I opted put, unable. I hadn’t anticipated being the blubbiest of the family though I was well prepared with multiple thick white cotton handkerchiefs. Everything went smoothly. The funeral was a very traditional, Christian, event. The archaically expressed Christianity didn’t speak to me, the sentiments and shared respectful kind words were good to hear in the company of so many people who’s lives he’d touched. My brother’s tribute was spot-on, as was Dad’s ex-boss’s.

I didn’t wear a hat (Mum’s request), I didn’t wear black. Mum requested that I wear my new dark-blue tailored suit, she wanted me to look good and talk bout my new job with the guests. Only a couple of people wore hats, they looked good.

I wonder how the funeral process will change over time? Live twitter feeds with hashtags projected on the wall relaying condolences from those who can’t be present? Live camera shot of the coffin moving to the incinerator?

The wake made much more sense than the funeral. It was good for me and I hope for the guests. More emphasis on the wake please.



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morning of the funeral

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |


Portishead, BristolNo-one slept well that night. All awake and dressed before the alarms chimed.

I took mum to the hairdressers and wandered around town trying to think of Christmas,  stay warm, share the apparent normality of the other pedestrians.

No rush, everything sorted, I just wanted to get it over with. I think we all expected the funeral and wake to bring a closure that might release deep sleep and remove what feels like a physical hangover as if mild alcohol poisoning were running through my blood, amplifying noises, emotions and bringing a feeling of physical sickness.

Mum’s hair looked good. Later she showed me dad’s tie collection. Did I want any? I wanted them all, I wanted to look at them and imagine him wearing them, I wanted to tease him about his taste in ties.

Wendy:  “No, I don’t think I’ll wear them and I don’t know anyone who wears ties. That one’s nice

Mum: “It was your dad’s favourite

Ties If mum hasn’t given them to charity by the next time I visit, I think I will take some and wear them. Clearly we have a similar tie-design sensibility…

2 bits of fabulous banter »

insurance provided emergency plumber

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

part of Kevin's toolkitMy tear glands have sprung a leak


I believe (based on some psychologists having studied crying and healing in rats) that crying is a good thing. It speeds-up the healing process. I’m not trying to avoid crying, I’m embracing it


I’m not hit by the sort of crying that mass-produces mucus, interferes with your breathing, prompts wailing and schlurping. My crying comes as overactive tear glands, not necessarily prompted by memories of dad, they seem to come from no-where with one common theme. If alone I let them fall, if  in company, I take a rest-room break to let them fall. Short leaks, that feel disconnected from thought as if my body is trying to regularly remind my mind that I am really, truly living in being upset no matter how much I laugh and chatter about reliable, everyday, things


My tear glands like to pump when I’m in a car or on the bus. Driving to and from work, visiting mum, two weeks after his death this is still the way of things though I cry for shorter periods, the frequency remains the same. The bus is tough because, despite my efforts,  passengers do notice and deal with the dilemma of whether or not to intrude and offer help. Dark glasses aren’t a realistic option during this cloudy British winter. I’ve got a hanky stuffed up my sleeve, like I used to have when I was a child prone to crying after I’d fallen over (often). I use this to surreptitiously wipe the spillage away


3 bits of fabulous banter »

restless energy

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 | tags: , , , ,  |


energy saving bulb and cloudsI expected to have difficulty sleeping. 3 nights of gaining consciousness every 90 minutes, looking at the clock then falling back asleep. Only 3 nights?!

There’s a sense of guilt about not being sufficiently disrupted. Tired from reduced sleep,  yet I seem to have so much more energy than normal. Energy that is helpful for thinking through what needs to happen, double checking things after being easily distracted, making arrangements, making lists.

This energy seems to be swept along and shaped by what’s happening around me. My family, and work, are calm so this energy is mainly good but it could easily go off track.


While driving to work I sang along with Joe Jackson’s “Is she really going out with him?”. My emotions so quickly got wrapped up in the anger of the song. I’m not really angry, but I wouldn’t recommend including me in religious or political discussions for a while…

what do you think of that »

mental autocorrect tantrum

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Bristol back lanewendy: my parents live down a small country lane...

As soon as the phrase ‘parents live’ left my mouth a mental autocorrect screached ‘WRONG! should be – mum lives – mum, mum, just MUM, you don’t have parents now’. I just continued without adjusting my mistake, hoping that I was the only one who noticed this inaccuracy. Mental autocorrect is overreacting slightly.  It should be a bit kinder in it’s correction message, I’m not deaf or stupid, just prone to a comfortable, life-long used reference habit.

I’ve noticed mum using the current tense, talking about ‘we‘ in contexts where ‘I’ would now be more accurate. I hope her mental autocorrect is kinder than mine.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

I’m more aware of your presense now

Sunday, November 24th, 2013 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Stickers on the back of Dad's carI take out the bins at the Wendy house, I think of dad because he always took out the bins at home, it was his job. Not an activity that prompted this thought during his life.

I go to the local Chinese take-away for some lovely food, I think of Dad because he liked to treat mum to a Chinese take-away meal on Friday night. I smile. Not an activity that prompted this thought during his life.

Goodness, so many things prompt thoughts that affirm who dad was, things he did. I notice the way I stand when I’m listening to a story, I stand like dad. I’d never noticed before. I hear my voice as I laugh and I hear the faint echo of his intonation. I never noticed while he was alive.

I welcome these spontaneously intrusive thoughts, they are beautiful intrusions, it’s as if my mind is trying to let me know how alike we are, how together we’ll always be. It’s saying,

“don’t worry, you have always been together and you always will be. He’s part of you”

The thoughts often arrive when I’m in the company of others. I say nothing and let the thought roll. I suspect my continually adding “My dad used to…..” to conversations would upset and begin to bore the people I’m talking with. With family it’s different, mumsie happily chatters about dad which I find comforting and I happily join in. My brothers are relatively silent on the topic, their silence makes me suspect they are finding the experience more painful than I.

3 bits of fabulous banter »

And now for something completely different

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

10 Jan 1932 – 18 Nov 2013


Dad passed-on quickly on the morning of my first day back at work after 4wks leave. We’d had a good weekend before where I’d shared photographs and stories of my fabulous vacation.  He’d talked proudly of how he’d worked out why his email was working sporadically and how he’d sorted some deals on internet service to make sure it worked. A good weekend.

Mumsie wants to have the Monty Python theme tune accompany the coffin moving into the incinerator. I love mum for her surrealist humour, which dad shared.  The funeral’s going to be a full House production, wonderfully bizarre, I love my family.

5 bits of fabulous banter »


Thursday, July 25th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

boiler chimney design

Dad’s a ‘Civil Engineer’. Most appropriate noun and moderator. Dad trained as a draftsman, and often found reasons to use his skills at home. Unfortunately he hasn’t kept any of the drawings that, as a child, I remember him making like plans and elevations of the full rigged model sailing ship that he was going to build for us children.

When I asked him about the drawings he scuttled off into his well-stacked study and returned with a small leather bound book about boilers. Almost every-other page was a detailed engineering drawing of a unique boiler design. He showed the drawings to me and commented on the engineering notations that made them easy for him to understand. When he got to this drawing of a brick chimney stack for a boiler I couldn’t resist photographing it. That’s dad’s hand. It doesn’t look like the hand of an 82 year old. He’s aged well and has beautifully shaped nails.

5 bits of fabulous banter »