Following the Waves

Published 07/09/2012 by Saint

There’s a slight sea mist and a silvery glint on the waves.
There’s a boat that’s come to shore with fishermen wading in the water, they cast a striking silhouette in the strange light.
I wonder where they live
If they’re happy
If they beat their wives
If they have affairs
If they have dreams of singing hard rock or opera
If they love the sea.

Some days are filled
With questions
Yearnings
Strange imaginings
Some days
Just drift
Like seaweed on the waves
On a still day

Some days every exchange you have
Is loaded and exciting
Some days you battle to find anything to say at all.

All life is a series of waves:
Tides coming in
Neap, high, low, spring
Currents pulling and dragging
Throwing you on the sand
Where sometimes you lie like Ursula Andress in her white bikini being kissed with lust
And other times you barely get your feet wet

But the tides carry on regardless of your involvement
With them.
They were here long before
We were born
They’ll continue long after
We are gone

I don’t know if I find that comforting
Or desolate
Does continuity recognise us
Or are we just foam
On the waves?

Impressions of Namibia

Published 14/08/2012 by Saint

I got back from two weeks in Namibia yesterday. Feeling slightly sick so for now I’ll jot down some impressions, pics and other stories will follow.

Things I loved about Namibia:

Lying down in the desert. Sun on my face, pebbles under my back. Just me and the desert and the wide blue sky. The silence was mind opening and calming.

Swakopmund; the town is quaint and charming, the sea, bilious grey sharky waters and wild. Went out to a restaurant on the end of a long pier, waves so high and wild you felt you were in the sea. Got an idea of how it must feel to surf. Saw a jellyfish and some dolphins.

Dune 7. Awesomely large and beautiful. Watched in admiration as one of our group climbed it. Amazingly hectic to do.

Etosha Safari Lodge: had to spend a night there (unscheduled). What a beautiful place; exquisite food, wonderful views, amazing staff.. The stars at night!! Wow

Huge distances

Lots of road travel

The clickety clack of the train on the track (plagiarising Neil Diamond) rocking me to sleep

Wild dancing party on the train, never danced on a train before. Getting down with the African staff was amazing, man they can move like no one’s business, we whiteys pale in comparison. Seeing one of the passengers, a doctor, do gumboot dancing was wow too!!!

Fancy dress night (the same night) – three guys in drag looked sooo good and were funny, spirits were high and we all laughed like mad!

The staff on the train, the guides, the wildnerness, the Namibian people (so friendly, answer to every ‘thank you’ is ‘you’re welcome’). South African service staff could learn a thing or two from these people.

Lovely peeps on the train!! Very friendly and funny

What’ve you lot been up to in my absence? Any eggciting adventures, murders, alien visitations? Anything I should know about? Haha!!

More later !!!

01 January 2015

Published 01/01/2015 by Saint

Well Happy New Year peeps. In keeping with my decision to write a lot this year, I am kicking off with a blog. My year in review and a bit of what I learnt in 2014, follows.

Actually 2014 was a very eventful year for me, in terms of what I learnt about myself.  I did a hell of a lot of moving around, winding up finally in the shelter where we still live.

Mike had his second amputation and we learnt to face each day positively. I found a brilliant psychologist that I still see, who I really click with and who finally gave me a definitive answer on what’s going on with me, I got a diagnosis I can finally understand and completely relate to when I compare it to my life.

I learnt that even the grimmest situations can be hilarious, and touching and funny. I learnt that homeless people are not crummy and I discovered that what I considered my greatest defeat (landing up in a shelter) could actually be seen as a great learning opportunity. Once I changed my perspective I found myself enjoying the place much more and my place within it.

I have been angry and sad and defeated and apathetic this year but I have also been driven and disciplined and have cared for Mike with great love and affection, so there is lots about myself and my doings this year that have made me proud.

Never say die, is definitely a motto I have always embraced and in 2014 I REALLY found myself living each day by it.

The people of Retreat have been warm and friendly to us, and shown us great respect and helped us a stack even physically over pavements and up stairs and over railway bridges and everywhere.

I’ve been very quiet lately online but I am very busy with a hell of a lot of changes and Jess is  here too.

I wish everyone the best of the best for 2015 and I thank you all for your support and love and help throughout 2014.

Now to lose weight, write my book and stop smoking!! hahahahaaaa!

#heffalump

This is what I look like atm:

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But hey, weight is not like manners. If you haven’t got manners it is unlikely you will ever develop any. If you are a lard tub, you can always get:

p90x-skinny

Anyway whatever this year has in store for all of us, I say we face it all with lots of humour and a great helping of compassion and affection.

Just do one small thing a day for the next person, no matter how random.

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Still Tuesday 07th May 2013

Published 25/11/2014 by Saint

Craig. Glynnis. Me. So young once, now all three nursing a dying son. Grey in our hair. Bewilderment, amongst calm and pain, in our older eyes and the beautifully tender touch of a father’s hand on his dying son’s head. Sweetly whispered, comforting murmurs. The ability of us all to face this with some form of courage; some form of faith, even amongst the terrible sadness. These are pictures I will have in my heart forever. My, how we have grown. Up. Grown and grown up.

If Antony is the bridge, the conduit, that’s drawn the rivers of our lives together, however briefly and for whatever reason, then he’s done a magnificent job. Twenty five or so years ago, we’d never have thought we’d be standing here, together, today.

Song that came to me, around two or three a.m as I was watching Antony and dreading his death but wishing his death all the same: “I am just a new boy, stranger in this town. Where are all the good times? Who’s gonna show this stranger around?” And I reckoned that’s the song Ant’ll be singing in his new world. (Young Lust, Pink Floyd).

Ant and his Puffin

Published 05/11/2014 by Saint

Nuther extract from my journal:  Lauren left to spend some time in Jhb with her folks. From the start, the weekend went pear-shaped in regards to Ant. Although he couldn’t see much he knew, and I mean KNEW something was wrong, that she was missing. At that stage he could still walk. The problem came in the early afternoon; he refused food and demanded to speak to Loli.

In fact, when I look back; she was all he wanted and was the very greatest comfort he knew. Moms, Mums and Grans were important, but he called for his Puffin, all the time. In many ways therefore, the greatest load, and experience of Ant’s death fell upon Lauren. And in many ways we were not all that understanding which is a deep regret. More on this later.

Sad

Published 29/10/2014 by Saint

Feeling very sad and bad today. I went to the shop and left Mike to make his way to Checkers to meet me there but when he arrived he was bleeding and covered in dust. He fell out of his wheelchair as he was going down the pavement.

He’s still very shocked and now even more paranoid about bumps,holes and uneven surfaces, and I am ashamed that I left him alone. He fell in the road and some guys had to pick him up and put him back in his chair.

If a car had come past he would have been hit and that’s an image I can’t seem to erase from my mind.  I try to give him space and not hover over him for two reasons, one because he needs his dignity to remain as intact as possible and two, he needs to find his independence again.

But if this is the kind of thing that’s going to happen, I can’t leave him again.

Feel crap.

It’s Richard’s Birthday!!

Published 24/10/2014 by Saint

Today, 25 years and about nine hours ago, my second child, also a son, was born at Addington Hospital in Durban, after a very long labour. He arrived at about 00:20, just as I was about to be taken up to theatre for a Caesarian.

I was attended by a lovely midwife, a woman in her late forties, who had come to midwifery late in life, so Richard was her first delivery. I’d been begging for a C-section after hours and hours of labour, but just as the doctor agreed to give me one, and set the drip up, I must have relaxed cos Richard came almost immediately after that. The midwife didn’t even have time to put her gloves on, the attending doctor told her (I later heard) “Bugger the gloves, CATCH the baby!!” 🙂  She was so overwhelmed with her first delivery she cried, and so did I and I remember her saying what a very pretty baby Richard was.

Because of t he very long labour and the fact that I had a Rhesus negative problem, Richard was taken straight to neonatal ICU, a floor or two below the maternity ward at the time. His blood was tested every hour, by a needle prick on his heel, and I spent most of my time (as much as I was allowed) in the ICU.  I remember the night the family came to see him, Antony was about 4 and he couldn’t get over how cute (and small) Richard’s feet were. So despite it being an anxious time with Rich being in ICU, I felt very happy and contented with my new baby. I remember when he was allowed back in the ward, feeding him at night while watching the harbour lights as I had a magnificent view from a few floors up.

Richard was always a sensitive baby who turned into an extremely friendly and happy child (he was brought up by my sister and my brother-in-law as I have said before).  He loved getting new clothes, from a very young age. I remember when his Granny Rita sent him some winter clothes – he was about 2 – how he insisted on putting them on and viewing himself in the mirror, too sweet.

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Typical of how smartly Richard liked to dress, from small

That same afternoon I took some lovely pics of him in the late afternoon sun, on his lovely long eyelashes and beautiful face, they still remain some of the best portraits I have ever taken.  I think my sister still has them, must ask her about them now that I think of them again.

Twenty five years have passed since the day he was born, in some ways those years have passed in a flash, in others the years are slowed down and appear in my mind’s eye as a film or set of photographs, of all the stages of his life.  Although a highly complex individual, he’s always been a happy chappy, even tempered and steady in his ways, very loving and caring and loyal to those he loves, polite and professional in his work ethic (to a T, it may be said – whatever he does he does very, very well).

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Richard and I at his second Christmas – Widenham

He’s also one of those multi-talented people, good at whatever he turns his hand to.  He’s done some beautiful pottery, is a fantastic and passionate dancer, brilliant firedancer, an excellent singer, very funny and gifted in the humour department, in fact, as Ant and I once said to one another, we don’t really think there is anything Richard cannot do, and do very well.

rich3 Firepoi on the beach

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Dancing the cha-cha to Let’s Get Loud

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Richard and Granny Rita

rich5 Richard the Model

They say the eyes are the window to the soul.

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Richard has a most beautiful, pure and caring soul and I am not saying that cos I am his mother.

Happy Birthday my sweet, talented, beautiful son!  I feel honoured that I was chosen to bring you into this world.

I’ve watched you grow into a fine young man, and although I miss you terribly since you went to the UK I think that’s the best move you could have made and I am proud of all you have achieved since you have been there, almost a year now.

I wish you every happiness for the rest of your remarkable life; can only imagine you’ll live to be a hundred and ninety, eccentric and original as all hell, as you have always been.

happy-birthday-richard-marc

Monday 06th May 2013 – Ant’s journey continued

Published 21/10/2014 by Saint

This morning after the usual routine of washing Ant and changing bedding etc, I turned him over onto his right side and suddenly he started breathing very heavily, loudly, stertorously; when I described it to Jessica, I said he sounded like a dog panting very heavily. It was very frightening.  His eyes are half closed and he’s breathing open-mouthed.

Dr Carol was called, she came, took one look at him, put her hand on his arm and said to us, in kind, low tones, “Yes, it will be very soon, now”.  We all stood silent. I eventually said, “When you say soon…?”  And she answered, “Today or tomorrow”.  Which left us even more silent, Lauren was visibly upset and shed tears.

I wrote to my friend Colleen on bbm and described his symptoms. She was a nurse and she confirmed he is in extremis, so the official death watch, if one can put it that way, has begun.    Hard to know what to add to that, so I’ll just leave it at that. We’re all sitting in the room, Lauren’s playing some of Ant’s fave songs, starting with Wish you Were Here, followed by Mad World, by Gary Jules, from the Donnie Darko movie.  My friend is heading for the Arctic Circle, he says.  I wish I were heading for the Arctic Circle.  Wonder if I would ever come back.

The tone in the room is subdued, with Antony’s heavy panting overwhelmingly loud in my ears, and very very frightening to me.

Things that will forever remind me of this death watch time with Antony are:  Johnson’s Baby Powder, Vaseline, Elizabeth Anne’s shampoo (which we use to wash him), nappies (which he refuses to wear and rips off all the time til we gave up), the smell of urine, sweet smiles and crazy talk from Antony – will list a couple or a lot of these later, of the things he’s said.  Bright stars, early winter skies, smoking, silence, long night watches, and him breathing.  Usually he breathes so softly I get up several times a night to make sure he is still breathing (to what end I don’t know). I put my hand up against his mouth to feel his breath on my palm. I feel his pulse, remembering not to use my thumb to do so.  Talking to him in the dark though he can’t hear me though I do and did strongly feel he could hear me on some spiritual plane.

Other reminders:

Chocolate, music, movies – we’re all watching loads of movies. Silence. I said silence already but I’ll say it again and I don’t only mean externally.  Linen bed savers. Rust brown urine in a bag, which tells me his kidneys are failing. Facecloths, his boxer shorts, watching his eyes and hands all the time.

He often seems to point and reach towards something or someone we cannot see.  He tries to sit up and seems quite intent on what/who he sees; I like to think it is my dad, his “Bampa”.

The poem, High Flight comes to mind, so I’ve copied it down:

“High Flight by John Gillespie Magee

 

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

 And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

 Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth

 Of sun-split clouds – and done a thousand things

 You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung 

 High in the sunlit silence. Hovering there,

 I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung

 My eager craft through footless halls of air,

 Up, up the long delirious burning blue

 I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,

 Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;

 And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

 The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

 Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

Most beautiful piece of writing.  That is writing, as I said to Antony when I read it to him the other night.

Other reminders:  Sounds of the sea in the silence of the night. Silence. Silence. Silence. Above all, silence. Silence of the muted tongue, silence of the suffering heart, silence so profound it feels like noise.  Noise so soft it feels like silence. S I L E N C E. In death, there is silence, above,beyond and far from the sound of Antony’s laboured breathing. Nothing to be said.  SILENCE

Craig, Ant’s dad, and Erica his partner are coming down from Jo’burg, Loli’s family is on the way too.

The time is at hand.

Sunday 05th May 2013 – cont

Published 20/10/2014 by Saint

Of course, when you’re pregnant, you never think of any day to come when your child may die and you certainly never envisage yourself nursing your child to death in a state that combines such deep pain it almost goes into reverse or becomes a kind of terrible numbness or lack of ability to engage with the dreadful truth of it all, so you go through the motions and help as much as you can, never forgetting for a minute – although you allow yourself to “forget” daily, really, but the truth bubbles and lurks, black and poisonous as Antony’s vomited bile, beneath your very humanness, like a coiled and deadly asp.

I think that was a somewhat convoluted sentence but what I was trying to say was:  you feel and you don’t feel.  You’re in pain and you’re in control.  You wish people would ask you every day how Antony is and if anyone does, you get irritated, cos what kinda question is that for fuck sakes?!  How is ANTONY?  HOW is Antony?  How IS Antony? What the FUCK?!

How do you answer such a question in any event?  Can hardly say, ‘fine thanks.  Much better.  Getting stronger.  Should be back on his feet shortly.’

So if anyone does ask I bury my immediate, in general, FUCK YOU response because most people ask cos they are nosy, very very few because they actually give a fuck, and then I answer something that sounds so odd because it’s couched in somewhat encouraging or reassuring terms (as if I somehow have to reassure the asker) such as: “Declining steadily, thanks for asking”. Which leaves the questioner dumbstruck.

Especially annoying are those who are “praying for a miracle” daily; a miracle that’ll never come, cos it’s just not medically possible for FUCK’S sakes, and why would a God who “GAVE” Antony the tumour (going along with the popular God as chessmaster theory) suddenly bloody take it away FFS!! HELLLOOOOO!!!

Richard said (we were talking about all the things that cross your mind when you’re sitting looking after someone who is dying) “Ya, I thought and think about many things I never thought I’d be thinking.”  I think that pretty much sums it up, really.

Nursing to life. I thought nursing was a process whereby you assist a person – the patient – to get better.  It’s only now I am beginning to understand that nursing is really a process of alleviation of suffering, so whether you’re nursing someone “to life” or nursing someone “to death” the process is the same. You alleviate suffering. As best you can.

Oh well my mother insisted I should be a nurse, when I was leaving school and I threw over the traces by falling pregnant with Ant, and so avoided being drafted into the nursing sisterhood at Jhb General in 1985 and at that time I had a deep dread of nursing, of death, of pain, pus, vomit, excrement, people screaming violently and dying in paroxysms of agony as many films had brainwashed me to expect.

(Writing was interrupted by Antony having a series of small seizures while Lauren was in the shower and I was on my own.  Very scary.  Had to tell myself to be calm cos you wonder again: IS THIS IT?  Is this the moment he’s going to die?  I don’t know why I should be so afraid of seizures, after all, they won’t distress him but we humans (or maybe just me) are so cowardly we like to think we can handle anything until it up and smacks us in the face then we (I) wanna run away screaming like a girl.  Be brave, Colleen. This situation calls for more courage than you have ever needed.)