Sunday, May 27, 2007

Teddy Bears

Yesterday I was chatting to someone on one of the many sites I browse in and out of, and I was asked about my children.
I gave my standard reply.
"I have two boys aged 15 and 18, and the 18 year old is disabled."
I've found it is a good idea to add this as it stops difficult questions, for example about how I get on with his girlfriends as that just makes me miserable.
Sometimes, as yesterday, people ask what the disability is, and after trial and error I give learning difficulties and mild autism as a standard reply again.
Yesterday, however, this met with a different response..
"Come on, that's not really disabled, is it?"
I was a little stunned, only afterwards wondering if it was a misunderstadning of the word learning disabled. I usually add "more like 8" to give an idea of his level of functioning, but neglected to yesterday. So that comment burned on me last night and into today and came back to haunt me at lunch time.

We had gone round to see my brother and his family, staying at my mother's house. Their delightful 5 year old was, as ever, star of the show, running round like a mad thing before becoming enthralled, as many children are, by Son1's little dances.
Son1 loves standing in his grandmother's hall, in front of her mirror, doing strange movements, while making equally strange noises. His cousin watched and then by some ruse, probably by throwing teddies at him, got Son1 involved in a game.
It seemed to be a complicated one, with rules designed by Son1, who loves making up games with rules which involved shrieking, throwing teddies up stairs and through the hall until both were exhausted. I filmed some of it with my new cam and all said how sweet it was to see them playing together so well.
At one point they sat on the floor together, mentally ages so similar, physically oceans apart. One small and compact and cute, big black eyes, dark hair and cheeky little face, the other tall and chunky and covered in eczema, awkwardly stooping down to be small like his companion.
I watched as cousin put out a friendly hand to son1 who patted him on the back. "Well done, you won" he said.
And my heart broke, as it often does in moments like this.
Son1, 18, "not disabled" but happy to play a 5 year olds game.
Because he is at a 5 year olds level, in many ways.
Seeing nothing strange about it, seeing it as natural, relating to his cousin as an equal.
And in the meantime, son2 his in the front room, so he wouldn't get drawn in.
Acting like a teenager should and would.
And I thought once more of what could have been, should have been, if only those medics had taken more care....

The pain never goes.
It just becomes more naturally a part of life with son1.
Something to be expected and accepted.
To be borne till it goes, till it fades into the background again.
To emerge once more when the next challenge comes along.........

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Three Graces

"The Three Graces illustrates Canova's outstanding ability to transform cold hard marble into soft lustrous skin."

I stood and wondered at it.

White hard stone.

Cold, dead, no form to attract, no wonder at how beautiful it was.

Then the hands of the master.

Taking away what was not needed.

Smoothing out, chiselling away, till finally laid bare the wonder that we see.

Gently touching, hand to face, cheek to forehead, skin to skin.

Head resting softly, serenely, full of contentment and peace.

Legs bent slightly, backs twisted but smooth and inviting

Inviting touch, taste, smell, kisses, worship.

All this from stone and chisel and the eye of a master.

Put this in my inner eye, carry the feeling of tranquillity and solace, of sensual beauty and gentle love away from the room where silent feet tread to the heart of a busy disturbing world.

And let the disturbance settle, let it be ridden over by the image of those beautiful three women embracing for eternity....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I still haven't found (2)

I have climbed the highest mountain, run through the fields,
I have sailed into storms, lain on sands of gold,
Ventured into dark caverns, without even a light,
Ran back out
Then in again.....

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for!

Perhaps I never will, because, I think, the time for thinking of myself as an explorer in this strange world is nearly over.
There is much that needs to be done that is being side tracked in my fun but time consuming explorations
For example, I really do want to learn to play the violin.
And play the mandolin a bit better
I want to listen to my music loudly while lying on my bed and reading books that take me further into my imagination than I ever thought I could go.
I want to do a diploma in teaching, perhaps even an MSc, though the cost is somewhat prohibitive!
I want to join a choir and sing my heart out once more, like I used to, when I believed.
I want to watch my children more and more, as they sit together chatting, as son2 tries to instruct son1 in the ways of the world.
I want to sit in the garden and lie back on the bed and stare at the sky and watch the birds swoop round and round, heading for the trees.
I want to go to town on Sundays with the boys, laughing and joking and teasing and smiling, as we go from games shop to fantasy mag shop to book shop and mum's knicker shop and on....

And when I was ill, I stopped doing so much of that, because I couldn't.
But now I can again, and I am not going to let this job keep me cowed in a corner, fearful of what may come next.
My life is for living, and because I have loved life, I shall live it and not be afraid to die...

So as I go to Scotland with dear sweet sister (is it morning yet, shall i get up, shall I put this here, what time is it, shall I wash my face, shall I have a drink...) I go as me, as I used to be before all this stupid faith loss stuff started, before the delightful threats that started my old blog, as I walked fearful every day of what might happen.
It's me and I'm back and I am no longer afraid.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another not so good day...

But let's not talk about that.
I'll just get on with this peg figure model of my boss and look for the hat pins I used to have...
(*hums tunelessly...)

I've just finished reading Madame Bovary by Flaubert. My father, when I spoke to him about this, muttered about how long ago he had read it (in the original French, of course) but was far more impressed by a book called Flaubert's parrot, which he promised to look out for me...
I digress.
Some of the characters amused- the emotionless chemist, secular and scientific to the nth degree, superior to the hapless Bovary, finally awarded the Legion of Honour (as Flaubert was himself.)
The lovers, a succession of men who were bewitched by Madame Bovary initially, but grew tired of her emotional excesses and moved on to other things...
And Madame Bovary herself. For me, the most striking moments in the book were almost the last, as dying at her own hand from the arsenic she crammed in her mouth, she receives the last rites from the Cure of the villager who as he did:
"..dipped his right thumb in the oil and began to give extreme unction. First, upon the eyes, that had so coveted all worldly pomp; then upon the nostrils, that had been greedy of the warm breeze and amorous odours; then upon the mouth that had uttered lies, that had been curled with pride and cried out in lewdness; then upon the hands, that had delighted in sensual touches; and finally upon the soles of the feet, so swift of yore, when she was running to satisfy her desires, and that would now walk no more."

Such earthly pleasures, so intently searched for by Madame Bovary, but no ultimate satisfaction, for in the end, deceit and lies and the superficial nature of what she found overtook her and led her to her death. And not only her, her husband, who finds how false a woman she was, but still continues to love, cannot live with the grief that surrounds him. And their little daughter, Berthe, placed in the hands of an aunt, to work her life out in a cotton mill lives a million miles away from the life that her mother once sought to lead.

Will I, as Madame Bovary did, at my last, turn back in despair to a faith that I once had? Seek anointing, blessing, to turn back to the God I do not now see?

I do not know. But I somehow doubt it.

The book has other messages for me too, that I am pondering and playing with in my mind, about earthly pleasures and the reality of life. How many people do I see whose unhappiness centres on their desires, unrealistic or not, going unfulfilled? How often is my unhappiness caused by the same? Yet the answer does not lie in merely striving at all costs to satisfy, but maybe in addressing and exploring the roots of the desires and channelling them consciously in other ways.
For who wishes to travel the path of the lady who died to the song of a blind man?
" "The wind it blew so hard one day
Her little petticoat flew away!"
She was no more...."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Good day, bad day

Started at 8am, finished at 7pm today. It had its moments, such as my poor job share partner ringing me up from fracture clinic where she had been sitting for 2 and a half hours..."and there are still 10 people in front of me..."
To assist in her hour of need I read her one of the replies to my stroopy kick butt email written first thing that had been met with approval by the team and probable horror elsewhere. It at least gave her something to smile about, as she sat, wasting time she could have been using treating people in our overworked clinic. But the NHS is like that, no common sense applies.
And later, much later, as I was about to teach the juniors and to be recorded for them to remember what I said to them (camcorders are all the rage at teaching sessions nowadays and they save having to listen to me the first time) my excellent empathic second in command looked at me with sad eyes and asked if I'd heard about R, a colleague from where we used to work.
I knew right off that this meant R was dead. This tall, dignified, intelligent man was no more.
I wonder if he realised how much people would feel at his passing, how much they would sit in sorrow. Maybe he never knew how much he was regarded and respected by his colleagues.
And we sat in silence almost for a few seconds, thinking of R and how much he will be missed.
And worked through the teaching with the thought of how many others have recently gone the same way. Death is never painless, especially like this.
Sleep peacefully.....

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Today I morphed back into someone I haven't been for a long time...
The cool, but not calm although collected, kicking butt, ever so slightly (ok, more than slightly) manic mad woman defender of the team.
As fax after fax arrived to annoy the team further, and to provoke cries of things that I can't really write here, I took pole position and fired off emails and directed the team like an over emphatic conductor of an outrageously loud and discordant symphony.
The team took this in their stride, one muttering "Does it seem like you never really went away?" as I took on the role that once was second nature to me, before the pain and fatigue made mere survival from day to day my focus.
I already knew the battle we were fighting was one we were going to lose, but I couldn't see us go down without a futile token gesture, to register our disapproval. So tomorrow will no doubt result in defeat, but at least we tried and at least succeeded in annoying everyone who will win.

And today I actually had enough time to go to the loo.
On one occasion for a quick 2 minutes.

Which was better than Tuesday, where I arrived home suddenly realising that the last time I'd seen a toilet was in the morning as I left for work.

Now all I have to do is make enough space in my 9 hour day for a cuppa and some lunch.

Meanwhile, back at the place I call home, children continue to do their own thing and husbands continue to paint, build sheds for sisters, plant yet more squashes and marrows and potter round greenhouses in a fetching pair of shorts, happily humming a merry tune as he does. And I sit here, listening to my music, singing along with Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan and Abba, and wondering what MacArthur Park is actually all about and why precisely someone left the cake out in the rain. Family life is a funny thing......