Well, I was never that, whatever it is. I was never Queen at all, not all fineried-up, and with servants to fan me when I got too hot. I would be the one fanning someone else. Probably the King.
From 40 degrees most days to snow and ice. From one glorious view to another, polar opposites. It doesn’t take long to adjust either way, not if a girl decides so. I love the seasons and would very probably struggle to live beneath endless blue skies for long. I’m used to the changes, even if I do inhabit a strange and uncomfortable limbo as one season sends the promise of itself, only to snatch it back, with a great big HA HA. Cardy-on cardy- off. From bare arms to a warm fleece and back again, until the new season finally arrives in all its glory.
I came home to a new wet room and no bath. I will miss that huge green beast of warmth, the candles around the edges, the soapy bubbles inviting me in, the fragrance of essential oils and that plastic pillow thing with suckers on, for my head. Now, it’s a stand-up wash in a disabled area, cordoned off with what looks like a panelled wind break. The loo is higher and flanked on both sides with assistance rails. My feet don’t touch the ground any more, which does make me chuckle. I feel like a kid again. Gone is the old fashioned water fed towel rail, and in its place, a small electric one with green and orange lights (that flash for god’s sake), thus enabling extra clarity. Gone, to my intense delight, is the avocado green wash basin. I am super chuffed to lose that! Avocado green bathroom suites must date back a hundred years. Nobody chooses avocado green nowadays. In fact, it is something people joke about. Many apologies to anyone who has actually chosen avocado green.
The stair lift is a ‘delightful’ addition to the lovely stripped pine staircase, which is now all but invisible. I know it is still there, however, hidden within the fat metal supports, and I had a chat with it just yesterday. Everyone needs to be recognised, after all. Yesterday, yet another walking aid was delivered. I can’t move for walking aids. This one has four corners and two wheels and is for traversing the new wet room floor which is considerably larger, sans avocado green bath. Various bits of my kitchen have been re-located for easy access. This means, in effect, that I cannot see my work tops anymore. They are spread with biscuits and medication and other things I never need. The bird feeders are in a different place so that they can be easily watched from the easy access orthopaedic chai,r with extendable legs, and a softly-cushioned, easy wipe, plastic seat, wide enough for a Heffalump’s bottom.
Clothing is now arranged on my art shelves, and opened to the room for easy access. My art supplies are piled up on a high shelf that offers no easy access, and it took me a whole morning to find my dress-making scissors. The news blasts out from the easy access easy wipe down conservatory with the heated floor. I never listen to the news, never did and never would, not on a loop. News doesn’t change much from morning to night unless there is a fresh bit of salacious news, more sadness in the world. I don’t want to hear a word of it, although I might consider listening to it once, if good news came as part of the package, which it never does.
Re-adjusting to the weather is not hard. The alternative would require moaning, and I don’t moan. Re-adjusting to my role as carer, however, is a bigger ask. I had forgotten so many of the demands, happily so. I had grown so used to spending my day in my way, that back home felt like a wispy dream. Well, it isn’t a dream. It’s right here and right now and I must re-wire my brain quickquick if I don’t want to feel that moan rising, which I absolutely don’t. Caring for someone is an honour. That’s what I tell myself. And, remember, the cared for one never asked for this either. In fact, he would give his eye teeth, if he had such, to be the man he once was: the man who saved whales, the businessman, the shepherd who strode the hills in search of his sheep, the father of five, the husband, the strength.
So, if he can do this, then so can I. In theory, my brain is well connected and operating efficiently, so it should be a doddle for me to care with grace and selfless kindness. In theory. His brain is slowly closing down so that he needs me to sort and think and organise for him. It’s an honour, even if I do swear under my breath at times, times when I have just sat myself down to sew by the fire, or picked up my book in the mistaken belief that he is fine for now, in his easy wipe orthopaedic chair, on a seat that is wide enough for a Heffalump’s bottom. When the phone rings, it is never beside him, and, as I scoot about like a dingbat, it’s never beside me either. However, it is I who needs to find the thing before it runs out of breath, to ding no more. Sometimes that infuriates me. Sometimes it doesn’t.
And I think that’s ok. It’s ok to feel put upon one minute, only to turn into a cheerful giver the next. It is more than ok to feel an intense desire to run for the hills one minute, and to happily cook mush for supper, the next. The key is self-love. The roller coaster will roll and it will coast in equal amounts. And it’s not over yet.
Arriving back on the island lifted my heart. Although it was deeply weird to go from full-blown summer and baby birds learning to fly, to ghost trees in a winter landscape, I know I am home. I could feel my roots ready to dig down deep once more. I embraced the cold air and hoped, fervently, that the tea tree essential oil on my hanky had protected me from all those airplane germs. I held on to the time away, but not too tightly. I changed my clothes and pulled on a thick soft jumper and my fleece-lined boots.
Homecoming. A lovely word. And, although I may not be Queen over all I survey, I am queen over myself, which, for those who know me well, does require quite considerable ruling.