For a few days I am staying alone in the house we had built around 1992. Living in 2 mobile homes (that’s 3 too short) with five kids, four of whom were teenagers, 4 collies who spent all day wondering where the sheep had gone and who stole overnight that glorious opportunity to run wide, covering miles in a single burst of energy, to come in like a mothers arms on a curve of 50 plus sheep. Impotent, confined, caged and re-acting. Ditto teenagers. The younger ones never listened to me. Their eyes were on their angsty and hormonal siblings who favoured noisy dirt bikes, fire-making and climbing through caravan windows. You have to be skinny, or fit, for that manoeuvre. I never managed it, although I did manage it when I was a rebellious teen, through a well-fitted and spacey sitting room window, but when I told my kids that, they left the room, like bored. I get it now. My escape was feeble compared to theirs. In a caravan/mobile home you cannot drop a feather without someone yelling at you to keep the noise down.
Anyways, here I am. Minding the hens, the greenhouse and the tortoise (where is he?) for the weekend. Alone. I don’t think I was ever alone in this lovely house. We lived here for just 7 years, but there was always someone, a child/adult or all of us plus more, usually many more. This was a party house. I recall one Hogmanay, the pub closing, a band of street performers laughing with us all and me standing up, all 5.3 feet of me and loudly extending a welcome to the whole pub for an after party. Nobody stopped me, not even the husband. It was a fabulous fun night, still in my remembering circa 1997/8. Music, juggling lessons, magic tricks, all of it.
When I look back on the craziness of my life I love the moving pictures. There are people who were changed forever, in a good way, after meeting us, me and the Admiral. They may have gone home in someone else’s clothes but they would always have got home, or we would have sorted it for them. That’s who we were and who we are, albeit seriously compromised just now. Now that it is all carers and nurses and morphine and confusion. Although there are a zillion times I fold, cold and sad and chewing on a bare hunk of bread, there are so many more when I remind myself of who we once were and more….much more….how may young folk came to us over the decades, as marine students, as runaways, as window escapers, as just kids who wanted more than their own bedrooms with posters of Che Guevara on their ceilings. Kids who wanted to live life, scared and all, probably terrified and certainly broke, who took one step, then another, easing gently away from the safe options and landed here with us.
Now the Admiral is heading for the Elysian Fields. He may take days/weeks or months. Nobody knows the answer to that. We all want him to stay in his own home but this is not a given, not always an option. His body is strong, his mind is still here but there are times of confusion and frustration and anger and who is surprised at this? Rage, Rage, Rage against the dying of the Light. Quite Right. I would be raging too, I think. I say, I think, because I have no fear of death. I believe there is either complete peace or a wonderful floaty magical land of unicorns and light and, best of all, the meet of those long gone. Like my Dad, my Mum, My beloved Granny and even those I sort of knew in my childhood but not really. Who were they, what did they think, what did they love, what music, what art, what food, what moments? All of that. So many glorious conversations.
For now, we go day to day, night to night, and I will not pretend it is pretty. But, beyond the now, and I love to celebrate the now (usually), there is hope, and faith and a promise I can paint any colour a like. One I can make into a party of music and juggling and laughter and home.