Sunday, December 30, 2012

Two White Wardrobes

Propped up on pillows on top of the made bed, legs stretched out, I look across at two white wardrobes opposite. We bought them in 1995 from that funny little furniture shop in Boyd Street, which is long gone.

They have been many things, done many duties. We bought them when we discovered that the house we were renting had no built-in wardrobes. It was a shock. ('I thought they'd take up too much room,' the landlord said.) We managed to get hold of a clothes rack first, but the clothes got dusty. We lived on a dirt road there, and could never keep the dust out of the house. How glad we were of these two little white wardrobes, even though the hanging space was not very tall and all my long dresses had to be doubled over the hangers like trousers. Standing side by side, each with a shelf on top and two drawers underneath, they served.

In other rented homes which did have luxurious built-in robes, they became other things. There was one time I managed to rig up some sort of makeshift shelves in the bottom - can't remember how. Maybe I found boxes that could be turned upside-down ... I don't know, something weirdly creative like that. When we were at North Tumbulgum they were in the huge room that was a converted garage, which I used as my office/temple/consulting room. One held my big folders of Reiki notes, magickal instructions and so on. The other held material to do with writing, including folders of my own writings. 

I think at Nobby's Creek they were in the garage downstairs, used for storing junk so as to keep it tidy. I think ... I don't really remember very well. Certainly at Victoria Avenue, Pottsville, they were in the garage. Eventually they formed a dividing wall between Andrew's office, which he shifted out to the garage so as to have more space, and the junk storage crammed into one end of the garage — boxes, suitcases, that sort of thing.

At Elanora Avenue, Pottsville, they went into the third bedroom, the only one without built-ins, and they held magickal supplies and some of my soft toy collection. 

Now here they are, wardrobes again, in another house without built-ins. In the guest room we have a rack, but people are here only a short while and some choose to live out of their suitcases. It's not just a guest room of course; it used to be Andrew's office. Now it is in the process of being converted into a workroom/sitting-room for me.

In the cosy little room we chose for a bedroom when we moved here, the white wardrobes fitted neatly against the wall opposite the bed, between the doorway and the angled corner section where we put the full-length mirror. Our clothes just fitted inside them, jammed up. My shawls had to go in one of those big plastic boxes on wheels instead. Now, of course, both wardrobes are mine. I have summer clothes in one, winter gear in the other.

Not long before he died, I put some of our magical pictures up on the wardrobe doors. Shiny pages from a fairy calendar, laminated photocopies of pictures by Marieah, laminated images from a Susan Seddon Boulet calendar. Andrew was having two weeks of temporary respite in Heritage Lodge at the time. Without him at home to care for, I was finally able to take the time to do that, and to put a couple of pictures on our bedroom door as well. I was so happy to show him when he got home, and he did enjoy them. He spent so much time in bed, I thought it was better for him to have something colourful to look at. I put a picture of Jorell and one of his guru, Baba-ji, on the wall by his bed too, underneath Penelope's portrait of Pan. Pan and Jorell are still there. 

He was only six days home before he collapsed and went back to hospital to begin dying. But we didn't know that during those six days, and he did get pleasure out of the more colourful bedroom environment. We both did. Now I continue to get pleasure from it.

'I like my room,' I heard myself think yesterday, as I walked into the bedroom and looked around. 'My room', not ours. I have transformed it in the almost four months since he died, not in very dramatic ways but in little things like discarding his pillows, gradually beginning to occupy more of the middle of the bed, spreading my belongings into all the drawers and both the old white wardrobes, which have lasted well.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Creating Yet Another Outdoor Writing Spot

So, here's outdoor writing spot number two. Its a very small space, just room for one small, straight-backed chair.It's the landing at the top of the steps to my front door — far too small to be called a veranda. It's where Andrew and I used to sit in the winter sun to get our dose of Vitamin D. We had to take turns, or else I'd let him have the chair while I sat on the top step. (He couldn't have got himself up from the step, and I couldn't have managed to pull him up from it.) We often had the cats with us too, usually Freya on a lower step and Levi on the doormat or under the pot-plant.

It's not winter now but a thundery summer. We've just had a wild and wonderful storm. Now it has settled down to the steady, soaking rain the ground has been needing. I went out to my writing spot at the back and found my table awash from the storm. I could have towelled it off, but if the wind were to rise again, I'd be in the same position

I threw away the weather-worn chair we had here at the front door, in the recent hard rubbish collection. I've missed it for dumping shopping bags on while opening the door. (Its mate still does duty in my backyard writing spot.) I bought a low deck-chair to replace it, at the same time that I bought two straight folding chairs for the market. The low deck chair doesn't work here; not comfortable for reading or writing, and too low for the shopping. But one of the market chairs does just fine. It's a bit different from the other, very comfortable and supportive but on the heavy side. I want market gear that's light to carry. So this is now my front door chair. The other writing chair and the other one I bought can come to market with me. So can the deck chair. It's useful to have an extra if a client brings a friend.

The rain doesn't come in here, under the roof that juts out over the front stairs. The temperature is mild, and the view here is nearly as pretty and peaceful as the one in my back garden. Some people would think it prettier. I overlook the street, which is full of trees that largely obscure the houses. And behind the houses opposite, on the low side of the street, are the tops of the mountains. (Today they are sometimes invisible behind clouds.)

Bit by bit this place becomes right for my needs. I could have sat here on the old chair if Andrew was still alive, but I probably would have wondered if I was preventing him from doing so. Or he would have been watching TV just inside the door, and I wouldn't have had this peace. I certainly would not have had this more comfortable chair, nor this iPad!

Yes, I would swap all that to get him back — but back in health and clarity. More and more I understand that he could not have gone on. The deterioration was continuing and escalating, no matter how we tried to keep it at bay. His quality of life would have been rat-shit had he lingered; more and more so. And so I have my bouts of fierce sobs, and also my increasing pleasure in my home and my solitude.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Need for Purpose

I see more and more that in his last weeks, and even months, he was merely existing, waiting to go ... even though I was concerned about his quality of life and arranged pleasant moments. He was in bed a lot, lacking energy, reluctant to move around because it was painful, and just plain sleepy much of the time. (A friend warned me last year that he would end up sleeping more and more towards the end, and so it was.)  

Pleasant enough it may have been at some times, but only in his dementia did he gain a sense of purpose to do with this life here. Then, inspired as he always was by great things others were doing, he would want to visit schools and show the film of 'The King's Speech', which moved him deeply and which he would watch over and over again.  Or he would want to go and visit the Prime Minister to put her straight on some of her policies. Or to involve me in creating a newsletter, with old-fashioned methods of layout, so as to present new ideas to the world.

Sometimes he would try to go to the WordsFlow writing group. 'I have to,' he would tell carers. When he was in the first nursing home, he worried the staff by getting very agitated about having to get there. Yet it was I who decided, early this year, that he couldn't come any more, after one dreadful afternoon when he couldn't stay awake and there was nowhere for him to lie down but our car. I laid the seat back and parked it in the shade, and he had water — but even so, it was three hours he had to be there! Just not acceptable — not to me. And he had not really been able to participate for a few months. It breaks my heart now, though, to think how much he wanted to be there when it was no longer feasible. (I myself had to be there. I am the group's Facilitator.)

Even in what I now recognise as the very, very early stages of his dementia, when he joined the Neighbourhood Centre's Management Committee, he did it with a view to improving the world. He didn't grasp the nature of that committee work, to do with the running of the Centre. He wanted to use it as a platform to rescue our deteriorating foreshore, stuff like that. Worthy aims indeed but quite outside the province of what he'd signed up for. So eventually he realised that and resigned. It was just typical of his burning desire to make a difference.

In those last many weeks, my thought was to find activities he could still enjoy. He couldn't handle the stairs at the movies? Then I would bring the movies home on DVD. He couldn't get out and about and meet with people? I made sure the caregivers' organisation knew he needed respite carers who could make intelligent conversation. (He and they did enjoy conversing with each other.) I searched the library and the second-hand bookshops for authors I knew he liked. And these things did provide enjoyment. But after all, enjoyment was not enough for him. He wanted to be fulfilling his purpose. I trust that now he is.

His daughter said that recently she seemed to have a conversation with him (cautious about stating absolutely that this was so). She said he told her he was helping young people — a thing he did in many ways during his lifetime. She thought he meant he was helping children who died to cross over without trauma or confusion. And he referred to some other work he was doing too, but she wasn't clear what that was. Then he suddenly said, 'Gotta go. They're calling me' — so typical of his suddenness and abruptness in life, that it made us both smile.

The things I thought I was doing for his wellbeing were actually not what he most needed and wanted. He wanted to be of service. He needed to move on.

(I need to move on too, despite reluctance. These writings are one way I hope to accomplish it.)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In the Depths of the Night

2.04am. Night owl these days! (Always my tendency.) If Andrew was alive here with me, he'd be trying to persuade me to get some sleep.

I liked the bed to myself when I knew he was in the world and would come home soon. Not so good now it's a solitary bed forevermore. But then, I think how awful it would be if he were permanently in the nursing home, missing me every night and me him, not able to be together, so near and yet so far. How awful it was when we thought he'd be permanently there, in horrible Nursing Home 1 — yet quite nice when he was just having a little holiday in lovely Nursing Home 2.

This is certainly better than his existing like that, and me watching him deteriorate gradually. He did it so much better for me, bless him, and for himself, by dying when he did.  He is having such fun now, I know, and doing important work — but I can't keep up with that; still releasing the unshed tears of the difficult times we've recently been through. And I must live my life on the physical plane much longer, I believe. Which is what I want, and chose (as a soul coming in). I think it would have been great if he could have stayed with me, in health and clarity — but that was not his journey. And indeed, I do believe this part of mine is about being with myself, looking after myself, and so on.

When my psychic friend S predicted there'll be a male companion for me, it brought me to instant tears, only slightly assuaged when she made it clear, not a lover. I don't want another man.

I've outlived three husbands and a couple of lovers. I don't want that any more. And I sure as hell don't want to be nursing anyone again! Not ever.