27 February 2013

We are getting ready for a visit to the green isle. It's long overdue and there are several very elderly sweethearts waiting for us to bring them on a nice long drive with a pub lunch in Roundwood and a nice cup of tea in Avoca, thank you very much.
Which we will do.
Then we shall attempt to meet some of the 500 cousins but we are making no promises. And of course there are the mountains and yes, I notice the look R gets in his eyes whenever Wicklow is mentioned. So we will pack one pair of walking boots. His pair that is, because packing mine would be so futile and only add extra weight to the baggage allowance. And it still hits me somewhere in the lower stomach, this reality that all that is gone, my energy, my stamina, my health, for crying out loud. But we decided that R simply needs to go on a good long hike with a bit of rain and a packed lunch and slippery mud and all the fantastic scenery. And that I will spend the day visiting pottery shops and then sit and sip tea in one of the grand old houses converted to attract loads of tourists, complete with parks, waterfalls and garden centers.

For the last three years I have tried, really tried to accept that this illness has presented me with limitations that cannot be changed, and I think I have done a fairly good job with this challenge and all the yuk limitations and I swear that I constantly revalue what is left of my health. Concentrating not on my illhealth and symptoms, my vulnerability, but instead on my personal strengths and bla bla bla.
But on some days... Never mind.

26 February 2013

Hard to believe, he would have been 70 yesterday.

25 February 2013

It's officially the greyest winter here since WWII. Seriously. This morning I got up and took a look outside to watch R's red anorak vanish in the mist and then I said my three words to the cat and crawled back into bed.  For just a little bit longer.
Some day soon, maybe, we will open the windows again, any time we want, and listen to the birds and kids and cats outside. At least that's the idea. Spring etc.
Whereas winter has me inside this dark cave. I fuss about with blankets and shawls and steaming tea and obsess about the cleanliness of the floor tiles in the kitchen. If this continues I will become a recluse. Of sorts. The daily struggle to get out of this house is just that, a struggle. Not only because of all the wrapping up. 
I know near to nothing about social evolution but I think humans are meant to live in small groups not herds of a million or more. Come to think of it we are probably also meant to communicate on a one-to-one basis. Or something like that. I remember reading somewhere that young babies are able to communicate simultaneously with a maximum of three people. At the moment I am down to a maximum of two, provided there are few background noises and I am not tired.

21 February 2013

20 February 2013

There is this man I know. Not very well, really. He is the second husband of my friend U. He is a good bit older. He's into cars. I have been told by more than one reliable source that he can take a car, any make, apart, down to the tiny bits and reassemble it - no bother. He was a ralley driver, crossed the Sahara desert, a man of adventures, always with cars. He drives a tow truck now in his spare time. All over the country. Making friends and fixing cars.
He has been strange lately, U told me. Listless, moody, boring in fact. And U loves to have fun, the two of them were always out and about. They have been arguing, it turns out. Many times. And things got worse, but in a weird way. Instead of storming out and getting into a car or maybe at least some angry shouting he has withdrawn to the sofa and the docusoaps on daytime TV. 
In the end, U somehow got him to see a doctor, and another one and another one. And today she called me to say that they have been told that he has Alzheimer's. And that he is back on that sofa now and refuses to eat or drink. We were quiet for some time listening to the static noises of our cell phones. She said she has never been so angry in her life. Angry and frightened.
I know the statistics, in the 65 - 70 yrs group one in 20, from age 80 onwards every third person. 
When I cycled home tonight just after sunset I decided to ignore the sound of the thin layer of ice crackling under my tyres. I just needed to get home real fast, needed to open the door and walk into the kitchen where R was singing along with the radio, chopping carrots, his glass of red wine on the counter.

19 February 2013

18 February 2013

We were debating last night whether it was not a bit too early for the lilies and the fig tree to go outside. Well, to be honest, we didn't debate, I just politely expressed my opinion without unduly raising my voice (too much) that they should stay in the laundry for a bit longer, that I smug as I am know more about winter in this part of the world than R will ever do. Even after all these years. Spring in Ireland may start on Feb 1st but we are not in Co. Dublin, aren't we.
So we wake up to -4°C and now what? I suppose this is what gives the edge to a gardener's year. And I am not the gardener in this set up. Who is getting obviously restless. 
Yesterday morning I woke up with the dreadful image of R collapsing on the road and so I got dressed and cycled at slow speed behind and in front of him while he did his training for the half marathon. I could see the steam coming off him while I tried to huff and blow some warmth into my frozen fingers. But I am not convinced. Or rather: I have no idea what makes completing a half marathon in a sweaty crowd attractive. But I probably have to cycle along now with him until this is over and done with.

09 February 2013

doom and hope

I am having one these once (!) in a while days where it seems to be the right thing to just let it happen and not do anything at all. That is, I eventually made it out of bed but only because it got too uncomfortable what with all the bedding tangled up and the cat crawling all over. No, today the message is: rest. How this used to scare the shit out of me when I first got ill. The heavy shoulders and aching chest thing and this dire need to lay down my head. Now I am just glad I don't have to do a thing today. 
And for most of next week which is a holiday week. 
Just that on Tuesday we will spend 4+ hrs driving on the motorway to get to my father's dinner thingy on Wednesday and driving another 4+ hrs on the motorway back home on Thursday. Considering the weather forecast, this could turn out to be a bit of an adventure. Snow and stuff.

The stomach is cranky. I am still at the porridge-without-milk stage with an occasional piece of toast here and there but walking into the kitchen is an otherwise pointless exercise. Coffee is a distant memory and just typing the words peppermint/chamomile tea makes me want to weep with loss.
Right now R is down there clashing with pots and pans, frying up something Spanish - so he claims - for himself.
I hope they serve porridge and toast at the fancy restaurant my father has booked.

In the papers I have been reading the most awful stories, we are doomed. As for the books, I have given the my-grandfather-the-nazi search a break and what do I find? Doom and hope. Yes, doom and hope.

First, the doom (which is all self indulgent and pompous, but then what do you expect from a thriller):

It seemed to me that there was nothing new to be discovered ever again. Our society was utterly, ruinously derivative. We were the first human beings who would never see anything for the first time. We stare at the wonders of the world, dull-eyed, underwhelmed. Mona Lisa, the Pyramids, jungle animals on attack, ancient icebergs collapsing, volcanoes erupting. I can't recall a single amazing thing I have seen first hand that I didn't immediately reference to a movie or TV show. A fucking commercial. I've literally seen it all, and the worst thing, the thing that makes me want to blow my brains out, is: The secondhand experience is always better. The image is crisper, the view is keener, the camera angle and the soundtrack manipulate my emotions in a way reality can't anymore. I don't know that we are actually human at this point, those of us who like most of us, who grew up with TV and movies and now the internet.

Whereas, the hope, well, what else is there?

Wade Davis and his team are travelling back by Jeep from an outpost in the Sahara desert, having experienced a freak thunderstorm pounding their camp some nights before. They meet a caravan of six men and 12 camels transporting salt. If salt gets wet, it crumbles and loses all value. So the men had been forced to stop in the desert to dry out the slabs of salt before continuing their journey. They had lost three critical days and were down to their last quart of water, 150 km from the nearest well with a cargo and animals that represented the entire wealth of their families. They knew of a depression some 25 km away that if excavated might yield water and they sent one of their young mates with one camel. And Davis continues:

While we waited for their friend to return, the leader of the party kindled a twig fire and with their last reserve of water offered us tea. It is said in the Sahara that if a stranger turns up at your tent, you will slaughter the last goat that provides the only milk for your children to feast your guests. One never knows when you will be that stranger turning up in the night, cold and hungry, thirsty and in need of shelter. As I watched him pour me a cup of tea, I thought to myself, these are the moments that allow us all to hope.

08 February 2013

We woke up this morning to more snow. But it's just a dusting, a feeble attempt. This is not winter any longer, I try and convince myself. Looking out onto this monochrome world searching for a spark of colour I close my eyes and I see S as a toddler, her mop of blond hair blowing in the breeze. She waves to me with both hands raised up high, her cheeks red with giggles. Her red wellie boots shine as she splashes around the water's edge. Later on we cycle back home, she is sitting in the fancy bike seat behind R and her arms are gripping his chunky blue sweater. I am a bit behind them watching and I remember my heart jumping: Oh, here is the rest of my life. These are my people.

a bunch of bullies and devils dressed up in nun's habits

05 February 2013

Who'd have thought that there is such a thing as an inflamed duodenum. But apparently this is what has been waking me up in the early hours with a couple of nifty pokes between my right ribs for the last week or two.
So there. More meds. Well, I'll try everything once, I used to say, stressing the little word once.

03 February 2013

I wonder what I got myself into now. And why. The stack of books on nazi crimes and history and memoirs of children and grandchildren of nazis is growing, almost daily I receive notifications from various university libraries to my numerous requests and then there are the websites I haven't even started to check out. I know somewhere there will be traces of my grandfather, maybe just specks, little nothings. Maybe more. Probably more. I just found out that he was on the run for months, hiding from the allied forces.
Last night I read for what I thought was maybe an hour in this book by the granddaughter of one of the henchmen. She is about my age and she did the dirty work of digging up the facts after watching her mother die the slow death of alcohol, valium and depression. Her intelligent mother, the daughter of one of the henchmen. And with a lot of effort I kept on reassuring myself that this was not my mother, nothing like my mother and that I must not confuse these two women in my mind. That the similarities (age, education, family circumstances) are far too simplistic, too "easy". And yet. By the time I put the book down, forced myself to put the book down and try to get some sleep it was 3 am.
I wonder if I should stop this right now. I wonder if I still can.