Eight Forty Four

Eight forty four is when my Mum rang me a few Saturdays ago.

I thought she was calling to talk about going to the Craft Fair at church. No, her call was more urgent and life changing. Grandad had passed away in the small hours of the morning.

He’d not been entirely right for a while and back in November-ish, Dad had a very matter of fact conversation with us. The doctors had said that Grandad could have weeks but that would be it. Six months later and he was still going but after being admitted to hospital about 10 days ago, it was sort of the beginning of the end.

Four generations: Grandad, Dad, Jaxon and I at Jaxon’s Dedication
Four generations: Grandad, Dad, Jaxon and I at Jaxon’s Dedication

Jaxon, Chris and I had been sat in bed chatting and playing games on my iPad. So when Mum’s tone was serious, I rolled over and sat up on my side of the bed. Chris knew by my tone and body language that something was up. 

I got off the phone and said I needed to go to the hospital if he could look after Jaxon. Unlike Grandma who was unconscious when we’d get the call that she didn’t have long left, Grandad had already gone. I wasn’t really sure about going to the hospital. My brother and cousins had decided that they weren’t going to go (or couldn’t go for various reasons) but I decided in the end I needed to go, even if it was just to support Dad while he and his siblings made the necessary decisions and plans that were needed. 

Chris and Jaxon took me to the hospital and I headed through the hospital to the lifts. I got to the lifts and as I got in the lift, Mum dashed in behind me, she’d been waiting for me in the corridor but I think I’d been in a bubble and sort of missed her as I went past. We headed up to the ward and Dad had come to meet us.

Dad walked Mum and I to the relatives room and my Aunt grabbed and gave me a squeezy hug and told me “It would be okay. Grandad was now with Grandma” We sat in a “relatives room” for a little bit chatting about what had happened etc. We talked about how Grandad had been telling the nurses all about his Great-Grandbabies – he’s got four boys and he was so proud of that fact! (Jaxon is the eldest and the most recent addition arrived just a few months ago) Dad then asked did I want to go and see Grandad. He warned me that it wasn’t going to be a pretty sight and I could leave whenever I wanted to and if I changed my mind I didn’t have to go and see him. I did go and see him. It was good to say goodbye but it was a bit strange. After all the soul of what made him Grandad was no longer there. That had gone and it was just his body left. We went back to the relatives room and then chatted some more. Dad spoke to my Uncle on the phone and they discussed various bits. Between my Uncle being away for work and my cousin being away for work, fitting in the funeral was going to be a challenge but they’d figure it out. In the end my Uncle said to book it and he’d figure out work around it. With it being a Saturday, a lot of the legal bits couldn’t be dealt with until Monday so we decided to head home. Chris had taken Jaxon out for breakfast after they’d dropped me off at the hospital so I headed home to an empty house. I decided I’d still go up to church for the craft fair and went to get my bike out. I figured the head space of cycling up there might be good. It wasn’t that easy in the end and I had to walk my bike back home again just in time for the boys to be home with the car! So I switched to the car and headed up to church, I chatted to a few of my friends who had stalls there and then headed back to the car. I drove along the road that church is on and decided I needed to go and see my other Grandma and Grandad. I just needed to go and put my arms around them and give them a big hug while I could. In the end, I sat on Grandma’s sofa and had a cry. She held my hand and talked to me about all sorts of things. I told her how I’d been talking about her at Community Group and stories she’d tell me about God providing when her and Grandad needed it.

So that was the beginning of April, then we headed towards the end of April for the funeral. The service would be on the Monday after my birthday at the Crematorium, we’d then go for lunch together after. I got Jaxon up and took him to school then came home and didn’t do a lot. I didn’t have time to go to knitting group – I tried to figure out if I could do both but I would have to leave knitting group almost as soon as I had arrived so that I could be at the Crematorium in time. The service was lovely (Well as lovely as a funeral can be). I cried lots through it, I’d forgotten to bring any tissues so ended up using the sleeve of my cardigan at least to wipe my eyes. (Oops!) The service ended with Bring Me Sunshine by Morecambe and Wise. I got to meet my Cousin’s son for the first time which was lovely and got to catch up with other family members – just wish it had been on a happier occasion.

I started this post back at the beginning of April, I tried to put into words what I was feeling but I’m not always sure it came out clearly and so I kept saving it as a draft and then leaving it there for a bit. So now we’re in May and I’m adding some more thoughts to it and hitting publish.

Dear Friends (on Mother’s Day)

Dear Friend, today I know you’re wondering if that person to have a family with, will ever cross paths with you.

Dear Friend, today I know you’re questioning the next negative pregnancy test in a long line of failed attempts, wondering if you’ll *ever* get to be a Mum.

Dear Friend, today I know your heart is aching because as much as in your head and heart you want to be a Mum, your health or your circumstances mean that you’re not able to be a Mum.

Dear Friend, today I know you’re mourning the loss of the baby you’d hoped would be part of your family, maybe you never got to meet them other than a scan or maybe you didn’t even get that. Maybe you got to hold your sweet child for minutes, hours or longer but now they are no longer here to cuddle and kiss.

Dear Friend, today I know you may sit and miss your own Mum. Maybe she was a huge part in your life and now leaves a big hole.

Dear Friend, today I know that maybe your Mum wasn’t ever part of your life and you miss her for the what ifs so much it aches.

Dear Friend, today I know that maybe although your Mum was part of your life, maybe it would have been better for her not to be there at all.

Dear Friend, today I know it’ll be hard either because your Mum is in another country or maybe on another continent or maybe you’re a Mum and your children are far from home.

Dear Friend, today I know you might be missing your Mum because the path your life took doesn’t line up with what your Mum wanted for your life.

Dear Friends, today I know you might be avoiding church so you don’t have to deal with what Mother’s Day brings to some churches, or maybe you’ve battened down the hatches and you’re not leaving your bed so today can be skipped and ignored.

Dear Friends who have been my “Second Mums”, thank you for adopting me and taking me along on this journey of life. Thank you for hugging me when I’ve cried, feeding me when I’m hungry, giving me a drink when I’m thirsty. Thank you for looking out for me along the way.

Dear Friends, I wish I had a magic wand or something to answer your prayers and wishes but I don’t. I do however have hugs for those who need them. I have shoulders to be cried on. I’m not going to win a Michelin Star and it might just be a frozen pizza or microwaved pasta but you know that if you come to mine and need feeding I’m on the case. I’ll never win Bake Off but I’ll track down or make some cake or biscuits if the situation calls for it. I don’t drink tea or coffee but if that’s your beverage of choice you can bet the kettle will be on for a cuppa. (And at the moment if wine is your beverage of choice I can actually do a glass of that!)

Dear Friends, today will be hard for some of you maybe for the reason above or maybe it’s something else but if you know me in person, come find me, I’ve got a hug and a smile for you.

Friends you are lovely. Share the love, spread some happy, let’s celebrate our friends, those who encourage us along like sisters or those who take us under their wings like a mother.

Drawing by Mari Andrew

Monthly Review: February

Highlights

  • Started the month with a Skype call with a new client. That was exciting. Another meeting with a client/friend, just needing some help finding her way around WordPress so it was just a couple of quick questions but it was good to have a little catch up too. And then another couple of meetings around current work and new work. Just hope this continues.
  • The Mummies from school went out for dinner. It was a lovely little gathering. It was great to get to know a few of the mums a bit better than just the small talk we do around the school gates.
  • Jaxon’s school had a special little party to celebrate Chinese New Year as they’d been learning about it. We had some food and they sang a song (unfortunately I missed that bit as I was running behind)
  • We had snow forecasted then the following week it was like 16/17C and we could go out without our coats – crazy times!
  • Jaxon had a Parents Consultation which was good to hear what he’s been doing at school. It was good to chat to his teacher and clarify some bits around the work Jaxon is set home with each week.
  • We had a week off from school as it was half term. Chris was able to take Tuesday off work and have Jaxon while I was in Birmingham (Part One is here, Part Two is still coming!). Our Sidekick was really good too and was able to babysit Jaxon while Chris came to the station to get me.
  • Also did practical things like changing broadband provider and finally got the energy supplier changed. I had an eye test too. The lady was super helpful. I didn’t need new glasses but my prescription has changed fractionally so she wanted me to keep an eye (haha!) on it and if my sight changes at all to go back even if my test isn’t due.

Top Posts Viewed in February

Goals Set for February – and the Progress

  • Continue with walking 1000 miles challenge. So February’s target was 76.9 miles. With Chris working from home at the moment, I’ve had the car more which is great but does mean I haven’t been walking as many miles a usual. According to Fitbit, I completed 89.14 miles – this would be total rather than just going out for specific walks. I’ve slacked off a bit this month but hopefully, I can get that back in March.
  • Clear more WIPs from the knitting/crochet pile. I got up to the lace section on the Northern Lights Shawl and it just wasn’t working. Somewhere along a repeat I got it wrong so I tried un-doing it to start that bit again but it really wasn’t agreeing with me so I ended up frogging the whole thing and trying a different pattern instead. It’s a shame given how many hours of knitting had already gone into it but the new project knitted up quicker so I’m getting there on those two. I didn’t do much work on the Stormy Skies Jumper but hopefully I can come back to that in March if there’s time.

Goals for March

  • Continue with walking 1000 miles challenge. Try to get over 100 miles in the month again.
  • Give blood
  • Work on #40Acts for Lent.
  • Clear more WIPS from the knitting/crochet pile.
  • Find patterns that can be used as stashbusters.

A Sort of Random Act of Kindness

About 10 days ago now, I parked the car at our usual place and walked up to the school for Celebration Monday. We had a lovely time in the school library and I asked Jaxon about going our local council ran library – after all I think the last time I took him, he was definitely still in his buggy!

When Jaxon and I got back to the car, I’d strapped him in and went around to get into the driver’s seat. As I got in, something in the road caught my eye, so I got back out again. Even if it was just a bit that had fallen off a car, it was big for a car part and could damage someone else’s car if it was left there.

It was a small handbag (not much bigger than a clutch bag sort of thing). I opened it to see if there was an ID or something like that, there was a phone and a variety of cards. At this point I rang Chris. Our local police have changed what they will take as lost property so I wasn’t really sure what to do. Chris looked it up on the internet and there’s a national website you can report lost property to. Given the style and what was in it, I wasn’t really sure that it belonged to a “younger” person. Chris suggested ringing the mobile network – maybe they could identify the person. It was only then as I went back to the phone for a closer look did I see that there was a debit card in the front pocket of the phone case.

Having got home, I rang the mobile phone network first – they suggested taking it to the store who might be able to assist. Jaxon and I jumped back in the car and headed to the shop. The guy who I spoke to said that without the phone number or the IMEI number they wouldn’t be able to narrow it down. I said about there being a bank card in there, to which he suggested taking it to the bank – which was my next stop anyway.

Jaxon and I got back in the car and headed to the nearest branch of the bank who issued the card. We got to the bank and the guy there said of course they could contact the owner of the bank card and they could hold onto the whole handbag until the owner could collect it. Also would I like to leave my details with them, I said yes please – I’d like to know that it got home to the rightful owner okay. (Knowing how flappy I can get when I lose my bank card or my phone, I wanted to make sure it made it home).

Yesterday evening, I had a phone call on my mobile and it was a mobile number but I didn’t recognise it. The lady on the other end of the call said “Is that Hannah? Hello I’m Mrs P. You found my purse!” (or words to that affect!) She was so very pleased that it had been found. When retracing her steps she thinks it must have slid off her shoulder when she took her coat off or slid off her coat when she put it on the back seat of the car. Either way, she was very grateful that I’d found it and handed it in. We had a little chat about how it ended up at the bank and how she dislikes contactless bank cards.

After the slightly crazy evening Chris and I had yesterday, we were grateful that at least one plan had come together with no issues!

Thank You Card

Following our chat yesterday, there was a knock at the door today. Mrs P and her friend had popped around with this card and a little present to say thank you for being a lovely person and handing her handbag in. That was so super lovely of her and I’m very grateful – although she didn’t need to do that, returning her handbag was the right thing to do. In the event, I couldn’t get it to her in person, getting it to the bank to look after it was the responsibile thing to do.

#40Acts – Day Three: Period Poverty

Image from the #40Acts daily prompt email
  • Green Option: Spend some time looking into local groups that give free sanitary care to schools.
  • Yellow Option: Go Shopping. And drop off a package in a donation box in your local area.
  • Red Option: Do your bit to educate. Get the word out on social media – even though it’s awkward.

For this one, I took to social media. I regularly donate a packet or two of sanitary pads to the Red Box Project collection box at Rogan’s Books. It was the facts that worry me and make me cross. According to Plan International, 1 in 10 girls can’t afford sanitary products and over 137,700 children have missed school because of period poverty; 40% have used toilet roll as a substitute. On average it costs £13 a month and some households have to weigh it up against heating or food. How in this day and age is period poverty a thing here in the UK?

The Red Box Project are doing a great job about getting sanitary products into schools that girls in need can be given. It’s not just pads or tampons but it’s underwear so that they have spares to change into if needed. (Another thing we probably take for granted and don’t think of)

If you’re in Bedford and you’d like to donate to the project, there is a collection box in Rogan’s Books in Bedford. Sealed in boxes tampons, pads and clean, new underwear are all gratefully received. The Red Box Project aim to reach 10 to 18-year-olds to give you a guide of what’s needed.

A number of people commented on my Facebook post. A male friend commented: “Most guys don’t like to talk about this issue but soon would if their bodies partially fell apart every month. I think the real issue is why a device that consists of only a few simple and cheaply sourced components, which are mechanically assembled, costs people £13 a month when the production would be cheaper than 1.3p/unit. What did poor girls do 100 years ago?” He’s certainly doing his part though, he manages a conference/events location and in the ladies loo there, there is a basket of complimentary sanity products just in case there’s an urgent need – great idea! (There’s a similar idea at our church which is great!)

Another friend commented about promoting reusable products too. I can see where she’s coming from but I think this goes back to that money sum again. If the parents/guardians can’t afford the £13 for the products, do they have to then weigh up food/heating against washing powders etc for products like reusable pads – also is there the education around using the products?

Red Box Project Bedford