Wednesday, 17 January 2018

More Ruminations

Goodness gracious, how lovely to see so many of you return to this tardy blog; it made me feel all warm and wanted. Thank you so much. I shall pick myself up and start visiting and commenting too; what a community we are!

One thing I’m glad about is that I stayed in our house, now just mine. At first I felt that I should move as soon as possible, telling myself that the house is too big, the garden is too big, it’s too empty, too lonely, too isolated. When your partner or anyone else you love dearly falls terminally ill and dies you feel helpless, hopeless. There is nothing you can do to regain control. So you grab at anything that makes you feel in control; moving home being one such undertaking. Rearrange the externals and you’re back in charge. Except you’re not. Less than ever, because now you have upped anchor and lost everything that gives you a grounding, the comfort of the familiar. In my case common sense prevailed, or perhaps it was just lethargy, cowardice, fear of the unknown. Anyway, I am still here and likely to stay here, who knows for how long. Somehow, Beloved is all around me, literally so, of course. I have made a small memorial garden for him with a bench, where I can sit and talk to him. It’s snowdrop time, his long drawn out dying time, has been since Christmas, when the first little bells poked their heads out of the muddy, at times snowy, then again frozen, ground. Once they have faded I shall dig up a clump and plant them in ‘his’ patch, awaiting all future anniversaries of his death.

The problem is that there is work to be done to the house, nothing major, just some painting and maybe rearranging rooms, deciding whether to live downstairs and upstairs or just downstairs, changing a downstairs room into a bedroom. This makes it sound rather grand but it isn’t, it’s just that the original owner of this house, who built it to suit her needs, more or less built two bungalows on top of each other, making it easy to divide the house.

So, what to do? When I asked a friend, idly speculating that perhaps I am too old to go in for great redecorating schemes - the usual thing: is it worth it? will I have the time to enjoy it? how long will I be able to stay? - he recalled an anecdote. ‘Two clergymen met. One of them was wearing a suit which had clearly seen better days, looking rather frayed round the edges. “Thing is, do I bother to buy a new one at my age,” the wearer asked his friend. “Buy a new suit?” his friend replied. “I don’t even buy green bananas.”

The story cheered me up no end. I used to tell Mum to go ahead and treat herself to anything she fancied, no matter how short the time to enjoy it. Now I myself am the kind of ditherer who can’t make up her mind because it might not be ‘cost-effective’. (Sorry about the word, I don’t really speak in such terms, just couldn’t think of anything more apt for our mercenary times.)

Talking of cheering myself up: I have seen a bereavement counsellor who let me talk for an hour, singing Beloved’s praises and going back over the wonderful thirty years we had together. Although close to tears at times it made me realise how very fortunate we were and what wonderful memories I  have. A whole treasure chest of them. I will see her again. Talking really is the best cure for me. My step-daughter recommended that I write to Beloved, a kind of daily diary, I may yet do that too, although I prefer to talk to him.

Another coping mechanism is increasing physical activity, releasing endorphins, happy hormones. "any of a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system and having a number of physiological functions. They are peptides which activate the body's opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.” My doctor came up with that one when I consulted her about depression. So now I go to the gym and enjoy it greatly. I do exercises, pound (or rather went from shamble via amble to walk) the treadmill, cycle on a beautiful stand bike  and will be doing weights and other infernal machines by and by, as soon as my personal instructor gives the green light. I have to be careful because of the heart condition which is otherwise fully under control.

Eating chocolate and/or falling in love also produce endorphins; I’ve tried the chocolate cure with great enthusiasm but that had rather sad side effects for my hips. And unless you can show me a sweet kitten or puppy I shall probably never fall in love again.  




32 comments:

  1. Ah! Wonderful post, Friko. I thought about what to say back to you, but nothing came but... "ah!" :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the story about the clergymen - and only buy green bananas.
    And of course you will fall in love again. The world is full of heart-melting puppies and kittens.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A slow process of finding comfortable spaces after such a heart wrenching loss. Videos of puppys and kittens are good.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I understand what you mean about your home. I know my home needs work but I don't know where to begin. Do I decorate for "future resale" or for me? I love your story about "green bananas". I think I should just start and make it a place I can enjoy no matter how long I will end up living here! I worry too much about the future and I am wasting the "future" with my time worrying! Thanks for listening and thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. A kitten would be great. They make you fall in love instantly and you will constantly be smiling. One helped me tremendously.

    You are doing everything right, Friko.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are certainly on the right track, and that is wonderful. Remember to breathe. You need not make every decision at once. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is so good to find that you have resurfaced. Welcome back. I have checked back many times, hoping to find a post. I have heard that one shouldn't make any big changes for a year. I aam inclined to agree. I am glad to read that you are still in your beautiful house-beside-a-castle.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your words, Friko, exude acceptance, contentment, even, dare I say, a modicum of happiness. I love the idea of Beloved's memorial garden. Snowdrops are beginning to bloom here, too.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am definitely learning here, Friko, and have nothing but admiration for your efforts to normalize this strenuous new normal. Your strength astonishes me. We who have suffered loss need positive examples --heroes-- and, oh my gosh, you qualify. Keep transmitting, please.

    ReplyDelete
  10. So good to see how your various ways of coping work for you! Yes, endorphines... I know everything about them! But I also have successfully tried the chocolate method, and the falling in love one :-) (not with a kitten or puppy).

    ReplyDelete
  11. I believe that you can't take it with you. So, do what you need to the house, so long as you can meet your needs. You'll love it. I'm glad you stayed. They always say don't make major decisions for at least a year after the death of someone close and I think that makes sense. And the counselor sounds terrific and like a wonderful and very helpful thing to do.

    This whole post makes me smile to pieces. I'm happy you are seeing some light again.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I believe that you can't take it with you. So, do what you need to the house, so long as you can meet your needs. You'll love it. I'm glad you stayed. They always say don't make major decisions for at least a year after the death of someone close and I think that makes sense. And the counselor sounds terrific and like a wonderful and very helpful thing to do.

    This whole post makes me smile to pieces. I'm happy you are seeing some light again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Staying in the house sounds like it was a good decision. Go for the updates on the lower floor first; someday the stairs may be too much. Maybe someone will come along who would be a perfect renter for the upper story.

    ReplyDelete
  14. you don't want to break the bank but why not indulge in a little redecorating? I figure this is the last house I will live in and while I was forced into this remodel by the flood, it is something I had wanted to do but probably would never have so as long as the house was torn up, I'm putting it back together differently. surely I'll have 15 more years, hopefully 20. I'm glad you are getting on with your life. working out at the gym is a good idea. you'll love the changes. I did the gym thing for about 7 years.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I just love reading your posts and the comments. A lot of us will be in similar situations and you are showing us the way. I would hate to give up my home of thirty years,

    ReplyDelete
  16. ...you can never know! :-) Big hug!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Honestly, I believe that physical activity is more important even than those who advocate it sometimes say. It took a few years for me to notice it, but after a decade or so of working on boats, I realized that depression and other generally negative feelings had disappeared from my life. Of course I still experienced anger, grief, and anxiety from time to time, but they never lingered. Letting go is important, but I honestly believe that those little endorphins are like Ms. PacMan; they just chew up all that negativity before it can start to stack up.

    I'm glad you stayed in the house.I like to think of it sheltering you in the years to come, much as Beloved did through all those decades.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Go for whatever you can manage. Freda

    ReplyDelete
  19. Green bananas--LOL! I love the idea of a garden spot just for you and Beloved to chat. With my arthritis and hip getting worse I would chose to make up a bedroom downstairs--but that's just me. You do have so many wonderful, precious memories. I hope you keep going to talk and remember and just have someone to chat with who's an "outsider", you know? Sometimes that is exactly what you really need. Love and hugs!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Friko - another wonderful post ... and your story about the aged suit and green bananas - wonderful contrast to think about. I love that you've chosen to remain in the house - it is ideal - while your changes being debated make sense ... might as well do it now - rather than an upheaval in a few years when something unexpected necessitates it.

    Your area to reminisce and talk to Beloved also makes delightful sense - he can chide you to do a bit more gardening and then come back and chat with him, mull ideas over - relax on the bench and bask in the English sunbeams ...

    So pleased things are looking up - are you thinking of the Tokyo Olympics as you ratchet up your weights and exercises ...??!! Take care and with happy thoughts across to you - cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  21. Good that you’re staying in place for the time being, Friko. Get the house fixed the way it suits you best. My husband says you never see a uhaul of money behind a hearse. Exercise is so important for wellbeing. Just moving often makes me feel better. You’re a writer, so I’d think keeping up the blog is also good therapy. Take care of yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm glad you are seeing a counselor. I'm biased, of course, but I think it can really help with grief. And yes, do the things that will make you happy now.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You might live to be 100, so I say decorate and renovate as much as you want! Even if you only had a year to enjoy it (someone will forbid that, I'm sure) it would be worth it. In my opinion, of course. To hell with cost-effectiveness, really. There is nothing, NOTHING, wrong with enjoying a freshen-up of your surroundings. This all reminds me of a story I heard—a true one— of a ninety-year old who got himself a Labrador puppy. This is the very essence of forward-thinking and optimism!
    As for all the rest of what you say here, I applaud it. Everything you relate is good, and good for you. And, in addition to the stuff I like about you, I appreciate also your insights into humans and why they behave the way they do. xo

    ReplyDelete
  24. So now I see it WAS possible to comment on the earlier post—and here I thought you’d wanted us to hold off. So, just to say, it’s always good to “see” you here. We have been doing a bit of re-ordering our lives also, with the aim of spending much more time in NYC with longtime friends many of whom are in their 80s, and some of whom are frail. While your circumstances are different, of course, the course you are embarked on has some parallels, and—I hope you won’t mind my saying so—is an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Do what ever gives you the most comfort and pleasure. Like is too short:)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Finding your posts makes for happy days. I agree that you are an inspiration. You touch our hearts with your words. Thank you for sharing yourself--- your thoughts and experiences with us.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Been thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. I have thought what would I do if my husband passes away before me because I live out here in the country and the house does have major maintenance issues now and again. I could live near my daughter, but they are never home, so not sure if that would be helpful. We all may face these challenges, but I am glad you seem to be moving forward with grace.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.