The Palace Park

The Palace Park

Thursday, 29 November 2012

When Autumn leaves start to fall...

Well, now brown cow. What to say when there is so much and so little all at once?

Your sister is a radiant beam of sass and laughter.

My darling Josephine has died so now, not only to I talk to dead people but I also scratch the bellies and ears of dead dogs. Despite my intentions, we did not have her stuffed or her skull carved into a place holder. It just wasn't the right time (when, I can hear your father in the background of my mind saying, when is it ever time to have a dog stuffed?!).

We have gone to America and come back. We have put our flat on the market and after two weeks, the flat is under offer at over the asking price. I am trying not to hyperventilate and that much is easy to avoid because I'm so tired, my bones so sore and my heart so full of exhausted  love and dread over trying to make ends meet (Novemeber is a month the belts are worn tighter), even that display of dramatics is above me.

We have gone to America and come back. We have gone to the country, twice. We have flown to Barbados and attended a lovely wedding and we've come home and I just don't even feel like London is home. How long has it been since this city -- which I love and love -- has felt like home? I can't even say. Keeping it light enough to travel is one thing, but every heart needs a home.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Dear Fang

Summer is finally making its presence known. Late June and it has only just begun to feel that way.

Your sister Squidlet has grown into a proper whirlwind of red hair, infectious laugh, and a gamine grin. She says very important things often, including 'Duck,' 'Josie,' 'Daddy,' 'Nope.' And I am amazed on a daily basis that the way time moves us all forward. And I try only to look back with love. It isn't always easy. You are 2 and a half years old and there is so much of you still around me that your presence is almost physical. The wind moves through your perch in the olive trees, your box winks occasionally from the mantle. Your medical records sit in the filing cabinet (there is no 7-year rule for love nor for grief).

Someone asked me recently if it isn't just a wee bit morbid to speak of you, to remember and mention you in passing. And I resisted -- admirably, I must say -- the urge to take them into an alley and give them a very, very slow and debilitating working over. I smiled -- ever gracious, your mama (it must come with age) -- and just said 'Not at all. But if it offends you, my speaking about my son, I'll not mention him in your presence.' But I'm lying because I will mention you whenever and wherever I feel you should be.

So there.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Jinx effect

 I remember sitting next to my grandfather on a dinghy as we zipped across the Chespeake Bay to Annapolis harbour for dinner one balmy July evening.  I remember sneaking sips of his gin and tonic whilst we watched 'Law and Order' marathons. I remember learning to dance on his feet at a cousin's  wedding. I remember his look of reluctant amusement as a sombrero was thumped on his head for his 68th birthday.
An example of just what you've missed in not knowing Jinx: when I came back from Basic Training, reaking of heartbreak, bruises and failure, at a loss as to what and where came next, he found me crying on the veranda. He never said a word, just came over and draped his arm around me whilst I sobbed. And in that moment, everyone around us asleep, the crickets rustling and the last of the lightening bugs droning hazily on in the background, he was my dearest friend and my staunchest ally.
Looking back on girlhood daydreaming when I used to think about the kind of man I wanted to end up with, I realize now just how much of a influence my grandfather had in my choice of husband.  He loved smooch music - Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore. He was rangy and lean in his youth, handsome and dapper in a 1950s chic way in middle age, and relaxed, beautific and scruffy in his twilight. He loved the sea and adventure. He loved a good sappy romance movie and he taught me to appreciate the finer points of B-movies. His influence, his approval, his support, and his guidance...these are part and parcel of the woman I have become and to the man I chose. It is one of the more heartbreaking aspects of my life that my husband and my grandfather did not meet. 

I wish there was a way that I could stress and convey what amazing person Jinx was, how fiercely he loved and protected - even when we were not aware.  I grew up moving around and my maternal grandparents have been a fundamental support. There are very few memories that I have in which my grandfather does not play a significant role.  He taught me so much: about music, film, economics, how to sail, how to mix a perfect to admit when I was wrong and how to fight for what I believe in.
He taught me the burden of having too much pride, in worshipping false idols and he stood by me and up for me through some of my less than stellar moments. I had hoped that - as he and my grandmother got older - I would be able to be a support and buffer for them in the same way that they had - and in the my grandmother continues to - protected and cherished me. But that chance, that passing of the torch, well...that was taken from us. From me. And what was left of a vibrant, irreverant, dashing figure of a man was a shell...unable to do anything other than just lie in a hospital bed, drooling and messing himself, unaware that his 'do not ressucitate' request, had been flagrantly ignored out of fear of one doctor's ego. He was one of my closest and dearest friends and there was no moment to say goodbye.
But we learn lessons in loss, in the things we don't get to say out loud and in person.
Jinx lingered on for three months. A month in ICU, a month and change at the ICU ward of an assisted living facilty, then hospice.  He never regained consciousness. In the end, it was his heart that refused to give up, one of the quirky ironies of life: the organ that made him so ill is the organ that wouldn't let go.  Did I mention he never liked to give up without a fight?

My grandfather was a dreamer and a pragmatist. He left very clear instructions, signed all the forms, ticked all the boxes and in the end he died unnecessarily.  We tried to keep his dignity about him as best we could but it still - 10 years later - feels cheap and brittle.

The thing about this kind of lawsuit is that it isn't about money or greed.  It is about loss and love and holding people accountable for their actions. There was no apology, no acknowledgement on the record, no owning of wrongs.  I don't expect people - even doctors - to infallible. But I do expect that they won't lie when a mistake is made. And I do expect that they won't allow their mistakes to cause a man to suffer and waste away needlessly.  And I know that there is little that can take the sting out of that kind of failure - when you can't protect and care for the people you love. And if there is one tribute I can pay to Jinx, to that dashingly cut figure of a human being, it is to insure that his end serves as an example of how a person's wishes should not be ignored.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

I miss you, little one. You would be on the verge, on the precipe of being a toddler and a boychild now.  

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Spring has arrived to North London. Your sister is cruising and crawling and has much to say about every subject under the sun. You father is convinced she has uttered her first word and it was 'Read.' There is much to say and much to think about. Much to unfold and unfurl and much to pack up and store away. Sometimes I think that is what the seasons are about: compartmentalizing bits of life so you can focus on different areas at different times. These last few months, I have been in an idyll. I have woken late or early, cuddled up with Josie the dog and the BD, watched the shadows drift idly by along the ceiling, rising to cook and bake and potter around with a cup of coffee. It was a long winter, punctuated by nice things -- visits to Norfolk, visits to Wales, trips to Wales to see you grandparents and now. . . with Spring, I return to work and there is a significant part of me that DOES NOT WANT TO GO. It is very strange; I love the project and the environment isn't that bad; it is horribly white and sterile --having been designed to resemble a set from a specific film, but the idea of leaving my snug fills me with the desire to balk outright. And there is a deeper desire for more. . . more space, more rooms, more family. So we will move on elsewhere, taking you with us to a new place. There is just nothing else for it, really. Next is more, as they say.