On this date seven years ago, Graham asked me to marry him, having sought my parents’ permission a couple of days before. He had intended to propose the next day (a Saturday) but was so nervous that he jumped the gun. He therefore proposed on Alan Shearer’s birthday, which is fitting for two wandering zebras like us. For a funny story about the days before his proposal, see Threenage Mutant Ninja Tumour. His hair is certainly a lot more grey since he proposed but it’s not necessarily a case of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc!
This date for the diary comes at the end of probably the best week I’ve had during the Squattergate Saga.
A Mini Reunion
Although I’ve not played much in recent times, I had never missed a Team Graeme football/pub lunch until last October when I was in hospital. I was therefore thankful that I was well enough to go to the post-football lunch and catch up with some of Graeme’s friends who are family friends now. It means so much to me and my parents that Graeme’s friends still celebrate his life in a way that he would approve: football and a pub. Thank you to all who show that they love and remember our boy.
After the lunch, we visited Guisborough Forest to see my brother’s memorial bench and five trees that we planted in his memory:
The trees are going from strength to strength. Our friend Jackie, whose idea it was to plant the trees, saw the photos I posted on Facebook and summed them up well:
As strong and beautiful as Graeme – just as I hoped they would be. xx
A Mini Adventure
We then had a lovely few days in the Yorkshire Dales near Skipton. We stayed in an accessible holiday cottage on a farm. It was one of several holiday homes owned by the family of a friend of mine from University.* My friend and her family live in the farmhouse near the cottages so it was lovely to see them. Jennifer enjoyed playing with my friend’s little girl (so much so that Jennifer cried when we set off on our way home and said “I want Emma, I want to go back to the farm!”).
We enjoyed some of the many delights that the Yorkshire Dales offer and are already planning another trip all being well (or well enough). There were too many joyful and wonderful moments to mention all of them without this being a super-long blog. I was delighted with how much I was able to do while we were away. I took it easy, resting and sleeping in the mornings, to conserve energy for afternoons out.
I must mention that going on a steam train so excited Leo that he has shouted “choo choo” frequently ever since. He has even said it a few times in his sleep, clearly dreaming about trains! His Great-Grandad (my paternal Grandad) would be proud. Grandad Ivor worked for British Rail for a long time and worked as a fireman** on steam trains back in the day.
We also discovered the great Fountains Abbey, a place so nice we went there twice! We visited on the way to the Dales and on the way back again. We are certainly getting our money’s worth out of our National Trust membership this year! This is a selfie in the Abbey itself:
This week, in both Yorkshire and at home, we’ve seen five of my friends from university (and their families) in three separate mini-reunions. Girtonians are like buses, you wait ages and then a load come along at once… It was lovely to catch up with each and every one of them. I feel so blessed to have such good friends pretty much all over the world. One university friend said that she can’t believe it’s nearly 18 years since we started. I said that I preferred to say it’s 15 years since I left….
Not So Mini Bubbles
I was very tired (but not completely wiped out) when we got back on Wednesday evening. I went to sleep soon after we got back as I had to be up “early” on Thursday for a Bubble*** show at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. It was an amazing show and ended with every child having the opportunity to have their photo taken inside a bubble. Jennifer and Leo duly did (Graham got to accompany Leo in the bubble as we suspected that our little bundle of energy would not stand still for long enough!). I was a bit jealous that I didn’t get my photo taken in a bubble. When I grow up I want to be a Bubbleologist!
Mountain High, River Dip
I can’t help but think afterwards whether each holiday, milestone, event or other happy occasion will be my last one. I think I use up so much energy psyching myself up and pushing myself to enjoy times with my nearest and dearest that I’m mentally and physically exhausted in the aftermath. It’s two sides of the same coin: knowing that the Squatter resides in my head gives me the extra determination to enjoy things to the full extent that my energy and mobility permits; at the same time, I feel a bit low in the aftermath knowing that those happy times have a limited shelf-life.
Fortunately, after last weekend’s fun, I’ve not got long before the next big thing so the dip in mood hasn’t been so deep as to take me down to the pit of despair. We are all off for a two-night trip to Cumbria next weekend to celebrate a dear friend’s 30th birthday.
Most people I have seen recently, particularly those who saw me post-surgery, mid-radiotherapy and mid-chemotherapy, have commented that I look so much better at the minute. I feel it and, when I look in the mirror, I know that I look it compared to how I’ve looked since mid-September last year. Of course, I look a lot different now than I did a year ago, not least because my hair is my natural colour for the first time since I was about 16 and it’s also a heck of a lot shorter than it’s ever been (I was born with a full head of dark hair)! I’m also pleasantly surprised by how few grey hairs I have.
I’ve enjoyed playing with the kids more in the garden and around the house because of my increased energy and mobility (it’s all relative but positive nonetheless). Today, I got Leo dressed on my own for the first time in almost a year. Even a couple of months ago, I never thought I’d be able to do that again. A little bit of increased energy and mobility makes a big difference in what I’m capable of. Those who know me as the Undomestic Goddess that I am might want to sit down before reading the next sentence. This week I have: emptied the bins; swept and vacuumed the floors and carpets; loaded and unloaded the dishwasher; washed up; put loads of washing on and hung them out to dry; put clothes away; and, tidied up. Not all in the same day I might add: that might well have finished me off!
I think that Mr H might well have messed with my brain a bit too much as I haven’t done some of those chores for a fair few years! I think it’s a sign of how well I’ve felt over the last week or so that I’m enjoying doing things that I haven’t been able to do for just under a year. After a few more days, the novelty will surely wear off and I’ll soon be choosing not to do those things rather than feeling frustrated that I can’t help out more!
As I’ve said, I have felt good this week and feel I have made the most of my increased energy. Apart from post-holiday tiredness, I had a couple of flickers at Fountains Abbey on the way home and a bit of a seizure on our short steam train journey. I suddenly felt something change in my brain and it lasted for a minute or so before my foot and thigh started twitching and then continued for a minute or so after the flickers started.
I thought I was in for a Doozie but, as suddenly as it had come on, it switched off. It was at the end of a busy afternoon and I think it was caused by tiredness, the distinctive motion of a train journey, the fact that I was going backwards and the sun beating down on me through the window. If the price of my happy times this last week was these Meizures, it’s definitely been worth it!
A Mini Delay?
I had two MRI scans the day before our mini-adventure. Apart from close family, I am not telling anyone when my results are. I don’t want anyone getting worried on the day if they haven’t heard anything immediately. Whether good or bad, I might not have the energy or inclination to update everyone on the day itself. So I promise to write a blog update about my results but I don’t want to give myself a deadline for that update. Although having no self-imposed deadline is never good for me as I thrive under pressure and leave most things until the last minute. If I don’t know when the last minute is, how will I know when to start the blog?!
My friend’s husband has primary kidney cancer that has metasticised to his bones. He was diagnosed around the same time last year that I found out that I have a brain tumour. Sarah is also writing a blog and this week she published a post that included the paragraphs quoted below. They expressed almost exactly what I have been feeling (with all necessary changes) having had a good week myself:
“On leaving the hospital Jake commented how so many people looked really ill, but many of them will get better, whereas he looks really well, but he’s not going to get better. It worries him, looking well. He worries that people will think he is exaggerating his illness. It concerns him too, having sat on a boat for a wee holiday, that people will see him as a fraud. ‘See that man, he can sit on a boat all week but he can’t go to work…..’ and that makes him feel like he should go back to work.
“Personally I don’t think Jake could do his work reliably and effectively. His brain is shot most of the time, mixing up even simple things like colours. ‘Where’s my green jacket?’ Um, you don’t have a green jacket! Blue? He struggles to get out of bed consistently and we can never tell how he’s going to be from one day to the next. We had a three day convention recently which involved being out of the house for 9am every day. He ended up falling asleep there each day!”****
Hope your weeks have brought more good than bad.
** A fireman on a steam train is the person who shovels the coal in the fire.