Tuesday, 27 November 2012

...and the final words go to Andrew

I always knew there would be one final post on here before I leave this blog and this chapter behind.
 
I always knew the words I would leave with you were not words I had written but words written by the man I had the priviledge to call my husband.
 
He frustrated me, he challenged me, he loved me and he cared for me.
 
Today would have been his 51st birthday... and this seems fitting to share again as my final unravelling-edges post.
 
Whereas I see my life in knitting and stitching terms or use writing analogies Andrew had a whole other ways of looking at "stuff" and making sense of the world...
 

 
 
The Parable of the Scalextric Car came to me in a dream when I was in work feeling pretty low.  I’d applied for a new job with the same company in Denmark and I’d just found out they’d offered it to someone else.  I think God was speaking to me saying,


“Hello Andrew you need to read your Bible and pray a lot more.”


Plus more besides.  In the dream I was speaking in the toy service at church giving the children’s talk.  Which I did, but now I would like to share a bit more.  The pastor said it was long enough for a whole sermon.


It’s no secret that we are having a Scalextric set for Christmas which is probably why God chose to speak to me in these terms.


A brand new car looks pretty good but admiring it is no good.  The car was designed to go round a track; it has a motor inside.  What we need to make it go is POWER (in this case 12v dc).


Now as Christians God did not make us to be looked at (although some are better looking than others are).  We also have a purpose far, far more important than looks and like this car we need POWER to perform our Christian functions.  So as Christians how do we get POWER?


We need to pray.  Prayer is like the power to the car.  We will not move in our Christian lives until we have POWER, this car will not go until it has POWER.


So we become a Christian and we start to pray.  We have POWER and we start to function in our Christian lives as God designed us to do.  As the Scalextric car will start to move once it has POWER fed up through the pick-up braids.


So the crowds are cheering as we head off down the pit straight.  We gain loadsa speed.  But some of the stewards are shaking their heads.  OH NO there may be trouble ahead (did someone write a song about that?) because fast approaching is the first bend and the car is travelling far, far too fast and it disconnects from the power supplied through the track and heads towards the living room carpet.  OH DEAR!


Now part of my job in work is accident investigation – come on in Morse, Sherlock and Miss Marple.  Let’s do an accident investigation into why the Scalextric car left the track.


For the purposes of this we assume that our onsite investigators have found no defects in the track, the car of any equipment failure what so ever.  There was no oil on the track.  So why did the scalextric car crash?

Well the immediate cause is that it was travelling too fast.  But now in accident investigation we have to find out why.  Underlying causes.


The driver did not want to come off the track onto the living room carpet so why did it happen?  Why did the driver make that error?  


Well the conclusion of my accident investigation is lack of driving experience on the part of the driver.  So how do you get that experience to make it round the first bend?


One way is to read the instruction manual or we could talk to people who have done it before perhaps many times.  Learn by other people’s mistakes is often the best way.


So back to our new Christian who has now hit the first problem in their Christian life and has left the Christian ways.  How can we prevent this?


Well firstly in our Christian lives we have to read the instruction manual.  What has God provided as our instruction manual?  The BIBLE.  Pretty big, loadsa small print; HELP where do I start?  MORE HELP required.


I’m sure there will be by now a computer based Bible with a help button but that can only go so far.  So now it’s up to the stewards, the people in the church to help.  Between us in the church we have thousands of hours of Christian experience that we should be able to access for help.


We had the Alpha Course to help and then the Beta Course in this church.  I cannot wait until we have the Charlie Course.  I think that one will appeal to me somehow.  Can you imagine the a large sign up at the station “Be a Charlie – go to a church near you”?  That would have the local commuters thinking as they wait for their train.


So back to the Scalextric car on the living room carpet.  How can we get it back on the track?  Well the stewards can push it back or a huge hand from the sky can come along (the hand of God) and reconnect it to the power – praise God.


But sadly some cars do not make it back onto the track; they get broken and never return to function as designed.  As some Christians leave the church and never return.  We see it so many times so the best way to deal with this is to be prepared for that first bend.  Read the instruction manual, get advice from other Christians (the stewards) and hopefully we will stay connected to the power.


Now there are Christians who have been coming to church for many many years.  They are good at going around the Christian racetrack with many laps of experience.  But you still have to pray because without prayer you will stop and then you will look pretty stupid, as a Scalextric car will stop on the track without power.  The crowd will wonder what’s going on and start shouting.


Also you will have to read the instruction manual but you have to find all the small print to increase your lap times to get better at going round.


God has given us a fast Formula 1 car.  It takes some getting used to as there are lots of controls.  Please do not be happy driving it as the family saloon as I think I may have been doing for many years.  When we start leaning to drive a motor car most people can make it go by putting it in gear and releasing the clutch but it is important to know where the brake is.  You have to read the instructions and gain experience and read the highway code.


As we get competent with the basic controls life in the car becomes far more comfortable, like when we learn to operate some great devices like the heater.  That’s the same with our Christian life, whilst the Christian message is very simple it makes life a lot easier when we have a greater knowledge of how God works.  And looking at the instruction manual for the Christian life I would say there is at least one lifetime’s reading to get through it all and more importantly understand it all.


So I ask you how good is you Christian power supply, are your pick up braids in good condition?  Are you getting full power in your life?  Are you praying if not you will stop.  Are you reading the instruction manual?  Are your lap times increasing and are you getting better at handling the curves?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

I'm mostly re-ravelling now...

There are not many posts I want to share again, at least not like this reposting and adding an up to date comment. The days of unravelling-edges are numbered and soon it will just be here as an archive documenting my raw thoughts and feeling as they happened over the first 2 years of being a widow.

I am proud of what I have achieved here, I never knew at the beginning just how it would end or even if I would continue, it could have been a passing phase that I grew out of!

I have learned a lot about myself, about grief and the grieving process, I have grown in many ways not least as a writer.

This post was written when I'd just added re-ravelling to my blog family in a time when I unravelled and re-ravelled, backwards and forwards at an alarming rate. Now I hope I am a bit more settled, contented and more at peace with life. It has taken a while and I still know there is a way to go.

There's possibly one more re-post to add but for now take a look back with me into my thoughts and feeling from a year ago.

re-ravelling, unravelling and trying not to knit too quick
(originally posted 21st Nov 2011)

Now I have two blogs on the go I am always flitting between the two. 

Re-ravelling for those short quirky posts of making sense of my new life and putting the pieces back together.   

Unravelling-edges for the days when I come a bit undone and feel more reflective.

Well you can see from the top of the page where this is placed, it is perhaps an indicator of my current mood.

As is always the case those potentially difficult days you plan for are the ones that pass smoothly and it’s the odd days in between which trip you up.

The anniversary of Andrew’s death passed by peacefully; as I wrote last time I was surrounded by love and only shed a few tears.  However now my parents have gone home and it’s once more just the three of us the emotions have kicked in with a vengeance.
 
What undid me yesterday was a cuddle with oldest son.  It was about 9 a.m. and we were all still in our pyjamas but he had Andrew’s old dressing gown over the top.  I wore it myself for the first few weeks but then bequeathed it to oldest son and I love to see him in it.  Snuggling back into the soft towelling when I was already feeling sorry for myself, well I won’t say it was a bad idea but all the heartache came flooding back.  Especially as oldest son’s shoulder is about the same height as his dad’s and my head rested perfectly.

I had to let him go. Then I went and curled up sobbing in a heap on the bathroom floor.

I have been so busy recently and am absolutely exhausted.  This is already a busy time of year.  We have three birthdays to get through before Christmas!

Andrew would have been 50 next Sunday.  I’ve planned a party and am now so glad a lot of friends can’t make it, does that sound awful?  It means I don’t have to go to so much trouble and it takes away a lot of self-imposed pressure to host a perfect party.

When Andrew was 45 we had a “bring a 45 party”.  Once again not many people came and actually that’s just how he liked it.  He was never one to like a fuss whereas I always wanted a surprise and was always disappointed and let down by the lack of Andrew’s imagination.

I’m really not getting stressed but I have so many other plans for the week too and wonder where I will find the time to fit everything in.

That is the real problem.  I have to effectively knit quicker, to use a craft analogy that fits my title.

I am not a proficient knitter but very slow and steady, having to repeat the mantra “in, round, through and off” with nearly every stitch!  Consequently my knitting is generally neat, but teach me a new stitch and it goes haywire. And I can get muddled if I try and go a bit quicker or pay too much attention to the TV at the same time – how do people knit without looking and natter and keep abreast with the goings on in Coronation Street?

Sewing is a skill I am much better at.  However sometimes I can be too cocky and heavy footed with the sewing machine pedal and then what happens?  I make mistakes and have to unpick the whole blinking lot and it takes three times as long.

This is my unravelling at the moment.  Going too quick and not taking my time.  Filling my days with long “to do” lists and unrealistic targets.

Is it better to keep busy?  It only keeps the pain at bay so long.

Yesterday I unravelled the furthest I have for a long time, but then after the anniversary I think it was overdue and bound to happen.

I spent the day doing the things I wanted, a couple of loads of washing out of necessity but otherwise I chilled out and although I made it to church I never even got inside the front door, it was just too much effort.

Some days you just have to take one step or stich at a time and recognise that each one is a huge achievement.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Have I told you lately...

I've been pondering what to repost today and finally decided on this, the words I had to say at Andrew's funeral.

But I am getting more clever and adventurous with this blogging stuff and I am add a few extras...

Starting with this - the theme song we entered the church to


You may have been very surprised today that we came in to the theme tune to the cricket and thought, well I never knew Andrew was a cricket fan – well he wasn’t!  He always said it would be a jolly piece of music for his funeral!  As you leave we have a gift for you, just something else we had already planned in jest.  But sorry Andrew two songs never made the play list –“ Fool if you think it’s over” by Chris Rea and “When will I see you again?” by the Supremes.  Although the more I think about them the more they seem appropriate too, but then we could be here ‘til midnight!

Andrew sometimes got called Mr Grumpy, not least by me and the boys.  
 
There was quite a list of things he didn’t like…..

Words like buy, purchase and spend.  Traffic jams and slow drivers in the fast lane.  Airport security.  Caravans.  He hated wearing a shirt and tie, although he wore one on our first date to impress me. 

In church he could never understand why we had to sing the words to songs more than once “didn’t God hear the first time?”

One of his biggest pet hates was dull services or meetings.  He had his own expression
 
“it was enough to bore the udders off a herd of cows” 
(Only he didn’t actually use the word “udders”)
 
He would sit beside me in church whispering “boing, boing” apparently the noise udders make when they bounce.  I would dig him in the ribs but silently giggle. 
 
He believed church should be alive and had aspirations of filling this place with young people and holding a Christian rock concert  Putting on a big event to show the youngsters in this area how exciting God could be. 

His faith was very private and personal but no less real.  He worshipped God by “doing” things.  His domain was the media desk by the door and woe betide any vicar who ran off with the media key in his pocket!  Or any inept person who fiddled with all the switches - “why can’t people leave things alone?”   “Aborigines and jet engines” was another favourite saying.

Just as much as being at the back of church he loved being at the front, it was being in the middle he found difficult to cope with, he couldn’t sit still and would always be thinking how he would do things differently!  We’d talk later about how together we could do it “better”!

The last time he stood here he did the Bible reading.  It was a Bible reading like no other as he read the story in his own style.  It was the story of Jesus casting out a legion of demons into a herd of pigs.  He finished by saying and it’s all true – no porkies!  The reading was accompanied by a power point using the Brick Testament, Bible stories told with pictures of Lego people.  
 

The children, and it must be said adults too, sat rapt with attention.  So many people have commented to me in their cards and messages how wonderful he was that morning.

Other things Andrew liked…

The word adequate, purple quality street, crispy cakes, mars bars and coca cola!  He loved driving buses, somehow the traffic never phased him behind the wheel of a bus.  He liked his train set – sorry that should bemodel railway.  He loved his big house and garden

He loved disappearing upstairs into his den where he pretended to be a DJ sat at the mixing desk.  It was a couple of days before I got upstairs and the turntable was still spinning.  We’d sit together finding tracks we liked and getting the other one to guess who the artist was.

Because of his love of broadcasting I believe he was rare off shore because he actually like doing the tannoy announcements.  We would even work on ideas at home of how to make the mundane ones sound more interesting.  Like the tannoy that started “It is a truth universally acknowledged….”  And if anyone can remember how that ended please let me know as I only remember the Jane Austen beginning.

How I wish I'd bought him this!
Andrew liked magnolia paint but I think I may have converted him to “dusted fondant”.  That’s off the Dulux colour chart.  His tea was white, no sugar, weak and milky, a light brown oak, off the Ronseal colour chart!

After taking the children to school, a car load for me and bus load for him, we liked doing the crossword together and either we were getting very good at it or the crossword on the back of the daily mail was getting easier!

He loved belonging to the church family here.  He’d found somewhere where he fitted in, he could be useful and everyone seemed to understand his unique sense of humour.

He loved his family, although he didn’t always show it and especially loved our two boys. 

And I know he loved me, every day he would ask, more than once, “have I told you I love you today?”  He rang every day without fail from the platform and I would get anxious if I missed more than one phone call.  The message on the answer phone went “hello it’s just me looking for you.”

It’s been difficult to sleep since he’s gone and on my first sleepless night I decided what to wear today.  When I wore this Tshirt he would say “someone who loves you very much must have bought you that Tshirt!”

On my second sleepless night I decided what he should wear.  Jeans and a Tshirt obviously!

Just as Andrew bought me my Tshirt, so the boys and I bought his for him.  We got it at New Wine and it has a bus on it!  But it also has a slogan and Andrew’s everyday T shirts had to be plain so he had never worn it.  He said “I’ll wear it one day!”  Today seems as appropriate as any.

It’s a micky take on the bus adverts around a few years ago that began “There probably isn’t a God….

But Andrew didn’t agree and his T shirt says 
 
“ There positively is a God,

       now stop worrying

           and enjoy your life”
 
 
So that's what I said and there probably isn't a lot else to add.
 
I have added a photo of Andrew and the bus picture to my facebook page today.We gave out cards with the bus on as people left along with a Quality Street chocolate, some deliberately took a purple one, while others chose something different.
 
I still see plently of the little cards around, with Andrew's name and dates on. Oldest son and I have just been discussing where we see them, one family keeps it on fridge, its on a pinboard in another house in the downstairs loo. Several made their way into purses and wallets. A keepsake, a reminder.

Andrew is still everywhere, all around. I remember him in a song, a chocolate bar or a cup of very milky tea.
 
Some people look to the heavens to find their loved one, the stars in the night sky. Well last night I dreamed of stars, swirling and dancing around me like snowflakes caught in headlights.
 
Each one was love and prayers and thoughts for us today, thank you for every speck of starlight you have sent our way. That light has been enough to help guide us on this journey, they mean so much.
 
 
Van Morrison - Have I told you lately. I think this was the last ever song Andrew played on his iPod and I have included this because we played it at the private family cremation service and I couldn't leave without making you cry one final time! 
 
Take away my sadness
Fill my life with gladness
Ease my troubles that's what you do.
 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Still no words?

It's been a strange day in many ways. For the first time I took Andrew's mum to the place where we scattered Andrew's ashes.

I can easily deal with my own grief now, it fits like a comfy pair of well worn in shoes but other people's grief is a different matter.

It wasn't easy to watch my mother-in-law and my sons lost in their own private thoughts exploring and wandering the desolate place where Andrew rests or more likely forever swirls on the breeze.

I promised myself I wouldn't cry on demand because it might be expected of me, the widow, but I was glad that the low sun in the sky gave me a reason to hide my eyes behind my sunglasses as a few tears emerged on our drive home.

The funny thing was I had been speaking to Andrew this morning, alone as I drove home from taking oldest son to tennis. I don't need a special place to go and know he is always with me swirling in my thoughts, somewhere, usually just beyond my reach. I've always found talking to him now strangely unnatural so it's not something I do very often.

I've just surprised myself with the words I've written and shared. I am doing NaNoWriMo at the moment, writing a whole novel or 50,000 words in a month.

Non writing friends are flabbergasted that such a task could be done whereas for me writing and playing with words is as natural as breathing.

But this time last year I wrote a post about a day when even I had no words and no answers. And it's worth sharing again at this time of the year...

When There Are No Words (originally posted 10th November 2011)

We have reached that “time of year”.   

I think it shall always be called that now, in hushed reverential tones with a knowing look.  An unsettling time of remembering exactly what we were doing this time in November 2010.

Ushered in by the first falling of leaves to the explosions of fireworks on the fifth and building to a crescendo by Remembrance Sunday – how fitting.

Last year’s bonfire night was spent with friends in the garden.  It was something we had done quite often over the years with various groups of people that will never be the norm again.  Andrew wandering around the house beforehand cursing the fact he can’t find a torch that works then finally striding off in his big work coat, box of fireworks in one hand and loose matches jangling in his pocket where they had fallen free. 
 
It’s strange what sticks in your head but I’ll always remember that rattle of matches.  It makes me smile to think of all the fires he lit, the one that very nearly got out of hand and burnt the garden fence.  It was my turn to tease him for a change!

This year we spent November 5th with the same group of friends as last year.  Although there are some welcome new additions.  Two more families have joined our group and Andrew would have enjoyed the banter and repartee after the fireworks.

It’s so good to laugh and take pleasure from the happy times together.

Now of course we are heading for another weekend and the first anniversary of Andrew’s death.  Most of the time I am quite calm and philosophical about it.  In some ways isn’t it just another day?  I could never understand all this fuss about NOT making big decisions in the first year.  The sharp intake of breath when I announced I had put the house on the market six months in.  As it is we are still here – crisis averted.  But I have had a few wobbles of late.

Last night I was talking to youngest son as I tucked him into bed.  We’d had a minor falling out earlier in the evening.  He wouldn’t do as he was told, I crumpled and the enormity of the task of bringing up two boys on my own hit hard made worse by lack of sleep and waking every morning at six since we changed the clocks.

By bedtime we were on a more even footing and I was trying to reason with him.

“Grandma and Grandad are coming on Friday.”

“Why do we have to have the bossy people staying?”

He has his dad’s way of seeing the world, being blunt and forthright, some might say rude.  Although he loves his grandparents deeply they do tend to be stricter than me and won’t let him get away with so much, especially now when they know how tired and frustrated I can get.  I am sure it probably should be the other way round.  It takes a lot of energy to set boundaries and keep discipline going on your own.

“I need my Mum and Dad here to help me.”

His next comment cut to the core.

“That’s not fair.  I don’t have a Dad anymore.”

What could I say?

He cried softly as he clung to me and I offered him my bed to sleep in beside me but he refused and finally, reluctanly let me go.

It is so unfair that my Dad is here and his is gone.  I don’t know what I’ll do when one day I lose my own father.  Our relationship has grown this year as I have become more reliant on him and lapsed back into being his little girl.  A father’s love and comfort is irreplaceable.

Youngest son is still such a little boy and it makes me cry to think of all the things he will miss out on as he grows up.

This "time of year" is difficult for not just me but all of us.  We have all lost so much and this is our time to remember.

Sometimes there are no words.  If I can find none to say to my own son then maybe you can’t find them either.

I have to tell you that just knowing someone is out there and they care is all I need; I hope and pray that works for the boys too.   

A smile, a hug, a knowing look could be enough to help us through this “time of year”.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Another Year Already...?

Here's a poem I wrote and posted this time last year. I can't quite believe that another full year has gone by...


Almost Full Circle

Almost a year since I saw your face
Almost a year since I felt your embrace
Almost full circle
The passing of time
The world keeps on turning
You’re no longer mine

Almost a year since a kiss on my lips
Almost a year since your hands on my hips
Almost a year
I cannot believe
Twelve months of the calendar
Since you did leave

Almost a year since I’ve been alone
Almost a year, and in some ways I’ve grown
Almost full circle
I try to stand tall
Your memory lifts me
If I should fall

You’re in every heartbeat
This love that you started
Still grows, overflowing
Although you’ve departed
You helped make the person
I am standing here

Since you’ve been gone
It’s been almost a year


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Dependent, Independent and everything in between....

we all need a hand to hold...
This morning I have been helping out a friend in need but I could only do so because another friend helped me out by looking after youngest son, or at least making sure he came to no harm and was occupied.

Our lives are intertwined and I am grateful to have friends with such listening ears available to me when I need them. On the flip side few things beat that feeling when you have put yourself out to help someone and you know you've made a real difference.

About a year ago I found a word search puzzle on my facebook feed, the words it contained sparked this little post below...and explain what I am trying to say here so much more eloquently!

unravelling edges: Dependent: My friend posted this picture on her facebook page the other day.     The first four words you spot in the word search are supposed ...

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fruitful

The weather has not been kind this year. Too much rain and the harvest of all kinds of crops is not as good as usual.

Last year I found an unexpected abundance of fruit in my garden. An example of God's provision and how he longs to lavish His good gifts on us.

The discovery was made when I needed to know God was near, as I was approaching the first anniversary of Andrew's death.

This year there has been little actual fruit to harvest but God continues to bless me in different amazing ways. Another crop of fruit wouldn't have surprised and excited me in the same way.

You can click back below to read last year's post...

unravelling edges: Unexpected Fruit: (posted Oct 20th 2011) Once upon a time in our garden we had a two bushes that grew up either side of a set of steps leading down to the lower part of the gard...

Damson harvest 2011