Thursday, October 30, 2008

A last farewell; An eulogy for my mother

Christina was born in London, the eldest of three daughters. Both her parents came from large working class families and were naturally very keen to improve their prospects. Christina’s mother was a furrier by trade and her father, possessing an astute head for business, eventually became a company director. Soon after Christina’s birth her father's career entailed a move near Stroud, in Gloucestershire. Newly accommodated in a large Victorian house, the family was extended with the birth of a sister, and then some years later by yet another.

The grounds of Glenmore, as the family home was known, offered an idyllic setting for a growing family. Christina often talked of her youth with affection and her vast knowledge of shrubs and flowers were the result of days spent playing in the fields and gardens.

Christina also recalled with clarity the events of the Second World War which featured so poignantly in her early childhood. Glenmore, with its numerous attics and cellars, became the home not just for the extended family but for a full quota of evacuees. These were frugal days, where Christina’s mother’s dressmaking skills were put to good use, where the large garden bore fruit and vegetables and offal on toast was considered a delicacy. Nevertheless, despite the hardships the family unit remained strong and undivided and in the post war years, many of the evacuees and relatives would return to Glenmore to relive the days of sunshine in what had otherwise been a dark and terrible world.

Christina and her sisters attended a private Catholic convent school as day pupils. These were the days of straw hats and stockings and strict discipline enforced by nuns. Christina would frequently remark that she was never the best student and sometimes found the atmosphere stifling. Indeed, she was always forgiving if her own children failed the occasional exam and would make a self- deprecating remark such as how much she’d disliked arithmetic and couldn’t add up for toffee.

But the truth was that Christina had a sharp natural intelligence and an intuitive understanding of people. She was artistic with a natural flair for drama. She knew all the old black and white movies and Gregory Peck was a firm favourite. This love of movies became a life-long interest and even in her seventies she was still going to the cinema regularly to watch the latest releases.

Christina continued her education until the age of 18 when she began her training to become a nurse. It was about this time too that she met John, her future husband. John was a newly- trained teacher who had served in the Navy during the latter half of the war and was now living with the monks at a priory and where Christina attended mass and the local youth club. Christina was young, vivacious and beautiful and it was not long before John’s ideas of joining the priesthood flew out the window. A romance blossomed and in the course of time they were married.

After her marriage, Christina settled into life as a wife and mother. Her three eldest children were born in Worcestershire during a period where John worked at a Catholic school for troublesome and disturbed children. It was a remote and sometimes lonely existence so eventually the family relocated to Somerset where John secured headship of a catholic school. A fourth child was born at the family home and so began a period of stability and peace for Christina and John's growing family.

However, raising four children on a solitary teacher’s wage was a difficult task and this is where Christina’s skills as a homemaker and the practicalities of her early childhood held her in good stead. She frequently went without so her children could have as much as could be afforded. Nevertheless they were happy years for all the family; a simple, almost ideal existence where her children learnt the pleasures of quiet reading, ball games and an appreciation of the countryside.

There were times as Christina grew older when she wondered about returning to work or spreading her wings but there was never a genuine opportunity with the responsibilities of her first her children and then her ageing parents. She nursed her mother in her final months and then when her father relocated nearby she visited him almost every day for many years until his death in 1988. John had retired in 1986 and so there followed a few brief years where the two of them enjoyed a happy and contented retirement.

However, when John suffered a stroke, Christina, yet again, became a carer. Despite a partial recovery, John’s health began to deteriorate once more and so began his long and painful death from cancer, which tested the family and Christina, in particular, to the full. After 40 years of marriage John’s death in 1999 left Christina physically and emotionally exhausted and wondering what the future held.

But as those of you who knew Christina well will know, she was never one for self-pity and despite all the odds she resolved to restore her confidence and enjoyment of life. It was a long and difficult task; where others would have given up or slipped into depression she battled, at first on a daily basis, to face the world again. It was a slow, arduous recovery but with determination Christina began to re-establish friendships, sort through the belongings of a lifetime and look to the future once more.

Eventually she was strong enough to sell the family home and move into a lovely flat overlooking the sea. With the help of Isabel, she made new friendships and acquaintances and was full of optimism. Indeed, it was through Isabel that Christina met Frank and a romance began that left both Frank and Christina full of joy and laughter in their later years. Life was fun again and Christina was full of smiles and happiness.

Christina never really made any concessions to getting old. She rested when she needed but for the most part was fit and active. A lifetime of vigorous gardening, running after children and grandchildren had kept her in good shape and at 73 she still had the courage to drive long distances to visit her children or walk tirelessly up and down the hill to her flat. She was a beautiful woman in her youth and retained much of that beauty in old age without too much care. But her beauty ran so much more than skin deep. Her beauty came from within and it was something to be treasured.

Many of us here today when we come to look back upon our lives may describe ourselves as doctors, teachers, electricians, clerks. Christina was, quite simply, a carer. First as a nurse, then mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. It was her role in life and one she fulfilled to the best of her ability.

In her role as carer Christina witnessed many deaths and she always said with the utmost sincerity that she wished for herself a quick and easy release from this earthly life.

And so on October 15th her wish came true.

For us, her family, her death has come all too soon. Nothing will be the same again. But we are thankful that her suffering was brief and her passing peaceful.

And we know too, that without doubt, she will be welcomed where she belongs, in the Kingdom of Heaven.

***************************************************

Epitaph

On the 29th October we laid my mother to rest in the same grave that nine years earlier we laid my father, a few footsteps away from my mother’s parents.

Together they lie on a hillside overlooking a wooded valley and where, one day, I too will rest my head.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bloggers Unite for Poverty 2008

Do you miss me Mummy
Down in your shallow grave
Dried, brittle bones in the barren earth
I miss your touch Mummy
Your sweet embrace

Will you miss me Daddy
Wrapped in your scruffy shroud
Wasted, crinkled corpse in the sterile soil
I miss your smile Daddy
Your adoring laugh

My stomach is empty Mummy
My limbs are lank and lifeless
I need a bowlful of rice Mummy
But no one listens
And no one comes

My mouth is parched Daddy
My throat is swollen and sore
I need a cupful of water Daddy
But no one listens
And no one comes

I think I’ll lie down Mummy
The sun is strong and searing
I need a spoonful of rice Mummy
But no one listens
And no one comes

I think I’ll rest now Daddy
The days are long and linger
I need a mouthful of water Daddy
But no one listens
And no one comes

I think I’ll close my eyes Mummy
The dark is warm and welcoming
I think I’ll sleep forever Daddy
But no one listens
And no one comes

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Books and me.

Oh poor Mrs T has a cold. It started in my throat and head and then went to my dose. I ate it when it’s in my dose coz den I can’t dalk prowperly…..

Anyway, thought I’d do a quickie post. This is a tag from Master Sy in which I have to tell 6 book related things about me… so here goes….

1.The worst book I’ve read recently is The Love Bug by Zoe Barnes. I bought it at the library clearout for 20p. I had some loose change in my purse and I decided to buy one book from every genre that was in the clearance pile. This was the Chick Lit one and I was attracted to the pink cover like I am to candyfloss but in the same way that I find candyfloss too sweet so was this book. In fact it was like a sweet that one rolls around the mouth and then spits out. Yep, it was soooo bad I couldn’t be bothered to finish it. 20p was way, way too much; it made Thomas the Tank Engine look like a work of sheer utter genius. I was tempted to ceremoniously dump it in the compost heap but I gave it to Mrs B instead… just for verification of my opinion. (She agreed.)


2. The next book I’m going to read is Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison. Gary is a buddy of Paul Burman and Fat Tuesday is his first published book which was released last month. I’m intrigued to read this book because I know Gary likes chocolate in a big BIG way. So I’m just plain old nosey and want to see what he’s writing about. Hopefully, it’ll ooze descriptions of gigantic bars of chocolate taking over the world but if it’s not I’ll settle for a cracking good thriller. Also he lives Up North and I want to see if there’s anyone from The North who knows the full alphabet. Oh dear, did I say that? How terribly politically incorrect. (Hurrah!)


3. The most irritating character in a book I’ve EVER read. Well actually it’s not Thomas The Tank Engine, Postman Pat or even Fireman Sam it is NODDY. Yikes was that kid annoying or what?? And such a selfish, grasping little swine charging toys a whole sixpence to ride in that silly yellow car. I give people FREE lifts in my car if they ask nicely, clean it out, wash and polish it and fill it up with petrol. Not much to ask in return for a trip of a lifetime with a Hot Shot Motor Babe like myself... and I’d just like to say I have not driven into anything lately. At all. Not in the last 72 hours anyway. Although, it’s very possible that my insurance policy might have gone up last week for some strange inexplicable reason…….

Damn, that jet powered engine and the underwater propellers……..

4. The most annoying book I’ve read in the last year was Simple Genius by David Baldacci. Here’s a quick review. Simple, yes. Genius, no. Okay why should I be so damning? Well Mr Baldacci’s female characters got right up my dose. I like thrillers so I can live with stereo typical portraits of women if the plot is good. BUT here’s a brief description of the first 3 female characters introduced;

a) Michelle Maxwell; tall, good looking, long dark hair, natural athlete, Olympic rowing gold medallist, exercise fanatic, possesses “various” black belts, ex secret service, PI…. In the first chapter she picks a fight with a big black guy; “She could be nearly as dangerous as a bomb wrapped terrorist and was looking for any reason to put her foot through someone’s front teeth…”

Yep, really, really believable. Women don’t pick fights with big black guys…they pick fights with big black bars of 70% cocoa chocolate (and they always win.)

b) Sandy, late forties, blonde, immaculate presentation.

Oh I forgot…crippled in a wheel chair…..

c) Alicia, redhead “The loveliest women he’d ever seen,” mathematician and linguist.

Oh I forgot… she has an artificial aluminium leg…..

I’m sensing Mr Baldacci has an obsession with women’s legs (or possibly lack of them).Now I’ve contemplated this novel seriously and I’ve come to the conclusion there’s only one ingredient missing….

Heather Mills McCartney. (Cameo obviously)

5. A book I read to cheer me up when I’m feeling blue is The British Medical Association’s The Complete Family Health Encyclopaedia. Sounds a little strange I know but when I read this I realize how lucky I am not to be inflicted with some very strange and awful illnesses. I’ve been working my way systematically through the encyclopaedia and this method has always worked for dragging me out of any depression.

Until last night that is when I reached Mental Illnesses…now I’m not feeling quite so good…..

6. My own book which I referred to some time ago; The Turley English Dictionary is making good progress. If you remember this book is unique because I list the standard meaning of a word and then the correct meaning. Some of my earlier definitions can be found HERE. However, for your perusal, here are a few more of my recent definitions to encourage you to buy this masterpiece when it comes on the market;

Housewife

Standard definition.
A woman who wears a pinny, cooks, cleans and obeys the rules of her Lord and Master.

Correct definition.
A short fat women in her forties who wears a T shirt emblazoned with “Make my day; quit nagging me.” She has no idea about cooking, has not slightest interest in cleaning and steadfastly annoys her husband with fantastical tales of one day becoming a writer. (And celebrity chef.)

Child.

Standard Definition.
The offspring of an adult which has not yet reached maturity.

Correct definition;
A small (although sometimes can be annoyingly large) humanoid creature. Cannot look after itself in anyway at all unless in possession of its mother’s purse and at the sweet counter. Both small and large versions usually have odious underpants.

Cat.

Standard definition
A four legged mammal worshipped by ancient Egyptians.

Correct Definition
A four legged mammal which vomits and excretes continuously on carpets and which may soon be mummified.

Le Crueset Saucepan

Standard definition
A French manufactured cooking pot.

Correct definition
A French manufactured lethal killing weapon. Unfortunately, the French failed to develop it until after WWII.

Frog

Standard definition
A four legged reptilian creature known for its ability to hop.

Correct definition
A Frenchman known for his ability to hop. (Backwards)

Tommy.

Standard definition.
Slang for a British soldier

Correct definition
Appalling musical starring Roger “Something went wrong with my perm” Daltrey.

Idiot

Standard definition
A foolish person

Correct definition
George Bush

Menopause

Standard definition
A period of a woman’s life where her fertility decreases.

Correct definition
A period of a woman’s life where hair loss precedes the onset of madness.

Madness

Standard definition
The loss of sane and rational thinking.

Correct definition
Mrs Jane Turley, Housewife Extraordinaire.

Copyright Jane Turley, a menopausal mad fool.