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blue-birds-blog-header1.jpgI have quite a bit of news, both life and faith related.  However, I will keep the two separate and update on the faith part in another post. 

There are some significant changes taking place in my life at the moment.  Firstly, and I suppose most importantly, my mum has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  She has chosen not to have any aggressive treatment and has opted for palliative care only, I totally respect her decision as it’s not something you can decide for someone else.   I understand why she’s chosen this path, I don’t think chemotherapy is for everyone, it can be worse than the disease it’s trying to cure in some cases.  So, good for her on knowing what she wants and bravely going for it!

My relationship with my mother has been very strained since the death of my lovely step-father Jim, back in 2009.  We were fairly close up until then, but she has never been easy to love if I’m honest and that became a lot more difficult after Jim’s death.  I think he somehow kept us together and calmed the waters between us when he was alive but when he died that soothing balm went with him.  I had kind of hoped that she would mellow a bit with this latest news and build a few bridges but, despite my offered olive branch, that has not happened.  She knows I’m here if she needs me but as it stands that’s as close as I’m allowed.   Some things you just have to place into God’s hands and trust that He knows what’s best.

Secondly, Ethan [who is about to turn 11!!!!] has just left primary school.  He attended a fantastic Catholic Primary School here in Milton Keynes,  and they became like family by the end.  Yesterday was his very last day and to say it was emotional is an understatement.  So many tears from staff, students and parents alike.  From my point of view it was also the end of an era; for the last 33 years I’ve been a parent to at least one child of primary school age or under.  I have to admit to feeling rather bereaved at the loss of that status.  There has to be a time to move on but it’s a hard habit to break and I’m sad at its passing.

I am still not working having given up my job as a Teaching Assistant back in December ’15.  However, once I’ve got Ethan settled into secondary school I will start to re-assess things.  I’d really like something part-time that gives me time with Ethan in the holidays as I won’t leave him on his own all day yet.  I’m not keen to go back into a school full-time but if anything part-time comes up then I’ll probably go for it.  Finances dictate that I’m probably going to have to earn something within the next year or so, barring a lottery win.   I may sign-up for supply work which will mean I can choose when and where I work.  For now it’s in God’s hands and I’m trying to remain open and just see what comes along in the next few months. 

My crochet has been badly neglected recently.  Just too much going on with the huge amount of end-of-term activities that goes with being the mother of a Year 6 student, visits to the new secondary school and organising uniform/equipment/bus passes etc., hospital appointments with mum and the general demands of a family and a house that still refuses to clean itself.

That is about it for the ‘life’ part of my news.  I will do a ‘faith’ update very soon.  

Sharon xx

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I’ve saved this post to the end of the day because it’s a sad one really, and I like my blog to be a happy, love-filled, creative space but however……  Today is the fifth [yes, I can’t quite believe it either] anniversary of our dear Jim’s death.  It doesn’t feel like five years, it’s gone very fast from my perspective. 

I don’t dread this anniversary anymore, it’s become a day of reflection and fond memories with a twinge of  ‘homesickness’ for those strong arms and big heart.  It also nearly always falls during Lent which, for me as a Catholic woman, really helps; giving me something to draw on at a time of heightened faith on this journey to the cross and then onto hope in our Risen Lord. 

Below is the photo’ I posted all those years ago . . .I miss him so much. . .

Jim on his 66th birthday, March 2009.

Jim on his 66th birthday, March 2009.

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Today is a very special day here.  First and foremost it would have been my beloved Jim’s birthday, he would have been 68.  May God bless you dear Jim, I still miss you hugely and you have been in my thoughts and prayers all day.

Secondly, and nearly as importantly ;), Simon has asked me to marry him and I have said ‘yes’ and today is officially the day that we have become engaged.  We chose today because of Jim, to make him a part of this even though he has passed.  We also felt that by choosing today we will have Jim’s blessing on the whole event.  Jim was very fond of Si so it is a safe assumption that he’d have been very happy.  Mum is so pleased that we chose today and I know she approves of our reasoning behind it.

The photo, unsurprisingly, is of my engagement ring 🙂 ~ diamonds with an emerald cut Aquamarine set in white gold.  It is rather lovely.  So, all in all, not a very Lent inspired post today but hey, it’s real life here in the city and I couldn’t NOT share this news now could I?

Photo courtesy of Fraser Hart

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One year on……Jim xx

 

To you we look for mercy, Lord,
To you we lift our minds and hearts;
Your rising from the dead gives hope
As our dear brother now departs.

You gave you life for us who sinned,
You hung upon the Cross in pain,
And meekly bowing down your head
You died that we might heaven gain.

With outstretched arms you beckon us:
“In meekness and humility
Take up my yoke, ‘tis sweet and light.
Your souls will then find rest in me.”

You conquered hell and death, O Lord,
And heaven’s gates you opened wide,
Console us in our present grief,
May we at death with you abide.

Our brother’s body now does sleep
In peaceful rest, but may his soul
Through grace your Vision now enjoy,
Your wondrous majesty extol.

Amen

  

I am the resurrction; I am the life; to believe in me means life, inspite of death, and all who believe and live in me shall never die.

 

Hymn and Benedicus Antiphon taken from the Office for the Dead, Benedictine Daily Prayer

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Today is multi faceted [well, it is for me anyway]!!  It is Mothering Sunday and  my mum came round this morning for lunch, and cream cakes.  I was brought tea in bed with cards and flowers which was total luxury.  I also made it to early Mass which, on this lovely spring~like day, was such a gift. 

Speaking of Mass, today is the Fourth Sunday in Lent also known as Laetare Sunday ~ Laetare = meaning Rejoice ~ so called as the first words uttered for the Entrance Antiphon in the Mass for today are….

REJOICE JERUSALEM!!  Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for her, and you will find contentment at her consoling breasts.”

On this Laetare Sunday we lift the severity and simplicity of Lent for a short while.  For many centuries today has been viewed as the middle day of Lent and symbols of joy are allowed as an encouragement to the faithful on their journey through this season of penance.  These symbols include flowers on the altar, the use of the church organ and the priest wearing a lovely rose coloured vestement.  Very fetching Fr J looked too!! 😉

On top of all this today is also Jim’s birthday so, very much a day of mixed emotions and blessings and as a result I have leant heavily on my Mother Church.  I have steeped myself in her liturgy and loving arms; calling often upon that other mother we revere and love so much in the Catholic faith, Mary.  Her huge loss 2000 years ago reflects my feelings today and I find great comfort in that shared suffering.

So, not just a day to celebrate mothers per se but also a day to Rejoicethat I have made it half way through Lent without too many stumbles.  A day to draw on the comfort and solace found in my wonderful Mother Church and that most famous of mothers, Mary and finally to remember Jim with love.  I have a candle burning brightly for him and my last thoughts and prayers tonight will be of and for him.

Today’s picture is of our lovely Holy Father, Pope Benedict dressed in his Laetere Sunday vestements.

“Requiescat in Pace Jim”

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Jim…

…soon it will be the first anniversary of Jim’s death ~ 15th April. Although it’s a few weeks off I am already building up to the day and reliving last year’s painful and inevitable journey. During these weeks of February, March and April we journeyed together Mum, Jim and I [and many friends, relatives and fellow bloggers too]. Those weeks feel removed and distant even when I reread the posts from that time. The pain however is still fresh. I have a bottle of Jim’s aftershave that just occasionally I’m brave enough to smell and when I do WHAM I’m right back there, feeling his fuzzy beard on my face, his strong arms holding me tight, seeing that view out over the lake.  A year?? My God a year!!

Something unexpected that became apparent after Jim died was how many young lives he’d touched and influenced with his fatherly love during his life, despite never having had any children of his own.  Mum received lots of letters describing what a positive and caring influence he’d been both historically in his younger years, right up to the present day.

In celebration and memory of this, baring in mind the approaching anniversary, I’ve decided to mark the event by sponsoring a child through World Vision [a Christian organisation with its head office here in MK]. I’ve chosen a slightly older boy [11] from Albania that I feel others might overlook but who Jim would have taken under his wing and guided with his gentle love, gruff voice and breath sapping hugs.   A fitting tribute to such a lovely man and I think he’d have approved.  I’ve arranged payment for the 15th of every month so I have a gentle reminder of why I’m doing this each time I pay.

The photograph above is the view from Jim’s window in Willen Hospice, hence the strange reflection as it’s taken through the glass.  It has taken this long for me to be brave enough to look at it and now hey, I’m able to share it. 

Precious memories!!

Pax

Sharon xx

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The Final Chapter

bluebells at olneyAt 10 o’clock this morning Mum, Craig and I finally laid Jim’s ashes to rest at Olney Green Burial Ground.  He has a beautiful plot [for two :(] overlooking the Great Ouse river valley.  The whole site is very peaceful and tranquil and not at all like a graveyard.  We have arranged to have a simple green oak stake placed where his ashes are buried with ‘Jim Ogden’ written on it and the year of his birth and death.  The graves [whether burials or interment of ashes] are all very simple and in fact you’d struggle to see where one ends and another starts.  But that’s what the site is all about, on every plot used a tree is planted [usually around November time] with the aim that eventually the whole area will be covered in lovely woodland and carpeted in Bluebells.  You are allowed to plant meadow flowers and especially Bluebells which have become a popular choice as they will thrive once the woodland establishes itself.  Apparently they already make a grand display when they all flower in the spring.  The graves themselves are  left pretty much uncultivated with just paths mown into the long grasses so you can find your way.

Jim loved Bluebells and he and mum would drive miles just to see them growing wild in the various woodland locations around and about so I shall find him some to plant on his grave too.  We’ve chosen a Silver Birch tree [to be supported by the aforementioned engraved stake] for his plot as it’s what he used to have in his cottage garden before he and mum moved over here.  I think he would have approved.

It was my job to lower the casket into the little grave and Mum asked me to recite the Hail Mary as I did so.  I didn’t hold it together very well I have to admit but I got the words out somehow.  We all stood there with our own thoughts for a while and then we took turns in replacing the soil with the little spade provided by the site manager. 

Once we’d been and given our thanks to the manager I had to go back for one last look and to say Jim’s favourite prayer on my own, just Jim and I, you may remember from his time at Willen, it was the Our Father.

So that seems like the end of a very long and tough journey.  A chapter closed and finally somewhere to go and leave flowers and chat to Jim and share my thoughts with him when I’m sad or need to feel near to him.

The final words must be these I think….

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death.

Amen

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Happy times…

Yesterday was my daughter Millie’s year 11 prom.  An American custom I grant you but a lovely one.  Months of preparation went into the day but the young people did most of it themselves [other than footing the bill ;-)].  So once the dress, shoes, accessories, hair, nails, venue, and limosine were all in-hand we finally arrived at the special day.  I felt like I’d aged about ten years overnight but I have to admit that even I was excited by the time the day came.

It was such a special day for Millie not least because her lovely Grampy Jim put aside the money for her dress before he died.  He really wanted to see her in it but sadly that wasn’t to happen…  Anyhow below are a few photo’s of the wonderful event….enjoy!!

Millie's Prom 002

Just after she had her hair done before she got dressed!!

Millie's Prom 011

This is Millie and her prom date,  the lovely Ashwin.

Kit and Millie

Millie and her good friend Kit in the Limosine.

Millie's Prom 007

At Ash’s house just before they went to get the Limosine.

So Grampy Jim, what do you think??  Doesn’t she look just wonderful in the dress you bought her??  Certainly brought a tear to my eye that’s for sure.  I think she did you proud in that beautiful gown.  We missed you yesterday, more than usual, but I have a feeling that you were there in spirit and that you were just as proud as punch of your lovely Granddaughter.

 

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God's loveApologies for absence are in order I feel.  I’ve just not felt in the mood to blog much.  Since my last two posts about my emotional and spiritual struggles  I’ve been very reflective and have spent time thinking, praying and just being with God.  When life gets tough I tend to scale down and keep it simple which leaves more room for discernment.  It’s actually been quite refreshing to be honest.  I’ve also been very poorly again ~ all connected with my last emergency visit to A&E ~ Thursday morning at 2am found me being rushed once again by ambulance to MK General this time with a massive haemorrhage.  This is not the place to go into detail but suffice to say it was very scary both for me and for my family.  It took three hours to get the bleeding under control by which time I thought I was looking at a hysterectomy which thankfully in the end I didn’t need.  I’m left feeling very nervous though and will be back at the doctors next week.

So, Father’s Day ~ hmmmm….first one ever with no father figure in my life!!  I did wonder how the day would pan out and whether or not I’d be very sad and I am sad but I think I was kind of prepared so emotions haven’t overwhelmed me too much.  It is really not accurate to say that I have no father figure in my life because of course there is God and He is doing a wonderful job of filling that role for me.  The image at the top of the post is what I see in my mind’s eye when I think of God’s love for me.  I am enfolded in His arms and surrounded by His Spirit; that’s a wonderful place to be.  He is a tangible part of my life at the moment which I’m sure is because my need is greater than usual.  Mass has taken on a deeper meaning as well and all the chaos and intensity of the early part of this year is falling away to be replaced by a sense of purpose and calm.

I’ve recently looked into taking the Catholic Certificate of Religious Studies which is due to start in September but it’s quite alot of money and I just don’t have that right now so I shall review that option again next year.  It looks really interesting though but maybe I do have enough on my plate with Ethan starting school in September and the house move pending.  We have home educated Ethan for his pre-school years [and loved doing so] but we always said that if he ever expressed a wish to go to school then we’d make that happen.  Of late he’s been very interested in other children and school in general so we feel he’s probably ready now.  However, I am getting itchy to do something productive with a bit of ‘me’ time in sight……

which leads me to…..

….. some of you may remember me being offered a job at Milton Keynes General Hospital at the end of last year working on Maternity well, suffice to say that despite my CRB having been back for months I’ve heard absolutely nothing, zilch, nada, not a lot….  When Jim was ill I was grateful that they didn’t contact me but now, well over six months down the line, I’ve absolutely no idea what they’re playing at.  I suspect that I’ve been lost in the admin. pile or that they’ve run out of funding and are hoping that I just don’t notice their failure to give me a starting date.  My initial contact with their HR department was dodgy to say the least, I received some forms twice and others not at all which didn’t fill me with confidence.  All very strange!!!  I won’t be contacting them as I’ve lost the will to live with it now, the moment has passed I think!!

The house move still seems to be going ahead albeit very slowly but as we don’t want to move until the summer holidays then we’re in no rush….yet lol.  Remind me I said that when September is looming large and we’re still here.

Ethan and Si have started coming to Mass with me every other week which is lovely.  It’s mostly for Ethan’s benefit but how wonderful of Si to support me in that and to bring Ethan so that I can still participate fully in worship while we share the job of entertaining Ethan.  The date has been set for Ethan’s baptism into the Catholic faith which is most exciting and Deacon J is going to be taking the service which, as you can imagine, I’m very happy about.

I went with my friend Liz to hear  Eileen Shaughnessy from Cockfosters Healing Ministery speak a couple of weekends ago.  It was really good and very inspiring.  After the main talk the ladies came round to lay on hands and pray over us individually.  I accepted the offer not expecting to feel much [I’m always quite reserved at events like this] but found my whole body tingling for the duration of the prayer in a most alarming way and felt quite tearful afterwards.  The Ministery must have a relationship with the Vita et Pax Convent also in Cockfosters [the only other Olivetan Convent in the UK  ~ if I’ve understood that right ~ and sister convent to Priory of Our Lady of Peace at Turvey] because there was mention of them and also of Turvey ~ small world.

Okay ~ update finished and I’m off to bed as it’s nearly 11pm.  I always end up blogging at unearthly hours probably because the house is quiet and I’ve got space to think.

Pax et bonum xx

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One month on…..

cryingIt is now just over a month since Jim died so I thought [wrongly as it turned out] that on the one month anniversary [15th] I would write something more positive about his life rather than be forever focussing on his death.  Sadly BT had other ideas as we developed a fault on the line that lasted 48 hours and left me NETless [ouch!].  Then I was suddenly rushed into hospital very early on Saturday [16th] morning ‘blues and twos’ style when a long standing pain in my tummy suddenly took on a life of its own and became unbearable.  I’d had it in a low key state for about ten days [and ignored it to be honest] but Friday afternoon saw a distinct change and by Saturday morning I was incoherent.  Have to say this was a first for me and the whole 999 thing is not to be recommended on the ‘scary scale’.  Scared my poor mother to death!!  Suffice to say though that I was cared for extremely well by paramedics and hospital staff alike.  All a bit too close to Jim being in Willen for my comfort though and I left hospital against their advice later that same day.  Oh and no one is sure as to the exact cause but as my white cell count was sky high an infection is suspected so I rattle with the amount of antibiotics and analgesics that I’m taking.

So, here we are three days late with this so called positive post.  I was all up for it a week ago but now the time is here well…..I’m struggling to find the words really.  Grief is a strange thing.  One minute you think “yep, I’m doing really well, definitely moving forward with this” and then zapp!!  Before you know it you’re back where you were if not worse than before.  The climb back up does seem to be getting easier though if I’m honest.

I’m at the angry stage I think.  I’m angry with anyone and everyone.  It’s normal I’m told.  Oh really??  Doesn’t feel normal cos that’s so not who I am usually but I do feel huge irritation with people at the slightest thing.  Mrs Snippy has come to stay and it had better be a short visit.

It’s rare I use this blog to vent because I know it’s public and I don’t want people visiting here and reading depressing or angry stuff all the time.  However this is real life I suppose and, despite the fact that I’m usually a very compliant and gentle soul, as Simon will tell you “she’s fiesty when she’s roused”. 😉

So, are there good things about being one month into bereavement??  Oh yes, despite my anger [which I suspect is healthy] there really is.  There are more fairly good days than really bad ones.  I can still remember Jim’s lovely smile, I can still hear his voice and  feel his beard against my face, all those things that are precious to my mind.  I can feel him with me in the strangest of places such as the garage last night when I was out there alone feeding the guinea pigs ~ suddenly he was there.  A couple of nights after he died I was sitting up reading in bed, fighting the desire to sleep, when I felt a firm kiss on my face.  I could even feel the damp spot the kiss left.  I opened my eyes expecting to see Simon disarming me of my glasses and book but there was no one there.  You make up your own mind about that one. 

I’m at the ‘feeling guilty if I haven’t thought about him for a whole day’ stage.  I used to wonder what all that was about when I heard other people saying it.  I apologise unreservedly for even wondering because now I know……   I was driving home today when the song that was playing as I drove away from Willen on the day Jim died came on the radio ~ now that’s a zapp if ever there was one. 

Jim left me his Freemasons pin which I wore to his funeral with the greatest of pride and it will be my treasured possesion for the rest of my life. 

So, maybe not such a positive ‘one month on’ post but a real post.  One which shows, I hope, that I am moving slowly in the right direction.  I’ve studied the various stages of grief and I’ve a long way to go [I’m on number two of six] but hey, Mum and I [and God] are travelling this road together and we help each other along.  I’m sure that if I hadn’t been so poorly this past weekend then this might have been a more uplifting read but illness and pain are not conducive to ‘happy talk’ nor the best of times to be examining one’s emotions.

Stay with me guys.

With love to all and thanks be to God for all those precious memories that take the place of the real thing and for this blog on which I can record them all.                                   

Oh here is the music that I heard driving home the day Jim died.  Possibly not the song you were expecting but the words are strangely appropriate in places and imagine it up full volume, tears falling, driving like an idiot and oh, I do know how I feel about him now…..tunes like this just stick in your head don’t they??  [I’m having trouble with this link guys ~ I will try to keep it open]

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