My Lovely Diesel

Someone said that to me on Facebook – “over the rainbow bridge” – and it is a lovely phrase; all my FB friends have been lovely and said kind things about Diesel and how I feel about having to let him go.
As you might have guessed, he was weighed on Monday last week, 21st March and, despite having eaten for England all through the previous week, he had not put on a single ounce. He was exactly the same as the Monday before. The vet looked back at his record and said that he was half the weight that he was this time last year.
So, we had to make the decision. I was not brave about it but knew that it had to be done. The worst part was that the vet said we could bring him home for another day or so to say goodbye properly. And I so wanted to, just to have him with me for a bit longer. But he was truly not well; he’d gone into the carry box without a fight, and didn’t miaow once on the trip to the vet, and that was a first for both. He just sat there hunched on the scales without trying to leap back into the carry box; another first. It was time, and it would have been selfish of me to have taken him home and then made him come back again. Besides which I’d had such a terrible week knowing that this would be the result I didn’t feel I could get through another day and night knowing that we had signed his death warrant (R did that for me because I couldn’t).
Sunday was a nightmare. R’s Mum came for the day, as is usual on Sundays now. It was our 23rd wedding anniversary, but R and I didn’t feel like celebrating. Oh, and the night before my friend’s husband had died – he had been given months to live, but died within three weeks of his diagnosis of liver cancer and just over a week after coming home. We made the day as normal as possible, mainly for K’s sake. I didn’t want to talk to anybody about Diesel having to go to the vet. I slept downstairs on the sofa on Sunday night so that he wasn’t alone. I clung on to the hope that he’d put weight on, and could have his thyroid tumour removed, just to get me through the week and that last night.
Some months ago I’d asked K if, when the vet decided that it was kindest to help our cats end their lives instead of suffering, she wanted to know about it or be there. She said that she wouldn’t want to know about it until afterwards, so we didn’t tell her about it in advance. In hindsight I should maybe have warned her, but on Monday morning we took him along, still hoping. During the previous week he’d had all his pills and all his favourite food, so had had every possible chance. But it was not to be.
When, many years ago, we’d taken MIL’s elderly cat Squiggles to be put to sleep, the vet shaved her front paw, injected her and she cried, and stayed standing on the table, wobbling on her thin legs. I asked if I could pick her up and he said yes; I cuddled her, stroked and talked to her and R stroked her too. I’d been ok up until the point where R said “goodbye, you’ve been a good friend”. Squiggles then went to sleep, the vet checked her heart and said she’d gone. Apart from the initial crying, which broke my heart and I never forgot, as the needle went in, it was all very peaceful and we had several seconds to say goodbye gently.
So that’s what I expected to happen this time. But it didn’t. The vet asked if we wanted to stay with Diesel and we said yes. She said that she’d need another nurse to help with the injection. She went out, and I did get to cuddle Diesel then, at least. She came back with two nurses. I thought one might be new and just going to observe, but they both held him onto the table (well, the woolly mat I’d taken) while the vet clipped his fur and prepared the injection. As she injected him he cried, and I stepped forward to pick him up but four hands were holding him down, then the vet held him too. I got there just as a nurse turned her head and nodded at me, and as I went to stroke him his head nodded into her hand.
The two nurses then stood back as the vet moved in with the stethoscope as I stroked his head; I said “has he gone?” and she said “yes, I’ll leave you with him for a while” and they all went.
We stayed with him for a while stroking and talking to him, and I closed his eyes, then came away.
I am of course upset that he’s gone. But what makes it worse is two things – one is that I let him down; I should have realised what was going on and asked to hold him during the procedure. I wanted him to know that I was cuddling him while he went to sleep. I wanted him to hear my heartbeat and our voices at the end; feel our hands on him, not those of strangers, one of which had hurt him after I’d handed him over to them. I had him close, and gave him to them. Why did I do that? I betrayed him and his trust. I was there but not close enough. I wanted his head to loll into MY hand as he breathed his last, not anyone else’s.
I know he knew that we were in the room, but I hate that I’d handed him over instead of keeping him in my arms – I thought I’d get him back, but he had literally gone as the needle came back out of his leg, and I didn’t get the chance to pick him up again.
So not only was he cheated, I feel cheated, too. The only comfort is that it was quick, and he was on his mat that I’d knitted for him when he was new to us – he used to sit on it on the back of the conservatory sofa to look out of the window – and I’d scattered some of his favourite catnip on it. But not much consolation, really. I’m left wishing that we’d brought him home and taken him back yesterday, because then we might have seen a different vet and it would have been different.
But the end result would of course have been the same.
I am lucky that R has been really supportive of my feelings since then and has been really good, letting me talk about it. We .told K when we got home, and her reaction was angry first, then very sad, then philosophical.

This is Diesel (on the left) and Bubbles having their first meal with us, on 14th April 2005, when we brought them home from the rescue centre – the staff at the centre gave them each a green plastic ball to bring with them, one of which you can see in the picture:
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And I took this one just before we took Diesel to the vet on Monday, just before Katy came to stroke him on the head before going to school, not knowing that it would be for the last time:
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They’d eaten side by side like this for almost 12 years.

Everything seems so trivial now. I still have a broken dishwasher in place of an indoor freezer after 6 years of trying to get a new one to fit into the space. (The kitchen was originally built around small appliances). Do I care? No. The allotment needs doing and the back lawn needs mowing, the carpet needs a professional clean and the windows need cleaning.

I don’t care about any of it. I’ve gone into a bit of a decline, and one minute I’m all bright and cheerful with Katy playing with her Ever After High dolls and the next I’m standing outside with tears running down my face because the sun is shining and Diesel ought to be sleeping in it, and never will be again. And I’m so cold all the time. I’m wearing a thermal vest, jumper and two cardigans and the heating’s on, and I just want to huddle under a blanket.

Bubbles is searching the house and scratching at cupboards and closed doors looking for him, and hardly leaves our sides now unless it’s to sleep on the bed in the place where he used to sleep on my legs.

Everywhere I go in the house there’s a memory of him there, and I look at the back lawn and remember him running across it, tail up and miaowing because I’m holding the door open for him and he doesn’t have to come through the catflap.

I suppose that what I feel now is overwhelming sadness coupled with guilt. Did we make the right decision but too soon? Should I have brought Diesel home and tried for another week? He hadn’t gained weight, that’s true, but at least he hadn’t lost any more. Maybe another week of giving him his favourite food would have started him on the upward track again. I’d been told that his liver and kidneys were in great condition only a couple of weeks before. Should we have taken that into account?

I was fairly sure that I was taking him to his doom and although it was R who did the signing and paying, I was the one who picked him up off the sofa in the conservatory where he was happily asleep and put him in the carrying box. I was the one who took that last photo knowing, pretty much, that he and Bubbles would never be side by side again on this earth, and she’d never see him again. The other day we had lovely warm sunshine, and Bubbles found a patch of sunlight to sleep in. He should have been there too.

I shan’t keep on here; you don’t want to suffer all this angst with me! But so much reminds me of him. When we first had him he attached himself to me and wanted to be carried everywhere. Neither cat would sit on our laps for about two years; we think that they’d not had much reaason to trust humans, but we’d only had them a few weeks when Diesel started asking me to pick him up and would sit happily on my left shoulder while I held him with one hand and we walked about (just like Katy did, when she was born 🙂 ). I was the one he came to when he was hurt; I only had to sit down anywhere and he’d jump up on my lap. It was my bed he’d come to in the night and settle himself on my legs, and me he’d wake up in the morning asking for food by batting me round the face with his paws. If anyone brought me flowers he was ecstatic if there was a fern in it, and would jump all over the work surface while I was cutting them to put into a vase.

When I worked in the garden he and Bubbles would venture out and sit on the grass, companionably close. This year I’ll be doing the same things but he won’t be there. It’s just so unfair for him; I deprived him of his life, in what seemed to be a cruel way (because he cried in pain and I wasn’t holding him to give him comfort), and I wish I had given him another week now, but I didn’t and now I can’t.

I promise to talk about my ‘normal’ day to day inanities again soon, but one day, when I can bear to look at them again, I shall tell you some of the things that Katy wrote when we broke the news to her last Monday after school. She was so upset – angry, first – that she couldn’t speak, and filled four sides of A4 paper with questions in big scrawl and tiny bunched-up writing. Some of those broke my heart all over again.

But whatever doubts I had about doing the right thing, it’s done and can’t be undone. I know that we’ll probably have to face the same with Bubbles before much longer (that’s another thing – because she’s older I assumed that she’d go first and I’ve been semi-prepared for that for the last couple of years, but Diesel was so fit and active that I expected to have him for at least three or four years more).

As R said when his Dad died, “now we must take care of the living”, and I suppose that’s what keeps any of us going after someone we love dies. I must somehow break out of this tearful fog and follow that advice. I just don’t know how.

 

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Santa’s Grotto

Some photos of our recent trip to see Santa:

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So Strange

It’s so strange, not having Mum or Dad in my life now. I notice it most when I come home from work and would usually ring straight away. I miss them both so much.

I know that life goes on, but for me it feels as though part of my life has stopped.

They would have both been so pleased to know that Katy is loving her swimming lessons with the school! I’ve taken her myself before now and we’ve splashed about in the lagoon pools and had fun, but now she’s learning properly and I’m so very proud of her, and I know that Mum and Dad would have been, too. I never learned to swim, following my experiences with my own school ‘swimming lessons’ – which consisted of having one’s head pushed under the water with the long pole with the metal S on the end that they used to open the high windows … shudder! I’m glad that they don’t do that these days.

I notice that my WordPress blog has a different look about it – somehow it’s much clearer and easier to use. I might come back more often if it stays in this format. For now this is just a quick entry as I have some Archaeology Group work to catch up on.

Thank you for continuing to read my posts.

x

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My Mum has Gone

This is going to be such a hard entry to write, and I don’t know quite how or where to start. Those of you who know me on Facebook already know that my lovely Mum died suddenly a couple of weeks ago.
I’d spent Thursday morning with her, and we talked about me giving up work in June and how much I was looking forward to having more time to spend with her for days out and helping in the garden. We also spoke about her moving out of that cold damp isolated house into a council bungalow, on a bus route so the two of us could use our bus passes and travel into town now and again. She also said that she was considering having a couple of days away somewhere, as she hadn’t had a holiday for many years. It was a lovely morning, and one to remember.

I rang her on Friday night as usual, and on Saturday morning as usual. On Sunday I phoned again, just after 11am as that’s when she normally sits down with a cup of coffee. It was a lovely day so when the phone went to answerphone I left a message assuming that my brother and his wife had swooped round and taken her off out somewhere, as they have done a couple of times before.

R’s Mum came round for lunch as usual and I was involved with all the usual cooking stuff.
At the same time, on FB I saw that a very dear friend, and R’s Mum’s neighbour, had posted an unbelievably sad status that her 26-year-old daughter was very ill and that nothing could save her. I was horrified and shed some heartbroken tears for her in the quiet of the kitchen. She’d only had a baby last year and already had a 7-year-old daughter. I told R but not his Mum as she was having a good day, but after lunch I had the message that the young girl had died of a massive stroke. I knew that R’s Mum would have to know because the family is well-known and loved in the street and everyone would be rallying round; R’s Mum especially being a neighbour I knew that the family would want her to know.

I broke the news as gently as I could and we both cried for the loss of such a young girl, taken too soon.

I rang my Mum again; this was about 4pm. Still answerphone. I then texted my brother : Is Mum with you today? Answer : No. We tried testing the line but it was fine.
We all bundled into the car and drove to Mum’s. The upstairs and downstairs curtains were closed. I rang the doorbell, banged on the door, shouted through the letterbox. No response. It’s happened, I thought, she’s had a heart attack in her sleep. I was strangely calm as I dialled 999 and asked for a Policeman to come and break the door down. My brother and his wife arrived just as the Policeman did. R took his Mum home and K to my best friend, her godmother.
The officer went upstairs followed by brother and me and Mum was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling but still alive. The bedroom phone was just out of reach. The ambulance arrived, got her into a carrying chair, downstairs, outside and across the mud and out through the park gate into the ambulance. I went with her, R came back and followed the ambulance with brother D and his wife J.
She’d had a stroke – we don’t know whether it had been the night before as she tried to go to bed, or that morning while she tried to get up. She seemed to have taken a couple of paracetemol.
The hospital were not impressed that she wasn’t already on warfarin as apparently she had undiagnosed atrial fibrillation which had caused a blood clot to detach from her heart and go to her brain. All her right side was affected as well as her speech.
They were also not impressed that her doctor had given her antibiotics for a chest infection and told her to come back in a month if she didn’t feel any better, because she was suffering from pneumonia. They showed us the scans. Her poor lungs were almost completely fogged and the top left hand side of her brain contained a huge clot. I stayed with her all night, and we managed to communicate to some extent. I had somehow had the presence of mind to take her favourite photo of Dad with me from the dresser, and every so often I gave it to her to hold. Her face lit up through the oxygen mask whenever she did so. She slept now and then; I didn’t sleep at all.
The next day the doctor told us of the proposed treatment, rehabilitation, therapy etc to give her some degree of mobility, but said that she would probably not go home and would need some warden assisted type of accommodation. We were heartened by that, and went home that night.
The phone rang at 6.20am the next morning. Mum’s breathing had worsened and the doctor said that the only thing left to do was give her the mask that would force air into her lungs and back out again. I said that she wouldn’t want that and he said that he wasn’t asking my permission, he wasn’t going to do it because in her case it would be cruel and wouldn’t prolong her life by very much. He said that he’d take the oxygen mask off (she’d been trying to take it off herself all night and day) and would give her something to relax her. I guessed that it would be morphine but didn’t ask. I thanked him. He said that she had about a couple of hours left.
I rang my brother, told R, left him with sleeping K, ordered a taxi, sprayed myself with lavender because she loves the smell, grabbed a photo of K and arrived at the hospital. D and J had got there first because they live nearby. They met me with the sad news that she had died ten minutes after the doctor had taken the oxygen mask off and before the morphine could be administered.

My lovely Mum has gone, for ever.

We had her funeral this Monday, and now I have to get used to the idea that I’ll never see her again. I just have to keep reminding myself that I was lucky to have had her in my life for so long.

Live life, everyone. xx

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Half Term – and Writing

We’re having a lovely half term! Those of you who follow me on Facebook will have seen our photos of fossil hunting the other day, and today we went to the Kent Festival of Science. K and R had a great time making little generators to power light bulbs (while I watched in suitable amazement!) and we saw several talks and did some other activities. All great fun! K’s godmother and my best friend are coming round tomorrow and we’re going to a local church to see the war memorial as part of K’s homework. Her class and another have been invited to take part in the commemoration this year on Remembrance Sunday.

I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where the aim is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. A novelist friend of mine has been encouraging me to do this for a few years now and this year I have finally said yes I’ll do it – though I have to say, with some degree of trepidation!

How I’m ever going to manage it I know not. However I do have an idea, so will go with that. And it should be fun – there’s a write-in on Monday 3rd in a local coffee shop and I’ve booked the day off work as annual leave and will be going along to meet some of my local fellow Nano-ers.

I had a little practice last week when (again at my friend’s suggestion) I took part in Novel in a Day, something I’d never heard of before. You register on the site and then you’re given a brief and some characters and you have to write a chapter of 1,500 words minimum based around what you’re given, without knowing everything of what came before, apart from what the organisers tell you. It was great fun I have to say and I really enjoyed it. There were 48 of us across the world, so for the first time they split us into two groups and allocated the same chapters to two sets of people, so there are now two books online somewhere with the same story but written in two different ways. You’re given the brief at midnight and have to return the chapter by 8pm where it’s all put together and produced before midnight the same day.

Quite exciting!

I’ll let you know how I’m doing when I can, or at the end of November.

As well as that, I’m giving a talk to our archaeological group at the November meeting, so am preparing that too. It’s on some of our local street names and how they are so named. It’s been really interesting researching that; there’s a lot more still to find out but I’m sharing the slot with other speakers so am keeping it short-ish.

Busy little me! Hope that you’re all well.

xx

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Catching Up

I don’t know where the time goes! This is the last school holiday now before the last part of the term leading up to the summer break – and then Katy will be leaving Year 1. She will be six years old at 3.10pm on 3rd June. Six!! She has grown from a lovely, chuckly baby into a kind, caring girl, full of fun and laughter and an occasional bit of mischief! We love her to bits.

She loves drawing with a passion, and in my next post I’ll scan in one of her drawings so that you can see it. She’s going to a friend’s birthday party tomorrow – a dancing party, which is appropriate because she’s joined two after-school clubs this year. One is dancing and the other is athletics, which she also loves. She was the only one attending that a couple of weeks ago so they included her in the rugby class for older children and she scored two trys! (I think that’s how you spell the rugby ones but I stand corrected if not). She enjoyed running and dodging past the bigger children, and has been practising with us at home.

Last Christmas she asked whether she could adopt a snow leopard, so we did that through the David Shepherd Foundation, and she’s very proud of that. For her birthday she’s asked to adopt a polar bear, and he and his certificate, photo and magazine etc are on their way to us now. She was going to invite half a dozen friends to have a party at home this year (following last year’s epic 28-children fun at Polar Adventure in the leisure centre!) but when she started her list and reached 18 she said that she loved everybody in her class and couldn’t leave anyone out. So we’re having the party at a place called Kikiland, where she will become Queen. She’, s been to a party there before and it’s very well run, with lots of fun for the children and a coffee shop for the parents who wish to stay.

There are also separate areas in the room in case any children would prefer to do quiet activities such as drawing or reading or having their faces painted.

And I think that the most popular part will be the chocolate volcano, conjured up by the big Kikibird. So, a great time to look forward to! Then on her birthday itself her lovely cousins will be able to join us, and Nanny P and Nanny M for a birthday tea after school.

As for the rest of us, R is still involved with the archaeology group, as am I, and we still have our allotment – just about; it’s been neglected this winter/spring but we’re working hard on it now and it’s looking a lot better and planted up with some veg and a huge patch of strawberries. Strawberries and cream, and then strawberry jam making, here we come!

I’m still at work but part-time, and have applied for a job share at a higher grade – it will be less hours but longer days, so that means that I can have an extra day off each fortnight. Hopefully I’ll break even financially as well, so it will be good all round! I haven’t gone back to editing any of my short stories which have been languishing on the computer for months now; I just don’t have enough time to do them justice.

I’ve been on the school’s Parents and Friends’ Association since Katy started in Reception, and on Thursday I was there helping with their Guide Dog day – the children walked/ran round the field to raise money, hopefully enough for the school to adopt its own Guide Dog. Katy raised £35 thanks to family and neighbours. Then in the morning I helped three classes with activities set up by the Guide Dog Association, who’d brought along blindfolds white sticks and ten things for the children to try. In the morning I was on the ‘pour water into a glass’ table, first without the sensors and then with (nicely messy!) and in the afternoon Richard took over that one and I had the ‘make a jam sandwich’ with blindfolds on – even more messy! I didn’t go home after that because we ran a film night, so I was at the school from 9 until 5, just walking home for lunch and back again. Afterwards I walked about half a mile to vote and then back home. My feet were singing a happy tune!

It was a great day! And I can see just how hard teachers work. They have my utmost respect.

xx

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A Bit of a Mixture

Just a quick post to say that Katy is enjoying her two after-school clubs; athletics one day and dancing on another.

I’ll get the sad news over with here – my lovely Dad died in October; quite suddenly and unexpectedly. There’s so much I could say but don’t know where to start and end, so will just say that I couldn’t have wished for a better Dad, and miss him very much.

It looks as though my part-time contract at work is going to be renewed, which is good news – but has the downside that I have gracefully withdrawn from volunteering at our local SureStart Centre as their gardener. We’ve been there doing the planting, etc. with the children for the last three years, but now our CRB check needs renewal and as it will cost them £60 for each of us and they had some new volunteers who could give them more hours a week than I could, now that I’m back at work, it seems only fair to let someone else have a go. It was with some sadness that I came out of the gate on that final day, though, having planted the winter-flowering pansies in the planters at the front of the building and tidying up the herbs. I took Katy there to the clinic for her weighing sessions from when she was just a week old until the clinic moved to another school nearby; she had three hours a week in the nursery when she was two and then her pre-school year was there too. All the staff are lovely and I shall miss them – though I’m sure they’ll be happy to see K at their summer fair.

Her main passion at the moment is drawing and writing books. She said that when she grows up she would either like to be an art teacher or a Disney animator … watch this space!

 

 

 

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