Saturday, August 16, 2014

Home Alone Without Even A Cat For Company


I spent last night on my own and it was very strange. There wasn't even a cat to keep me company for, like most cats, they probably have second homes.

No carers coming in, no Pearlie to see to, no Bert or the dogs. The house is so quiet.

I watched a little TV last night. This morning there was nothing on the table but an empty wine glass and a remote control. No dirty ashtray, cigarette papers, tobacco shreds, spilled coffee, sheet music or clarinets. For Bert is a very throughother boy.

The cats came home this morning. Holly went straight upstairs and burrowed under my duvet for a day long catnap. Fred went straight to the cupboard where the dry cat food is kept and buried his head in the bag. He mustn't get fed at his other home.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hen Funeral

Sometimes the best pictures happen when you haven't got a camera. I was walking back from the polytunnel today with a handful of salad and a couple of peaches when I saw a curious procession. Bert led the way carrying a big spade. Behind him walked a very solemn Evie. Then came Ben, carrying a box containing a dead chicken whose head and neck (recently wrung) hung over the edge of the box. Lastly came Martha carrying a small pink spade and a bunch of flowers.

They were having a funeral for the hen while I prepared lunch.

Afterwards Martha took me to see the grave. Evie was reluctant to go as she thought it was 'too sad.' This time I brought a camera.


And if things continue in this vein I may have to change the name Nelly's Garden to The Blog of Death.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Death Blog


Death Blog

Wasn't this blog once a light-hearted affair? Did I not write of all the amusing things that happened in my life? Do amusing things not happen any more or, if they do, do I barely notice them as I sit here reminiscing about funerals and pondering death?

I dreamed about Pearlie again last night. She stirred from her death bed and I fled her hospital room. Not like real life then for she died at home. I left her scattered with sweets and chocolate. Not like real life for it was me, not Pearlie, who had the extreme sweet tooth.

It's early morning when I wake. Almost the first thought to enter my head. She is gone. Again the familiar feeling of loss, of absence.

I won't pretend. I looked forward to her not being here. Looked ahead to a time when our chief responsibilities would be to each other, no old wifey sucking at our time and our energies with her endless small wants and constant disappointments. And now it is here and it is not what I thought. I never expected to feel the loss so keenly. Three years a full-time carer and now, what now?

A Lighter Look At The Situation

Last Thursday Miss Martha requested we visit her grave. I'd mentioned before that I'd take her some day. As we parked outside Martha began to advise Evie with all the solemnity that a nearly-five can offer.

Now Evie, this is not for fun. We are not going in here to play. We have to be serious for we are going in to visit Pearlie in her grave, not to play!

Evie looked suitably sad and said,

But I want to visit her in her room!

Evie feeling the loss too.

Previously Martha had been asking lots of questions about the burial process and I was answering as best I could as one question led in to another. I think one thing that struck her was that people get buried in perfectly good garments. She might have thought that a shame and a waste for Martha likes clothes. What happened to the clothes led to what happened to bodies and as we entered the gates she asked,

Will she still have her hair?

We visited the grave and some others as well for Martha likes graveyards. Many questions were asked and answered and then, and I'm not sorry to report it, their solemnity lifted and they did play.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Raspberries and Kisses

I was in the house chatting to Hannah and Evie and heard distant screaming. It did not sound like 'I'm in trouble' screaming, instead it sounded like 'enraged and exasperated' screaming. It was Martha.

Just in case it was 'I'm in trouble' screaming I went out, like a good granny, to investigate.

Where are you Martha?
I'm in the green field.

Most fields are green but I knew the one she meant.

There she was, standing there with a loaded ball thrower  and two expectant dogs sitting far too close and not giving her a chance to give a good throw. It must have been an exasperated scream then.

I called the dogs back and Martha gave it her best shot. The ball landed four feet from where she stood and Jess was the victor.

So, as this wasn't working out I suggested we go pick raspberries.

The girls ate their fill and I gathered some for the freezer. We spent an enjoyable half hour picking, chatting and eating then headed for the house to get the berries frozen. The quickest way from the fruit patch to the house is a step down to the yard. It's really an upturned Belfast sink (broken) propped up with a breeze block. Rough and rustic. Last year, when I had the knee injury, I found it a difficult step but this year - no problem. I was feeling pleased about that as I stepped down. Pleased for about a split second. For - as I stepped down my foot slipped and I fell hitting the small of my back on the edge of the sink. There is a moment, after a fall, when the mind processes the damage done. The most annoying thing that had happened was that my left thumb nail was bleeding. My elbows were grazed and there was a tiny cut on my right forearm. My lower back was bruised. Grandchildren and child came running. I was petted and kissed better by the little ones.

Lucky, lucky me. I fell heavily on a step at a stone wall and the worst thing to happen was a sore thumb. Mind you, as I write this, I feel my lower back a bit achey. I'm off for a soak in a hot bath with a gin and tonic and a couple of paracetamol. I think those Martha and Evie kisses are starting to wear off.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Living In The Past

On Friday, Pearlie's Favourite Niece and myself went through her personal bits and pieces, the last bit of sorting out that ever we'll do.

It was a well-known fact that my mother-in-law was never far from a biro pen which item she always called a pencil. Her pen was grasped in her hand even as she lay dying and Bert made sure there was a pen and a puzzle book in her coffin (casket) so that she could while away the time as she awaited St Peter opening the Pearly Gates. When she wasn't completing puzzles she filled note books and it was my hope that these would be full of her memoirs.

Mostly they were not. Instead she used them to write lists, make anagrams and research the history of the British Royal Family. She was also obsessed with the life of Winston Churchill and David Livingstone.

And, much to my surprise, she took a great interest in the life and times of the Spice Girls, Katie Price and Ant and Dec.

There was a list of wine making recipes that she had carefully copied from God knows where. But the real treasure was the bits and pieces from her own family's genealogy. I saved all these writings and used them to fill in the gaps in Bert's family tree. Pearlie and I had more in common than you'd think.


  • Lists
  • Anagrams
  • Puzzles
  • Family Trees
  • Wine Making Recipes
  • Collecting Photographs


If only she'd been as interested in horticulture as Bert and I we'd have been like twins.

The little bit she did write that was personal was a delight. There were intriguing snippets of family scandal. More puzzles for me to work out and she'd make a comment on a family wedding, noting that it had poured with rain that day and then adding, 'Serve them right for not inviting us. Ha ha!' I wish she'd written more. I'm certain that had she ever got her head around the internet she'd have been a blogger too.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Birthday Memories, July 2014

Matty would have been 88 years old today. I'd always thought she'd live to her nineties for there is a saying around here,

a creaking gate hangs longest.

She had a great concern for her health and was always worrying about something. The odd thing was, when she did become seriously ill she barely complained at all.

It's a strange one today. I always think about Mum on her birthday but today I am also thinking about Pearlie who died eight days ago at the age of 88.

During the lead up to the funeral a great many things were, as we say in Ireland,

put on the long finger. 

These included the vegetable garden, the bees and, of course the laundry. After the funeral I washed all of Pearlie's things with a view to recycling most of them and today was the first day in many years that I put on a wash that included nothing of hers. It was strange and, to be honest, a bit of a relief.

I mentioned that the bees and the garden were neglected. On the day of Pearlie's funeral there was a swarm of honey bees hanging from an apple tree. No one had time to deal with it and they flew away. During the wake the birds finished off the currants but that did not matter too much as I already had pounds and pounds stashed away in the freezer. The vegetables in the polytunnel were unharvested and it all turned into a jungle. I just about managed to keep on top of the watering which was just as well as we had a heatwave.

So here we are - remembering Matty which is poignant and sweet, and missing Pearlie Blue which is strange and new.


A photograph of Matty and Pearlie taken nine years ago when they were both fit and well. 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Again

This time last week I was preparing for my all night vigil with Pearlie.

Since then we have had a three day wake and a funeral and three days adjusting to life without her. We both find ourselves thinking at odd times that we'd need to look in on her, see if she wants a cup of tea, her hot water bottle refilled, some coal on the fire. These thoughts might last a split second then we remember, no old girl looking for drinks, medicine, fire, anything.

Bert is doing OK.

Miss Martha thinks we should get another old woman and call her Pearlie. I'm pleased about that because I believe it means that she enjoyed having an old girl about the place. Or maybe it was just the toffees.

I miss the toffees too.