Sometimes life is hard….

Perhaps the hardest thing this year has been the death of my Father in Law aka Dad on March 31st.  To say it was fast is an understatement really.  He was ill very late December (after Christmas) and in January with pneumonia and an elevated heart rate.  During the X ray of his lungs there was some shadowing that could be pneumonia or something more.  In early Feb after tests and waiting, we got the diagnosis of stage 4, inoperable lung cancer.  By this stage we could all see dad was ill, he was losing weight looking frail, coughing.  37 days later he died.

He died at home. There were moments where it was unbelievable hard and so much of that fell to mom.  She was so desperate for the boys (my sons) not to see him ill, to keep memories of him as he was.  She didn’t want me to be taken away for what they needed, she was insistent that I keep doing things with them….educating (we home educate so that’s my kind of job).  So we visited once a week and my hubby did the same. Maybe I should have argued, or ignored.  I feel I should have helped more but there is nothing I can change now.

In what I now know was the last few days I was able to get over more, the boys are independent and my eldest is more than capable of holding the fort, seeing everyone fed and knows what to do in an emergency and this time when I asked mom said yes.

Dad’s tutor spread rapidly to his brain, he was in pain and it took time for that to get managed well enough.  By the time he wasn’t in pain,  he was struggling to find words, to communicate and he was upset and it was hard.  He wasn’t eating, he was tiny and felt like skin and bones.  I am so grateful that I could help.  That I was able to calm him down, talk to him, help with getting him up and down, move furniture round to get the hospital bed and commode in the living room.  Mom said I helped, it felt a tiny drip, but she said it helped her and him a lot.  I couldn’t be with him at the very end, I was at home with the kids and my husband and his brother and mom were there but I am glad I kept my promise (and mom’s) that no-one would take him away and that he would die at home.  One last thing we could do for him, even when he couldn’t speak or really move or do anything for himself.

Dad was an active man, with a work ethic that my middle son seems to have inherited.  He was up and to work, with a couple of hours at the allotment before and after work to help put food on the table.  When he retired, he was laying slabs, putting up fences, fixing doors and doing all sorts of DIY for people around and about his neighbourhood.  He was always outside, never still, amazing with cars and DIY -oh and jigsaws!  Addicted to Farm story (he’d done all of it) and always ready to help.  Maybe it was better fast, because he didn’t feel like he was living when he was sleeping and just inside and his verve had gone-before the diagnosis and just after he said as much to me.

I wish it was different, I wish he’d had longer and he’d been more prepared and less scared.  What I realised was that no one ever talked to me about death; that people wanted to shelter the children but actually information, gentle information, was needed. They needed to prepare, to get their heads around it all as well as they could to recognise what was coming as much as we, the ‘grown ups’ did.  That this was new and uncharted, like parenthood…..it would be great if it came with a manual or if there were classes that you’d done at school.

The last time the boys saw dad was  difficult.  He became agitated as we walked in, it took a while to calm him and I was focused on that whilst my hubby talked to the boys and helped them.  My youngest asked Dad if he wanted a hug, it was just the right thing, dad was calm enough and said yes, but don’t hurt me…don’t squeeze too tight.  My littlest held him and it was the most loving moment.  A moment of such connection.  I will never forget it.

I stayed that day.  The next day my hubby went over.  That was the day he died.

He taught me a lot in those last few weeks and days,  a lot.  I did things with calm and strength I never knew I would or could.  I spoke from my heart words that I didn’t know I had.

I created a piece of art work and a poem afterwards-I was resistant to it I didn’t feel like painting or writing but I sat at my desk and knew if I didn’t I’d be making this harder than it had to be.  Because creating is how I process and work out what I think and what is and isn’t and how it all makes sense or doesn’t.  Creating is how I deal with life and death is a part of life.

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I didn’t understand 

before you showed me

before you called me

asked me

before you said

“I don’t know where I am.”

How deep my compassion for you ran

How rooted my need to help was

I didn’t know I had the words

I didn’t know I had the strength

to hold you 

to talk 

to dig into the meaning of

“I don’t know what I’m doing.”

I hadn’t a clue what it was to be powerless

until you showed me

“Don’t let them take me away.”

my heart fractured

I promised

Never

I had no idea how profoundly you would touch me

Until you said, “Daughter help me.”

Nor how grateful I would be

that I could 

help

or how lost I would feel knowing 

that you were going

“I’m dying.” you said

I told no lies and I agreed, but not now

because right now we’re talking

“I won’t be here tomorrow.”

I’m glad I said,  if thats true, I’m glad we have today

I didn’t realise that I had such a space

I could hold for you

and for me

for all of us

“I don’t know what I want.” you said

“I.Don’t.Know.”

I’m here

holding your hand

ready to help when you do know

I didn’t know what it was to  weather a storm knowing there would be loss

that the breaking of the clouds and the the thunder

would be an ending

a leaving

a Goodbye.


I am still wrestling with what I think about death and what comes after and what life after death really is….I tell my kids that you leave behind all the lives you’ve touched, all the hearts you’ve affected, memories that people hold of you, things you’ve taught, done, your actions, your words in the lives of the people who are still here.  That’s life after death that I can prove, that I can feel and see.  Other things I don’t know, I don’t know whatI think happens to our energy, our essence.  Maybe there is or isn’t still figuring that one out…I will let you know if I come to any conclusions about what I believe….

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I’m sorry I neglected you little blog…

Ahhhh, my poor little blog.  So neglected.  I do so want to dust you off, polish you up and make you all spiffy again.  Perhaps, this time I will stick to blogging a little longer, maybe my newly caught journalling bug will help me to put some more things  into blog land?  Looking back does fill me with nostalgia and a yearning to see you sparkle again, maybe with paint splatters and little peeks into my true self…..

So, there is far too much news to catch up on so I will just add in the things that come to mind.  At the start of 2018 I signed up for some art courses.  2 of these were by a teacher I’d only encountered in one off classes in Life-Book and looking back I had no idea how much she and her classes would bring to me on a deeply personal, internal level and as someone who loves to create.  If you’ve never heard of Effy Wild, check her out.  The class that really sings to me is Moonshine, it is the most gorgeous amalgamation of journaling, self development, art and witchy woo-woo (I nicked that from Effy) that makes my heart sing….yes literally sing.

These are all of the pieces of art I have done as one of her classes so far this year or inspired by her classes. Best of all she’s helping me to learn how to meet me on the page and put *me* into my art.

Just this week, the youngest of my 3 boys turned 10 so they are all in double figures.  It feels like a moment.

 

I love learning new things!  IN fact one of my weaknesses is I don’t like to repeat the same thing twice as I get easily bored….a recent workshop/training session with a school was a challenge in that sense because I did the same workshop 6 times over 3 days so that everyone in the school could be work with me to develop their teaching of drawing…but it was good fun as each group was different!

Anyway…..I digress… this month I am taking a class with Mindy Lacefield-My Watercolour Journal.  I love her whimsical style faces, their looseness and the way she uses lines and I love watercolours…..I don’t love journals…..they make me panic…in a way that a canvas doesn’t.  I think its because I worry about having a page I hate, making a hole or whatever…what I am discovering is that it’s OK…I can fix most things, work with them and learn a lot…but also collage paper, gesso and matt medium are my best friends when I don’t like something :0)

I’ve had a titchy Moleskine journal (watercolour paper) lying about waiting for something to fill it.  At first I thought about doing different eyes and noses etc in there but didn’t.  Well after Mindy’s last few lessons creating little pixies, fairies and girls it has found it’s place as I am practicing and filling it with my different attempts, ideas and most of all my playing around with what she’s teaching us and things form other classes too.

It’s March already!!!  How did that happen?  I’ve been working hard on some canvas commissions and have sold a couple of my pieces throughly FB page- feeling like a real artist!

These were commissions from a friend who wanted some whimsical style portraits of two Celtic goddesses-I have loved doing them and I have ideas for a series.  I’m currently working on a third canvas for Bridghid.

These are done with neo-colours, collage, watercolours, pencil and some ink and paint pens for final details.  They are both around A3 sized so I am getting used to working bigger, I’m popping out to get another couple of canvases today as soon as the boys are done with journals and IXL!

I have been working on a class with Suzi Blu; via her patreon page.  She really inspired me, I couldn’t master the face using watercolour pencils and acrylics so I will be coming back to that-I’ve ordered a selection of polychromos and prismacolour recommended in her supply list.

It is a big piece…in fact it is ins pieces lol.  The more I am working on it the more it is telling me.  I know that sounds a bit ‘out there’ but honestly it is.

The more I work on this the more I see……like I was having a conversation with my other half about dreams yesterday…..(not the sleep kind the how I want to add to the universe, make the world a better place kind) and I was struggling to think of MY dreams……her hair is like a flowing river to me…like the dreams that have flowed away from me and now there is my hare and dream catcher. The hare has so much symbology (ooo i wasn’t sure that was a word ) there that my subconscious has picked up on….like aiming for dreams and not letting anything get in our path; that it’s OK to be solitary; their link with art….it’s like somehow I’m putting me into a painting but without actually knowing me or understang these things about me…..

I am liking the way it is coming together but there’s lots more to do!

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Honestly, I don’t think I have ever been so excited to see a piece of work finished or been so happy with the results.  This is from Kara Bullock’s Let’s Face it 2017 year long workshop.  I loved the process, the depth of the videos, learning new techniques.  This is my first ever acrylic portrait (that hasn’t ended up in the bin); first ever monochromatic face and I love it.

Finally getting round to posting my gratitude card 2/52 for last week.  I was grateful for all of the kindness that was in my week.  Hugs, kind comments, words, seeing the kindness of my middle son with his younger brother when he was struggling with a game which meant he gave up his time, invited his brother into his room for a ‘sleepover’ so they could play together on the game and he would be there to help, my MIL inviting us to go on holiday with her for a week in the summer as a gift from her, my husband in his words to me.  There was so much kindness all around me-and it wasn’t just a ‘kind week’ it was kindness that is always there which made it even sweeter.

I made this one using collage of papers, neocolours, gesso and waterproof brush marker.

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The ‘Boys’ (my sons, 8, 11 and 13) and I followed another you tube tutorial to make galaxy pictures using liquid watercolours.  They were really pleased with the results (as was I) .  It was great fun and we talked about colours that would work together and not make brown.  I think we will continue to look at a couple of different tutorials like this.  We’re kind of linking in with our nature journals theme…..the moon.