A Deer With No Eyes – 19th December 2022

It was in the trees, in the air
Its meaning was never clear
Both here and over there
Sometimes hidden in fear
It was simple, it was strong
It would never disappear
Sometimes right and other times wrong
Especially after having a beer
Often spoken, sometimes just thought
It influences its sphere
Sometimes learned, sometimes taught
Or born right now and here
Never met a deer with no eyes
They always seem to appear
Born in imagination, in surprise
Boom! – an idea!


The universe is what it is, not what I choose that it should be.

Bertrand Russell

Today I’m feeling:
Content, relaxed
Today I’m grateful for:
The staff at the hospital that administered (paperwork and execution) Amy’s second rabies shot. Hopefully her wounds heal well and there are no repercussions.
The best thing about today was:
Today has been consistent and modestly good, from a bit of exercise, listening to an interesting podcast about the Slits, good coffees, a fun first class, taking Amy to the hospital, then lunch at Oasis, more good coffee, a fun second class, then to the movies to watch the second Avatar movie which, whilst not a great movie was better than I expected.
What was out of your control today and how did you handle it?
I had to run around for, and with, Amy a lot today and couldn’t spend my usual time writing and reading at House which I look forward to. Rather than feeling grudgful I tried to savour and did end up enjoying the whole day.
Something I learned today?
I mostly learned this last week whilst listening to Jello Biafra interview Dominic Davi on his Renegade Roundtable podcast, though I finished listening this morning. Dominic had had a stroke fairly recently and described the experience and aftereffects of it. I’d been thinking about it on and off over the weekend especially as I am now in the age demographic more likely to experience this. This morning I was reminded again about the BE FAST acronym. Balance, Eyes, Face and then the other things I forget but I reckon you’d recognise it with those at least. This is all well and good to assist someone else but I’d be worried if it was happening to me and I was by myself or unable to communicate with others around me as Dominic described. He was helped quickly be others recognising the signs. Well, this is useful knowledge at least though I hope it is knowledge that will go unused.
Describe something you learned from your mother.
I’ve written about this before but I think I learned patience, hard work, solitude and don’t-give-a-fuck-what-others-think attitude from my mum.

I took this picture because I gave my students in 1/7 a spelling test and with prep and repetition took about one and a half hours to complete but it was actually a lot of fun and I think the kids even found it a little amusing, some of them doing better than either they or I expected. This is also the only picture I took today!

Derelict – 18th October 2022

Smashed windows and roof decayed
A place where memories were once made
Now hidden to the exploring eye
Possibilities came here now gone by
One day the love in my own home
Will be left to explorers unknown
Pondered upon with little idea
Of all the things that happened here
The tiles will crack and ceilings fall
Jungle vines will creep up the wall
The once-pretty garden overrun
Plastic disintegrates in the sun
The roaming ghosts of our happy cats
No longer worry the scurrying rats
Body broken as the irons rust
Will all be blown away as dust


I think perfection is ugly. Somewhere in the things humans make, I want to see scars, failure, disorcer, distortion.

Yohji Yamamoto

Today I’m feeling:
Chill chill
Today I’m grateful for:
A long catch-up sleep with interesting but forgotten dreams. I also woke up with no pain in my neck but that didn’t last for too long.
The best thing about today was:
Its simplicity and feeling contented with a day of non-excitement. A little bit of this and that counters any possibility of boredom. I feel free!
In what ways are you “just like your parents?”
I am just like my mum now. It’s scary how much I look like her. Right now I live by myself (practically) and love to read books, much like she did. I don’t need to be around people often and happy in my own company, just as I saw her. I don’t think I can be much like my dad as I have no idea if he had any influence over me in my first 18 months before he died. I wonder though if there was a residual sadness that brushed on me in that short time…?

I took this picture because it just looked idyllic as I was speeding by and had to turn back to take a quick picture. This one is from yesterday. I didn’t really do anything today.

We got that attitude! – 16th December 2019

Today I asked Kru Tam how she thought I was doing at my job. She gave me positive feedback saying she could tell how much I cared for the students to learn. She did imply that sometimes I have to pull back a little – I think that is more related to my expectations than to my lessons.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for the beautiful sunrise I see every morning before school. It’s a reminder of the bigger things, the slow, slow movement of the universe. Nothing we can do but get on with it.

You do it once and you don’t like it and you do it twice and then you’re insulted – 20th November 2019

4th June 2022 – I was making these notes as I was studying in my classroom, as classes were going on and 10-year-olds were jumping around, screaming and playing. It looks like I was doing some free online course from Donald Robertson’s website and Laurie Santos’ course at Coursera. Writing this out again now is a good reminder. Things I know but forget to practice or implement. How to bring these reminders into my thinking more often? I must find a way.

ataraxia – a state of serenity that comes with always acting properly in the world
pathé – negative, disruptive emotions
eupatheiai – positive, constructive emotions

pathé
Negative emotions/bad judgements
Good/present – pleasure (hēdonē)
– an impulse toward something present now that is considered good but isn’t
Good/future – appetite (epithumia)
– an impulse toward something in the future that is considered good but isn’t
Bad/present – distress (lupé)
– an impulse away from something present now that is considered bad but isn’t
Bad/future – fear (phobos)
– an impulse away from something in the future that is considered bad but isn’t

4th June 2022 – curious about the origins of the word pathé and its connection to Pathé News, which is where I first knew the word, I see that the Greek is actually pathē. It looks like the origin of the news name is from the surname of Charles Pathé so I wonder where his name came from and if it got bastardised over time for this minor change.

eupatheiai
Positive emotions
Good/present – joy (khara)
– an impulse toward something present now that is considered good and is, in fact, good
Good/future – reasonable wishing (boulēsis)
– an impulse toward some future thing regarded as good which is, in fact, good
Bad/present – n/a
Bad/future – caution(eulabeia)
– an impulse away from some future thing regarded as bad which is, in fact, bad

joy is opposite pleasure
reasonable wishing opposite appetite
caution opposite fear

within our power:
opinion
motivation
desire
aversion


not within our power:
our body
our property
our reputation
our workplace

impressions (phantasiai)
– judgements from previous experiences or subconscious thinking (cats are nice or cats are selfish)

assent(sunkatathesis)
– confirmation of the initial impression (cats are indeed selfish)

impulse (orgē)
– a movement of the will toward action that we feel because of having assented to a given impression
all emotions are impulses

4th June 2022 – it’s a kind of historical reassurance to see roots of English words such as fantasy and orgy and that their meanings have perservered. The meanings have persevered but us humans are still struggling to put these things into action.

impressions > assent > impulse
– impression is involuntary
– assent is the result of reflection
– impulse is voluntary

Provoked by the sight of a beautiful woman, you will discover the contrary power of self-restraint.
Faced with pain, you will discover the power of endurance.
If you are insulted, you discover patience.
In time, you will grow to be confident that there is not a single impression that you will not have the moral means to tolerate. (Enchiridion 10)

incorrect analysis:
impression – someone is insulting me
assent – it is awful to be insulted
impulse – I experience distress (lupē)

Don’t be angry. it’s pointless.

correct analysis:
impression – someone is opening their mouth and moving air
deny assent – movement of air cannot hurt me
impulse – none, just walk away

If you didn’t learn these things in order to demonstrate them in practice, what did you learn them for? (Discourses 1, 29.35)

Social connection
People with close social ties
– less vulnerable to early death
– more likely to survive fatal illness
– less likely to fall prey to stressful events
– appear to be happier

Trying to connect with strangers will make you happier and we mispredict this fact.
Shared experiences make us happier
– eye contact
– smiling
simple ways to practice

Time affluence vs $$
using time for something fulfilling is more important than spending that time to make $$
Wanting better stuff that we don’t want yet
– are there things that we should be wanting that we don’t realise?
– seek out opportunities for doing kind things
– random
– do extra/more

Mind wandering
The objective conditions of our lives have improved dramatically yet we haven’t gotten any happier.
Mind wandering appears to decrease happiness.
Practice moment-to-moment experiences.
As we’ve said for the last 30 years ‘Live in the now!’
Meditation should assist. Be more aware. Practice more.

Flow
You are in such an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist.
You have to enjoy what you are doing. You won’t be very good at it if you don’t.
You also have to feel you are contributing something worthwhile.
High skill + high challenge
Control Arousal
Flow

Mind control
Why do our minds wander?
Our default network is fast – it thinks outside the here and now
Meditation – turn your attention away from distracting thoughts and focus on a single point

Event + response = experience
“The last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance” – Victor Krankl
How?
– Realise you have the power
– Practice the responses
Mindfulness:
Attention – present moment
Attitude – acceptance

Meditate
1. Notice your breath
2. Mind wanders
– memories
– planning
– judging
3. Notice and accept
4. Go to 1

Attend to and accept any sensation you experience in response to the event, without making any judgement of the goodness/badness of the event.
Ask yourself – can I be ok with this feeling?

Stratagies for creating better habits
Put yourself in situations that benefit those habits (situation support)
– fix bad environments
– promote healthy environments and connect with people doing the same things
Set goals
– be specific – how to achieve your goal (who what why when where)
– good visualisation – especially the obstacles
– mental contrast against the acheivement
– if-then plan can lead to better goal attainment, implementation, intention

WOOP
Wish – think about your wish (goal)
Outcome – the best outcome
Obstacles – things that may stop you
Plan – if-then plan

Wish – to better control my emotions
Outcome – to be able to better deal with stressful and difficult situations without reacting to my initial emotions
Obstacles – I still want to be right. I still want to be better than everyone else. My ego gets in the way.
Plan – If I start to feel out of control then recognise this and pause, try to pause the conversation and make a decision later.

4th June 2022 – I think I have gotten better at this but not really sure if it is through practice. I feel like my attitude has developed, a little into a ‘ah, whatever’ apathy. I suppose each time I haven’t reacted I’ve been learning and then those situations just don’t arise in the first place. Am I trying to deny myself credit here? Ah, whatever!

Resistance never sleeps. It never slackens. It never goes away. The dragon must be slain anew every morning.

Steven Pressfield

virtue – bahviour showing high moral standard
moral – principles of right and wrong behaviour, the code of behaviour that is considered right and acceptable in a particular society
ethics – moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour
principles – a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief
truth/true – in accordance with fact or reality
wisdom – the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgement
values – one’s judgment of what is important in life

It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing and of godlike men to want little.

Diogenes

The forging of human love and human work is the labour of life.

Charles Tart (?)

Death is neither a good nor an evil; it delivers no category of fortune.

Seneca

What are the pros and cons of holding these beliefs?

  1. Dying doesn’t frighten me much
  2. It’s more important to have lived a good life than a long life
  3. Life and death are not intrinsically good or bad; it depends how we use them

Death
Perhaps you think it superfluous to learn something that can only be implemented once – this is the very reason we have to practice.
Picture your own death several times a day. Think of it in slightly different ways, at different times.
Going to bed be grateful for our lives so far.
Plan your day as if it were last chance to really live.
Contemplate the transience of all living things.

Death comes knocking at the poor man’s shack and the king’s palace alike.

Horace

Contemplate a good death.
Read Trial and Death of Socrates, Plato’s Apology or Crito or any short story about a Stoic death
1. Imagine you are in their shoes
2. What would you do? How would you feel?
3. Compare your actions to theirs.
What lessons can you draw from this exercise?

Tell yourself that death is inevitable and necessary.
Contemplate objectively, consider your death from a scientific perspective, a natural event.
Imagine what is under your control and exercise wisdom and virtue in the face of death.
How would a Stoic respond to the death I imagine facing?
Imagine your own funeral.

Golden pins are stuck into people out of boredom. The golden pins will be welcomed.

Dostoevsky

4th June 2022 – These exercises about death I haven’t gotten around to though my impending decline is often thought about in various abstract ways. I don’t feel like my life is over but that I have probably lived the best parts of it already. That’s not a sad or bad thing. The remaining years are more content and happy. I don’t feel the need to fight for things as I used to.

Gratitude Journal

I am so happy and grateful for my cousin Sharon who took care of my mum so well before she passed away. Sharon did everything she could for her and went to great lengths to make sure my mum was as happy as she could be. I miss my mum a lot.

I’ll dig myself a hole and I’ll fill up that space – April 14th 2018

Ok, let’s start with some toilet talk.  It had to happen sooner or later.

Having some experience of South East Asian countries I was already aware of the ass blaster but never really used it.  In one of the toilets at Amy’s parents, toilet paper has to be thrown in a small bin instead of down the toilet.  This presents difficulties for those of us used to just dropping it into the bowl and flushing it away.  I actually first came across this on a trip to Rhodes, Greece just before moving to Australia and I probably talk about it in that diary (whenever I get back to it!).

It turns out that in our house, the builder recommends not putting tissue down the toilet too which initially was a bit of a disappointment.  This drove me to pursue learning the art of the ass blaster.  In case you can’t guess from my description, this tool is usually part of any toilet system in Thailand and it’s pretty much a jet hose with very slight control of pressure.  I was dubious about the ability of this equipment but after using and wiping up the water with tissue it usually does a good job of any leftover bits that might have accumulated around your bumhole.  It’s pretty easy to fold up the tissue and chuck it in the bin and can usually be done in one wipe, saving paper.  Unless you’re drunk.  Or the day after you were drinking.  And you’ve been eating lots of chilli.  Potentially, every day.

The other thing about the ass blaster is that it is quite powerful.  It can sting your haemorrhoids.  It can also stimulate your anal sphincter and help push out that last little tricky bit that sometimes can’t decide which side of the door it wants to be on.

Of course, if any situation becomes too sticky, the shower is usually just a step away and it always being hot, any time is a good time to have a shower.

I still haven’t really complained about the weather but the last few days have been torturously hot.  We’ve also been busy and having to get things tidied up in the garden.  Amy’s parents and brother coming to help out early in the mornings.

The reason for all this was that April 12th was our house blessing.  Amy had to do some negotiating with her family about meeting this requirement that her dad insisted upon.  A big house blessing can involve up to 9 monks, all family members and all the local villagers.  And you have to feed them all too, as they sticky beak around all your belongings and criticise colour choices etc.

Amy negotiated down to one monk and about 20 family members and for it to be done as quickly as possible.  This still took about 3 hours and a day and a half of food preparations and another day to clean up.

I was introduced to one of the guys from the local temple who was really nice.  He would lead the ceremony whilst the monk did all the chanting and er….things.  It was both beautiful and ridiculous.  I was expecting a solemn affair with everyone paying undivided attention but people seemed to come and go, fuss about and fidget as even for the experienced here, sitting cross-legged on a tile floor for an hour or so is not easy.  My mind wandered a lot but when all said and done it was fine.  Now, everyone – get out of our house!

We had moved in a couple of days earlier as we had mattresses delivered and despite our bathroom still needing re-tiling, painting touch ups ongoing and various other dusty bits of work required, we couldn’t wait to get out of our limbo land with Amy’s parents.  They insisted we took the cats with us though which was a little traumatic for them and quite stressful for us as we had to keep them calm with work and people around all during the days following.  But they’re fully settled now.  Maybe we are too, though it doesn’t quite feel like it yet.

I did get a bit emotional one evening though.  As I was watering the garden and looking for the fish in our pond I realised that here I am, I’ve achieved a dream, a plan fulfilled.  A beautiful new house, in a beautiful location, with my beautiful Amy.

I just wanted to show my mum.  I wanted her to see what her son had achieved, wanted to make her proud.  A few tears were shed but I was soon back to whatever backbreaking chore was next on the list.

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The day after the house blessing we went off to the city to enjoy the Songkran water festival.  My first time experiencing this event, it was a fun family day with smiles everywhere.  We were camped in a restaurant that turned itself into a bar just for the event and it was jam packed when we got there around 2pm.

We set to drinking and jumping and dancing and talking and getting wet, inside the bar and outside on the street.  I made the rookie error of carrying my can of beer out on the street with me and it was impossible to keep out the water so I was chucking down water from who knows where along with the alcohol.  I videoed my walks up and down and people responded with smiles and yells and shouted appropriate English phrases, inhibitions lost to the fervour.

 

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Amy’s brother, Oh, who had a couple of hours start on us fell asleep in his chair and somehow we decided it was time to depart, even though it was still light.  Oh was pretty far gone, even by the time we arrived and had soon become unintelligible in both Thai and English.  We took a minicab back to Amy’s parents and I managed to get Oh up to his room where he passed out in his wet clothes for the next 15 hours or more.

Whilst I was doing that Amy was throwing up in the bathroom and then the garden.  I was drunk but was still semi-coherent enough and when Amy’s dad dropped us off at home at around 9pm I plugged my phone into the stereo and listened to some music for another hour or two.  Eventually, I dozed off for a while before waking with indigestion which I took a tablet for.  A couple of hours later though and it came back so I went off to get another tablet.  It was then I realised that maybe it wasn’t indigestion and that, in fact, I needed to throw up. So I did.  A lot.  All I could think about was ditch water that I swallowed with my beers and wondered if I’d have to be taken to hospital in the morning.

The hangover wasn’t grotesque and as we still have a million things to do we didn’t have time to contemplate it too much and zoomed off again for the rest of the day.

One fine day, conversation will cease – 23rd- February 2018

Well, today is the day to bid farewell to my mother officially.  I’m filled with some nerves, some trepidation and some relief.  Sharon and Ken are busy running around preparing for guests invited after the funeral and their son, my second cousin, Mungo turns up with warm hugs and regards, along with his eldest daughter Ella, who shares his dad’s bright blue eyes.  Despite the nature of the day, there’s no sombreness really, just a realisation that this day needs to be done and in short time life continues for all of us left.

I spend some time trying on Sharon and Ken’s hat collection whilst Amy irons me a shirt.

We head to the funeral service, just in a small room, a converted barn called The Barn.  Possibly an Australian was asked what to call it.  The site is a new cemetery where ashes and bodies can be buried with trees and a small memorial plaque.

The officials are all very nice and understand the nature of my mum’s requirements for no religious texts, prayers and hymns.  More people turn up that I expected, most that I don’t recognise but people that Sharon has managed to find in mum’s contacts book.  I don’t get much chance to talk with anyone to find out more but later reflect on the words passed on from these people about their appreciation for my mum.

It’s weird to see the coffin and imagine your mother is inside.  But I know she isn’t there, that is just the body she was using.  It did bring home a finality though and I felt sad.

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The service starts with a song I picked which I knew mum would’ve liked.  It’s called Day Is Done by Peter, Paul and Mary.  I also chose the closing music which is Acker Bilk’s Petite Fleur.  After a quick introduction, it’s quickly on to me.  I have a prepared speech and stiltedly read aloud as I attempt to input some emotion into it and occasionally make some eye contact with the onlookers.  I’ve never been one for standing up and talking in front of people; unusual for someone who used to stand in front of a 100 people and attempt to sing back in younger days.

My speech went like this:

I just want to share a small story that reflects what my mum meant to me and how she subtly influenced me to be who I am today.

I’m guessing I was about 21 or thereabouts at the time and we were living in Colehill.  Most dinner times I would come home after work and mum would have baked something for us to eat, me in my room, her in the living room.  This particular evening she prepared a big fry up.  Eggs, bread, mushrooms, tomato and baked beans.  I was grumpy and ravenous.  As the egg was the final component and it hit the plate I thanked her (I hope) and headed off to my room.

Some how I caught myself on the corner of the door and the whole plate plummeted to floor, depositing everything onto our worn carpet.  I was devastated.  I don’t remember what else was going on in my life at that moment but this was the final straw, the end!  I think I burst into tears!

My mum quickly came along and told me to get something to clean up the mess.  She looked at me and said ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make you another one’.  Somehow this new plate of food tasted bittersweet.  I felt guilty but happy.

This short anecdote demonstrated mum’s attitude and unknowingly influenced me as I have since developed a strong streak of patience, a lack of drama and a get on with it approach to any difficulties in life.

This was just the way my mum was.  She just got on with things without making a fuss and bother.  She’d be furious with us all now making all this palaver over her demise but a funeral is never for the deceased but for those who are left.  So let’s remember her like this, and as we go on our own ways, let’s just get on with it.

My cousin Ken reads through a chronology of mum’s life and another song is played.  Mungo reads a short poem that also pretty much reflects my mum’s wishes (except the second line!).

‘By Herself and Her Friends’ by Joyce Grenfell

If I should go before the rest of you
Break not a flower nor inscribe a stone,
Nor when I’m gone speak in a Sunday voice
But be the usual selves that I have known.
Weep if you must, Parting is hell,
But Life goes on, So sing as well.

Finally, the director reads out a poem that my Aunt Lorna has requested be read.  Lorna is the last survivor sibling sister and unfortunately isn’t well enough to travel to attend today.

‘Weep not for me’ by Constance Jenkins

Weep not for me though I am gone;
into that gentle night.
Grieve if you will but not for long,
upon my soul’s sweet flight.

I am at peace,
my soul’s at rest.
There is no need for tears.
For with your love I was blessed;
for all those many years.

There is no pain,
I suffer not,
The fear now all is gone.
Put now these things out of your thoughts.
In your memory I live on.

Remember not my fight for breath;
remember not the strife.
Please do not dwell upon my death,
but celebrate my life.

As this poem is read out I start to feel a little emotional and so look outside through the window whilst taking in the words.  In the building opposite a dog has decided to push through the curtains and sit in the window, taking in the sun.  Life goes on.

The rest of the afternoon is spent chatting with mum’s friends and associates, some who I’ve met previously, others I’ve often heard her talking about over the years.  I think the service was appropriately short and without fuss and was a nice way to think about my mum’s life.

Later, we’re joined by Mungo’s two youngest kids who tear around the kitchen distracting us with laughter and screaming fun.

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And later still, a final dinner with my cousins where we eat well and drink copiously, even managing to pry the last drops out of Ken’s bottle of Dalwhinnie.  Discussion ranges from my mum’s life to deeper, more philosophical things as Mungo stirs the pot with his Dad, who is up for the debate.  Amy is wilting and I soon offer we retire to bed and the day ends with an upbeat feeling and one that I know my mum would have enjoyed partaking in.

 

I walk my love in mornings gleam – 4th February 2018

How to write this?  How to put my feelings into words, express my thoughts clearly.  Maybe I can’t.  So let’s just stick to the facts.

I was contemplating a visit to the UK before settling in to my new life in Thailand.  Knowing my mother was probably in her last year and the timing was kind of right, it had suddenly become a possibility. I know I wrote just recently that I wouldn’t go back but something, I’m not sure what, made me reconsider.  A couple of hours into my first night shift, I called my cousin, Sharon, to discuss.

Sharon was fine with the idea but did warn me that my mum was very ill now and it may not be the way I wanted to remember her.  The doctors at the hospital, knowing a little about my mum’s wishes, had given her a good dose of antibiotics that hadn’t helped her much, so the decision was to switch to morphine for pain reduction and for her body to fight for itself.  This seemed a good solution.  If she had the strength she would recover, if she didn’t, she would be comfortable.

About an hour later, Sharon messaged me saying she had been called urgently to the hospital and perhaps another hour later she sent through a message, carefully worded, “Your mum has just silently faded away.  No more struggle, just peace and tranquillity.”

Sharon had passed on my love whilst mum was still breathing and held her hand until she was gone.

Of course, this outcome was not unexpected, I guess we had all been gearing ourselves up for this moment and I was strangely calm.  I sat at work, contemplating, thinking, sad but not emotional.  I went over memories of my mother and they all provided me with comfort.  I’m grateful her end wasn’t an extended suffering, around the other dramas of the palliative care ward.  Grateful she had been happy in her last few months at the care home.  In fact, my sadness is countered by everything she did for me, knowing that she was proud of what her son had achieved in his life.  I will continue to make her proud.  I just wish I could share these things with her.

I called Amy.  She had just got back from an event and had had a couple or three beers and was in a tipsy chatty mood, so I let her talk and I sat and listened and loved her words, pouring out of her and into me.  I soaked up her love and thought to myself, my mum has gone but my life is still complete.  I have everything.  I am happy.

When Amy talked about my mum, I gently told her that she was gone and she couldn’t believe me.  She burst into tears and apologised for talking all about her night and herself.  I calmed her down, telling her it was just what I needed.  As she continued to cry though I could feel myself starting to crack.  I started pacing the office I was in and managed to stay positive.  Amy insisted we go back to the UK for the funeral and I agreed, though not particularly for the funeral part but it presents us with the right opportunity to catch up with what is left of the family – something I now feel compelled to do.

I finished off my night shift and when I got home set about making new plans.  As I was due to quit work in a few weeks anyway, it seemed to make sense not to bother coming back to Australia after going to the UK, instead ending up in Thailand.  My son, Hayden, was also due to visit me in Adelaide the week before I was going to leave.  So with a little bit of juggling and some flight changes, I’ll leave Adelaide to go to Brisbane to visit Hayden for a few days, then to Sydney, on to Thailand next, to pick up Amy to fly together to the UK.

All of this planning kept me busy and I ended up awake for around 30 hours before finally sleeping peacefully until the following morning, where I failed to get up with my alarm.  No hurry now.  No more work, no more night shifts.

Still calm inside, still quiet.  Doubled meds, finishing off the codeines.  I can’t wait to hold my little Amy in my arms again.

Goodbye mum.  Thank you for everything you did for me.

Love you, always.

I leave my home, I leave it in the care of a friend – 30th January 2018

Hoo-ee!  I woke up yesterday morning after 16-20 hours of restless sleep, through 42-degree heat, though a cool change was in the air, it hadn’t quite made it to the upstairs in our new house.  I was totally betwattled.

Even the first coffee was no cure and I lurched around the supermarket uncertain why exactly I was there.  I figured it out in the end and shopping done I contemplated going back to sleep again.  The second coffee finally kicked me into gear but I had nothing to do except some reading and waiting for the man to come and give us internet again.  I stayed awake with both fans blasting and kids shouting in their backyard, perhaps hunting the floppy-eared white rabbit I saw hopping down the street earlier.

In fact, by the time evening came round I was no longer sleepy, contemplating security in our new house and a message I got from my cousin Sharon, that my mother was sick again and back in the hospital.  I got to sleep what felt like just a couple of minutes before my alarm went off and here I am back at work again, dopey-eyed with spinning stars.

My mother suffers from COPD, basically what emphysema develops into.  She needs oxygen all the time now and gets chest infections very easily which knock her down.  The infections are usually fixed with a course of antibiotics but consistently return when they are finished.  It’s been like this for the last 12 months or so.

She finally had to leave her home and now lives in a nice care home.  She was sad to leave and lose the independence she loved but she understands she couldn’t go on there anymore as she needs fairly constant monitoring.  The sale of the house should cover her care home expenses for a few years.

Being a practical sort, my mother often told me not to return to the UK for her funeral as it is a waste of money.  Amy and Sharon have both asked me if I want to go and visit but, practically, there isn’t much I can do for her, she will feel upset that I spent a lot of money to visit and I think she doesn’t want me to see her so invalid.  She has always been so strong.

She has a Do Not Resuscitate order in place, saying she doesn’t want to hang around suffering and just being kept alive for the sake of it.  She saw that happen with her sister.  I hope she’s not suffering.

I did go and visit her about 18 months ago after she was taken to hospital for the first time.  She was still able to do things to take care of herself at that time and it was really nice to be able to sit back and relax in my old family home, just chat and watch TV.  I actually enjoyed being back in the UK, it was the tail end of summer so some days were comfortably warm but it was also nice to feel that clean English chill in the air some nights.  These are memories I would like to keep of the last time to see my mother.  Somewhat selfish I know.

My mother’s sickness it most likely smoking-related, though she quit about 20 years ago already, she had smoked for about 20 years before that.  With cigarettes always around I soon started pinching some and the few times she caught me smoking she couldn’t really say anything to deter me.  I finally stopped smoking myself when my son was born.  My own father died of smoking-related lung cancer before I was two years old.

Is the cup half empty? – 25th January 2018

The house was empty now but my mum was here somewhere.  So was my stash; gotta find it before she does; we got a plane to catch.

It’s not here.  Where is she?  I started running around the plaza.  Got it!  A big bag of blue and white crystals, I dip a wet finger in and suck my digit like a lollipop.  Shit!  There she is, she’s coming.  “The plane leaves soon, we have to catch the train now!  What are you doing?”

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I run off. “Nothing!” I dig a finger in again and pull out a huge amount of amphetamine.  Shit, shit, shit.  I can’t take this on the plane but I don’t want to leave it behind!  I’m going to be hyper if I take any more though.  Mum will wonder why I can’t stop talking (I’m usually pretty quiet).  I sniff some up and rub the rest on my gums.  Fuck it!

The Beastie Boys wake me up.  Damn it’s hot.  Why can’t I just sleep for another 12 hours?

 

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