It ain’t over till its over

There are clumps of daffodils and tulips dotted around the garden. I’ve planted two different peonies, all shiny burgundy leaves in terracotta crocks and there are three pots of poppies on the garden table waiting to be planted up.

There are puddles in the lawn and the big, pink bathtub, that was gifted to us, is like an infinity pool. The best bit of this year is that whilst storms lashed, and thunder took out the broadband twice, the Magnolia flowers have held on. Not rusty like last year but huge pink petals plopping all over the lawn and showing off.
So March and April have been a time of battered geraniums and untimely deaths, although when is it a good time to cut the mortal coil?.

March the 2nd was the beginning of the old gits journey into the unknown. Scans revealed unwelcome shadows, the biopsy revealed more and yesterday after weeks of silence we visited the hospital for the final result.
We looked at a screen showing highlights of the old mans lungs and adrenals. Lymph nodes and years of roll ups.

‘How long did you smoke?’ asked the oncologist
‘Since I was 13/14.’
‘How many a day?’
‘Rubbish’ I said. He always had a roll up hanging out the side of his mouth, for hours on end, sucking on the Rizla paper like Andy Capp.
When you come to the end of a packet of RIZLA papers there is little card that says
‘Five leaves left’
A poet said it was found poetry. ‘Five leaves left’ was described as ‘A Lament to Autumn’
But I digress
‘He smoked around seven a day.’ I said. The truth was told, Heads shook, decisions were made and starting soon, the Northern actor begins a course of chemo and immunology therapies.

The last question that the patient asked the oncologist was about Junior Doctors. So in a side room off of Out Patients 2, me and him, the doctor and accompanying nurse, discussed the appalling conditions that junior doctors work in. And btw a junior doctor is any doctor that is completing their GP training or working themselves up to being a consultant can take up to fifteen years. It hardly matters who or what they are when we left the hospital a group of healers on the picket line raised their fists as I honked the horn and raised my fist in solidarity.

So for six weeks we have been living under the cosh of speculation, advice, tears and sadness. Yesterday those underpaid geniuses put us out of our misery. Hurrah for the NHS.

In the middle of all this I had my birthday, knackered the exhaust on my car – TWICE – went out for Easter Sunday lunch, made an Easter Sunday brunch of smoked salmon, cream cheese and hot bagels accompanied by scrambled eggs and hot steaming coffee. Made leek and potato soup, with leeks straight from the garden, said goodbye to my nephew and niece who have bought 23 acres in Portugal housing two stray dogs, ridiculously beautiful grassland with exotic flowers and wild butterfly lavender and house that needs renovating.

I have reconnected with old friends, all of whom have known me since I was 7- 11 – 15. Hearing their version of me has been fascinating. I’ve reconnected with a college friend who bought me lunch at the `GRIFFIN INN’ in Fletching. A wonderful old pub that wins awards and serves up perfect fried padron peppers, homemade hummus and the chunkiest of chips.

But mostly I have been holding myself together. I couldn’t write this until I was given the go ahead from the old git. I’m not sure why he agreed, maybe because the turmoil has subsided, but maybe enough already with all the misery. There’s only so many tears you can cry, only so many times you can talk about funeral music, because its not over till its over. So I’ve bought myself a course to learn how to memorise music. I can read it alright but remembering notes is hard. A brilliant distraction. And reading has been difficult, as has sleeping and not finishing all the biscuits in the biscuit tin. I now truly understand what comfort eating is. It’s past midnight and I’ve just shoved a mountain of freshly picked wild garlic leaves in between two slices of buttery bread. Today I drove through Ashdown Forest, down a bumpy road and parked my car next to a stream and my source of wild garlic. The rain pit-pattered on the green leaves as I used my penknife to slice through the stems. Only a few mind.

The outpouring of Love and support has been remarkable, but every person we know has been through this and sometimes worse. Although is dying the worse thing you can do? Them Victorians called it the big sleep and said they were only in the next room. This last six weeks has proved that the inevitable is standing next to you at all times it’s choosing when to acknowledge it. We were forced to face our fears, and weirdly arguments stopped. The house was quiet and calmer because nobody wanted to be fractious and mean. Now that the pressure is off the bickering has begun. Thank God back to some kind of normality.

And then people share stories don’t they? Like the guy who said, whilst giving a talk on stage, that those who accept and surrender to the existence of cancer in their bodies tend to live longer than those who ‘fight’ it. Everybody has a story and an opinion. Everybody knows a mushroom that works, a smoothie that cures, a herb that shrinks – and they are all valid but when the decision arrives that prolonging life needs a boost of poison to eradicate the offending article, what you gonna choose?
I’ve stopped interfering, I’ve stopped giving advice, I’ve stopped buying the books, watching YouTube. I’ve stopped nagging. And let me tell you letting go of Mrs. Know-it-all has been a blessed relief.

So Easter’s gone, the roof is fixed, we await the plumber so that we can brush our teeth in the sink without having to run the bath tap at the same time. My car’s going in for its next exhaust pipe, and we’re recording another story for my man in Vienna. Life goes on – I’m delighted to say – with its puddles and potholes – and at least, for as far as we can see, the old fucker will be there with me.

2 thoughts on “It ain’t over till its over”

  1. An E E Cummings poem I like:

    since feeling is first
    who pays any attention
    to the syntax of things
    will never wholly kiss you;

    wholly to be a fool
    while Spring is in the world

    my blood approves,
    and kisses are a better fate
    than wisdom
    lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
    —the best gesture of my brain is less than
    your eyelids’ flutter which says

    we are for each other: then
    laugh, leaning back in my arms
    for life’s not a paragraph

    And death I think is no parenthesis

  2. Hiya, it’s your flower giving old fart here. You said in Waitrose to read your blog, well I have & shall continue to do so. A great perspective on life poppet. And nooooo not a Mrs Know It All, erudite that’s you. Xx


Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.