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I cannot yet bring myself to put up a single Christmas decoration. The thought of finding the relevant boxes in my shed is filling me with horror. This has been causing me much stress because everyone I know has already decorated their Christmas tree. It feels way too early to me....my sister in law has even offered to come round and help me decorate my house because I am clearly incapable of doing it on my own and therefore seriously thinking about taking her up on the offer because if she loves it and I hate it - then it makes perfect sense to get her to do it instead of me. In fact, I might borrow her for the next two weeks and make her live in my house wearing a pair of angel wings and sprinkling fairy dust and icing sugar on everything - mostly me. I don't really know why I don't have that "I Love Christmas" thing myself. The older I get the worse it appears to be - If I had my way, I wouldn't put up decorations at all - I just don't really get Christmas decorations and I most certainly don't get Christmas cards (what do you think about emailing Xmas cards? Saves trees at least?). This is generally a very sad state of affairs. The only thing that really cheers me up is the little tiny tinsel sparkly pubes I stick on my nude painting. It makes me laugh ever year. It really is pathetic. I really should make more effort on account of my three children and this isn't an excuse, But... Like the mince pies and carrots left for Santa, all I really, really, really want to do, more than anything is put out a few of my father's favourite things - like bowls of nuts and homemade fudge in the hope that we might be able to entice him back to join us all for Christmas day. He could be our Christmas Spirit. Because, it's just not the same without him. I want to have a glass of champagne with my father on Christmas morning. With my brothers and their families and my mother there too and play Christmas music and laugh at my father's Christmas socks (always red) and Christmas jumper. However. That's not going to happen. He's not coming back. This will be the third Christmas we have had without him and it doesn't really get any easier I have to say. We all miss him dreadfully. It's the sort of pain that creeps up behind you when you least expect it. When you see somebody walk by that looks familiar - Movember is a nightmare because he had a moustache...or glance at my mother in one of her wistful moments and understand how she must feel every day of her life now that he's not around. That is the downside for her of having her soulmate by her side for nearly fifty years. The hole he left behind, the space you can almost see next to her is more universe sized rather than football sized. There are days when I miss him more now than I did at the beginning. I know my brothers feel the same. He had a massive sense of family tradition for Christmas. What we all enjoyed at Christmas time was down to him because he loved all the familiar traditions and merriment. Still. Nothing to be done about it. At least we will all be together this Christmas and the best bit is that we are going to above mentioned sister in laws family house AND I DON'T HAVE TO COOK! This will be fantastic news for everybody and there are young children to remind us about what Christmas is all about (sadly not mine as they will be with their father this year, but at least I will have them for Christmas eve and until lunchtime on Christmas day). I must take up the mantle and eat fudge. I will make lots and lots of fudge and wear red socks and grow a moustache and drink champagne - he would most certainly be disappointed with anything less.
DAY 3 OF OUR AFRICAN ADVENTURE I don’t even know where to begin with this one. We had an utterly extraordinary, magical day that exceeded our expectations on every level. Mainly because we did the job we were here to […]
GET GROWING THAT FACIAL HAIR - I've started - there really is no excuse. For this month - formerly known as November, men (and women??) will start to sprout and sport splendid moustaches. This is all for a very good cause - check it all out here:- http://uk.movember.com/about. It is to raise much needed funds and awareness for men's health - especially prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men. I have been thinking about my father hugely of late and no more so than today - the first day of Movember. He died almost exactly a year ago now from bowel cancer and we have all recently agreed that not having him around seems to be getting harder, not easier and we are all missing him hugely. He had one of the most splendid moustaches so this month will be hard. We all keep seeing similarities in other people .... SO why not turn a sad situation into something more positive. Could you please send in photos of your moustaches from around the world and at the end of the month we will pick a winner. I promise to give generously to the charity for the best moustache - I want your stories of where your hair growth takes you, who you meet and general updates over the month too. Let the battle begin. Ready, steady, GROW.... Here, in honour of my father and just to start things off is his effort. Beat that:-
It's a really beautiful day in Devon. The sun is streaming in through the window where I'm sitting and warming my back - it really is like the box of African sunshine Shiny sent us all is here in this light filled room. My father is in his favourite room in the house still hanging on in there. Very weak now. Not in pain. Calm and peaceful and surrounded by us all. We are all very emotional obviously, but through the tears we have found a strange black humour and a sense of wonderment and love that we are all in this together and able to be part of the extraordinary circle of life....I almost feel like a herd of elephants. It's very basic. Very fundamental. It's what animals have been doing forever. I've written about my father on many occasions before. He is not only my mentor but a very close friend. Somebody whose company I would search out to go to the pub with even if I was not related.... I wrote this one Father's Day about him:- "It was our years in Hong Kong that formed my strongest memories of my father. He was a fairly remote figure when I was growing up. He worked and my mother stayed at home. I mostly recall him in a suit having breakfast and occasionally popping home for lunch. I also remember lots of laughter, drinking, smoking and dancing, but not much of it involving us. Sometimes, when I couldn't sleep I remember him coming into my room. I don't ever recall him reading me a story, I remember him waving his cigarette about to make a pattern in the dark and then leaving me to sleep in a smoke-filled room. I think the three of us were more of an irritation for him than anything else, slightly getting in the way of his sailing, his gin and tonics and the attention of his wife. He has always put my mother before us and maybe that is how it should be. They enjoy each others company and have been married for 45 years. I sent him a virtual Father's Day card today with the following quote attached "The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother" Theodore Hesburgh I didn't like the fact that he preferred to be with her when I was growing up, but now I can see how important that is as a life message. Obviously children will grow up and leave and it is important to maintain and nurture your relationship with your partner (almost) over and above that of your children and to show them how to live in a loving, respectful relationship. It wasn't until my two brother's and I were old enough to go to the pub with him that his view of us began to change (and possibly vice versa). Once we could hold our alcohol and our own in a conversation, he started to enjoy our company. He retired before the age of 60 and loves it. He has learnt how to fly. He has a huge lust for knowledge. He reads, he sails, he talks, he travels. He also learnt how to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life, something he was unable to do during his working life. He is the first person I would turn to for advice regarding the big decisions in my life. When I need clarity, I talk to him. He has always been able to see the bigger picture and to cut through the crap. About 8 months ago his cancer came back and he was given a fairly grim prognosis. "Oh well, shit happens" was his response to the news. He said that he had done all that he had ever wanted to do in his life and that everything else was a bonus. Not long ago, after 6 months of chemotherapy he has amazingly been given the "all clear". Who knows what that exactly means, but for now, I love the fact that he is around and interested in our lives and even secretly quite proud of all of us for different reasons. I think that now, after years of questioning what life was all about, he looks at his life, at his wife and at us and feels that he has achieved enough. If nothing else, I believe it was important for him to give us simply "a father". Something he didn't have the luxury of. Long may it last." Well, it hasn't lasted nearly long enough. He's only 70. Too young. Yesterday, as I held his hand and rubbed his back and we talked about stuff and I told him all that he already knows he said in a very small voice "I am still trying to give your mother more of my life".....and it made me cry. What are we all going to do without him.