Day 58 – Reflections on Lock-Down

posted in: Stories | 3

Wow – it was so so hot today – they say the hottest day of 2020!  Maybe you can tell that from Honey the Dogs appearance in the blog photo!  I was in t-shirt and shorts and was still too hot!

But not just in the sun – but also really warm in the air – you don’t get that so much in Scotland.

This afternoon on our walk on Arthur’s Seat it was so busy.  Holyrood park was packed (socially distanced) – with sunbathers, drinkers, people reading books, playing games, picnics.  By far the busiest day since lock-down!

I actually found myself messaging a couple of friends to see if I had missed easing of lock-down in Scotland.  Realising that I hadn’t seen or read any news for over a week.  But no – apparently Scotland lock-down is still ‘Stay at Home’ but allowed out more than once to exercise.

There was so many people there, you would easily be mistaken to think that there was a festival (socially distanced) or some kind of event going on.

The hills round Arthur’s Seat were also really busy – topless sunbathers, drinking parties, Bar-BQ parties everywhere.  Not to complain – I think it is understandable with lock-down fatigue and confusion of lock-down rules across Westminster and Scotland.  Plus it being so hot and many people on furlough leave or out of work.  What was a little more concerning was the car park designated to Key Workers and Disabled was also full-up – usually there are about 3-4 cars in it.

No police about – everyone was socially distanced – I decided that the police maybe were at the beaches instead.

Sure enough I came across this article about Portobello beach today – describing crowds gathering on the beach during the hottest day since lock-down began.

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/people/crowds-gather-portobello-beach-hottest-day-lockdown-began-2859518?fbclid=IwAR0s4iLkOCvy-58i9UZBTybM7WTuth8l4Qi1XD_v6HwU-U1couASzN_Iicw

 

 

 



Readers Corner

Lots of sharing in response to yesterday’s blog in relation to how to social distance on the pavement and my idea of creating motorway lanes!  Plus some more explanation from Helen on what it is like to be Swedish – she is originally from Glasgow area.

 

Brian

Brian shared a Tweet ( https://twitter.com/edinspotlight/status/1263028384889798657?s=20 ) by Edinburgh Spotlight.  The Tweet said (see picture included):

“Good to see these @Edinburgh_CC [Edinburgh City Council] signs all over the city”

Brian commented saying:

“The influence of the blog?!”

That is my plan Brian – eventually all government ministers will be reading my blog and getting inspiration 😉

 

Helen

Helen put a comment on yesterdays blog, replying to my comments from her Readers Corner from yesterday.  Saying

“I’m not sure why “deci” is so quintessentially Swedish. Most metric countries are happy to describe things in ones, hundreds and thousands, like metre, centimetre and kilometre. Whereas, Swedes like things in tens, such as decimetre instead of 10 cm and “mil” instead of 10 km. I guess in a Swede’s head, a hectogram is a tenth of a kg? I googled a few things, but couldn’t find an explanation for why it is such a Swedish thing. However, I did find out that my usual way of writing “meter” is the US spelling, even though the US has not adopted the metric system. I must try to remember to write “metre” from now on.”

That’s lost me! 😉  I’ll bear it in mind when I come and visit you! x

 

 

Heshani

This is Heshani’s first time Readers Corner.  Welcome!

Heshani set up a public Facebook Group at the start of lock-down called ‘Life in the time of covid19 Group’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/3136569079707732), which I post my blog on everyday.

She posted a comment on yesterday’s blog with:

“Loved the different lanes idea and the story… you write so well Jim. One day I would love to take pics of On social distancing- the other day a woman with a pram was walking by and she had, what looked like a broom stick pole, so I thought this was funny and felt quite irritated that she had this thing sticking out. Turns out this was a 2m pole she pushed from side to side to stop people getting too close! how ingenious. I may need to get one of these. I feel v grumpy when people done follow the social distancing code… especially when we are in the meadows running. what with all that breathing etc. lots of love.”

She also put a comment at the end of the blog, saying:

“Loved the different lanes idea and the story… you write so well Jim. One day I would love to take pics of Honey.
Lots of love
Heshani”

Thanks for your comments Heshani.  Would love to get some photos of Honey – can put them on her Instagram (http://instagram.com/honeythedog_lab) That’s a great idea about the 2m broom stick pole.  I can see that catching on 😉

 

 

Matt

Matt posted a comment on Facebook:

We can but hope for the Brummies and the pavements, Jim!

Thanks for that Matt.  It’s launched today – you can let me know how its gone!

Are Birmingham folk less good at following rules?

 

 

Pat

Pat also commented on yesterday’s blog, with the following:

“Another Good Read…You Mentioned The Fox’s..I Have One And She Comes Around Every Night About 11 ish She Sits And Wait’s Till I Come To The Window And Feed Her..I Think At The Moment She Has Cubs As She Usually Eats What I Give Her There And Then But Recently She Has Been Picking It Up In Here Mouth And Taking It Away…I Do Enjoy Seeing Her Around.. Stay Safe and Stay Well My Friend…☘️☘️☘️☘️”

Awww – that’s great Pat, sounds like you’ve got a wee pet fox 🙂

 



Today is the anniversary of my grandmother (mum’s mum) death on 20th May 2007 at 05:47.  Our family called here ‘Mama’.

Her death coupled with my Dad’s death 2 years earlier in 2005, led to a series of events leading me to evaluate my life and stepping out of my career to follow my dreams and my heart to become self-employed, run my own business and work for myself.  It is their legacy that I took that scary step to follow my heart – so I always mark the two days when they died.

I said yesterday I saw a fox in the cemetery and also saw foxes after her death in Glasgow.  I looked up foxes in a spiritual sense – foxes reveal themselves during times of great and unpredictable change!  That’s clearly at the moment and back in 2007.

In the last few year’s of Mama’s life I got really close to her.  My Grandad (her husband) died a few years before and it was one Christmas when she said she didn’t think she would ever go to London again.  She lived in Norwich, Norfolk.  She was probably about 87 years old at that point.  A very small – 4 ft 10 (or maybe smaller due to age) lady – quite frail.

I was sad to hear her say she didn’t think she would get to London again.  So I offered to go with her for the weekend and a plan was made.  .

It was an amazing weekend.  She paid and I helped her, looked after her and kept her safe.  We stayed in a lovely hotel and went to the theatre on the Saturday night.  During that trip, she talked about going to the South of France when she was younger in the caravan, when my mum and Uncle were young.  Every year that was their annual summer holiday – she hadn’t been to the South of France for over 40 years and didn’t think she would go again!

You probably guessed what then happened – we planned a trip to the South of France, just the two of us.

Which involved quite a lot of arranging – she wanted to do lots of things she had never done before!

We flew London to Nice – British Airways, First Class.  She always wanted to go in a Helicopter – so we got a Helicopter trip from Nice to Monte Carlo.

When I was booking it (in the UK before the holiday) – there was no age restrictions to go on the helicopter (she was 88 years old), it just said that you had to fit enough to go in a helicopter.  She said she thought she was fit enough.  The pilot looked a bit taken a back – when I was pushing her into the helicopter.  But she made it.  And we had a great trip.

We hired a car.  Drove round the south coast of France.  Stayed in a lovely hotel, in a place called Menton, just on the Italian border.

Menton is connected to my father’s side of the family.  My great grand-father was a GP there during the early 1900’s for the English speaking population.  His daughter (my great aunt) remained there after her parents died.  Buying a house and gardens just behind their house – called Val Rahmeh.  She was a botanist.  In 1966 she sold her house and gardens to the equivalent of the National Museum of France – and it became a Garden of the Riviera – a Botanical Garden, which is open to the public to visit.

I’d been there before – but wanted to find Maybud’s (my great aunt) grave.

On the second day, we drove to the town’s cemetery and I sat her down on a bench and spent about an hour trying to find the grave. Not even knowing if she was buried there.  Popping back every so often to see if Mama was OK.  It was hot weather!

Maybe not the best thing to be doing for an 88 year old lady!

So the rest of the holiday, I would leave Mama by the swimming pool and ask the waiter to keep an eye on her and serve her whatever she wanted, tipping him well, whilst I went exploring the town and find the grave!

I found someone who originally was English, but now living in Menton and was fluent in French.  He was connected with Maybud’s gardens and spoke with the gardener who had known Maybud when he was a child.  She was not buried in Menton at all.  So we had a road trip to a wee village in the mountains and found her grave.

Near the end of the trip.  Mama announced she wanted to go to The Casino.  So we headed to the Casino that evening.

When we arrived – we went to go in and they said we needed our passports as ID.  They were back at the hotel.  So I sat Mama down at the bar, bought her a Gin & Tonic, told the bar staff to keep an eye on her, tipping them and went back to the hotel and got our passports.

We went to the entrance of the Casino with our Passports and the guy said, no shorts were allowed.  I was in my shorts.  So we returned to the bar.  I got her another Gin & Tonic and I went back to the hotel to change into trousers.  Returning and guess what – we were told no sandals were allowed!   Mama was in sandals so we did the whole thing again!

Finally after about an hour we were allowed into the Casino.

As we entered it was really quiet and I asked her what were we meant to do.  I’d never been to a Casino.  She said, she never had been to one either!  But we worked out that we had to change our money into Chips at a window.   We changed 100 Euros into Chips (remember the exchange rate back then was nearly 2 Euros to the Pound!).

She said she wanted to play roulette.  There was no one at the Roulette Wheel.  So we sat down and she insisted to just put one chip on either Odd or Even.  That’s it.  And we started to win.  I encouraged her to put more on.  But she said no – we just kept putting one chip on either Odd or Even.  And we won some more.  And some more…!!

When we got to winnings of about 300 Euros – all these people started appearing.  All smartly dressed – looking official.  They were coming through doors that were open in the wall.  And I started to feel intimidated.  They were all watching us.  I started to notice CCTV Cameras moving to our table and realised we were being watched.  By now there was about 10-15 people all crowding round watching.

It felt a bit scary.  But we kept on winning.  I started saying to her “come on – lets go and have a go on the Black Jack?”.  Hoping we would lose and then the atmosphere would become more relaxed.  But she just said “No – I want to stay here”..

When we got to 400 Euros of winnings.  I managed to get her to stop.  We went back to the window – cashed our winnings and left!  We split the winnings – 200 Euros each.  And headed back to the hotel.

Looking back on it – I wonder what the Casino Staff and Officials thought was going on.  I am sure they were watching us from a Control Room somewhere through CCTV.

They saw a 35 year old guy (me) with an 88 year old frail lady (Mama) – first going through the whole palava of trying to get into the Casino, being turned away over and over – and then just better on Odds or Even, raking in loads of money.  Then just leaving!

Anyway all in all – it was a special trip.

The following year, she had a fall – and was not feeling so well.

So I arranged to go and visit her for the weekend at her home in Norwich.  I hired a car when I was down there.

Took her to do her weekly food shopping at Waitrose.  Got a Cappuccino, which she always did – then spent the afternoon driving round the Norfolk coast, with her reminiscing and telling stories of her life when she was younger.

Sheringham, how Robert (my Uncle / her son) nearly drowned, West Runton, camping holidays round there, Pretty Corner, the Vicar of Stiffkey, Weybourne and Rhyme.  We had a an ice cream at Blakeney – which she always did when she was younger.

We then went home, had a wee sleep.  Then went back out to have dinner at Park Farm Hotel with my Uncle and Aunt.

But in the entrance she collapsed, I caught her – my uncle and aunt arrived a few minutes later.  Rapid Response Team gave her CPR and she went to hospital in an ambulance.

When my cousins came to see her in hospital about 2am, I went for a walk and found a small chapel.  The song ‘Make me a Channel of your Peace‘ was going through my head.  I found a hymn book to find the words, but it wasn’t in it.

So I sang ‘Lord of all Hopefulness‘, which we had sung at my Dad’s funeral.  I lit a candle.

At her funeral I gave the Eulogy and then we sang ‘Make me a Channel of your Peace’ – it felt at the chapel it was her message to us all – listen to it here on YouTube and the words – CLICK HERE

The rest of the family left, but I stayed with her – she was not conscious – but I spoke with her about life – our holidays, my family, stroking her face.  She took her last breath at 05:47am and died.

I spent over an hour with her body – waiting to feel her spirit leave her body.

When my Grandad died (her husband) we arrived to the hospital not long after he had died – and I went into the room where his body was, just me – and I felt his spirit leave his body – it was such the most beautiful feeling I had ever experienced..I wanted to feel that again with Mama.  I stayed with her body for over an hour, but it never happened.

So I finally left and got back to her house about 8am – and felt her spirit and presence very strongly in her home.  It felt she was waiting for me there.

It always confused me – why I didn’t feel her spirit leave her body.  I mean I was there when she died.

I then spent the next week or so in her house, sorting things out, death certificate, planning the funeral, etc…My mum was on holiday, my sister had young children, my Uncle and Aunt were finding it hard.  So I was the main one sorting everything out.  I only had one set of clothes with me (ever since I always take more clothes than I need when I go away – just in case!).

Ten months later (March 2008), all the family were clearing out her house to sell it.  I was the last to arrive.

Everyone was really excited to show me something.  Every clock in her house (it was quite big – 3 bedrooms) – had stopped. No longer working. The batteries had run out.  But they all had the same time on them – 8:43.  The house had been empty for the most part of 10 months.  Yet every clock had the same time on it.

The clock in her bedroom was stuck at 8.43 – the hand jumping – like it does when it is stuck.  Within 20 minutes of me seeing it stuck at that time, it had started moving again!  I now have that clock in my flat and it’s never done it again.

And then it dawned on me – that is when she had died.  It was the CPR that had revived her – but her spirit must have left her body at 8:43pm, not long after she had collapsed!

I started reading books on death and dying long before that, discovering Ram Dass.  And by then and still – 100% believe that life does not end when we die – there is continuation of life after death.  Our spirit or energy or something continues to live, when it leaves our body.  It’s our Western culture that has constructed us to believe that this is not the case.

For me, the clocks was Mama giving me proof that this was the case.  It was her sign to me.



As I come to the end of this blog, I feel that this is a tribute to Mama’s life.  Marjorie Shaw, 1917 – 2007.  The photo, I took of her the last day of her life.  Having a Cappuccino after shopping in Waitrose

She was 89 when she died.  She was convinced that she would die before she was 90.  As you would, the family, told her that would not be the case and booked a fancy hotel for the weekend to celebrate her birthday.  She died 2 months before her 90th Birthday, she was right!  We still went to the hotel in memory of her.

I must admit, it’s been cathartic writing this blog – I have cried most of the time whilst writing it – and still am!

The touching few years with Mama and the many memories.  We had a deep connection at the end.

I feel touched that she felt safe enough to let go when I was visiting her in Norwich and let death happen.

I feel totally honoured that I was able to be with her on the last day of her life.  A lady who lived 89 years, and I was able to be with her when she stopped breathing, even though I lived in Glasgow and she in Norwich.

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Lots of Love

 

Jim xxx

 

 

3 Responses

  1. Helen

    Thanks for sharing those memories ❤ What a wonderful lady and what a fantastic grandson giving her all those adventures in her final years here!

  2. Maddy

    That is a beautiful story Jim, and wonderfully written, very emotional. Best thing I’ve read in a long time x

  3. Graham

    Moving story Jim. You were obviously very close to your grandmother and she to you.

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