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Four Funerals..and No Weddings
Looking Back at 2007
Member Name: helencb
Looking Back at 2007
Advantages: Glad it's over
Disadvantages: There's another one coming around the corner, and I have to hope it delivers what I really want
I have always contributed to the "Year in View" category - a time for a little private and public reflection, to look back at the year that has just gone, and a time to refocus for the coming year. However this is one year, I will not be sorry to see the back of, quite frankly!
Rewinding the clock a little over a year, and I was in Geneva, consulting with a five star hotel chain, but more importantly I was dealing with a horrible piece of news, something which I was to find out in 2007 is actually harder than dealing with bereavement itself. Without going into the details this bombshell was down to a close family member who is mentally unstable and has caused a lot of hurt to many people but nevertheless someone we have supported for 20 years.
I was only consulting in Geneve however, and I left there a few days before last Christmas to go and spend the holiday period with my sister in hotter climes. I spent New Year's Eve at home and in my local, and while I didn't know what the future held then, I hoped I would have hoped for things to be a little different.
Top of my New Year's Resolutions then, was to get a new job - something closer to home. I actually had a call to go for an interview with a lovely four star chain while out in Geneva and so by the first week in January I spent several hours in the interview process before netting myself a new job, about 30 minutes from home and in a stunning hotel. However the day had already had its low point in that morning a favourite uncle (my husband's uncle) passed away in the early hours. The day after the funeral, I began my new job, for once, based within a hotel instead of driving between lots of them.
February came and my elder sister visited with her daughter for a few short days; we attended a concert in the City Centre although unfortunately the trip was a little short to squeeze in much sightseeing, just a little shopping in Nottingham, but still it was good to catch up. Poor niece had a cold and probably would have been better at home, but the concert was very enjoyable.
I was also struggling with trying to dissuade my parents from selling their home and then renting it back, something which was to make the news later in the year as the sub prime mortgage market made the news. My Mum was having none of it, despite the fact that selling the home for a pittance and then renting it back for a fortune was doing nothing to achieve her aim of living in a bungalow. Work proceeded at our own house, in particular we decorated two bedrooms and the hall, stairs and landing, which is a sizeable area as we are three storeys.
The spring of course must have been one of the warmest and driest on record, and I would frequently come home to find my husband in the garden, part way down a glass of wine and on the phone to my parents, trying to talk them out of the nonsensical deal. However a phone call just before Easter worried me, and I told my Dad I would be up on Easter Sunday, and would cook dinner for them both as a treat.
We travelled to Prague during the first week of May, a trip which had been planned for five months to coincide with the builders installing a new bathroom. Our previous bathroom actually dated from 1930, the main problem with this being a very basic shower attachment over the bath was serving as our main shower, and it constantly leaked into the kitchen - I think I was looking forward to getting home more than the trip itself. However Prague is a wonderful city, and I recommend going for at least five days to fit everything in. We got back on the Saturday night, prior to bank holiday, and I dashed upstairs expecting to see my almost complete bathroom, only to find a bath with no taps, no sink, and a toilet with no seat or cistern! In fact we were another week before the bathroom was even liveable and after a week of showering at work (hotel!) or neighbours, or even visiting the pub just across the road to pay a visit, and it is perhaps no surprise that we are still in litigation with this company! (But not for reasons of delay, unbelievably they are trying to charge us significantly more!)
Prague in fact was to become my only holiday of the year, more by accident than by design.
June came and almost went. The hot dry days that were abundant in March and April seemed to have been replaced by hottish days and loads of rain. Torrents in fact. So much so that one day I had no option but to get my feet wet if I was to get to my car, the rain along my road unable to drain away. On driving out of the village, I realised I had forgotten my mobile, however decided I wasn't going to go back and have to wade through puddles once again.
That day, I got a call at work to say my Mum had died. Colleagues ran me home, although that was not easy as there was extensive flooding and the main road to the village was now closed. I finally made it and I picked up my mobile phone, to find loads of missed calls including calls from my Father using Mum's phone. A friend of theirs stayed with him until I finally got there at 630pm, some 7 hours since she had died, at home, but weather was not on our side in the Midlands and North that day and the journey was literally the longest ever. I still had to ring my sister overseas, as I didn't have her number at work, and she had also not taken her blackberry to work that day, so it seemed to take ages to locate her.
After a night where I hadn't wanted to go to bed, I picked up my two sisters from Manchester airport and Piccadilly train station respectively. None of us had ever had to organise a funeral before, but it was so good to be able to spend time with each of them, and while grieving ourselves, we had our Dad to protect. The funeral was on July 4th, and obviously was difficult, although we did get to spend time with some relatives and Mum's friends, which was nice in itself. Unbelievably, I got home the next day to read the most shocking letter of my life thus far. I know timing might have been the problem but it seems the malicious acts of the year before had come back to bite. In fact it shook me up for far longer than the news of my own Mum's death and still does.
We had, however, in our trip to Manchester, managed to call at the home of one of my best friends. Now living in Buxton, her and her partner had decided to have a child at the ripe old age of 39, fallen pregnant immediately and married at Gretna the previous December. Myself and my sister visited the new family, and I was able to feed their six week old daughter with a bottle, which was a lovely moment for me and for them.
I had literally been back at work a couple of days when I got a call from my Dad's neighbours to say he was in hospital, where he was to remain for about 9 weeks. Although I live 100 miles away, I was still the nearest relative geographically, and there was lots of "stuff" which cannot be ignored, after a death. It perhaps didn't help when the hospital told my Dad to have his "next of kin" there the following morning at 0830am and wouldn't tell him why. While not in the best of health, there was no reason to send us that message, immediately after a bereavement, but thankfully he did come out eventually. At the same time, my husband's cousin also passed away after illness, someone he was close too from school days and beyond.
My friend Claire was a rock of support helping me at my Dad's house as well as treating me to a much needed day at Eden Spa and visiting my Dad in hospital. It was devastating then, to attend her own Father's funeral in October, in fact the day after I left the job that I only started in January.
Anyway, unbelievably among all of this, I was being head hunted for a more senior role at another hotel, there were lots of reasons not to go, including familiarity with the company I was with, loyalty as they had been compassionate, organised accommodation for my family, and hadn't questioned my return to work, but I did succumb to the other company and had three lengthy interviews before deciding to join them at the end of October despite being asked to stay where I was with a promotion. I did finish with my employer in the first week of October and wanted a few weeks off to chill out, and so didn't fit in another holiday in the end, partly for financial reasons and partly for the need to chill and rest. At the beginning of October my niece who married last year had her first child, a little boy.
And December, despite having owned my house for two years, we had never spent Christmas here. We have just had my Dad to visit for the week, along with my sister and niece again, and we have had a good time, well as good as can be expected given it was exactly six months since Mum died. He seemed to enjoy the local though, just ten paces across our road!
So. I apologise if that read was melancholy and depressing but it does unfortunately sum up my year. I started a new job at the end of October, and despite only having worked there 8 weeks, I feel I needed that fresh start, now I drive a new direction each day - the role is more challenging for me and I am working a long way from home, but equally it was a private goal which I accomplished quicker than I expected, albeit in a different company to the one I imagined. I am staying tight-lipped about 2008, as it is a big year for me, the year I turn 40 (life changing, they tell me!), and career wise I think I am in the right place for now and for the future - but my main priorities are to look after my own needs, which have been somewhat neglected, but in particular spend more time with my Dad and my two sisters.
Thanks for reading, and all the best for 2008. I don't know where I will be but I hope it is in a better place!
Our Family Chain
We little knew that morning
That God would call your name.
In life we loved you dearly
In death we do the same.
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you did not go alone
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.
You left us beautiful memories
Your love is still our guide
And though we cannot see you,
You're always by our side
Our family chain is broke
And nothing seems the same
But as God calls us one by one
Our chain will link again.
Summary: My Year in View