20 December 2017

Bah, humbug.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. So goes the song. Usually in the Alcoholic Daze household, it's looking pretty festive by now. I love Christmas.  I'm like an overgrown kid and go mad, decorating everything that doesn't move - shelves, banisters and walls - with holly, reindeer or baubles. Even the front door - which DOES move - gets an advent wreath plonked on it. I go to town with pre-Christmas food shopping, storing such things as the cake, stollen and chocolates in drawers ready for the big day.  Cards have all been sent out in the first week of December and presents are usually long bought by now and already wrapped. I usually can't wait for the big day to come. As I say, I'm an overgrown kid at heart.

The key to this post is usually. This year is different.  I feel almost guilty for daring to enjoy myself. With my mother's death only four weeks ago and her funeral only last week, it doesn't seem right to enjoy or celebrate. As I drive around the neighbourhood, the houses all lit up, the shops brimming with tinsel and choirs yelling out carols, it makes me feel like shouting out "Do you realise my mother has just died!"  I don't want to ruin other people's joy, but it is hard for me to feel it this year. Fresh grieving at this time of year is hard. People keep telling me Mum would have wanted me to carry on as usual and wouldn't want me to be sad. I cannot think of a single Christmas in the last 26 years when she has not celebrated with us, so it is going to seem very strange indeed that she is not here this year for the first time. 

I come from a very small family. I have no brothers or sisters, no cousins and, now, no parents or husband. Kay is all I have as a remaining relative. Whereas for the last seven years, since Greg's death, there has been my mother, Kay and me, now there is just Kay and me. Christmas Day is going to look very different this year with just two of us. We shall do our best to enjoy it, just relaxing and watching wall-to-wall films on TV, eating a bit too much and drinking a bit too much, but the feeling of guilt will be hard to push away.

Kay and I went to our local church's annual carol/nativity service last Sunday. There is nothing like it anywhere and the church is always packed to the rafters, often with standing room only. And, believe me, it is an enormous church.  At the beginning, the church is plunged into darkness and the nativity is enacted by adults who wander with candles or lanterns  as Shepherds or Wise Men  through the congregation as the nativity scene unfolds at the front. The choir sings haunting classical pieces relevant to every stage of the story.  By the end everyone in the congregation has lit their candles and the church is bathed in light and the smell of candlewax (or singed hair). It is a very emotional service. Somehow, that lifted my spirits - enough for Kay and me to be digging out a few things now from the cellar to decorate the house a little.

I hope you all have the type of Christmas you love and wish you all the best for 2018. It will be a new year and new beginnings for me, now I am no longer a carer for my mother.

13 December 2017


Who knew that organising a funeral could be so exhausting? Well, I did it seven years ago for my husband, but this one for my mother has seemed twice as time-consuming, but maybe I'm getting older or this time it was not for my "spouse", which makes everything more complicated.

For the last three weeks I have been beetling away organising, organising and, well, organising.  What with appointing the funeral directors, planning the Order of Service, liaising with the vicar (my mother was low-key religious, but religious nonetheless), making our own Order of Service programmes and printing them, ordering flowers, organising food for the reception afterwards, informing people and inviting them. ... The list goes on.

In tandem with that I was informing utilities and banks, building societies and Uncle Tom Cobley that my mother was dead. Then there was probate. Ah, probate. A word I have heard but never bothered to define. It seems to manage anyone's financial affairs, you need probate. And before you can seek a grant of probate, you need to fill in an inheritance tax form, even if you don't actually need one. And before you can get that, you have to have certified proof of the deceased's financial situation on the date of death from all of the financial institutions involved including property valuations from a bona fide estate agent. That list goes on too.

So for three weeks  I have been on an administrative treadmill. The funeral was yesterday. All my planning came to a successful head and I was complimented on what a lovely service and wake it was. It was fair to say by last night I was well and truly pooped, cream-crackered, with the stuffing taken out of me. Once home, I fell asleep on the sofa at 7pm for Christ's sake. That is so not me.

There is still much to do to wind up my mother's affairs, but I guess the pace will be a tad slower. To be fair, it is also helping to distract me. For the last six months I had been visiting my poorly mother on a daily basis, so it has been a considerable adjustment not to be doing that all of a sudden. It's probably just as well I have something to distract me until I find my feet again.