Put in order
I have taken a break from writing our Sunflower Journey as I seek to understand what it will become, what it is to be in this new context.
There is absolutely a blend of emotions. There is a wonderful comfort in being home – friends, family, recognisable places and things. But also a subtle sadness for a pause in our adventures, and the rigour of a household back to school and work.
Many think I look for too much, too much clarity, too much definition, but hey, you can’t teach this old dog new tricks. You tell me to slow down, to reflect on all that we have done, but really I’m only ever looking onwards. I continually seek the possibility, the moment, the chance. Understanding our new chapter and finding the words and story to fill it. What can we see, do, feel and experience, and how do we fully welcome England back into our lives?
I haven’t figured it all out, but it will happen. In the meantime I feel still on a journey of sorts, and therefore compelled to document its progress and any more permanent effects and change as a result of the adventure we undertook. I know there are many, but these are often subtle. How long will they stay, or will we once again get absorbed into a similar lifestyle as before? I think of Cambodia often, it was the place of the deepest learning, and from it a greater confidence in ourselves than ever before. I see that in each of us, more confidence in our own capabilities and our readiness to try, to experiment, to stretch.
We are very much in the mode of simplification, sorting through old, stored belongings and binning most of it. It feels strangely liberating, and time to start again. This is a process of course, and there are mixed emotions – why did we ever have so much stuff? What made us think we needed it all? And there are memories, every bit of “stuff” has a memory associated with it – a time when it was used, a story, a gift. The funniest of all, the dress-up box. Many a party in years gone by, and ready for the next wave.
I have returned to work, to a new job I am thrilled to have. I can officially announce normal life and household routines has indeed returned. I can’t really describe how I feel, other than feeling very, very tired. As I ramp up my career once again, I feel daunted but also a sense of relief for the intellectual stimulation that strangely also gives me permission to properly relax. There is a sense of pleasure that comes from a hard days work, you’ve earnt your rest, or in my case, a large Martini.
We have had rather a topsy turvy few weeks. Highlights and a rather Large Lowlight. Highlights have absolutely been the connection with family and friends. I get to speak to Mum in the same time zone, as many times as I want, and sometimes I will ring purely because I can. We have my Sister & Co visiting from New Zealand so family parties have been the order of the day, and I think we will soon have strawberries and cream growing out our ears. We have managed several visits to the pub on our own, with friends, with family, and one short visit just myself and Big O. It was his idea, and you have to start the way you mean to go on, right?
School fetes, discos, outings, and dress-up, the boys are having a ball. They seem to happy at school, making friends easily and still claiming the highlight of their day is always the tuck shop and school dinners! We have cycled to school several times, taking a beautiful route along the canal, a far cry from the crazy chaos of the streets of Battambang, Cambodia.
Boys are loving everything that would appear to be quintessentially English – parks, walks, trees, tractors, festivals and picnic teas aplenty.
There have been lowlights, and these are linked to my father-in-law’s rapid onset of Dementia, and a sudden move for him from Liverpool to a care home in Bath to be near his sons has been far from easy. Far from happy with his new environment, he managed to break loose and go on several walkabouts across the city, rescued by the police on several occasions. A total failure in the security procedures and sufficient support from the care home (at one thousand pounds a week no less), meant a further move was necessary.
My new project was to find a more suitable home, and this was no mean feat. Dementia patients don’t take well to a change in environment, and these past weeks has opened my eyes more than I wished them to be opened at what life can become. Eight specialist Dementia homes later, and I was traumatised at the state of the system, taking with me some harrowing sights that were to reappear in my dreams and slumber. A burgeoning care home sector charging extortionate weekly rates, and no support financially, emotionally, or practically for patients and families from the government until all they have left in the world is twenty thousand pounds. Only at this stage, social services intercede with funding. This rarely meets the cost of the home, and it is down to family to make all the necessary arrangements. Seriously, this is a big ask. Unexpected in many cases, there is significant stress and burden placed on families.
We have successfully placed Grandpa in a new care environment, and we don’t expect any further upheaval to his routine and care. It is incredibly sad, and yet we feel we have done everything we can for now.
We have kept a sense of humour throughout, it’s natures way and helps you cope. To be sure we have some funny stories to tell in time, but for now perhaps I realise why I am perhaps a little weary.