Pampered.

Back at the end of March was Mother’s Day here in the UK.  The hair salon I visit is also an Aveda Spa and they had put together various packages for sons and daughters to purchase for their Mothers as a treat.  Now I know I am not a Mom in the true sense of the word but I am Mom at home to my own Mom and I was for my Dad too.  The salon were only too happy for me to come along and have a bit of “me time” and have a treat.

I was still stressed leaving the house even though one of my most trusted carers was with Mom.  I knew Mom was safe and sound, looked after and I was ten minutes away but I still worry.  However, somehow, I actually did relax and for the first time in years I did cut off from the real world for at least ten minutes and just totally relaxed and listened to the sounds of the waves on the seashore that was gently playing in the background.

My pamper session consisted of a mini facial, a rejuvenating eye treatment, a hand and arm massage and a wash and blow dry complete with a head and shoulder massage and a glass of Prosecco and chocolates. It all felt amazing and I was so glad I left the house and treated myself.

 

With love and sparkles xxx

Easter Blessings.

I know, I’m a day late which is pretty good going for me really.  It is still officially Easter as it is Easter Monday.  I hope you have all enjoyed a wonderful long weekend, for a change here in the UK the weather has been amazing; blue sky, sunshine and warm temperatures.

Easter was another in my “year of firsts”, Easter without Dad.  The build up to Easter I found very emotional, it actually felt as bad as it did when Dad first passed but with more realisation of what had happened.  However, I watched the online services from Knock Shrine, I kept in touch with people via social media and I looked after my fairy of a Mom, my number one priority.

A few picture below of things that have kept me going the last few days.

A hanging basket of Viola’s I thought I had well and truly killed off last year bloomed beautifully.  The Robin Tree, Flame Tree and Willow Tree are all coming on this Spring. I’m doing my best to keep Mom and Dad’s garden in good shape.

img_8462

My own little growing project is coming on.  Our porch is like Spain when the sunshine and heat come through during the day.  I’m thrilled to see something I planted grow.

img_1555

Look, it had to be done, Snapchat filters are amazingly kind to me!!

img_8463

Happy Easter.

With love and sparkles xx

Back to the music and other happenings.

I wasn’t at all sure about the return to the music just yet. I wanted to and I didn’t want to, if that makes any kind of sense.  Was my heart truly in it?  Would it feel the same? I’m glad I gave it a chance.  The singing released a lot of built up stress, pressure. It just came out as I sang.  I was careful what I sang though, it’ll be a while before I can sing certain songs.  It did me good to sing.

img_1516

I wasn’t as rusty as I thought I would be upon my return to the guitar lessons. This was a different release to the singing.  My mind had to concentrate so much on what I was doing I relaxed for forty-five minutes and gave my attention to guitar chords.  I’ve made a list of the songs I was getting good at plus the ones I wasn’t very good at, at all.  This is my list of songs to practice until perfect with a view to an acoustic recording session and hang on, dare I even think this…gigging.  I just need to find some time to practice!

img_7862

One from last Summer, it feels so good to be able to play a song on the guitar.

img_1518

The list!!!

It was Mom’s birthday recently.  I think she knew it was a special day and she did enjoy opening lots of beautiful cards.  She received some absolutely gorgeous flowers. We made it through another first without Dad although I have the feeling he was most definitely here.

img_8382

Himself has got into the habit of cooking something for me.  He knows that if he goes to the trouble of cooking something I will eat it. I’m very lucky in how he looks after me when he can get over here and that he is a good cook.

img_1513

Quorn Pasta Bake and it was delicious.

img_8325

Himself.

I started to do a bit of cooking myself too, for Mom.  I was very pleased with myself that I made her a quite acceptable leek and potato soup, go me! I’m going to try her with smoothies next.

 

A little gardening project for myself for the Spring and Summer, you see I am endeavouring to keep myself busy and do some things for me whilst the carers are here to help me with Mom.

img_8346-1

As we have had some fairly nice weather I have started to go for a walk around the block when the carers first arrive as Mom is usually still asleep so I can get about an hour to do something for me.  Usually it is taken up with administration but it does feel good to get out in the fresh air.

 

Spring blossoms out far too early yet still so beautiful.

And finally for this particular blog post, mixed emotions and note to self.

 

Pictures are my own and these last two quotes are via Pinterest.

With love and sparkles xx

Automatic Pilot.

Well the weeks continue to roll by and I keep trying to make sense of things, adjust to this “new normal”. I still feel as if I have brain fog which is almost protecting me from the reality of losing my Dad although I feel reality is coming home a little more every day. Automatic pilot is wearing off, the tears fall and time is just flying by. I cannot believe we are into mid April already although I’m still a little behind on my blog posts.

I thought I’d do a “this is what I have been doing” blog post so that you can see I really am trying to deal with things, look after Mom and try to return to some sense of normal.

img_8361

Another “first” without Dad, we raised a glass to him and I hope there was one huge hooley going on in heaven.

img_8356

After telling me to start eating healthy and look after myself, himself rocks up with these little temptations.

img_8359

Aforementioned drinks for raising a glass or two!!

img_1508

Not traditional Irish fare for us for St Patricks Day – we had Indian instead.

img_1498

Signs of Spring.

img_1505

A “me time” cappuccino during a long overdue trip to the hair salon.

It’s the little things that matter the most.

Until next time, with love and sparkles xx

 

 

 

The First Night Out.

Many people have mentioned to me that this year will now be a year of firsts.  The first time I do something without Dad, the first time we have birthdays etc without Dad.  I have experienced a year of firsts before, in 2006 when my sister passed away suddenly. It felt very different to how I feel now and of course back then, I had Mom and Dad to help me through it, we were there for each other.   This is different because Mom is happy in her own world and can’t support me and Dad is supporting me from his new home.  Yes it is all very different.

I had mixed feelings when my country music friends were messaging me about going to see John McNicholl when he played Birmingham three weeks ago.  I wasn’t sure I was up to it.  I know Dad would have been the first one to say “Go, go out and enjoy yourself”.  It was the emotional side of things that was affecting me.  Seeing that group of friends for the first time, crying, hugging, singing, dancing.  Was it all going to be too much too soon?

Once again my amazing man was there to help me by coming over to visit that evening and sit with Mom. If I decided to just go to the dance I knew Mom was safe and sound. I decided to go.  John had telephoned me about Dad and messaged me and I wanted to support him plus I felt it was better to get this particular first out-of-the-way.

I felt incredibly alone and vulnerable getting ready to go.  I felt physically sick leaving the house and I felt weak, barely able to walk when I arrived at the venue.  I never felt so alone as I did when I walked into the club. John was already on stage, people were dancing and I felt lost.  One of my friends appeared at my side, gave me a huge cuddle, a glass of wine and took me over to the table where everyone was.  One by one we hugged, had a tear and held hands.  The sense of support was wonderful.  A family friend who has known my parents forever was there to support me too.  When I cried he took me out waltzing on the dance floor and he tried so hard to make me laugh.  John as always was so supportive and lovely although I didn’t get to speak to him for long.  As usual I had arranged my taxi far too early.

One of the main things I missed was Dad worrying about me.  Whenever I went out alone to meet my friends at a dance he always worried about me travelling alone.  I missed that conversation so much.

Was I glad I went out?  Hmmm I’m still unsure how to answer that one.  It was lovely to see me friends, to see John and the lads and there was such a big turnout for a Sunday night I was very pleased for John.  I didn’t get my usual sense of excitement, I wasn’t my usual diva on the dance floor but how could I be, it was my first night out.

img_1497

Well it’s not a proper night out without a Snapchat filter!

img_0413

A little blurred but a lovely reminder of the support I received from a great friend of my parents.

John and the lads rocking St Anne’s with a Neil Diamond Medley.

 

Lost.

I don’t know what other word to use, I’m absolutely and totally lost.  So much has happened since my last couple of blog posts.  I had meant to continue with my story of Mom’s broken wrist which resulted in her becoming immobile which then resulted in a ten-day hospital stay due to severe dehydration, chest infection and low levels of various vitamins we need in our body.  Mom is currently on a hospital bed in our lounge. She is happy, she is much healthier and she can walk; as in she has the strength and ability to walk, it’s just down to fear/confidence and of course the state of confusion from her cognitive degeneration on the day which dictates if she will walk or not.

But I didn’t get to blog in-depth about these things, to write it down, to let it out because other events took over.  Dad was not well.  He had various medical issues for years which were all being managed by the Doctor and his medication.  However the end of last year he was getting weaker, feeling dizzy and his blood pressure was becoming very low.

Dad’s 92 birthday was on 19th January and the following week he became very ill indeed. We had an emergency admission to hospital on the Thursday evening after the Doctor had been to see us twice at home due to Dad’s increasing weakness.  On the Saturday afternoon Dad took a turn for the worse and the Doctor said he was very sorry but Dad didn’t have long left, his body was shutting down.  What happens to our brains when we hear these words?  I was still standing up?  I was crying but I was still breathing and I immediately went into protection mode for my Dad.  I stayed with him, I held him, I cuddled him, I talked to him, I told him I loved him and thanked him for being the most amazing Dad. I told him I would always look after Mom. I held his hand, I told him to go fly with the angels and he did in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The feeling of what I can only call energy around his bed was incredible, it steadily grew all afternoon, into the evening and onwards until he crossed over.  Half of my worst nightmare had happened, I had lost my Dad.  Yet I felt some peace as I was with him and he had been at peace and no pain.  Two of my cousins were with me as was my best friend and they took over to look after me.  My boyfriend was home looking after Mom. Mom knew we were at hospital but not how bad things were.

Somehow, with the help of my cousins I did all the formalities and arranged a funeral. I’m sure I had guidance from above as I just seemed to know what hymns to choose, what clothes Dad would have wanted to wear, the appropriate readings etc.  We had the funeral on 14th February, Valentines Day and it was a day full of perfect love.  It was even warm and sunny.

Mom doesn’t yet know what has happened, under medical advice for now not to tell her as it could have a detrimental effect on her health.  I am however convinced by middle of the night talks she is having with “someone” and the words that are being spoken, that she knows somewhere deep inside what has happened.

The loneliness is indescribable; Dad and I were always chatting about something or other.  Once the carer leaves mid afternoon that’s it for me and Mom until the following day.  Sometimes Mom is chatty, sometimes we put our music on and sometimes Mom is sleepy and I sit there, thinking, reading, online, catching up on messages but my heart isn’t in anything much apart from looking after Mom.

My man has been so supportive, he was over here every night for a month, cooking in advance to make sure I eat and generally looking after me so I can look after Mom. We got this down to three nights a week and this week we are down to two nights a week. It is a fifty mile round trip for him and he has his own Mom to look after plus he works from home.  He was getting so tired out and I know, I have to learn to live with this horrible new normal.  My friends and cousins too have been so supportive with their calls and messages and my online friends too have been great.  It’s one of those times isn’t it when no-one knows exactly what to say.

I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this, writing has helped me in the past and I can’t let my tears out unless there is someone to sit with Mom and I can escape so perhaps this blog post will be a little therapeutic for me.

I feel like a lost little girl who is having to be very grown up and responsible and look after things the grown up’s always looked after.  People tell me how strong I am. I don’t feel strong, I feel I’m a mess yet we keep going.  Our world has fallen apart never to be the same again yet the world keeps on turning.

I’m rambling, more so than usual.  I had so many happy things to blog about; my music, going to see Home Free  but I never got around to those posts.  We started to put a website together for my music and that too has been left.

It has helped in a scrambled kind of way to offload on my blog.  I was wondering if I would bother to blog again.  Then I thought of a favourite blogger Often Called Cathy who always manages to find something positive no matter how bad things are and it made me think.   I was truly blessed to have Dad as my Dad, I was also blessed to have him for so long in my life and it was a complete privilege to be able to care for him over the past years and to be with him as he crossed to the next life.

I made Dad three promises in January; that I would always look after Mom, that I wouldn’t lose my sparkle and that I wouldn’t give up on my music.  The first is easy right now, I’ll work on the other two.

img_1460

Roses Mom and I sent to Dad for his birthday.

img_1484

The Snowdrops are out.

img_8289

The love goes on.

img_1489

I had a walk around the block yesterday, get some fresh air, the daffodils are in abundance.

img_8312

Every day x

 

Is it too late…

…to wish you all a very happy 2019!

For the first time ever Christmas appears to have fitted in around our life at home whereas it usually becomes the main focus of December for us. This Christmas though things were very different at home. Christmas seems to have come and gone with little or no recognition at all. We watched Midnight Mass from Knock Shrine live on You Tube. We had some visitors popping in and out and I did manage to get Christmas cards written and sent and gifts organised. Thank goodness for the Internet!

A beautiful surprise on Christmas Day in the evening when some neighbours arrived at the door with home made soup, Christmas dinner, dessert, cheese and biscuits and Christmas crackers. They knew I would struggle to put together a Christmas dinner as the caring role continues as usual whatever day it is, so they decided to share. To me, this was the true meaning of Christmas, love, caring, sharing and kindness.

A few photo’s below of my Christmas time. I wish you all a very happy, healthy and blessed 2019. (I will continue my update from the last blog post as soon as I can).

I just love this photo, my sparkles and my boyfriend’s trainers.

A beautiful surprise gift from a school friend.

I couldn’t put up our usual tree so I bought a small sparkling one for Mom and Dad. It was lovely to sit and watch the colours changing.

A broken wrist…

…that’s how this latest sequence of events got started. I heard movement via the baby monitor, I rushed out of bed but I just didn’t get to Mom in time, I heard the thud as I entered her room as she fell to the floor. Dad presses his Careline alarm, the ambulance was on the way, it was 6 am on a late September Tuesday morning.

Thankfully the only bone breakage was Moms wrist. She hit her head and knee when she fell but all appeared to be well. After all the X-ray’s and tests we were taken to the “Elder Care Day Unit” for further assessment prior to discharge. Not much happened here to be honest. A Doctor spoke to me about DNR (do not resuscitate), which frightened the life out of me, what were they talking about, Mom had broken her wrist and her obs were fine! Blood tests all fine too. A lady spoke to me about it being better to be home to heal which I agreed with especially as Dad was currently at home with the carer. The lady made a comment about older people who stay in hospital “not going home if you understand me”. Again I was perplexed, we are dealing with a broken wrist, not heart surgery.

The unit closes at 4pm, it was obvious they wanted us gone by then. They wheeled us down to the coffee shop to await our lift home. I didn’t check Mom’s mobility, I never even thought about it, neither did they. When it was time to get into the car Mom couldn’t stand up, never mind walk. She was frightened and had pain. Two paramedics were close by and they helped Mom to get into the car. We started the journey home.

Half way home Mom experienced a low blood pressure crash, she was quite unwell. We stopped the car and called for the paramedics. They arrived within thirty minutes by which time Mom had recovered. They didn’t want to traumatise her day further by taking her from the car to the ambulance for further checks. Better to get home and call them again if required. We were just five minutes from home. I asked if they could follow us home but unfortunately they couldn’t.

We reached home. It was 7pm, a very long, exhausting day for Mom. It took four of us, thirty minutes to get Mom from the car to the chair lift seat in the hallway. She was so tired out she was bent double with her eyes closing, desperately trying to put one foot in front of the other with the aid of the walking frame and four of us. I honestly thought we’d never get inside. Another low blood pressure crash and more paramedics. They lifted Mom into her chair in the lounge, checked her obs which were all good and Mom was a little more settled. Dad was crying with the trauma of it all and I honestly don’t know how I held it together. A friend who lives close by had come to support me and once Mom was safely in the lounge I cried and cried and cried as my friend comforted me in the kitchen.

Slowly as it became late night, carers left, neighbours left and my friend also had to leave. I started to make some phone calls. I needed some support. I was alone, I felt isolated and unprepared to deal with things alone. There was nothing. For all the emergency back up I thought I had in place for these situations, everything failed, I was the wrong type of emergency.

It had been one hell of a day, it was just the start of things to come.

This is why I have been missing from my blog for three months and very sporadic on social media. Life has altered so much at home, a lot of changes and I’ve been full on, all things to everyone is how it feels. Trying to get to grips with everything, keep on top of everything, looking after the changing care needs of my parents has been exhausting. I decided to write about it all in chunks, it will help me process the journey to where we are now as Christmas rapidly approaches. Who would think a small break to the wrist could be so life altering?!

Over the following few days we received some beautiful flowers from friends and relatives who came to visit us. I was struck by the Yellow theme, it made me feel my Sister was close to us, helping us from heaven.

I’ll be back with the next chapter as soon as I can.

With love and sparkles xx

Has it been that long?

Well yes it appears it has been a month since I managed to get to my blog.  Mid September already, the long hot beautiful Summer is already becoming a memory as we drift into the cooler days and shorter evenings of Autumn.

It has been busy, as usual.  Caring really is a full time, 24/7, no days off, no night off, profession so I take my breaks when I can.  As you know the past five months Dad has experienced illness after illness after illness.  It has been so tough on him, on Mom and on me.  Dad has gone from being able to do quite a few things for himself and his chosen jobs around the house to not being able to do very much at all, so it has fallen to me.

We’ve had a great run again of getting to bed at night, 42 nights in a row broken only the other night when Mom decided to stay up.  So we start counting again.  42 nights is amazing, it has been years and years since we have had any good run of getting to bed and we’ve had two good runs so far this year.  I’m aware that Sundown season is approaching but fingers crossed.

Over the past two weeks Dad has slowly, and I mean slowly, started to show signs of improvement.  He has managed to eat small amounts regularly which in turn has assisted with keeping that dreadful gunk he was coughing up all night and day, at bay. He still has the cough and the gunk but it is vastly reduced.  He is managing to get some sleep at night, another benefit.  He is feeling a bit better in himself, he is chatting more, watching the news again and has even reached for his diary and prayer books.  These are all good signs of Dad feeling a little better in himself.

Mom bless her has been so supportive of him, caring for him, advising him and trying to help him in her own way.  Sometimes she has been very frightened when the cough and gunk has been in full flow.  Somehow we have managed to come through the past five months.  I thank God every night for giving us another blessed day together as a family.

In the meantime, I have lots to share on the music front, some of which you may have seen on my social media which I have stepped up a gear.  I will update the music blog as soon as I can.  I have been reading your blogs as they come through on my email, when you are up at night and you need to stay awake they make excellent reading and I love them, they make me feel connected, thank you.

A few photo’s from the past month or so, with love and sparkles xxx

A random lunch with one of my friends and yes I had that dessert again but we did share.  Love my cup of coffee in the mornings.

Delighted that my Shamrock has started to grow again after the heavy snow and frost had killed it off earlier this year.  My little tubs and baskets didn’t do too badly either this Summer.

img_1215

And Snapchap still makes me giggle and does away with the wrinkles…Go Snapchat!!!

How long has it been?!!

Mid August already!! How is this possible?  I have come to the conclusion that the reason I am on the go all the time and still don’t get everything done is because time is just moving too quickly these days…or am I just getting old?

I have a “to do” list a mile long but I have missed writing my blog so I’ve made myself a cup of coffee and decided to do a quick catch up post.  Thankfully I receive emails updates from my favourite blogs so I have kept more or less up to date with your lovely blog posts and of course I have my comments to make…that’s on the “to do” list.

Well since I last wrote poor Dad has been unwell again bless him.  We had that slight improvement and then things went downhill.  Once again the throat played up and we have a vicious circle going on.  Dad has no appetite as he has no taste on the food and his throat is sore. Because he is not eating so well he is weak, frail and has a mixture of reflux and other acid forcing it’s way up in the most awful coughing I have ever heard.

Another attack of Thrush or so we thought but after a week of treatment the white patches were still there.  The Dr tried another medication which has helped clear up the patches, reduce the soreness and in turn Dad has persevered to eat more substantial food which in turn has meant that the acid is reducing, the cough is reducing and he is getting some sleep at night.  I feel for him, this bout of illness, one thing after another, has been going on since just before Easter.  He is wore out.

In my last update I was celebrating a run of 33 days of going to bed, Oh I spoke too soon. July ran at two nights a week no bed and also into the start of August, we are having a good week this week…shhhh.  Mom is such a little darling though, she has been amazing looking after Dad in her way.  All that nursing knowledge is still there. So beautiful to watch them sitting hand in hand watching the TV and singing along with You Tube.   One night when I was tucking her into bed she thanked me for caring.  I said “Mom you don’t have to thank me at all”  and her reply was that it isn’t everyone that would give up their life to look after two old spirits.  I could have just wept there and then.  I don’t feel I have given up my life.  Undoubtedly my life has  completely changed but I have to say that I have an inner happiness and peace now that I didn’t have whilst on the corporate daily slog although I enjoyed that.  Such importance is placed on meetings, deadlines, payment times, performance reviews etc in that world but to me, in the grand scheme of things, those things don’t really matter to life.  I don’t miss the stress and anxiety of the corporate world.

In the midst of all of this, it was my birthday and we actually had a lovely weekend.  My chap was over for the weekend, I was so lucky to receive so many cards and some beautiful gifts.  Himself even bought me flowers which he never does and oh yes, I asked him what he had done!!  I have a few photo’s to share with you below.  There is much happening with the singing at the moment which I will write in another post.  I’m hoping that this is just the busy period, setting everything up and once it’s done, it’s done and I can get back to just singing when I can.

With love and sparkles until the next time xxx

img_7775

A simple thing but I really love the Twitters birthday balloons!

img_1103

My chap and I actually got out for a birthday meal together and this was my dessert and I enjoyed every single mouthful.  Meringue, Strawberries, Chantilly Cream, Pistachio’s, absolutely delicious and it was like a holiday.  The carer sat with  M & D and I had a whole three hours out.

img_7804-1

My beautiful flowers from himself.

img_1110

The snapchat fun photo – is anyone else missing the heatwave?  I loved the hot weather especially for getting the washing dry…we have loads of washing in this house!!