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Give it to me

I am someone who needs to know, however bad it is, I need you to tell me the truth and not gloss it up or wrap it in pretty packaging, just the harsh reality, the naked truth.

When Mama was in hospital I looked the senior doctor in the eye, his name was George, tall, dark and handsome of Greek descent and asked him to tell me the truth, however bad, I could take it.  And he respected that and said he would want the same.  So he gave it to me.

It would take a miracle for your mother to pull through.  Miracles do happen but …

When I had to make the difficult decision of whether to fly back to work or stay till the bitter end I asked the consultant how imminent and her advice that I should stay answered my question.  In the end I did the right thing.  It would have been a lifelong regret and I would have been plagued with guilt. 

Weird but I always envisaged I would get that phone call in the middle of the night from my sister and be numbed.  In reality it happened very differently.  I was there at her bedside with the Prodigal Son whom she hadn’t seen for years and the Favourite Daughter who was always there came too late.  Ironic, or what?  The Black Sheep and the Prodigal Son there when Mama needed us most.  The Model Daughter needed her beauty sleep and was allergic to hospitals; it brought out a rash on her face.

Being there for Mama’s last breath was priceless.  At the end I hadn’t let her down, though I have felt that way from my first breath.  Part of the reason why I had stayed away and not been there for her as much as I should have.  My excuse, I had my own issues and health problems and then there was always the ‘Not good enough cos I am not a boy’ brick wall between us and feeling unloved and inferior.

Why is it that wisdom always comes too late after loss; my marriage, Mama, career, siblings …?


Not now Bernard

Do you know the classic children’s book, ‘Not now Bernard’?  I used to love reading it to the kids at school.  If you don’t know it, it is about a boy called Bernard whose parents never have time for him and one day when he warned them of a monster intruder they dismissed him with the usual, ‘Not now Bernard’.  Of course they were eaten.  The moral of the story …

I sometimes think the end of the world will not be heralded by apocalypse as predicted in Revelations but just Mother Nature taking a stand and saying enough is enough.  Time to send in the Flood, destroy this world beyond ruin and start again or not.

Why is it that nobody ever has enough of money nor time?  Even if they are retired you never seem to be able to make an appointment to see your friends?  What the hell are they so busy doing all day and every day that they can’t spare a couple of hours for a catch up?

We seem to be spending all our time and energy chasing our own tail or racing faster and faster on the treadmill of Life and meeting others’ expectations?  What is it all about, anyway??  What if God forbid we should just stop, get off that treadmill, would our world collapse, would Earth stop spinning, would we be struck down by lightning or would we gain some distance and perspective and clarity?

Or is ‘Sorry I don’t have time’ just code for ‘No’ and is etiquette for polite refusals and rejection.  Whatever the reason your friendship is obviously not priority or all that important in their eyes to make time.

Ladies, if a guy never has time for you, then that is code for I’m not that into you and one should just get the message and not chase him and lose one’s dignity. 

I wonder if on our deathbeds with Mr Death in his black hoodie and scythe all ready to row us across the Lake of Oblivion whether we could say, ‘Not now, I am not quite ready, there is that call I need to make to my mother whom I haven’t spoken to for years or that apology I need to send my best friend …’

What will be your last thought??

From the mouth of babes

I don’t know how we got onto the topic of mums but A came out with the wisest and most mature of comforting words which took my breath away, considering she’d just turned six.  I told her my mum had just passed away and that was why I’d been away so long and tears were threatening to stream down my cheeks.  She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Don’t be sad, it is all part of nature, when you die your daughter will cry too.’  Wow.  The kid is too young to have encountered the death of a close family member, so where that philosophical acceptance of the cycle of life comes from is a mystery.

Sometimes truth and wisdom come out of the mouths of babes with such clarity and purity that they speak directly to your heart.

The suitcase

For my mother on her 84th birthday
there is a suitcase by the door
in it are folded neatly two outfits
one for mum one for dad
for when they take their final bow
together more than half a century
don’t know who’s going to exit stage left
how the other will cope
love hate love hate that’s been their way
product of this love
the hate has screwed me up
so much a part of each other 
they can’t bear to be apart
no tacky romance holding hands
no words all that needed to be said has been
glad of each other’s company in their last days
i am the product of this love
made in hong kong 1961
part of global baby boom
flower power free love peace 
strange how roles reversed
i become the parent they the child
i hold their hand stroke their hair
tell them it’s going to be ok
protect from too much reality
for them ignorance is bliss
sand is leaking from hourglass
seconds ticking one by one 
bracing myself for the inevitable
mistress of destiny
special subject brutal reality
truth hurts but i’ll endure
the only other product of this love hate
shocked me 
when she revealed the secret of the suitcase
and by the way she doesn’t do funerals
there is a suitcase by the door
in it are folded neatly two outfits
one for mum one for dad
for when they take their final bow
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