33. I have a secret….

I’ve been keeping a secret for a little while now, but I’ve been told it’s ok to tell….For my birthday this year I got the very best present that I have ever received! My oldest son and his now wife presented me with a card that said simply: HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!

I’m sure most of you can imagine my reaction… I looked at the card, and then I looked at them and then I promptly burst into tears!… great, heaving sobs actually! Because my first thought after registering what I had read and my happiness about it, was how unfair that Claytie isnt here for this!!!

Claytie was the most baby oriented person I have ever known! If there was a small person in the same space as Claytie, he would do everything in his power to engage with them. He would be the most silly, crazy lunatic, pulling all kinds of faces and trying to get a smile or better yet a giggle! If we were going to see friends with babies or young kids, Claytie would stop on the way there to get lollies or something else to make sure he was the favourite person. – it never failed!

He was an amazing dad, and would do anything for the boys! He adored being hands on at all stages… parenthood for him was fun, and he made it fun for me. I know that being a grandad was something he was looking forward to as much as I have, although he probably wouldn’t have admitted it if you asked him.

And now we have a new little person coming into our world, a little person that he would be obsessed with… and he isn’t here to enjoy this new phase. It’s not fair! … and at the same time as processing all of that, I’m deliriously happy that I get to be Granny, that my son gets to experience all of the things that make up the fabulous thing that is parenthood.

I can’t wait to see what kind of parents my kids will be. I would like to think that they have had some pretty great examples around them, and that some of that will have rubbed off. I can’t wait to see what this new little person will look like and what their personality will be. I can’t wait to be Granny and find out what that new next looks like- it’s an adventure that I’m excited about and really looking forward to!

Baby… eta December 2022

30. A Big Big Day

So this week has been huge for my family… My oldest son got married! A big thing to say, and a big day to experience – I was going to say a big day to get through, but that makes it sound like a chore and it most definitely was not that. It was incredibly happy, and bittersweet, and emotional. It had all the feels!

This day was originally supposed to happen in May 2020, but with Covid and then Claytie dying and our world imploding, everything got put on hold. Two years later, here we are! The lead up to the big day was fairly low key in our house. The boys only worked out what they were wearing the day before, with ironing of things happening right up until the last minute, and that includes the groom!

It was nice to spend the morning all together getting ready in the family home. The usual banter and crap talk between the boys, both frustrating and lovely to listen to. My anxiety around the day coming in waves, alternating laughter and tears missing Claytie but knowing he would be so incredibly proud of his boys.

We were supposed to maxi-taxi our way in to the venue, but a technological hitch meant we had to scramble two Ubers at the last minute. – entirely my fault, but it all worked out in the end… our venue for today was a beautiful restaurant in a heritage listed building in Woolloongabba, with several different spaces for us to use.

The ceremony was lovely. Simple and straightforward forward just like our couple. They both looked super happy and the bride was beautiful in her dress. A photo of Claytie as a tribute looking over the proceedings, and both mums as the witnesses for the paperwork. It was a hard thing to be there without my person, but I am so happy for my son and his lovely wife. They deserved the beautiful day that they had, and soo many more days to come!

Plenty of Family photos and then a proper party to celebrate. We were not a big group, only 30 of us there. It was lovely to chat and mingle, meeting the new family and catching up with the couples close friends from school; lots of laughing and telling of funny stories. A truly joyful time. Heartfelt words spoken by Clayties dad just before the cutting of the cake meant plenty of tears from me – certainly not the first for the day (And I was not alone with the tears either!)

I know Claytie would be so proud of our boys, and the men that they have become- I absolutely am. Times like these are incredibly bittersweet and hard to get through, but also happy and joyful and beautiful. It’s a crazy, messed up confusing world we live in, but for us today, we had a little moment of perfect. I wish my son and his wife a lifetime of love and happy memories…

♥️

29. Rona

So nothing about this week has gone in any way to plan. Covid 19 hit our house hard! The boys, their girlfriends and I all came down with it in varying degrees and to say it’s been miserable is something of an understatement.

Testing started on a Tuesday and was negative until Thursday when the first couple of people went down. The rest of us followed on the Saturday and almost as soon as the positive result showed up so did the full on illness. It has not been fun! Between us we have had almost all of the signs and symptoms that you hear about.. pounding headache, sinus pain, snot, coughing, chest tightness, fever and muscle aching….and of course fatigue and brain fog. Thankfully it seems that you do start to feel better around day 3-4, but be careful not to over do it… the fatigue is real!

For me, I don’t think have ever been quite so unwell. Initially I had thought I would get a whole lot of stuff done in the house – cupboard cleaning etc. A nice little week off! It turns out, I spent almost the entire week in bed and didn’t do so much as a load of washing. The ongoing rain situation that we find ourselves in (again!) made it the perfect weather for staying in bed.

The gloomy outside did come inside tho, and highlighted the feeling of aloneness that is always there since Claytie died. Don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of offers from friends and family to help us with shopping and medication etc, all of which has been incredibly helpful and appreciated but all I have wanted this week is for my person to be here with me and give me a hug!

Feeling miserable makes you miserable, and I haven’t much liked myself this week! Hopefully now that the worst is over, life can go back to the normal that we are getting to know!

28. Phew!? ….

Whooweeee… well, that’s one week down in the new job! My brain is full to over flowing and I feel like I could sleep for at least the whole weekend – maybe longer!? … that’s unlikely to happen given my insomnia, but you never know! As anticipated, my anxiety was pretty high all week, and there were definitely tears and snot – more than once! I have about a million names to remember, not to mention all of the new processes, and getting lost in the building is very real for me…but so far it feels ok I think!

The boys are all doing good things at the moment, and we are all counting down to a big date toward the end of May when my oldest son gets married. The wedding should have happened in 2020, but Covid happened and then our world imploded. Everything stopped for a little while, but slowly and surely we are adjusting to this new world. It’s hard, and bittersweet, but there are also happy moments that make it ok.

In my world, the dating side of things feels more challenging at the moment… The fellow I’ve been seeing came along for my birthday karaoke evening a few weeks ago. Poor man had a baptism of fire meeting a whole crowd – including most of my boys, my parents and one of my sisters and of course friends, all at once. I was incredibly nervous, but he handled himself extremely well, and when I checked with him afterwards said that he had a nice time. It feels nice to have passed that hurdle/milestone (?)… it definitely felt like a big deal to me and I’m really happy it went so well.

I really like spending time with him. He makes me feel good, conversation is always easy and he makes me laugh. But here is where the challenge comes in… he is super busy at the moment with big changes happening at his work (ones that hopefully mean he becomes somewhat less busy) and I am also pretty busy.. now throw in that he lives about an hour away and is not the greatest at messaging and you start to see the difficulty! I am lucky if we can manage to see each other a couple of times a week at this stage and that usually involves a whole lot of planning.

I like him and I want to see what this is and where it goes, but I seem to always be second guessing myself and creating all sorts of scenarios in my head which drives me insane! It’s a very different feeling for me when I compare it to what I had (not the people, but the situation). Claytie and I were together for such a long time and from such a young age, I never had to question my place in the relationship. It’s disconcerting navigating this kind of insecurity and not knowing what it all means. It’s also something that seems to ebb and flow with my general anxiety! … I am sure I am not the only one going through this stuff, there are plenty of single people in the world! I can only speak for myself, and I have to say it’s a weird place to be!

Are there rules for this stuff? What is normal and what raises flags… are there flags to be raised!? I’m almost certain that like everything else, there isn’t really a right or wrong, and I can only go with what my gut tells me is ok…. And while I have to say that most of my days are spent confused about pretty much everything that’s happening to me and around me, on the whole I’m in a pretty positive place right now! Guess all I can do is sit back, hold tight and see where the rollercoaster takes me next!

27. A plan gets actioned

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about my anxiety, and how it was particularly bad because of changes at work. My job, one that I have enjoyed for the last 12 months was going to change, and I was going to be put into a role that I was 1) not going to enjoy, and 2) I know would be detrimental to my mental health… both issues that I raised in conversation several times with the person making the changes, indicating that I would happily cover any other position within the department except for that one. It is quite a difficult thing, when concerns raised are not respected, or acknowledged, given the vulnerability that there is in having this kind of conversation to start with. In the end, my worries were not taken into account which is disappointing and the one role I had asked not to do is the one I was going to have to do for the foreseeable future.

I decided that if things were going to change regardless, then I would control what that looked like. I have felt very much out of control in so many ways since Claytie died, and this has felt quite empowering to do. I applied for several roles in a bunch of different departments, and I’m happy to say that I will be starting a new position (temporarily at this stage, but with the prospects of longer term) on Monday. I’m still working for the same employer, just in a new department with different people who at this stage, seem very happy to have me on board.

It feels good to be the one making the change for myself. Everyone that knows me, knows that I am the queen of complaining – pretty much about anything, but I like to think usually in a self deprecating sort of way. This has been a complaint I have been bitching about for quite a while now, and I’m pretty sick of myself with it; I can only imagine how the poor people around me have been feeling every time I bring it up! There is only so much whinging that you can do before it becomes ridiculous and something needs to change… this is that something for me! Hopefully the right decision, and one I don’t immediately regret! Haha

I’m sad to be leaving the fabulous ladies that have been my colleagues, confidants, advisors, shoulders to cry on and friends for the last little while – 12 months or so. The office I have been working in has been a safe haven since coming back to work after Claytie died, and I am going to miss the laughs and crazy, often inappropriate conversations that we have had. I have been roundly educated in all manner of subjects by these very patient ladies. I am sure I have asked at least a million questions, interrupting their conversations to clarify the medical things that I have heard. I almost feel like I could step in and cover their jobs (but only the easy ones, and not really!). I’m pretty sure that no other group of colleagues will live up to the awesomeness that this team has been for me – and I know that if given the opportunity I would go back to them in a heartbeat!

So now I have to get my head around this next change. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning the processes for my new role. I’m also keen to broaden my ‘medical’ knowledge and add Theatre/ surgical things to my list of topics I’ll be an expert in haha! Don’t get me wrong… I’m still terrified by change! My nerves are through the roof and my anxiety levels are high! But it definitely feels a whole lot better taking control of that, rather than going along with something that was not going to be healthy for me. Cross your fingers that its a soft landing and I don’t freak out too much x

26. Another loop around the sun…

So this week is/ was Birthday week, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. I have always loved birthdays – and usually I like to milk it as long as I can, but since Claytie died everything is different.

Last years birthday was really, really hard and my anxiety leading up to it was horrendous! I was going to be older than Claytie ever could be and it absolutely messed with my head. I took myself to Uluru and had an incredible, and quite spiritual time that was just right. Every birthday from now on will widen that age gap, and that’s hard, but not quite as hard as the first one was.

This year turned out to be a whole week of birthday delights! Trivia Tuesday was a heap of fun! I was spoilt with balloons and flowers and gifts! My dogs Nikko and DaisyMay were less excited about the balloons than I was, and cause quite the ruckus when I tried very quietly to bring them into the house! The Black Widows Peaks have a reputation for doing crazy things almost every week. We love a theme or cause or just a party, and I’m convinced some of the other teams are almost disappointed if we’re not doing something wild!

Wednesday I left the house quite early and headed up the coast to Caloundra! It’s always a good start to the day, if you can put your feet in the sand and listen to the waves. That was not the whole purpose of the trip tho. I had myself booked in for a tattoo. It’s one I have been thinking of doing for ages, each element has a meaning for me and as a whole it represents my family. The artist is someone I’ve followed on facebook for a long time, and her work is beautiful! Initially I wanted someone to come with me for company, but I’m actually glad that I did this on my own. It felt powerful, and I love the finished product!

Not quite healed yet, but I think it’s beautiful!

Thursday, my actual birthday was a day off work- I refuse to work on my birthday, and think I have only ever done it a couple of times! I had loads of lovely phone calls and messages and felt quite warm and fuzzy from all the love coming my way! I did go with a bit of indulgence and took myself off for a massage and facial which I thoroughly enjoyed. We also had family dinner that night which I always like.

Friday was back at work, although I did ponder the idea of a having a sicky if I’m honest! But the day passed quickly and finished in a spectacular way…. Dinner and then Karaoke with a whole lot of my favourite people! It was a fabulous night of laughing, drinking, singing – from our spot at the table, did I mention the drinking, and just spending a fun night with the best!

A very, very quiet day on Saturday to recover, and a reflection on Birthday week. I wish Claytie was here to laugh at me and enjoy the good times – nothing is the same without him, but I did thoroughly enjoyed myself, and am once again grateful to be as lucky as I am! Thank you to all of you who made me feel special! I love that you are part of my world xx

25. Happiness, joy and love

So Happy Easter to all of you that are part of my world! I hope the bunny found you and chocolate has been part of every meal this weekend! I’m a bit late to publishing this week because big things have happened!

Two of my very, very dear friends got married this weekend! A wedding that has been a long time coming for them, they have been together for 25years, and it was postponed twice thanks to Covid….. but in the end it was an absolutely perfect day!

I have known the family for a long time now- at least 15 years I think. We have kids that went to school and played sport together. It’s been one of those friendships that has simmered quietly in the background for years and then became something huge and super important for me after Claytie died.

We have laughed, cried and talked shit together any number of times. She comes to Karaoke with me when I can talk her into it, and any number of wine times wouldn’t have been the same without her. I’ve been accepted into their tribe and have felt so lucky to have met incredible people through them. He is an artist and made one of my very favourite pieces in memory of Claytie . Their boys are amazing and I love them like mine! – They are the best kind of good people and they deserve all the happiness in the world! Their wedding was just as unique and amazing as they are! One of the least conventional weddings I have been to and certainly one of the most fun!!

It started with drinks and wandering through an art field – with all of the pieces made by them! We had a beautifully spoken acknowledgment of country that raised goosebumps for me. The homeowners- brother and sister in law to the couple, were so gracious with their hospitality, and their property was the perfect setting!

The actual ceremony began with gorgeous nieces walking the aged Aunty (and flower girl) down to the ceremony space, while the groom played the wedding March on his guitar. The bride not very far behind with her mum and brother… so much love! The brides sister was our celebrant, so the words spoken meant much more than if a stranger were delivering them. The vows were beautiful, the bride speaking hers in Māori and then english, with not a dry eye in the place! A hand fasting completed the ceremony, and was magical.

Our Wonderland Wedding spectacular was rounded out with a jumping castle (yes I did it, no I didn’t break anything, it was sooooo much fun, although at my age you do need to be mindful of the old pelvic floor!!) we had live music – two bands (the groom and one of their boys in the first one!) an emotional acoustic performance by one of the kids friends, and a fabulous DJ. We had a burning-man bonfire, and fabulous wood fired pizza, all with the brightest, fullest moon shining down on us!

It was bittersweet going to a wedding without Claytie – and my tears at some points through the day were closer to ugly crying than just welling up! But I’m so very glad that I was able to be part of such an amazing love-filled, magical day! I wish my beautiful friends at least another 25 years of love and happiness together.. they deserve every minute!

24. Schadenfreude

The title of this weeks blog is a German word that means ‘to take delight in someone else’s misfortune’ – and before you all get upset with me, I have this persons full permission to share their stories and laugh with them about their online dating adventures. (They did ask not to be named tho!)

MK is someone I have met through one of the widow support groups, and we clicked right from our first meeting – although she claims not to have even noticed me that day! – RUDE! We were at a coffee catch up and her story struck me immediately. It has been a very different experience for her to the one I am living; and while that is true for all of us in the group, it is something that absolutely struck me about her. I am very aware of how lucky the boys and I have been with our journey, and that it is much more difficult for some other people.

From the first time meeting, an amazing friendship has grown. We are now at a point where we will talk several times a day about all sorts of things, often laughing hysterically at the various things that happen to us; and when we are not talking we are messaging. She has followed along with a huge amount of interest as I’ve delved into the world of dating and given advice or just a running commentary on the things that I’ve encountered. She has now started her own foray into the weird world of online dating, and it has been just as crazy as I warned her it would be!

MK has been on far more dates than me – I think she is a much braver person than I am, and although she is constantly saying that she has no confidence, she is always in conversations with several people. She has had the usual assortment of nice, weird and a couple of not so nice, but so far no one has clicked for her.

I was fascinated recently to see just how many messages she receives from her profile – her phone would not stop pinging in the time we were together. I asked to have a look at what she had written about herself, and to look at her pictures. We both had a huge belly laugh when we discovered that the way her pictures had been cropped (automatically) made her look naked! The poor thing was mortified (but laughing until she cried) and immediately updated the pictures to more appropriate ones. Amazingly, the phone notifications slowed down almost immediately!

She has tried several of the usual online sites – the consensus being that they are pretty well all the same, and often with the same people on them! Funnily enough, she also been rejected from a paid site that told her politely via email that they have no one suitable for her at this time, to come back in six months and in the mean time to follow the helpfully attached advice for online dating!

We have almost decided that between the two of us, and others we have met along the way, there might be a book in all of the funny dating stories we have encountered! It is certainly an adventure into a world that is far from normal!

23. Opinions

Isn’t it funny how much faith we all put into other peoples opinions of us, even when we know we shouldn’t. From asking about our fashion choices to life advice, we put so much value on the things people tell us; and we often change what we think or know based on what they have said. Sometimes it works out for the better, sometimes not, and if it’s unsolicited advice and you don’t take it, it can sometimes cause huge conflict!

I had a conversation about this subject just the other day with a friend, who had a huge argument with her parents about her grieving process and life choices following the death of her person. They are convinced that the suggestions they are making are the best ones for her, and while their ideas are not without merit, they don’t match at all the way my friend is feeling or how she sees her life going on from here. As she said, ‘until you find yourself in this very position, you don’t get a say on how I live my life’. Absolutely the right message, but still hard to take when it’s your parents that you’re fighting with.

I want to think that I try to be someone that listens to advice and opinions, without giving them too much weight. I absorb them and then filter them to see what fits for me. I like to believe that I’m strong enough that I don’t take it overly personally when someone’s opinion of me is not what I think of myself, but that can be easier said than done depending on the person and the opinion, and the day that I’m having! Some people and opinions matter a whole lot more than others.

For the most part I think I’m doing ok with the choices I am making and the things I am doing. Usually I go with my gut – if it feels good and makes me happy – why not! .. But then again, as I’m typing this I think what a liar I am, because how many times have I written about all of the second guessing that I do!? … I guess I’m just as complicated as everyone else!

In the spirit of being complicated, I did have a moment this week where I called my mum after I had been to their house. I wanted to ask what my German Aunt and Uncle thought or had said about the idea of me dating after a passing comment in a conversation. I shocked myself with the phone call because I really thought that it didn’t matter to me what other people think. I’m doing the best I can – the things that feel ok on any given day. I don’t know what’s right or wrong- only that people say there is no right or wrong! I’m not sure exactly what my mum made of the phone call, but almost before I finished asking she said that she had made a comment to them at an earlier time, about not wanting me to be alone forever, and as long as I was happy so was she. I know this is what she truly thinks, she has said it to me quite a few times, but that day, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I’m not sure that there was a follow up conversation about the lovely fellow I’ve been seeing, or what any of them thought. Right now I’m ok with it, because their opinion wouldn’t change things for me anyway.

22. Anxiety

Oh boy… what a fun thing to live with! I feel like I’ve had anxiety on and off for a long time. For the most part it has been manageable and I’ve been ok. Usually for me, talking about what is making me anxious is really helpful and things settle down. Every now and again tho, it becomes a much bigger thing, and much harder to work around.

I have never been great with change – and while I know a lot of people aren’t, I really struggle with it. The first big change in my life that I can remember was moving from Germany to Australia. It was the first – and probably only time I have seen my dad cry. I was 10 (nearly 11) years old and saying good bye to my grandparents at the train station, en route to the airport, was super hard. That was 37 years ago.

We lived with my other grandparents for the first few months here in Australia, and settled into the small town they lived in. We stayed for a year and then came to Brisbane. Another big change… new house, new school, new friends. Another 12 months later we did it again, and then another new school the year after that going into high school. Its really hard being the new kid all the time. I always felt like an outsider and never settled with one group of friends, or had a best friend.

Getting married and having my kids helped a whole lot, you kind of have to deal with stuff when you’re responsible for other people, and I also had Claytie there to keep me steady whenever I needed. Every new job I have ever had, has involved a whole lot of gut churning and tears for weeks, before I have felt comfortable enough to relax into being myself. I’ve stayed in situations much longer than I should have, because leaving caused such huge anxiety for me.

It’s a funny feeling. Rationally you know that it will be ok – mostly even really good for you. But the irrational side catastrophises everything and makes you feel sick. Every situation I go into has been analysed from front to back and inside out, with contingencies planned for just about everything. As I’m going through all of this stuff in my head I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it. Since Claytie died, my anxiety has been next level. My brain no longer has an off switch and I worry about absolutely every single thing. The boys have been really good and understanding, but I can see that they get frustrated with me… just like Claytie often did. It’s hard understanding something if you have never experienced it, and it’s hard to explain how it feels.

This weeks anxiety is raging about work. I have been super happy in my role for the last 12 months. The people I am working with have been amazing. It’s a small team in a small office away from the crowd. I have felt safe, included and accepted. It’s been a god send, and without it I’m not sure how I would have coped being back at work without Claytie to support me. But it seems this security is coming to an end. My boss – who I have a tenuous relationship with, has decided that it’s someone else turn in this role. I have not been told what I will be doing instead, or when the change will happen… both issues that are not very helpful with this level of anxiety. I’m incredibly nervous that I will be put into the one role in the department that I absolutely don’t want to do…Guess the contingency planning needs to start again. Some new nexts are really really hard!