Just a girl in a pink jumper and the fish necklace…?

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I am on the train going home… another Grand Central. This time it is packed! It’s the grand exodus from London to the North…   I wonder if there is anyone else playing the ‘Who are they game?’… I wonder what they would say about me?

Would they guess the truth? Could they guess based on the clues…?

Would they guess a Mum of 2, wife of 1 big Yorkshire lad?

Possibly by the rings on my fingers, (and the bells on my toes!) and the screen saver on my phone…

Would they guess a business owner, passionate about health, wellness?

Possibly by the litre of water, box of almonds and Arbonne literature I am brushing up on in front of me…

Would they guess a coach of other business owners, mentor in schools?

Possibly by the Mosaic book, notes I am scribbling…

Would they guess a daughter, emotional after a fleeting visit to the mental hospital to see her Mum with Alzheimer’s? Emotional from the recognition that the Alzheimer’s, the medication or both is slowing her Mum to a state that she now needs help walking, now only babbles for communication; emotional after not being recognized as the eldest daughter of two; emotional that the holding of her hand wasn’t reciprocated, that she sat on the sofa with her back towards her; emotional at saying goodbye and the sudden multiple, featherlite kisses and clinging cuddle; emotional from looking back and seeing her Mum’s face pressed the window pane…..

Possibly, if they look in to her eyes deep enough…

Would they guess a daughter relieved that the mental hospital wasn’t like the one in Jack Nicholson’s ‘one flew over the cookoo’s nest’; relieved that the nurses are kind, caring, the salt of the earth; relieved that the lump is nothing to worry about; relieved that she is clean, washed and is safe.

Possibly… but that’s a tricky one…

Would they guess a daughter who was shocked at her Dad’s big black eye and droopy blood filled eye bag? A daughter initially shocked, but then delighted to hear that her Dad wants to travel the world, carry on the trips and adventures, find a companion and live again? A daughter who just wants her Dad to live the rest of his life having fun, being a Granddad and doing whatever the hell he likes! A daughter who believes that her Dad is a hero for spending over 8 years caring and living the only life he could while looking after his wife with Alzheimer’s….

Possibly… but I doubt it!

Would they guess a friend who has had a lovely day catching up with friends – fresh juices and future plans; a cheeky bottle of sauvignon on Putney wharf…

Possibly? … and now I am paranoid, is the smell of booze from me?! Or is it the man opposite?!

Would they guess a wife still smiling at the recollection of a dinner ‘a deux’, burgers and beers, snoozing on the sofa in the flat of many memories?

Possibly … as the corners of my mouth turn up as I think of this..

Would they guess a Mummy excited to get home to give her two blond babies death by kisses?

Possibly … my mouth turns up even more!

Or would they just see a girl, a woman… with short brown hair in a pink jumper and fish on the end of her necklace?

Still Alice….

Still alice

So I watched ‘Still Alice’ last night. Something I have been putting off for ages as I thought it would make me melt down, sob too much. So many had warned me off it…

It was a lovely portrayal of a young, brilliant professor who has early onset of Alzheimer’s at 50. It shows the slow, almost minor forgetfulness of names, words, places that could be just old age… it shows how the progression of Alzheimer’s speeds up, to forgetting people, well known places to incontinence and inability to recognize any one, walk or even speak in anything other than grunts. It shows the sadness of the immediate family members as they see the degradation of a beautiful mind within a still outwardly beautiful person.

It was a lovely portrayal. Isn’t that sad…. There, there Alzheimer’s… That’s not so bad, I could handle that…

It didn’t make me cry, sob like I hoped it would. I found it rather a dumbed down, watered down, rather beautiful betrayal of an incredibly cruel disease. I found it more frustrating rather than emotive.

Where are the furious tantrums, the slamming of doors, the throwing of pots, the lunatic shouting? The long silences while locked in a bathroom or bedroom? Where are the hours of searching for a missing loved one and finding them miles and miles away at an old friend’s house or side of a motorway? Where are the scenes of complete lack of recognition for a daughter, a husband? Where are the scenes of self preservation, knife attacks out of gut instinct that something is wrong… so incredibly wrong… but just not sure what?

I felt robbed when it ended. I wanted to know what happened next? How did their family deal with putting their beautiful mother in care, in a home? How did they deal with the grief? The guilt? Were they told they couldn’t visit? Did they ring daily to find out how she was? How did they cope with the frustration of not knowing anything? How did they knock down the brick wall that is the NHS mental care home system? Did they go and sit outside the very important Doctor’s door until he had time to respond to a father, husband’s desperate need for information?

My Mum is lost inside her head.

We are lost in the world outside it without her.

It’s 11.38 and the other half of my sandwich beckons… my head still fuzzy with cold, blocked ears making me dizzy but there is still so much to do!

I mustn’t forget to walk the dog.

The Power of Positivity

If I was writing this blog 3 years ago, I would be writing very differently…

My background in building, designing, testing, supporting IT systems lent me to be critical, cynical in nature, looking for the worst that could happen… so that I could ensure it wouldn’t happen! This spilled out into my personal life… a complete worrier, stress monkey, negative Norma… I must have been a real barrel of laughs in the pub!

A far cry from the little girl who was always smiling, laughing and given prizes for the biggest smile, the happiest, the most positive person in the room.

What happened along the way? I had a great job, a gorgeous boyfriend who became an amazing husband and father; a wonderful circle of friends.. make that circles – the iron ring, the uni girls, the Yorkshire circles; sister and sister in law as best friends, healthy family, loved my in-laws (how lucky am I?)…

But I felt in a constant state of lack… I (we?) were always striving for something more, always wanting more, a bigger house, a faster car, another baby, more diamonds, better sofas, more money, a promotions, a more exotic holiday…

So what’s changed?

Instead of seeing the sadness in today, the misery, the lack of my mum, the boys’ Grannie Brooks, attracting the attention of pity, I was able to see this weekend as one of joy….

A day to remember with pride and gratitude for the money we raised (over £2,400 plus more coming in), for the awareness we raised to 100’s of the terrible disease that is Alzheimer’s.

A day to remember as memories of my 3 strapping men playing rugby around the 7km walk in Oxfords parks, my big man teaching our little men to spin throw and tackle safely…

A day to remember as I watch my 79 year old dad have his first experience of Zumba and stride strongly round the course to be presented with his medal.

A day to remember as I hold my sister’s teeny hand as we walk and talk….

A day to remember as we all sit around the table and laugh as we can’t keep up with Willy’s ‘I spy’ games and how easily I lose the ‘Yes / No’ game…

I don’t remember when the shift from negative to positive happened… not exactly anyway…   But I know how. It dawned on me as I got in the car to drive north, the boys slept and I put on one of my favourite audiobooks – The Power By Rhonda Byrne…

The Power of Positive Thoughts.

The Power of Positive Feelings.

The Power of Good Vibrations.

The Power of Love.

Today was about Love – a love for my Mum and for so many others on the walk today and the love that they have for someone who has suffered a disease you wouldn’t wish on anyone. A day to make happy, joyful memories… no one needs more sad ones.

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