Christine has gone to meet her Maker, she died Christmas morning around 01:10.
We had no idea this would be the outcome, her 62nd birthday would be in the coming February and soon to enjoy her well deserved retirement, three weeks short of retirement.
She was a paragon of goodness, selfless and uncomplaining to a fault.
I've started this blog post early in the morning, its still dark outside, the Police and the Undertaker have driven away; I waved as she went.
Christmas Eve her final day .... 10:30am till 1pm she was breathing fast, unable to walk, three hours to recover from coming downstairs, each of these episodes becoming longer, more difficult starting ten days previous or more accurately to say at ten days ago these new symptoms were definitely visible and worrying. There seemed an anxiety in these fast breathing spells these last couple of days contrary to all the increasingly positive test results and the upbeat Docs visit earlier in the afternoon; even my slow-witted approach was now wanting to incorporate the words WHAT and WHY with the so-called professionals. If this was at work dealing with technical things at any malfunction we would be bandying the WHAT and WHY words all the time and under pressure to get it all fixed and fixed proper !
[With hindsight after the funeral I can say we were completely mis-led by the medical professionals, an utterly untrue skewed vision was given to us of recovery and future prospects when in fact I was watching my wife die].
Heres the germ of this post, a letter to a friend in America ....
And with hindsight we were seeing a skewed out of sync approach from the professionals as Christine headed from the already established and I presume diminishing viral chest infection to new problems.
Again tonight at the thought of having to get upstairs she seemed to be unduly anxious, an increasing panic; we already had the Doc out at 3pm in the afternoon, she was sat calm and quietly in her chair (the five or six Docs that have been here only ever saw her calm and relaxed and chairbound) and he changed her beta-blocker to something else as possibly she was reacting badly which in actual fact 24 hrs later I realise was possibly an aneurism, see Boxing Day thoughts below. I told him you need to see her attempt to move and walk a couple of steps but none of them ever did. What in engineering we call a dynamic test, a static test reveals nothing. To a fault she would never complain or perhaps fully reveal in these latter days sensations, pains etc. It baffled me for instance with all the weeks of coughing and wretching she would not admit to any soreness of throat. He never did see her walk, as to how impossible it was, heaving for air (and remember to his mind all results were increasingly good) and also remember she was still coughing with moderate production when lungs sounded good and following three courses of antibiotics. Cough can be a sign of many less obvious life threatening problems, as with Mrs Nield at Gosforth four years ago. And as I later recall there was the accompanying dizziness as Christine would also chip in, after all, her last ten days were wheelchair bound.
Tonight (Christmas Eve) the session started agn at 10.30pm at the thought of having to climb the stairs, anxiety, an increasing inability to get sufficient air, she was not keen to sleep in the chair (which wld be for her the first time) which should be no problem, for weeks I've been sleeping down here anyway ..... and at 00:30 after much struggle and hardship she finally wants an ambulance, they arrive in twenty minutes and twenty minutes later she is dead. My only criticism is the paramedic obsession with getting her to slow her breathing, this was contrary to what she felt she needed to be doing, distressed her greatly and also I'm thinking the docs visit when he changed from her beta-blocker taken at 11am to an alternative to start at 6pm ... was this changeover injurious to her ?? He also determined she already had v low blood pressure and I presume these things lower it still (remember at Boxing Day ie 24 hours after she's gone I'm thinking aneurism and I'm guessing the danger is if these move with blood thinning) .
Its interesting that with Chinese Doctors in ancient times they were only paid when you were well, once ill their cash stream was halted until etc.
She expired with me at her side, massaging her lower back as she requested, they tried half an hour to revive her which I guess the latter half certainly was to fix it firmly in my mind that she had gone. Her last few minutes were very troubled and in fact her last hour was a horrible ordeal, she couldn't stand it, in all her month long illness of wretching etc she never once complained but yesterday morning she did say she didn't feel right and that stress at work was a big contributor. I was always asking her how she felt, what i could do etc ..... she never once said chest pains or until the last forty minutes the desire to be in a hospital; after all, apart from minor fibrillation we were told her heart was good.
She lunged forward shouting "Get me out - get me out" then fell back, expired, life force gone.
Christine never complained, selfless, five weeks ago she could work a 12 hour day for Lifeways, years ago she tolerated my very low income and in many areas she was perfection.
I cannot believe this has happened, that its just not real as if we'll turn around and she will re-appear.
Lets add more to the above as it had started as a letter to a friend in America.
The docs and hospital told us to the end to be patient and cope with what will be a very gradual recovery, this again being reinforced at the last Docs visit ten hours before the end. Should I have pressed them harder?? but I have near zero knowledge, totally zero experience. I think we were looking at two distinct problems here but the docs seem oblivious to it. God knows I explained in five test sessions the also inexplicable anxiety and rapid breathing, Christine always adding dizziness and that her legs felt like wood, did anyone listen?Perhaps I should have been blunter and say "What the hell is this" tell me its name (they couldn't for the virus) and explain WHY and its likely outcome; test for it. They tell me she is recovering, with hindsight everything I see with my eyes tells me she is worse, weaker, more immobile, more an invalid.
Apart from these struggles her last ten days or more were really quite fun once she was able to spend daytime downstairs, a change from marmalade on toast taken to her bed! Even for a few afternoons Christine was able to get dressed and be assisted to the car and be with me for a drive out to the horses. As Christine stated several times we are so lucky i am self employed, easy mornings together and total freedom to attend whatever appointment or trip to the Pharmacy or stay around and keep company. I nurse well, she started to eat and enjoy my basic meals, we were good company for one another. A rare person and knew how to 'handle me gently'. Sometimes we'd have some nonsense tiff over the last few years, and then Christine would have selflessly packaged say three hundred bevel gauges over a few evenings, totally selfless; an excruciating task beautifully done. I am adept at laundry, just as well actually as always incredibly conscientious to her personal hygiene, each day it was clean nightie, nicks and a facecloth too!
And at her own job she was hard working, insightful and very capable. Another great trait of Christine was her steadying manner and influence, as with myself she wanted continuity and stability and our routines were developed to best suit and please ourselves, or perhaps we could say 'ordering our lives to be at their most efficient'. In many ways we were perfectly matched.
She told me a couple of days before she died that she thought her problems were brought on by stress at work and the rigamarole (def: long complicated annoying procedure) of pension application; cock-ups and obfuscation in the application process stressed and worried her more than I realised. There were peculier additional payments say £100 a month that were taken when already her NHS pension pot was full, these eventually were labelled 'death in service' benefits of £60k being transmuted to a paltry £3k in two payments as a buy-off with a newer harsher contract with Lifeways, a significant drop in hourly rate and a most paltry sick pay / allowance per year. Quiite insulting really and the most underhand stingey way to treat employees particularly of long experience and ability. How not to manage ....
additional thoughts ...
The first doctor refused to come out when it first started four and a half weeks ago, she wld be ill immediately with the infection which she recognised would be severe for her ... and he prescribed the anti-emetic she was from prev experience allergic to, why wasn't that flagged on her notes ??? damn and curse him Dr Pirri. The wretching and coughing was not nice to hear and no doubt hellish for Christine to endure. She later on at say week three had developed a heart fibrillation or at that stage it was finally detected, all tests were via attending by wheelchair, they never saw the panic periods when she tried to walk. What did Christine really feel about her (with hindsight) worsening condition, what was making her panic ??
What is it that we needed to recognise and were blind towards?? Its obvious that this was a distinct separate thing from her first viral chest infection, yet the professionals were stuck in the past, treating history, past events. We were more poorly than we realised, even sleeping downstairs I got two mini bouts of it seperated say ten days, wow it leaves you weak, many other ppl said the same about this 'double-hit' virus. My recovery the second time near miraculous; but in fact some days in this house both of us were v poorly. The Docs were still too focused on the old stuff. A month previous she could work a twelve hour day. Those are excruciatingly long hours and only say two or three days ago did she tell me that she thinks this illness was brought on by stress at work, for instance a new and very demanding client, a long working day, pension / financial shenanigans and apparent ineptitude from her employers at financial. Christine ever the concientious 'old hand' as with her Nana, fighting a wall of 'couldn't care less' ....
She didn't expire quietly, it was hell for her.
As with all dear loved ones that pass away we will do our best to make them proud of us, to not let them down; this is an attitude I took on when my dad died nearly forty years ago.
Strangely after thirty plus years of being vegetarian by the third week she looked forward to eating, her appetite returning and a bacon sandwich or a meal of Andersons small steak pie with buttered and peppered mash and peas became the evening staple for more than a week.
It was as if we were young again, enjoying each others presence, happy to have met.
What route do we take, to treat Doctors as incompetents or do we trust them? I have no experience, its not my profession, our hands are tied, we try not to pester, we value their attention. They tell you the patient is out of the worst, that all blood results look good plus plus plus etc and as a carer I have to re-inforce that optimism, to be comforting. Instead I am un-wittingly watching my wife die.
Isn't she lovely !!
Our work with horses was and is very important to us.
I suppose like all couples we had silly names for one another, I used 'young fella' or 'little bairn' or 'Donald' which is from Donald and Davy Stott a silly comedy programme from the days when I might actualy have seen tv.
Above is a very rare photograph of Christine circa 2010, very much 'camera-shy' and couldn't stand to see pictures of herself particularly from decades ago. But who could fault this picture, capturing perectly etc .....
I just want her to stay with me, theres a million things to say.
I cannot believe such a thing has happened when the jesters with their bladders on the end of the stick are praising the test results. And at least five lots of so called professionals were told of the fast breathing and panic from any movement she made starting from ten days previous and dizziness too as Christine always chipped in and the black-out too and legs that felt like wood.
Never waste your breath with a so-called practice nurse at the Doctors for taking bloods etc, theirs is mere box-ticking and light conversation activity.
You must remember too that I have been through this before, my dad died when I was just turned eighteen, throat cancer; they were clueless, inept not adept. For so many years I used the bladder on the end of stick analogy and now forty years later I back around to it.
I think at the end she had reached a hellish experience, un-imaginable to us left behind; it was that last attack of fast breathing that took her deeper to a horrible place. Again her refusal to complain or reveal the true extent of her upset more a hindrance and likewise a flat refusal to get to Hospital until it was too late. I used to say "Whats the problem" its full of high tech and professionals, fixing ppl is their job; for most of the twentieth century the world has been envious of our NHS !! But it still requires the simple recognition of symptoms; apparently not quite so easy when insight, intuition and experience seem pushed to the rear.
I'm bloody upset and doubly upset for Christine.
I drove back tonight after feeding the horses, through the woods and it was very strong indeed that her presence was there, where we parked so often, a journey taken thousands of times in all weathers. I could see in my mind a young woman again her happy self that everyone knew from years ago; perhaps this is a 'persistence of vision' as with say bright lights, but as humans with some yearning for spirituality (whatever that means) we clutch at straws. It was as if any moment she would appear from the trees and we'd be together to go back home as if all this crap had never happened. She certainly felt to me to be there, as soon as I can get them I will leave flowers and a card. She was always buying cards for others never missing never forgetting any occasion. Mostly perhaps its a yearning for such revelations or a form of visual persistence but whatever it is it is always comforting, as in that last walk around Aughertree Fell when our first beagle had passed away ten years ago, there he is at my feet and as I progress he gets younger, smaller until he disappears. This was of great value and comfort to me.
Christine was good at holidays, a master at packing and unpacking everything we needed and sometimes even more; many times there have been various jars of chutney, melons, pineapples, pans etc etc that have been transported to and from Cumbria just so that I now realise Richard would have them to hand, again selfless to a fault. She always had to hand exactly anything you needed ie elastoplasts, germoline, inhaler, tissues, wet-wipes ... all the little things to make life easier. A hard act to follow !!
More recently, this summer I stupidly lost the end of another finger on the bandsaw at work and here I am lying down getting it cleaned and dressed at A&E. Then I hear Christines voice, she had taxi'ed over from work to be with me, goodness i am so lucky, I cried my eyes out! And you see I could now be charged with the same fault as Christine, she badgered me to let the Docs see my minor finger loss and its progress in healing and i just would not acknowledge or take notice of it until well after it had reached its conclusion of self-healing, allowing no intervention.
A further insight; I had increasingly wondered about this and others agree that (I'm guessing here myself with zero knowledge of the subject) that the fast breathing attacks and dizziness with increasing weakness and panic were an aneurism (blood clot). BP was already low as the Doctors knew fine well, however oxygen levels in the blood were good; beta-blockers probably lowering it further? Online we read these things can grow for months and she had been started on blood thinning (I did hear this suggested but need to check if actually the pills were here for her to take) now I think of this new dimension and the symptoms being described to at least four or five seperate Docs / Nurses and this was just NOT TAKEN ON BOARD. She should only have had to suffer one such episode, not half a dozen of increasing difficulty and duration, which was contrary to all the 'good results' we were achieving from ongoing tests (all related to the previous / initial chest infection).
Make the Doctors answer your questions directly, accept NO obfuscation, no guesses, throw them WHAT IF as much as you are able.
Did the blood thinning pills contribute to allowing clots to travel, this being prescribed at the hospital ten days prior to the end by a Polish Doctor that also forgot to ask for a urine sample until after the job, he joked of this. Here we are with all these tests but is there insight built on experience ???
She herself felt there were already circulation problems these last couple of months as she had bought a vibratory foot massage machine. But these matters she would never discuss, i had started to gently incorporate words such as grossly overweight, too much weight, 'some size' etc etc in trivial conversation relating to other people or bods on tv etc ... to ease her into the subject we needed to tackle.
So my conclusion so far is that this single (single !!) complication was something the jesters with their bladders could not assimilate, its fair comment (PM results reqd) the paramedics were not treating what needed to be treat, possible aneurism. Will the post-mortem be accurate and reliable ?
More to follow as I think of it, i need a full discussion with the GP that was here at least twice before the last one, he seemed bothered.
Those last ten days were good, early evening would be an Andersons steak pie or steak and ale pie or whatever (i even have a huge one here meant for Xmas Day but cannot face it) ... and two veg, she loved the new concoction, Aunt Bessies mash with extra butter and freshly ground black pepper with peas. Happy days !! ....there was a quietness and easy acceptance of one another.
27 Dec, its occurred to me I would be far happier to see her off at the place I've known for nearly forty years at Ryhope, Co Durham thirty miles away, I will press hard for this to happen. It has much significance for me and a practical help for her blood kin. It seems very appropriate and meaningful, a perfect send-off, the scene of so many previous send-offs .....
With hindsight perhaps a vicar or a priest would have been of greater use and particularly comfort than the paramedics. I had no idea we were at that stage already.
I love her !!
And I went upstairs to see what presents she had accrued, my boxers, my diary, all things v useful to me. Her Broons and Oor Wullie books she will never read, so now gone to a good home.
Many people have been so lovely to me, even strangers in shops shaking my hand and all very very much appreciated. I find now after such a valuable stop-over with niece Sarah that I can talk without crying, perhaps even tonight get some sleep I hope !
28th Dec .... just had Mary down and just realised during all the times we were asking or telling about the fast breathing problems Christine would also chip in with "And dizzy too" .... we are now entering the Ladybird simple world of doctoring, it is so obvious for those last ten days we are leaving the chest virus and entering another zone, blood clots exacerbated by inactivity. And other people tell of her mentioning leg pain for quite some time, there were things she was not revealing to me. Certainly now she should have retired two years previously at sixty, not to struggle on.
30th Dec ... phone call from Coroner early afternoon, Dr H the last to visit here at ten hours before she passed away and substituted another form of beta blocker to be taken seven hours since the last one is in a position to issue DC ... no flippin way, we get a Post Mortem exactly as was told to me the night you took her away, Police everyone impressed this upon me. By God they can wriggle and cover their tracks.
Seven hours later 7.45 pm Dr H himself rings, heated discussion (no swearing to my credit) he's v keen to issue DC .... again utterly no, it must be a PM. Christine died of symptoms no-one intercepted or followed up. I impress upon him that no medical professional took notice at the last ten days of new symptoms, also that Dr P prescribed an anti-emetic that should have flagged up as allergic, neither would Dr P prescribe an antibiotic that was needed to hammer the viral chest infection quickly, we knew we needed this from experience. I also told Dr H that no-one named or issued a prognosis or mentioned tests to the new symptoms ie increasing sessions of fast breathing, dizzinesss and the sensation her legs felt like wood. I ask "You recording this" .... yes. Twice I had to say i am now terminating this conversation.
4th Jan 2016 ... Life goes on, I've been keen on the workshop and started prob middle of last week ie two days before New Years Eve, never something that matters to me too much as enough disruption to my routines has been lost through Xmas, its my way of giving it two fingers. Its not wise to attempt to take Smud on long walks therefore we are back in the workshop-horses-workshop rythmn and it suits me fine. If Christine is around she would be happy as how I spend my days, the 'same old routine'. And I always think that when we've lost someone close this spurs us on to live the better life, to be a better person.
Other things have been revealed to me that I cannot really mention here but as if to protect me in the future Christine has worked her magic from the beyond, the revelation that a woman I helped fourteen months ago now seems a yearning to be helping my mother, someone i cannot approach. I was so unthinkingly accepting, the vodka, the month of her bed-bound, again the perfect nurse. I couldn't have invented this even if I'd tried ....
Food is going okay, initially never eat for 24 hours and now enjoy making and eating a Moorhouse pork and apple burger (well drained to practically 'dry' state) then garlic, rosemary and an onion added a third before the end. Plus mash n black pepper as Christine enjoyed in her last week. Maybe I'll add peas tonight ! Breakfasts are modified too, no bread and butter, now replaced with a waffle microwaved and dry fried with a sprinkling of black pepper, seems to compliment the egg and bacon to perfection.
I never eat bread since Christine passed away or shortly before, not had a sandwich for a long time, a can of soup serves as well and is probably a good source of vegetables and the new up-market burger man near to the workshops with his 6oz Aberdeen Angus will be a treat once a week. A restaurant or eating out seems so alien to me (and expensive and probably not certain as to its quality) ... 2007 was the one and only time I treat myself to such a thing at the Black Bull at Etal and second day Yorks puds did not impress, packaged catering sliced meat heated up with I think ready bought-in veg at £8 a head sort of reinforced such silliness as eating out, the refuge of those that cannot think of anything else.
Even friend Jeff brought round a pie his mum had cooked for me. That is kindness and concern indeed!
We'll have a good send-off at Ryhope, its admittedly only a body but an occasion to mark respect, to see old family members again. For days now I've had this intense desire to kiss her, a peck on the cheek or her forehead as we did.
I was rather pleased with myself yesterday, I had conciously discussed this with Christine a couple of weeks ago when i was sure I was short changed ie couldn't remember if it was a fiver or a tenner i had handed over and as to how I must engage brain to minimise this in future. I'd settled on the idea that I deliberately say "Heres a tenner" or whatever value of note and so this fixes in both our minds the buyer and the vendor the value of what I have handed over. And sure enough a couple of days ago I was short-changed and yes I had certainly held in my mind the higher value note handed over. I should have been doing this thirty years ago.
5th Jan 2016 .... we have Post Mortem results late afternoon, 'pulmonary embolysm from deep-vein thrombosis located in right calf', no paper copy initially offered, I insist.
6th Jan 2016 ... so we are looking at a person now wheelchair-bound in her last ten days with new and definite unanswered symptoms and decreasing mobility yet the Docs with their bladders on a string are still praising test results that no longer matter.
Several ppl have suggested post-PM I take this legal, but her weight was against her, with hindsight worn out, three weeks of bed-bound immobility that the Docs never inquired upon (they wld make bad engineers) and as she said the morning before she died a lot of this was due due to stress at work. What the hell did the Doc think we had called him out for ten hours before she died??? Oooh lots of lovely better indications from test and yet here she is increasingly weak, panicked, immobile ... recovery? .... I think not. Thank God these ppl do not keep animals.
Heres an email to my friend in NY State, we know each other well, I set good value on our exchanges and its a good snap-shot of how I feel ....
Hello ... here i am after horses n a brief supermarket shop for whatever I missed last night (as usual my shopping list safe and snug at home) 6 bottles of dilute, 10 boxes of mineral bath salts and six bottles of beer. Theres masses of stuff here, dry food stuffs, biscuits, cooking sundries that I will never use. I need to get some product assembled tonight, dear knows if it will happen !!
Your Church praying for us all, goodness that is so much appreciated, thank them for me please ... I am humbled.
However I am rather 'swivel-headed' proud of myself as to my efforts to redirect the masses of water back down into the drainage gulleys on the way to the horses ... your Dave wld be proud of me !! ie actual practical handiwork where its needed. Tomorrow I'll take up my six foot heavy dutu pry-bar and try to unblock a drainage pipe further up. ie its on the long road up to Beacon Hill (the horses). During this time all sorts of bods have sailed up and down the road and oblivious to it all! The efforts of the man with the digger four years ago apparently near to useless; digging and decimating the few snowdrops we have.
Feel sort of a little empty and weak inside, suppose its to be expected.
Re legal / suing etc ... my alternative is to tell everyone I can, to spread the word: as long as I've got the PM thats all i want. All they will say and I cannot disagree with this is Christine carried far too much weight and did not exercise other than hobble around and with this illness was as good as bedbound or wheelchair bound on all our check-ups and tests. A few months ago her lifelong friend was near to blood clot death, but Docs intervened etc but now has limited mobility and an inactive near invalid life. Both carry as much weight, perhaps what happened is not all bad, God forgive me.
Tomorrow its a visit to the undertakers, no limo, no flowers other than freesias on the coffin from her sister which i shall bring back here; prob no pub / social afterwards. If we do, it will be ad-hoc spur of the moment, it will be guided by the vibe I detect. I shall try to manouvre for a late morning time slot prob early next week.
Friday a.m. its DC; multiple copies reqd as so many loose ends to tie up.
I am still in wonder and awe at the miracle and revelation revealed to me as to the nastiness and evil of the alchi, Christine indeed has worked a miracle to take the scales from my eyes and i bet she never realised it all boiled down to a deeper subconcious desire to nurse a woman that in so many ways resembled my mother. A miracle indeed.
If u are okay with this, I'd like to copy and paste this to my blog, it is a good resume.
The tears are gone, now its just bloody anger.
I've had problems too with our beagle Smud, he knows fine well she's gone, a house full of ppl in the middle of the night, Christines upset, her final words etc. He has periods of moaning in his basket, mad for food as he no longer has his second chance and periods of incredible naughtiness as if he is willing her to emerge from somewhere hidden and set things in order again.
I am in awe of what Christine has done, her miracle revealing the alchi and my unseen reasons, her two nights in the woods up at the horses and now this morning on the 6th of Jan the coldness from the house has gone.
No flowers, please make a donation to St Pauls Ryhope or alternatively to the Primary School ie Ryhope Juniors.
And this is what Christine helped achieve, a framework of stability that allowed me and in this case our first beagle Snuffy Rossmaith circa 1995 to get out and refresh ourselves hopefully at least once a week from our labours. Its up at Wooler, Harthope Valley which in those days eighties into nineties we knew well, there is Back Wood at left with the track close to camera, to the right runs Pinkie Sike and left out of image is Pinkie Shank. Middle upper is the hay field with gleaning sheep bright as a button on the edge of nearby bracken and bent. Undoubtedly a place of wonder and magic.
It was always Christines idea that we get a beagle ie circa 1991/2 ... I spent a year refuting it as I would imagine slow me down, in actual practice taking Snuffy Rossmaith to work resulted in greater output as whenever i sat down out would pop a head from his cabin as if to ask "Why you sitting down!!" And of course with a beagle for company the countryside and in fact any walk takes on a whole new dimension; my own morale / happiness i guess also improved, it was a win-win situaution; all Christines idea.
9th Jan 2016 ... Post mortem of a couple of days ago tells us 'Pulmonary embolism resulting from deep vein thrombosis in right calf' cause of death 'natural causes'.
Medical neglect is my own view, 'medical neglect and incompetence' ten days and counting with clear specific and distinct new symptoms being ignored; decreasing mobility
being not considered that contradicted the improving 'test results' what we need here is intuition built from experience/ insight; a more complex algorithm than the distilled box-ticking we have descended to. Any fool could see that with her weight and bed bound first three weeks followed by decreasing mobility it was screamingly obvious ... oh that we had access to someone with experience and brains !!
As you can guess I am flippin angry.
Christine only needed a sick note until 15th of Jan and thereafter she was retired, a lifetime of looking after others.
The funeral is Wednesday 20th January at St Pauls Ryhope, 10.30am. Then to the Crematorium, nothing planned after but anyone wishing to pop into the Guide Post over from St Pauls afterwards is most welcome to do so. It will be a black coffin with silver handles, black being regarded these days as an unusual request, it looks good, as if old style joiner made, the undertakers being most accommodating and a joy to work with. Notices in The Journal, Sunderland Echo and the Morpeth Herald. She will have her prettiest best scarfe, a lovely new dressing gown and of course her new slippers as is usual every Christmas.
Christines ashes will be scattered up on B Hill up at the horses, she will become part of the birds and the animals that we so greatly valued and enjoyed.
However the mood has changed ......11th Jan 2016 .... A bombshell,
today is the first day of getting to grips with the financial side.
Never in my life of thirty eight years of marriage have I ever opened, look at or searched anything financial of Christine, I think that is called honesty and respect with ones partner.
The meeting at her Bank reveals standing orders and later at home cheque payments to animal charities that i had no idea of, but also mysterious expenditure (or cash withdrawls) that seem 'out of character'. So far she appears to have died penniless, at least in coin; in her own heart very rich in the help she has provided to others, her contributions to animal welfare a glimmer of light in her darkening world. She limped and hobbled to work, worked extra days which always created an arguament when I wondered if she was working more than her allotted hours. I had no idea of the extent of all this. Maybe I have been too generous in covering all big bills, mortgage etc and paying for her many years of insisting on four weeks away in the Lakes, now I see a much needed break away from what she felt being here. Her salary slips look quite good, certainly better than mine, I had assumed she was able to save in proportion, to not be penniless, robbed of her bounty. Her gifts too in her Will as revealed yesterday seem quite silly and needless; which will now only be able to be serviced from her NHS pension lump sum payment which I assume is classed as all part of her Estate and also statements revealed she elected for a reduced pension. Selfless to the end .... ??
Here for instance is a most lovely email from a customer I hardly know, a transaction has taken place and here are the sort of supportive words I have received from all quarters ...
I was very moved by your email. I followed the link to your journal, which gave me an insight into where you are on your journey through the last few weeks. I think death is incomprehensible at the best of times, but perhaps especially so immediately following a bereavement such as yours.
I think the tools you make and the work you do is life-affirming and I am glad you have found comfort in your workshop. I am a clinical psychologist by trade, but there is toolmaking and engineering in my family history. My own workshop has been very important to me at various times over the years.
I hope you find the time and space to process your loss and you continue to find meaning in what you do. I've no doubt that you have brought pleasure to countless people who own and use your tools.
Interestingly a recent UK customer told me he was descended from the great Engineer and Toolmaker Henry Maudsley, wow what a thrill !
There is tremendous goodness in people out there, even strangers are most concerned and comforting and I tell everyone to learn from the doctors ignoring the last ten days of distinct and new symptoms.
again, more wonderful feedback from customers worldwide.
I am so sorry to hear about your loss and the ensuing trouble. I cannot imagine having to deal with that during the grief you must be experiencing. I have read your entries multiple times, they are as heartbreaking as they are instructive. I too am an engineer by profession, I too suffer from affording other professions too much respect and not following the methods and learning accrued over a career on the tools. I hope I can learn form your experience.
Your journal has a real pathos and a striking, tangible sense of proximity. The mention of Broons and Oor Wullie, germolene, Harthope, The Black Bull and others draw a yearning for a life I once had. I thank you sincerely for sharing this and will hold you in my thoughts.
very much appreciated!
12th January 2016 ... its after mid-day now and inexplicably a wave of goodness has swept over me, a wonderful feeling and quite prone to smile and laugh at all this: a most horrible phone conversation of two hours beforehand revealed to me where i stand. At the moment an incredible sense of love for the dear woman; funerals should be fun, lots of old faces and a chance to say hello again. Today as if able to stand back and see how selfless Christine really was, after all I've never had to go to war or live in a country occupied by an enemy force, so this is easily dealt with. I feel tears are not far away again and all I can think of is Christines life as one of goodness ... I applaud how she did it all 'her way' in most aspects .... the way mostly she wanted !! The Will will be distributed as she requested if sufficient funds are forthcoming and hopefully something left over for me. Thats no problem, she knows fine well I can look after myself, I can stand on my own two feet and can live on modest income, the World has done me no injustice.
14th Jan ... met a lovely woman today, reminded me so much of Christine and i told her so, it was suddenly i was transported to thirty five years ago, so redolent of my young love. Here I am crying my eyes out. Thousands of memories, what the hell went wrong ?? we were now or should have been in a good position.
When your wife has gone there is an incredible desire to kiss her and of course your target is now absent. An incredible yearning to plant a few heartfelt smackers on her forehead, to let her know she is loved.
Got the PM today, various organs weighed which seems a bit 'basic', would like to have known why she had such a pronounced and troubling limp, it must have been painful. And still she hobbled to work for her 12 hour shifts and penniless at the end of each paycheck. What was behind this ? I can hardly see for tears.
However i am now wondering if cash was being fed to someone that demanded or cajoled for money, this strange triple hit labyrinthian charade shall be put to bed. Medical negligence, working with no nett gain, despatching money to strangers.
I think also these last couple of years she was not as bright as previous, (I hope to God not troubled by anything pernicious from a distance) .... mentioning an old penpal of say five years ago she registered no recollection, her intolerance of this at the time knew no bounds (I guess insecurity, difficult childhood, poor self image) she didn't seem to realise how deep we go, how close the bond beyond a mere online conversation .... this memory loss should have triggered my wondering more concretely what was happening. Likewise with her old college chums, she seemed not so connected anymore, no desire to receive the call. Not sure if 'depression' fits the bill, more a sadness, a distancing. She could often be in a place hard to reach; but this baffles me, surely what we do at the horses would be sufficient to delight anyone ?? What other pernicious influence was involved ??
I missed two feeding sessions, the horses certainly were keen and no problem to interrupt their recently brought feed and for them to trot happilly towards me. Its easy to read their mood of my being an absent friend for two days; they were beautifully ordered, a remarkable parade of chums and each in turn coming toward me as if to pay respects, nodding and acknowledging my visit. Their subtlety and grace of communication seems to me far more than most humans are capable of. If you are interested in this sort of thing try listening to Butterworths 'Is My Team still Ploughing' ..... heart rending, the underlying theme is a quite cruel once you realise ... and of course the great master of this song to my mind is Thomas Allen of Seaham, a singer of world reknown ie the song starts at 03:10 ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnpiJD-r6Q
Interestingly Jack Hargreaves can be seen on youtube recalling that at the end of the time when horses were used on farms as a boy he witnessed ploughing matches that when over the horses were despatched to the abbatoir. Likewise with the value of horses, after the First War the company of and working with horses was the only thing that could 'connect' with shell-shocked men now home from the Front.
My musical tastes (and most everything i pursue) have sometimes been described as 'catholic' (def. as an adjective ie 'including a wide variety of things; all-embracing'
) .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_term_%22Catholic%22
... anything of intelligence and integrity interests me, ie light, beauty in all its forms, honesty and grace; properties which my wife held in abundance.
16th Jan ... I think we shall use this music for the Crematorium, Aaron Coplands 'Down a Country Lane' .....https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlGkhpcvm_Q
... so very appropriate to our happiest times.
The loveliest sweetest woman desiring only peace and calm and to be left alone
to enjoy her retirement, her animal charities possibly one of the few glints of light in her enclosing darkness. I now realise what a dark intolerable situation she was forced to inhabit. Evil thrives in subjection and fear.
17 Jan ... Lately very keen to hear Small Faces and early Faces tracks, for example this cuts me up every time and says exactly how I feel of my dear beloved ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLhoLkTyNkM
Whoever forced her to work a full week and added twelve hour overtime plus even an extra day as required to feed his lust for money is vile and inhuman, garbage in the extreme and as my old Headmaster referred to in his convoluted extreme example set for lines .... witness Seahouses pupils of the 60's and 70's .... the word begins with an 'e' and starts with 'forgetfulness' .... must be etc
As has been revealed more recently Christine was popping Tramadol that i never previously knew about until i had to enter her handbag, her pain and extreme limits were being tried and tested in this slave-work.
19th Jan ... I destroyed a vacuum cleaner today, quite a new one, smashed it violently and repeatedly on the paving slabs at front near the bins, it displeased me, I abhor tools that do not work, shoddy junk; we bought it together last summer and I took the remaining interconnected parts back to the supplier, the witless twats had no idea i would provide such direct and distinct feedback, it was garbage from day one! Sold to relieve me of my money, my standards are higher than this.
Why was it that at each month-end she is back to zero on her account, there was good money going in, Christine only need pay council tax say £1.6k pa, gas n elec say £1.6k, plus water rates say £600 ... why such a shortfall .. plus of course vittles n' household. Of course since she passed away and the preceding month I am so far having good meals at a far lower spend, but however we must realise of course the 'new-fangledness ' of my peculiarly man-constructed meals will soon wear off.
I have been utterly heartened at the most sincere good wishes, assistance and kind words from so many people and those that we live among here, its a tight close-knit estate and everyone seems to look out for everyone else; thieves and pernicious individuals have no chance! Even tomorrow at my wifes funeral i have good neighbours that are only too willing to keep me company. I am very grateful and thankful they are only too pleased to give their time and effort to help me. Funerals should be fun, a chance to natter and to recollect.
21st Jan 2016... Every month cash withdrawls far in excess of what we would need to run this particular household, I wonder if she was being frightened and forced to fund someone elses household???
Nuisance phone calls when i should be asleep need to be stopped, after this mornings 03:55 and through the early hours of the 13th we now have a Police Case opened to attend to this, again many people have been informed of the detail. Also having the place swept to find any listening devices, I doubt it really but why was Christine so aligned with the protagonist, so increasingly uncharacteristic in her responses as if she was saying it for the mic, or possibly a case of Stockholm Syndrome when a victim becomes so overwhelmed by their protagonists, remember poor Christine with twelve hour days on painful legs, worn out and then extra days to fund some bizarre need to extract cash from her account. I so want to focus on memories of Christine, not some irritating additional crap.
Was Christine burnt out? Maybe i think 'worn-out' is applicable, stressed and unable to tell me. And if I am correct at the vast additional pressure then I can say she was killed from the inside. If only victims would open up and speak their heart; but it often never happens particularly when it is family focused. I am in fact adamantly the opposite from this being allowed to continue hidden, many people know my ideas and the neccessary information to take steps forward should anything happen to me, letters are lodged with those that matter. This is a ring fence of protection. Also this small estate is close knit, some very helpful friends very close by.
Yesterdays funeral was well attended by her friends and colleagues past and present, it was a delight to meet friends old and new.
Christines coffin I deliberately requested as black, a seemingly unusual choice these days and thankfully looking as like the old joiner made item, no complicated flashy mouldings but appearing as a clean country made item with silver handles and the most stunning single floral display atop, a very useful gift from her sister. My grandfather R.J.Kell himself had a business up at Powburn, Northumberland as joiner, wheelwright and Undertaker in the 1920's, I still have some of his old bill-heads (and hand tools) here with neat copyings of the poetry of Robbie Burns, hence why my dad was called Robbie.
I had requested 'no flowers' as I am a gardener and not keen for good money or indeed flowers themselves thrown away after only a day, Christine I know would have agreed on this, intending there only be one bouquet which would be Christines favourite, freesias I would buy myself placed on top of the coffin. Thus the money saved can be placed in the Collection Box at St Pauls, a far better idea. But after an absence of over a decade a card arrived expressing regret and a message to have a conversation amid all this sadness, I therefore suggested that these freesias be provided by her sister, save me yet another task and after all we are Christians and we have been in the House of God; Charity, Forgiveness, Fellowship are all part of what we should believe in for our brief span on this planet, otherwise the world is a very cold bleak and backward place. My whole life has been about making things of high integrity, developing and gaining insight, making the effort, knee-jerk intolerance holds no interest to me, I build not destroy.
The Co-Operative Funeral Service did a first class job. The service at St Pauls, Ryhope was perfect, in a perfect setting, we first sang 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' which was a complete suprise to me, a seemingly simple hymn but so appicable to our life together, followed by my choice of 'Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer', words and sentiment totally suitable to us all and the occasion, its original name being 'Cwm Rhondda' meaning Rhondda Valley and so applicable to an area and family with coal mining ancestry. I was heartened to be complimented on the choice of the music Aaron Coplands 'Down a Country Lane' at the Crematorium, initially a solo piano piece but more interesting in its Orchestral form. The lower grounds an old graveyard sloping away from the Crem is a place I know better than people may realise, as many times its been a location to ramble with our beagle when Christine has been making visits to Sunderland General. And theres even an old gravestone which is signed in small capitals on its edge by the stonemason that made it, his name being precisely mine. At this visit the squirrels were only grey, four years ago it was reds.
So today the 21st of January up early as usual, friends informed of the latest, good memories of the Funeral and I may even in a few minutes get round to attending to product assembly and despatch. An increasing accumulation of books that I am keen to read all bought at minimal cost, birdsong in the garden has entered a new phase from at least a week ago and there are masses of spring bulbs in the garden keen to burst forth. Now I need to know if someone perhaps Court Photographer Jenn has a photograph of the coffin with the flowers ??
Christine ..... A Life of Goodness personified !!
and heres a photograph from a happier time, this is the real Christine ....
Always hard working, totally dependable, reliable and good company, mostly light hearted and would help anyone.
We were married on the 18th of Feb 1978 and two days later on the Monday as a special treat Christine started at Northgate Hospital, a facility for the mentally handicapped in Northumberland. She was lucky to know, train with and work with Cecil Taylor, a man highly regarded by everyone that knew him. Service user Mr Bobby Spry goes back to those days too and as Christine pointed out recently she knew him from her teacher training days I guess at three or four years previous to her starting work at Northgate. Christines sick record was exemplary, quite minimal. Christine always worked fulltime, making the effort to to get in and not let the team down at the same time tolerating and indeed happy to be with a husband that in 1983 needed to be self employed, never once did I receive a word of criticism for my low wage or the uncertainty; no-one knows what we coped with.
I wonder at Christines later need to work overtime, again I cannot help but wonder was someone demanding money, or was she just wrecklessly hell-bent on inflicting pain upon herself for no gain whatsoever ?? We shall probably never know for sure. She made the full effort, never shirked her quota, shame on those work-shy individuals that winge and beg and covet their handouts, feeling so hard done-by at imaginary put-downs. No 'benefits' ever entered this household of such sort, we always stood on our own two feet, paid our way and 'made do' from the wages we worked for (again you can detect I am very angry). Its that attitude of fiscal caution and uncertainty that has remained with me all my life and in these latter days I see now there should have been accumulated savings for all her hard work. You can become too comfortable, too much unsaid. It shames me to realise thirty eight years and in some aspects I cannot say I know her that well, I'm baffled, but this needs to be tempered with realising Christines 'mind' her outlook and psyche had changed and I think damaged.
I intend to do something that I have done before in other locations over the last two decades, to scatter the seed of common spotted orchid in the patch of waste land (among the trees) closest to the small roundabout at the Chequer Board Inn after turning off the A19 heading south. Its part of a park that is much valued by the locals, my introduction will cause no problems, it is not pernicious. Many people will see the display in late June and into July, amateur botanists will be enthralled; look there in about seven or ten years and see the joy that Christine can bring into life.
6th Feb ..... If Christine was being pressed for money it explains so much, her moods, her distance, that at age fifty a decade ago she told me twice she would no longer tolerate being told what to do (by whom for what ?) and also that considering she worked fulltime she insisted was fully entitled to contribute aid to whatever charities she wanted; this we can see now was probably only a part (lets say a fifth) of the 'missing funds' and perhaps this evil pressure was why she worked at least an additional twelve hour day each week, pressed to make more; these contributions to animal charities perhaps were glimmers of light (or a symbol of defiance) in an otherwise dark world if she was being controlled and forced to hand over money ??? We could conjecture she had lost her mind, I do think there was a slackening of mental acuity certainly in the last six months or year but what attracted me to her in the first place was her intelligence and quickness of brain, always very attractive to me in a woman and luckily I had mostly thirty eight years of Christine at her best.
At her best Christine was wonderful.
But why did she fib and conceal to me, she talked in half amounts of the money to be received in compensation for the new and less attractive Lifeways contract, exaggerated how household expenses drained her account and I never knew her nett income whatsoever, suprisingly good which reflected the arduous hours of overtime as additional twelve hour days with decreasing mobility and increased pain.
In fact her wage was a mystery to me, better than led to believe, strange as I never sponged, was generous, I paid whatever came along, a reaction to that surfaced I think when three weeks ago I destroyed the vacuum cleaner I had bought last autumn.
Why did she tell me that when dropped off for her working day a couple of years ago she instead had gone to Sunderland and who was she visiting that I couldn't take her? I think this happened more than once. As if she wanted to tell me but couldn't, was this to hint at concealed difficulties.
Why was so little saved when on good nett income as augmented with the hard work of overtime on painful legs? Impressing upon me again and again that after utilities, food etc little was left (actually not true). As if on some schedule of punishment, as if brainwashed.
Her sleep for a decade was both very late in coming to bed and often/ mostly an hour or two up through the night sat reading downstairs, surely our acupuncturist should have fixed this. I found lots of un-popped Tramadol in her handbags which admittedly does not necessarilly indicate she was taking the stuff (only the Docs will know, unless it was from some other nefarious source) and as we know Tramadol can trigger horrible dreams and bad temper. Yet even more fatigue added to her pains. And weeks later we find the label had been torn off for this medication, the remains of '-on' still visible, perhaps the last two letters of the original recipient of these we assume 'handed-on' pharmaceuticals.
Poor thing, I loved her so much, I doubt such another woman exists. I never thought the clock and time would become my enemy, if only able to step back to nurture, to fondle, to carress, to comfort ..... and to allow her some rest and maybe get at the truth of this.
9th Feb ..... I'm reminded of the Ezra Pound quote from Michael Alexanders valuable broadcast when offering the suggestion to Mr Pound that everything being 'at peace and quiet' when he visited him in Rapallo Italy and Ezra rightly responds that "Peace and quiet are not the same thing" and how very true, I would suggest to anyone not to allow too much quiet to creep into any relationship.
22nd Feb ..... Yes I feel angry and yes I feel bitter. Tonight I nearly got run over, some pillock no doubt thinking it 'funny' to aim for and accelerate at me already on a pedestrian crossing. I'm on a hair trigger, takes nothing for me to vent, God help anyone that vexes me. Likewise this afternoon of the years best sunshine, the frustration of not being able to tell Christine how lovely the crocus and suchlike look in full sunshine.
Writing this blog post has been most useful for me, those hours when everyone else is still asleep.
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