Friends and Family

We’ve had a great many visitors recently. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that I have been bowled over (being somewhat unsteady on my pins at the best of times) by the reaction of friends from near and far to the news of my declining health. My remark in a previous post that I felt that anyone who wished to pay their respects could come and see me while I was still able to speak to them seems to have struck a chord with some. People want to come and spend time with me, and that’s just lovely.

Clodagh came to the Western one afternoon bearing spring bulbs, and just sat and held my hand for an hour or so. Very calming, really kind. Mum and Alison also made the trip through to the Western one Saturday afternoon and we had a lovely time just talking about normal family things.

Anne and Alison (friends from school) came through to the flat one afternoon, bearing enormous bags full of chocolate and cakes and scones (and sushi!). Again, it was lovely to speak about normal things (once we’d got the boring stuff about blood chemistry stability and tumour development out of the road). A quick aside and example of small worldism: Anne happened to mention to her daughter Rachel and Rachel’s boyfriend that she was coming through to see me, and he put two and two together and thought he had perhaps met me in the Western earlier that week, being one of the two medical students Charlie had brought with to review my ‘interesting case’. Dee and I were very impressed with one of the students in particular (not just because he was drop dead gorgeous – oops there’s a phrase I’m not supposed to use) and remarked that he is going to make an excellent physician.

Stuart, Aileen and Catherine have been to see us, making quite a substantial detour to do so. Dorothy and Isbel Simpson have been through a couple of times (we have a lovely hanging basket suspended from a tree near the front door as a charming memento of their last visit). Joy and Joan came for coffee one morning.

P1030129.JPG Silvia arrived from Germany for a few days. She booked her own flights, transits and hotel, and turned up here on the bus on a Sunday morning bearing the largest bag of assorted Swiss chocolate either of us has ever seen (and a large bottle of whisky which Dee will enjoy, my taste for alcohol being sadly seriously compromised at the moment). Again, she just sat and held my hand, we talked about old times, re-climbed in our memories nearly all the big hills we walked during our grand mountain tours, laughed at the things we used to get up to and the scrapes we got ourselves into, choir exploits and excitements, here and there, back in the old GDR days and in more modern times.

P1030133.JPG On the Sunday afternoon Dee, Silvia and I went to the Botanics for a walk in the sun, and I got to ride a granny scooter! That was grand fun. There’s a speed variable button (from tortoise – very slow – to hare – slightly less slow) and a rather pathetic ‘excuse me’ beeper. They’re quite manoeuvrable (backwards, forwards and of course left and right) which took a wee bit of getting used to (I think it’s about a year now since I did any kind of driving at all). Anyway I had a lovely time (see photos). I even got the crowds of kilts and well-heeled frocks at a wedding outside the Caledonian Hall to get out my of way (the beeper was useless, but I found saying firmly ‘if you don’t move I’m afraid I’m going to snag your tights’ quite effective).

P1030173.JPG Last week Janine, Marc and Eléonore arrived from Alsace and Lorraine (via an airport in Germany). When I had emailed them with an update of the current situation and prognosis, apparently they had all had the simultaneous idea that ‘il fallait venir‘. Eléonore stayed with us, and for Marc and Janine we found a delightful B&B just five minutes down the road in The Old Schoolhouse, Colinton. They spent the evenings with us and had a grand time to themselves being tourists in Edinburgh for a couple of days. It was truly wonderful to spend time with them, again laughing about the the things we used to get up to, skiing in Saas-Fee, summers on the Ile de Ré, bee-keeping with Janine’s father (and all the terrible jokes he used to tell, which I have of course remembered over thirty years), and all the Peter family lunches, outings and dos in between (here’s a few more photos).P1030176.JPG

Saying goodbye to Silvia and the Peters wasn’t easy, but I think we have all drawn strength from remembering happy times together, and understand the importance of being positive.

Last Saturday Dee and I drove through to Glasgow. We had lunch with Mum and Alison at Ian Brown’s, which we all enjoyed. Then we went to the coffee afternoon which Linda had organised as part of Catherine’s Project Trust fundraising appeal. Mum, Alison, Hannah, Wilma, Joanna, Jamie, Kirsty, Joy, Joan, Helen, Linda, Gordon and Katrina, Sheila and Lucy – just a few of the people who were there, but the important ones for me to see and spend some time with. I had a lovely afternoon sitting on a comfy throne holding court. Catherine hit quite a fundraising high. It was a grand day.

Today Terry, a work colleague came for lunch. We had a lovely, warm, intimate and insightful conversation, touching on a wide variety of topics, from the state of technology-enhanced learning in UK higher education to body donation. As Terry said, no-one could accuse us of small talk. 

Mum is coming later this afternoon to stay for a few days. We were hoping to get away for a night to visit Alnwick Castle Gardens (especially the poisons garden) and other Northumbrian delights, but things have been not great with my digestive system over the past few days so we not going to manage that.

On Friday we’re hoping that Hazel will come to visit. I phoned her last weekend, haven’t spoken to her in years but I wanted her to hear from me and not via some jungle drums. It’s so lovely that people’s first reaction is to come and see me. I really do feel completely surrounded by love and support. I’m calm about what’s ahead, but for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying each moment of my life.

Through all this, of course, Dee remains an incredible tower of strength. She never stops looking out for me, listening for every breath, anything unusual, always aware of where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m eating and drinking, sorting drugs, drains and dressings. Even when she’s sleeping she’s still got half an ear listening for me. She’s a tiny bit marvellous, to put it mildly.

 

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