Monday, March 11, 2013

Two meanings of 'tear'














"That's not what I meant and you know it!"

"Oh do I? So I have to be a mind reader now too....?"

Her only answer was to slam the car door shut and stride off. As I muttered, 'grumpy cow,' to the steering wheel there was little doubt that she was doing the same into her jacket.

Finishing off my coffee before going for a run, the computer is always a lure, asking me to check on it before sweating it out in the room next door. C's facebook status is brief. "Single again."  Love Chunks and I sigh in sympathy and disappointment.  C is a single mother who has literally been on her own for a decade working full time, paying off a mortgage and caring for a son with a unique set of challenges that the father refuses to see.  If anyone needs some pampering and romance, it is her.  We both write separate messages and sign them off with the usual ineffective wish to provide a hug or two via cyberspace and across the hemispheres.

Tara's status is much lengthier, a written message in response to my carelessly typed, "Are you okay?"  Not really.  Her partner is now refusing to take the medication needed to manage a significant mental health issue leaving Tara to deal with unpredictable rages, unaffordable spending sprees, unheard of debts suddenly coming to light, undeserved accusations and uncomfortable living arrangements.  

In the car, my phone vibrates. "I hope you are all well and enjoying the snow, but I have some really bad news that I need to tell you......"  Darling Dale, IT guru, laid-back buddy, volleyball queen and world traveller has been given the unenviable task of contacting all of J's university friends and telling us that cancer claimed her.  "But she wrote to me in January wondering if she should return to work full time or take it easy and pick up her painting again," is my tapped response, no time for refinement or spell check.

Back home, Love Chunks is now bent over his knees, clutching a blue esky ice block wrapped in a tea towel to his torn calf muscle. "Good thing I injured myself on the very last ski run of the day," he said, grimacing.

"I'll try the doctor again. Hopefully the receptionist answers this time because their message service is all in French."  Milly sighs loudly and smooshes her face against the side of her bed, signalling very clearly her disappointment at the rain that prevents us from going out for a walk.
















Appointment made for 2:45pm, I make LC something to eat and tram it into the city to book our train tickets for Italy in the summer. "No, sorry. They won't accept bookings that are 120 days before the departure date.  Best come back on 11th April to get all your travel details sorted out."  I try not to peel the skin around my thumbnail but do it anyway, feeling the sting of exposed flesh and blood beginning to flow.  Accommodation is already becoming scarce for one of the world's most popular tourism destinations, but to take the chance of finding somewhere to sleep and then have no way of getting there on time.  The hem of my jacket is used to press against the nail and stem the bloodflow.... I smile and thank the ticket lady for her help.

Back at home, LC is on the phone to M, J's husband.  He told LC that J went downhill very rapidly before having a stroke and being placed into palliative care.  M was in turn both prepared for her death and completely unprepared.  She was only forty five, with three kids aged eighteen, sixteen and fourteen.  M once told me how they met. "I saw her across the room giving some other bloke a really good telling off. I thought to myself, 'that girl's got fire in her,' and went over to divert her attention." That was in 1986.

LC's eyes fill with tears after he farewells his old friend. We hug and I tell him of my small moment with Sapphire earlier this morning. He shows me his calf which is twice the size of his other one.

There's leftovers for lunch and the final episode of Derek.  I've already seen it with Sapphire and we both ended up sobbing.  The biggest message is the one that everyone - no matter what their faults - see and value in Derek, the assistant at a nursing home who has his own problems to deal with.  Kindness.  Just be kind, that's all.


















I send a text to Sapphire, apologising for my bad temper this morning.  Love Chunks gets a Kath-made coffee that nowhere near reaches his own standard of DeLonghi delight, but he's grateful for it anyway.  Milly skips when we take the lift downstairs and she sees the cleaning lady and rushes to greet her by giving her slippers a lick.  The sun has some warmth in it now and Milly is happy to sniff the green stems of the crocus flowers emerging from the mud.

After doing some laundry and mopping the floors, two hours is spent printing out a document for one of my students page by page, thanks to an ancient CD-rom format that is still the preferred study method at his school.  Sapphire arrives home from school, dashing past the study to get into her room.  "Thanks for the book, Mum!' she calls out cheerfully.  I sit at the desk, wondering whether to leave her alone as she's in her her haven; her fortress of solitude, or whether to barge on in and give her a hug.

Barging in won out.

24 comments:

Hannah said...

Always barge in for the hug. I wish my mum could do that for/to me right now. xo

Pandora Behr said...

Some hard stuff going on. Hugs to you both. Arnica for LCs leg. xx

wilbo43 said...

The big 'C' is a terrible curse, especially when it affects people you know. Sorry for the loss of a friend.

Had to look up Derek, sounds like a good show, unfortunately not yet in Oz.

Imogen said...

Beautiful writing, as always. Loved the title too. And yes, barging in for a hug should always win out xx

Alexia said...

Yes - good choice. Hugs do help, even with prickly teenagers. Maybe especially with prickly teenagers.

Not a good day - so I'm pretty sure you needed a hug, too.

The Elephant's Child said...

I suspect that both you and Sapphire needed the hug. What a post. My heart goes out to you all. And yes, there are tears here too. And tomorrow I am trekking to Sydney to the unexpected funeral of someone I have been friends with for nearly forty years. Oh bad words if I knew any. Which of course I do, and would much, much rather swear than cry.
Sending caring hugs your way. To all of you, including poor Milly deprived of a walk by the rain I would love to see.

Kath Lockett said...

Hannah, I bet she does, too.

Thanks Pand. Arnica is in the cupboard, but he's ice-packing and naprogesic-ing at the mo'

Wilbo43, you'll love 'Derek' when the series (only six episodes) comes to Oz.

Thank you, Imogen. One thing I'm good at; it's being a barge arse!

E-Child, it has been hard but we're mostly thinking of M and the three children, now without their wife and mother....

tracy said...

So very sad, and must be making you feel a long way from home. I always feel awful for young people who lose their mum. It must be overwhelming. Take care. xx

JD said...

Lovely piece Kath. One of your best. But what a day.

Kath Lockett said...

Tracy, as you can imagine, her old uni buddies are all talking on FB so it's a bittersweet way for us all to get in touch again. But her children..... and the lovely man who has loved her for so long.....

Thank you, JD.

foodieK said...

What a day..thank God for the little rays of sunshine on a dark day. And cyberhugs are still hugs even tho we wish they could be closer. Hugs. X

Jackie K said...

Lovely post Kath, so sorry about your friend. Life - so lovely, so hard.

foodieK said...

Thank goodness for the little rays of sunshine on a dark day to help make it bearable. Cyberhugs are still hugs even though we wish we could all be closer. Hugs to you. Kx

Anonymous said...

Wish I could barge in and give all 3 of you a hug. xx Dale.

Kirstie Olley said...

at least the day ended on a good note. Long distance hugs for your loss.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks, FoodieK. Sorry about the repeat comments: they're all approved by moi due to being severely trolled a while back *and* due to the more recent hundredfold increase in spam making its way past google's fences.

Thank you too, JackieK.

Dale, you can barge in any time. There'll always be a bed for you at Chateau Lockett. xo

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Kirstie. Long distance was one of the drawbacks to our decision to live here, but *live* is the word, isn't it?

diane b said...

The great thing about kids they are mostly forgiving. It is so sad to hear of young mothers dying, it is a cruel world for some familes and makes us realise how lucky we are if we still have one another. So barging in and mugging a hug was the right thing to do.

River said...

It's hard to lose a friend when the only hug you can give is virtual. Still, a virtual hug is better than none. I'm glad you barged in to hug Sapphire and I bet she is too.

Kath Lockett said...

dianeb, I'm glad you agree (ooh, that rhymed!)

River, she was. :)

Wally said...

Trouble with getting on a bit. People around you die. As you get older, there's more of it. Of course we all think its going to happen to some other anonymous person.

A bugger when its someone you know / grew up with, etc.

To me I have to use this to make some perspective: there's not a lot to be gained by being nasty, bad tempered, chasing money, being an arehole, etc etc. Sooner or later you drop dead. Enjoy it while you can and try to ensure that when you go, others will think well of you rather than be grateful.

Kath Lockett said...

Well said, Wally. A little less flowery than I'd put on a sympathy card, but well said.

nuttynoton said...

I agree with Wally be nice in life, my eldest teenage daughter (who does not like hugging especuially from Dad)favourite saying YOLO comes to mind. A compliment as well that your writing is similar to the Boss he says he writes better when he has something to push against! regards to all and hope the calf improves!

Kath Lockett said...

Nuttynoton, your daughter is right - YOLO works just as well if taken to mean good things.

Love Chunks' calf muscle probably means that, despite his intense wishes, his 2012/2013 ski season has ended but he's hobbling around and seems to be coping rather well.