As twilight deepens.

On this day that celebrates love I find myself reflecting on my parents marriage as I have observed it through the last 60 years.

Dad confided to me once when he was at a particularly low ebb in his life that his and my Mother’s marriage had only been happy for the first few months before disillusionment set in for him. The details are unimportant but it must be said that Dad described feeling like he had made a huge mistake in marrying Mum just a few months into their marriage, he didn’t believe in divorce and so even though he felt trapped Dad set about making the best of it. As it transpired this meant he would spend the next 60 years bending to Mum’s will in everything and never having a voice within our family. From my earliest memory of them as a couple, Mum was in charge and Dad pretty much did as he was told. They didn’t fight very much but when they did it invariably ended with Dad in the wrong and Mum triumphant.  I recall 20 years or so of Dad going to bed early and of Mum staying up late every night and sleeping on the sofa. They were not openly hostile towards each other but there was an insurmountable distance between them for as long as I can remember.

Through the years we have all speculated on why Dad didn’t just ‘put his foot down’ or  leave and find a new happier life for himself, it just seemed tragic to me that they continued on in this habitual form of enslavement to each other. At one point in the 1980’s when Dad was setting off to visit his family in England, he told me that he may not return, there was someone from his past who was now a widow and still held feelings for him. I was surprised but also felt relieved for him, finally he might find some happiness. I reassured him that we would take care of Mum and she would be fine and off he went.

Dad returned home to New Zealand earlier than expected, he had missed Mum.

Who can tell what goes on in another persons heart and soul.

Mum and Dad carried on as before, she calling all the shots and he doing as he was told and constantly being told that he fell short of expectation by Mum. Mum’s constant badgering of Dad was difficult to see and when I challenged her she always had some very good reason why he needed to be bullied.

2014 came around and Mum and Dad’s 60th wedding anniversary was looming large on the calendar, Mum was getting very excited and looking forward to the great event with much anticipation. I did the daughterly thing and informed the government so that on the great day they would receive cards from the Governor General, our own Prime minister and of course the highly anticipated card from The Queen. As the date approached Dad quietly informed me that he didn’t want any fuss as he had nothing to celebrate. In the light of this I cancelled the family outing I was organising and I told Mum that we would be coming up to their home in Kerikeri to celebrate with them on the day.

All through that year I noticed Mum’s memory getting worse and by October of that year she would ring me upwards of 6-7 times a day with the same question or bit of news. She was increasingly distracted but she was able to keep her focus on the upcoming 60th wedding anniversary celebration in December. We spoke every day and finally the anniversary arrived and we all piled in our cars with cake and food and made the trip up North to celebrate with Mum.

She was surprised to see us all, she didn’t know it was their anniversary!

After that everything imploded for Mum and she ended up in a home here in Orewa and Dad came to live with us. He was very angry with her in those early months with us and often talked about his “wasted life”. Mum meanwhile went from demented to violent and self destructive and a perceptive social worker finally took a proper history and really listened to Dad and I describing how life had been with Mum for all those years. The result was that at the age of 84 Mum was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was started on medication.

Over the 3 years that Mum has been medicated she has made amends in the only way she can and I for one am very grateful that I have come to know this warm, calm and loving Mother who through no fault of her own had been emotionally absent from my life for all those long years. Dad has had time to heal and now understands that Mum was very sick and couldn’t help how she was during their long and painful marriage. I have been witness to a growing peacefulness between them and have had the absolute joy to hear my Dad whispering in Mum’s ear “you know I have always loved you”.

So on this day I am grateful that Dad didn’t stay in England and that he came back here to endure the unendurable. I don’t think his was a wasted life and I’m happy that these two previously tormented souls are approaching that slip into the next great adventure together, hand in hand and in love.

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The late blooming Rose.

IMG_2126I am, what was once described by an Auntie a ‘late bloomer’, at the time I think she was trying to get Mum to have some patience with me as I yet again failed to achieve some secret standard of me-ness. I was a short be-speckled child who wore clothes and shoes that always seemed to be too big or too small depending on which sale they had been bought in and whether I had still not grown into them or was getting the last little bit of wear out of them before they fell apart.

My early childhood years were marked by my inability to ‘tune in’ to what was expected of me at school and I remember being in a sort of daze a lot of the time, I wouldn’t hear teachers instructions or admonitions and always seemed to be in some sort of trouble for ‘not listening’ and was often punished by strapping for inattention. This lack of attention finally culminated in me being put into the ‘special’ class when I was 8 where a really observant special needs teacher decided to have my hearing and sight tested and it was discovered I was living in a world of my own because I could barely see or hear the real world.

As time passed I didn’t develop the same social skills as other kids and I am the only person I have ever heard of who had to stay in form 1 for a second year so that I could have more time to make friends and catch up socially. Physically I remained a child much longer than any of my peers and must have looked pretty funny in my (much too big) college school uniform with those long plaits I wore well into my late teens, braces on my teeth and glasses that were always halfway down my nose and crooked. I guess I was the classic personification of a girl geek without the attending good academic performance. I continued to underachieve at College with the only difference being that instead of thinking I had a learning and developmental disadvantage I was now labelled lazy. I think the change in labelling came in the 2nd form when we were all given an IQ test to stream us at college and it was discovered that contrary to popular opinion I was actually quite bright.

I continued to cruise at school, just scraping by and resenting any time spent outside the art room until the end of the 6th form year when I failed to be accredited with UE. Mum had had enough of supporting me and pointed out that my sisters had left school in the 4th form to work in a factory and so she found me a job.

I didn’t like office work! It was repetitive and so boring and it didn’t look like anybody else working in that office was any happier about their work than I was. I was stuck but something inside me lit a spark and I decided that I might need a bit more education. So I enrolled in night school at my former college and would go off to lessons after work three nights a week. Halfway through the year the principal was making up lists for the final exams and noticed my name on the night school roll, he called me down to his office and demanded an explanation as to why I wasn’t at day school and more to the point why didn’t I sit the formal exams for university entrance at the end of the last year. I explained that as they were over at MIT, a bus ride away I was unable to go as Mum wouldn’t cough up the bus fare. He was astounded, I had been one of their reserve 5% students who they knew could pass the outside exam so that the college retained it’s status as being able to accredit students! That was a revelation as I had never considered that I was bright enough to pass any exam.

The principal invited me back to day school, to start the following Monday morning (this was mid-year) and assured me he would talk to Mum about it. She was not amused but agreed I could go if I paid board to her at the same rate as I had been while working. I had savings, I paid.

In the 6 months to the end of the year I worked my geeky little bum off and was accredited with UE. I was so happy I had discovered that I really loved learning and could get really good results with a bit of work. I wanted to go to Elam and knew that I needed a good bursary year to get in however that wasn’t to be and Mum kicked all three of us out of home over the Summer break between my 6th and 7th form year, I tried going back to school but I was an emotional mess and in the end I gave up at Easter and found some work.

In the following years I had several desk jobs that I hated and then married and had children. I was pretty happy for the first couple of years but I got bored and frustrated very quickly and recognised I needed more.

We were living in Wellington at the time and the Evening Post ran a tiny little puzzle on the back page with the caption that if you could solve it you might be eligible to join MENSA. I was curious and had seen the solution at first glance so I rang the number provided and booked in to do a full IQ test at Victoria University. The big day arrived and my husband drove me and my daughter and baby son in to the exam location. We parked in the uni carpark right outside the exam room and I told him it would take one hour and please could he take the kids to the park and pick me up later, he agreed. I went in and 10 minutes after the exam had started I could hear my baby boy crying outside, I was very distressed. I wont say he deliberately sabotaged my performance but my husband wasn’t at all happy with the thought that I might be brighter than him. I finished the test very quickly and passed it hurriedly over to the supervisors with 15 minutes to spare, they asked me if I’d like to take some more time but I just needed to get out of there and comfort my baby.  Imagine my surprise when I got an acceptance letter!

I was over the moon and it was just the boost that I needed to give me the confidence to apply to go to University. My husband was not so happy and it was the catalyst that finished off our marriage.

I moved back to Auckland with the kids and enrolled at Auckland Uni and so started my (very) long affair with higher education. I was 28 and the world was looking very exciting and full of possibility. Over the years I have had two fulfilling careers first as a rape and sexual abuse counsellor, then as an art teacher at MIT. I’ve completed a diploma, 2 undergrad degrees, a Masters, a Tertiary teaching certificate and have enjoyed several random papers in subjects as diverse as Landscape design and Russian.
So now we come to the present day and after a 10 year spell of being home after an unwanted redundancy from teaching visual art at MIT, working in our own business and then looking after my sick husband, dealing with the effects of cataracts in both eyes and being unable to exhibit my art. Not to mention moving Mum and Dad from Kerikeri to Orewa and clearing out their house and organising their lives in general, I finally have time for myself again.

I loved teaching adults at uni and I have some experience as a relief teacher at college level so I’ve decided to risk it all and apply for training for my third career as a secondary school art teacher. It will involve 1 year intensive training.

I sent off my application with some trepidation wondering all the time whether they would take it seriously or turn me down outright or if in fact they might still be rolling around the ground laughing. Anyway I did it and this morning I got an appointment for an interview.

I wonder if I’m the oldest applicant they have ever had, I wonder how I will convince them that I’m a good risk! I can always point to the 92 year old in the next room as a good indicator of longevity in my genetic make-up.

Oh and the ‘Rose’ in the title, people rarely get my name wrong but when they do it’s always Rose and it’s always seemed to fit.

A visit, a reunion and a funeral.

Today we made a pilgrimage up to Maunu to attend the internment of  a member of Ron’s extended family who died over Christmas at the tender age of 63 years. We prepared carefully for the trip, took water for ourselves and the dogs, spare eggs and veg to distribute to family and most importantly we made sure that Dad knew we’d be out all day and we checked he didn’t need anything before we went and that he had his emergency call bracelet on. Checking that Dad’s okay not only involves seeing he has enough supplies of tea bags and lunch fixing but it also involves careful questioning about how he feels in himself as on an earlier trip when we were away from home he had called for an ambulance and we had rushed home in a panic to find that he had a ‘sore neck’.

All was well so we left nice and early and got to Whangarei in time to catch up with a dear brother -in-law and then went on to have a truly wonderful lunch and catch up with old friends until it was time to go to the internment.

Just as we pulled into the cemetery carpark my phone rang and distressingly it was the security company who monitor Dad’s alarm to say he had pushed the emergency button and, as they couldn’t get hold of him, they had dispatched an ambulance! We were two hours away from home and my heart sank, I rang Kathleen but couldn’t get hold of her, then rang Megan but she also wasn’t answering and finally rang Reuben, at work who said he would leave immediately to go and check on Grandad for me. Meanwhile Ron had the bright idea of texting our tenant who lives in the cottage next door to us to go and see if it was a real emergency. Adeline is a great tenant and Ron soon got a text back to say Dad told her that he had been sitting up the drive and wondered if the alarm worked that far from his room so he pushed it to see.

I then had to ring Reuben and tell him it was okay Grandad was fine and he could turn his car around and go back to work.

When we finally got home about 6.30 I asked Dad what sort of a day he had “Oh okay” so I asked him why he had pushed his call button and he gave me some story about pressing it by accident when he was turning his watch around, who knows what the truth is. I said we needed to talk about what an emergency actually was as calling an ambulance out was a serious thing and he looked at me blankly and said “What ambulance” By this stage I was getting a bit irritable and told him that an ambulance had been sent and he airily told me “Oh him, he says it happens all the time” Conversation over, he turned back to his TV.

Seriously.

So our trip to Maunu was eclipsed by my panic at hearing the operator telling me an ambulance was speeding to my Dad and the internment service was in part drowned out by my internal dialogue as I yet again questioned whether Dad should be in a care home.

I feel frustrated and annoyed with myself as I wasn’t truly ‘there’ as the last farewell was said for this departing soul. I had only met him twice but I liked him and he was obviously a good man who was loved by many, I feel sad that I couldn’t give him the attention he deserved.

This last year has been one of true introspection for me as I have lost three good friends and one who I didn’t know so well but admired very much.

 

As often happens when travelling to a funeral we were talking about the person who had died and about how his life was connected to places that we were passing on the trip up North and at some point we were talking about Kai Iwi lakes and I was remembering going there as a parent helper on one of Kathleen’s school camp trips. I was laughing about how much I had enjoyed learning how to sail and doing the other cool activities and how Kathleen spent a lot of the time with her head in a book while I did all the student stuff in her place. Then as often happens that memory triggered off my memory of Auntie Elaine.

So I’m finally getting to the point. I never went on a school camp, Mum always said we couldn’t afford it but I now know it was more about her unwillingness to spend money or allow us to be out of her control. Usually during class trips or school camps we would just have to stay home for the day or week or however long the class was away. Then one year, I’m not sure when but I think I was about 12, Auntie Elaine stepped into the breach and asked Mum if I could go and stay with them for the week, she said I would be a help with my cousins and Mum reluctantly agreed. It was the nicest holiday I had ever had up to that point and I am still grateful to this day that Auntie Elaine cared enough about me to take me under her wing.

The whole week was a bit surreal for me, Auntie Elaine used to get up super early every morning and we would be roused to the sounds of her making breakfast and shouting at us all to hurry, she would already have the washing machine going and was ironing or mopping floors and lunches were waiting to be picked up. Then the boys would be hurried into their school clothes and the toddler would be tucked into her push chair and we’d be off. We’d walk at a cracking pace to drop the boys to school and then on to do something else like shopping or deliveries. In the evening it was no less surreal, we all had baths or showers early and ate our dinner in pyjamas and went to bed early. I would lie awake listening to Auntie Elaine cleaning and clattering for what seemed like hours, wondering at how different she was to Mum. I was pretty much in a daze all week and I’m sure I was no help at all but Auntie Elaine was kind and caring and even though I was a bit homesick because it was all so different, I felt safe and cared for.

So on this day filled with funereal memories and some small frustration at a very old man, I wanted to just remember and retell a very happy memory of someone who has passed into the next big adventure,  who made a big impact on my life and who’s memory I will forever hold dear. Never forgotten Auntie Elaine.

 

Summer

The sun is baking my garden and turning the soil to concrete, insects are singing, the dogs are splayed outstretched in the shade, the cats are hiding or hunting in the cool of the bush, the chooks are hiding under trees, a lazy fly is buzzing around the ceiling and my skin feels like my 10 minute walk around the garden this morning was too long and I may have started to burn!

I feel like I may not go near my garden again during actual daylight hours until next April and have started to weed and water after 8pm in the evenings. I can’t understand how the plants don’t just all shrivel up and die in the heat but they don’t, some are thriving and yet others are bolting to seed as if they ‘know’ that Summer is going to go on and on and on this year.

It feels like the summer of 1976 (except for the burning skin).

I keep flashing back to the long hot summers of my teens and in particular when I was 16, feeling too hot and too tired to move and constantly drinking water in an attempt to cool down. Those days when my eyes were tired from squinting against the light and I was so brown it felt like I would never see winter’s pallor again. When school days were unending in the heat and half the class dozed the afternoon away until the final bell each afternoon.

Then it was the weekend and Sunday afternoon we would all pile into the boys cars, I remember an Austin A35, Ford Escort and a Morris Minor and head out to Eastern beach, Maraitai or if we all chipped in for petrol, over the harbour bridge to Long Bay. We girls would don bikinis and wrap towels around them and surreptitiously check out each others bodies, so much had changed from a couple of years ago and we all seemed to feel some anxiety at uncovering so much flesh, then gradually we’d all relax, drop the towels and chatter away quite happily forgetting our previous anxieties. We spent what seemed like hours swimming and kicking a ball around, walking up and down the shore line collecting bits of driftwood and shells, until hunger drove us to build a fire and cook the pipis and tuatua we had gathered. Then as it got dark we’d all pile back into the cars and, music blaring, head of to Uncle’s for burgers and chips before reluctantly heading home.

I recall the dread as Monday mornings drew near and the joy as December promised 6 weeks of freedom from Mondays.

The Summer holidays were a mixed bag, I always had to work in a clothing factory sewing but that gave me some money to spend and the evenings were long and hot and I was sometimes allowed to go off to the beach for tea. Then the factory closed down over the Christmas holidays and the days would drag, I read a lot of books in the shade. It always surprised me that the longed for break from school was not as idyllic as anticipated. Suddenly January would be over and we would all troop back to school in the hottest month of the year.

We still had Sunday afternoons though.

When I was a child

When I was a child I was small and afraid

I spoke when I was spoken to

When I was a child I didn’t sing in the house,

I didn’t sing in the car

When I was  child I learned to hide

at the clicking of the front gate

When I was a child I was small and afraid

I didn’t go into the hall when the lights were out.

When I was a child the dark was full of monsters

When I was a child I was small and afraid.

 

Now I am an adult

and I dance on your grave.

Packed lunch.

A few years ago as a friend and I were walking our dogs on Orewa beach I mentioned to her that I felt somewhat bad as I hadn’t made lunch for Ron before he went off to work. She looked at me in astonishment and exclaimed that she thought he was quite old enough to get his own lunch ready in the morning. She was of course absolutely right but then I unfolded the reasons making his lunch was important to me and at the end of my explanation she smiled and said “you really should write these stories down”. So here’s one from the family album for you.

We grew up in South Auckland, in Otahuhu and both Mum and Dad worked in factories for pretty minimal wages. Dad didn’t work within his trade (painting and decorating) but as a welder and metal worker in a factory in Ellerslie. Mum worked part time as a cutter in a clothing factory on a very casual basis, her going to work often depended on whether she got up in time and if she felt like going in, on several occasions if they had a lot of work or a rush job Mum’s boss would actually have to come and pick her up and take her to work himself . I know for many years that Mum was unknowingly paid as a ‘white worker’ which was an unskilled rate and it wasn’t until the union rep visited unexpectedly and found her doing all the cutting that it was discovered she was being grossly underpaid and this is why her boss had no problem with her missing days, especially if the union rep was due to visit! Anyway Mum’s work attendance improved dramatically after she received some compensation and a better rate of pay.

All that aside, you get the picture, we were not a wealthy family. However in the 60’s and 70’s in Aotearoa it was possible to have a home and feed and clothe your children quite adequately on factory wages.

In those days before plastic bagged everything our bread arrived in waxed paper, our milk in glass bottles at the letterbox each morning and you could get a very filling school lunch for a few pennies or later a few cents from the school lunch ladies.

We Edge girls did not however have regular school lunches.

We would be woken up every school morning by Dad just before he left for work and then each of us would find our school clothes and appear in the kitchen being very careful not to wake Mum up as that could mean a yelling at or if she was in one of her more volatile periods, worse. We would scour the cupboard for some breakfast cereal but if it was towards the end of the week it had usually run out and we knew that there was no point asking for more, if there was bread we could make toast but then there wouldn’t be enough for lunch. If it was early in the week and there was some corn flakes or rice bubbles left we then had to take into consideration whether there was enough milk left for Mum’s cup of tea, if we took the last of the milk we would be in real trouble.  So breakfast was often a non-event for us as children.

Dad was allowed to take 6 slices of bread and butter for his lunch each day, there were no fillings for him either and we knew enough to make sure his lunch was taken care of first. None of us owned a lunch box so if we could make a sandwich or find some crackers to take there was only waxed bread wrappers to wrap them in and they would invariably end up in a crushed mess at the bottom of our School bags.

On Fridays we got lunch money  for a hot pie as Thursday was payday for Mum, I loved Fridays.

So that was how our school days unfolded, often without breakfast or lunch.

On occasion, when Mum was in a good mood one of us would mention to her that the other kids seemed to have lunch money everyday or their Mum’s would make lunches for them, we were always told that it was our own fault we didn’t have lunch and that (despite the evidence to the contrary) there was always plenty of food in the house for us to make lunches with, we were pronounced lazy. Likewise if we had the courage to tell her the cereal had run out she would accuse us of eating too much at the beginning of the week and so again it was our own fault. If as we got older we would point out that in fact we hadn’t ‘pigged out’ at all and she would tell us that they simply couldn’t afford any more. That seemed to settle things and we accepted that there just wasn’t enough money. Often when the subject of breakfast or lunch did come up and Mum was feeling voluble she would regale us with stories of how terrible life in the orphanage had been for her and how they were so badly fed that some children actually died of malnutrition, she would usually end up by telling us we were much luckier than she had been and that would close down any discussion. As we got older it did occur to me that had I had her childhood I would have wanted to make life better for my own children and I grew resentful.

I recall that one day I actually asked her if she loved me as I really couldn’t tell if she did.

I am grateful to this day for the mothers of some of my school friends, word must have gotten home that I never had any lunch and quite often a friend would offer me an extra sandwich they just ‘couldn’t eat’ or would spend their sweet money on tuck shop fare and share it with me. I look back now and realise they did that out of kindness for a friend they realised just wasn’t getting enough to eat.

When I got older and had my own children I couldn’t bear the idea that they went to school hungry or didn’t have enough food in their lunch box to get them through the day, providing enough to eat became a very important way for me to show them that I loved them. This didn’t mean that I kept making their lunches for them when they became teenagers but even then I always made sure there were plenty of sandwich makings, fruit, chippies and biscuits. I always hated it when they brought home left over food but it was still better than wondering if they had enough. Wasting food had been a sin when I was young.

The kicker came 3 years ago when I had to go through all the accumulated detritus that was stored in every nook and cranny of Mum and Dad’s house in Kerikeri. There was so much paper hoarded that I ended up having to go through everything to sort out the total crap from the important from the sentimental and I came across several little note books. It turned out that part of Mum’s bi-polar disorder was a need to hoard not only paper but money too. All through those years we were growing up hungry Mum was squirrelling away every bit of money she could lay her hands on. We knew Dad handed over his pay packet every week and got back ‘pocket money’ and she would tell us he was ‘no good’ with money and we accepted that it must be so. I don’t think Dad ever actually knew how much Mum earned as it was all saved. Now the irony is that because they had some money saved, never took a holiday, bought new clothes or fed their children adequately the government is taking it all back off them at $1050. per week to keep Mum in a dementia ward.

If only they could have indulged a little, taken that holiday, eaten a little better and enjoyed living each day instead of constantly worrying about money, perhaps they would have better memories to share with each other now.

 

So there’s a reason I used to make Ron’s lunch for him, to me it’s an act of caring, it’s me saying “you may be out of my sight but you are in my heart”.

 

IMG_2386

 

 

Burning fuse.

Forty three years ago when I was a bright and starry eyed teenager a friend of my boyfriend’s mother, who also happened to be an astrologer, asked for my birth date and time and then proceeded to work out my astrological chart. I was a highly superstitious and emotional teenager and carrying way too much baggage for my tender years so a ‘foretelling’ was eagerly taken on board as it offered some hope for a brighter and less traumatic future. She counselled me that the things my chart revealed were strong possibilities and revealed character traits that she said were a part of my very soul. In my naivety I eagerly looked forward  to some of them working out, others not so much.

She told me many interesting things most of which I have now forgotten, but three of these prophesies stuck with me through the years, persistent in their clarity (I can still hear her voice in my head) and worrisome in there substance.

The first of her pronouncements that come to mind was that, in her words,  I would have “two great loves”, she didn’t know when or where but she insisted that I would only love truly, madly, deeply twice and that those feeling would endure for my life time.

She then followed this up by telling me that I would never be really fulfilled in any relationship and that she thought I would be happier if I contented myself with living a solitary life!

Cow, I was 18 years old. All through the ensuing years these words haunted me, as I entered a relationship full of hope and joy her voice could be heard whispering from some deeply hidden place in my mind reminding me that this wouldn’t, couldn’t last and would inevitably end in tears and pain.

Don’t for a moment think that I accepted this woman’s words as an indictment on my life, I challenged the hocus-pocus on every level, I am, and was, an intelligent adult who knew that to think the stars had any influence on my character was just silly. I value learning, questioning, research, science and good old common sense, but………..

As my life has unfolded I have had many wonderful relationships and have loved truly, madly, deeply in most if not all cases. While it is true that only one of these loves has had what it takes to endure past a few short years I can honestly say that the breakups were not all due to some star bound cause in myself. For many years I was too young and  ill equipped to understand what my weekness’s, strengths and motivations were and I was unaware of the influence early trauma had on my ability to make healthy choices in a partner. Likewise my lovers had their own baggage and through no actual fault of either of us these points of weakness were too pervasive and influential in our lives. I am a slow learner and it took time, I honed the skills to help me through the difficulties and eventually I developed the ability to be in a mature loving relationship with another mature adult, each of us different and able to love the difference in the other.

Now jump forward many years to this stage of my life.

This year three of my friends have died, Jacquie was 82, Lynne 64 and Geoff was 67. They all lived vital full lives packed with achievement and love. Jacquie’s passing was not so unexpected but Lynne and Geoff were, in my opinion cheated out of many happy and productive years. I have found their deaths both tragic and painful and have retreated into myself many times to reflect on ‘what if’.

I am prompted to think about what I will leave behind, who will remember me? Who will miss me? What will my legacy to this world look like? All of this leaves me feeling like time is running out, the sand is slipping through the hour glass and there is more at the bottom than left at the top and I still haven’t left my imprint on this world. When I voice these fears and concerns my loved ones point to my great DNA, after all Dad is 91 and Mum is 88 years old, I should be comforted in knowing that I probably have 30 years remaining in which to achieve my ‘great work’.

Thirty years seems like such a small amount of time in the great vista of humanities achievements but it does provide focus. Part of me wants to rush off back to university and keep learning (there is such joy in learning) but the grown-up part of me just wants to get on with it. I just can’t figure out what ‘it’ is.

and then I cast my mind back…..

The third thing I remember being told (and by no means the least), was that she pronounced in terms most definite I would die when I was 67 years old.

She went on to say that my death would be somehow ‘spectacular’ in it’s unfolding.

When I was 18 years old this seemed like something that would never happen.