Family Pains

We attended the funeral yesterday for my sister-in-law’s younger sister, Donna. A woman vicar celebrated it. One brother read her eulogy and did so superbly. At the conclusion of the thoughtful, loving service, at the crematorium, we filed out past Donna’s casket to the sounds of – I kid you not – “Dancing Queen,” by Abba: it was her favorite song.

All wasn’t harmony and unity, though. One brother did not attend. There has been some major rift between him and the rest of his family. He wasn’t even included in the prayers which named all of the immediate family members, including several who are deceased.

We found out from our nephew afterwards that about 18 months ago he had moved. He didn’t even leave his new address with anyone. The rest of the family have no idea where he and his family now live – and if they even know about Donna’s death.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a family dining sign.

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A Joy Departs

My sister-in-law lost her younger sister about two weeks ago. We’re going to her funeral in Essex today.

As a toddler, Donna had been a victim of medical malpractice that led to traumatic brain damage. Her family received a huge compensation package from the National Health Service (NHS). The money was set aside to make sure she was properly looked after for the rest of her life.

And every pound and pence would be needed. It was projected she would not live to 21. But she far outlived medical estimates.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an older woman in a wheelchair.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of an older woman in a wheelchair.

Donna never grew “old.” But, for over 35 years, she had been unable to do almost anything for herself. Her parents and family – her mother especially – mostly looked after her.

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The Lovely Canines In Our Lives

Our friends’ 11 year old female black labrador collapsed the other day. They got her to the vet. But before the vet could do anything, she was gone.

Hearing that sad news, I immediately thought of her as a puppy on a 2005 Isles of Scilly holiday she’d been on with us all. Funny how on hearing such bad news one instantly recalls that sort of thing. I have photos of her on a PC in America during that trip. She was an absolute little star.

Our own 10 year old hound (half English springer spaniel/ half labrador: a “springador“) is now living with my in-laws in London. We’ve moved and traveled so much in recent years, they had him for months at a time and eventually just took him in “semi-permanently.” Although he has been twice to France on holidays with us, that is the extent of his foreign travel; he couldn’t be packed up like cargo flown back and forth repeatedly to America with us: we wouldn’t have ever subjected him to that “treatment.” (I’ve read Air France allows dogs in the cabin, but they can’t be more than 10 kilos. We have thought, hmm, maybe a strict, pre-flight diet? ;-) )

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We Don’t Fight, We Write

Pardon a brief rant. I just want to get this off my chest. I don’t do this on here very often….

Always at the ready for reference. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Always at the ready for reference. [Photo by me, 2015.]

To a slug “relation” (by marriage):

Last year, I lost someone I loved. You think I give a rat’s you know what about you at all? And if you actually imagine you are ever going to get my wife and myself to humilate ourselves by bending to your will, well, dear, I got news for you: I’m a novelist:

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Novelists And The Calendar: Rarely A Good Combination

Being in the Catskills for a few days also means the house needs attention. I had some painting to do. Today, my “anti-critter” cage also needs mending after having been buried under snow and coming off the house.

Other bits and pieces needed doing as well. We’ve also had lots of early spring “visitors” the last few days. We call them “time wasters,” because when you see them you get caught up watching them and time just slips by:

Across the driveway. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Across the driveway. Catskills. [Photo by me, 2015.]
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Back To The Chilly North

A couple of pelicans zoom by overhead:

Pelicans. Amelia Island, Florida. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Pelicans. Amelia Island, Florida. [Photo by me, 2015.]

I’ve never been great at moving wildlife photos. But that one didn’t come out too bad.

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Confessions Of A Morning Person

Often I’m writing as the sun rises. I may have Classic FM playing softly in the background; or I may have nothing going at all and just revel in the silence. Whatever underscores it, for me there’s a special quality to early mornings before much of the rest of my own time zone awakens.

Now and then I joke on my Twitter account as I get going, moaning about it being, say, 4:47 am and what a ridiculous hour it is. Yet I find pre-dawn is also when my mind is usually at its “busiest.” I’ve never been sure why that is. Perhaps it’s simply waking up thinking…. and off we go.

On holidays, I feel much the same – about the mornings anyway:

Sunrise yesterday over the Atlantic. Viewed from our Amelia Island holiday rental. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Sunrise yesterday over the Atlantic. Viewed from our Amelia Island holiday rental. [Photo by me, 2015.]

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India: Something Huge Will Be Missing If I Ever Get There

After our “road trip” odyssey, we’re settled in here for the week in Fernandina Beach. My Dad had been to Florida only once before, back in 1985, to settle my late grandmother’s estate (after she had died in Hudson, near Tampa). Now here for our holiday, he is thoroughly enjoying himself – which was our goal after he nearly died of heart failure back in August.

View down the beach on Amelia Island, yesterday morning, around 10 am. [Photo by me, 2015.]
View down the beach on Amelia Island, yesterday morning, around 10 am. [Photo by me, 2015.]
View out from Amelia Island, yesterday morning, about 10 am. [Photo by me, 2015.]
View out from Amelia Island, yesterday morning, about 10 am. [Photo by me, 2015.]
One of my now bigger regrets – one never to be remedied – is when our friend Kam (the London-born and raised daughter of Sikh immigrants to the U.K., and who died suddenly at age 45 in February 2014) remarked a year or so before her death that she had wanted to visit India with us.

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Navigating Around The Nation’s Capital

Hi from Florence, South Carolina this Palm Sunday. :-)

We had twelve hours on the road yesterday.

We had expected 10. The biggest trouble we encountered below Pennsylvania driving south on I-95 was outside of Washington, D.C. That’s been the case before, but this was the worst experience.

Free Stock Photo: Resplendent cherry trees from Japan ring the Tidal Basin at Washington, D.C.
Free Stock Photo: Resplendent cherry trees from Japan ring the Tidal Basin at Washington, D.C.

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Off To Amelia

My Dad having now fully recovered from his heart failure back in August, and the implant surgery in December, we felt that after the tough, cold winter he and my Mum had spent in Pennsylvania, that they needed a holiday.

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