bittersweet, that's life...

This post was originally going to be entitled 'Loving the Ordinary' and me wittering on about basking in the beautiful nowness,of having the time for doing ordinary things (though it's wasn't going to be about the blissful experience of hanging my big pants on the line again).

Instead these words need to pour out of my soul...

Today was the first day I've had in a long while to catch up on my life after an intense 3 weeks which have been preceded by an even more intense 4 months. Time to lie in, henna my hair, shave my legs (!), bake flapjacks and brownies. Ok I confess, I did do another load of pant washing too.

A perfect day punctuating a week of positive endings and praise having completed my last work contract. For the next few months I'll be working only 8 hours a week...aaah the bliss of wide open space. And countless lie ins. And books, lots of books to read.

I've just loved today. But tonight as I munch slightly burnt brownie crust at my kitchen table it feels bittersweet.

I'm just back from visiting my father who has now been at home for 3 weeks following his epic stroke journey. Dad looks considerably better than when he was in the NHS rehab centre and in many ways he is thriving.

Dad has oodles of love, attention and fresh home cooked food. He is so lucky to be living within an extended family (bring back multi-generational households). He has 2 carers visiting him 4 times a day. He has a brilliant team of private physios working with him. And I have him on every herbal remedy going to counteract the plethora of medication he's been prescribed. He must be the most massaged elder in En-ger-land. Dad is very well looked after indeed. Not everyone is this blessed.

Dad is incredibly appreciative of this. Through the fog swirling around in his head, neurotransmitters going wild - he thanks us, the carers, the physios repeatedly. He epitomises humility, grace and strength.

As I massaged Dad's legs and arms it struck me again just how much the last 5 months have taken out of Dad, how very old and frail he looks. How his head now stoops forward, his left ankle still swollen, the slightest movement causing him pain and how his left arm quivers uncontrollably, fighting against the splint holding his fingers straight. How my lovely Dad who used to laugh all the time very rarely laughs now. His eyes look lost. Dad is totally dependant on others for everything now, even moving about on his bed.


Dad was having a wonderful older age. At 86 years old he was vibrant, healthy and independent going for daily walks, meditating, doing yoga, visiting me at home in his gangster mobile and a respected elder at the Sikh Temple which he visited every Sunday. We hoped and dreamed that he would age comfortably, maybe one day walk with a little stick to help him. You know, one of those cute old men!

But this, we didn't expect this, this is something else. When the magnitude hits me it chokes me, suffocates me and I have to go in to the bathroom to bite back my tears.

In there I remind myself that Dad has had years of very good health which is way more than many people get, what a blessing. I remind myself that I am beyond grateful that the stroke didn't end his life and that we have had this opportunity and time to show Dad how much we love him. It's blown him away. And us.

Yet I know Dad is deeply sad. He desperately misses his old life. His freedom. Dad never thought of himself as old. Neither did we. His brain still tells him he can walk and go to the toilet by himself, we are just not letting him do this and that in one week he will be fully better.

He won't be. It's just so unfuckin'fair. Then the anger swells up inside me. Anger at the failure of the NHS to actively rehabilitate my father and their proactive contribution to Dad's chronic pain condition and decline. The NHS failed my Dad. The ongoing stress of having to chase physios, OT's, district nurses to just do their job please, it's exhausting.

Questions floating around in my head, 'what if I'd done this...or that...or...' feeling like I haven't done enough. That'll I'll never be able to do enough. Anger at myself. At life.

Add in desperation, grief, gratitude, excruciatingly beautiful moments and love clashing against each other in a big overwhelming wave and the tears tumble. I can't save my dad, I can't make him better. I can't silver-line this. It hurts.

As I drop the bed rails to rest my head on Dad's chest so we can hug each other goodnight he tells me 'good health, be happy, rest well'.

Bittersweet, that's life...