“If tomorrow never comes”

In the dulcet tones of Ronan Keating.

Have you had a good long look at the concept of “what if tomorrow never comes” – will those that are nearest and dearest to you know “how much you love them”? With the latest onslaught of in-law issues – my FIL’s pneumonia and my MIL’s now officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s (big surprise – not!) there was a delegation at their house on Saturday night. My SIL has come haring out from New Zealand, my BIL was down from White River and us of course (being only 5 minutes up the road). Our phone has been going non-stop with the other two overseas siblings – questions, answers, “advice”, and instruction … ad nauseum!

They are normally not a close family (no humungous reason that I’m aware of) and the most poignant part of Saturday night was this sudden outpouring of care and concern because of the current situation. In a way, if blame were being apportioned, my in-laws would have to shoulder a large chunk thereof. As parents, the most uncaring and unconcerned people I’ve come across in a long time – you know the kind where “I’m the parent, you’re the child so you owe me”. It has, as expected, bitten them hard with most visits (from all the children) being a duty thing and not a genuine desire. You could argue and say that any concern is good concern whatever the spark is. I would argue that and say envisage a scenario where there was no long term illness and they both passed without warning (for example a car accident) – would DH’s siblings have been overwhelmed with the what if scenario and I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve? Guilt, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions – if you’re distant that’s ok if you’ve made your peace with it but if you’re distant because you can’t be bothered then you’ve taken the lid of Pandora’s box and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

The point of this rambling is this – tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your family, tell your friends (if it’s the way you feel) that you love them / care for them / wish them only well. Tell them today – it may feel a little weird, they’re may think you’re a little off but let their most recent memory of you be positive. If you’re having a fight and you don’t want any more verbal exchange, tell them electronically! DH and I are very close with my parents who are both in their late 70’s/early 80’s and chatting to a friend of mine the other day about loss and that sort of thing she remarked on how devastating it would be for me when my parents pass away. She was, I think, somewhat taken aback when my answer was contradictory. Obviously I’ll be sad but I’m so very grateful to have had a steadfast, reliable, nurturing relationship with people who tell me they love me every time we communicate.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ” ~Stephen Levine

PS. A quick confession – trolling through my blog looking for something else I came across a very similar post that I wrote in April last year – identical title, different circumstances and slightly different content :O Deja vu of epic proportions – so apologies to anyone who may have thought – hey, she’s already done that!

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So, how was your day?

This first day of the new year? A brassy, bold day in Africa – pale blue skies and a light breeze.

It’s been a different start to the year in our household. Normally the first of the first is spent trekking around friends and family in a frenzy of greetings and salutations for the coming twelve months. This year, however, the humble telephone stepped up to the plate and did a stirling job in interpersonal communication – we stayed in!

“Mundane” you snort, “boring” – probably but quite cathartic nevertheless. We slept late, pajamed even later – breakfast was a hedonistic feat on the verandah accompanied by good orange juice with the bits in 😉

Our attempts at doing it “how the other half does “ didn’t last much past this first repast of the day as the pile of ironing loudly called for attention like a neglected toddler and the pea green grass grew before our eyes as we watched the hadedahs probe its luscious depths.

Conversation has been lively, bouncing rapidly from cricket to football to motorsport (our much beloved Dakar started in Argentina today) – politics and economics have both put in a good showing ….. in the interests of a well-rounded debate, naturally!

Lunch was an eclectic combination of “pigs in blankets” and the balance of last night’s bubbles partnered by a hotly contested game of Stratego.

The bulging workbag and plethora of urgent e-mails lies forgotten and forlorn – the blinking red light “look at me, look at me” studiously ignored.

Should one categorise a passage of time? I’m going to call it an idyllic day.

In memorium

Not for any personal loss but for a year that lies on its deathbed. In that respect, there is also the whole rebirth/renewal thing in a few hours time that goes hand in hand with a tsunami of allagorical references.

Can you simply flick the switch on 365 days of life and living or is it human nature to minutely scrutinise each and every episode?

Without rehashing the good, the bad and the ugly, I think an all encompassing summary would be:-

Marriage – good, tightly bonded, approaching two decades.

Career – Obscenely busy, I will catagorically state too busy – the treadmill is out of control.

Social Life – See career – largely non existant.

Health – Surprisingly springy and “in the pink”.

Family – Fraught with upheaval. My SIL has had an epic late midlife tantrum resulting in a ridiculous fall-out with my mom and a gargantuan rift which will require serious patching. My MOL is exhibiting every sign and behavioural quirk of early dementia. It is being denied by the rest of the clan – we face a difficult 12 months.

On a purely personal and self indulgent note, i’d sincerely like to say “thank you” to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog and chat on twitter. It’s been my privilege to connect with you and I’d like to extend my heartfelt wishes for a most auspicious 2012!

“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darknesson other nights.” Hamilton Wright Mabie

On “fitting in” or not (Zambia Chapter 2)

This is the view of Royal Chundu from the Zambezi river. Stand alone villas, beautifully appointed, each blessed with an inspiring deck reaching out into the water – seemingly purpose built to while away the hours.

A few precious minutes snatched one early morning, away from the wedding hubbub and a moment of quiet at the subsequent reception resulted in the most intense feeling of dejavu!

In my youth, especially at high school, I was never much concerned with the whole “fitting in” and “being part of the in crowd” phenomenon. I liked to do my own thing, at my own pace and be with people of my choosing.

Bizarrely, post appetiser and pre mains – bombarded by conversation and music there was a resounding take two …..

Done pretending to be interested in mundane conversation

Done trying to fit the mould … daughter-in-law / sister-in-law

Done caring whether you approve

Comfortable being me – partner/friend/wife/lover/fine woman

My “best” thinking …………

is done in the shower. For yours truly no zen retreat or mountain hideaway, the humble shower is the wellspring of tumultuous inspiration. The only problem with this liquid enviroment is that there is never any functional writing material at hand to preserve these fleeting nuances.

That said, one thought that did linger long enough to be grasped between thumb and forefinger is that of the concept “how important is it to be friends with your husband?”

Perhaps its an age thing or even more mundanely the time of year but I find myself in flux, in a constant state of review and observation. As always my frame of reference is my own marriage and my opinions are in no way intended to be judgemental. DH and I are so very alike and yet in the ultimate cliche’ so very different. There are days when I’d like to figuratively crown him, days when he vexes me so much that I question my mental capacity when we tied the knot (Rita Rudner always makes me chuckle …….. “I love being married – its so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life”)  and I’m sure the same applies to him. Yet despite the run of the mill ups and downs we have a genuine affinity for each other.

I firmly believe that the importance of being friends in a marriage cannot be over emphasised and would perhaps even go as far as saying it should be the number one priority. When the sweet and frothy has turned wishy washy and the horizontal mambo has turned into a soft shoe shuffle, what’s the next step if you dont like each other. To clarify, a million miles from the “soul mate” horse twaddle which goes hand in hand with the pink and pretty.

I’m aiming for plain and simple:- 

Do you want to spend time together and do you like to spend time together?

7 Life Lessons

  1. My mantra is *be upfront, honest and true to yourself* – there are, sadly, circumstances which hinder the process. For financial and employment reasons, there are occasions where one has to zip it and shut it.
  2. Pick a queue in the supermarket and stick to it! The “10 items only “will get a trolley with discount coupons.
  3. If an item says “dry clean” only, believe it. This came courtesy of, I think, of a Fair Lady magazine advert some years ago and has saved me numerous washing woes.
  4. Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
  5. Relationships require work – anybody who tells you any different is either single or divorced.
  6. “I’ll never do it again – give me a second chance” – he will, run! This lesson thankfully not through personal experience but as a witness to other devastating relationships, both physically and mentally.
  7. Be the number one priority in your life, take care of your soul and you will be a better spouse and parent.

The secret to a happy marriage – Observations from the Wildside

Respect – plain and simple.

Respect for your partner’s needs, both mentally and physically. Not necessarily blind acceptance or even concurrence but respect.

The grass roots belief that another human being has the right to an opinion (even if diagonally opposite from yours), the right to feel and think and express their thoughts and that they have equal validity as yours.

This even keel outlook also provides one with the tools to realise that when this fundamental and integral ingredient is missing – change is paramount.

I harbour no illusions of being the consumate wife or having an idyllic marriage but we have been together for more than two decades and it is the exponential proliferation of “bad” marriages of late that has prompted me to ascend my soap box – yet again!