Sunday, 5 December 2010

Contrasts

Sometimes the contrasts in life are almost too much for the brain to comprehend.

On Friday there was my sister in law's funeral.  All our grown up children came from all over the country as well as my mother from Devon and friends from all over the place.

On Saturday we drove for three and a half hours to Oxford for my one year old grandson's first birthday party.  There was a cake in the shape of a dinosaur made by my daughters, and biscuits and balloons and a lovely low key happiness.  Ian drove back to visit his father in the evening.  I stayed overnight to chat in the evening and play with the baby in the morning while his parents had a rare lie in.  He snuggled into my chest and put his thumb in his mouth as he began to get tired.  His blond hair curled against the green jumper I was wearing over my pyjamas.

Today I took a train to Manchester and was picked up and visited a livelier father in law, living much more in today rather than tellling stories of his war years in the Orkneys as he has been doing since his fall.  We drove  home in separate cars.  Here the snow still lies crisp and the cat is delighted, in so far as a cat can be, at the return of human company.

Tomorrow the car needs to go in for service.  I have work to do.  I need to bake.  Life is complicated and simple at the same time.

27 comments:

  1. I know you have heard it all before, and I am pleased he is much more in the present, but I would love to hear about his war years in the Orkneys. As I tell my young friends (jokingly) that all I have to look forward to is the past, they sometimes believe me! Please take down his recounts of the Scottish, isolated war effort - more happened there than we know. X

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  2. Just spent an interesting evening with my father-in-law. 80+ born and raised in what is now called the Czech Republic. As he ages his English becomes more transitory...pronouns are a real problem. He has stories and more stories, but the telling is so complicated and becoming more so by the season. Yes, if you can, write it down...he is my children's only surviving grandparent and a way of life and history will pass with his passing.
    Without question life is complicated and circular. Our ability to stand at a funeral and embrace a new life with all accompanying emotions in the same day is testimony to the marvelous of the human condition.

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  3. My late father-in-law was a senior diplomat (Moscow, Washington, Caracas, etc). He took his oath of secrecy, and stuck to it until his death. If only he had broken his pledge, what fascinating things I might have learned!

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  4. This short post is the summary of a life, full of colour, action, sorrow and love. It's a special.

    Esther

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  5. It is strange how cuddling a baby can still the world for a time isn't it? Glad you made it to the little one's party despite the show and slso glad to hear your father-in-law is making some progress Elizabeth. Take care x

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  6. The sort of post I would love to be able to make, funny, sad and happy and everything in between. I am so frustrated as every time I think I am going forward with this knee it tells me to rest, and so much to do before Christmas. I hope to bake a bit tomorrow.
    Here it is hot and humid and tropical, I always think the lead up to Christmas would be better in the cold. Snow from my perspective would be a bonus.
    The first Christmas without my mother. I do miss her.

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  7. Your post says it all, is simple yet complicated, just as life is.

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  8. Thank goodness there are those light moments amongst the dark ones - and babies do always remind us that life will go on and that there is a future.

    Glad to hear that FiL is improving.

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  9. When my Granddad died I was told by my darling Gran that in order to see the light one must go through the dark or how else would we know. It took a while to work it out! Loved this post and can picture you in that quiet time, you and the baby - perfect peace!

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  10. That's life!

    As long as you live every day according to its own shape and requirements you can't go far wrong. The happy and sad moments of every day follow each other naturally, what we have to learn to do is accept them and live in the moment.

    Easier said than done.

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  11. Take care... I'm getting to realise this is how we learn to cope with life and know there are happy times mingling in with the sad ones.

    While in the turmoil of coping with the elderly infirm and faraway this summer, we went to see Rabbi Lionel Blue at the local arts centre - he said "it's through our troubles that we become wise" it stuck in my mind and has stayed.

    Celia
    x

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  12. Gosh what a week of contrasts. Its good that your FIL is sounding more positive. My boss's step mother had a fall, she is about the same age, and she sort of gave up saying she would be leaving the hospital in a coffin until one of the doctors gave her a stern talking to and told her not tobe so stupid. That was a couple of years ago now and she is still gallivanting about. It sounds like he has decided to not to give in which is excellent news.

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  13. Dear Elizabeth, With so many calls on your time and enrgy, I do so hope that you can find some small space for yourself. Moments of peace and quiet are so restorative but can be hard to find in a busy life such as yours. Take care and stay warm!!

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  14. Life goes on and there's no better illustration than the picture of you holding your grandchild after your MIL's funeral. This Christmas will be different than others, I'm sure.

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  15. A super post.

    Sometimes the landscape we look out on becomes a mirror of our thoughts and emotions too.

    I wonder if you feel that? I certainly do, especially in Wales?

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  16. This is so true, and you have written evocatively about it. The older I get, the more I seem to come against this...I don't know why it continues to surprise.

    I wrote about here at my blog a few years ago:

    http://smallmeadowpress.blogspot.com/2009/04/shower-and-shine.html

    It feels odd to link it-almost like advertising! But there is a lovely poem in the post by Matilde Blind that speaks of the light and the dark and that they are "life itself".

    With wishes for a peaceful December,

    Lesley

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  17. Glad for you that FIL is improving. Well done for making the journey but these young folk grow fast. In February little Theo will be two. The walking birthday replaced by the talking birthday and then by a succession of wanting birthdays. My car had to go in for a service, too.

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  18. Sorry I hadn't visited your blog for a while and had missed seeing your bad news, but all my sympathy, Elizabeth, and I'm so glad that you are still finding precious moments amongst the sadness.

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  19. Real "circle of life" stuff. Glad your weekend was that way around, there is something so life-affirming about the trust of a new child. Great news that your FIL is more "present". Good luck with the baking, I am about to start my cakes to leave plenty of time for feeding with brandy before icing...

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  20. Contrasts really do high light the ups and downs of life but also help add balance to our lives. A lovely post, thanks for sharing it with us. Christina

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  21. Glad you got to your grandson's birthday party - life is funny sometimes and although we don't invite drama's into our lives sometimes they make us realise how good life can be. xx

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  22. Hmm - very varied. I want grandchildren! (sniff)

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  23. Tom - I would love to have the full story of Eric's time in the Orkneys. Being a lover of narrative I would love a sense of order of events, of things unfolding. It doesn't work like that. We get certain memorable things without any sense of how they fit together - Eric and his friend walking across the barrages they made out of huge concrete blocks. Eric is taller than his friend and says "he was using me as a dipstick". Fascinating but partial.
    Jacqueline - I so agree that you should try to hang on to your FIL's story. Soon it will have disappeared beneath the waters if you and your family don't remember.
    Cro - how hard! I admire his steadfastness but as you say, how much has gone.
    Esther - Thank you. You are a love.
    Pipany - A baby takes you somewhere else. Not quite the future but the potential for the future maybe.

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  24. I wish I could give my (7 year old) son a pill to make him a baby for a day. He was snuggling in my lap this morning, head on my shoulder like a baby, and it was a sweet, poignant moment. Glad to hear your news, good and sad. Take care.

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  25. "Life is complicated and simple at the same time" so long you dont lose the simple part you will do just fine. At least you give yourself time to take in the simple beauty around you!

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  26. hi, sorry to hear about your sister in law. Bit of death about at the moment so new life extra special.

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  27. I love the old stories and what is it that the elderly love to tell stories. I think they know they won't be here long and want people to know what they saw. It's like leaving a Legacy. If people listen and won't make the same mistakes.
    Life is magical this time of year.
    I love the snow.

    yvonne

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