A Poignant Moment For Me

A photo opportunity the likes of which will never be seen again.

An especially poignant moment for me as I have an intimate connection from my past with both of these groups of military aircraft. Last flight of a Vulcan bomber, with the Red Arrows

Post based on photos from The Lincolnite: Last Vulcan bomber flying with the Red Arrows

In Memory Of My Mother

Yesterday, 6 August 2015, my mother was finally laid to rest with a funeral service and burial, almost six weeks after she passed away peacefully in her sleep overnight following her 101st birthday in her home town of Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England.  She had suffered no recent illness or pain, other than what could be expected in a body that has reached such a degree of longevity.

She is buried in the same grave plot as my father (though she married and survived a second husband).

I did not personally attend the funeral but I wrote a Eulogy for Mum, to be read out at the funeral service and also arranged for flowers to drape her coffin.

My last visit to England to see her was in 2011 and I had vowed at the time that I would never again make that long, gruelling journey from Australia, now my home.  I did get to speak with her by telephone for a few minutes on her birthday, only hours before she passed away and while I didn’t expect it to happen so soon afterwards (she was still expressing a keen wish to get back to her own house), I sensed from her voice that she was growing weaker.  My mother had lived independently and alone, with a little help from carers in recent years, in the same house that was our family home since the early 1960s after my father died, and which after my brother and I had moved out she later shared with her second husband, right up until being hospitalised for a month or so before her death.  Many of us are not so fortunate as to live out their final years so peacefully.  I can only hope for a similar experience myself.

While I did not get to see Mum often and was less than regular with my phone calls to her, I will miss her.  I already am.

Read the Eulogy here:  Eulogy for my Mum

This post will be restricted after a while to my personal private folder.

Memories, like the colours of my mind…

Being a person of many years occasionally has its advantages.  You have memories that go back a long, long way.

I was fortunate tonight to have some old memories stirred by an image I came across on a Facebook page that I linked to from the blog of an artist who was kind enough to ‘Like’ my previous post here.  Ray Ferrer has a unique style of producing some stunning murals spray painted on canvas through stencils.

On his Facebook page I came across this exceedingly fine image of a young woman. The image is open for sharing so I guess he wouldn’t mind me including it here, linked back to his site.

Ray Ferrer Artwork

On seeing this I was instantly reminded of an English jazz singer who’s work I used to admire many years ago.  Her name escaped me for a while but it eventually came to me that it was Cleo Laine.  Of course, I realise that while there are visual similarities between the picture and the singer, they are not particularly strong ones.  But this is the power of the image to connect with and stir memory.

Anyway, memories and emotions having been awoken, I had to search further.  I remember that Cleo Laine was, in fact is, exceptionally talented with an amazing vocal range.  Though she would be in her mid 80’s as I write this, I understand that she was still performing until at least a very few years ago.  Like many old British entertainers she was elevated to the peerage some years back, becoming Dame Cleo Laine.

I found this intriguing live example of her work and although the video quality is not great it does demonstrate her incredible virtuosity as a singer.  This piece was something that I don’t recollect having heard performed previously so I am particularly indebted to Ray Ferrer for producing the image that led me to it.

Obituary For A Lost Son – Regrets, I Have A Few…

How do I start this?

Yesterday I came across the following quote from George Bernard Shaw and posted it to my Facebook favourite quotes list:  “Life wasn’t meant to be easy, my child, but take courage: it can be delightful!”.  I had not previously seen the full quote as it is normally rendered as “Life wasn’t meant to be easy”.  Seeing the quote in full for the first time, my thoughts immediately went to my first child, Steven Paul, who I had not seen or had contact with for around 25 years.  Life certainly presented Steven with more difficulties than most of us are required to deal with.  I can only hope that he also found some of that delight which life can bring.

We can never know what life has in store for us and especially when we participate in bringing another fragile human life into this world.  We can also never, with any clarity, foresee the results of decisions that we make throughout our lives.

Image

Here are some of my memories.

When Steven was 2 or 3 years old, my memory will not permit me to be more precise, Steven suffered quite a severe febrile convulsion and I remember cradling him in my arms trying to unclench his jaw and keep him from completely passing out.  He spent several days in hospital wrapped in ice to bring his temperature back to normal.

During his first 12 years of life, the family had no really settled home.  I think we moved house at least eight times in that period, through most of which I was serving in the Royal Air Force.  One of the final home moves was a biggy.  We emigrated to Melbourne, Australia. For me, these years were a time of adventure and it did not occur to me, as far as I remember, that the children were not being given the opportunity to form lasting friendships or to put down secure roots.  The fact that these things have never played an important role for me personally, may have played a part in that.  I can only hope that their subsequent lives have not been detrimentally affected by that.

In his early teens, Steven was struck with what has become in recent years a growing modern scourge, Type 2 Diabetes and was facing for the rest of his life the prospect of daily insulin injections and rigorous self-monitoring of his food intake and health outlook.  I cannot even begin to understand just what that would do to any young person suddenly thrown into the same circumstances.

Not too much later, without going into details, Steven’s Mum and I split up.  She moved out of the family home taking our youngest child and leaving me with the two teenagers.  It is to my everlasting shame and regret that I was not in any way at that stage either psychologically or experientially ready to take on that responsibility.  Hell, I didn’t even know how to cook properly.  There was also at that time a great deal of anger and resentment at my situation, to the extent that I came to want that woman completely out of my life.  I decided to sell the house, moved into a 2 bedroom unit and packed off my two teenage children to live with their mother.  This is something that I will always regret.  I don’t beat myself up about it now like I used to but it is always there reminding me that I could have played things so very differently.

As far as I can remember, I never saw Steven again after that and eventually lost touch with all my children entirely for many years especially after they all moved back to the United Kingdom several years ago.  I did get the message that Steven had returned to UK six months before the others left Australia and that he had lost some toes through amputation as a result of the diabetes but that he was doing better over there.

Today, out of the blue, I received a message on Facebook from Steven’s mother saying that she had some bad news for me.  She had been trying to find me for about a year.  Of course, I had moved home just before that time.  The message came not entirely with surprise as I had some months ago got the feeling that something was not quite right.  It seems that Steven passed on about 15 months ago.  I have no details at this stage but that would put it around April 2011.  Apparently the whole family had returned to Melbourne some years earlier.  I am told that Steven had spent some time living and working up in Queensland but his kidneys started to fail and he came back to Melbourne for treatment.

At Monash hospital he needed to have the lower half of one leg amputated and also lost a thumb and several fingers to the disease.  With the aid of a prosthesis he was able to be mobile and even overcame diabetes through a kidney and pancreas transplant.  He was said to be a happy, positive person, helpful, with a great attitude throughout all of his troubles.  He settled into a unit by himself and was in the process of having a vehicle specially fitted for him to drive.  His body was found in his unit when he did not appear one day.  He had apparently suffered death through large blood clots to the lungs while by himself at home.  That is all I know at this time.

I have lost a son.  Though a long time estranged son, one who was always loved and who will live forever in my heart.  A life cut far too short at 40 years of age.  I am sorry that I was not there to be with you through your troubles Steven but I hope you found some of that ‘delight’ which life can bring, my child.

Rest In Peace

Steven Paul Edwards

—:o{}o:—

Why?

I studiously avoided any connection with social networking until just a few months before I started this blog but once I started a Facebook page, it became irresistible to record my views, thoughts and opinions as status updates.  I found this practice both rewarding and internally liberating.  I finally had an outlet for my unresolved need to self-express, which is something that I had not been able to explore since retiring from the workforce towards the end of 2010.  Facebook, the world of one-line messages, may not be the best place to vent ones inner person but, having very few ‘friends’, it didn’t really matter who, if anybody, read or took any notice of my musings.  That may well also prove to be the case here, and again it doesn’t really matter, but the possibilities of reaching a wider audience, I find quite intriguing.

Why use a blog title of ‘Not Something Else’?  Well, for the entire 67 years of my life so far, I have been aware that I do not fit into, at least in my own self-perception and (as far as I can tell) other people’s perception of me, any of the general ‘categories’ that most other people seem to regard as being ‘normal’.  I do not feel, and never have felt, at all comfortable in thinking of myself as being ‘one of the crowd’ or of ticking all the boxes in any of the lists of generally accepted social attributes.  I am comfortable and have grown ever more comfortable as time has passed, with being ‘different’, or an ‘odd-ball’.  This is not to say that I am bereft of social graces, or that I am a social outcast.  I have for example achieved some academic success, been married twice and successfully raised, to the extent that I was able (and by that I mean that none of them have become axe-murderers or the like), six children.   I have achieved reasonable success in my various chosen careers and have always been sought after for my integrity, knowledge and reliability.  So how am I different to anyone else?  My answer to that is that I have never had nor sought to have anyone that I could consider to be a close friend.  Someone that I could call on for advice or comfort.  Nor has anyone, that I am aware of, ever sought to be my close friend.  This is not a complaint, whinge or expression of self-pity.  It is who I am.  Me.  Or, as the blog title says, ‘Not Something Else’.  I have long ago accepted who I am and, in many ways, I am very grateful and happy with my condition and situation.  How many people can say that?  I have of course in earlier days tried to be different.  That is all part of growing up.  But none of those attempts lasted for very long.  It is too much hard work, not being yourself.   I have always been very big on watching, observing, listening, analysing, integrating the good, discarding the not so good, building the inner self, nourishing the need for self-reliance.  I am known for not doing a lot of talking and I avoid social occasions whenever possible because I can only tolerate a social chit-chat situation for a few (5-10)minutes, after which every fibre of my being starts screaming to get me out of there.  Not the greatest conversationalist, me.  But put me in front of a keyboard, alone, or in a place where I can shut out the noise of the world around me, and the words simply flow from my two fore-fingers.  Yes, even after 30+ years in the computer profession I still type the two-fingered way.  It will ever be the same.  I don’t have a brain that can co-ordinate more than two things at the same time.  I have never excelled at playing musical instruments, dancing, sport or any other spatially oriented activity that necessitates a degree of physical co-ordination, for the same reason.

So, I plan to record the contents of my complex wandering mind here from time to time about such things as my increasingly simple life and how my observations and readings tell me the future can be expected to unfold and whatever advice I can give in that regard plus anything else that appears to me to be potentially beneficial to others.