A Pastor who walks in the footsteps of Christ

Bob, Andy Nessie

Teddy with his late mum and dad

I wanted to tell you about my mother in law’s funeral service and give thanks to the wonderful Pastor. In the UK we call them Reverend or Minister but Pastor feels more familiar here in Texas. When my father-in-law died almost four years ago, a new Minister, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, was just being appointed to their church. Both my mother and father in law were faithful members of their church which was built in a new town, East Kilbride, which was developed in the late 1940s. As a result, a retired Minister who knew my father in law personally performed the service.

Later, I reached out to Lindsey, who is a lovely young woman, when we had a previous crisis with Mum to ask if she could visit and pray with her. We couldn’t get flights immediately and it is a two day journey back to Scotland. At that time Nessie, my mother in law, performed her Lazarus trick and completely recovered from the virus. Lindsey continued to visit regularly and would send emails with current photographs that she had taken. She sang familiar hymns to her and prayed with her. This was an immense comfort to both Teddy and I even though we are not religious. We knew that Nessie was and so it would be a comfort.

On January 2nd we got a call from mum’s care home to say that she was suddenly deteriorating and it seemed like end-stage symptoms. She was very comfortable on end of life medications. Despite all our knowledge and 18 years with Alzheimer’s disease, you are always shocked. It was two hours before we were due to have a little drinks party with friends at our house. We looked at each other and decided not to cancel the party; why not celebrate her very long life? As it is a two day journey to Scotland from Texas so we decided to wait a couple of days to see how things progressed. The staff said she was staying stable and then we got the call in the middle of the night (we are 6 hours behind Scotland) to say she had died peacefully in her sleep on the 4 January 2016. The staff had gone into her room to wake her up and she had passed onto the hereafter.

As soon as we heard that she was failing, I emailed Lindsey to ask if she could visit. She went after Sunday services on the 3rd January and blessed her. When she emailed me in return I knew that this was the end. It’s a small town and Lindsey worked with us and the funeral director to create the perfect service. I was astonished at how appropriate and well thought out the service and hymns were. We are so grateful that we had the opportunity to have a relationship with a Minister that truly did minister her flock with love and compassion. Thank you, Reverend Lindsey Sanderson, of The United Reform Church. This is their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/righeadurc

I know, I know – the irony of my previous post Facebook is the work of the devil! Clearly I was wrong and there are angels at work, too. I would also like to thank John Donnelly of Heritage Funeral Services http://www.heritagefuneralservices.co.uk/ (Thank the Good Lord they don’t have a Facebook page…) and all their wonderful staff. We arrived about a week after mum had died and had asked for a closed casket. Then I wanted to see her – I could see that this was unexpected for the staff but they went out of their way to accommodate me. They did whatever they do and she looked like a beautiful ageing fairy. At the last moment Teddy decided to view her too and was glad that we could see that her spirit was gone and all that was left was an exquisite death mask. Just before we left, they asked us if we would like music at the crematorium and Teddy said that she wasn’t really into music. I looked at him in astonishment and said, “She loved the Sound of Music”. As we entered the crematorium ‘Edelweiss’ was playing and as we left, ‘Climb Every Mountain’. During Lindsey’s shorter service there we sang ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ – a perfect hymn.

This is a link to the beautiful service sheet and hymns Click here to see the service Please look at it, especially if you have a relative with Alzheimer’s because you might love the appropriateness of it. May she rest in peace.

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Widower at Trader Joe

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Bunny and Teddy signing the wedding registry in 1982, Our bridesmaid and best man married each other and are still together.

Last night I had endless horrible nightmares. This was because I accidentally noticed a job advertised that was perfect for me. It was a low wage but had excellent benefits. There were two problems – it was full-time and in downtown Houston which is about 40 miles away in frenetic driving conditions. Nevertheless, I was thinking seriously about it after I had investigated the cost of health care. I know exactly what my psychiatrist would have said – Noooooo!

So, before we went to bed we had a normal marital fracas. I thought he was already in the master bathroom but he had gone to pick up his notebook in the study. As I had turned all the lights off, he accidentally kicked our very sensitive baby cat in the dark. He blamed me, I started fecking about how stupid he was and we went to bed in bad humor with baby cat sleeping under the spare bed. I was so angry and wanted to go sleep with baby cat in the spare bedroom but knew that Teddy would have been so upset.

The nightmare was a variation on a recurring dream. As usual, I had not completed my equivalent of an Associate’s degree and was struggling to sit the final exam with one day’s notice. In reality I passed it all (in 1980) with no problem whatsoever and have endless other useless qualifications and experience (counselling skills, training for trainers, blah, blah). I woke up terrified at 6 am, worried that I was not going to have a business major and there would be a zombie apocalypse. I ran into the living room where Teddy was starting to feed the cats and ran into his arms. He asked me what was wrong but I was too traumatized to have words yet. He apologized for being grumpy the night before and life went back to some kind of normal.

Then I met with some other volunteers for our regular lunch and life was put back into perspective with someone else’s ill health. On the return journey an 18 wheeler truck tried to take me out on the interstate and yet again perspective was realized. I knew in that moment that someone who was made anxious by lunch, had neuropathy after a 45 minute drive for something pleasant, in slow traffic, could never manage a downtown job with a 2 hour drive both ways.

I asked Teddy if he would like to go to Chilli’s for a meal so we went this evening and had a lovely time discussing when we wanted to die. At the moment, 75 is my limit and I really mean that. He worried that his middle-aged forgetfulness was early onset Alzheimer’s and I reassured him that I would ‘take him out’. After that he wanted some chocolate so we went to Trader Joe’s. We stocked up on cheap wine, Peruvian giant corn and chocolate and went to the till. Our sales assistant, Ricardo, was new to me – I know everyone there.

Teddy attempted to pay the old way with a swipe of the credit card but Trader Joe is all set up for the chip, so you have to insert it. I tutted at his inexperience and explained to Ricardo that he wasn’t used to shopping, with a laugh. Ricardo asked how long we had been married and I told him 33 years. He remarked that we had an easy way with each other that only long married couples had. I asked him how long he had been married and he said, “She passed after 30 years”. My eyes filled with tears and we chatted about whether he was ready to meet someone else. Of course, I offered to find him someone and told him he was very handsome. When we left the store I nearly fell apart with the sadness of that and once again I realized how very lucky I was.  Count your blessings.

Teddy and his mum

Drew and mumframe

This is a fun photograph of my husband and his mother on a glacier in Austria in the late 1960s. Doesn’t she look like the coolest chick with that Caucasian ‘fro? Her hair was naturally curly. She died peacefully in her sleep on Monday 4th January after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Nessie spent the last four years of her life in a wonderfully caring home in Scotland and thrived under their care. I still can’t believe that she lived so long – she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at least 15 years before her death at the age of 87.

This week has passed in a blur, writing a business plan for my husband on Monday, then onto all the funeral preparations. The mortuaries are full of bodies at this time in Scotland. Somehow the cold and viruses just takes out the weak. The funeral is planned for Wednesday 13th January when we have a brief break in the weather. It will be near freezing but dry – so important if you are travelling in Scotland (or to Scotland).

Curiously, the funeral will take place on the same day that my mother died 14 years ago. They were good friends in life so perhaps they will be again in death. I asked my husband if I could speak at her church service and he thought that was a good idea as he would be too upset. I first met her when I was 21 years old and she accepted me immediately. It is now over 34 years later, I am still married to her only child and I cared for her relentlessly. She had good instinct.

I will probably not blog again for a couple of weeks but who knows? The journey across the pond is tiring and we have much to do in a short time. We traveled regularly to the UK to see my husband’s parents but now we are unlikely to do so for some years. Our visit will be a gentle goodbye to both a lovely mother and a beautiful country.

My Katana is on the mantel…

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I aspire to be Michonne. When she first appeared with her Walker minions, I was blown away. It took subsequent series for us to see that she was a normal loving mother in pre-apocalypse days. How smart she was to figure out that if you masked yourself in the smell of the undead then you could wander among them unnoticed. Her tragedy made her both fierce and traumatized. When I finally discovered that her trapped walkers were her boyfriend and his buddy I was shocked. Did she do it out of love or pragmatism, or both?

When she saved Andrea, her true character started to slip out. Every episode I love her more as we see her compassion for children and society. (I don’t think she could kill even bunny psychopaths…) When she killed the Governor’s undead child she did it both to free her and break his spirit. At first I wondered if she was in love with Andrea but I realized like many of us, it was the desire not to be alone. As expats or immigrants it can be very lonely out there and we grasp at friendships no matter how unsuitable they are.

I was taken aback at how quickly she adapted to Alexandria and ‘society’. She was always so suspicious of the Governor and Woodbury that I sensed that she was correct about Alexandria. She ‘knew’ that most of the inhabitants were safe, if deeply flawed, and that her group needed to settle somewhere or they were going to turn feral like the people with W on their foreheads. Once bad things started happening again she bounced back to support both the original group and the new innocents.

When I started writing this I wondered about whether I would have minions, too. When you love deeply, you really don’t want to let go even when they have changed completely. My mother-in-law has latter stage Alzheimer’s and she really is the walking dead. Fortunately she has no teeth in anymore so can’t bite us… That said, I think I love her even more than I ever did with her sweet, smiling Alzheimer’s demeanor. So, that’s my connection to Michonne – I love very deeply and loyally. I am pretty kick-ass at self-defense too. Our Catholic school taught us self-defense because of all the bomb threats we got during the IRA crisis. My husband was an expert in Karate and probably because I look petite and delicate, when we first married he wanted to make sure I could look after myself. He grabbed me by the throat and without any hesitation I kicked him in the testicles. He went down like a brick groaning, “No, that’s not how you do it, aaagh”. We have no children – I wonder why??? Apologies for the blurry photographs – I am still hungover from mead at the Renaissance festival. More hilarious posts to come.

My future minions?

My future minions?