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I’ve read quite a few articles over the years and more recently biographical accounts of grief at the loss of a partner. One of the most outstanding will always remain in my memory – The Year of Magical Thinking by one of my all-time favourite writers, Joan Didion. It’s been almost 9 months now since my partner of 57 years – Barbara – died. She had been suffering for several years from increasing paralysis on account of pressure on her spinal cord from crumbling vertebrae caused by osteoporosis, itself in turn caused by many years on steroids, prescribed to combat the painful and damaging effects of rheumatoid arthritis. This distressing lack of control of limbs and internal organs became chronically worse in her final weeks and days so that after a short spell in Leighton Hospital her system succumbed to what was diagnosed as sepsis caused by an unidentified infection. She was comatose for 24 hours and I was with her when she took her final breath. We had been warned several years ago by a spinal surgeon of the eventual fatal outcome of pressure on her spinal chord but Barbara chose not to undergo 9 hours of high risk surgery to “fix” the vertebrae, especially after consultations with 2 anaesthetists who were unequivocally congruent in their advice to decline the offer of such an operation. Whether this was in fact the cause of death or sepsis as on the death certificate is immaterial to the experience of grief undergone by me and our son Edward and daughter Beth.
Since 15 January 2023 we have each dealt with our grief and the ensuing period of mourning in our own ways, which must be the case for everyone who experiences such a loss. I am beginning to feel now that I can embrace some new feelings of enjoyment in my own life after those recent 10 years or so of living with and caring for the woman I had loved, who so courageously bore such pain and distress. Memories covering the whole of our lives together since the Autumn of 1966 will never cease to come back daily, inevitably bringing good or upsetting feelings, at first just powerfully upsetting ones, then gradually in equal measure and very recently better ones. In this I have been helped by some old friends who knew us both. It is getting easier and more rewarding now to “keep on keeping on”, so that life doesn’t just reflect the rather negative, dull grey and unvarying tone of that expression.

Jill and Edward now have William, Léo and Toby and Beth and Jim have James Francis, born 7 July 2020. I have recently renewed my interest in an allotment in a small way, thanks to my friend Ian who invited me to share a patch on his large site.

Sadly Barbara died from sepsis on 15 January 2023 after many years of painful suffering. I had had a serious heart attack in April 2022 and seem to have recovered very well with 2 more stents, thanks to the wonderful skills of all involved, from the 999 call handler to the paramedics and Dr Karim Ratib at Royal Stoke Hospital. Thank you to the NHS too!

This is the first time I’ve written anything for a long time. Getting to know how to do it all over again has not been easy so I’ll see if this post succeeds and start a new one after that

Three stents for me back in January 2018 and a hernia repair just this February 2020; Barbara has had a new knee in September last year and hospitalised for 8 days on 16 February this year after falling from her wheelchair down two deep steps outside a local restaurant, missing the left turn onto the ramp. She has small but extremely painful fractures to elbow and knee and worrisome pulmonary embolisms being treated now with long term anticoagulants. Virtually quadriplegic currently but standing and weight-bearing is coming on gradually.
In other news, we now have three grandsons in Stockport, being William, Leo and Tobias, via Jill and Edward; Beth and Jim are 20+ weeks pregnant with a boy after IVF at Homerton Hospital in the East End.
No allotment activity (I relinquished my quarter plot last Spring) since last Autumn where my allotment neighbour has picked out a mini plot on one of his for me to keep my hand in – how kind is that – had a few onions, courgettes and cabbages last time after enjoying the light labour involved.

September 2013   Took 5 bags of rubbish to the tip, cleared West End and started a bonfire briefly ’til it expired. Took Dave Clifford down later that week and he and Barbara sat on the white plastic box for a photo and split the lid!

more rubbish for the tip and a stool




first visitors 27 Sept 2013

Here endeth Chapter Two