Tenderness

“Try a little tenderness” ~ Otis Redding

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Tenderness (n): gentleness and kindness; kindliness

 

I came home from a couple of nights away to find a box of Bloom & Wild flowers waiting in my hall. If you don’t know Bloom & Wild then let me explain that they send their blooms in a box in nets, it’s a manner designed to keep them fresh. They had been sent to me by, let’s call them a society, who knew about the time I had been having and wanted to send me a hug.

I didn’t even wait to take my coat off before I carefully unwrapped each bloom, trimmed their stems, and arranged them in water so they could perk up after their time in my hallway. Such a beautiful and caring gesture, they are brightening my mood every time I look at them.

Like the flowers needing to be freed from their nets and put in the water, we all need the right environment in order to thrive. And that is why I took myself away to Budapest. If my trip had not have been booked and paid for I would’ve travelled back to Derbyshire to spend time with Mum in hospital. But I was assured by my siblings that things were in hand and to go and take the break while I could.

So I walked and I drank and I took plenty of photos. I switched off from checking social media and I allowed myself to have time that wasn’t posting hospital updates, that wasn’t about the negatives. I gave myself that time to remember that even in hard times it is still ok to laugh, it is allowed and indeed necessary to enjoy the good things in life. And as I eventually ended up in an outdoor rooftop spa in almost freezing temperatures, I felt something in me unfurl, just like the flowers I was later sent, I, too, had needed a change in my environment.

As I have been writing this, I have been told that my family are breaking Mum out  the hospital again. She is being signed out, we aren’t indulging in Mother-rustling, but it is just so much easier for us to take her home than to rely on the hospital transport system.

Mum has been in a hospital a lot this year. There have been strong medical changes in how her MS is being managed and they have been hard on her and all of us. But her time there recently has also been eased by some of her regular carers coming in; showering her, sitting with her, spending time doing the crossword and the newspaper quizzes. The little elements of care that make it easier on Mum and by extension the family, the care that nurses understandably cannot provide, but that make her time there so much more bearable.

Hopefully these latest adjustments, this latest change to her environment, will mean she can be home for longer, that she spends Christmas with her family, that she has time to enjoy, in as much as can be, life as the new normal.

It’s her birthday soon. Presents will be focused on things with a pleasing scent, something soft to touch, audiobooks she will enjoy hearing. It’s the smallest of care but it’s what we can do. That, and time. Time spent with Mum, enjoying every moment there is.

And so I turn to you, dear reader, to return to theme of this blog; tenderness. Life in so many ways, for so many people, is hard right now. Maybe you are one of those people. And so I urge you to treat yourself with the tenderness you would show to a dear friend, to an adored lover. What ever gestures of kindness you can show yourself please do it. You are too important to neglect.

And if perhaps you are doing ok, perhaps you could call a friend, send a message, write a letter. We all need our friends, our loves, our support networks; sometimes to lean on and sometimes be leant on.

Either way, the world needs more tenderness right now. I believe Nayirah Waheed says it best with these lines:

 

With love,

Princess

 

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Who’s Sorry Now

Who’s sorry now? ~ Connie Francis

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Sorry (adj): feeling or expressing regret, compunction, sympathy, for an action

 

When I was was 13 my brother had a terrible cycling accident and was taken to hospital. I remember the police arriving at home, I remember going to the hospital with my mum, and afterwards I remember her saying the first thing he said to her when she want in to see him was “Sorry, mum”

Fast forward. I’m 41  I’m going to the same hospital to see my mum and the first thing she says to me when I get to her bed and she knows I am there is “I’m sorry”

My brother had been sorry for damaging his bike, for upsetting mum, for causing worry. Now my mum is concerned about causing upset, fearing worry, taking up our time.

Yet, as I sit there, sometimes with friends or with siblings, sometimes alone, mum talks. She talks about her funeral, she talks about what hymns she might like and what she wants us to do, and she talks her own mother and when she died. And she says the most extraordinary thing, “It’s life, we just don’t have time, we’re all so busy…. I came home, I cooked you all tea. And I got a call from the care home to say that she’d died”

My mum was apologising to me, to all of us, for taking up our time, causing worry, yet also thinking to a time when she was sorry, when she gave all the time she could, to her elderly mother but also to her family.

No, mum, I’m sorry. We’re sorry. You no more chose to have an incurable degenerative disease than my brother chose to have a bicycle accident, or grandmother chose to get old.

I’m lucky, I know. My mum be in an awful place with her MS and that is never getting better. It’s not news. She was diagnosed 32 years and it’s been a slow insidious creep that has ended up here. But she is still here. I’m poignantly heartbeakingly aware of those who don’t have that, those whose parents have died, those whose children have died, friends gone too soon. And the awful inevitability of time.

So I’m sorry. For all those times I wasn’t around, for when I didn’t think, for when I could’ve been better. Yet at the same time I’m not sorry because like mum said it’s life. There is never enough time. All we can do is choose how we spend it and who we spend it with.

 

Princess