so!

Grace with Sheppard. She danced and danced! All ages gig #wearesheppard When I mentioned to Grace a couple of days I ago that I might be able to get tickets to an all ages Sheppard gig, she was beside herself with excitement. I was a bit worried about finding someone to mind Gerard but I decided to be brave and ask (it is always better to be brave and ask I'm finding). Owing to my anxiety and my desire that Grace should have something exciting in her holidays organised by her mum (lots of excitement with other people) I lined up two possibilities. Gerard was pretty happy to go with his friend Ross but it did occur to me that in the past this is the sort of thing Gerard would have done with Grace, not me.

Anyway, Grace was so excited beforehand. She insisted on wearing the lace up boots I found her at the opshop the other day that are two sizes too big. Some other local tweens and their mums came too. During the support Microwave Jenny, there was a guy who walked around in circles near where the mums were sitting eating chips and not drinking gin because it was an all ages gig.  In the gap between the two bands the kids started fidgeting and then Sheppard walked through the crowd and on to the stage. Once they started playing, Grace and her friends just danced and danced and danced. So much so that they got a call out from the band before they played their big hit Geronimo. How to thrill a group of nine and ten year old girls!

At dinner Grace and I were talking about the show and about how we are going to cut her t-shirt a bit shorter. Gerard said that he thought it was a good band t-shirt and seriously, that is one of the most positive things he has said in a long while. He put his head on the table and wished that he could have gone too. Sigh. And then he said that he would have been too tired. Or maybe I said that and then he said that. But you know. He knew he was missing out on something great with Grace, missing out on her first real band experience and he was sad. And in that sadness there was a strong glimmer of the old Gerard. Which made it even more sad. And yet despite him being sad and me being sad because well, because he was sad and missing out, I was kind of high from it. It's maybe not the sort of thing I would have done before but it's the sort of thing I would jump at now because as I explained to Grace the other day, we have to do the good things when we get the chance.


sitting with the bobheads

Up

The Bob Dylan concert week before last was great. Not always an easy listen but lots to think about. And I felt full. Full of music and ideas. It was made better, and especially thrilled Gerard in a way that's hard to describe, by having really fantastic seats. Right in the middle, five rows from the front. We could sometimes see the expression on Bob's face and we were surrounded by devoted bobheads which was very interesting. One of them was keen to be in the same number seat for all the concerts and was enthusiastically trading tickets. At the end of the show as we were waiting for the venue to clear I commented to another bobhead that I had learnt 'Blowing in the Wind' at school when we did singing lessons sitting cross legged on the floor, looking up to the radio mounted high on the wall. He looked at me as though I was really old.

I was in two minds when the Dylan tickets came on sale. I didn't know whether Gerard would be well enough to go but I knew if I didn't get the tickets and then if he was well enough to go, we would kick ourselves for not booking. So, in the spirit of doing things now, and also thinking that if we were going to make the effort we might as well have good seats I got ready to book. The cheap seats weren't especially cheap anyway. And we always sit up the back. We had the chance of some very welcome help getting even better seats and I was glad of it. Being that close added a super extra layer of special.

In the days preceding I did worry a lot about Gerard being too tired or something going wrong, but he had a good nap in the afternoon and although I think he made an extra special effort. It was all ok. A friend arrived to pick us up, another friend to take Grace for a sleepover. We bickered in the car about how we were getting home, Gerard wanted to catch PT and I insisted we would catch a taxi. It was a silly argument because we were always going to catch a taxi - watching the crowded trams go past afterwards made me even more sure of that. But Gerard can be stubborn, cheap and not very realistic. Anyway Jody cut through the crap and and announced she was going to visit a friend in St Kilda and would be waiting when the show was over. Again, too special. I feel lucky and thankful that we have friends helping us out.

It was an amazing sparkly night. Gerard loved it and it was special for both of us. Worth the effort. Also Bob is living proof that you can be yourself, be old and be fabulous. I'm sure that applies even if you aren't a famous genius with a huge body of work.

two more weeks

Two more weeks of radiotherapy. The last two weeks of radiotherapy. Just this week and then next week and Gerard's radiotherapy will be done. I think we are counting down the days. His fatigue is extreme, last night at swimming he lay down on the hard wooden bench and fell into a deep sleep. The swimming lesson coordinator came to speak with me about Grace's progress and improvement and  I felt the need to explain. To explain why we always go to swimming lessons all together, to explain why he behaves oddly sometimes. I told him why briefly and I really wasn't prepared for the conversation that followed. His wife had breast cancer last year and is clear now but he was full of hesitancy and fear. Not in an inappropriate for a swimming lesson exchange way but in a human, you see me, I see you, way.

We're going to see Bob Dylan tomorrow night. I bought the tickets ages ago not knowing whether we would be able to go or not. To be honest, I think it is a bit borderline and I am afraid that I won't be able to manage how it goes, that we won't be able to get a taxi home and we'll be stuck in St Kilda with Gerard falling asleep in strange places. Or that something will happen during the performance. Goodness I hope not. And really there is no reason to think that will happen, he has been stable on his meds for a while now and none of the doctors have expressed concern about Gerard attending the concert. Gerard is keen so we will be giving it our best shot.

I've been in a grump since Sunday. Grace had a sleepover with possibly not enough sleep on Saturday night and then fell apart on Sunday. I was angry that it was taking up so much of my weekend and that between the wailings and the washing, I wasn't getting to my sewing and therefore wasn't addressing the current wardrobe crisis. Yesterday I bit the bullet and had an online shopping spree, figuring that only half the stuff I buy in person really works any way. So new jeans, soft black pants, some t-shirts and a bright blue linen cardigan because I am sick of wearing black and grey. I feel like such a frump, most of my clothes are at least three years old and because I don't have a big wardrobe they are also quite worn. I suppose it is quite sustainable to wear your clothes out. Other petty things I am grumpy about: the grottiness of our house and having a plan to fix it up but not having the money or the right sort of time, my inability to do basic housework or gardening tasks, not going anywhere on my own, being asked the same thing a bazillion times. Oh and the car. It looks like crap and the clutch hates me. Urgh. But I do have a craft weekend coming up that thanks to Dad and Nina I can attend! Which I am looking forward to hugely. Even if I have to go driving a pumpkin and wearing a sack cloth. Oh, and eating worms. Although seriously, the new jeans should have arrived by then. And we are having the it's been ten years, maybe it's time to replace the car conversation.

mowing the lawn

Mowed the grass for the first time in 15 years. Kind of shit job but also kind of fun.
So I mowed the grass today, which was good. We've been talking about it for a few weeks so it needed it. I haven't mowed the grass in 15 years so I suggested to Gerard that maybe he could boss me around while doing it. Quite a few people have offered to do our lawn but I think I need to do it myself at this stage. I want it to be something I am capable of doing. It started badly, Gerard was pulling weeds while I combed and snipped the dreadlocks out of Grace's hair. She looked through the bedroom window and Dad was lying on the ground. She freaked out and I rushed out, suspecting the worst. It turned out that he'd been not as strong as he'd thought and had fallen down while trying to pull a big weed out. Crisis averted.

I enjoyed pushing the lawn mower around but it stopped frequently as I don't yet have the knack. We had to wait a while before it could be started again and during one of these breaks, I was sitting with Gerard outside, and I just started crying. About whether I could be a good single parent. About how he fixed my world when he moved in; nails were removed from walls, doors were hung properly, shelves were made, hooks were put up, things weren't broken any more. Most of all I was crying about the prospect of one day losing my best friend.

Dried my eyes and went back to mowing the lawn and in the next break, Grace was all sad and we had cuddles and talked about why she was sad and about how Saturday can be a sad day because after the business of the week, there's some time and space to be sad. I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing but we have something planned for Sunday so that won't be sad too.

funny how the circle is a wheel

- Yesterday was sunny, a good day and we changed the cd in the car from a REM compilation, seeing as we'd listened to it all the way through maybe three times, to Gene Clark American Dreams. I love this CD and yesterday it was perfect but today as I was pulling up Elizabeth Street the Full Circle Song comes on and almost immediately I started to lose it. I held back the tears enough to get home but as I turned the car off, the held back tears all came rushing out. What's the matter? Gerard asked.* It's just not fair, I said, it's just not fair. We learnt on Friday afternoon that Mum's lung cancer has returned, with some spots on her brain. She starts chemo this week. Having barely recovered form the last treatment. I thought her initial result was so good that she would have longer, but apparently this is not to be. I'm sad that the cancer has come back so soon, sad that I won't be able to help her out or visit if she goes to hospital like last time. There's no way I can trot out the door and leave Gerard to keep the home fires burning (he nearly gassed the two of us the other day with the oven but that's another story). My life is just not like that any more.

On Saturday I went out bed shopping with Dad and we had lunch at MacDonalds with coke zero and surrounded by families and young people we talked about stuff, about family, about what is happening. And it was nice to be out with Dad, but Sunday, well Sunday was way different. I woke up with an unexplainable headache and lay in bed trying to think it all through and I couldn't. I either had a sensation in my head a bit like pop rocks, you know the kid's popping candy or there was nothing. Nothing but vacant space. Later neighbour friends came for a visit and weeded our vegetable patch and it was good to get an infusion of normal life. We are lucky to have good people around, good people who want to help. Sometimes it feels like there is nothing anyone could do to help, but that's not true. Someone is taking Gerard for a walk as I write as my ankle is still playing up. I put it out there and here it is. And has been all week. And there are other people in our family who can look after Mum. I'm still sad it isn't me. Not that I want there to be a need for looking after, but you know what I mean.

And I do think that two cancers in the family at once is grossly unfair. But what can you do? People say I am handling things well and maybe on the outside I am, but inside it is all pop rocks and vacant space. It helps a bit to write about it, which is guess what brings me back here. I keep thinking that I will write about craft or cooking because believe it or not there is still craft and cooking in my life.

Funny how the circle turns around
First you're up and then you're down again
Though the circle takes what it may give
Each time around it makes it live again

Funny how the circle is a wheel
And it can steal someone who is a friend
Funny how the circle takes your flight
And if it's right, it brings it back again

Funny how the circle turns around
You think you're lost and then you're found again
Though you always look for what you know
Each time around it's something new again


Songwriters
GORDON, CHRISTOPHER JOHN (AUS) / DAVIES, IVA / TOGNETTI, RICHARD LEO
Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group


* If you are wondering why he would ask this question, on days he feels well, Gerard doesn't really think he is sick at all, much less that it might be serious. Short term memory issues, a blessing and a frustration sometimes.

I don't think I have any room in my heart for any more sadness

Waiting, not an emergency but a concern

So sad. After dinner we watched some tv together, starting with What Really Happens in Bali, which made me think, why do people get that drunk? Are they complete idiots? Then Gerard put the news on. I could barely watch it, I don't think I have any room in my heart for any more sadness. But watch it I did. The toys and books on what looks like a wheat field, the armed soldiers. And then Gaza, all those people running, leaving their homes, getting hurt and dying. Faark. Humans can be awesome but right at the moment it feels like stupidity and fear are winning.

We spent about 5 hours in hospital at the emergency department today, which strangely made me feel like humans are awesome again. Hospitals are complicated and stressful but then so are the human bodies they are trying to fix. Gerard had a lot of leg pain last night and Grace woke me up this morning to say that he was having difficulty walking. It got better as the morning progressed but Gerard felt like it was something that should be checked out. Grace went to a friend's house (where she is always welcome, how nice is that?) and I took Gerard to the hospital via the service station because he noticed one of the tyres was really flat. So it turns out cars drive better with inflated tyres.The doctor thought that Gerard might have had a localised seizure in his leg or that the tumour might have been causing random pain, because apparently they can do that. Or it might have been something else entirely but as he is OK now, he is good to go.

Grace and I had another sad conversation today and I think she still feels a bit neglected. She could have come to the hospital with us today if she had wanted, but I don't think that is what she is after. I don't think she is used to seeing Gerard and I being together so much and not fighting. It's possible she hasn't really seen me be nice to him in the last 6 months. So this harmony is kind of weird. It's taken a while to get to this point but we are starting to work together and get on better, like the old days sort of. Which is good because are spending a lot, and I mean a lot, of time together. I'm trying to think of ways to make sure she is not feeling left out but I guess it's deeper than that. I'm scared about the future and I told her that. We had a cry together, she is pretty scared too. She wanted to know how long Dad has and the truth is we don't know, so that's what I said but she wanted to know more. So we did the chart, which is awful, and we discussed how Nana had done better than the median and that we had to hope that Dad would too. She wants the truth but it is hard. I talked some more about wanting to make each day as good as possible for all of us, but that sometimes Dad needs extra attention like today.

spinach pie

Tony in the last sun for the day. Working out the new schedule.

I made a killer spinach pie for dinner tonight. Only it wasn't spinach, it was silver beet from the garden. I took care to pick the best leaves and even washed off all the bugs and snails. And I included sautéed mushrooms and onion, to which I added the very finely chopped silver beet, and cooked it until all the water came off and it was much reduced in size. The chopping makes all the difference when you use silver beet otherwise the texture is inclined to be stringy. I started picking the greens and making the pie after Gerard's 5 o'clock medication and was able to have a rest and a vodka beverage along the way.

The rituals of family living; dinner at the table, family tv time, afternoon tea, walking to school when we can, lunch together, going to the supermarket, these are the things holding me, holding us together at the moment. After the last seizure (which I didn't write about here because, well too busy to write) Gerard has had trouble with his speech. I think it is called aphasia, he can think the thoughts but the words that come out don't always relate. Although I do think the relationship between words and thoughts is getting closer or maybe we are understanding him better. The doctor has said that Gerard's main tumour has changed and so he is having a break from radiotherapy pending an MRI. She said it was "concerning" but that they don't have enough information without the MRI to make sure the radiotherapy is targeted correctly. Everything felt very sharp yesterday and I cried every time I was on my own. I see people living every day normal lives with every day normal problems and I feel like tapping them on the shoulder and saying, this is the good bit, love each other, appreciate what you have. But I don't, of course. And I do think that people close to us know this and feel a bit of the fear, a bit of the vulnerability. Because this sort of stuff does happen to ordinary families like us. Hopefully not very often, but it does happen. And I do know of other families that have had big things happen. Maybe one day I am going to look back and this, these days now, they will be the good bit.

Ack, I'm tired. So tired. Even though I got a full night's sleep last night. More or less. I thought I would write about other things but maybe it's not in me right now. And I need some sort of record. I do. I really do.