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Archive for September, 2014

It was a very sad day, the day I learned that the woman I liked to call my ‘mother-in-law’ had passed away.

September 3rd to be exact she finally slipped away after a short illness and a battle well fought; she was a remarkably strong woman in both spirit and body and despite being on death’s door with pneumonia she rallied round and went home….albeit not for long and just on 2 weeks ago at the regal age of 93 she gave up the good fight and left this world for another realm.

Dixie was her nickname, her real name was Alexandra Ethelwhyne, and a sweeter, lovelier, funnier, quirky, more cheeky, naughty, kind and delightful person you would go far to find.  I met Dixie very briefly…once in 1979 when I was dating my daughter’s father.  For one reason and another, of which I shall not go into detail I didn’t get to see her again till 1995 when at the age of 15 my daughter said that she would like to meet her own father…..the son of Dixie.

When we did meet again, I found her to be everything I could have wanted in a mother-in-law and although technically she wasn’t, she and I both delighted in that I referred to her as that and she called me her daughter-in-law.  She was also a friend and a confidant and in the few times we met and spent time together we always had a good laugh and a chuckle exchanging tales and stories of the past.

Sadly those times became less frequent once I left South Africa and came to live in the UK, but we kept in touch via old-fashioned letters for as long as she could still write and phone calls for as long as she could still hear me…..16,000 km’s is a long way away when you are going deaf and let’s face it mobile phones are not really conducive to a good conversation.  I did take to sending ‘postcards from London’ but I fear that not all of them got through and they could only contain scant information anyway.  I recall how she always said how much she would like to go to London and we plotted and planned for her to come visit but in reality we both knew that was a dream unlikely to be fulfilled as she was very frail and it’s unlikely at her age that she would have enjoyed the trip.  But she loved that we, my daughter and I lived here and when we visited South Africa she relished my stories of London and the things we, my daughter and I got up to.

Dixie was an incorrigible flirt, she adored dancing and would use any excuse to get up and dance the night away. She laughed frequently, smiled a lot and loved nothing more than a good gossip.  Whenever we stayed with her and her partner, the wonderful Alan who sadly passed away about 3 years ago, we would always sit around and drink copious cups of tea and chatter away like two little brown hens… or is that white hens?

She had the most twinkly blue eyes that sparkled with mischief and it was really sad to watch the sparkle slip away as she slipped further and further into the confusing and often frightening world of dementia.   But for all that, she never lost her bright sunny nature, and you would always see her sitting with a smile ready for a wee chat or mischief, and even though we knew she didn’t really, she always said yes, she remembered who we were.

I will always remember Dixie as being one of God’s angels on earth and I know for sure that if there is a heaven, then for sure she is up there dancing and keeping them entertained with her wonderful stories, her delightful, sweet smiles and laughter……they will all find it hard to resist her cheeky flirtations.

Dixie

Dixie

Goodbye darling Dixie, I know with absolute certainty that you will be dearly missed here on earth and the wonderful legacy of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will carry a little of you with them in their hearts and genes! 😉  You know what I mean!

Rest well sweet lady, we will always remember you with fondness and deepest love.

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So yes, indeed the Universe had a laugh on me!

For the last few years I have constantly asked the agency for work in London, mostly so that I can be close to home and especially so that I could be in the city and explore…. but it seldom came my way and I have been sent off in different directions to all corners of this little island!

living in london

high tide in Richmond – home 🙂

But now, now that I have closed down the business of 3 Days in London, suddenly I get a job slap bang in the center of Kensington…almost next door to The Natural History Museum to be precise….is the Universe having a laugh or what?

So laugh over, off I went and settled in for the duration….glad for the opportunity to have a fling in London. The flat where I was working was literally a 5 minute walk from the NHM and the marvellous V&A Museum….and that is where I spent a lot of my break times, if I wasn’t sleeping. It was also a treat to see the magical roof of the NHM from the kitchen window each morning. I was staying in one of those amazing looking apartments in Queensway Gardens on the 4th floor and view was terrific albeit limited.

living in london

the roof of the Natural History Museum

The V&A is so enormous that it’s impossible to see everything in one or even two visits so there are a lot of the galleries I have not yet explored. It was great!!! I discovered some wonderful galleries of 15th-19th century England where I saw David Garrick’s bed, a model of the Queen’s State Coach and a model of the 1861 Crystal Palace exhibition hall as well as a number of terrific Victorian items and treasures. I entered the museum via the Exhibition Road entrance and then turned immediately right and up the stairs….three floors of galleries filled to the brim with fabulous items.

I also had the chance to meet up with my wonderful friend Valy from Belgium who was on a quick 2 day visit over the Bank Holiday weekend and we managed to catch up for coffee at a little café in Gloucester Road.

I discovered that London is quite noisy at night with a constant flow of traffic, albeit not anywhere near as noisy as Richmond where my bedroom is but 30 feet away from the dual carriage way that is never quiet and rumbles with traffic all day and most of the night….with an occasional lull at about 3am.

I had been scheduled to be there for 2.5 weeks but suddenly and without any warning after just one week the lady up and died. She was 98 so I suppose it shouldn’t have come as any surprise, but she seemed well enough and was quite alert and all in the morning…but within 45 minutes of the London ambulance services being called she took her last breath and gracefully slipped away.

As for the London Emergency Services, I was most impressed.   I had barely put the phone down and there was a ring at the front door…..and there they were.    A lovely trio who were so sweet and caring with my patient and just lovely after she passed away.     This is not the first time I have lost a patient while working as most of the people I care for are either very, very old or at end of life, so although it came as a shock that it was so unexpected it wasn’t a surprise.

I spent the next two days at the flat tidying up and sorting stuff out for her daughter who was flying in from South Africa and then after handing over to her I was on my way home again…..I never complain about being on my way home.

I so enjoyed seeing my daughter again, albeit just for a few hours as I got more work almost immediately and Thursday saw me on the train and on my way to East Sussex for 1 week. Down on the farm……….

travelling through the uk

on my way to the farm in East Sussex

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