The Food Gods are Punishing Me

The period of adjustment for dentures is much longer than I ever anticipated. Being told to eat only soft foods – mashed potatoes, eggs, jello, etc. for a week or two, turned out to be excruciatingly painful. My stomach gurggled day and night. I could understand, however, as my gums were still tender and sore. If only I could put my stomach on hold during this healing process.

Week 1 – There were painful moments wearing the dentures, as little jabs were felt under the left side of my gums. I called my dentist and within a day they were adjusted (or ground down) so as not to jab. However, little sores were detected and I was advised to keep the dentures out and take an antibiotic to help heal the sores. A bit of a setback, but at least the dentures felt better. I was able to manage for a couple of days, however my eating habits were not getting any better.

Week 2 – The antibiotics were working and my upper gum was feeling better, but as time progressed, one morning suddenly I couldn’t even keep my dentures in for more than a minute – I began to gag. I struggled as best I could every morning, but with every breath I took, I gagged. It was now apparent that I would have to leave them out the entire day until I could call my dentist. Naturally this started on a Friday and I would have to go the entire weekend “gumming it”, as they say. I was beginning to panic a bit, thinking what if this whole bloody procedure blew up in my face and I was unable to even wear dentures????? Just kill me now!!!

After various discussions with hubby (who was now extremely worried) it soon became apparent that another adjustment would have to be made. My naivete was very apparent as I had no idea how this whole process worked. I was told by a friend that I may well need up to 4 or so adjustments before this whole process would settle down. Trusting her advice and taking a better view of my dentures (the palette portion goes well beyond the back teeth), I would call the dentist on Monday to have whatever adjustment was needed.

Another setback. The dentist’s office was closed for holidays  the whole week. He’s a solo practitioner and has no substitute replacement. The recording said if it was an emergency you should go to hospital. Bummer!!!! I didn’t feel this whole thing was an emergency, besides what could a hospital do? More discussions and more frustration as Nat and I talked about alternatives. I was now convinced my dentures were making me gag as the palette portion was sitting too far back into my throat. Prior to this I could feel the end of the palette with my tongue, but now I couldn’t. I was then told that a portion of the back palette could be trimmed. Now I was really convinced, and the waiting game began.

I decided I had to leave the dentures out completely. When I did manage to keep them in I somehow couldn’t talk unless I gagged first. Extremely uncomfortable and irritating. After rattling our brains over and over again on what I could eat, a liquid diet was the only solution. Hubby tried hard to suggest a few things that I could perhaps nibble away at, but nibbling still involved some sort of chewing. I’ve now settled (after some research on liquid diets) on drinking fruit juices, broth, ice cream, etc. until I can see my dentist this next week.

To add insult to injury, I had managed to keep the dentures in long enough one night to eat a dish my hubby calls “mince and mashed” (ground beef cooked in gravy and served with a side of mashed potatoes). Quite yummy actually when you pour the gravy-ladened ground beef over the mashed potatoes. I was proud of myself I had managed to eat a good portion of the meal hoping this would put something a bit more substantial in my stomach. Plus this would be a turning point back to more solid foods. What a fool I am.

With buttery mashed potatoes and creamy rich gravy, it only stood to reason that later in the evening I began to feel a little iffy and began to run to the bathroom. With great aplomb I tripped on the bath mat and went flying smack down on the bathroom floor. Hubby came running, looking deeply concerned, and had to use both arms to raise me off the floor. My left knee was banged, my hip began to throb and a huge gouge showed up on my left elbow. I was so embarrassed at this point, I wanted to curl up and die. When things settled down hubby tended to the gouge which was now bleeding and we returned to the living room totally frustrated and drained. It was going to be a long, painful night.

The next morning with swollen knee, bruised hip and pride, I limped out of bed, managed to get dressed to greet hubby good morning. It was now apparent the whole day was going to be spent healing myself and my wounds. Slowly, I’ve been improving and at least now walk without a limp. Another long, long day in what has become my living food hell.

This is such a learning curve for me and hubby, that we’re totally in the dark and following a path we’ve never been on. However, we have settled down and are now resolved to play out the waiting game. I can only hope and believe that if the palette of the dentures is trimmed back, they’ll fit and all will right again. I really don’t think I can tolerate too much more. My stomach is begging for anything solid and tasty to eat. God give me strength to get through this ordeal I got myself into.

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Good To See You, Again

With some thoughts of fear, the unknown, finality and a possible regret, I headed to bed by 10:00 PM. I love my sleep and instinctively knew Tuesday night (the 17) would take me over an hour to at least get to the doors of La La Land. My brain was swirling with anticipation, fear and trying desperately to imagine how the whole procedure would go down.

Surprisingly I was up earlier than thought. I’ll do this when I’m anxious the night before. I’m the kind that wants something done, and done now. Impatience runs throughout my bones. Within 20 minutes we were driving down the highway to St. Catharines General Hospital to finally get my dentures and partials done. The little yellow container holding the dentures and partials sat atop my lap with an envelope of paperwork to be handed in upon arrival. I felt somewhat calm at this point. Perhaps thinking that this was it. All will soon be over and I’ll be back to my old smile, and the ability to chomp on good food again without having to gnaw away for half an hour after each bite!!

Arriving at the Outpatient Service we were escorted by a lovely volunteer to the patient bed area and were greeted by a very attentive nurse who kicked Nat out until I was settled. He toddled off to the waiting room as I began the usual ordeal of donning those wonderfully designed hospital gowns (“just strip down to your undies”), blood pressure, diabetes check, temperature, heart rate, etc., etc. More questions asked that had been asked a hundred times before with every appointment I’ve had during this entire ordeal. I could almost answer them by memory. At least I was ready for them and had made numerous copies of my medical record, lovingly done by my GP who is very efficient, along with numerous copies of my medicines. Always helps a great deal to be pre-prepared with such things, especially when your memory is fading and you look to the ceiling for answers!

Nat was soon summoned by my bedside as we waited for 10:45 AM – my procedure time. We didn’t have a whole lot of talking to do but watched as the rest of the nursing staff settled in all of the new patients coming in for whatever procedure they were having done. Even one older lady saying she’d never had an operation in her whole life. What a treat that must have been!! Nat and I also couldn’t get over the attentiveness of the nursing staff and the efficiency of which they were running the Outpatient Service. They were friendly, informative and certainly knew their jobs. As I’m a difficult one to get an Intravenous hook-up, they immediately called for the Charge Nurse who was a real pro at such things. They were right. She was very good and not even a bruise afterward once it was removed!!

Just prior to that, the Anesthesiologist dropped by to check on my meds (what I had taken and what I had not). He sounded Russion or Ukranian and was in a great mood. We had a couple of laughs – which is always useful when you know this man is going to knock you out!!

The time soon came and I was ushered a short distance down to the Operating Room previously booked by my Dental Surgeon – Dr. Carriero. Everyone in the room greeted me like an old friend – that’s always a relaxing way to go – and after trying to get the old broad switched over to the thinnest operating table you can imagine – I was soon off to La La Land. I was a bit surprised, however, to see that they still use a small amount of gas through a mask, instead of a direct injection into the Intravenous. Cool!!

As soon as I was off and out of it, I found myself struggling to wake up in the Recovery Room. Nurses were talking to me as my eyes were trying to focus and find out whether they were talking to me or someone else. Within several minutes I began to focus and felt like I had been punched in the mouth along with inheriting a whole lot of teeth. At least now I told myself – It Was Finally Over.

After 3/4 hour in Recovery I was ushered back to the Outpatient Room to check my vitals again, make sure I could walk without looking drunk and finally put my clothes back on. Nat went for the wheelchair (hospital policy – no walking out the door) and we were soon off and headed for home. Blessed, blessed home!!

Nat said he was surprised how well I took the entire thing – the swelling, the bruised cheek, the little black dot on my right cheek that wasn’t there prior and even the pain. I reminded him what the Anesthesiologist said – “I should write a book” about all of the things this old body has been through since the age of 3. My body has been brainwashed into doing what I’m told when it comes to surgeries, medical tests, etc. I’ve also developed a large intolerance to pain. This 69 year old piece of skin, bone, muscle mass and organs has been poked, prodded, pricked, along with one organ going out and another replacing, that it’s become my fortess for such things. When your life has been in and out of hospitals so much as mine, you begin to develop (as they say) “a thick skin”.

The rest of the day was naturally spent quietly in the living room – ice packs on the cheeks to keep any swelling down – and wriggling my tongue around the inside of my mouth to see if I could check things out. I finally took a look in a mirror and wondered “what’s the other guy look like”. Looking like I had been punched in the mouth with a good left hook I returned to my recliner and tried to block the image out. However, I did tell myself, this too will subside as the days go on. It’s the eating that will be the bain of my existence – only being able to eat soft foods (Jello, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, ice cream, soup, well-cooked pastas, etc.) – for the next week. God, I’m going to miss the meat, fresh breaded haddock, french fries and maybe a bag of Cracker Jacks once in awhile. This too, Twila, shall pass as the days go on.

This whole procedure, to my way of thinking, should now be my last visit to any hospital for any other purpose, except for transplant check-ups, for quite some time. I’ve endured numerous childhood surgeries and tests, kidney dialysis (home and hospital), fluid around the lungs, the kidney transplant, a few rejection visits, my native kidneys removed, a large polyp removed, my cataracts removed, and now my new teeth. I can pretty much state a good part of my body has endured more than its share. Now that I feel so much like my old self (whatever that is – maybe in my 30’s, the best years I’ve had without any medical procedures) hopefully I can now say to myself, with my new best smile – Good to see you, again.

Tomorrow – A Changed Woman??

Since my last posting, our lives have been sincerely quiet. Most days we were either driving around picking up items at WalMart, relaxing with our crosswords or iPad games, and Nat playing golf three times a week (despite the horrid heat). Most afternoons I was afforded the pleasure of a lovely afternoon nap. Yes, my body is finally catching up with my actual age!!

I had my annual visit at St. Joseph’s Health Centre and everything was great. The Doc was especially pleased that I’ve managed to keep the same weight for over a year now. From what I was told, that is usually unexpected. So I was pleased with myself, too. We then proceeded with our usual routine on the way home – lunch at The Gateway Centre in Grimsby.

We also took time to to visit the Outlet Mall of Niagara as we’d be driving by on our way home. As Nat gave me a gift card for Van Heusen for Christmas, I was anxious to see what was new and exciting to buy. I found 2 pair of regular pants, one pair of cropped pants and a bra. Paying a little extra after using my gift card was a small price for what I had found. I love everything I bought. My next visit, I’ll now have enough store credit points for another possible good buying spree.

July came in quietly with my usual monthly lunch with Michele. I tried something different this time at Swiss Chalet – the Crispy Chicken – but with what is left of my teeth, the meal was very difficult to finish. The chicken certainly was crispy, to the point where I had a hard time even cutting into the meat. The whole meal fell apart and after managing to eat about a quarter of my lunch, the rest was packed up in a doggy bag for sandwiches the next day. The discussion of the month was mostly my dental procedure a couple of weeks away. Michele was very re-assuring in her advice and help, but the jitters were just about starting to set in. This is unusual for me, as I’ve had so many operations, my mind goes blank on the days prior and I just do what I’m told.

The time had now come for my Pre-Operative appointment on Friday the 6th. We had to be there for 9:00 am and were taken in without much of a wait time. The pre-op itself, however, was a bit lengthy and more extensive than thought. With my medical history being what it is, the whole pre-op team pretty much covered everything, despite the fact I was only going in to have teeth removed. The Anesthesiologist took one look at the medical summary sent in by my GP and knew right away what I have been through. He pretty much agreed that I have become a “professional patient”. He really had no questions and neither did I. We both knew the whole scenario.

One appointment this month saw Nat finally going in for a re-working of his hearing aid. He’s been having trouble hearing in noisy settings, and certain TV shows with a lot of background music. The aids have now been adjusted to a better setting but it’s still difficult hearing certain conversations such as quiet British voices, but he realizes that it’s also just as hard for a normal hearing person. Even I have the volume up high while watching some British (and even American) shows with quiet voices and a lot of background noise. Why on earth they have to have background music playing while a conversation is going on, is beyond me!!!!!!

We were also lucky that our dearly loved brother-in-law, Daryl, was willing to take an old Rubbermaid storage bench off our hands. Nat has been pushing this thing around his shed for some time, as it’s no longer needed, and finally decided to give it away to anyone who would take it. Daryl came by in his work van and even picked up an office chair (also no longer in use) for his son, Zach, who was using a chair that was on its last legs – literally!! It was a smalll, but nice, break in our boring day to see and have a laugh or two with Daryl.

Four days ago, we also took some time to visit our good friends and former neighours in St. Catharines. The husband was fighting cancer and is now doing pretty good. We think about them almost daily and wanted to see them before I possibly become an old grouch after my teeth are removed. They, too, were worried about me – which is what I adore about them both – so we wanted to see how they doing. The visit, as usual, was fun and we love them dearly. Nat will call them shortly after my surgery to update them on the results.

This is now the final posting before my surgery tomorrow. Despite being re-assured by Michele that the healing process is not long at all, I’m still very apprehensive about the whole matter. Anything to do with my ears, eyes, nose and mouth are strictly off limits unless absolutely necessary. The cataracts on my eyes were bad enough but as my eyesight was getting foggier by the day, I knew it was a necessity. Plus now that enjoying good meals is getting rougher and tougher by the day, I had to face facts and admit to getting my teeth fixed. From November of 2017 it’s been a long, ongoing process that’s been frustrating, surprising and somewhat painful at times, but my head was telling my heart to smarten up and get things done now before it’s too late. If you enjoy eating good meals and smiling often, your teeth play the only role.

Tonight, as Nat and I try and watch TV, we’ll still each be wondering silently to ourselves what tomorrow will bring and worry about how each other is doing during the whole process. I’ll have to be up with the roosters in the morning, but a small price to pay to at least have the procedure in the morning. Hopefully I’ll be home shortly after lunch with Jello in the fridge waiting to be sucked back whenever. I truly hope I won’t have to be a gummer.

Calmer Days With A Bit Of Darkness

With the hectic month of May behind us, Nat and I settled back into our usual routines. His 3 golfs games a week were a welcome relief despite a few scorchy hot days that zapped his energy and reduced his handicap. We also had the air-conditioner repaired and as it is still under warranty, our bank account took a big sigh of relief. Apparently that bloody little mouse did a bit of damage before executing himself. I repeat, Idiot!!

We did our usual quarterly run to Costco for groceries and refilled the freezer with summer BBQ treats we don’t normally buy in the winter months. It will be nice to have a good juicy steak before July and my dental surgery, despite the fact it takes me twice as long to chew anything substantial right now. I love steak and will enjoy it come what may!

As the Provincial election heated up after our return from Britain, Nat and I became even more confused who to vote for. We politely mulled things over, discussed the pros and cons and had no favouritism for any of the leaders and, truth be told, didn’t want any of them in power. We had missed the early voting with running around getting summer chores done, a couple medical appointments and even baking a few items, so we headed down to the voting station on the final day and cast our ballots. We never discuss who voted for whom as we both have different philosphies and thoughts about each party and their leader. We were, however, really impressed with the new voting machines. Quick and easy once we made it through the long line up at the door.

I went to bed at my usual time on Election Day and along with the Stanley Cup game between Washington and Las Vegas that same evening, my mind kept busy wondering who would win the election and the hockey game. I had secretly hoped that Las Vegas would win it, being their first year together as a team and it would certainly make the records books, and Alex Ovechekin is not one of my favourite players. Everytime he’s on the ice I see him playing like a bully, hitting and undercutting the opposing team as if he was some sort of God. Despite my feelings, dear hubby convinced me to root for Washington, only because if Las Vegas won the Cup there would be no living with any of the players or team management. Egos would be flying everywhere. Plus Ovechekin and his Washington Redskins have been playing for eons, is one of the elder statesment of hockey and has never won a Cup at all. Hubby felt it was about time they had their day. I ended up agreeing.

As I was starting to float into “LaLa Land” hubby came to bed and gave me the news. Washington had finally won the Stanley Cup. Good on them as from what I saw before bed time, they were fighting the good fight and were ahead in goals. My only thought now was what Provincial party would be our esteemed leader come the next day. No matter what, I surmised, the next four years are going to be either tumultuous, weird or taxing!!!!

Awakening to a new day and a quiet day from my point of view, it was soon revealed by hubby that Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives had won a majority in Parliament. Like I surmised the night before – the next four years are going to be tumultuous. Don’t really trust Mr. Ford from his previous days in local politics, but time will tell.

It was also that morning as I was reading my Twitter feed, Anthony Bourdain had passed away in his hotel room n Paris. As with the rest of the world, I was dumbfounded. He had such a strong presence on his Parts Unknown series, which I followed devoutly, along with other shows he had done. Strong, rugged good looks, intelligent and daring to try anything once, he came across as a very confident man knowing his true self. However, as with all things human, we all have our demons, and Mr. Bourdain had succumbed to his. We’ll all miss you dearly.

This Tuesday sees me having lunch with sister, Michele. Looking forward to hearing what’s new and going on. Have not seen any family members since our return from Britain and I miss seeing any one of them. We were, however, blessed with a visit from Laura and dog, Zoe, this past Sunday. I was actually very good in my attitude and was even taken aback when we received a few compliments on our kitchen. I’ll take whatever I can get and went on with the visit as if we in good graces with each other. It was then that we also presented her with the ring we picked out from Jenny’s jewelery box. Susan had received her’s earlier and succumbed to tears just thinking about the wonderful gester from Jenny’s family. The ring looked good on Laura’s finger and I told her so. Unlike Susan, Laura may wear her ring on special occasions, where Susan is putting her’s away for inheritance sake. I’m proud of both girls and how they’re treating their gifts. It seems so long ago now that Nat and I were in Britain and if it wasn’t for Instagram and Twitter Jenny’s family would soon become a distant memory, but at least now we can keep up with postings, pictures and other shenanigans. I truly love it.

Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want to Leave – Part VI

May15th – 16th

Monday night/Tuesday morning Nat and I were both in and out of sleep. Being self-conscious of the time and wondering if we had set Jenny’s bedside clock alarm right, we were paranoid about being late. Young Nat was picking us up at 4:00 am to drive us to Newcastle Airport. Having literally thrown everything in our check-in luggage, we only had to pack our toiletries and we were off and running.

Young Nat, having travelled just as many miles as an astronaut in his career, could walk through this airport blind-folded. Once we arrived at the check-in gate, Young Nat pointed out a Newcastle United Football player, Jamaal Lascelles (former captain in 2016) walking by with his wife. I was in awe, having never seen a real life professional footballer. I may be a Cristiano Ronaldo fan, but I’m also a lover of Newcastle United and even Manchester United.  Getting back to business, Nat and I were soon informed that we would have to transfer to Gatwick Airport once we arrived at Heathrow. Dumbfounded, we had no idea. If we were told by our travel agent, we had long forgotten. Young Nat looked a bit worried for us, as he could no longer be of assistance, so we said our goodbyes as he watched us walking hand-in-hand off into the abyss!!

The flight to Heathrow was short and sweet, but then the bloody aggravation began. We had no idea where to go to catch our transfer and even with a 3 hour layover we managed to use that time completely by just getting to where we were to go. We had no idea that the small square piece of paper stapled to our ticket was actually the British Airways Transfer ticket we were to use for the bus. Oblivious to it all, we wandered around the airport asking anyone that would walk by where the transfer buses were to Gatwick. Very surprising to find out not too many people even knew there was an area where buses and taxies lined up to take you somewhere. Finally, an intelligent woman, along with following a few “Arrival Transfer” signs hanging above us, we found where the buses at least came through for pick-ups. We, however, just didn’t have a ticket (despite the fact it was in my purse all along)!!

So exhausted, frustrated and barely dangling by a thread, we both said “to hell with it” and purchased a National Express transfer ticket for 54.00 Pounds. Now getting really anxious, our bus finally arrived and we were whisked away to Gatwick for (what were the odds) another adventure.

We’re now walking through Gatwick Airport, for what seemed to be miles, to get to our gate, of which we did not know the number yet. It had not been posted on our tickets. We checked the Gate board and were informed the number would be posted around 11:00 am. Our flight was leaving by 1:00 pm. Waiting and waiting, constantly checking the board, no number was being posted even though it was now past 11:00. We had  no idea what was going on, when Nat asked someone and with luck he told us it had been posted, that we somehow missed it, and with the number in hand, we made a bee-line to get ready for boarding. My heart ached for Nat, worried about missing the plane, trying to slow down a pace to keep an eye on old miss cripple walking behind, he witheld his frustration. Finally arriving at the gate, no one was there. God almighty, please tell us we didn’t miss the plane!!!!!  No, thank God, we hadn’t. The attendant told us we had a half-hour at least. Then suddenly other passengers came literally running in, thinking the same thing we were. Having no idea what was going on, British Airways had somehow managed to confuse a plane full of passengers now in the departure lounge.

At last, finally, we were boarded and sitting in our seats. With no one beside us, we felt we would have a private time flying home. We were informed that several passengers were missing and with that a head count was now being taken. We soon found out – about an hour while sitting on the tarmac – that their flight from Florida had been delayed and we had to wait until they, too, were boarded. We were still lucky as none of the missing passengers were slated to sit in the empty seat beside us.

We were ecstatic to get into the air and looked forward to another boring flight only because we were so tired and knew this would not be the time to get any sleep at all. The meal was soon served (Chicken with Chirizo and soggy chips) which, naturally, I turned my nose up to. Nat tried some just to fill a small void. We then watched a little TV – very old American shows – but were soon put off so we gave up and tried to sit quietly in our seats. Somehow, someway we both fell asleep long enough that when I finally woke up, the rest of the passengers were licking away on Ice Cream Bars – big, fat ones covered in chocolate. Somehow it seemed right as nothing was going our way that day no matter how we tried.

At long last landing on Canadian soil, we had no choice but to gather up as much energy as we could to make that bloody long trek to the baggage claim, customs and  Niagara Airbus pick-up area. Another extremely long walk, winding in and out of the line control areas to get to customs area. Not having travelled in over 7-8 years, some changes had been made and unbeknownst to us, a lot had been computerized. Getting close to where we had to “check-in” on one of a dozen computer screens lined up along the wall with our passport, fill out the Landing Declaration and get a receipt, we soon became even more confused. I was able to follow the instructions, for the two of us, but not realizing that once I completed my turn, I was to have Nat follow, as we would end up with one receipt. Trying to figure things out, along came a snotty-nosed, arrogant and very angry attentant to help us. Not saying a thing but looking at Nat and repeatedly saying “Put it there!!”, “Put it there!!”, Put it there!!, “Put it there!!!”  pointing to the screen and tapping her little stubby fingers on the passport screen for Nat’s passport which had to be scanned. Nat was ready to deck her, but the poor man could hardly lift his arms. Don’t ask, but we managed to get through the whole process, as we began another long trek to the Airbus area where we crashed until our driver arrived.

We were picked up for our last ride home on any kind of airplane, bus or vehicle, and arrived at our doorstep early evening. By way of coincidence we had a retired RCMPer drive us home. I was wearing an RCMP t-shirt I bought while in Regina so he asked me about. Nice man!!!

Walking in the door, Nat and I literally dropped our suitcases and went straight to bed. Only being 8:00 pm, we didn’t give a damn. Nat stayed up long enough to text Susan and Laura to let them know we were home and didn’t want to be disturbed until morning.

We have never felt such exhaustion in our whole lives. Our spirits had been broken. I felt like I had Fibomyalgia (like dear sister, Gail), bent over and walking as if I lost my cane and walker, my whole back wanted to cave in and drop to the floor for a thousand nights. We admitted we were becoming a bit old to travel like that any longer. Nat felt the same way only his legs are in better shape. Those large airports are beyond our capacity to walk through and any time differences in travel would take us twice as long now to get over.

After almost 12 hours of sleep, we awoke Wednesday morning still a tad tired. I got organized – throwing a whole suitcase of clothes in the laundry, getting our meds and toiletries back in order. Nat (believe it or not) went to his usual Wednesday golf league while I stayed home and got caught up with paperwork, bills, etc.

It was later that night, it dawned on Nat, he should have stayed home from his golf. He couldn’t keep his eyes open while eating pizza for supper nor for the entire evening. He finally realized it was going to take several more days for us to get back to where we were before we left. Life was now going too fast for us!!

Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want to Leave – Part V

May 14th

Our last day had arrived just as we were getting somewhat settled in. Nat and I got a little sleep and as I wobbled downstairs to greet hubby, he was lying on Jenny’s “lift recliner chair” contemplating. By mid-morning we were pleasantly surprised to see Vicki, with her son, Michael, and twins, Gracie and Isla and their Aunt Adele. The twins were all decked out in their sweet little dresses and hair tied up with a big white pearl-dotted bow. Cute as the pearl buttons in their bows. It was a real treat to see Adele again. She had accompanied Jenny on her first trip to Canada and endeared herself to me right away with her wise cracks and wry sense of humour. We were also thrilled to see her sister, Vicki, as we did not see much of her on our last trip.

These were two of Big Robert’s three girls and another pair of beautiful women. They, too, had not aged a day, even after having their children. We were having a few laughs when Natalie called to invite us over to her home for tea around 1:00 pm that afternoon. We were finally going to get to see their new newly built home in Morpeth, just down the road from Bedlington where the rest of Jenny’s family had homes.

We said our final goodbyes to Vicki, Adele and the children, and were shortly picked-up by Nat. Driving through the big rod-iron gates we were both awe struck at the size of their 3-story home set back from the road and with a large semi-circle drive. We noticed other cars parked around the drive, along with Grace’s 18th birthday gift Mini – what I wouldn’t have given to drive that little cutie!!

We walked through the huge wooden double doors and were soon greeted by most of Jenny’s children and grandchildren that could make it. Fabulous surprise as Nat and I grinned from ear to ear to see them all. Yvonne, Sharon, her husband Alan, her son, Michael, Nat, Natalie, son Matthew and daughter, Grace, her boyfriend, Big Robert’s daughter, Lisia, and forgive me if I’ve forgotten anyone. We were so overwhelmed as we all gathered around the island in the kitchen being passed a glass of wine or whatever else we wanted to drink. We chatted away and were soon taken on a tour by Natalie of their grandiose home that took their blood, sweat and tears to get built. We could see Natalie’s graceful and elegant touches throughout with the decor and design. We were, however, informed that her hubby Nat picked out those gorgeous wooden doors with squares engraved throughout, while Natalie picked out the 3-storey high Chandelier that hung from the roof rafters, falling down in tapered tiers to be the main event once you walked through the main double doors. Vicki’s (niece to Nat) husband, Michael, volunteered to install the Chandelier, being a professional electrician and took him up to 3 days to install. Along with hanging from the rafters each beaded string had to be individually hung, of which there were hundreds!! Mr. Middlemas we each have a deep respect for your talents!!!

As we toured each room – the TV viewing room with attached semi-circle recliner chairs, the pool room (3rd Floor), the kids bedrooms, their parents’ bedroom, to die-for bathrooms (2nd Floor), two downstairs living rooms with fireplaces, a kitchen you could dance in with built-ins and island, large viewing windows to enjoy the surrounding view and finally a paved patio with barbecue. Yvonne and I were in awe and jealous as we could be. We agreed that Jenny’s Nat had worked all of his life to accomplish this, from his constant studying as a young teen, to his higher education and working his way up the technical/computer ladder in various jobs trying to increase his salary to achieve the dream he had worked so hard for. His son, Matthew, is just as intelligent and is looking to achieve his dream in film and cinematography. He’s also working as hard as his father and has been blessed with a trip to Los Angeles in June to take a course with the pros.

Being different as day and night, his sister, Grace, as beautiful as her Mom, has become a fashion icon. What I wouldn’t give to have her closet as a young teenager. Her shoes are to die for, her clothes and bags look like they came from the pages of Vogue (stylish, chic, tasteful). She, too, works hard at her job to earn her way through this world. Plus she’ll be the first to admit that she and Matthew have been spoiled, but I’ll be the first to tell you that they don’t flaunt it. I also respect each child’s close relationship to their mom and dad.

After the tour we were treated to a really nice luncheon of sliced deli meats, corned beef pies, salad and rolls, along with an assortment of desserts. As everyone made up their lunches we soon all sat around the kitchen enjoying each others’ company. With perfect weather outside, we meandered to the back patio and enjoyed the sunshine. More great laughs and stories.

This is when the family told us of their mother’s surprise final gesture. As Jenny had planned her entire funeral arrangements after her husband, Robert, died, she set aside some time and wrote each of her 5 children a letter. Jenny was never a woman to brag, boast or express her personal emotions but just a down-to-earth woman that raised her family to the best of her ability. As one final gesture on this earth, she surprised her children by writing a letter to each one to thank and praise them for all of their love, adoration, achievements in life, family and help throughout the years. Each one was gobsmacked and never saw this coming. Just proves when you think you know someone, including family, you really don’t. Her funeral won’t be until 2 weeks later and rest assured each child will read their mother’s letters in quiet solitude reflecting family memories forever. One of the best legacies I’ve ever heard of. God Bless Jenny – she had the last word.

With a beautiful afternoon slipping away, Sharon drove us home and a few hours later, Vicki picked us up for another fish ‘n chip meal. She had stated earlier she wanted to do this and we were whisked away to our popular restaurant in Blythe. When we arrived we were tickled to death that hubby, Michael, their 3 children, and young Robert’s daughter, Paris, were joining us. What a great way to get to know Michael (another gorgeous man and whom we’ve only seen once before) and their gorgeous children. Young Robert’s, Paris, was quiet as a mouse and Vicki and Michael were wondering if she was feeling okay.

We gave our orders and Vicki, being Vicki, decided to get cheeky. Being a “chocoholic” like me, she was insistent that we finish the meal with ice cream. Nat and I were so full, only finishing half of our meals, we insisted no ice cream. She tried to chide me by asking what’s your favourite flavour, but I didn’t bite. Thinking we had convinced her, away she went with the children and shortly came back with a cone each for Nat and myself. At least it was only a single, She gave Nat a Vanilla cone and me a Chocolate Chip (she knew there had to be chocolate in their somewhere).

We had such a wonderful time and were sorry we had to leave. Michael had driven off with the children, and to drop off Paris at her father’s. As we were driving home, young Robert called on Vicki’s car phone looking for a piece of clothing for Paris. This was our only chance to say Hi to Robert and tell him we missed seeing him. Arriving home we said our goodbyes and waddled through the front door fat and happy from our day out and couldn’t thank Vicki and Michael enough for their generosity.

Later that evening Michael, Jason, Susan and Lucie dropped in. We were informed by Michael and earlier by Yvonne, that Jenny’s family agreed Nat should take home anything he wanted as a memory of his sister, whether an item from the house or photos. Nat was dumbfounded and had absolutely no idea. He wanted for nothing and struggled to think of a thing. As we were talking Michael suddenly returned from upstairs carrying a small jewel case of Jenny’s. Again, he was so undecided, but when I saw a few of her rings – nothing expensive – I told Nat to pick out two he thought Susan and Laura would like. Done. He was satisfied and happy that his girls would also have a memory of their Aunt Jenny.

We soon found ourselves surrounded by a few photo albums, of which Jenny had plenty of stacked upstairs. Jason and Lucie were enthralled with the olden, golden goodies along with the stories his Dad and Nat would tell him. It didn’t take long before the 3 adults began to reminisce, while my Nat picked out a few pictures to take home to add to his family memories. With the subjects going back and forth, I suddenly found myself telling Susan how Nat and I met. She had never known the story and (bless her) was fascinated. We didn’t want them to go, but alas we had to catch a 4:00 am pick up by Nat E. for our flight at 6:00 pm.

The shortest, saddest and yet memorable trip we had ever been on. We miss gathering around with this family to this day. At least with social media we’ll be able to keep in touch with some of the adults and certainly a lot of the grandchildren. Plus I can’t wait to write some letters to Yvonne. Thank-you everyone from the bottom of our hearts.

…. and yet, still to be continued …. last one???

Saying Goodbye To Those You Don’t Want To Leave – Part IV

May 12th and 13th

Finally! A good nights sleep. We both managed to get at least 9 hours which was enough to get us through the day. We were up around 6:30 am, got some toast and tea. Sitting quietly enjoying the stillness of the morning when Natalie had called by 10:30 to go for a few groceries and on to the hospital to see Jenny.

It felt good, for some reason, to be back at an ASDA store now (much to our chagrin) owned by that American octopus, Walmart. Shopping with Nat, however, made it just a bit difficult. My only chance to have a look around at all of the British goodies, but alas we were there only for a few essentials to get us by for the next few days – chicken, English bacon, one potato, cereal, small pack of Sprite, etc. Natalie and her look-alike daughter, Grace, were already finished with their pick-ups and waited patiently for us by the door.

Back on the road to the hospital. Grace and I sat in the back seat and I, again, was in shock at how much she had grown, too. The last time we saw her and brother, Matthew, was at our going home party about 7-8 years ago. We had all gathered in a party room at the local pub, ate, drank and made merry with Jenny’s entire family. Such great memories, such fun. Grace at that time was a pre-teen beauty with long blonde locks of hair, all dressed in her red matching pants and top. Matthew was an adorable blonde-haired boy going along with the other youngsters in the room wondering who the hell were these old folks from Canada.

Arriving at the hospital, Jenny was still sleeping. More of the family were there. Seeing them all was wonderful and it didn’t take long before we all began to chat about various things. It was nice to see two of big Robert’s girls, Leah and Adele, and Yvonne’s daughter, young Yvonne. Like the rest of the Edington family, they were gorgeousw as ever. There was one brother missing, young Robert, whom I’ve seen on Instagram and has grown up to become a very handsome man, along with his adorable daughter, Paris. It was during that morning visit, I tapped (my) Nat on the shoulder to remind him we had to go for fish ‘n chips. I was NOT leaving Britain without at least one meal. How, I wasn’t sure.

As everyone mulled around Jenny’s bedside, coming and going from her room to leave room for the next shift arriving, Jenny’s sons, Nat and Michael, hatched a plan to take the two of us for that fish ‘n chip meal at lunch time. (I really did not mean for them to hear, honestly!!)

Within the hour the four of us were headed out to the best Fish ‘N Chip/Ice Cream restaurant along the coast of Blythe. Natalie had taken us there on our last trip and were awe struck at how fabulous our meals were, including the over 12 flavours of ice cream. Hubby and I ordered the Haddock fish and the boys ordered their dishes, with Michael ordering from the children’s menu. This smart man likes to eat smaller portions of food at different times throughout the day, which keeps him less sluggish and makes it easier to get on with his routine. He’s actually doing the right thing.

The portions were humungous but looking oh, so delicious with those chips cut large and fried to light golden perfection. At our age it was very difficult to eat even half of that portion of fish, but I managed until I felt like dropping. I had craved this meal for years. Hubby made a damn good stab at his plate, too. Michael, however, ate his entire (kids’) portion, leaving nothing but one small wee chip. It goes without saying the poor chap received a bit of flack from baby brother about not finishing his meal. It also goes without saying, older brother snapped back in defence. With that, the two brothers suddenly broke into their younger selves joking back and forth, laughing and giggling as if they were youngsters again. Hubby and I were being entertained and were glad to see the two boys release some stress and tension from the events of the past several weeks.

The boys then talked us into double cones of ice cream that always came with either a crunchy biscuit or chocolate “Flake” – a short round chocolate stick that flaked all over you when you bit into it and melted in your mouth in oh such goodness. We all headed back to the hospital feeling so relaxed and easy going. Hubby and I could never thank Nat and Michael enough for that surprise and selfless gesture.

Once back to see Jenny, my Nat was able to meet Jenny’s brother-in-law whom he had not seen in over 40 years. This time Sharon’s lad, John, was there. Another grandson grown up to where I didn’t even recognize,. I was embarrassed. Only an extremely quiet young boy when we had last met sticking close to his mom staring at the strangers in his gran’s house.

We were soon driven home to be picked up again by 7:00 pm. We stayed for an hour but this time we noticed Jenny was now breathing harder. Some of her girls were staying the night in the next room the nurses had fixed up for them. Nat and I could see the strain and worry on their faces and we felt helpless. We were then driven home with another day now at a close.

Just as we were both heading into a deep sleep, the phone rang at 12:45 am (Sunday am), jolting us up. Nat reached over and answered pretty much knowing what the news was. He was right. Jenny had passed. Michael’s son, Jason, would be coming by to pick us up to head back to hospital.

Most family members (excluding young children) were holding vigil as Jenny lay peacefully in bed. Suddenly, I had to leave the room and have my good cry. I loved Jenny, she was my pen-pal and listened to all of my tales of woe, happiness and just plain bitching. She never wrote back as Nat would call her every couple of weeks to get caught up on family news, but she loved getting my letters and I loved her for allowing me to write. During our visits at her home, whenever Nat was out with her late husband, Robert, or anytime we were alone, we would chat about family matters. She was so enlightening in her stories of my Nat and his younger years. Hubby is not one to express his personal feelings, but Jenny at least answered my questions and made me understand her baby brother, his two daughters, their relationship with each other since their mother’s passing, and his previous life. I regretted so much that she lived too far away for get-togethers. Bless Jenny’s first born, Yvonne. She would read my letters, and later announced that I could continue to write to her. She’s not a computer whiz like her children but still enjoys a good letter. I love her so much for that, and trust me, she’ll get letters. I never want to lose touch with any of Jenny’s family.

Once back home we headed straight to our bed and tried our best to sleep. Our heads were now swirling.

Later that morning after an unsettling sleep, we were up hoping for a somewhat quiet day. Natalie called to see if we needed anything. We couldn’t believe how attentive Natalie was. She had been driving us back and forth between Jenny’s house and hospital, grocery shopping and was willing to take us anywhere we needed to go. Always keeping her composure, being the strong one, along with her loving husband Nat, taking care of anything required. She’s had her medical issues, too, in the past and still remained calm and loving. Still looking like she was in her 30’s, she hadn’t aged a day. Always the young girl that we first met going on a double date with young Nat, Susan and Michael, while Jenny was living in the trailer.

Our quiet morning soon came to a close. The first of Jenny’s large family arrived were Sharon, Michael, Nat and Robert (Jenny’s children minus one). We were pleased to see them and they brought us up-to-date on what was happening. This would probably be the last time we would talk to the four of Jenny’s children in the same room. Each had their own lives, their own businesses and would try to get on with the rest of their lives now without their mother. We both knew that Michael and Yvonne would have a rough patch getting back to normalcy. Each and everyday Michael would drop by his mom’s, organize her medicines, attend to her needs, do any running around, attend to financial matters, any mail she received and kept his Mom company as long as his day would allow, after all he had his own to attend to. Yvonne would drop by later, probably taking over where Michael left off. They both have families and lives of their own, but Jenny raised very unselfish children.  Her five children had no idea about what was soon to come. God Bless Jenny – she left the best for last.

Shortly after the kids left, we were visited by Big Terry and Yvonne, and young Yvonne. Big Terry is still working diligently in the antique/older furniture business. His trips to Europe, especially Belgium and France still continued despite his age. He soldiers on as best he can taking care of his own family. Yvonne, as stated earlier would always see to her Mom’s needs during the day. Their two children young Terry and young Yvonne were busy with their own families and Mom and Dad were now empty-nesters. Young Yvonne is still another young women who has not aged a day and still gorgeous and fun loving as when we last saw her.

After getting big Terry’s famous bear hug (I love ’em) they were away and we were left with a lull. Not wanting a big meal we decided to maneuver around Jenny’s kitchen to cook up some of the chicken we bought. It was obvious Jenny had had an extremely difficult time while she was ill at home. Her hospital bed was placed along the back wall under what use to be her dining room window, with a small chair being used as a bed-side table. Her family had bought a proper table for her to use, but she would have nothing to do with it. The kids had also purchased a medicine cabinet to place on the wall in order to keep the enormous amount of prescription medicines, vitamins, etc. off the small dinning table standing beside her bed. Again, another no go. Jenny was adamant that things were just fine the way they were. Now I know where my hubby gets his stubbornness. Their Mom was the same.

With some bobbing, weaving and opening of cabinets and drawers, we soon found the fry pan and pot (behind the dish detergent) for our chicken and cut-up potato. As per our habit at home we like to pound the chicken into a cutlet, throw a few Panko crumbs on and then saute on the top of the stove. Not being “that” hungry, we only used one breast between the two of us and had to improvise on how to pound the chicken down to the size of a cutlet. Suddenly a can of beans became our weapon of choice not knowing that you can literally dent a can of beans with a chicken breast. (Sorry, kids, but whoever cleans out Jenny’s food supply and wonders why there’s a can of dented beans, you’ll know it was us!!)

Now deciding to grill the chicken cutlet rather than sauteeing, we managed to get it done to half-decent perfection and along with our one boiled potato, we were good to go. We cleared a little corner for ourselves on the small table sitting with the “bed-side chair” and Jenny’s bed, to eat our small meal. Must admit for improvisation, we did pretty good.

Just as we were cleaning up, in popped young Terry and wife, Emma. Despite our meager meal, we were complimented that it at least smelt good!! Again I repeat myself, young Terry had not changed a bit, only more mature and a bit more bulked up and taller. The two didn’t stay that long, but we were glad to have a great talk getting caught up with their adventures, taking care of his two children and that their entire family were “Disney-olics”, along with licence plates. Their faithful to say the least.

Thinking the day had ended, we were soon gifted with another nice surprise visit. Michael’s oldest, Jason, his girlfriend, Lucie, Sharon’s son, Michael and his girlfriend, Emma, dropped by. What four young kids drop by to visit a couple of seniors on a Sunday night? These two young men were a joy to see as were their girlfriends, who, believe it or not, also wanted to meet us. A great visit as Jason and I joked about how I mistook him for calling me a “carrot” on social media. Long, but cute story, Jason soon advised he was giving me a compliment. His father apparently also appreciated the joke and didn’t hesitate to spread it around the family. Somehow I truly felt like I was welcomed into Jenny’s family, along with their Uncle Nat despite their loss. My heart was swelling as we continued our wonderful Sunday evening. We both love Jenny’s family so much.

Sunday had now been filled with memories of times gone by and Nat and I grinned at each other not believing how wonderful this day had become. We watched a little television – American shows, such as “Cold Case” and “Without a Trace”- then headed to bed by 10:00 totally exhausted. We were still coming to terms with what was happening and all at once. Hopefully off to lullaby land ASAP.