But A Small Moment ….

We left my Dad’s story in the Emergency Room at Queen Alexandria Hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken neck. (See ‘The Fall At Highlands Road’). I mentioned saying that one would think the story would end there; his neck would mend and life would move forwards as normal. Unfortunately, my Dad’s story did not go that way.

Before the fall, my Dad was in the initial stages of vascular dementia. He had had several bleeds in his brain which had affected his memory and more recently, some of his life skills such as cooking rice, curry, chili and chips; and making a cup of tea. He liked to cook these parts of the meal. When he was outside in the kitchen and couldn’t remember how to do these things, he would call on my Mum to come and help him.

The past year, before the accident, he had had his driver’s license revoked. This was of great consternation to my Dad. He love to drive. It was how he was able to be free, independent, and of great help to others. My father fretted about the lost of his license, losing sleep over it. He was very angry and felt powerless.

Now with the broken neck he was confined to the orthopedic ward. Being out of his familiar environment and routine, his dementia exponentially increased. The hospital staff had to lock down the orthopedic ward so that my Dad would not wander off; he kept taking off his neck collar, he would start playing with the hydraulics under his bed (probably thinking he was tinkering on his car), and he would start taking other people’s things and hoard them in his bedside locker. The latter behaviour is very typical of people who have dementia.

I think it is very interesting that the hospital kept my Dad on the orthopedic ward and didn’t move him to a geriatric ward. Nevertheless, being so far away, I was not able to talk to the staff and find out the finer details.

While all this was going on with my Dad, my Mum found out that she had breast cancer and was undergoing regular intense treatment in the same hospital. She would get herself there; see the doctor; and then go further into the hospital to visit my Dad. It is the most frustrating thing living so far away from my parents in their time of need!

I am, however, happy to report that even with all the stress my mum experienced on top of dealing with her disease that she is a survivor of breast cancer.

Mum knew that Dad would be in the hospital for twelve weeks whilst his neck healed. She was looking forward to having him home again. Towards the end of the stay, she was asked to go into a meeting to review my Dad’s needs. My sister went in with my mum so between the two of them, they would absorb everything that was discussed.

The doctors and the social workers told my Mum that my Dad needed to go into a facility where his needs would be met. His dementia was really severe and he would be in danger back in the home environment. The reality of this news was a shock to my mum. She knew that my Dad had deteriorated whilst in the hospital, but she hadn’t even considered that he might not be coming home.

Mum and I spent some time discussing this on our weekly Sunday call following her meeting at the hospital. Knowing that Dad was stubborn at the best of time (takes one to know one!), with his dementia exasperating this trait, it would be very hard for Mum to convince Dad to not to do certain things to keep him safe; it would be hard to monitor him twenty-four seven. I proposed to my mother to consider which decision would be best for her relationship with my father. Would the constant lack of sleep and the continued contention be good for both of them? How would she feel if Dad messed with the electric wires in the house? Would this cause a fire in the house? Would Dad electrocute himself? What about him wanting to use his power tools? Would she be able to stop him? What if he decided to drive anyway? Would it cause an accident that would not only hurt Dad but also members of the community? What if Dad left the house and couldn’t find his way home or deal with the traffic and got hurt?

With a lot to think about and ponder over, Mum and my sister again met with the doctors and the social workers. They found a nice facility within a mile and a half of my Mum’s home. She could walk or drive there. With Mum having in her mind the importance of maintaining a good relationship with my Dad as her highest priority, when she found out that really she had no choice in deciding whether my Dad went into the facility or not, I think this concept gave her some measure of comfort.

Mum and Dad had been together since they were young children, swapping comics with each other, and playing in the street. They lived down the same street in Southampton even though the street changed names half way down. They had grown up together and married. Despite my Dad’s days at sea for work, they had a lifetime of being together. This separation was and is hard on both of them.

Dad was transferred from Queen Alexandria to the nursing home in Fareham via non-emergency ambulance. Unfortunately communication between the two organizations and between the transportation was not stellar. Dad was transported without his neck brace. No medications were transferred nor was the medical regimen shared between the two facilities. My mum does not know what type of medicine my dad has but there is one that helps to keep him calm when he is agitated. Mum is not sure whether that is a sedative or not. He usually gets tired and extra sleepy when he has taken it. The staff at the nursing home were not aware that my dad needed this but his needs became apparent very quickly.

Going to a new environment for people in my dad’s condition can be very scary. For him it was another unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar faces. As the nursing home has clients with diagnoses varying from dementia, Alzheimer’s to schizophrenia, being with people with unusual and unpredictable behaviours is also extra scary for someone who is a vulnerable adult.

My mum and sister were there to welcome my dad into the nursing home and to get him situated. When they prepared to leave, my Dad became extremely agitated. He was held down by six male careers. He screamed at my sister to rescue him. It is very distressing for me to even relate this; it must have been more distressing to my mum and my sister to witness it.

My dad is now very content at this place and is attached to many of the staff. He is super polite and has good manners except when he gets agitated. A small dose of the medicine does help to relieve his anxiety and fears in these situations. Even though he can’t hold a conversation anymore and is extremely inarticulate, he still can manage to say ‘Yes please’ in response to a question. My mum and sister visit him very often. I visit him in my thoughts every day and when I go to England.

I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to have dementia; how frightening it is not to be able to remember; to not know the people around you, even dear ones; and to lose the ability to speak and communicate.

My mum, my sister and I all know what it feels like to be on the other side of someone who has dementia; to see those we love change and drift away from us; to walk the long dark road of grief that seems to have no beginning and no end; to love unconditionally and completely with no expectation of reciprocity.

Fortunately, we know Dad and we know his heart. We know his consistency and the depth of his diligence and caring. This is but a small moment of time until we meet again, whole and complete, on the other side of the veil to enjoy endless eternities of loving association and joy with each other.

Beginning My Adventure With Spirituality

My earliest memory of my journey with spirituality started when I was about six. We lived in Singapore and on some Sundays my Dad would drop my little sister and I off at the Sunday School. I suspect that my mum and dad were after a little free time to themselves. My little sister is four years younger than me but I have a vague memory that she and I stayed together.

I remember that we would have these little books in which we got to stick stamps of Jesus in. I really liked the pictures. They were usually related to the stories that they taught us like the Good Samaritan. This was my favourite part of the Sunday School Class. That is probably why it is the only part that I remember.

When I was in the second year infants in Singapore, I was selected to be one of the narrators in the school nativity play. I loved, loved doing this! In those days, I had a incredible memory and I memorized not only my part but also everyone else’s. We have a tape that my dad made that Christmas when my maternal grandparents came out to visit us in Singapore and a lot of the tape has me reciting all of the narration. I still remember a lot of that narration. It feels as familiar as a glove.

I can still remember the wonderful feeling that I used to get every time we rehearsed and when we gave the performance. It wasn’t just the feeling of accomplishment that you get as you put on a play for parents, it was something else that I felt. It felt warm and safe.

In October 1968, we went back to England and after living with my grandparents in Southampton, we moved into our house in Fareham in January 1969. Whilst living with my paternal grandparents, my grandfather taught me how to pray. I used to say this prayer every night before I went to sleep for years.

“Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,
Look upon this little child.
Pity my simplicity,
Suffer me to come to Thee”

On my 8th birthday – May 1969 – my friend and I went down Fareham Park Road to a little church down on Gudgeheath Lane. I have just looked this Church up on the internet and it is the Hill Park Baptist Church. I have often wondered which religion it was and suspected that it was either a branch of the Baptist Church or some sort of Pentecostal Church.

I really enjoyed going to this church. I loved to sing the songs about Jesus and to hear the stories from the Bible. I went regularly and even took my little sister along. When I think how old I was and how little my sister was, I marvel at how my mum and dad would let me look after her and walk down Fareham Park Road and take her to church! Not something that I would let my children do when they were small. The world was a much safer place in those days.

I remember the Church giving me and my sister a Christmas present one year. Mine was a circular pink plastic box with a clear lid. Inside were lots of tiny beads of all sorts of different colors for threading. The lid swiveled and a little vent would open up to access the beads. I loved this gift and cherished it for a few years.

After a few months, I was invited to go to their Tuesday night meetings in downtown Fareham. We were always picked up on a coach at Fareham Park Road just outside Coppice Way which drove us down to the hall. I went alone or with my friends. My little sister was too young for this adventure. I went for a little while although I didn’t feel as comfortable in this church service as I did at the Sunday School. I didn’t like the feeling that I had when people ‘spoke in tongues’.

What added to that uncomfortable feeling was the man with one arm. It wasn’t his one arm that frightened me, it was the way that he paid too much attention to me and got into my personal space. After awhile, I told my mum that I didn’t want to go to the Tuesdays meetings anymore and soon after, I stopped going to the church on Sundays. The man was very creepy and I didn’t want to be around him.

Being christened in the Church of England, I took myself off to the Sunday Services at St. Columbia Church at the corner of Hillson Drive and Highlands Road when I was about fourteen. I wish that I could say that it was my spiritual interest that took me there, but it was a good looking boy from school that was in the choir. Just to get a glimpse at this young man entering the church and then singing was enough to get me there each Sunday. Sometimes a friend came with me. She was interested in taking confirmation classes, but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. I didn’t want that type of commitment. I was familiar with the church service, but I had my own ideas. I didn’t feel that what they taught made sense to me. I didn’t necessarily think it was bad, it just seemed too mysterious and unclear. Spiritually, I felt at an impasse. After about eight months, I stopped attending the services at St. Columbia.

As life got more complicated in my teens and I grew very unhappy and depressed, I prayed often and even branched out from the set prayer that my Grandfather had taught me. I cried out to God to help me, to give me strength and to help me understand the chaos that surrounded me.

Then one day, He found me and I began receiving the answers that I had needed. It was the day that the lady that I babysat for asked my friend and I to keep two young men company at her house …..

Pomp and Circumstance! By Luke Martin-Jones

Excitement had been building for days; sat in front of the television set, watching the early morning news; I was mesmerized, watching in awe at the people camped out along the wedding procession route. Under tarpaulin, make shift tents, sat in deck chairs, decorated in red, white and blue, they were all waving their union flags, sporting patriotic clothes, draped in flags; a sea of colour, up and down The Mall. Through the streets of London, in front of Buckingham Palace, every available spot was taken as dawn broke over the capital. The cameras were there, Interviewing the dedicated, early arrivals and anyone with a connection to the days proceedings! This was the day The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer and I like most of the country was waiting with anticipation, happy that our future King had found his bride; this wouldn’t be an experience I would ever forget; a Royalist then as I most certainly am now!

Today was a Bank Holiday, the whole country was able to take part in the Royal Wedding; I was thrilled at the prospect of watching the biggest national event since the Silver Jubilee in 1977. Not everyone was as happy as I, there were those who had no interest in the day and would rather be elsewhere, my Father was one such person.

Dad came down the stairs, he was in a grumpy mood, annoyed at the impending Marriage. As a ten year old boy, I had little concept of the reasons for his irritation, believing it was just a ‘Dad thing.’ I remember my Father talking about wasting tax payers money and the rumblings of republicanism under his breath, as he retorted his customary socialist rant. Dad was left wing in every sense of the word, a point of view that has never changed over the years. As Mother and I sat down in front of the box, Dad paced the room, still moaning about the costs involved in such a frivolous occasion. I however was more than happy, glued to the set.

‘I’m going out!’ said Dad, ‘I’m taking Kevin out for a game of football in the park, where I don’t have to watch this rubbish,’ he continued. I remember thinking to myself, how the park would be full of fathers, kicking footballs around with their sons, equally miffed about the events running across every TV network. Football was never my thing anyway and I was just happy they were going out, leaving Mother and I at home, enjoying the day. Shortly afterwards, they were gone, with a slam of the front door, cursing the day ahead.

The carriage arrived at the entrance to Westminster Abbey, Princess Diana, gracefully stepped out, helped by her Father, the Earl Spencer. As she walked forwards, alighting the carriage, the train on her dress recoiled behind her. Like a meandering river, it stretched for what seemed like miles, light dancing off the shimmering white silk in the bright glow of the day; she looked radiant, her all too familiar smile beamed under her veil; sparkling tiara on top of her head, twinkling as she advanced up the aisle. I sat there open mouthed, taken aback by the majesty of Monarchy, the pomp and circumstance, the emotion stirring music and a vision of history in the making. This was the day I truly felt a bond with our Royal Family and realised just how important they were in all our daily lives. I felt proud to be British, content at my place in the World.

When Dad got in from the park, I continued to watch the reruns, highlights and repeats on my little black and white portable TV, lying on my bed upstairs. Again and again, I relived the wonderment of the day, cementing my growing adoration of an institution a thousand years old. Princess Diana was a powerful figure throughout my life, someone I was lucky enough to meet much later. Her Wedding was an important milestone for me, because I discovered who I really was, what made me tick and most importantly my connection to the Country I was born in, my home, wherever I am living, here or abroad. The Royal Wedding of 1981 gave all of us a brief escape from the austerity measures at the time. With unemployment high and discontent growing, this was a day to escape and enjoy an occasion that encompassed us all; this was a day that defined an era, this was a celebration that would galvanise a nation.

Roaming Brit

Walking on Air.

Saturday had a twist in store for me in more ways than one. I had planned to do so much that day, but as always my ‘To Do’ list is always adventurous and far exceeds the hours and energy available. After exploring a new venue for dinner with friends up in Brigham City, I decided to quickly go shopping so I was ready for the coming week.

I zoomed around the store picking up the items on my shopping list, pleased that I could still walk fast and that I hadn’t over eaten at our meal. I was hoping that I would be able to catch up with the things that I hadn’t done on my list due to coming to a complete halt after lunch. I arrived home about 8:15 p.m. and unloaded the shopping, putting the first load on top of the freezer in the garage. I could get it into the house in two trips. I waited patiently as the front of the garage door closed. If my dog got out of the house, I didn’t want her to escape through that garage door. Then I opened the door into our little courtyard or patio, climbed the three steps with the first load of shopping and plonked it on the counter in the kitchen.

Before I could turn around, the dog had gone out the back door. ‘She must need to go out,’ I ruminated. Then I realized I that I hadn’t pushed the garage door shut. “Oh no!” I rushed out the back door as I didn’t want the dog to go to the loo in the garage.

“Where did the steps go?“ I mused as my feet met air. ‘Time seems to have slowed down,’ I continued.

But all too soon, I met the concrete with a thud and the pain shot up through my body. ‘How stupid!” My mind screamed. I couldn’t get up and I felt like I was going to pass out.

I must have screamed when I landed as my husband came running out. “I’m hurt!” I exclaimed. I couldn’t get up. He tried to help me but I couldn’t put any weight on my feet. I felt waves of nausea ripple over me and I became very light headed.

Eventually, although I don’t remember exactly how, my husband was able to help me inside to the reclining chair and put some ice on my right foot which hurt the most. I’m grimacing in pain but worried about the food that I had left in the garage and the kitchen that could go off in the heat. My husband is adamant that we are going to the Emergency Room. I’m concerned that even though I’m in pain, no-one will believe me and worried about the huge bill that it will generate. However, the pain and my husband’s insistence won the day and we manage to get me into the car. I didn’t have the ability to calm my husband’s anxiety as I was focusing on controlling my pain by trying to relax. I nearly had a panic attack on the way to the car and needed to breathe as best I could on the trip to the hospital.

Once we got to ER, my husband pulled up and went to get a wheelchair. A member of the hospital staff helped him and came out with him to get me into the chair. She wheeled me in to get me registered and to go to triage whilst my husband parked the car.

About twenty minutes later, we are admitted to a room. I’ve really glad that they weren’t too busy. Everyone was super nice. My swollen ankles and feet showed them that I was telling the truth even though I was able to mask the pain somewhat. I had a series of x-rays and fortunately for me it turned out that I had not broken anything. Just a sprained left ankle, a sprained right foot and a slightly sprained wrist. I was given a large dosage of ibuprofen for the pain and a brace for my left ankle.

Taking my feet off the level bed to try and stand up to have lessons on the crutches took my pain back up to a seven from a four or five. A constant throb to excruciating stabs. Training would have to wait until I was at home. I could look up some videos on YouTube. My husband went to get the car.

It was pretty tricky trying to get back into that wheel chair again. This time with very little help, the inability to put any weight or pressure on my right foot, the raging pain as the blood rushed down to my feet again, and having to get from the elevated bed to the low chair. I am so glad that I didn’t fall again or twist my left ankle further as I attempted to wheedle myself into the right position to lower myself into that chair. The young lady who was going to give me lessons on the crutches didn’t really know how to help me into this chair. Nor did she know how to get me into the car. But she was excellent at pushing me from the room and out of the hospital to the car! My husband took over and got the wheelchair almost adjacent to the passenger seat and I was able to use my arms to pull myself over to the seat.

As we drove back home, the Ibuprofen kicked in and the pain dropped to a more manageable level. I am so thankful to the wonderful staff at the hospital, to my wonderful husband who cares so much, and to wonderful medicine and technology. I am thankful that I was wearing a little backpack on my back when I fell which cushioned my back and hips. I am thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I didn’t live alone. I would still be on that concrete patio right now, unable to get up.

I became even more sensitive to the needs of others who are confined to wheelchairs for various reasons or have artificial limbs and wonder how they manage? I reflected on their strength and courage to move forwards in their lives and to become as independent as they can.

I got used to the crutches as soon as we got home. I wanted to lay down upstairs rather than lay on the couch. The stairs seemed daunting and I wasn’t that good with the crutches. So I relied on skills that I learned many years ago and, once I got my husband to lower me onto the stairs, I turned around and crawled up those stairs. Getting up again when I got to the top was another difficult maneuver and with the help of my husband and one of those crutches I was able to get up.

By the time I got to lay down in bed it was about 1 a.m. Then my husband and I needed to decompress. I think I fell asleep about 2:30 a.m. I had been awake twenty and a half hours. I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk on air unless you have as much faith in the Saviour as Peter had when he began walking on water.

Today, I am able to put a little more weight on my right foot; I haven’t been downstairs for three days as I can’t manage them yet. I’m still icing the swelling. The beauty of working remotely is coming into its own as I can hobble to my desk from the bedroom on my crutches. Some kind friends have visited and bought in dinner or yummy treats; my daughter and grandchildren came to visit and brought me little ‘get well’ drawings, lemon bars and some lovely roses to look at as I lay in bed; and I’ve received multiple texts of support and love. All in all I’m on the up and up. My husband is super sweet and attentive although I’m probably driving him crazy with how much water I like to drink! Now to just have a shower ….. that would be soooo nice!

Trailing Clouds of Glory!

Last Thursday evening, my husband and I began looking after our five grandchildren aged 9, 7, 5, 3 and 21 months, whilst my daughter went into the hospital early Friday morning to deliver her sixth child.

I think our task was much easier than my daughter’s, although I went back to work this week for a rest! It’s at times like this, that getting old is frustrating with the lessened ability to do as much as I could do in my prime. Nevertheless, we lost none of the children and no-one died. That is a success, right?

For Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we divided the children up with my daughter’s in-laws. This really helped with getting age appropriate activities going and being able to give the time and attention that the children needed.

This is a stock picture, not my grandson.

We received a text and cute pictures of our newest grandson late Friday afternoon. As a mum, it was with great relief that I knew that both Mum and baby were okay and healthy. As all parents know, you never stop worrying about your children and their offspring.

Saturday morning we took the two little ones to enjoy a few rides on the Canyon Model Railroad that were having a free day. They really enjoyed that. I think Grandma and Papi enjoyed it even more. Could have spent all day riding if it wasn’t for the scorching sun! Then off we went to visit my daughter, her husband and the new baby!

In America, it is really cool that the father can stay in the hospital with the mother and the new baby. Everyone has individual rooms with an ensuite. I remember my days in the hospital after the delivery of my children in England. We were in a large ward separated from the other mum’s and babies by a curtain that we would pull around our bed if we wished. My then husband wasn’t allowed to stay. He could come during visiting hours. When I was a child, children weren’t allowed into the hospital. I remember being lifted up and looking in through a window to be able to see my little sister after she was born.

My daughter was looking really well although tired from the birth and sore from the afterbirth pains (which get worse after each birth). My little new grandson was beyond gorgeous. My daughter’s husband introduced little William to his big little sisters. Both were so gentle with him. I think that the youngest finally understood what we had been telling her about the baby coming out of mummy’s tummy and was amazingly kind and tender to her little new brother. Seems this kindness and love just oozes out of this little girl.

Each of my grandchildren have amazing unique qualities that belong just to them. Those qualities came with them when they were born. Being a sociologist, I was always taught that we are a product of our environment. When I had my children I decided to do a social experiment. I had one girl and one boy. Both played with dolls and cars. (Both favourite toys of mine!). I dressed them mostly in unisex clothes and colors. They had the same books and the same opportunities. I know that you can’t control your environment and the way that you behave due to your upbringing so I’m sure that we were modeling many behaviours to our children unconsciously.

I was a single mum when my youngest child was four. Dad wasn’t around much for visiting. When my son was a young teenager, he one day turned around to me exclaiming that I used way to many words to explain things and suggested that I became more succinct! He didn’t mean to be sassy, he was just trying to express a frustration. Well, I’m still female and still use a lot of words to convey stuff; but my son showed me that he was very male and wanted concise conversation.

My daughter and son are like chalk and cheese. I brought them up the same way, but they are very different. They may share some similar mannerisms, but their personalities are distinct and very different. Even as little kids, they were different in the way they reacted to things. My daughter was a go-getter and loved to join in everything. My son would hide behind my skirts and was very retiring.

So too are my grandchildren. Each one has a very distinct personality and interests. As I held my new little grandson on Saturday, and as I have held my own children and each of my grandchildren as they have entered the world, I am moved to tears at their purity, their innocence, and their glory as they came straight from the presence of God. Wordsworth says it so well:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” by William Wordsworth.

What an honour it is to hold a child of God in my arms! To be entrusted with God’s child to rear, to protect, to teach, to respect, to honour, to nurture and to help them prepare for eternal life back with their Father in Heaven. I am grateful for my call to be a mother and grandmother. I reverence this sacred office and hope that I can do all that is expected of me with the trust that has been given to me by God.

The Fall At Highlands Road

The local shopping area for my parents are the shops at Highland Road. Many of the shops have changed since I was a child. The Post Office used to be on the corner of Fareham Park road opposite the local pub. Neither of them are then now. The Post Office is now ensconced in the local Co-op at the top of Gudgeheath Lane adjacent to Highland’s Road.

Right near the old Post Office was the local bus stop. Between the bus stop and the Post Office is the zebra crossing. Over the years, things have developed in this area of Highlands Road and traffic has increased. There are now two zebra crossings along Highlands Road with a third going from the shops across Gudgeheath Lane.

It is an easy five minute walk from my parents’ house to the local shopping area. When my mum and dad were working, my mum would shop at the local supermarket. As parking wasn’t my mum’s favourite thing, she would pull her little shopping trolley around the road. This was the same shopping trolley in which I took the laundry around to the launderette at Highland’s Road every Thursday evening. One dustbin bag of dirty clothes in the shopping trolley and one dustbin bag of dirty clothes perched on the top of the shopping trolley.

My parents have lived in their house since January 1968. For years they had their favourite newspapers delivered from the newsagents around the road. When they both retired, they decided to save the delivery fee and go to the shop directly to get them.

So travel now with me back to April 2015 when Fareham County Council was making repairs near the zebra crossing adjacent to the bus stop on Highland Road. At the end of the day the Council workers repairing the road were to cordon off their working area for the safety of the general public.

However, in April of 2015, the repairmen did not cordon off their repairs very well. In fact, they left their work in a hazardous state. So much so, that when my Dad was coming back from getting his newspaper early one morning and began to cross the zebra crossing, he tripped and fell over the uneven road.

Although my Dad was an agile man, he was slow to get up from his fall. He had gone down hard and, in the fall, had hit his head and was a little dazed.

A very kind man, helped him get up and walked him up Fareham Park Road. (I don’t know who this man was but thank-you so much for helping my Dad). The kind gentleman left my Dad at Coppice Way, where he was able to make his way home. After letting himself in the house through the back door, he made his way up to my mother who was still in bed.

“Min,” he said to my mother, “Min, I had a little bit of a scrape.” My mother woke up and looked at my Dad. Blood was pouring down his face. In shock, she shot up out of the bed. She rushed to get dressed in record time and took my Dad down to the emergency room at the hospital. It was later that day, when my father, sore and with his cuts starting to scab over, was discharged from Queen Alexander Hospital.

Now my Dad is quite the stoic Englishman. He rarely complains about pain and suffers quietly through the flu and other illnesses. He silently got through the day with his face bruised and scabbed up. The next day, he spent time lifting things in and out of the boot of his car.

Two nights after his fall at Highlands Road, my Dad got up in the middle of the night to go to the loo. When he came back into the bedroom, he tried to lay back down in bed, but he couldn’t and was crying out in great pain. My mum woke up and, after realizing that my Dad was not okay, call 999. The paramedics quickly arrived at the house and in a chair took my Dad down the stairs into the ambulance and rushed him to the hospital.

In the Emergency Room at Queen Alexandria Hospital, the doctors took X-rays of my Dad and found out that he had broken his neck. They quickly admitted him into the hospital and assigned him to an orthopedic ward. He was put into a neck brace. My father was very lucky that he could still walk especially after lifting all those heavy things in and out of the boot of his car.

Well, one would think the story would end there; his neck would mend and life would move forwards as normal. Unfortunately, my Dad’s story did not go that way.

Honest Arrogance: Accepting and Rejecting This Limitation – by Claire Roberts

“Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change” -Frank Lloyd Wright, Michigan Daily, 1998

After figuring out that my mother was a narcissist, I felt immediate peace. I had been surviving in a battle for so long. I was relieved to know that there was a real problem, an identifiable diagnosis, and a possible solution. However, since the weeks and months that have passed since my discovery, I still feel like I am back in the quagmire. Setting boundaries has been hard, but very effective. Knowing always what to do next doesn’t come so easy. But living with the limitations that will always be present is still very excruciating. I had hoped that the original diagnosis would be a panacea to the problem. Yet, there is still a void and many limitations on our relationship.

Again, the biggest problem that I am faced with is accepting the limitations of my mother, and frankly, myself. In asking the question of living with someone else’s limitations, don’t you have to fully and objectively audit yourself? Where are my blind spots?

“Processing or grieving is different than merely describing or telling your story. In order to grieve first you have to stop denying reality and begin accepting the truth.  Accept that your mother lacks the capacity to offer the love and nurturing you need” ( Dr. Stephanie King: Acceptance, The First Step Toward Healing for Children of Narcissitic Mothers, www.drstephaniekingpsy.com, July 19, 2016).

Is my mom secretly writing a blog about me? What am I good for? What am I especially good at? (Sorry, I know I am not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, but it just sounds better).

I have learned that my mother’s specialty is criticism. Her power comes from domineering. She is kind, considerate, and compassionate, especially if someone is watching. She is horrible at listening.

“Often the narcissist parent will mock the child, as they are having feelings, or interrupt the child as they’re speaking, so the child never gets a word in edgewise, they can never feel heard, they can never feel seen” (Victoria Lorient-Fabish, Visualization Works Narcisstic Parent: Collateral Damage Aug 8, 2010 Moving Beyond the Childhood).

She is untrustworthy, and she uses guilt to manipulate. Yet, if you were to ever confront her, challenge her, or provoke her … watch out! That’s one beast I would rather not fight.

Now to me. What am I good at? I am good, or at least better, at listening than my mother. I consider trust to be the currency of any relationship. My worst fear is that someone would lose confidence in me or feel like I betrayed their trust. I feel that the only way to manipulate is really through persuasion and long suffering, constantly pointing out my counterpart’s agency and their free use of it. If I am offered criticism (constructive or otherwise) I try to really do my due diligence and see if there is truth to that person’s claim. I try to ask for feedback or for other’s opinions on how I can do better, or succeed faster. Sadly, I have found most people’s honest, frank evaluation of me to be less hurtful than my own mother’s. If service is rendered by me, I wish it to be secret, or anonymous, so that it can be accepted for merely what it is instead of other people’s perception of my service. I guess in honestly evaluating another’s weakness and limitations, I have to be willing to learn from their mistakes and avoid them at all costs. (Paraphrased by Brain Tracy, No Excuses: Relationship chapter).

One of the biggest turning points in accepting the limitations of a narcissistic mother is realizing that I will never receive nurturing from her in the way that I would like to have it. I do and can receive it from other family members and friends. But I will never receive it from my mom. This is both healing and hurtful. Since I can’t be truly nurtured from my own mother, I have realized that my own mother daughter interactions are really more like a quilt—patch-work to be exact. There are holes, rips, tears, and batting flying out of my motherhood blanket. I have done my best through the years to find the right pieces of eclectic mothering through pseudo mother mentors. Patching in the pieces, sewing memories, examples, and principles I would like to have one day with my own daughter.

Here are some of them:

Grace Kelly- Gosh I love her. Or at least what I think I know of her. She was always so glamorous and made everything so simple and yet elegant. She is quoted as saying that a dress should be short enough to show you’re a woman, but long enough to show you’re a lady. Where were you when I was growing up??? I really could have used your example of classiness and elegance. A true Lady. Or as my Scottish heritage would call her, “A Classy Lassie.”

My Best Friend-. She and I share so much. She is some sort of a genius, so I always depend on her for intellectual stimulus and great conversation. She provides an honest counterpoint to my most vexing issues. And she somehow knows when to be silent and listen. Most of the time, she somehow manages to do all of these traits simultaneously. It’s like she knows my mind, heart, soul, and spirit. She gives me confidence in every place where it is broken. She’s a real friend. Probably will never find one like her here or in the hereafter, she’s just that good.

The last professor I had in graduate school– He was truly a brilliant man. I am so thankful our paths crossed. He wrote on one of my papers that I should go to law school or pursue a PhD. I have saved that paper and memorized the scribbled note. He didn’t always agree with my work or my writing, but when and where I did something worthy, he praised it. Again, probably one of the first times I had a relationship with someone who was consistent and objective. If I gave him a crap paper, he’d call me out on it citing, “you can do much better.” Other times he said I should go to the next level, he even invited me into his seminar class with other doctorate students to present paper at a seminar. I hope someday I will get to make him proud with a law degree or a Phd. But for now, his words mean so much to me because of their authenticity and their honesty. It made it safe to revel in, and even enjoy praise when it came. I truly felt nurtured, praised, and like I made progress.

My 6th grade basketball coach– She happened to be my Latin teacher and I can still conjugate some Latin verbs, to this very day, due to her positive influence. The thing I most remember about her was she ran down the court, her infant in one arm, and she jumped up, caught the basketball with the other hand to complete a layup. I remember at the time thinking, WOW!!! Can I be you when I grow up? She taught me that it’s ok to be you, even through motherhood. And it’s ok to be both athletic and a woman, there should never be shame in being both. Her quote was always, “Confidence is the Key!” before any game you would find her shouting it.

Penny and Sonny Wren– These two are proof that guardian angels truly exist. They have offered to watch my kids (something my own mother detests) they have offered to help me, they have supported me, they have buoyed me up when I swear I about to go under. They have prayed for me, counseled me, and encouraged me. These people have no blood relation to me, and yet they have treated me with kindness I have never known. We became better friends through our mutual sorrows, and if that’s the only reason I was meant to have those sorrows, it has totally been worth it to have their friendship. I would pay that price any day to have them in my life in any form or association. They have helped me make a better quilt for myself, and they have not only patched up the holes, they are the very seams that run throughout.

All of these mentors and nurturers have helped me complete a better way for myself and my daughter to interact. They have shown me that is a better way. This new found hope has inspired me to do better than the pattern I was given. Hopefully I can be as honest with myself, as I had once wished my own mother could have been with herself.