Light at the end of the tunnel

Today, G and myself, got the train to my Dad’s for a change, instead of driving there. A bit more relaxing. When we got there, we took dad for our normal coffee at Costa’s, to get my Dad out of the house for an hour or so, and get a fresh air on the walk to Costa’s. I enjoy our little coffee stops. It gives us a chance to have a good natter about whats been happening and my Dad a chance to get into ‘story mode’, which he seems to enjoy. It takes his mind of everything else, which at the moment, I think he needs.

Back at the house we went through a load more drawers and dug out yet more paperwork and sorted it out. G volunteered for the job of shredding all the unwanted stuff, and stuff with personal details on. We went at this for must be nearly 2 hours. By the time we gave up, the large bin bag we were using, was three quarters full of shredded paper. The shredder, which a couple of days ago, was partly sat in water, worked perfectly and did not cut out once. What a time saver it turned out to be compared to ripping stuff up by hand or using my Dad’s manual shredder. By the time we finished, we had gotten through loads of paperwork, There is still loads to do, but, with regards to personal stuff needed for the solicitors, I think we have found most of it. The rest should all be stuff that needs sorting and shredding. A big pile, today, got reduced to just a small pile of letters etc. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.

All that was left to do after that, for today, was head off home on the train and go to the local Tesco and buy loads of shopping. I’m going to put my feet up tonight, as sitting in a rather hard dining room chair for all that time this afternoon, has played havoc with my back and neck.

Coffee Star

I had a quiet day today, well that was after I managed to get out of bed. Last night I had an awful nights sleep. It was after 03.30 when I eventually got to sleep. Due to my back problem, I had pains in my legs, right arm, neck and hips / pelvis. I woke Denise up a few times twitching, jumping, huffing and puffing, moaning and all round irritation from not being able to get to sleep. I was getting myself frustrated, which didn’t help matters. As a result, it was nearly midday when Denise woke me up with a phone call. As Grace finished school early I’ve not had time to go and see my Dad today, but did speak to him on the phone. He seemed in good spirits, which is always pleasing to hear. I will be popping down to see him tomorrow, and sort through yet more paperwork. Grace is going to help shred papers, with the now dry and working shredder. After doing a bit of work, I might treat my Dad to a Costa coffee. He seems to enjoy going there now, well I hope he does. It was funny the other day, he seems to like, and find it funny that Costa top off their cappuccinos with a chocolate star. They other day they didn’t do it, and my dad noticed lol. He laughed, saying ‘where my star?’, pointing at his coffee. I am going to have to make sure in future he has a star on there. I might take a stencil in and ask the to put a ‘G’ on for his name and see what he does. I’ll let you know if I do that.

coffee star

What a long, busy day

1 / 2 / 2013

Well today, My Dad returned back from the hospital a bit earlier than I expected. Apparently all they did was take blood samples, checked his heart, then told him to make an appointment for 6 weeks time. They didn’t give him any info like my dad was sort of expecting, but maybes they need to run their own tests to see how things lie at the moment, rather than take another hospitals word for things. I’m not sure. BUT, one thing they did say, is that a couple of the cancerous growths, have increased in size. They didn’t say by how much though. The other thing they spoke about was one thing we knew about, but with it getting nearer is a bit concerning. The purpose of my Dad going to this specialist hospital ward, is so they can test brand new treatments on him. Treatments, that have been tested on animals so far, but not on humans, so they cannot say what the side effects will be. The good side, if there a good side, is that my Dad, getting this treatment(s) will possibly help prolong things but also help cancer research. My Dad is, as normal, putting on a brave face about things.

Once I got to his house, so we could spend a bit of time catching up and chatting, we went for a coffee at the local Costa Coffee shop. I think I must be drinking too much coffee as they are starting to recognise me in there now. I surprised them today when I changed my normal order. Anyway, I digress, the main reason for going for a coffee was so that it took my Dad’s mind off any worries he may of had from the hospital. I managed to steer the subject onto one of his favourites, trains. My Dad worked on the railways before I was born and has loads, I mean loads, of stories to tell about his time there. He could go on for hours if you let him, which I was quite happy to do. We did, touch briefly on the visit to hospital as well. He didn’t come across as worried, which is good. Mind you, like I say, puts on a brave face.

Once we got back to the house, I got on with making a couple of phone calls to companies to check what was live with them, with regards to my Mam’s accounts. As expected, and totally acceptable, I have to send in a copy of the death certificate with covering letter etc to one of them and complete forms for the other.

After that, I set about clearing a space on the table in my Dad’s dining room. If you remember from a previous post, that that room is used mainly for storing things. Anyway, I cleared a space and set about starting to battle against the mountain of paperwork in my Mam’s name. I have never seen so much junk mail in my life. My Mam must of entered every competition going with every company and charity that exists. It took 3 hours just to go through on small cupboard in a sideboard. I am rapidly filling a bin liner with stuff to shred.

After I got home, I got our electric shredder out of our loft. Now this really pissed me off. A year or so ago, we got our loft re-insulated through our local council. Since then it has become evident that the company who redid our loft on behalf of the council, kindly covered over the air vents in the loft, so everything is now soaking. All cardboard boxes are basically turning into paper mache. Now, the shredder I go out of the loft is possibly ruined by water. The collection bin on the shredder has a pool in the bottom of it, and the main shredding unit and plug we sitting in the water. I am desperately trying to dry it all out in the hope I can use it, otherwise, I may have to buy a new one, to use at my Dad’s, as well as home. Fingers crossed. We will eventually, at some point, get round to emptying the loft, and believe me, that will take a day, just in itself, just so that I can get up there and clear the vents. I’m sure at some point, I will drop the local council a line, thanking them in not so many ways.

Fingers crossed

Today, has been a day to relax. After my physio which was this morning. I made no plans to do anything. I just wanted to chill out. Have a day off from the stuff, me and my Dad have been doing recently. I also wanted my Dad to have a day to himself, without me turning up, going through paperwork or going to appointments and him getting stressed by it. So that was it. My whole day consisted of physio, then back home for an hour and chatted with my good friend Marc on FaceTime, then off to the Metrocentre for a coffee by myself, and buy a new sports top. Then it was time to go and pick G up from school. Thats it. My whole day. It was lovely not having to rush anywhere or get stressed.

Tomorrow is the day when my Dad goes for his first appointment at the Freeman Hospital Bobby Robson Wing, since going to his chemotherapy and finding out it had not worked. I’m not sure what my Dad is expecting to happen, but the way he was talking is that they will give him some answers tomorrow, such as life expectancy and how far the cancer has progressed. Just in case he is right, I’m starting to get nervous. I know it something I am eventually going to have to hear, but at the same time, I don’t want to. Its as if, if I don’t get told, then it won’t happen. It makes me sick thinking about it. In the last year and a half, I have lost my Brother, JJ and 3 weeks ago, my Mam. I don’t want to lose my Dad so quick as well. I will keep you updated as to what happens tomorrow.

This is my Dad, having a few sneaky pints a couple of years ago at Cullercoats Crescent Club.

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Its starting to get complicated.

What a horrible nights sleep I had last night. It felt as though I had woke up every 5 minutes. As if all the stuff with my Mam’s death wasn’t enough to keep my mind active so I didn’t sleep, every time I turned over, I was getting shooting pains up my back from my back injury. How I didn’t wake Denise with all my wincing, every time I moved, I do not know. So as a result, I am shattered today. I feel I could just curl up on the settee and go to sleep. Unfortunately, that is not an option as I have to go back down to Whitley Bay to start the messy process of sorting my Mam’s bank accounts and my Dad’s benefits etc.

Well, we did our visit to the Job Centre and got forms filled in for my Dad. He still has paperwork to find in the house and finish filling another form to take back down to them. Personally I find the Job Centre / Dole Office / benefits office / The Nash, or whatever you want to call them, very hard to deal with. They won’t volunteer information or tell you what your entitled to unless you specifically ask. They tell you you have to go to the Citizens Advice Bureau ( which is a 15 min train journey away ) to get the information, even though you are already sitting in the Job Centre. And they wonder why no-one likes going there.

After that, exciting ( not! ) visit to the Job Centre, we went to the bank to start sorting my Mam’s bank accounts, only to find that there was too much in the accounts to just close, and by law, we would have to go to a solicitors and apply for a Letter of Administration which could take possibly 6 weeks. Well, we got done what we could, then went to the solicitors and arranged an appointment to apply for the Letter of Administration. Again, they are going to want any paperwork that is to do with any financial things she had, such as bank accounts, life insurances etc. This is where it gets even more messy, as my Mam, has kept paperwork going back to the early 1960’s, and non of it is together. She used to get letters and statements etc and put the in drawers and cupboards etc all over the house. Anywhere that was convenient at the time, so it appears. We are going through stuff and finding paperwork for things my Dad didn’t even know about. I think its going to be a case of going through each drawer and cupboard, one at a time, and just pulling out the most recent items and shredding the rest. Its a nightmare and I can tell my Dad is getting a bit stressed by it all, bless him. I’m trying my best to keep him calm and do as much as I can do for him.

A bit of help

Today, while my Dad was at the local CIU social club for his normal Sunday couple of pints, D, G and myself, went to his house and did a little bit to help him out. We gave the kitchen a good clean up. Cleaning, polishing, mopping, new washing bowl and drainer. After we had finished it looked nice and clean.We have also brought some clothes washing home to clean and take back.
I couldn’t decide if my Dad looked pleased or not. He has never been a one for using a lot of words when a couple of words will do.  The problem we have, which everyone in our situation will have, is that, because my Dad’s wife ( my Mother ), passed away ( I hate using the word ‘died’ when its someone close ) only 3 weeks ago today, we don’t want to make him feel like we are just piling on in, rearranging stuff and trying to change the way he runs his life. All we are trying to do is help him out, in whatever little way we can.I cannot decide if it is the right thing to be doing at this time, or whether we should wait longer. I’m sure deep down, he appreciates the help. Like I have described him in my last post, he is ‘old school’ so never asks for help. I reckon this is a ‘pride’ thing. At the same time, he has to realise he is elderly himself, and cannot do everything he used to be able to do, such as climb ladders to change lightbulbs etc.

On a different subject, my Grandson, Jack, started crawling forwards today. I knew it wouldn’t be long before he did that. He has gone through a stage where he was crawling, but backwards. I’m really pleased. There’s going to be no stopping him now. You know what babies are like, once they start crawling, they are all over, and you have to have eyes in the back of your head to see where they are and what they are up to.

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It’s been a long time

Its been over two weeks now since Mam died, and since then I”ve been travelling the 10 miles to the house to help my Dad deal with things. Today, while I was visiting my Dad, he asked me to come upstairs. I knew what was coming. Dad took me to my Mam’s bedroom. The same bedroom, where she took to her bed, ill, not long before becoming serious ill and being taking to hospital. It was a strange experience. Its been quite a few years since I was last in that room, and that time, was when she was ill as well. I could still see my Mam lying there all those years ago. What made this time even more strange, was that my Dad and myself, had to go through here drawers and bags, and dresser, looking for any paperwork relating to any of her bank accounts and insurances etc. I tried to blank it out, but it felt I was sort of invading her personal stuff and felt wrong in a way. Having to go through bags of paperwork, not knowing what I would find was sort of stomach churning for me. For my Dad as well, I’m sure. He seemed to ‘just get on with it’. Being what I loosely term ‘old school’, my Dad does his grieving in private.
The bedroom, if you can imagine it has two wardrobes. One in each alcove, a dressing unit in the bay window, a desk, and two bedside cupboards, and all of which had any amount of stuff packed away in them, and paperwork in every drawer. A daunting task lies ahead of us.
Afterwards, we went into the downstairs back dining room. This room has very rarely been used for dining. Over the years, its got more and more like a room to store stuff. We found, yet more letter in more cupboards and drawers. I dread to think how long this is going to take. At the same time, like I told my Dad, a lot of the paperwork is for the same things, so once we sort out the most recent ones, we can shred the rest.

Four generations

On one of the first trips to Costa Coffee, This is the one and only photo of four generations of our family. Unfortunately Grace was missing, although she is same generation as my son John. Left to right: Baby Jack ( my Grandson ), John ( my Son ), me, then my Dad. I love this photo. Due to circumstances prior to this, this is the first time my Dad had met his Great Grandson Jack. Also, this was taken just 2 days after my Mam’s funeral, so it was nice to bring a smile to my Dad’s face.

The one and only photo of 4 generations of the family. L - R: Baby James, Joe, Me and my Dad
The one and only photo of 4 generations of the family. L – R: Baby jack, John, Me and my Dad

Grid visit

On Sunday just gone, my friends, Paul,, Rob and myself, were invited to go on the starting grid at the BTCC Touring Car meeting at Croft. We were invited on by ex BTCC driver Martyn Bell who now works for Dynojet, who Frank Wrathall drives for. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. We are all very grateful to Martyn and the team at Dynojet for allowing us the chance to do this.

Wrathall 1

Wrathall 2

Wrathall 3

Wrathall 4

Wrathall 5