The Grief

more on Da

The funeral went well, I think, as much as it could. Brother gave a serious and funny talk about our father, all about his (many) misadventures and lifelong losing battle with implements, machines and tools. He couldn't change a plug, it's true, or at least not without a lot of bad language. He couldn't boil an egg. He would have died in a week without my mother, of starvation. He was a terrible swimmer and driver. But he had a great feel for business, he cared about his employees, he looked after people. Quite a few people came over to tell me how much he'd helped them in their careers - he gave my newly-widowed aunt a car when she really needed it, he kept various family members and friends afloat financially at critical moments. I read 1 Corinthians 13, one of the few passages from the Bible I a) know and b) like, and the one my father read at my wedding eleven years ago. About 150 people came to say goodbye and he was buried in a lovely spot in the church graveyard. We had a nice lunch in the golf club, everyone admired Jay, who was extra-charmy and nice to cuddle.

So that was that. I've since become very interested in the dusty box of photos we inherited from my father's mother when she died. Granny kept piles of perfect black and white photos and wedding invites, and some newspaper cuttings. She never wrote anyone's name on the back, though, so it's become a game to piece it all together. I've even joined one of those heritage websites and am trying to work out who went where. I never was remotely engaged by this stuff before, almost found it embarrassing; I suppose now it's part of trying to make sense of my family. Also, I find I want my father to be remembered. The other night, not long after he died, I burst into tears. No-one will remember him, I wailed to the JB.  This is the grief, he said, It seems wrong that the world will close up around him and just goes on. I know. 

People have been very kind. I love my cards - now I'm on the receiving end, my belief in them is confirmed. I'm glad I sent them too when it was my turn, despite the doubts I felt at the time. It really IS nice to know people are thinking of you. It's not annoying or intrusive and the gifts of cake and sweets are lovely too. Someone gave us some After Eights, a thing I normally never eat, (because it's not 1977 and we didn't just have a dinner party) but I've been consuming them steadily over the last number of nights, with gratitude and a particular satisfaction. 

Ah. I better go, it's 12. Jay needs his nap.
Thanks for your thoughts and good wishes, everyone. 


Here's my Granny and Granddad with my da in the front, looking like a little old man. 

It's 12 months

since KDid died, that quiet, good-hearted man.

When I was young I thought when you grew up somehow you'd be invested with powers that would make you strong. You'd be able to cope, you'd be adult, capable. Sure, things might make you sad, but not too much, you'd manage. You'd put on your suit and good shoes and go to the funeral. You wouldn't cry. You'd know things that would comfort you. You'd know that lives were long, fair, logical. You'd have made a leap, somewhere along the way, and become life-confident. You'd be in control.

Now I realise that was mostly the work of my protective parents and that living is a continuum, rather than a series of separate experiences. This isn't a rehearsal, I have painfully realised, there will not be a montage sequence, there are no shortcuts, you do have to learn the hard way, and it can indeed be too late. It is later than you think. Success is a matter of luck and privilege, not just working hard and making good decisions. Life will crack you open. You can only hope this makes you a better person, more alive, more present. More appreciative, more understanding.

Now I understand that the big whopper of a lesson of my middle years is that joy can co-exist with sadness, and this finally really does have the truthful ring of adulthood. For the good times are painfully precious. Any moment you have to sit in the sun with your friends, or banter with a stranger on the bus, any chance to watch a vast golden moon rise, sing rousing South African anthems in a choir or have the cat on your knee vibrating with purrs, is achingly beautiful.

So we remember him, and try to enjoy our many good memories of him.

Kindly readers, I hope you're well, and to have happier things to talk about soon.
I have missed this. More soon.



lost and found

Many thanks as ever to Mel for her kind mention of KDiddy. I love that KDiddy's presence was known all over the world through our network. I think he'd be all embarrassed and secretly tickled.

   TheJB_s The JB. I was asked to "give me more hair". So, yeah.

The JB is - I suppose - how you'd expect. One minute he is brittle and cheery, the next morose and lost. I don't know what it is to lose both your parents - I distantly imagine feeling unmoored and unsafe, but what would I know? My parents are alive and (well, not exactly) hale and hearty. If anyone has any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear. As it stands, I am trying to provide a semblance of normality. I say trying: the other day we were chatting idly about why the Dutch football team wear orange. I piped up, feeling a bit clever:
Because of William the Orange, is it?

Gales of laughter. Gales. Of/the. Pfft, a perfectly understandable mistake.

In the background, life continues. I almost enjoyed the second of my teaching sessions. Those people, they were listening to me! To me! And doing what I asked them to do! THE POWER. It could go to my head. Please, readers, I implore you: shoot a tranquillising dart in my neck and haul me off the stage if I start wearing wrap around shades like Bono and pontificating randomly into the microphone. I'M BEGGING YOU, HERE.

Also, suggestions welcome on this: I have to go for a medical next week as part of our adoption assessments. To this I say: Oh, crap. On two counts:

A. There may have been some comfort eating of late. The road to the future seemed paved with Cadbury's digestives, and I trod that road willingly. And I'll have to be weighed, a thing I Never Do.

B. I dread telling the doctor, whom I haven't seen since, about the miscarriage of last year. Shouldn't they just sort of KNOW? I know this is lily-livered and neurotic of me, but I just don't want to say the words to her.
(Do you know, just writing that down made it seem possible? Hurray for blogs.)

I hope to post again later in the week, which is forecast to be nice and quiet. (FINGERS CROSSED, OBVIOUSLY.) P-kitty, parts two and three, for sure. The megalomaniac continues to lurk, providing inspiration.

Till then,
Your historically imaginative,


This is a piece of work we are to do for our adoption prep group. The tree represents the adopted child's family - the branches are the adoptive family, the roots the birth family. It is intended to help the child understand his or her dual identity, the lost and gained family. I do enjoy making this sort of thing, though, now I look at it, I see it's gone a bit "arty" and needs to be more upright and regular-looking, so as not to give the kid a complex. Oops. Try again!

(Note to self: Don't be one of those parents that "surprise" their kid with a huge fairy woodland mural on his/her bedroom wall, when he's 15 and heavily into metalgunk or whatever it will be. Can we agree on that?)

The JB and I had a plan for Christmas. His brother, inhabitant of Boston, would not, it seemed, be coming home for the holier, so the JB and I would go down and keep his father (who lives alone) company for the duration. I was quite happy with this vision of an austere Kerry Christmas - I could feel useful, hence virtuous, the JB would be pleased, hence indulgent.  At the same time, I could artfully dodge the huge, noisy party my brother and his partner throw, which, although lovely, makes me feel a bit of a spare part.

Only then the JB mentioned to me, just casually, in passing, that, oh yeah, his brother is coming home, and this put quite a different complexion on things, to the degree that I surprised myself by bursting into big fat tears. I didn't even know why, and it took a bit of incoherent blurting and wailing, like a car trying to start (But I don't waaaant.. I just waaaant.. etc, etc. Quite embarrassing really, like a three-year-old) before it finally sank in that it wasn't really anything to do with where we'll be or what we'll do, or even whether we'll be together or not - I no longer see that as such a bad thing. It's just not the Christmas we'd hoped for.

Sigh. Sigh, sigh.

And then we cheered each other up by imagining our future Christmas days - when we won't be vagabonds any more but will invent our own traditions, and people can come to us, and we'll have lovely funny times with our child. Like these people.

It now looks like I'll stay up in Dublin and the JB will come back for the two days of Christmas. This is okay, I can work on my comic book (I am becoming a tiny bit obsessed with it. I carry my sketchbook everywhere with me and whip it out at intervals to scrawl drawings in it), my friend, Sister 1, will be around for some of it, and there are my parents and brother & Co, too. So it'll be okay.
(I've said that twice now.?)

How are you fixed for the holidays? Bright ideas and inspiration on how to survive without being a complete curmudgeon are gratefully received.

(I have to say I sort of hate the Universe at the moment, after what happened to May and H. It's so unfair. So curmudgeon might be the only way to go.)

Bah, etc,


I was going to write about this funny old comic world, the moonlit beach last night, the Manga girls' obsession with a thing called Sailor Moon, spider bites and the armadillo watch. But my mother texted me to say that my uncle died today and that's all I can think about now.

In recent times his role as caretaker to his wife (who has MS) took its toll on him, reducing our infrequent interactions to dark humour, and outrageous opinions expressed in massively booming voice. But when we were small, and he was a long-legged 25 year old with an unlikely beard, who could make anything, and fix anything, we four cousins used to jump all over him, and he gave us wonderful presents at Christmas. I remember this most miraculous and unexpected Sindy wardrobe:

I don't know what became of it, (where do these things go?) but I remember the exact feel of the white plastic drawers as I reverentially slid them in and out, the way the doors swung open on their hinges. I couldn't imagine anything better - it seemed extraordinary that my uncle had been able to reach into my head, see my dreams and get something even better.

Goodbye Uncle R, and thank you. Another of the old guard is gone.


It was our wedding anniversary earlier in the week.

It's been four years since we - heh - joined together. (Click advisedly! Image may give creeps).
Things I have learned about being married since then = .2, feels like. Recently it's been up and down, to put it mildly. The miscarriage still haunts us, (not surprisingly) making me hypersensitive and the JB as angry as a wet hen. You can see how these two states of mind might collide and cause a small nuclear explosion, and they do.

[Mansize tissues. Someone has to explain that to me.]

I do understand it is the grief. But I need to remember  I understand it, at the crucial moment. Poor old JB. It's really hard. Then, just as quickly, it's over and we're rational again and jokey with relief at having dodged the bullet.

My cousin, who is from London, is marrying her partner of 15 years. To be together all that time, and really know each other, and stick together through all the life crap, and still want to get married, and be together till the end - I think that's really something. And so, as is proper, The Pearl tribe will converge on the hapless, unprepared capital for the celebrations next weekend. Oh, the EXCITEMENT. My sister (not) in-law (they are actually not married. Is there a term for her relation to me? There should be, she's brilliant. A pastry chef too! Sister-in-cake?)'s sister is lending us her (FANCY!) flat in central London, and we are going to have FUN, and poke around, go to shows, cafes, and squabble over A-Z's in Leh-cess-ter Square!

(If any one of my England-residing blog comrades is terribly terribly terribly bored at a very very loose end has some free time to meet next week, drop an email, (I can shake off the rellies, and point the JB in the direction of a war museum or something) I'd be so pleased to offer you a beverage of your choice in a cafe of your choice. However I do understand you are busy and have proper jobs and such like, (Employment.  The horror.) so do not worry if you can't. Another time will present itself in the future. There is to be no worrying! I AM ON MY HOLIERS!)




Uh-oh. The mood-o-meter is hovering on semi-hysteria. It has taken me weeks to pluck up the courage to ring the Maternity Hospital of Doom and make my follow-up appointment. The thought alone was enough to make me all quake-y. But today I got a whiff of bravery about me; I rang, and, wouldn't you know it, the secretary wasn't there. Try again tomorrow. Try to actually make appointment. Try to attend appointment. Try not to have palpitations or cry.

My ideas for surviving the return to the scene of the crime, so far:
  1. Load up mp3 player with comedy podcasts and music that can be played loudly and rotated at will, according to mood.
  2. Wear sunglasses and a wig, or maybe a whole disguise? My thinking on this: the wig would be both a nice distraction, and something I could hide behind. Liking this disguise idea. It's cheering me up already.
  3. Take off glasses when entering Dr's room. (Would that be bad? I prefer the impressionistic vision the world is reduced to without powerful vision correction. It's all vague and pretty).
  4. Take vast quantities of Rescue remedy/a stiff shot of whiskey/valium?
  5. Your suggestion?

Other points:

I am a bit sunburnt. The colour of a raw frankfurter, you could say.

No sooner had I stopped whingeing about needing to get a life, I was spun into a social frenzy. I ate out 5 times last week, if I remember correctly. Various glasses of wine were imbibed in various establishments. It was fun. (Imagine. What a thing.) And The Husband Experiment (thank you for helpful comments) is going better because of that. I continue not to nag (mostly). He continues to rush into the breach with apologies, and plans for dinners and parties. I continue to feel smug.

Ah, and this. I applied for a residency in Florida, that sets you up with a professional graphic novelist, so you can work on your book. This was Quite A Step - I was combing my memory like a compulsive metal-detector on a beach trying to think of narrative work I'd done, and BINGO! I bethought me of this blog and gave the link. Good. But, eek! It's the first time I have connected this to the real life so directly. I feel a bit naked, quite frankly. It's draughty, with your parts all uncovered, I can now report. I mean, it's one thing to show this stuff to my sympathetic and cool IF community friends, but this is another whole different thing.
I would never have done it were it not for your encouragement, and residency or no, I am happy I have. At least I can say I tried, right? I'd be happy if they wrote that on my tombstone.
Here lies TPtheEG, a trier.


and we'll never forget you


Oh, even this ending seems sad to me. It has to be some time, I suppose.
We are going to Kerry for a few days and I'll be back, Terminator-like, after that.
Thank you all for your excellent company this month.