Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Picking up the Pieces

Finding solitude in woodland above Todmorden, West Yorkskshire
It’s surprising how health issues impinge on one’s ability to do anything constructive, no matter what the genre in which one works, plays or creates. For me, over the last few months, it has been writing: as if I am afraid to begin again, or seek new commissions. Afraid, too, that what I write might become an ongoing whinge about grief, and death. When I grieve (or become tearful), it’s as much for the double-whammy of simultaneously dealing with cancer has my husband grew ever more frail, and died. His death came nearly six months ago, though it is a year since I discovered that tiny nodule in my breast. 

Broad beans in what was RQ's veg plot
I have lost confidence in myself, but have everything to live for. Indeed, at my latest check-up last week with my excellent doctor, she asked if I felt any joy. To which I replied, “oh yes!” but did not elaborate. In fact joy in so many things: my children and grandchildren who are a constant source of love and support. Then there is the garden which keeps me active and provides me with so much pleasure, as I maintain and reclaim our acre whilst re-modelling to suit my needs. Vegetable plots/ flower patches and orchard - plenty to keep me busy.

Whilst I re-organise our home to suit what I am now doing - in phases - I have the joy of creative activities: stitching and making my funny little stitch and paper booklets, plus commissioned pieces for exhibitions, writing the occasional word-whisper (poems to the uninitiated). And updating my various and sadly neglected Blogs.

Our home since 1969 - large and rambling, with an acre of ground
It’s time to move on, and re-purpose my life: ‘The Shifting’ - as noted in my diary, scheduled to start next week. Nothing will ever be the same - how could it be. I may still be crying in my heart for my beloved RQ, but treasure the morning last summer when he held my hand and said to me, “I must tell you how much I love you”. Special memories, always, but there is still also a horrible niggle that will not go away. I’m so afraid that the cancer will return. And of what use to my children and grandchildren will that be?

Not running away, but commissioned to exhibit at Water Street Gallery
(image courtesy Rosemary Holcroft)


  1. Thankyou for this Ann. I too seem to be living through a phobia of blank pages; I am unsettled for no obvious reason, lost for the necessary inspirations and rhythms to write or to draw or to do anything much at all. This post suggests to me that you may be in similar humour which, in a way, I find inspiring.

  2. This is such a difficult period of transition for you Ann. Awareness - acceptance - of your illness, and your husband's death, and the implications of both, are difficult to live with and I don't doubt you feel lost and want to wail how unfair life is - quite rightly so.

    I am glad to read of your positivity about your garden, and your life, and that your work is still admired and commissioned. I hope that this gives you the determination to show your creativity and imagination are still as good as they ever were, if not better.

    You are in my thoughts.

  3. Hugs Ann

    Its never easy when you lose someone close even less easy when its been a long term loving partnership. I lost my father seven years again in June suddenly and unexpectedly leaving my mum alone again after 50 plus years of marriage. Mum has had cancer since then too so I can relate to your fears and she still has to attend regular check ups. Mum finds the weekends the longest and we always try to do something with her then when we can and give her some company. He is not far away its just that you cannot throw your arms around him and give him a cuddle. Each day is different, each day should be dealt with on a day to day basis and give yourself time. Each of us grieves differently so be gentle remember the good times and remember that there is always good in each new day. Its just that some days are brighter than others. I remember many years ago reading your articles in the Organic Gardener magazine. I used to look forward to your articles as I learned so much from them and shared your joy in your family and your garden. Those articles gave much pleasure then you have a wonderful serene way with words and still have much to give. Its just a new page has turned and a new chapter has begun and its like learning to walk one step in front of the other as quickly or as slowly as you want. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do things your way which will be the right way for you. The garden in itself is wonderful calming and healing. Little steps Ann, little steps and you will slowly start to script your new chapter. Take care and hugs xx Tricia (aka Pattypan) xx

  4. Sweet Ann,
    I am so sorry to read of your beloved husband passing.I too have been off blogging for a long while as I nursed mu mum and her passing in September has left such a gaping whole in our lives.I understand your feeling of being lost.
    Loosing your partner must so much harder as life takes on new twists and turns i know you will once again find your path though be it a different one.
    I do hope you keep well and start to smile and feel "level" again,I hope for these things for myself also.
    Blessings to you from afar.xx

  5. Just found your blog!Attracted by it's title:'Wild Somerset girl"! Would really love to follow you in this challenging turn of your life.It's not easy but from what I've seen in your blogs,I believe you possess the strength to overcome any struggle.Please take good care of yourself. Even though I don't know you and you don't know me either, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you bright clear spring days!