301. Loss

About five months ago my landlord rang.

He never calls, so instinct said to brace for bad news. Trust your instincts.

He wanted us out after almost 7 years; and wasn’t giving much time to find a new place. A hammer blow that had my wife Maureen in tears, while I immersed myself in anxiety. Could we find somewhere suitable, and as cheap? Quickly?

The calculations indicated financial catastrophe. Our rent had stayed the same since 2014. We would have to find another £400 plus a month for somewhere equivalent. That isn’t easy in your early 60s, as work takes more of a backstage.

An idea poked temptingly through the turmoil. Could we kill a couple of birds with the same stone? It’s a cruel proverb. But might we move in with my father, who lived 16 miles away, in Brentwood?

15 years after Mum’s death, he is the victim of ever-advancing dementia, and cannot begin to fend for himself, rattling around on almost zero memory in a three-storey town house. Although my brother and I were visiting on alternate days, mixed with carer visits, we could never give enough time and attention. So why not give him live-in carers, company and a constant watchful eye, in return for rent-free accommodation? Two potatoes nicely mashed with the same fork.

It wouldn’t be plain sailing. From a routine where I saw dad every other day for 8-10 hours, I would switch to being his constant companion. Looking down the timeline, it terrified me that the unrelenting proximity to his quasi-helplessness would be exhausting.

With no better alternative, the plan swung into action. Things moved along with a few strokes of luck, so that we got an extra three months, and could enjoy the whole summer in our rented home before moving. That was a blessing – because our summers in Great Waltham have been so joyful – and a curse. Every day reinforced my sadness that we had one less day left before the upheaval.

On the worst days, the sense of loss was overwhelming. Parts of June, July, August and September were funereal, as I walked and cycled along the latticework of local, rural routes I had painstakingly reconnoitred and mapped down the years, sometimes buoyed by a pint or two. Saying goodbye to the quiet mid-Essex back roads, churches, special trees, and certain vistas and buildings like they were old friends. Taking leave of the play of light on the fields, through every season, and so many country pubs, where a beer could lend spiralling, ecstatic new dimensions to a walk or a ride.  

Sitting out back some evenings, feeling sorry for myself, as the evenings shortened.  Wondering if our six cats would transition to a new home with less space and garden. How I loved that garden, its length, its colours and old wood and the little meadows we created last summer.

I moaned far too often to Maureen about the trials to come. She said we had to get on with it. Sometimes love is blunt and practical.

We finally moved on 30 September. The weeks leading up to the event were so busy that I forgot about my broken heart. No time to mourn as we packed, cleaned and downsized.

Two months later the pain has gone. Many new things have replaced it. The pictures below give a flavour of that disappeared past.

19 thoughts on “301. Loss

  1. Instinct had all ready advised me some sort of change was afoot in your life’s. Your location may have changed but the Essex countryside is still just down the and I doubt the Ongar road has changed much just busier. You never know you may even take up Bridge following fathers footsteps. Clearly grasping the nettle of life gets harder with age but the door closing always leads to another opening.
    God Bless You All
    Ed

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    1. Thanks for your good wishes Ed. The traffic is dangerous to the life and limbs of any cyclist in this town, so the bike is locked up until I can discover quiet back roads. I’ll blog again about the new location in due course. Hope you and yours are well, Kev

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  2. I know you’ve moved on and are trying to look at the cup as half full, but I still don’t understand what went into your landlord’s head to make him/her decide, after almost 7 stable years of I assume steady, dependable renting, that you suddenly had to leave (in the middle of a pandemic, I might add) and also gave you little time for it. I don’t understand, and I never will, people like that.
    The photos speak volumes. So beautiful. I love the cat conventions you have going on in some of them, lol.
    I hope you’re hanging in, doing okay. Look forward to hearing about the new adventures.
    🙂 🙂 🙂

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    1. The landlord tale is too long and miserable to waste much time with Stace. They had a mix of good and poor intentions. Like many people with more than one house, and the complacent, lazy notion that they somehow ‘deserve’ extra income flows, they live with a myopia about how the rest of us function. That’s all I want to say. I’ll definitely be writing again soon – thanks for looking in 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  3. I’ve had a couple of those visits from landlords, Kev, and it always feels a little like a betrayal. But one at least had another property available – he wanted me in as soon as he could get the problem tenants out.
    I’m sure you’re finding much to be happy about in the new location. All the best for 2022 to you, your wife and your father.

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  4. I wondered whether pandemic melancholy had hit you Kev, but now I understand, you know I do, given I have written about out moves. It is always hard to leave a place, even if we want to, as we did. The memories seep out of the walls. I loved the photos, your garden was beautiful, and I understand your worry about the cats. Life is a series of lessons in teaching us to let go, they’re not always easy, but there will come a time when you can see the good from the bad. There always has to be a balance, always. Huge hugs Kev, it’s good to have you back. ❤️

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    1. It’s turned out better than I imagined Moisie. You’ll know all about that. ❤️ Looking after Dad, together, has pulled us both tighter, which is a brilliant outcome. But there isn’t so much time to blog – and when there is, I’m less motivated than before.

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      1. I understand that Kev, I read it from a lot of blogs I follow, and mine has been sporadic at times. But I am starting again, RD has work now which has also thankfully lifted his depression and took a huge amount of pressure off me. I am also reading about energy which people just cannot understand, look out I will write about it in my blogs. It’s good to hear that you can see the positive Kev, sometimes we hold on too tight forcing life to make the change for us. Big hugs ❤️❤️

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  5. Blow away the winter with a bike on train, cycle from Sarfend Victoria along the Cities cycle paths to Shoeburyness and back. Taking tea in Southchurch Park providing you can avoid the ale houses on route.

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