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I’ve been gagged by a comet- more delights of dating over 50

Going on a date night over 50 for my wellbeing and pleasure

#over50 #queer #rainbow #australia #dating @boneAndsilver

Remember the Comet I wrote about 3 months ago, as a romantic prospect? And all your great comments to just relax, stop thinking too much, jump in and have a good time?

Well, basically I relaxed, stopped thinking, jumped in, and have been having a GREAT time!

However, I’ve been officially gagged:

‘So what do you blog about at bone&silver?’

‘Oh you know, being over 50, having a teenager, online dating etc…’

‘Ok. Interesting. Well here’s my rule: if you’re going to date me, you can’t write anything about it. And no images either, anywhere.’

‘Right. Well, that’s clear. My ex loved it… but I hear you. I’ll miss writing about it, but yes, I can agree to that.’

So there you have it. This person has zero social media presence (trust me, I looked really hard in the beginning), and you know when you Google yourself and find a few images? Another big fat zero.

So there’s no way I’m going to mess with that.

Which means I need to stop writing this post very soon. My heart has definitely healed from my break up with the ex, and I have been having fun times. I miss that sense of a deep creative connection though; everyone offers unique gifts of course, and there’s no doubt the Comet is a special find… I just need to wait and see how we arc across the sky together.

And I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to tell you about it. I’m grateful for the experiences so far though, and rest assured I’m happy, curious, excited, slightly vulnerable, and willing to fly.

In gratitude for dating courage, G xO

Three more great moments from Mum, thanks to my smartphone ‘Notes’ feature

I’m two weeks back in Oz now, jetlag gone, and trying to make more space on my phone by deleting notes & photos. I’m so glad I was inspired to write down stuff Mum was saying, as no matter how fabulous it was, I just wouldn’t have remembered it all without prompts.

Here’s my Top Three (& you need to know Mum is proudly Celtic in heritage, a little unconventional, and sometimes incredibly philosophical).

  • On watching the Carnival Parade in our small seaside town, clapping along to the Marching Band-

“Mum, I think you’re out of time.”

“No, I’m doing Welsh time.”

  • The next morning, a Sunday, while the church bells are ringing-

“Mum, you’re still covered in glitter from hugging that random person off their float…”

“Oh well, it’s a good thing I’m not married to the vicar then isn’t it?”

  • At our last dinner together before my return to Australia-

“Shall we have a toast Mum?”

“Yes: to all the people who love us, all the people who’ve loved us, and everyone who’s going to love us.”

Sharing healthy food over 50 staves off dementia

The Last Supper #food #grateful #dementia #love

 

Sounds good to me Mum xO

 

Osteopath: ‘You’re all locked up, & we need to shift it.’ Me: ‘OK…’ *gulps

There's no place like home & I'm nearly there

On the train home after 16,000kms flying #traveller #jetlag #tired #grateful @boneAndsilver

I’ve been back from England for 10 days now (16,886 kms away from home in Australia), and my valiant struggles with the dreaded jetlag are finally paying off. Last night I did open my eyes at 1.30am as usual, but instead of lying there till 4.30, wide awake and wanting some dinner, I went back to sleep within 30 minutes, so have woken up feeling relatively normal.

This is joy.

And I’m not going to whinge on about the incredible privilege of international air travel, when so many millions of fellow human beings are homeless or without access to clean water…

But jetlag does suck bad.

Plus sleeping on a shitty pull-out bed on Mum’s floor for 3 weeks had stressed my back, therefore a visit to the Osteopath was part of my self-care strategy on returning. I was massaged, manipulated, adjusted and cracked, especially my chest/rib area, front and back.

You know, around your heart. Interesting that.

I went home from the appointment feeling terrible: nauseous like morning sickness, grumpy, on edge, and prickly too. Poor ’18’. Going to school suddenly looked like way more fun than it had the day before as he’d wangled to hang out with me.

The next day, home alone, I just cried and cried. Like, every hour on the hour.

Cried for Mum, for me, for ’18’. For everyone I knew who was losing or lost a parent; for all of us ageing and moving towards our own demise; for every human on this planet who is suffering; for the suffering planet herself. Also for cool songs on the radio, and my favourite avocado on toast snack.

Man, I wept!

I’d been bottling up so much for the entire trip, and finally felt safe enough to let it go.

The following day, back at work, people told me I looked really light, pretty, and well. I smiled to myself and thought ‘I doubt crying all day will become the latest popular beauty routine, but maybe there’s something in it anyway…?’

In gratitude for the safety and space I have at home, G xO

 

The 2 most amazing things my 82-yr old Mum said, despite her dementia

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

I recently heard this analogy about memory: imagine your brain is a bookcase, filled with books of wisdom and learning from the lowest shelves upwards… but as you age- or get dementia- the topmost books fall off, one by one, or sometimes two by two, until the shelves slowly empty down to the ground…

Yet Mum still said great things during our three weeks together, and I’m grateful I wrote them down; there will be more to come.

Scenario 1: We’re in her living room, surrounded by plump bookcases- she used to be the Head Librarian of our town. Suddenly she picks up a hardcover book, opens it to a few pages from the front and reads aloud this Rumi quote:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered one of my recent posts- “Nostalgia looks like a hedge, sounds like a seagull, & tastes like crumpets” -about the release of painful memories actually being a blessing for us both. She’s onto it hey?

Being playful keeps you young, over 50 or over 80

Grateful for my wise Mum #gratitude #wisdom #crone #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

Scenario 2: I was in the kitchen, being bossy on the phone trying to sort out a plumber to fix her bad drains, and she was shadowing me as I paced around her small flat, gesticulating and emphasising the urgency. Suddenly she said:

“It’s so wonderful to see your little girl grown up into all sorts of magical things you’d never have thought of.”

I love you Mum, and am so grateful for the challenges but gifts this trip to the UK brought me; I’m typing this from my first night back in Australia, and oh boy it’s good to have returned!

In plain gratitude for Home, love G xO

A 2nd merry Monday with Mum, & new word for us all

I'm still enjoying the way my Mum's mind works

There is truly joy to be found everywhere #joy #wellbeing #dementia #Mum #funny #creative @boneAndsilver

Me (in the kitchen): What are you doing Mum?

Mum (in the garden): I’m twilting

Me (wandering outside): What does that mean?

Mum: Well, it’s a new word- it means moving things around in different shapes and sizes- that’s what I’m doing with the washing now

Me: OK Mum, sounds good- I’d better write that down

I’ve become a waddling Mama duck

Walking for wellbeing over 50 is essential

Black swans are the local town mascot #Dawlish #blackswan #cygnet #dementia

I’m at the start of my 3rd week visiting Mum in England, and realized today what’s happening: she’s imprinting on me like ducklings or cygnets do. When I ask her if she’s ready for breakfast, she looks at me to ask if I’m having some? Same with a cuppa, having a shower, or going for a walk.

It wasn’t like that for the first week. Or perhaps I was too jetlagged/overwhelmed/finding my way to notice? Now we’ve settled into a routine though, as I’ve learnt the rhythm of her days and nights, including the multiple daily carer visits.

So it suddenly stood out to me this afternoon, as I left for a walk on my own, that she really was becoming my shadow.

This isn’t good. I return home to Australia in 10 days, and yes, I’m definitely counting down. What’s going to happen once I’ve gone? Who will repeat for the fifth time what we’re having to eat? Who will cook her such fine, healthy lunches, and supply long-favoured treats like crumpets or Crunchie chocolate bars?

She will cheep and fret like a fluffy yellow duckling on the cold river’s edge.

So much is being lost here. So much past, but the future too. I’m losing my Mum, and my son ‘18’ his Grandma. The whole family is losing another matriarch, with all those memories and connections like a shawl around our shoulders.

And on some deep level, beyond articulation, Mum knows this. That’s why she’s instinctively imprinting; seeking a familiar anchor in an increasingly confusing world. I honestly have no idea how she’s managed to get this far and still be at home alone. It’s very confronting. I obviously want to reassure her, smoothing the many wrinkles in her day as much as possible, yet does that really serve her? I’m a band-aid for 3 weeks, not a solution.

Plus I have a sinking feeling that she’s going to be even more lost after I’ve gone home.

For now though, we’re taking our pleasures where we can. Last night we walked down to the local theatre company, and watched a film they were screening- she was transfixed. The previous Saturday, we dressed up (including her many rings), and went to the closing night of the same company’s play- we sat in the front row, and laughed out loud at the clever antics onstage. We’ve eaten more naughty snacks than the local bakery can provide, and I’ve cooked yummy vegetarian meals to counteract the frozen food she usually lives on.

I’ve felt the comfort for both of us at being her Mama duck, but it’s scaring me as well now.

When telling a lie is the best option, to clamber ancient rocks in Wales

The perfect respite from an aging Mum

Holiday cottage in Wales #Wales #family #wellbeing #over50

“Come and stay in the holiday cottage with us; take a break from your Mum,” says my Aunty over the phone.

I don’t need to be invited twice. Any excuse to hop on a train cross country- my favourite way to travel. My Aunt and her partner live in North Wales, but a family gathering is happening in South Wales, and it’s the perfect time to catch up with my cousin, her husband, and their 3 kids, as they celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

They’re staying near where Mum and her 3 siblings grew up, around Gowerton. I’ve never been there before: I’ll get to see the house they grew up in, the school they went to, and most importantly, the bays and beaches over which they gazed as they matured, following their dreams.

boneAndsilverMistyBeach

Favourite beach #Wales #Rhossili #family #wellbeing

But I’ll have to ignore the stab of guilt at not taking Mum with me. I know full well that she actually needs the stability of her routines in a familiar place, rather than the stress of travel and an unknown environment, plus that I need a tiny respite; I decide to lie.

“I’m going back to London for a couple of days Mum, to catch up with some friends from Australia…”; my voice peters out as I don’t want to deceive her any further. I tell her 3 daily carers where I’m really going, and why; they all agree it’s for the best not to tell her. I ring our local cousin and tell her too, so she knows where to get hold of me if anything urgent happens.

I need a break for my mental health

Early morning beach walk #healthy #selfie #Wales #familyreunion @boneAndsilver

Then I realize I have to unwire my ‘guilt button’, so I can commit to the adventure and reunion.

It was such a fantastic break. Remember my 4-day hike in Tasmania, and all those stunning photos? Wales was similar, but without the 15kg backpack (or snakes and wombat).

The highlight was walking over to Worm’s Head, which involves crossing a causeway at low tide; you literally have to time your walk, as the ocean rushes back in and can trap you on the island. My 77-yr old Aunty with the replaced knee was up for it, so 3 generations of us got up at 5.30am to match the tides and tackle the wet rocks.

The early mist hid the stunning scenery at first, but by the time we began our crossing, the sun was coming out.

It was so strange to be walking on the bottom of the sea, and the views back to the mainland were stunning.

We didn’t have enough time to get all the way to the ‘head’ of the ‘worm’, but next time I will. Some folk call it the eye of the dragon, and perhaps you’d agree?

boneAndsilverCloserViewOfHead

Posting it twice cos it’s so good #Wales #WormsHead #walking

And when we headed back to the mainland, the sun was shining over the beach, which felt fortuitous.

boneAndsilverSunnyBeachToEnd

The best surfing beach in Wales #Wales #bestbeach #sunshine #wellbeing

We laughed, gossiped, remembered family histories, and filled in gaps about our lives as they’re unfolding, so far from each other. Mum not being there was like the elephant in the room though, and we all felt very sad about it. Finally my cousin, Mum’s younger sister, and I sat quietly together in the living room, and shut the door on the others.

What are we going to do, and when are we going to do it?

Nostalgia looks like a hedge, sounds like a seagull, & tastes like crumpets

Revisiting old haunts brings nostalgia #England #seaside #nostalgia #over50 @boneAndsilver

Revisiting old haunts brings nostalgia #England #seaside #nostalgia #over50 @boneAndsilver

Mum and our cousin met me unexpectedly at the train station, so there were hugs all round, then straight home for a cuppa. I can tell she’s very happy to see me of course, but Mum also asks several times where we’re going, as though she hasn’t just heard the answer a minute ago.

Which is the world she lives in now. Dementia often takes away short-term memory first, and that was one of the initial symptoms we began to notice a few years ago.

‘Shall we have a treat with our tea? How about a crumpet?’

Nostalgia coats my taste buds like raspberry jam and warm runny butter. I’m drawn backwards through the years, remembering blustery walks on the beach with various dogs, coming home to food treats like hot crumpets.

Crackers with sharp vintage cheddar. Fruit & nut chocolate. Crispy fish and chips every Friday. Rhubarb and apple crumble with clotted cream… these are a few of my favourite things.

But if I want them, I’ll have to buy them and/or make them. Because Mum’s not cooking or really shopping any more; she has 3 carers a day to help her with those tasks. Or rather, to do them for her, because it’s quicker and easier.

‘Going home to Mum’s’ no longer means what it did. Sure, I can re-visit old haunts, and search for schoolyard friends in the grey-haired people we pass on the narrow streets, but I’m certainly the elder now in our dynamic. She still calls me by my shortened childhood name (which I’ve always disliked, but it’s time to let that go huh G?), and made a fuss about tucking me in to my makeshift bed the first night.

But that’s about it.

And you know what? I accept that. I honour where she’s at, and where I need to move within myself to meet her. I spent YEARS rebelling, avoiding, resisting, criticizing, ignoring, and blaming; I admit it.

What a terrible challenge I was to Mum, ceaselessly. Ask anyone in our family, and they’ll confirm we had a difficult relationship; I was determinedly the ‘black sheep daughter’. Quite frankly, Australia was only just far enough away for me.

Yet now there’s a beautiful symmetry and peace in just quietly pottering round with Mum, letting her decide which way she wants to walk home, and offering regular cups of tea.

Plus crumpets.

Seagulls squawk as I type this, and my early morning walk led up high-hedged lanes where I used to keep my first fat pony. I’m surrounded by memories like layers of silk at the edge of my vision; if I look too closely, they waft away.

Mum is similar; there’s a soft slipperiness to her now that perhaps offers her some relief from the fretting circles her anxious mind carved for so long? What a blessing to let go of memories that caused such distress.

And I reckon that applies to both of us.

 

In gratitude for learning how to let go when I have to, G xO

 

Musings on Mum

Was this perfect advice for dealing with dementia?

I pulled this before I left home in Australia #goodadvice #angelcards #coincidence #dementia #wellbeing @boneAndsilver

I’m on the train down to the quaint English seaside town where I grew up, watching the countryside flash by. Neatly hedged fields, thick-walled farmhouses, and glimpses of bigger human settlements marked by the identical carparks and superstores.

I’m trying to work out how I feel. It’s a mixture of jetlagged tiredness, slight anxiety, a little excitement, and my hopeful practice of being an open, blank slate.

It suddenly occurred to me that Mum hasn’t seen me with blonde hair. Well, not since the ill-fated ‘Highlights Experiment of 1985’ anyway; maybe I should pop my blue cap on? This is a new experience: wondering how Mum is going to greet me. For as long as I can remember of course, she has hugged me hello with a squeal of excitement, and teary eyes, especially once I moved to Australia in 1987, and there were long gaps between my flights home.

At my financially poorest, and most rebellious, I admit I didn’t see her for 8 years; I would HATE it if ‘18’ did that to me! It’s all different now though, with Skype and FaceTime etc, so global connections are much easier to maintain…

But will she recognize me in person?

Without question, this is the most dreaded experience of anyone connected to a Dementia sufferer, and I am no exception. I don’t think it’s going to happen quite yet- not this trip anyway- but the newly-blonde hair may throw her a bit.

So I’m gazing at my trepidatious reflection in the train window, wondering what awaits me for the next 3 weeks, and trying to settle all the conflicting emotions in somewhere other than the pit of my belly.

Breathe in, breathe out. Ribcage expands, ribcage softens. The train rattles down the tracks, as I get closer to Mum; locking my front door in Australia on Monday seems like a long time ago, and I seek a soft, familiar, welcoming landing.

But I’m not sure I’m going to get it.

 

In gratitude for the hard-learned gift of patience, and deep belly breathing, G xO