If I’d not taken five minutes, my eleven-year-old son Billy would now be dead.
It could have been so different if I had not decided to do what I promised myself for the last five years. Just five minutes, that’s all it took.
The world of technology had taken over my life. Like most of humanity, I had my head buried in a screen. Morning, noon and night, I couldn’t resist it.
I was missing out if I wasn’t checking my social media accounts or email every five minutes. I was missing out on a new world! A new world that just five minutes could change.
The distant sound of crying coming from Billy’s bedroom forced me to bring my head up from the screen of my iPad. Why was he awake and sobbing at this ungodly hour?
When the familiar sound of a ‘ping’ came from my iPad, I could feel myself being pulled into the online world again. I’d made the mistake of looking down and seeing the notification on the screen telling me that Rachel was online.
Aroused by the thought of Rachel, my finger hovered over the Skype button, where I could instantly connect with her, while my ears picked up the sobbing coming from Billy’s room.
What should I do? Check on Billy, or find out if Rachel wore that sexy nurses’ uniform.
Thank goodness I chose to take those five minutes wisely.
If I hadn’t used them to check in on Billy, I’d never have discovered he’d been contemplating suicide. Not only had the death of his mother, five years earlier, taken him to the edge of a cliff, but my new online world and the neglect it had forced upon him had also taken him there.
The self-harm images he’d been looking at online were worlds apart from those I’d watched when Rachel was online. Ready to blackmail me, she’d had the camera ready to record me that night.
Not only had those five minutes saved my son’s life, but they’d also saved mine.
Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you’ll love ‘More Glimpses.’
32 short stories and flash fiction pieces take readers to the edge of their imagination.
Every time I walk into my local library to pick up some recycling bags, I feel like I’m entering a world that doesn’t want me there. Or is it that I don’t want to be there?
For me, libraries can be terrifying places. Just like picking up a book and opening it can be a terrifying prospect. As an author and writer, you’d think that both would be something I’d get a lot of pleasure from. But I don’t.
Why Am I terrified of libraries and books?
Dyslexia – that’s the answer. As somebody who is dyslexic, reading and writing are two things I have always found difficult. And writing about dyslexia is even harder.
When I enter the library and face all those books that can introduce me to new characters and transport me to different worlds, I feel like a big door is being slammed shut right in front of me. Why? Because I know that I would find it difficult to read many of the books on the shelves.
How does being dyslexic affect me?
Being dyslexic affects me in many different ways. For example, I often find myself struggling to know what a word or its meaning is.
It doesn’t always come to me even when I try saying the sounds the letters make as they appear in a word. Struggling with a word in the middle of a sentence can stop me on my reading journey and sometimes make me feel like a failure. It’s as if the word is some sort of barrier preventing me from continuing my reading journey.
Occasionally, when I pick up a book, I encounter too many words I don’t understand. They can be the simplest words, yet my brain can not determine them. I start asking myself what those words mean. Are they important? Why can’t I say them?
If I have to go back to the beginning of a page or chapter because I don’t understand the plot or what’s going on, I will almost certainly give up on the book. I may have another go, but more often than not, I never pick up that book again.
It’s not only about reading.
When it comes to writing, one of the strangest things dyslexia does to me is not putting certain letters in the correct order. I struggle if a word has an ‘A’ and ‘C’ in it. For example, I can often type ‘because’ in a blog post, yet Grammarly will underline every ‘because’ I’ve typed because they’re all incorrect.
The same thing happens when using pen and paper. My brain is rushing ahead of me, causing my hand to travel in different directions as it pushes the pen that produces awful handwriting, not even I can understand. What I write resembles the scribbles I drew as a young preschool child.
But not all is lost, is it?
I’m pleased to say that I don’t have problems reading all books. I seem to go through peaks and dips with them. I have to be in the mood to read books. They have to be written in a way that I can understand exactly what’s going on. No silly accents or too many characters whose names all begin with the same letter.
So, unfortunately, you won’t find many book reviews I’ve written, yet you’ll find many comments I’ve written on the many blogs I follow. And by comments, I don’t mean the types that don’t offer any value. If I leave a comment, it’ll be at least a couple of sentences long.
For me, comments are like leaving book reviews. If I leave a comment, it’s because the words on a post have connected with me, and I want to engage with the author.
I allowed dyslexia to suppress my love of writing for far too long. In February 2014, when I published my first blog post, I felt like I had conquered it.
I’ve often heard it said that people with dyslexia have unique imaginations. I’m unsure if that’s true, but it’s been a happy ending. If it were not for blogging and the many bloggers who encouraged me to write, I’d never have self-published two short story collections.
Don’t allow me to stop you.
But even with my love for blogging, I still find books and libraries terrifying places.
It’s not just the fear of being judged for my reading speed or accuracy; it’s also the overwhelming amount of options available. With shelves upon shelves of books, where do I even begin? I had the same problem with blogging. I followed too many blogs, so I cut down on the number I was following. That helped.
For someone with dyslexia or any reading disability, picking up a book can be anxiety-inducing. The fear of being unable to understand the words and follow the plot makes it easy to understand why some people avoid books altogether.
And while libraries and bookshops may seem a haven for book lovers, it only adds to the pressure for some. Surrounded by so many books, it’s easy to feel like you should be reading them all, like you’re missing out on something if you don’t (just like all those blogs you follow).
How often do I hear or read that somebody is so far behind in reading blogs? They fear they could miss out if they don’t read them all.
The same happens with social media. How often do we see people with their heads down while looking at a screen? I’ve witnessed whole tables of people in restaurants, all with their heads down, looking at their phones while eating.
But the truth is, there is no “right” way to read. There is no “right” book to read. It’s okay to read at your own pace, take breaks when necessary, and stop reading a book or blog if it’s not connecting with you.
And remember! You don’t need to read just books to enjoy reading. I get far more enjoyment from reading blogs than I do books.
Books and libraries may be intimidating places for some, but there’s no denying the magic of losing yourself in a story. However, we can also lose ourselves watching a movie. It’s worth facing your anxieties and fears to experience that magic for yourself.
So, please, don’t be like me. Pick up a book, visit your local library, and don’t be afraid to take it one page at a time.
Who knows? You might find a new favourite author or even discover the joy of writing for yourself.
And don’t forget you can also do the same in the world of blogging. It’s a magical place full of content where you can quickly lose yourself.
Now it’s over to you.
Are you dyslexic? How do you manage your reading, writing and blogging? What books or blogs are you reading that help you conquer dyslexia? Tell me about them by leaving me a comment.
This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for republishing.
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If receiving Christmas cards were a hobby, it would be a hobby I’d embrace and never let go of.
I’ve always preferred receiving Christmas cards to birthday cards. They’ve always been more important to me, but over the years have caused me a few dilemmas. Do you recognise any of these?
How to display Christmas cards
My parents always strung Christmas cards along our lounge’s longest wall. I’d stand underneath the line and count them every day. And if any of the cards overlap, I’d make it known so they could be adjusted. I wanted every Christmas card to give the same pleasure to visitors as I got out of them over the festive period.
I’d tell my school friends how many Christmas cards we had and keep a record of the number every year. The most we ever got was 106. So many that the line they hung on came down. I cried so much that my parents had to console me with chocolate.
Don’t hang too many Christmas cards on one line. If they are overlapping, put up another line.
These days, we display cards on a card rack. The overlapping doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to. However, I seem to prioritise those cards I see as more festive, so they don’t get pushed to the back of the rack.
How do you display Christmas cards?
Christmas at school
During my early schooling years, my class would send Christmas cards to each other. Back then, Christmas cards came in different sizes in one box. The first dilemma was matching the correct-sized envelope to the right card.
Usually, you’d end up with a couple of cards that didn’t fit the envelopes you had left or, on rare occasions, have cards left with no envelopes.
These days, Christmas cards seem to come in packs and are all the same size, so the dilemma of matching envelopes with cards has gone. But if you don’t have enough envelopes, dig out the spare cards from last Christmas. It’s unlikely people remember what Christmas card you sent them last year.
Christmas cards for school friends
We’d make a pillar box out of cardboard, cotton wool, paints and some sticky-back plastic. We were all encouraged to post Christmas cards into the box, and on the last day before the Christmas holidays, our teacher would sort them and distribute them out.
I’d always be super excited to get a pile of cards with my name proudly written on the front of the envelopes. I’d open them all before rushing home to hang them with the rest of the cards, careful not to snap the line.
If there wasn’t enough room on the line, I had to wait patiently for my father to put another up. Sometimes, this could take days, and I’d get frustrated that my cards were not on display.
After Christmas, I’d keep the cards I liked the most and make gift tags out of them for the following Christmas.
It wasn’t until the 1870s that Christmas cards began to display some of the festive images we see today.
Back in the 1970s (when I was sending cards to those in my class), I loved certain cards. These include the ones I thought were associated with Christmas. Those showing scenes that had Father Christmas, Christmas stockings, robins, snow, and Christmas trees were my favourites.
And then there were cards I didn’t particularly like because I thought they had nothing to do with Christmas. These included ones with scenes of horse-drawn carriages, fox hunting, St Paul’s Cathedral, or a hand-drawn poinsettia.
My favourite classmates always got the cards I associated with Christmas, but my dilemma was who should get the cards I didn’t like. Easy! The classmates I didn’t bother with much (or those I didn’t particularly like) got the boring ones. Back then, you could always tell who didn’t like you much from the type of card they sent you (or so I thought).
Back in the early 20th century, some Christmas cards were like postcards. Many years ago, I picked up some on eBay. This one is my favourite.
Postmarked Dec 24th 1912, I love the humour on this postcard. I’m not sure it would go down well these days. What do you think?
I can’t make out the postmark on this postcard, but the stamp on it tells me it’s from the U.S.A.
And here’s another early one from the U.S.A., postmarked Dec 23rd 1913.
Postal addresses were so short back then.
The best era for Christmas cards
In my opinion, the 1980s were the best era for Christmas cards. Here are a few of my favourites.
I have a scrapbook that includes some of my favourite Christmas cards.
The boyfriend dilemma
Finally, here’s a Christmas card from 1988 that was sent to me by my then-boyfriend.
Unfortunately, Bob went on to break my heart on New Year’s Eve, yet I kept the Christmas card he sent me. I wonder why?
I hope you enjoyed my brief history of the Christmas card.
Do you send and enjoy receiving Christmas cards? Have you ever had any dilemmas with them? Share them in the comments section.
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated and republished.
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I probably talk or think about death more often than others.
I don’t talk about sex as much as I do death, but is that a problem when entering the autumn years of your life?
Many people I know don’t like talking about death. Do you? Many don’t enjoy discussing sex but is it easier to talk about than death?
Is it odd or natural to think and talk about death and sex simultaneously? You tell me.
Once upon a time, sex was a subject people didn’t like talking about. I’m going back to my early years here when sex was a hush-hush subject, almost taboo.
There was little information available about sex while I was growing up. The reaction I once got from my elders when I asked, ‘where do babies come from because I know the stork doesn’t bring them?‘ was like watching the faces of those watching the gory scene in a horror movie. ‘Is it something about a man and a woman solving a puzzle?‘ I went on to ask.
When I asked those questions, I got looks of shock, horror and embarrassment. My grandmother walked out of the room while my mother and father tried to change the subject quickly.
During the lockdown, my partner and I talked about death. But it was only while updating our wills. We couldn’t get past the point where we would talk about our deaths and what we wanted to happen when that time came. ‘We’ll talk about that another day,’ I told myself, yet death can come to any of us anytime. Can you imagine the problems we cause by not talking to each other about death?
Although nobody likes talking about death, we read, write and watch it happening in books, on television, in theatres and cinemas. It seems natural when reading, writing or watching it, but when talking about our deaths or the death of somebody we know, there comes the point where I hope somebody else will take the lead, and the subject will quickly change.
Why am I talking about death?
I have written about death here, but the truth is that what I call the otherside of death (where the person dying is not me) is approaching; it becomes a subject we can’t avoid. I have an aunt who is nearing the end of her life.
At 95 years old, some say my aunt has had an excellent innings. She loved life, but she wouldn’t like the life she is now living. I think I followed her for the love she had for life. However, she has spent what is left of her life in a hospital bed for the last three months. Her final words to me before she went into a deep sleep were, ‘I want to go home.’
I can relate to how she feels. Whenever I have been ill and not at home, I’ve always wanted to go home. If we allow it, being in familiar surroundings can help. Well, it always works for me. But does it help when nearing our final days?
As she faded in and out of consciousness, my aunt reacted to some voices in her hospital room yet ignored others. I wondered if she could choose which voices she wanted to respond to and which she chose to ignore? Does she have any control over what she hears while her life slips away?
Why do some people die quicker than others?
Truth be known, I wouldn’t say I like watching my aunt’s death being so drawn-out. The family all agree that she’d hate to be at the point she is – having to live the drawing out of the last days of her life in a deep sleep in a hospital bed. ‘There’s nothing else we can do for her except keep her comfortable,’ the medical staff tell us. ‘But keep talking to her because hearing is the last sense to go.‘
Really? Is hearing the last thing the dying sense? How can they possibly know? Have some of these staff lived previous lives, or has somebody who has left this world told them that’s what happens? It seems odd to say. I can not work out how they know.
When my father died in October 2020, his death was swift. He died within 24 hours of being taken ill. There were no weeks of being unconscious in a hospital bed. Yet when my mother died in September 2015, she took many weeks to die after we were told there was nothing else they could do. Why do some people die quickly, yet others seem to take weeks, months or years to pass?
Are those who have long-drawn-out deaths having to pay for what they may have done during their lives, or is there something or someone who has overall control over how long it takes for us to die? Do some linger because there is some unsettled business to attend to, or do we have no power over how long it takes to take that final breath?
Where do we go just before we die?
Years ago, I believed there was a waiting room we entered when dying. We sat there waiting for our name to be called before going through another door that took us on our next journey. Some remained longer in that waiting room than others. But while we wait, we are occasionally permitted to briefly go back through the first door to check what is happening in the world we are leaving. Perhaps we’re not quite ready to go because we’re waiting for somebody to come and say goodbye?
I’ve often asked myself why my mother took so long to pass away. Did she not want to go, or was she told she had to wait her turn? In life, we queue. Do we have to queue to die?
When we die, are we leaving behind those still alive, or do the living leave us behind?
I probably talk or think about death more often than others. Many people I know don’t like talking about it. How often do you talk about death?
Perhaps I should have talked more about sex? But would anyone have wanted to discuss it with me?
What are your thoughts on why we dislike discussing death or sex?
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Why do so many of us make New Year’s resolutions? Do they help? Are they a pain? Do they put pressure on us? Do they stress us out? Do they work? Do they give us something to look forward to?
The only resolution I made on New Year’s Day (which worked for me), was the one I made on January 1st 1994. It was the day I told myself to stop adding sugar to tea and coffee. I’m still ‘sugar-total’ when it comes to drinking tea and coffee. Success!
If you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions, then good luck with them. If, like me, you haven’t, grab the nearest calendar and count how many days there are on it.
Why am I asking you to count the days on a calendar? There’s a good reason.
Did you count 365 days? Yes? 366, if you’re looking at a 2020 calendar. Ditch that old calendar, and get yourself one for this year. Look at all those days on it.
Every one of those days is a day of new beginnings. Every day is a day to start something different. Every day is a day opportunities will come knocking. Every day is a day to set yourself a resolution (if you want to). Every day is a day you can make good use of. Every day is a day you can make somebody smile. Every day is a day you can do something good for somebody else. Don’t waste them.
What am I getting at?
Simply put, you can start a resolution on any day of the year. I’ve had more successes with resolutions I started on days other than New Year’s Day. But that makes a lot of sense when it’s 364 days against one day. And isn’t every new day the beginning of a new year in your life? Check out Erika’s post. I think she agrees with me.
There is something I enjoy doing every new year. I look back and thank those who shaped my life over the previous 12 months. And those include the people I never met but who in some way influenced my life.
As a blogger, I’m talking about those who visited my blog, read and joined in with the discussions on the posts I wrote and photos I shared.
If you’re not a blogger, then the people you will have been in touch with on social media may have influenced your life somehow. Think about it. You don’t have to hear words from somebody for them to influence your life. And you don’t need to physically meet someone for them to have an influence on your life.
If it weren’t for all of you out there, the last 12 months would have been a little quiet and emptier here on my blog. And I don’t believe that’s something any blogger wants for their blog.
So, a big thank you for all your support, kindness, and friendship and for being a big part of my 2020. You listened to me; you made me cry. You astounded me; you made me think. You made me change my life or persuaded me to try out something new. You entertained me; you helped me through the low points and encouraged me over the high ones. You influenced me.
What was 2020 like for you? Think hard before you answer that question.
2020 may have seemed a horrible and strange year for many of us, but it will have given us opportunities and some nice bits too.
For me, one of the most significant opportunities was an invitation to become a guest columnist at the Carrot Ranch, a blog hosted by Charli Mills. I may already know some of the Carrot Ranch writers, but an invitation to write for another blog is an opportunity I am incredibly thankful to have come my way in 2020.
Another significant opportunity 2020 gave me was to sort out and donate stuff to my local charity shops. ‘Lockdown’ allowed me to declutter my home and pass on items I no longer needed. Those expired items not only went on to generate money for good causes but were brought back to life by their new owners. I like to think that the happiness those items once gave me has now been passed on to the new owners.
2020 may be gone, but it shouldn’t be forgotten. Why? Elouise tells us why. Read her post here and read the comments on the post too.
Thank you, 2020.
Thank you, 2020, for the opportunities you presented to me. You may think you did a good job at hiding them from me, but they were there when I looked hard enough.
Now, I’m looking forward to the opportunities 2021 will bring.
What to do with New Year’s Resolutions
My answer is – Turn them into opportunities. Opportunities to make new friends, new acquaintances, and new experiences. Make people laugh, make people happy, teach people something new, and tell somebody something that will make them smile. Don’t turn your resolutions into opportunities that become barriers or hurdles for you or anyone else or that make people unhappy. Make people laugh, make people smile.
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist.
We are all in the gutter. But some of us are looking at the stars.
Which ones are you going to be in 2021?
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Have you had any successes or failures with them? What opportunities did 2020 give you? What answer would you give to the title of this blog post? Leave me a comment and join the discussion.
I can’t remember when it was I heard this quote, but it’s stuck with me and will remain with me until my ‘best-by’ date expires.
‘Life is like a toilet roll The nearer you get to the end The quicker it runs out.’
Before I retired in 2012, my life was hectic, and time was often my enemy. With deadlines to meet and places to be, I was forever rushing around like somebody who was too busy to tell anybody how busy I was.
I’ve always been a good timekeeper and will often arrive at appointments with lots of time to spare. However, that can backfire on me as I start questioning myself about the time I am wasting when just sitting in a waiting room, or killing time when window shopping in the high street.
I don’t like the idea of murdering time. How will Father Time deal with those who waste what he creates when their time comes to meet him?
Father Time – The creator and keeper of time. Somebody all humans encounter as they travel through his world.
Likewise, I don’t like the thought of me killing time because I don’t usually have enough of it to get everything done in my day. How often do I read or hear somebody say, ‘I don’t have enough time’, or ‘I wish I had more time?’
When I think back to my childhood, time seemed to go slowly. I remember the school summer holidays and how those six weeks of freedom seemed to last forever.
Long, warm summer days were filled with plenty to do and plenty of time. I never complained about time then because the thought of having to go back to school was a rather horrid one.
Even the two-week Christmas school holidays seemed to last forever when the nights are at their longest. Back then, time was my best friend.
Then, I got my first job. Not so bad to start with, but as the years went by, I began to find myself fighting for time. If only I had saved up some of the spare time from my childhood days. I could have done so much with it.
The days would go quickly, and I often heard it said it was a sign of being busy. I’d arrive at work dreading the full week ahead on a Monday morning, but it would often pass me by like an intercity express train.
Before I knew it, Friday afternoon would arrive, and the thought of all that free time over the weekend would put a big smile on my face.
Even better when the weekend was extended because of a public holiday. ‘Three days to roam free‘ was something else I remember being said to me by a work colleague. It’s yet another quote I’ve never forgotten.
Time is like money. Those who spend it wisely, will never lose it.
Hugh W. Roberts
Yet, as the office clock struck five, and a long weekend was upon us, why did I often resist going home and getting the long weekend started?
Was it because the long weekend would last even longer by delaying its start? Or was it because I wanted to enjoy that feeling of ‘three days to roam free,’ even longer? Time doesn’t stop for anybody, so why was I kidding myself?
When I retired, the thought of all that spare time on my hands was one of the benefits of retirement. I had no idea what I would do with all my spare time. However, what I did know was that I would not allow myself to get bored or become addicted to daytime television.
I’m proud to say that I’ve never been bored or addicted to daytime television. What probably helps is living so close to the coast. Even in the winter, there are always lots of walks and much to do.
I look back at my 32 years of working full-time and often wonder how on earth I managed to fit everything in. Where did I find the time to do what I had been doing and find all the time I had spent enjoying a social life that often took me away on holiday or on long weekend breaks? It’s something I never found out the answers to.
Fast forward to the present, and I often ask, ‘where does the time go?’
Unlike during the early years of my current life, the days, weeks, and months seem to zoom past even more quickly. I often compare my life to the toilet roll I mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Now that I’m travelling through the autumn of my life, how can that be when I have so much spare time on my hands?
I was never good at mathematics. And when it comes to time, the maths still doesn’t add up, does it?
In September 2015, when my mother passed away, both my brother and I were with her as she took her final breath. I remember thinking how beautiful she was. She’d been in a deep sleep for nearly a week and, over that week, she seemed to age quickly. But during the last ten minutes of her life, beauty and youth came back to her.
Can people nearing death hear us?
The medical staff told us to talk to Mum while she slept. ‘She’ll hear you’, were their words, but how could they have known? Had they once been near death’s door where they witnessed the voices of those still living, or had somebody who had experienced near-death told them what happens?
We took their advice and talked to Mum as if she was sitting there having tea and biscuits with us. However, occasionally, general chit-chat turned to tears as we told her how much we loved her and to go on her way with whoever was waiting for her. But how did we know that somebody was waiting for her?
Twelve hours earlier, Mum had briefly opened her eyes and looked up at me. I spoke to her and wondered if she knew who I was. I didn’t tell her who I was but made sure I told her that I loved her.
Having suffered from dementia for the last five years of her life, I asked myself if her condition was still stopping her from recognising me, and if she saw me as a stranger?
When she looked into my eyes, squeezed my hand gently and smiled, before closing her eyes again, I thought I knew the answer. However, years on, I still wonder if I did have the answer. Why? Because I didn’t have any proof of who she saw when she had looked up at me. However, at least she did know that she was loved.
Do books and movies hold the secrets to death?
Maybe the answers are in the fiction we read and watch? After all, whenever we read a book or watch a movie, are we witnessing what the author or authors believe about death?
When we read about a person being at ‘death’s door’, or watching a film where a death occurs, is the author sharing some of their experiences with us from a previous life they can’t quite remember?
What about those who claim to have witnessed the bright light that appears when they were near death? Are they talking from experience, or is it guesswork? Even if only a tiny amount of what they tell us happens, are they telling us what they have witnessed, or are they merely portraying it?
Do the lights go off when we die?
Is knowing you’re about to die, a gift?
Death is something many of us find difficult to talk about. When my step-father asked me to help him organise funeral plans for both him and my mother, it was something I didn’t want to talk about with him. I felt uneasy having to discuss it with him.
He, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have any problems in asking me to help him put the funeral plans into place. He’d already decided which company he wanted to use, how much he wanted to spend, and what would happen on the day.
After I agreed to help him, I wondered why he had chosen that time to ask for my help. He had, after all, been thinking about death because he already knew which company he wanted to use and what both funerals should include. Nine months later, he suffered a heart attack and passed away. Did he know that the actual day of his death was nearing?
Are the displays of death as beautiful as the displays of life?
Have I made any plans for my death? No. Why? There’s something about death that I don’t like talking about, yet here I am discussing it with you.
Talking about death makes people uneasy. None of us wants that, do we? However, in some circumstances, shouldn’t the discussion make us feel happy that it’s out in the open?
If talking about death takes pressure off others, why do we still not want to talk about it?
I knew that my step-father was glad when I helped him organise his and my mother’s funerals. He knew that nobody had anything to worry about when he and my mother passed away. It was all paid for, and nobody had to do anything apart from pick up a phone, and report their deaths.
Everything was taken care of. My step-father was happy, and I should be happy because some of the pressure he’d experienced with death was something I wouldn’t have to go through.
If Hell is below us, why do we still bury some of the dead in the ground?
Can only the dead answer the questions we have of death?
Do you ever wonder who the last person will be that you will see before closing your eyes and allowing death to take you on your next journey? Is there another journey after death? Are there journeys for all of us, none of us, or just some of us?
Some of us still have a birthday to look forward to this year, while the rest of us may be looking forward to a birthday next year. But what about our death day? During the last 12 months, we’ve all passed the date in the month we are going to depart this world (our death-day). Do you ever wonder about that date, knowing that it passes you by every single year?
Does not knowing the date of our death day make us better people or make our lives any more comfortable? If you knew the date of your death-day, would you change anything about the way you live your life? Would you ensure you became a better person and made the most of every single moment of your life?
Do we become isolated when we die?
Would you visit those you seldom see more often knowing that you may soon lose the chance ever to see them again?
Like my step-father did, would you ensure that loved ones are taken care of by preparing for your death? As well as celebrating a birthday, shouldn’t we all celebrate our death day?
Has the location of our death already been chosen for us?
I’ve often wondered about the place where I am going to die. Is that place already somewhere I know or is it somewhere I’ve yet to visit? Will it be at home? Will it be in a shop, theatre, cinema or a bar? What season will it occur? What day of the week will it be? Perhaps, Friday (the day I was born)?
Will I be with others who all have the same death-day as me, or will I be on my own? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be alone when death approaches me. I want to be with people (just as I was on the day I was born).
I’m not sure about being surrounded by my family and friends at the time of my death. I don’t like the thought of them watching me pass away. It wouldn’t be fair to them, would it?
However, being surrounded by total strangers seem alright. I wonder if those strangers are already in my life or if I’ve yet to encounter them?
I don’t like to think about myself dying in a hospital bed or on a beautiful beach in full sun. Although I love living by the sea, the feel of sand on my skin is something I’ve never been fond of experiencing, yet its beauty attracts me.
Can I become a rainbow when I die?
I do like the thought of dying while sitting in front of the TV, especially if what I am watching is making me laugh or feel happy.
Does the way we’d like to die change as we grow older?
When I was younger, the thought of passing away while in a passionate embrace was something I thought was one of the best ways to die. However, as I grew older, I started to think about how unfortunate it would be for the person with me at the time. Now, I wouldn’t want to find myself in that position. Would you?
When I pass away, will anything or anybody replace me? How do I convince people not to be sad that I am no longer here? I want them to celebrate my life, not my death. Does grief have to come hand-in-hand with death? Even if it is a stranger who has just entered my life when I close my eyes for the final time, and sadness will be erased away by time, won’t it?
There is something about death that I do know. While we are still here, we should do all we can to ensure that the sadness that often comes with death is not the kind that buries its roots deeply into those that we leave behind.
Do the dead leave us behind, or are we leaving them behind?
One of the biggest regrets of my life is that I never sat down with my mother and told her that I’m gay. I chose, instead, the easy option of writing to her and telling her that I was a homosexual.
Facing Mum for the first time, after writing that letter, I was very nervous as I travelled to where she lived. I hesitated several times before walking up to the front door, ringing the doorbell, and announcing my arrival.
What a shock I got when she came towards me with open arms and, as she gave me one of her wonderful hugs, hearing her whisper the words “I always knew you were gay, I don’t know why it took you so long to tell me.”
Not all my family were like mum, though. Some told me they were having difficulty in accepting what I was because it wasn’t the sort of thing that happened to men in the area we came from. Hurtful words, but I already knew that the best thing I could do was to keep away from those who were upset by the life I was given, and allow them to live their lives as they wanted.
Over the years, I regained contact with some of those family members and, thankfully, have the changing face of society to thank for bringing us back together.
The fact that, in the past, there had been a few other men in the family who had never married, never seemed to raise any suspicions that the family had gay people as a part of it. It may have been talked about, but never while I was in the room.
I don’t know if any of those men ever ‘came out.’ Probably not, but it must have been difficult for those that were gay at the time they lived. This only made me more determined to live my life how I wanted and not the way others wanted me to live it.
Moving to work and live in London, in 1986, was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made. Although the city acted as a wall which seemed to protect gay people, I was still finding it difficult to ‘come out.’
It was a strange situation because the first two jobs I took in London were in industries where other openly gay people were employees.
When I took my next job, which would last 23-years, it took me six years to come out, and that was only when I heard the words “Do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” Of course, nobody cared that I was gay, yet for all those years I had been terrified what some of my work colleagues would think about me had I ‘come out’ of the closet.
Fast forward to today, and being gay is something much of society accepts. Or is it?
When we moved to our current home in South Wales, both my partner and I were a little hesitant that people would accept us. There are fewer people here than where we had lived for over 30 years. We were coming back to that place I’d been told that ‘being gay didn’t happen.’ We couldn’t have been more wrong!
People have been so welcoming, and we’re a part of the community as anyone else. Strange, though, that every now and again when I meet somebody for the first time and am asked who the other guy is that walks our dogs, I find myself hesitating before saying “he’s John, my partner.”