In bed with Mary – Again
Welcome everyone. Gather around my bed and please ignore a, the mess, b, my scraggy hair and c, my cough. I am feeling a tad better, I must say. Fingers crossed.
So today I thought I would tell you the story of when I drowned a man.
Day 2, The Story of When I Drowned a Man.
I once drowned a man. It wasn’t that long ago. And it was surprisingly easy. He was old anyway and had no hair. He had been rejected by his family and no one had any room for him in their heart, house or life. So he came to me. And I drowned him. I held him down with a wooden skewer and it took about 4 minutes before he stopped bobbing back to the top of the warm soap solution. After drowning the old bald man made by Lego, in the clear soap solution I drowned some toy soldiers with guns in their hands ready to pull the trigger. All toys, unwanted had been donated to me by my lovely friend Louise. Her son had grown out of Lego and into Fortnite in what feels like a week, and so I got the chance to take the unwanted men and drown them in my soap solution to make some interesting soap for children. I told you that there was a dark art to all things soapy which is ironic, don’t you think?
I took my arrested men in solid soap along with other bathroom delights to the Sheriff Hutton village hall market where I sold them to little people and their mums. And children.
Children love bath bombs although making them, is, as I have mentioned a tricky kind of magic and can get one most stressed out. Trust me, I know.
If these children who picked up the Easter Bunny bath bombs knew the way I had been swearing at them whilst making them just the day before, watching as they had crumbled or fell over or just sank in front of me; if they could have heard the language that that little bunny had been privy to, I don’t think they would have wanted to buy one. A bunny bath bomb which I probably told to “stay together you little fucker” isn’t half as attractive as one that was made with encouragement – good little bunny, please don’t break. It is sometimes better to never know what you don’t need to know. If, you know what I mean.
And there are things I don’t want to know, but people who come to my market stall still like to tell me. Facts like, “I don’t have a bath.” I get told this a lot whilst selling soap. “Thank you for sharing that with me” I don’t say. I just nod and say that I do, and that showering is just as good with soap.
The best comment I had, was when a lady in her 70s skipped up to me, picked up every product I had on show to smell it. She took long theatrical nasal inhalations with closed eyes, replaced the bath bomb and then chose another and sniffed again, long and strong so the essential oils lingered in her nasal passage pleasuring her senses. I stood grimacing and silently threatening what ever she held to her nostrils “don’t you dare break apart on me now, you little bath bomb you!” and when she had finished pleasing her senses with my stock, she looked at me, flicked her silver hair and declared with great flair and thespian zeal, “I take one bath every week, and all I do is squeeze a bit of fairy washing up liquid in to the water, and that does for me!”
My eyebrows both jump up my forehead in surprise.
I imagined her running like a maiden from the kitchen sink to the bathroom dressed in a cheese cloth nighty, gleefully clutching the fairy washing up bottle to her chest as she skipped to her bath room in her bare feet. She was so pleased with herself. But I wasn’t sure. She had my essential oil fragrance up her nose, the oil that was Arabian, the oil that was Organic, the Rose Oil that cost £18 just for one teaspoon! And she wasn’t about to part with a penny. I was speechless. But not for long.
“So, you bathe with your dishes, then?”
She stepped back – a huge step that only the actress Julia Stevenson can get away with, and her coral lips drew into a wry smile. Her eyes narrowed and twinkled. Her thin tanned skin corrugated her forehead. Then she extended her arm and held up her right finger to me and waved it left to right saying “A ha, Ha Ahh HA.”
She didn’t like my joke.
Well, I didn’t like hers.
She offered me three more disappointing wags of her leathery finger and then off she skipped to the mixed olives and stuffed vine-leaves man on the end. Who had bad breath.
I looked down at my Bath bombs and gentle caressed them whilst rearranging them back into optimum position and quietly thanked them for not embarrassing us both by breaking apart under her nose. I gave them a quick sorry, too. I needed more faith in my soapy products. They had never really let me down before….
On my way home with my £63 pounds in my pocket (hey, get me, rich and famous) I called in to to see one of my ladies. I call her one of my ladies like a hairdresser would refer to a regular client. But she is one of mine. She is lovely.
I did the funeral service for her husband two weeks previous and I want to make sure she is ok.
Let’s call her Doreen, for data collection and cyber security GDPR purposes. I give her a hug. She hugs me tightly, she is happy to see me and it seems, a bit relieved.
Doreen is now alone in her home since her beloved passed away. She has family around her and so she tells me she has to ‘be strong’ for them. And they in turn will think that they ‘have to be strong’ for their mum. When really, they are all suffering together yet, alone. Her daughters have lost their father, and she no longer has her husband, his face, his warmth, his sounds, his essence, his love, it has physically gone along with his life. His love was everything to everyone.
I give her some soap for the grandchildren and she laughs at how someone can drown bits of lego in a soap bar. They must be batty, she says.
We sit together in the living room. Doreen says she thought she was doing alright until he came home. She nods towards the tall blue urn on the sideboard. It’s a very pretty urn, I say. I like the moon and stars on it. She agrees, because her beloved always loved to look at the moon. He also loved to hear the local owl tooting, until he became hard of hearing and would get upset that everyone else could hear the owl and he couldn’t.
We talk about when he died and how he died and we talk about how comforted she is that he came home. Her beloved came home to die. Just like he had wanted to.
We talk about Boris Johnson whom she likes and we discuss what she’s having for her dinner, and how she has noticed that there is more food in the fridge these days. There isn’t much need to go shopping.
I think of my dad. After my mum died he would tell me, that things stay where they are in the house. No one is moving anything around, he would say. It drove him mad. Just accepting that the person who lived by your side for most of your life is now absent is a curious change to have to endure. Unfathomable.
I share this story with Doreen. She agrees.
She finds things really strange. He isn’t in the bedroom any more and he isn’t sat outside by the window. He isn’t feeding the birds and he isn’t in his chair.
I told her that after my mum died my dad didn’t like being in the house on his own. Not long after her funeral he went away. A lot. He travelled to get away from the home she had left him in where nothing moved or got put away.
Doreen’s late husband didn’t much like to travel, she tells me. He went to the coast a few times but he just loved being at home. I could agree with her. Home is the best of places. I listen to her stories of a man she still adores and we talk about other things, she wants a project to be getting on with and is considering painting the shed in the garden.
I leave Doreen with the soap and she gave me a box of chocolates to say thank you for the funeral service I did for her beloved.
I tell Doreen, I’m thinking I get a group together, of others like you who can talk together. There are so many ladies, and men who are grieving and I meet a lot of them, and you are all in the same boat; the problem is, you don’t know each other. She put her arm around my waste and leant into me, Oh I wish you would, she said. That would be lovely Mary, thank you . Although I think we will have to wait until this coronavirus thingy has gone away before we can get people together, again.
Really? I ask, do you think it’s going to get that bad?
I tell her I will call her with news of a grief get together, so to speak and to call me if she fancies a chat. I have been thinking of doing something like this for ages, no time like the present. I make a mental list to call all my ladies and men and ask them their thoughts on a grief get together. I try and come up with a plan.
I take the short drive home I remember my dad. He was a ‘man’s man’ as people would say. He called a digger a digger. His ashes had been put in a light blue box with white birds flying in a blue sky. It had sat on the windowsill in his house for a couple of years before we got together to scatter them at his favourite fishing spot in Wales.
When mum died I had tried to help him, look after him – which was a difficult thing to do, he was super un-needy.
I invited him to come with me and Oliver to my friends wedding in Norway. Mum had been dead for six months. When I told him there would be fly fishing too ,he was hooked.
Norway that year had a heat wave. On the hottest day in Norwegian record, my friend Hege married her own beloved, Peter. Following the church service we went on a steam boat ride on the lake Mjøsa near Lillehammer. My dad, in a new place, with new faces was so happy. He asked the captain of the steam boat if he could take the wheel and he obliged. I can still see him, drink in one had, super sized steam boat wheel in the other, laughing his tanned face to the hot sun. He had forgotten, I suppose, that she wasn’t there.
Around three years before his own death, Dad went to Western Australia to visit my mum’s brother. This was the last place they had both visited the year before she died, and she had loved running along a beach there. It was called Scarborough Beach.
When he returned home just before Christmas, on his own, he was in a really dark place. He was angry. He lost his temper once or twice, probably more. I didn’t understand. He didn’t want to be around us at Christmas. He didn’t want a tree with lights on, he didn’t want to leave his room. He came down stairs on Boxing day with a hole in his sock and I sent him back upstairs to get dressed properly. Really I should have left him to his sadness, in his warm socks, hole or no hole.
Later he would tell me, through sobs and tears and snot that he had gone to the beach to look for her, he had gone to Scarborough beach Perth Australia to look for my mum. He thought he would find her running on the sand with the sunlight in her bouncy hair. But he didn’t. She wasn’t there. He cried. I couldn’t find her. She isn’t coming home, he said.
I kissed his tanned forehead and hugged him. No dad. I’m sorry. She isn’t coming home. There was nothing else I could say.
And so what is my point in all this? What am I trying to say? From my bed.
Well, here it is. Observe how lots of people want to share with others lots of personal information. Their menopause, the fact that they do or don’t have a bath, a faith, a toyboy. The lady who shared with me her bath bubble preference didn’t know me from Eve. But she told me some thing intimate. But would she tell me over a soap stall that she had just lost her husband? Would she want to share that information? Probably not. You see, grief and death puts us all in a very vulnerable situation, it can make us feel ashamed, afraid, unnerved. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it. We should be able to discuss sad things as well as bubble bath. And that is my point. It just takes one person to get the conversation going and it starts with; how are you feeling, today?
But that’s enough about me, lets think of the others who need help and love and support…… …
Click on this link if you would like to support me in my aim to start a charity to support bereaved people. Thank you xxx
Until next time, be happy xxx