ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
Monday, 29 November 2010
An Uncomplicated Day Off, An Anniversary And Absolutely No More Cake
An Anniversary Today. And Absolutely No More Goddam Cake.
Today I am hiding away. I have earmarked today to gather my thoughts, make lists, be very silent and most of all, to remember Steve. As I write now, three years ago today, he had one hour left to live. It is 2 minutes to 9am now, and he died at 2 minutes to 10am on the 29 November 2007. I remember, I was on the phone to the Glorious Clarissa at the time, when the hospice called me to come quickly. By the time I got there, he had just died. A couple of nurses and the chaplain were waiting for me at the door and gently shook their heads as I arrived to prepare me for the news that he had gone. The chaplain took my hand and led me to his bedside where my lovely Steve lay still and silent and empty of life. I was crying hard as I took Steve's hand and told him not to worry about me, that I was fine, we had had a wonderful time, and thank you. That's a relief, his spirit may have said as it began the journey through the tunnel into the light, I was not sure how you'd feel about me dying this morning and all that. Best get on now, bit busy at the moment. Tara.
This morning three years ago, I woke feeling unfocussed and distracted. I couldn't settle to anything. My mother called and said she would come in with me to see Steve but I remember saying that I couldn't concentrate and wanted to let myself drift. I wonder if we had gone in, whether we would have joined Steve's brothers (who came in to see him about some documents that morning) at his last moment. It is probably best that we didn't, Steve loved his brothers and it was good they were there with him. I sat with Steve a few minutes after he had died, and had some time with him then on my own. I suppose I was not entirely alone, as I phoned friends who knew him well and would understand a call from a death bed. I called Maddy my cousin, who had quite firmly helped me to recognise the progress of his cancer and what it meant. I called Eileen who had been there all along and had weathered many of the storms Steve and I encountered from my children. Darling Dublin friend had been in my position herself, and knew how I felt and of course, my mother who had offered earlier on that day to come in to sit with him. I called each of my children and I called the Glorious Clarissa back to tell her. So really, one way and another, I wasn't really alone with Steve in his little hospice cubicle, there was a whole party of us. "You'll be alright," Steve's spirit may have said with a twinkle as he glanced back over his shoulder on his way through the tunnel to the light etc, "not gone for five minutes and you are already on the phone to two hundred of your closest friends. Tara."
Eileen and I did our Fair yesterday and it went very well. We would have liked more people to come, but enough came to make it go with a gentle swing. We will do another in my house in December, so watch this space. We are unstoppable. And the cakes made by 20 Year Old Daughter were completely addictive. We got to the hall at 8am, opened at 10am and left early just before 7pm. Not only did lots of jolly friends come, but Steve's dear friends from Norway were here on business and popped in. Eileen and I had no idea they were in the UK so this was a wonderful and welcome surprise. Our dear friend the Unsurpassable Alex came too and stayed not only to clear up with us, but to drive Glamerous 20 Year Old Daughter back to Brighton. By about 4pm everyone had gone home from Arundel, so we put on Doris Day and Nancy Sinatra, sang along loudly with gusto, and had a Party. We were forced to eat as many cakes that had not sold as we could then, so that we didn't have to take them home. We were utterly compelled to do this, and this is the reason that the title of this account says Absolutely No More Goddam Cake. I can't control myself over cake consumption. If there is a cake going I will eat it. Having a cafe selling Tea and Cakes at our Art Fair was always going to be a challenge for me and to risk my loss of all self control.
Back to today. I am tired now, and letting Steve come and go in my mind. I am taking time to feel my way through the day. I could be very busy, I could fill my time with Organising, Unpacking Fair Things, Emails, Chatting on the Phone - but if I did that I would waste the whole purpose of the 29 November, which is to just let Steve settle on my mind like a mist. So I am in my home, hiding in my bedroom from the builders downstairs in the kitchen. I am under a pile of cushions and I may not come out. The heating is on in the studio too, so if I do want to go and potter in there I have thought ahead and set it up. Today I must be quiet and wish to be detatched from everyone. Steve really was a wonderful man. I miss him very much, and am rather dreading the time today I will feel his memories and think of our time together. It is so bitter sweet, but there you go. I am not the only one. Not only are his family remembering him today, all those who have lost someone are feeling their loss. However, for myself, today I am feeling the loss of Steve and letting it happen. And at no point will I eat any of the cake left over from yesterday's Art Fair that is on the kitchen table for the builders.