I hate that helpless feeling that comes when something goes wrong in the family and I just know there is nothing I can do to alter what is happening. I know if Ray were still alive that he would have a contribution to make in the present situation. I know that on my own I will not jump into the car and go out and help, but if there were two of us that would happen. This is when being a widow sucks, when you need two wise heads in a situation. So I consulted my daughter and she said: "Just do what you can from here Mum." which is sensible advice. She has a very wise head on her shoulders.
I have just come back from a funeral for one of Ray's cousins. It was held in a rural cemetery and the celebrant had to contest with the parrots and cockatoos that were busy eating the pine nuts that were on the ground close by. It was no contest really as the birds were not only noisy they were a pleasant distraction as well for the children who had come as grandchildren and great grandchildren of the gathered families. That is one advantage of an open air funeral, the kids can run around and make as much noise as they like. This Aussie family of many generations certainly knew how to do that! It was good to see them so active and didn't take away from the occasion at all, I think John would have loved it.
What I liked about going to the funeral was catching up with a lot of people I had not seen since Ray's funeral. One of his other cousins I had not seen for 35 years! They spent 30 years in New Zealand and their visits home were rare. I had people come up to me and say: "Are you...." and pause and I would just smile and say: "Yes, I am Sue, Ray's wife." Maybe I have changed a bit since then or maybe they simply did not see beyond the grieving widow last time they saw me and to see me smiling and laughing made it harder for them to recognise me. I hope a few will not be afraid to get back in touch with me now. Of course the years have taken their toll and older cousins were now on walking sticks and in a couple of cases in wheelchairs.
I go to a lot of funerals as part of my voluntary job as a pastoral care worker for the church so was surprised that this funeral affected me more than those others do. I guess it is because as I knew many of these cousins (actually they are from Ray's step-dad's family) as teenagers, then young marrieds and then meeting from time to time since all our kids had grown up that I had invested in them as a part of my extended family. Which is I guess why I felt so bad about them backing away from me after Ray died. I think we all find some sort of breakdown in the familial relationships after a death in the family.but there really isn't a traditional process for continuing a relationship after that is there? I wish there was as it would make it so much easier for us as widows and widowers.
I have had a couple of overly busy weeks. I am trying to pace myself more now but some weeks I seem to get more on my plate than I can handle. This being winter means that some people have colds, flu and other reasons for staying home so the church rosters get filled with volunteer labour rather than regular contributors and as one who has always been unable to say "no" if I think I am the only solution I find myself stepping forward and taking someone's place and this overfills my life. I wish I had a "keep well" pill I could hand out so this doesn't happen so much but with a lot of our volunteers being retired folk as I am myself it is inevitable. So Friday and Saturday I did "extra shifts" at church and Sunday I stayed home and tried to catch up with some of the jobs that had been neglected the week before.
On the bright side I had a couple of extra social occasions so it was not all work and no play. It always takes an effort to go out in winter, those short gray days affect my energy levels too and I know I would find it easier to stay snug at home rather than go out. Thank goodness this weekend the sun came out again. My garden has been supplemented by some recent purchases, it is a good time now to stock up on new plants and bed them ready for Spring which should only be about eight weeks away now. I was very tempted at an Orchid show I went to on Sunday afternoon to invest heavily in orchids, they are such heavenly flowers, but decided that bromiliads are hardier and I will stick with them. In gardening as in life you have to go with your strengths rather than accentuating your weaknesses and frankly I am an orchid killer, I just overlove them to death.
At our Market Day on Saturday a few of my friends came to have morning tea with me. I always advertise the markets on Facebook so they remember and come and find me. I was the coordinator this time as the usual coordinator was the organiser of the Orchid Show so it was a little more stressful than when I am just his offsider. As usual there were lots of treasures to buy, glorious treats to try, lovely groups of friends drinking cups of tea and eating scones and enjoying some good conversations too. A lot of the locals come along and enjoy the morning, it has become a meeting place. I have been to more sophisticated markets and can't say I have had a better time. And of course it is another way of filling my time too with a resulting fundraising effort for the church that also allows us to undertake some of our welfare work. A win, win situation.
So although my life has it's problems it has it's upside too. I just have to remember to keep on counting my blessings.