Ithaka

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind –
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvellous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

C.P. Cavafy

Bridges

That ‘ lay down your life
for another’
works in many ways.
Just as bridges lay
down a safe path
across tough places,
some people lay themselves
down over tough spaces.
Apprehending, listening.
responding, giving time,
writing, sharing, hugging.
I have felt your presence
in the early hours,
in the shade of trees,
in the midst of tears,
in the cloud cover,
in the shadows
and in sunsets
and moonlight.
You know who you are –
my earth angels
and my favourite music.

The last text messages we shared…

L. 16.3.2022 Today would have been your 72nd birthday John…and I’ve got cake from Scona and a whiskey from Gemma…

18th August 2021:

J. Very busy here just waiting for cannula to go in. 4.26pm
Had scan, just got to wait til 5.10 to have cannula out. 4.57pm
Hi. 6.11pm
20th August 2021:

L.Home and settled now. Found car fine. Hin has just gone home and am watching Gardener’s World. We’re going to the library early then Sainsburys but should be home by 11ish if you want to ring. Hope you have a good night. I love you. God bless. 8.37pm
J. Hi, am in AMU ward now, til they find a bed in Cardiac ward. OK, no pain as yet. Gnight, love you xxo
P.s. If you need fuel, it is petrol in our car(!) Also, in fridge in hello fresh drawer, is fresh chicken, in date, please put in freezer, thanks. TV is free here. enjoy library tomorrow. Love j x sleep well xx 10.30pm
L. OK gottit, don’t worry. Glad you’ve got tele. Have a good night. xx10.33pm
X 10.34pm


21st August 2021:

J. Good morning. Hope you’re OK…just had text from Barclaycard fraud check. I have to text yes or no to two Sainsburys transactions today, one is £43.63, other is £18.60. Old. Can you check? They do pick their moments! x 10.31am
Declined. 10.40am
L. Both mine on new card X going home now x 10.54am
J. OK, will ring landline soon x 10.56am
PHOTOS
Ella. Hello Grandad this is the hairstyle that I did in Nan’s hair. From Ella. 4.20pm
J. Nice to see everyone . 4.49pm
Give my love to Nell when you see her xox 5.49pm
Just had minestrone then ice cream x5.50pm
L. Hello John, Nell called in this affi and had a few hours with us. She’s gone to Opera House to work tonight. I gave her the message from Dierdre but she has a letter about it. Hin and the bairns have gone home now and are off to Leeds tomorrow for the day. We’ve had a nice day and I’ve got my feet up now. Love you. 5.53pm
J. Oh that’s good news re Nell. A treat for Eric n Ella tomorrow, knights in armour there. Have a good rest, sounds like it’s been a busy day for you. Love you. 6.03pm
Still in AMU. New patient in here today, only turns out to be Eric, i.e. husband of Anne Pilkington, at Marland Fold! Small world. Nice to see him. 6.06pm
L. Oh my goodness! Small world x 6.10pm
J. Aye, just been moved to the next room, still AMU. Still waiting for Cardiac ward x 6.26pm
I’m in bed 18 now (was bed 23 before) 6.27pm
Moving on up! 6.52pm
L. I’m soaking my feet and watching Pointless! 7.06pm
J. Lovely. I am watching BBC, Iron Man 3! But not soaking feet! 7.52pm
L. An ambulance has been to Gordon’s but I don’t know any more. Just left. 7.57pm
J. Oh. I hope he s alright. 8.02pm
L. I might hear from Sue and Dave tomorrow.8.07pm
J. OK. How did it go for Mildred?8.13pm
L. Sue said a lovely service with poetry and Nat King Cole 8.14pm
J. I’ve put WF up to see if anyone comes on but they’re all watching Iron Man I bet! 8.16pm
PHOTO
L. Just come from Chow in N. Cornwall 8.17pm
I haven’t told anyone you’re in hospital yet. 8.18pm
J. OK, I’ll leave that for you to decide, ok. Nice sky (and drying day) in Cornwall. Are they on a trip? 8.19pm
L. Two weeks holiday in their caravan. This was first day.8.20pm
How are you feeling? 8.23pm
J. I feel Ok. No pain. Tired, bewildered. But am lucky! 8.25pm
L. Time to rest. Don’t be bewildered, just stay in the moment and nothing to worry about. x 8.27pm
J. OK. How are you feeling? 8.30pm
L. Well, the house feels different without you, but it’s cosy and a comfort. Am feeling well and planning a chicken park walk in the morning after my porridge 8.32pm
J. Glad you’re cosy! (Can you imagine a back scratch from Iron Man? Tomorrow plan sounds good. 8.36pm
L. Ha ha!! 8.38pm
J. New staff, blood pressure OK. Horlicks and digestive for supper. 8.43pm
Just got message from Noni, well wishes x 8.52pm
Watched Michael Portillo earlier at Innisfree, lovely x 9.01pm
L. Geoff came on for a quick chat and asked after you, so I told him but said I’m not telling others til we know what’s appertaining. He sends love to you and said he’s thinking of you. I think I’m off to bed soon with radio on for a bit. 9.23pm
J. That’s OK. I hope he is well too. Have a good night. I’ll go now, gnite and bless, love you xxoo 9.26pm9.28pm

L. Goodnight and God bless. I love you xx

August 22nd 2021

VIDEO of Kate Sapin’s brother playing piano

L. Morning!

Sun’s just popped out! Might have a chicken park walk x

J. Hi love, just moved to CCU ward, settling in. Will see cardio person tomorrow who will make a plan, likely an angiogram. If so, it means a day out in Fairfield. Nice staff here. Only downside is no TV, so no free phone and will have to see Baptiste finale another day! Hope you had a nice day. xx

L. Hello medarlin, been watching Simon Reeve on the Tropic of Cancer. Had ham and herb potatoes for tea…might have a bit of apple pie soon. All my washing dried outside. Cat watching the birds on windowsill. I’ll let her out before I go to bed. Had a walk round the block this afternoon, all quiet. Glad you’re installed in CCU at last. Take it a day at a time…or smaller. I shall go to Morrisons early and hopefully have the bairns from 9ish if Hinnie allows. I’ll text you before I sleep and will save Baptiste til we can watch it together. Love you. 7.58pm

Can I just check if you’ve paid Janet the balance for holiday? If not, I can post a cheque to her.

J. OK, glad you had a good day and ate well. No, I was planning to do balance payment tomorrow. Maybe you could update her. You know where cheque book is don’t you?

It’s £295 to pay.

L. OK, I’ll get in touch and explain. Yes I know where book is if it’s still in red drawer..

J. That’s right. Bottom one – just move bags of meds out of the way (I’ll sort them when I’m back) – some new and some needed.

L. OK will do.

J. Enjoy evening. I will look forward to us watching Baptiste together eventually. Love you xox

L. Cat’s gone out, in bed now. Had text from Sue and Dave asking after you. They had Mildred for tea and they all send love to you, hoping tests go ok. Goodnight and God bless. Love you xx

23rd August 2021.

Eric. Hello Grandad its Eric and I just wanted to say hello.

Also we are at Morrisons cafe right now and we are eating right now love you from Eric xxxxxooooo

Ella. Hi Grandad it’s Ella with news from Leeds.

J. Hello Eric and Ella. Hope you enjoyed the cafe, sorry I missed you. Thanks for sending love xoxo

Hi Leigh. Sun is out here. Thanks for messages. Been busy here. Saw Dr Swan who explained next stage. Angiogram booked for this Wednesday. Meanwhile tablets to prepare for it. xx

Hope you are enjoying the weather.

L. Hello my besom, lovely to hear from you and news of angiogram on Wednesday. Sounds as if Dr Swan knows what he is doing. I’ve sent the cheque to Janet for hols and she sends love and best wishes to you so don’t worry.

Nell is here before she goes to the Palace for 5pm, so having cheesy chips like the bairns. I’ve told her she can text you on Whatsapp, so she might.

It’s a lovely day here so afternoon tea in the garden with rich teas later I think. I don’t have to go to the Christie next Thursday as Andrea rang to make it a telephone appointment as they’re short staffed. She sends love and says to tell you to behave yourself. She went to see Manon yesterday and says little Efa is beautiful and Manon looks really well. Good news eh? And love to you from Ivor and Ria in the Netherlands who I texted yesterday. Gonna eat my pizza now. Love you xx 1.21pm

J. Hi dahlin, it was good to chat earlier. Glad you sorted cheque for Janet. Cheesy chips sound nice. Is Nell enjoying back at the Palace? Good news for Manon and Efa. I am behaving badly (not really!). Love to Ivor and Ria. I am waiting for my first cannula, ready for tomorrow. 7.24pm

XO 8.35pm

Goodnightnblessxxox 9.24pm

L. Just watching Masterchef before I turn in. Geoff rang and sends love. I gave him yours. Eric taking him for lunch tomorrow. Had macaroni cheese for tea, then a Freddo. Hope you have a restful night and will be with you tomorrow. Will text you later in the day. Goodnight my love and God bless. xx 9.30pm

J. Thanks for Geoff message, glad he’s got Eric tomorra. Nice tea. I had beef casserole n peas, ice cream. Just had cannula put in ready for early start in morning. Love you, J.xxox 10.05pm

L. Bravo you! Sounds like a scrumptious tea too. Don’t worry about anything, just go with the flow. All will be well. Am in bed now…the bairns coming tomorrow, so fun and games and hot dogs for lunch. Goodnight and God bless. Love you xx 10.22pm

24th August 2021

L. Good morning! I just called to say I love you xx 3.47am

J. Thanks, Love. Am all ready. Just waiting for ambulance to Bury. This cannula is just for fluids, it seems. The big one happens later for angio, Enjoy yourselves. Love to all and to you, my love xxx 8.42am

PHOTOS FROM CHOW AND FAMILY IN CORNWALL 10.06am

L. Hello my besom, big hug x4.11pm

Did a bit in the garden. Luvly jubbly. Had hot dogs with Eric and Ella. Nell popped in on way to Palace and sends love. xx4.13pm

Hello my darling, am in bed now and hope you have a restful night. Hope your journey to Oldham is a smooth one tomorrow. If you text me when you’re settled in Oldham again, I’ll give a ring. Goodnight, God bless. I love you. 10.43pm

25th August 2021

L. Hiya John me besom. 4pm is a good time for Hinnie and I to ring you x 11.13am

J. Hi I am back. Please phone if you can! 4.12pm

Just checked with nurse and now on free wifi. Goody gumdrops! That’s better. Having dinner jacket spud n beans n salad. Nice. xx 5.03pm

Lovely photos of Thomas and William and all from Chow. 5.05pm

L. We’re in the car park now x 6.33pm

J. Am at window xx 6.35pm

Thanks for clothes and everything and Ella’s message. Great! Everything I need and seeing you both from window. Thank you xxoo 7.02pm

L. Ha ha! Lovely waves! Let us know if you need washing picking up or anything else x 7.36pm

J. OK will check it out. How far were you able to get in? Did you get upstairs here? 7.48pm

L. Yes, we got to the ward door. Have told Chris n Suze, who send love and thinking of you. They might text you on Whatsapp xx Just going to ring Chow xx 8.05pm

J. OK, will sort washing and we can arrange for a pickup time xx 8.07pm

Thanks for message from Chris n Susan xx

Leigh, all best for Christie tomorra morning. I’ll wait for you to call me, so as not to be in the way of them phoning. Love you, J xxo8.39pm

L. Thank you medarlin. The bairns are coming at nine, luvly! I’ve spoken to Kev who sends love and will be in touch. Can’t get Chow, must be poor signal but left a text. Have put message on WF and given your email. Have a restful night and will let you know what Christie says. Goodnight and God bless xx 8.51pm

J. Thank you. Just had Whatsapp message from Kev, lovely x 9.07pm

Gnight an bless my love, until tomorra xxoo9.07pm

26th August 2021

J. Just a quick update, but don’t reply til you hear from Christie. Morning Hin. Just had some blueberries you brought, on my porridge, nice. Hope your day goes well with bairns. Just seen consultant, my pre-op echo scan of neck is normal so it won’t pose any extra risk in the operation. Love to all of you.xxx 10am

PS I sent reply to Ella and also a note for Eric on the shopping part of Whatsapp. x 10.01am

Also got lovely messages from Chris and from Suze. xx 10.01 am

Morning Hin = Leigh (!) 10.02 am

L. Morning my love, no call so far. They might ring at the end of clinic this morning. Spoke to Chow and Julie this morning and they send love and will be in touch with you. Hin had porridge with us when she dropped the bairns off. They both got your message last night. Good news that your neck is perfect, which I’ve been telling you for forty years! xx10.14am

J. Aw, how kind of you re my nack! Glad they got messages. Have fun.10.19 am

xxooox 10.19 am

Ella. Grandad it is Ella and when Mummy comes to see you she will bring you a surprise from me and Eric. I love you. 10.20am

J. Hi Ella! Lovely to hear from you. I will look forward to hearing from you and Eric and seeing the surprise xxox 11.13 am

Ella. Hello Grandad its Ella, I can’t wait for you to see it. I have been hoovering for Nan. What are you having for lunch?11.18 am

EMOJIS

L. Hello my love, Andrea rang and said scan is showing stable and they are all happy with progress and will continue with Nivolumab. Next scan in three months. No new lesions. So all good at this end. 11.23 am

J. Oh that’s good news, as before. Stable and good progress! Grand! So scan in November. When is next home treatment? Mid-Sept? 12.01pm

L. Bloods Sept 6th, treatment Sept 9th. two weeks today. Andrea and team asked me to give you their love. Les sends love from all in Sweden on WF. Robbie and Meg send love too. 12.21 pm

J. Hello Ella! You are very kind, helping Nan with the hoovering. You asked what i had for lunch. I had soup, then veggie lasagne with green beans, then yoghurt. It was tasty. What did you have? Well, I look forward to your news. Lots of love, Grandad xxxooo12.24 pm

J. Ah thanks for that, happy for no new lesions. Good of Andrea and team to send wishes. Bev of the rehab team came to see how I was. I told her we had good support at home. I would probably be in hospital post-op about a week or ten days, depending how it is. I don’t want to make it harder for you at the time you have immuno and feel really tired. Will you be OK then? Will you have help you need? 12.32 pm

Good to hear from Les, Robbie and Meg. I tried to get on Walkechat last night but don’t have password. I normally access it straight away, no pw, on desktop pc 12.36 pm

Do you agree, we have support at home, or do we need to make other provision like Geoff?12.37 pm

L. I think it would be good to have support at home, we don’t need other provision. I’m sure I’ll be OK after treatment, don’t worry. x 12.42 pm

J. OK, what kind of support would help us? x 12.43 pm

I had cucumber, pizza and chips. 12.47 pm

J. Hello, is that Ella?12.47 pm

Ella. Yes! 12.49 pm

L. Well, we muddle along quite nicely together. It depends on what support is on offer. See if you can find out. You need to think about stairs and toilet for sure, but you could sleep downstairs comfortably for a while. 12.51 pm

J. OK, will have a think. Let me know if you have ideas too. 1.00 pm

L. OK.It depends on what is on offer if you can ask Bev.1.01 pm

Kev’s gonna help you get WF on your phone.1.02 pm

Yes, I’m with Kev now, workin on it. xx 1.17 pm

Hi love, I spoke with Bev. She said they won’t discharge me til I can use stairs and make a simple meal.They don’t supply house help as such, but can point us in that direction if needed. She advised to wait and see how we are when it’s nearly time for discharge. Their main work is linking with and overseeing physio etc, helping patient to regain skills. Is that any help? 6.10 pm

L. Yes, now I feel more like we will be able to manage. As you say, cross it as and when xx 7.11 pm

J. Yes, if we need extra support we can explore it as and when. Don’t worry about it, we’ll take each day as it comes x 7.21 pm

Right -o 7.27 pm

Got a lovely message from Sooze and Mel. Also Susan at Hebden market. 7.29 pm

L. Yes, Sooze and Mel sent me an email. I’ve also let Ant and Aga know.x 7.32 pm

J. Oh thank you. Kev helped me get on Walkechat, tho I can only do basic things at the moment, but simply joining main chat is good at the moment. 7.34 pm

L. That’s good x 7.34 pm

J. I will say goodnight love. Just had supper, hot water and a biscuit. Settling in soon. Goodnight and bless dahlin, sleep well, chat tomorrow. xxoxx 9.17 pm

L. Goodnight my love. Am in bed now and drowsy. Hope you have a restful night and see you in the morning. I love you. God bless. xx 9.38 pm

J. Love you xx 9.39 pm

27th August 2021

J. Hi love, got a nice n fun text from Geoff this morning. Dr Swan did his pre-Bank Hol round. Says he thinks bypass, but team may think after viewing all test results that stent will be OK. So I am preparing my head for bypass op. MTD meeting later on, so I may get feedback later today. Next ward round is Tuesday. Hope you had a good night. I slept better last night, til 4am and a needy patient was moved into space opposite. So it goes. I am still on CCU, love J xoxo 9.21 am

L. Did you try to call? 10.00 am

Sorry we are not able to connect. 10.00 am

J. Yes, I kept trying too. Are you OK? I think ROH wifi has its limits. 10.01 am

L. We are in Morrisons at the moment but we will try you again when we get home. All OK, having breakfast xx got your text thanks xx 10.02am

J. OK, catch you later xx 10.02 am

PHOTOS OF MORRISONS BREAKFAST

J. Aw that’s nice!

PHOTO OF JOHN

Me after porridge (with your blueberries!) 10.07 am

I’ve just had a flit. Moved to a side room, near entrance to F8. However window faces an inner courtyard with yucca trees. Room is a female one called ‘thistle’ (thah noo) xx 11.16 am

L. Hope you can see people too. x Gita’s birthday today. I’ve sent a card x 12.06pm

J. Oh happy birthday to Gita! xo12.23 pm

I see more people here, they all pass by the open door, incl workmen, nurses, orderlies, doctors. Some pause, others too busy. I expect if there’s a bed in a male ward, I’ll be put there, as side rooms are often needed 12.25 pm

L. Have you had lunch now? 1.04 pm

J. Yes thanks, and you? 1.05 pm

L. Just eating a ham buttie. Sue of Sue and Dave came for a chat and an update and they send love to you xx 1.06 pm

J. Ah that’s nice, love to them too.xx 1.07 pm

I had egg mayo salad n toffee pud (treat) 1.08 pm

Hee hee. Will try a video call now. 1.08 pm

No connection. Ringing but not connecting 1.09 pm

J. Hi, one of the nurses has told me they are preparing me for surgery – bloods every three days, Covid swabs etc. They will let me know which hospital will take me – possibly MRI. I’ll be told more in due course. 3.28pm

L. I see. That’s why you’re in your own room perhaps. 3.30pm

J. Yes, it makes sense. The nurse who said rang liaison at Bury and they told her the outline without specifics. I have yet to be given official feedback. x 3.32pm

L. Oh, I see, so waiting for formal feedback. I wonder if you’ll hear today? Maybe it has to be a doctor who tells you. 3.36pm

J. Yes, she wasn’t told which specific surgery, but other details given point to that. Or maybe registrar? I mean, points to bypass, as stent is different preparation. 3.40pm

L. Ah yes, the nurse would know. 3.41pm

FORWARDED MESSAGE FROM GAVIN “Hello up there, it was only this morning I read the sunflower results out to Clara and Heidi – then an hour later your package arrived. Not yet opened, but the envelopes are fantastic! I’ve been thinking of you in recent days of course. I hope John is up and running again soon. Send him love and best wishes from all of us in Hove. The health issue here has been Covid. Oscar went and caught it which interrupted our summer a bit. He was banished to his room (quite happily – Xbox, Netflix, room service – a teenager’s dream!) He’s fine again now and the rest of us managed to avoid it. Clara is at summer school this week. Four hours a day of fun activities to ease her into her giant new secondary school. She’s loving it so far. I’ve been swimming today with Heidi and one of her friends. Heidi started chattering away about the magician at the Walkefest – he clearly left a lasting impression!” 3.44pm

J. Thank you for the message from Gavin – good to read all their news. 3.45pm

L. They’ll get their prizes after school! Card and little choc each, inside envelopes decorated by Ella. x 4.07pm

J. Aw, is that what you sent for sunflower competition? 4.09pm

L. Yes, Ella and I walked to the post box with them, then round the block. 4.15pm

J. Good for you xx 4.16pm

L. Just got into bed and feeling tired, so I think I’ll sleep ok. Hope your room means a restful night for you with not too many passers-by in the night. Had a quiet evening and ate salmon and broccoli, which was lovely. Goodnight, God bless. I love you xx 9.48pm

J. Sounds a lovely tea. I had hotpot with peas and corn, tinned peaches and pears. Watching TV on London Underground. I feel sleepy too, so hopefully a restful night for us both. Goodnight n bless, love you, J xxo 9.52pm

xx 9.53pm

xx9.54pm

28th August 2021

L. Good morning my love, am having a cuppa with rich tea in bed. Had a good sleep. How was your night? 7.05pm

PHOTO OF JOHN’S ROOM

J. Good morning, tea n biscuit in bed sounds nice. Glad you had a good sleep. I felt claustrophobic last night but legged it up on sill to release window catch. Better now, some air flow. 9.30am

Breakfast, meds, bed make, weighing – all done 9.41pm

L. We are on WF channel. 10.38aml

J. Am on Walkefest now 8.09pm

Nanite x Love you x 10.06pm

L. Am in bed now after some cereal and watching a programme about eagles. Lovely to see you today live and also on screen! I hope you get a restful night and I’ll be in touch in the morning. Try not to worry, all will be well. Goodnight and God bless xx I love you xx 10.21pm

29th August 2021

L. Good morning my besom, hope you got enough sleep. I was up twice for a wee but got back to sleep. Noni has just rung and they’re picking me up at 9.30 to go for breakfast in Chiquitos in Ashton, so that is a new one! Will ring later as better get moving.xx I love you xx 8.48pm

J. Hi! Good morning! Glad you slept in the end. I got four hours then woke 4.30am as usual, then dozed off a couple of times in between BP readings etc. Feel better in the mornings, then more tired and worrisome in the evenings. I’m glad you’re having a trip out, Chiquito adventure! Go for it! Speak later. Love you xxxx and hi to Hin, Noni, Eric and Ella xxxx 9.19am

L. Just waiting for them. It’s Patsie’s birthday today, so Geoff and Alex are taking flowers to Greenacres. Cat’s curled up on settee after breakfast. Speak later. Love you xx 9.39am

xx 9.43am

PHOTOS IN CHIQUITOS

J. Lovely pics! 10.35am

PHOTO OF JOHN

L. Lovely pic! Home again now. Had a lovely breakfast…wait for it…avocado and salsa on brown toast with two poached eggs, washed down with a large Americano! Aren’t you proud of me? The eggs were perfect too. They’ve all gone off for a boat ride on the canal from Ashton at 1pm. I shall have a coffee in the garden and plan my potter x. 12.22pm

J. Sounds like a good healthy brekkie, yum! Their canal boat ride sounds fun. Enjoy your coffee and the garden. I have been drawing (boxing pic from Boxing News online) with charcoal and pad from Gita. Met a man in CCU who had a bypass 20 years ago. I will ava stroll soon. xx 12.29pm

L. Yes, I remember Dom in Wythenshawe meeting lovely men who’d had a bypass years ago. Lots to look forward to. xx I’ll get you a new Boxing News and bring it tomorrow. ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ at 4pm on BBC2 I think…one of my favourite films in long past years. I shall watch it. 12.39pm

J. Aye, Dom was there! He had some stories! It would be good to have Boxing News. Been missing it. Thanks. I remember the name of the film, who starred in it? 1.39pm

L. Charles Laughton and Marlene Dietrich 1.39pm

J. Ah yes, I wondered if it was Charles. I think I remember it was on TV when films were on a Saturday pm, perhaps in the early sixties? 1.47pm

L. Yes, it’s a 1950s film so tele would have been sixties. Then there was a remake. How are you today? 1.48pm

J. Oh yes, 1950s. I am OK thanks. Felt brighter this morning. Some people passing by to talk to and Leso online. How are you love? 1.51pm

L. I’m fine after that brekkie! Just the job! I’ve got egg mayo salad for tea. I’ll look in on TV for ‘Witness’ and ‘Gone Fishing’, then ‘Vigil’ at 9pm! 2.04pm

CROSBY PHOTO OF STATUE ON BEACH

L. From Mel and Delli in Crosby! They send love 2.06pm

J. Oh yes, ‘Vigil’ too. Good pic from Crosby eh? I feel a bit like that, especially first thing in the morning! Good old Antony Gormley xx2.15pm

MISSED VIDEO CALL 3.52pm

J. Not connecting 3.52pm

L. Me neither 3.54pm

J. Sorry! Had to go for a wee! 6.21pm

L. Shall I phone? 6.23pm

Am in bed now my love. ‘Gone Fishing’ was lovely! ‘Vigil’ was good at triggering memories of Chow at sea! Not pulling any punches in the script and camera…I wonder what the submariners think of it? Time to snooze. I hope you have a good night and God bless. I love you xx 10.17pm

J. You know, perhaps I should have told Dave and Marts tomorrow? Why? I’ve got alot out (a good thing), but got engrossed and missed ‘Gone Fishing’ and ‘Vigil’. Family plus Brian (patient) chatting. Shame. I’ll have to catch up eventually. Thanks for your support tonight. Sleep well. I love you. Nanite xxoo 10.35pm

30th August 2021

J. Good morning love, I slept until 5.30am – busy ward and company. Had three vials of blood taken for blood flow, infects and kidney function. So will see how that is. Hope you have a happy Bank Holiday.

L. Good morning medarlin, got the weenies today cos Hin and Noni have a few errands to do. I’m hoping to hear from Chow what he thinks of ‘Vigil’ and it continues tonight. I think Nell’s got ‘Bat out of Hell’ starting in September. She’s enjoying being back in the theatre and has done bars and front of house. Right, on with Monday! Enjoy your company and let me know if you get any news. See you later. Love you. xx 9.53am

Ella. This is Ella. EMOJIS from Ella

J. Hiya, feel fresher after a wash and shave. Wilf in opposite bed told me ‘Vigil’ is on again. Says he’ll remind me and I’ll soon catch up. Will be interesting to hear Chow’s view of it. Ella’s made an ace list of emojis and all! ‘Bat outa Hell’ again eh? Nell will like that. Wonder if celebs will be there? No news yet, maybe tomorrow. See you soon my love. xxoo 10.06am

It was lovely to see you and Hin tonight, in person ( rather than just on screen!). Thanks too for clean tops, for BN magazine, grapes, fruit and cakes treats!! I am lucky. Hope you have a lovely evening. I’ll think of you while I’m watching ‘Vigil’ too. Love you. xoxo 5.56pm

L. Hee hee, you gotta choice of tee shirts! Nell’s just arrived. She’s got a quiet week now. It was lovely to see you too. Have a good evening. I’ll text later xx 6.14pm

J. OK Love to Nell and will text later xx 6.16pm

L. Am in bed now and quite sleepy, even fell asleep in the middle of ‘Vigil’! Missed the middle! Ant and Aga send you love and thoughts tonight. I think they’ve visited London. Will do my packing in the morning. Hope you have a restful night. God bless. I love you xx10.32pm

J. I saw ‘Vigil’ tonight, most of it. Ali in next bed, who is usually quiet, wanted to talk. He had been in pain, but finally got pain relief. He used to live on Morris Street and knows Arshad. I responded to Tony. He sent message on Instagram…he seems upset that I don’t have my Ipad (!) ‘Vigil’ is quite rivetting, isn’t it? Sleep well and have good journey tomorrow. I love you xoxo10.43pm

xx 10.45pm

31st August 2021

L. Good morning medarlin, hope your night passed OK. I slept til 5am which is amazing! The bairns are here in their best footie kits soooo excited. Noni has gone to do tyres and Hin’s working in Mcr today. We’ll head off after lunch and Janet is meeting us there. Shower and pack some bits next. Hope you get some news today. Love you. xx 9.21am

PHOTO OF JOHN

J. Good morning 9.25am

L. Nice tee shirt John x 9.26am

Ella. Good morning, this is Ella x 9.27am

Eric’ Good morning from Eric x 9.28am

xx 9.29am

J. It must be so exciting for you all. Glad you slept longer. I slept 11.30 to 5.30am – that’s longest uninterrupted so far. Waiting for news. Safe journey you folks and ENJOY!!

Good morning Eric!

Good morning Ella!

Thank you for nice tee shirt!! x 9.36am

Hi Leigh, hope you are OK and settling there. I saw a new consultant,Yolanda. She asked me to tell her what happened that led me here. She confirmed that I’m waiting for bypass op. Just need date for that. No date given as yet. xx So no news really, just confirmation of what we know so far xx1.45pm

L. OK, thank you, we’re just setting off xx 2.14pm

Have a good journey xxooxxoo 2.27pm

L. Hello my love, we’re here now and it’s clean and cosy on a quiet site, with Janet and Richard waiting for us.They send love and say you’ve got to come up here to recuperate. Julie and John Wyke also send love….got a text before we left. Ella busy unpacking and Eric watching a film. Gotta sort out tea. Have a good evening and I’ll text later. I love you xx 5.09pm

J. Just having dinner, salmon in sauce, chocapplepud. I ate the last of the vanilla ice treats you got me with yoghurt for lunch. Hope you can rustle up a good tea. Have a good tea. Evening settling. So kind of Janet and good to hear of Julie and John. Will text later xxooxxoo 5.29pm

Hope you have a good sleep ready for a fine day tomorrow. Love you. Goodnight n bless all xxooxxoo 9.32pm

L. Am tucked up in bed with Ella and toys after imagination story and two songs. Took me back a few years. Goodnight and sleep tight. I love you. xx 9.42pm

PHOTO OF ELLA ASLEEP

J. Aw, beautiful! x 9.48pm

xx 9.48pm

1st September 2021

L. Good morning medarlin, not a bad night but up for a couple of wees. The plan for this morning is swimming, lunch and, if I stay awake, a drive to Morecambe for a stroll. Hope your night was restful. Sun is just peeping through big clouds. I love you. 10.16am

J. G’morning love. Glad night was OK in new place. Hope Eric and Ella have good swim. Do they and Noni like it there? I slept 12.30 to 5.30 am or five hours straight, good do. Similar routines, porridge, toast, meds ok. One man gone for op, two more in queue here, but who knows? Just have to wait and see how their priorities go. Nice chats here with men and staff. Did some more drawing, so I am happy and fortunate. Enjoy the day and say hi to the sea for me. Love you xxoo 10.24 am

PHOTO OF ELLA AND NONI SWIMMING

L. Can you spot Ella and Noni? 11.45am

PHOTO OF ERIC BY POOL

L. Eric with me 11.46am

J. Yes! In the middle below grey door! Lovely! they seem pleased. Did Eric have a go too? Just had lunch: garlic chicken, broccoli, mash and baked beans, yoghurt. This morning saw consultant Yolanda again, checking on me. She confirmed that after the MDT meeting, a dr at Mcr Royal Infirmary has accepted me as an inpatient for op prep. Put me on MRI list. Just waiting for a place now, but unable to say how queue is. I doubt it will be this week. But at last it is official. xxxx 12.32pm

L. MRI is good…and Loly can see you! What a long wait for you, but I guess the catch-up queues are long. Eric’s swimmers are too small…we can sort it. On our way to Morecambe now. xx 12.40pm

J. Yes. We have a couple of nurses here from Zimbabwe. Have fun in Morecambe! xxxx 12.12pm

L. Gondola park! 3.20pm

PHOTO OF FLOWERS IN PARK

J. Lovely!! 3.48pm

J. Dear Leigh, thank you for the lovely card with such a lovely poem in it. I was very moved by it. Where did you find the poem? My love to you, Johnny xxooxx 6.45pm

L. e.e. Cummings 1952 x 6.45pm

J. Ah!, when I was two! 7.10pm

J. How is everyone? Are they beginning to settle for the evening 7.11pm

L. Yes, in a way and waiting for hot dogs. All very tired and full of sea air. Bairns talking to Hinnie who might pop up tomorrow x 7.16pm

J. Ah, sounds good. Hope you’re not too worn out? Sounds like quite a busy day xx 7.17pm

L. The bairns have gone out like lights after stories and songs…they’re such fun. Plan for tomorrow is get Eric some swimmers he’s comfortable in, then go to a local farm that seems to have lots of activities and a cafe. Hope they’ve got goats! Have as restful a night as you can…I don’t think it will take me long to sleep tonight. Goodnight and God bless. I love you. 9.45pm

J. I feel like I’ll sleep tonight too. Just watching tv, The Motorbike Show. Tomorrow sounds good, swim with trunks that fit and farm visit. Sleep well and have lovely day tomorrow. Love you xxxxoooo 9.53pm

September 2nd 2021

PHOTO OF F8 WARD IN ROYAL OLDHAM HOSPITAL

L. Wow! Good morning and thank you for the pic of your ward! Ella and I have had a good beak at it. You’ve got quite a spot. Nell is coming up later today with Hinnie for an overnight stay and mooch about, so that’s lovely. Just getting dressed. The plan is shops then go to a local farm with cafe for lunch x 1035 am

Eric: Hello Grandad, I love your painting 10.37pm

Eric: So much detail! 10.37am

Best wishes from Eric xxx 10.38am

J. Above is photo of drawing I did at Sue Ward’s suggestion. I tried to send it to her with text message, but didn’t work. I can send it Whatsapp as you see, and if you can forward it to Sue Ward? If not, I’ll do it after the rush! 10.40am

L. OK, I’ll send it x 10.41am

Dunnit. 10.42 am

J. Thank you Ella! Hope you have fun at the farm. 10.45am

Oh, avya sent it already? Thanks! 10.45am

Thank you for wishes Eric. Hope you have a fun day! 11.22am

Good news, Hin and Nell to join you, they’ll enjoy it x

Sorry my messages slow between. Brian is chatting! Sounds like you’ll have a lovely day! xxoo10.50am

L. Thanks, grand, hope you have a good day too! 12.58pm

EMOJIS

L. Hi John, if Hinnie visits you, could you let her know Nell is waiting at Clara Street to be picked up? Hin’s not responding to my texts or messages. Ta! 4.02pm

J. OK, will do 4.03pm

L. xx All ok, Hin is picking Nell up now. xx 5.25pm

J. Oh good, have fun and rest well. xx 5.35pm

L. XX 5.41 pm

L. We’re all resting at the moment. Went to Primark in Lancaster this morning to get Eric’s swimmers, t-shirt and a dressing gown for Ella…which she’s swanning about in, pink and fluffy. Then we went to a farm 2 mins from here and saw owls flying with keeper – beautiful. Eric loved the baby pigs and Ella loved the goats…there were three. Cafe was clean and pleasant. Then we came home and Noni took the bairns swimming. Just waiting for Hin and Nell now, then out for dinner at 7.30 xx 6.46pm

J. New clothes fun! Sounds like a fun-packed day! You must be exhausted!! 6.47pm

L. A lovely day and Janet has just texted about how to leave the lodge when we go tomorrow and says she and Richard can’t wait to get you up here to paint and recuperate! Love and thoughts also from Nim and Ustar.xx 6.54pm

J. Aw, that’s nice to hear! 6.56pm

PHOTOS OF THE MEAL

L. All back now. Hope you have a good night. God bless. I love you. xx 9.04pm

J. Aw, lovely photos (did you have red wine?) 9.05pm

England 2-0! 9.07pm

L. I did! And we toasted your good health. Goodnight and God bless. I love you xx 9.43pm

J. Thank you! Sleep well. Gnightnbless, love you all xxxxxxoooooo 9.46pm

L. XO 9.46pm

3rd September 2021

L. Good morning my besom, how are you? I’m up with Noni and bairns and Nell and Hinnie still asleep. Not a bad night and we’re off home today, hopefully stopping somewhere on the way xx 8.37am

PHOTO OF SUNFLOWERS ON TABLE

My view x 8.39am

J. Morning my love, sounds like you slept ok? Me up at two, so three hours and four hours sleep, quite good, eh? Nice photo. Did Janet leave sunflowers for you, for Ria? New patient next to me called John. We had loud cheers last night for England, 4 – 0! Hope the packup and go is smooth and a jolly, safe trip back home. xx 9.01am

L. Had a lovely walk along the sea front at Morecambe, cheese toastie and ice cream. On our way home now xx 3.05 pm

J. Sounds lovely after fresh sea air, good for all of you. xx 3.05pm

L. Home now and getting sorted. An early night I bet! x 5.15pm

J. Welcome home! x Glad you got back ok. You must be tired. Just had our tea (soup, chicken salad). John next to me has been discharged. New man in other corner. All change again. I’ll let you get sorted. xo 5.49pm

L. Started to watch Gardeners World but too sleepy. Had the fire on for an hour as it was coolio. Probably made me drowsy. Tucked up in bed now, so I hope you have a restful night and I might go on WF in the morning after an early trip to Morrisons for goodies. Goodnight and God bless. I love you xx 9.53pm

J. Hi love, just cleaned teeth. Been sat ere surfing Youtube! Not much on TV. Perhaps sleep soon, all quiet. Hope I can get WF tomorra. Gnite n bless, sleep well. Love you xxoo 10.24pm

4th September 2021

L. Morning my besom, up for wees twice, otherwise a restful night. Had a shower, off now to get toast, feed cat and hop, skip and jump to Morrisons. Love you. 8.05am

J. Morning love, I slept 12 to 5.30 then wee wee. So not too bad. Just had me plain porridge (with grapes you brought) and marmalade, toast, orange juice – my standard breakfast now. We had all our bums, elbows and heels inspected. all clear. I’ll look at Walkefest in a bit. xxoo 8.24am

L. Anything you want from Morrisons? 8.36am

J. Hi, nail clippers (large), bow type tooth flossers, blueberries, Boxing News is all I can think of right now. please. x 8.39am

L. Wots bow type? 9.04am

J. Tiny plastic fork-like thing with flossing string pulled tight across it. 9.05am

L. Harps. 9.07am

J. Curved plastic as in bow and arrow…Ah, yes, that sounds right. 9.07am

If possible, when you visit, eventually, please could you bring my haircut scissors? They are in the black hairclipper bag on some frames, near blue toilet bag, near the wall switch in the studio. Thanks. 9.43am

Is it Walkefest time? 9.44pm

L. Home now. Will bring hair stuff. WF should be on now. 10.21am

ah, scissors. Thanks, see ya later on. x 11.17am

J. Thank you for getting the snacks and healthy fruit and bits for me, also scissors, harps, clippers and magazines. It was lovely to see Nell and Hin today. 2.01pm

What a surprise to find Andrew is preparing for his surgery too! It sounds like he’s got his head round it. He’s a star! 2.03pm

Fish n sauce for lunch with carrots, cabbage, mash, yoghurt. Hope you have a good day and get to relax. By the way, you’ll get the Hello Fresh to share on Tuesday, then I’ve cancelled til early October. Love, J xxoo 2.06pm

L. I thought you’d love to see Nell and Hin. Glad you liked your goodies. Yes, Andrew is cool! I went with him and Les to the hospital when the consultant told him they would operate while he is young, a few years ago. I’ll write to Ninni this weekend. Had a quiet day, shopping, washing etc. Lovely to see you on WF…will try again tonight. xx 4.07pm

J. xx 4.08pm

Goodnight, God bless. Love, John xxoo See you in the morning ooxx 9.54pm

L. Goodnight and sleep tight xx Love you xx 9.56pm

In bed now xx 10.26pmJ. Sleep well ooxx 10.27pm

5th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom, hope you’re doing ok and had a good night. I was only up twice. I think I’ll have an avocado on toast. See you later, I’ll put a jitzi up when I go down and leave it up…might do that each day this week. A quiet day today and Nell might pop round later. I love you. 8.31am

J. Good morning me love. Just ad breks, usual. Nice to have blueberries on porridge. Avocado sounds good, enjoy! Sun through windows this am – it’ll be warmest on Tuesday and Wednesday this week ( 25 degrees!). Then 18 on Thursday, cooler weekend, just checked weather. So garden’s yours!! I’ll have a wash, then check jitzi later. Love you xxoo 8.48am

Thank you for visit and mirror and moisturiser! And vanilla slices and Actimel. and for taking my washing. It was lovely to see Ella with many plaits, she’s a sweetie xx 4.48pm

L. Lovely to see you seeing Ella xx 5.50 pm

J. Yes, it’s a pity we did not have a better space to meet. She managed very well though xx 6.01pm

PHOTO OF CHRIS MATHEWS RUNNING

J. I was bowled over!! 6.02pm

PHOTO OF CHRIS RUNNING FROM CHOW

J. Ah, is Chris in the middle of it now? When does he finish?

THREE MORE CHRIS PHOTOS

J. Lovely photos

L. He finished it xx 6.04pm

J. Oh, good for him! Is he OK? Just tired, not the worse for it, I hope. Lovely shot meeting the boys …6.05pm

L. Chow saw him in Fowey and said he was very tired and aching. He’ll check on him tomorrow. Have a good night and will text in the morning. I love you xx God bless xx 10.19pm

J. Thanks for update. Sleep well. Catch up in the morning.. Love you xoxo gnight and God bless xxoo 10.31pm

6th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom, how are you? Just putting blueberries on my porridge, then off with Hin at 9am for bloods. Let’s hope you get more news today. Will text when I get home. Love you. xx 8.41am

J. Hi love, not long s!nce I put blueberries on my porridge too! Slept well. all the best for bloods. (I had bloods this morning too. Snap!) Chat later xxoo 8.44am

L. Home now from bloods. Nurses were very jolly, weekend catchup chat! Hanging washing out now…I can feel a warm day arriving! Love you xx 9.55am

J. Glad you had a nice meet with nurses. Not much breeze here, but good for washing. Due to be 22 degrees here today. Love you too. xxoo 10.09 am

L. Hello John, how are you? 1.44pm

Anne, (Hamish and Gavin’s mum), sends love and thoughts to you.1.48pm

J. I am ok. Just seen a Dr Khan. He is constantly on phone trying to get all our appointments moving. Still no date yet. He will let me know as soon as. Has adjusted my meds for angina. He’s moved on now and we are chatting about issues of sorting phone or utilities from hospital (not ours, theirs) – some of the men on the ward. xo 1.53pm

L. Ah, bless you all and Dr Khan. x 1.54pm

Nell is here hoovering front room and I’m upstairs candy crushing. If you ring the house phone you can chat with her. 1.57pm

J. I got through and we had a little chat. 2.15pm

xx 2.19pm

L. Just had a phone call from from Barbados and Stuart, Sharon and Isaiah send love and thinking of you. Raj told them you’re in hospital. Lovely to hear Stuart and Isaiah. xx 2.53pm

J. Oh, how lovely to hear from them. Are they well? 3.47pm

L. Yea, lockdown in Covid, but Stuart says people are ignoring masks and bubbles, but he is not and feels upset about it. Isaiah is waiting for his eleven plus results and school on 20th. 3.54pm

J. I hope they work it out and Isaiah gets a good result. x That call was a nice surprise x 3.56pm

L. Am in bed now, feeling tired. Hin and Nell did some cleaning today and shopping tomorrow affi together. Have given Nell some money to see her through to pay day end of September and she is getting bus pass on Friday. Eric and Ella loved school and Eric’s reading a simple Oliver Twist! Hope your day went well and the night is kind to you. I love you. Goodnight x God bless xx 9.59pm

J. Good news of everyone! I have just watched BBC 4 Maggir Hambling special. I have some notes I’ll give you next time you’re nearby. Good to hear of Hin and Nell together and Eric and Ella. Had a brief chat with Les ands Andrew earlier, preparing themselves. Sleep well, I love you. xxxooo10.05pm

7th September 2021

J. Hi Leigh, misty morn here. Busy cheery staff. Deliveries for you today? Happy Tuesday! Love you xo 8.02pm

L. Yes, a warm day coming with deliveries. Just shaking a leg, as usual. Love you xx 8.08am

J. Due to be a warm sunny day today. Apparently my kidney is improving a bit. Yesterday blood test showed kidney function at 59% (two years ago it was 58%), now up from 55% and reason to be cheerful x 8.37am

L. Yes, glad your kidney function is growing. Good stuff. Hello Fresh is here and I’ve told Hin she can pick it up. My treatment is postponed for 2 weeks and steroids coming in post for swollen feet and hands. Getting around fine with exercise and paracetamol. Just about to eat porridge xx 9.04am

J. Are you getting pain in hands and feet? Glad Hin’s getting the Hello Fresh. Can you prepare what you need? i.e re using your hands? 9.07am

L. Yes, I can do what I need to do. Gets easier as day goes on and put my feet up alot. 9.16 am

J. OK, if you’re sure you can manage. 9.18 am

L. Am sure and will ask if I need help. Andrea sends love from the Christie. Dougie sends love too from Hebden. He’s on his last bike ride of the year this weekend. On Whatsapp if you want to contact him…Dougie Steele. 9.21am

J. Thanks for that. I won’t worry then. Nice of Andrea to send well wishes and Dougie too. Hope you enjoy a garden relax later. I may go for a slow walk on corridor later to view the distance xx 9.29am

L. We think the courtyard you see is the one we pass on our left as we walk into the hospital. Yes, good idea. Take the long view, as a priest friend used to say! x 9.35 am

EMOJIS

PHOTO OF ANDREW

J. Lovely photo!! 10.58am

L. He sent it earlier today. x 12.16pm

Good news from Les. Surgery finished and planning to wake Andrew this evening. x How are you? 3.07 pm

J. Good to hear news from Les. I am Ok. Sun outside 3.18pm

L. Yes, it’s very hot today…too hot for the garden. When I visit, I have a page from a claim form I need you to fill in.It’s just a matter of copying it from when you did it in 2019. It’s the renewal claim form for my Attendance Allowance. I’d better wait with you to do it, in case you flit to Mcr R. I.! 3.31pm

J. OK, will do. Are you OK?

L. Yes, I’m finey, sitting with me feet up! 3.32pm

J. Good for you! Me too. It is to sort out my swelling ankles! x 3.33pm

L. Snap! Nell’s just arrived, looking sunny. x 3.35pm

J. Oh, give her my love xxx 3.36pm

J. When I got back food was on the table, so ate it. It was lovely to see you all today. I trust the form is ok. I put the envelopes in my bag for Wales in case of emergency and forgot I had them. So if you keep them for any needs that arise. I have cash here in safe, but doubt if I shall need it. Hope you have a cooler and pleasant evening in the garden. Thanks for washed tops and jamas. Love you xxoo 5.37pm

L. It was lovely to see you too. The form is fine, just waiting for one from GP then can send it in. It’s in place til 7th Jan. Have just had a tasty salad with egg in front of the news as it’s still too hot in the garden just now. Still waiting to hear of Andrew waking up. xxx 6.48pm

J. Yes, it is looking good so far. It is grey outside, hope it doesn’t get too humid tonight.

xxoo 6.51pm

L. Am in bed now, knackered with heat! I’ve heard that Mary Ruffle’s op has been put back again til 14th September. She must be so worried, but haven’t told her about your situation. Will leave that until her op is over. Haven’t done much but watch tele and fall asleep! Hope you have some sleep and speak in the morning. Goodnight and God bless. I love you xx 9.42pm

J. I was thinking about Mary early today, what a worry for her. Hope it goes ahead on 14th for her. I am ready for bed too, just another BP reading. Hope you get a good night’s sleep. Waiting for further news of dear Andrew. Sleep well. I love you xxoo 9.54pm

L. I asked Anne, her sister, in case Mary was in hospital. No more news of Andrew, maybe they’ll keep him asleep longer. I’ll bake his choc cake in the morning. Sleep tight, love and hugs, xx 9.55pm

J. Hugs too, Sorry I couldn’t hug proper earlier – am paranoid re covid, but love, hugs and back done happy nite. Hee hee, 10.01pm

8th September 2021

L. Morning has broken…good morning my besom. Not a bad sleep at all and only up once for a wee! No news of Andrew yet, fingers crossed for him. Bin day today, so the brown and grey ones are out. I can hear bottles clanking as I write! I’ve got Radio 3 on, I like it early in the day. Onward into the shower, as Peter Pan didn’t say! Love and hugs xx 7.37am

J. Hi love, glad you slept ok, me too. Change over here. Hope it’s not too hot. Love, J. 7.40am

L. Hello my besom, Roger rang and says God bless and protect John. Then John and Julie came with flowers and both send love to you xx 11.14am

J. Oh, that’s kind of them. I feel relieved to have good news of Andrew from Dan and Les xx11.15am

TINA TURNER: River Deep and Mountain High

L. Yes, it’s positive news and had a little walk already! I’ve made his chocolate cake so I’ll send him a photo and you. xx 11.54am Nell’s just arrived.

PHOTO OF NELL SHOWING ANDREW HIS CAKE

J. Hi to Nell, hope she’s having a good day. Lovely photo of you Nell, with cake xx Good record that, River Deep xo 12.58pm

L. We’ve just taken some rubbish bags to the tip and Nell is in Lidl now. Am sitting in car park. 1.20pm Yes. good record, great singer x 1.21pm

J. I’m glad you’ve been out and about and a walk. It looks warm and sunny out there 1.25pm

L. X 1.26pm

L. Nell and I visiting you in next half hour.

J. OK. Shall I get a bit of washing together? 2.51pm

L. Yes, fine. We’re here. x 3.22pm

J. OK, here I come. 3.22pm

J. Thankyou for headphones, they work well. They stay put better than my other ones. Also for treats, doughnut and Andrew’s choc cake. Great to see you botth xxOO 3.51pm

L. Lovely to see you too. Nell is getting used to visits now. I’ve dropped her in Oldham to get her bus pass (gave her cash from the Wales money you gave me). Still hot. Sue Cox came for a chat and they’ve sold their bungalow to a Nathan O’Brien from Stalybridge! They hope to be moved by Christmas. xx 4.40pm

J. Oh good to hear, love to Nell. Well done for Sue and Dave. Except we’ll miss them, won’t we? xx4.42pm

L. Yes, but Nathan O’Brien might be interesting. He’s learning gardening.x 4.43pm

J. …as a hobby or a vocation? 4.44pm

L. I think it was a response to a question from Dave! x 4.44pm

J. Oh right. Sounds interesting. 4.45pm

LJ. I wonder if you’ll have cool evening in the garden? My tuna salad tea has arrived. What will you have love? 4.50pm

L. Just thinking about it. Might be sardines with salad. 5.08pm

J. I hope it’s enjoyable. Just had a mouthful of choc cake. Delicious! Thank you xx 5.45pm

L. Am in bed now my besom. The sardines didn’t happen cos I couldn’t open the tin! So cheese and onion sausage roll with salad instead. It was lovely. Followed by a cuppa and a doughnut from Nell xx Hope your night passes quietly and see you in the morning. Good for Andrew, eating a pear! Goodnight and God bless xx 9.13pm

J. Too bad about the tin. The rest sounds nice. Am watching England v Poland, 1-0, Kane scored! I had supper, hot choc and rest of the cake that I could manage – yummy! I keep dozing, so I won’t be long. Yes, Andrew is doing so well, isn’t he? Well, goodnight love, sleep well xxoo 9.31pm

9th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom…early bird up for a wee and thinking of thee x 6.02am

Music, Imagine, John Lennon

Released 50 years ago today x 9.21am

J. Good morning love x thank you for music. I had a shave and corn flakes for a change. Hope you are well and a bit cooler xxoo 9.47pm

L. Yes it’s cooler…cat is happy about that! So am I. Just finishing breakfast then I’ll peep at front garden. Nell told me her toenail has come off, so I’ll get that fixed for her today. She’s got her bus pass now. Hope you hear more today xx 10.07am

J. Oh happy cat! Glad Nell got her bus pass. The detached toenail sounds painful, hope she’s ok with it. Watery sun and slight chance of rain and thunder this affi. Love you xoxo 10.13am

L. Nell is ok, don’t worry, I stay close to her. Garden will love the rain. xx

All shall be well xo 10.15am

J. Aye, true. I love you x 10.38am

L. Let me know if you need anything and I’ll see you later. Will text you first x What about your Ipad to draw? 10.40am

J. Thanks, OK then. It’s under some A4 paper on books in front of window above desk in studio. Lynx deodorant on shelf in studio please. Plain Bermuda shorts with pockets if poss x 10.48am

L. OK will do xx 11.04 am

L. Gottem x 11.16 am

J. Oh good-o x 11.19am

L. Be with you in about 15 minutes x 4.05pm

J. OK xx 4.11pm

Oh thank you for all the thoughtful things you brought me. Treats! Shorts (they fit just fine), biker mag, drawing pad (!), deo spray. I’m short of nothing I haven’t got! xx 5.21pm

PS and Freddie Mercury…just discovered two get well cards: Gallery Life Drawing people and Ria and Ivor xx thanks for bringing them! x 7.22pm

L. Came in post today x I’m watching ITV and Nat TV Awards, looking for Shivvy and Stephen Graham x 8.13pm

And having my first mince pie x 8.12pm

J. Aw, Stephen is in North Water, isn’t he? First mince pie! … the countdown begins…8.13pm

L. Yes, it’s on on Friday night, but I’m hoping Time is recognised. 8.35pm

J. Yes, that would be good.

Goodnight and God bless. Love you xxoo 10.15pm

L. Just off to bed now, sorted out all my old hearing aids and batteries for the morning. Have a restful night. I love you. God bless xx 10.17pm

10th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom. Slept til 6am – amazing! Just listening to R3 and considering a shower. Hinnie is picking me up after the school run for audiologist visit. Hope to get some new hearing aids…then a bookshop and coffee. Back for lunch xx I love you 7.17am

I’ve been asked to give you love and thoughts from Janet and Marilyn (across the road) and Heinrich and Hedda send love and are thinking of you xx 7.28am

Photo: Ian McMillan Twitter, Morning Glow 7.36am

J. Bed’s made and brekkers had, also bloods. I slept 4 + 2 hours. Lovely picture you sent. Thanks for passing on wishes and messages. Sounds like a good trip out. All best for audio and enjoy books and coffee. xxoo 8.58am

L. C U later pertater 8.59am

J. In a while down the Nile 9.02am

L. Home now and a happy morning wiv Hin x Don’t forget ITV4 and bikes passing Robbie and Meg’s house between 1.45 and 2.45pm xx 12.06pm

You can see the race now, heading up towards Northumberland 12.10pm

J. Is that on TV or from your front door? 12.11pm

L. ITV4 going past Ullswater now…xx 12.19pm

J. I will find ITV4 in readiness. Glad you had a nice trip out with Hin. Audio OK? x 12.18pm

L. Yes, great repairs and booked in for hearing test October 1st, then get sorted for new ones. x 12.19pm

PHOTO OF LEIGH AND CAT WATCHING RACE

J. Me too! Got it on. Have they improved your current hearing aids?12.31pm

L. Yes, cleaned and said my ears are clear.12.34pm

J. Oh good! Do you feel a diference? x 12.31pm

L. So lovely to see the north country…we will get there. xx 12.36pm

Robbie’s text: “I’ve put a flag up at the gate. It’s a red ensign. Was tempted to put the EU flag up. We might be round the corner on Catton Green. There’s a chance Sheila might be there as well.” 12.45pm

We can look out for them.

J. I asked Jean to text me their address. She has just sent it, so I’ve written it on the envelope for Dave x 12.52pm

L. OK medarlin, I’ll pick it up later for posting. 12.53pm

J. Thanks. If that’s a problem, don’t worry. If it arrives late, no worries 12.58pm

PHOTO OF CAT ASLEEP.

J. Aw, worn out! 1.25pm

PHOTO OF LEIGH’S FEET IN FRONT OF TV

J. Good view! Nice to see you and our cosy home x 2.09pm

L. Hee hee…did you see Catton? In the rain…on to the Angel of the North 2.16pm

J. I thought I saw it. Was there a red Russian flag? Not sure cos I saw a couple of places that could have been Catton. I was distracted here though. Did you see it for sure? And Robbie?2.20pm

L. Saw Catton, a red umbrella, brick wall, people waving, union jack and Meg x I’d do well in A Question of Sport x 2.20pm

J. Well spotted! I thought it was the village green I saw, not sure 2.21pm

L. Yes, you did. 2.21pm

J. Was there a USA flag too? 2.22pm

L. Yes. ..isn’t Northumberland amazing? 2.27pm

J. It is that! 2.24pm

L. I have always wanted to live there. 2.27pm

J. We’ve had lovely holidays there too. 2.33pm

L. Yes, we have….x 2.34pm

J. After we saw the Roman temple, we had a lamb shank in Bellingham x 2.38pm

L. Yes, Roman toilets 2.38pm

J. Ha! And toilet paper! 2.39pm

L. Robbie’s text “It couldn’t have been timed any better. they came round the corner and it began to spit. By the time the pelaton came through, it was absolutely chucking it down, only to just about stop when the stragglers went past. As Victor Meldrew would say “You couldn’t make it up.” 2.40pm

J. Ha! It’s sod’s law innit! 2.41pm

L. I love the knee-high camera How do they keep going? Is it fixed on a motor bike? 2.45pm

J. I think they have one mounted low down on the front. Also one on a stick high at front, high up, possibly managed by pillion passenger, or stick at back. Just a guess 2.47pm

L. Yes, I see, you’re probably right 2.48pm

J. Hi, when you come next Leigh, could you bring my razor stand? I need it for the spare blade on the bottom of it. It is on a bathroom shelf behind where my toothpaste was. It is the empty-looking silver thing that the razor usually lies on. Underneath should be a spare blade that can only be removed by using the razor I have! Thanks xo 3.34pm

L. OK I’ll work it out. 3.39pm

J. Thanks 3.44pm

L. Am coming after tea and will text when near you xx Anything you want me to bring away?

J. I will check what I can manage without. I have a spare bag for it. I’ve finished my tea now. 5.08pm

L. OK, just about to eat mine. 5.10pm

J. Enjoy! see you when you’re ready xx 5.10pm

L. We’re on our way up to see you. 6.07pm

J. OK xx 6.08pm

Leigh, can Noni come back up as I forgot something? 6.31pm

L. We’re nearly home. Is tomorrow alright? 6.35pm

J. OK, sorry, I got my wallet out and wanted to give you £200 from it but forgot. Tomorrow then. 6.36pm

L, Channel 4 news is on. You forgot to put Dave’s card in, so I’ll get it tomorrow. 7.03pm

J. So I did! Tomorrow then 7.18pm

L. xx 7.18pm

J. x 7.20pm Leigh, I have just been told that I have got a bed. Difficulty is the ambulances are run off their feet. Seven hours waiting time, so I’m told to get ready and possibly expect ambulance in middle of night. Surgery may or may not be tomorrow, or soon after. We’ll see. So if need be can hand over birthday card and cash after op (or before) if poss. It doesn’t matter if Dave doesn’t get it for a fortnight or more. I will update when I know more. xo 7.35pm

L. OK gottit. Just been chatting to Geoff. Do you want me to tell people now? 8.09pm

J. OK, tell what you feel you want to. It’s a big job! Tellin everyone I mean!! 8.11pm

L. You can ask a nurse to post your card for you. Give her/him a pound for a stamp. Money they will lock in safe for you at Manchester Royal as they did with Ria’s bag, money and jewellery in Wythenshawe. 8.11pm

J. XO We’ll see. I will text you when I get there, or from here if I’m not gone in the morning. OK will check with nurse. 8.12pm

L. John, when you get there, make sure you give me the ward and its phone number please. Also give Hinnie as second next-of-kin please, if you don’t mind. Now stay calm and don’t be texting everybody and coping with replies. We can do that. You must give it to us please. x 8.17pm

J. OK, thank you. Will give you more details.xx 8.18pm

L. Please stay quiet and not worrying about others 8.20pm

J. Right-O! (Just got excited over Eastenders too ! )I will stay calm and go with the flow, as Geoff says. xoxo Thank you for your love and support xxxooo Love you xxoo 8.31pm

L. Good for you. We will keep in touch with family and friends for now and do it tomorrow. So please stay calm and you can contact me at any time. I love you and thank you for your support. xx 8.36pm

J. OK love, I will relax xxoo 8.37pm

L. BBC2 Gardener’s World. Stephen Graham at 9.30 BBC2 8.38pm

J. XX 8.51pm

L. Am in bed now and loved The North Water…they must have had fun acting in that! Beautiful tall ship…I hope your night is restful my besom and am right beside you. I love you so much. Goodnight and God bless xx 11.01pm

11th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom, hope your night was restful and you got some sleep. I had tea and Rich Tea at 4am and slept either side of it. Here’s a big hug. I love you xx 8.08am

J. Good morning my love. I am still in Royal Oldham. All set to go but no ambulance. Must a been very busy last night. Another is booked so just wait. Nil by mouth. North Water was great. I loved it. Hope to move soon. I love you xoxo 8.14am

PHOTO OF ELLA

Ella: Good morning Grandad, we’re having breakfast in Morrisons. Love from Ella and all xx 9.11am

PHOTO OF HINNIE

J. Hi! Lovely pics, reminds me I’d better eat now that I don’t have to fast! They have your mobile number now love xo 11.44am

PHOTO OF JOHN’S DRAWING OF MAGGIE AND OSAMA on Metro

I did this drawing last Wednesday. Trying out the charcoal pencil from Gita xo Sent a copy to Gita back then as she wondered how the pencil would go. Thought you might be interested to see it too. x 12.24pm

L. Stunning! Gita will love them. We’re off to the chicken park to hug trees xx 12.26pm

J. Thank you. I’m eating at last, chicken tikka, rice pud too. Say hello to Eric and Ella please, have fun! xxxx12.31pm

PHOTO OF ERIC AND ELLA IN PARK
PHOTO OF OUR WALK IN PARK
PHOTO OF ELLA WITH SEED BAG L.

L. Home now. avina cuppa – more pics later pertater xx 2.54pm

J. I recognise these places! 2.57pm

PHOTO OF JOHN IN CHAIR

L. Nice pic x 4.03pm

In bed now and have written to Ian and Pauline who left message with love to you on ansaphone. It was lovely to see you tonight and it seems quite comfortable despite all the goings on. I hope you have a restful night and see you tomorrow. Big hug. I love you. Goodnight and God bless xx 10.56pm

PHOTOS OF LAKE IN PARK

12th September 2021

PHOTOS OF BAIRNS IN TREE

L. Good morning my besom. 3.55 am

J. Good morning my love xo It was good to see you last night too. Nice to hear from Ian and Pauline. I slept 11 to 5am, woke up to good news for tennis for Emma Raducann. Breks and meds done. Looks rainy outside. How are you today? Lovely pics 9.25pm

L. Morning again! I sent the pics in my interim nightly biscuit feast with Radio 3. Just shaking a leg and looking at the day. Love and thoughts coming to you this morning from Tripta, Laura and Luke, Maria and Rory, Janet and Richard (lodge), Julie and John. So all these lovely spirits around you. Shower now and porridge xx 9.36am

DEBUSSY: LA FILLE AUX CHEVEUX DE LINE

Am doing jitzi so you can chat with Nell now. 11.56am

J. Hi Leigh, was lovely to chat with Nell. She looks very well. 11.56am Nell’s gone now and jitzi still open… I will sign off now as dinnertime. Please text me if you come back.12.28pm

L. Hi John, have just taken Nell home after our tea. Are you on another jitzi at moment? 4.56pm

J. I am in a private chat with Andrew, will join you later xxx 5.13pm

MUSIC: VAN MORRISON HAVE I TOLD YOU LATELY THAT I LOVE YOU?

J. Hi, just had jitzi meeting with Andrew. Also my anaesthetist came to talk, all set! Thanks for Van M song xxxooo5.14pm

L, Oh so good you got to talk with Andrew, he will be better for it. Well, anaesthetist chat is positive – only one sleep to go. It was good to see Mary. She looks poorly and is terrified of hospitals but she says she’ll be alright as long as she gets there by Thursday! We had about 20 minutes together. What is happening with you now?Would you like me to do a jitzi or do you prefer to be rested now? I bring you love from Pete and Edwina, Kaz, Cal, Jo and Shaun, Chris and Anna

PHOTO OF LAKE IN PARK 6.57pm

Can you spot the little coot? Eric took the photo 6.55pm

J. Sorry, it’s been a busy day! Andrew, Danny, Mary, Pete…and all those you pass on! I will have something to eat now. I got a butty. x Can we jitzi in a bit? I better eat now. 6.57pm

PHOTO OF BRIDE AND GROOM IN PARK

J. Lovely photo x 6.58pm

L. Bride and groom in chicken park…we said congrats! 6.58pm

J. AH!! 6.59pmL. Of course, let me know when you’re ready, x 6.59pm

J. OK, now let’s chat jitzi x 7.10pm

L. OK, is it in WF? 7.25pm

J. Yes 7.29pm

L. OK 7.30pm

13th September 2021

PHOTO OF DOVESTONE

L. Dovestone Monday 13th September while you were sedated.

PHOTO OF HIN AND NELL WALKING IN DOVESTONE 6.45pm

Welcome back my besom 6.45pm

Goodnight and God bless x 10.45pm

14th September 2021

L. Good morning John medarlin 7.22am

MUSIC: LABI SIFFRE IT MUST BE LOVE

PHOTO OF CHICKEN PARK

My walk in chicken park today…3.28pm

15th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom…it’s bins day. Got it sorted. 6.55am

PHOTOS OF GARDEN

It is a beautiful autumn day and I love you. 8.29am

16th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom x 8.25pm

I can’t wait to come and be with you. 8.26am

PHOTO OF BREAKFAST TABLE

My coffee and toast x 10.16am

PHOTO OF COBWEB ON SHED

Can you see the cobweb? 1.15pm

PHOTO OF ELLA

Ella’s new haircut 5.50pm

MUSIC: BILLY FURY HALFWAY TO PARADISE 9.39pm

17th September 2021

PHOTO OF SKEIN OF GEESE 8.18am

L. Good morning my besom x 8.19am

PHOTO OF HIN HAVING TEA

Hin’s tea in Daisy Nook 1.32pm

PHOTO OF RIVER

River Medlock bubbling along.

MUSIC: TINA TURNER SIMPLY THE BEST

18th September 2021

PHOTO OF GERANIUM ON GARDEN TABLE

L. Hello my besom, here’s a picture of a sunny pot for you.x 11.25am

MUSIC: BILL WITHERS AINT NO SUNSHINE

19th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom, I hope you had a restful night 4.37am

MUSIC: BUDDY HOLLY TRUE LOVE WAYS

20th September 2021

PHOTO OF JUBICANA BAND

L. Good morning my besom. The leaves are starting to fall. Hinnie and Nell are off to do some shopping together later. I’ll potter in the garden for a bit. Here’s a pic of Eric’s Jubicana band yesterday. 7.40am

MUSIC: BEACH BOYS DONT WORRY BABY 7.53am

21st September 2021

Good morning my besom. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

Close bosom friend of the maturing sun…7.53am

PHOTO OF CLOWN ORNAMENT

Our pressie from Nell 1.33pm

22nd September 2021

PHOTO OF BED AND BISCUIT TIN

Good morning my besom. It’s bins day…the green one and the blue one have been emptied. 10.14am

23rd September 2021

L. Good morning my besom. I’m just having a 4am Rich Tea feast. I hope you’re having a restful night. It was so good to visit you yesterday and I know you’re worrying about us all, but honestly we are OK and rooting for you to get back to full health. You must stay calm and take care of yourself…don’t try to do too much too quickly. I’ll send a picture later and hopefully we can talk on the phone. I love you. 4.33am

PHOTO OF SUNFLOWER

Ella picked a sunflower x 10.57am

24th September 2021

PHOTO OF FRONT WINDOWSILL

L. Hinnie and I are going to IKEA for our breakfast this morning. That will be a treat because it’s so long since I was there! I hope the new ward is interesting and your day goes well. Here’s a photo of the cat watching for you. 8.17am

PHOTO OF CAT AT FRONT DOOR

PHOTO OF HINNIE IN IKEA 2.29pm

25th September 2021

L. It’s a misty morning and I’m off to Tesco for some bits. Then I might see who’s on Walkefest 8.37am

MUSIC: BLOSSOM DEARIE SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME

You’ve been moved to Fairfield Hospital in Bury today…that feels closer to home. I love you. xx 4.11pm

26th September 2021

L. This is our Chris’s 48th birthday! I think he and Susan are off to the Lakes for a little break. I’m having a quiet morning. 10.15am

MUSIC: JOHN LENNON STARTING OVER

PHOTO OF NELL

Here’s our Nell buying me lunch in Morrisons 3.52pm

27th September 2021

PHOTO OF ELLA

L. We are having our tea in Morrisons today 3.52pm

PHOTO OF HINNIE AND ERIC

To celebrate the autumn equinox 3.53pm

28th September 2021

Hello my darling. It’s cooler today but not raining. We might have showers later. It was lovely to talk with you and I hope you had a good night.

29th September 2021

L. Hinnie and I were able to come and be with you for an hour. We met Clim Jolly, your consultant, who told us what a tough night you’d had, with cardiac arrest and a move to ICU. Your nurse, Alison, is experienced and kind and taking care of you. You look peaceful in your coma and I think you could hear us speaking to you. It was lovely to be near you again. What a blessing that you and I love each other too much. xx 4.38pm

29th September 2021

L. Only one day left in this month John. Bins day and I remembered to put the brown and green ones out. We went to Manchester Royal yesterday and collected your valuables and brought your bags from Fairfield too. Nell came with us to Chiquitos for our tea together. It’s early morning now and I’m having biscuits! 4.43am

MUSIC: KATE BUSH RUNNING UP THAT HILL

30th September 2021

L. Good morning my besom. Still hoping you’ll wake up today…and be able to speak and eat. It’s the last day of September…and the big ship sails on the alley alley-o, the alley alley-o, the alleyalley-o…3.52am

1st October 2021

L. The leaves are falling fast now John and we’ve had some stormy equinox days and nights. Now and again the sun peeps through. Chow is coming today for the weekend. Rabbits! I’m so tired…wading through clouds…3.08am

MUSIC: KAY STARR SO TIRED

3rd October 2021

L. Morning my besom, hope you are rested. Chow is with us this weekend, so we’re going to Chiquitos for breakfast. Eric and Ella will be glad to see him xx9.14am

MUSIC: MORECAMBE AND WISE BRING ME SUNSHINE

5th October 2021

L .Good morning my besom, only two days to Eric’s 10th birthday now and I’ve got him a onesie and dressing gown to keep him warm. I’m bringing Nell in to see you later this morning if she wakes up in time…It’s a long time since you were home. I love you so much….too much really x 8.11am

MUSIC: LEONARD COHEN DANCE ME TO THE END OF LOVE

VIDEO: MORTIMER AND WHITEHOUSE GONE FISHING

6th October 2021

MUSIC: CAT STEVENS MORNING HAS BROKEN

L. Good morning my besom, I hope you are rested. It’s bins today and Hinnie has put out the grey and green. Nell was happy to spend an hour with you yesterday. She’s working at the Opera House this week. Hinnie and I are coming to see you at midday x 8.17am

7th October 2021

POEM: LEMN SISSAY INVISIBLE KISSES 9.47pm

L. Darling besom, I love you xx 9.48pm

PHOTO OF HIN AND NELL 10.43pm

Don’t Worry Baby…

Hello everybody and love to all of you, including those watching this webcast across the world. Thank you for being with us today as we remember John.
I’m Leigh, (Eileen to some), John’s wife – and let me introduce our beautiful children:
Nell, who lit the candle for us
Hinnie, who read to us
Noni, our family link to Kosovo
Chris and Susan, music makers
Charlie and Julie, sandcastle makers

The photo of John on the front of your programme was taken in the summer by our grandson, Marcus. We were planting a tree for his Mum, our daughter Maria, who died in 2019. We shall plant a tree for John.
The photo of John inside was taken at Chris and Susan’s wedding. John was talking to our son, Dom, who died in 2011.

Whether you knew John as a child, as a young man, as a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a dad, a grandad; or as a friend; a boxer, a biker, a diver; or as a teacher, a neighbour, a singer, or as an artist – you knew you were in the presence of someone special.

John was a man who always gave space to others. He was a free spirit who did no harm. He did not affiliate himself with any religion, but respected all kinds of beliefs and had friends from all the world faiths and none.

His spirituality was rooted in human rights and the present moment. He was a constant supporter of LGBTQ rights and his work as a teacher brought skills and insight about living with disability.

I think his spirituality was like falling snow – you know, that moment of wonder when snow begins to fall – each snowflake unique, floating and drifting, to make unevenness even – or, as John would say, “… to transform the crap …”

John and I have been together for forty years. We have a small house and garden that we call Claraland, in Clara Street. John is also known as Dad, Da, Grandad, Dadi. Papajohn, Uncle John, Unca John, Captain America, Mr. Cook, Cookie, Urchin and Beethoven’s Batman.

We’ve had a quiet and also wild and worthwhile life together, with our share of life’s challenges and of its deepest joys.

John is my very own Man in the Moon, reflective and fearless as he walked through dark places. He is my Morning Glory and my Midnight Sun – creating comfort for people and playful as the day is long.

He laid stepping stones in the garden, where short people can dance along and make wishes to fairies – no shortage, as we have fourteen grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Of course, the stones supported his motor bike as he wheeled it out. He was never happier than when out on the moors on his bike. A free spirit.

There were some night-sky moments when I discovered John could name all the constellations we were looking at.

But he loved most the time before sunset…that was the time of day when John went out. A special kind of light that drew him and he melted into it. You might know it – as if the whole world is lit by candlelight. John and this light became one.

When we were out together, in waiting rooms, in pubs, in the country, on a plane, on a train, or sitting in the park – John would take out his sketch book. People around were often shy to intervene, but I’ve seen many a child beside him, watching the pencil moving, gazing at his hand and completely in the moment.

Claraland is full of paintings and sketches. We are the curators of hidden galleries that John occasionally opened. Always an observer, he sensed genuineness. His silent observation could be a bit disturbing and was as if his role was not to be a physical part of what was going on. I often saw the child called John, separated out, learning the hard way how to observe and decide what to do with it.

John loved music. He played guitar, sang in choirs and absolutely loved to be with his friends in a pub, singing songs he loved in karaoke.

He loved playing with his grandchildren – hide-and-seek, charades, painting pictures, making models and sharing his woodwork skills in the yard.

There was something of the shepherd and the carpenter about John. A north country man, he loved the moors and high places. They were his road to light and escape – but he was always glad to be back near them.

Beside his fabulous neck, the thing I loved so much about John was his smile.When he smiled, he radiated warmth and love, filled with the wisdom of lived experience.

We are all better people for knowing you John.

Thank you for all the blessings you brought to us.

Here’s my poem…

This home rolled in the eye of the storm,

with its contents whirled

and scattered

and its chatter stilled,

Til its outward aspect

turned inwards

to gaze on what

Love really is.

Love

To escape from thoughts of love,
I put on my fur-cloak,
And ran out from the lamp-lit silent house

On a tiny footpath
The bright moon peeps;
And the withered twigs on the snow-clad earth
Across and across, everywhere scrawl ‘Love’.

Ping-Hsin, 1943

Whatever gets you through the night…

2.30 am Saturday 18th September 2021

To get through this awful time I’d better find a counsellor or write more regularly. There’s always MacMillan…
John waited 25 days in Oldham Royal for a bed in Mcr Royal Infirmary for heart bypass surgery. A five hour operation completed last Monday 13th September. Surgeon was Saleem Jahangir and he’s been in ICU for six days now – and unable to stand without support. Confusion – common after heart surgery. Not engaging in dialogue. Not eating and with a feeding tube. Has had a CT scan yesterday and neurosurgeon report says it’s all fine – brain clear. But tonight he’s on strong antibiotics for possible infection in sternum. Cultures from blood and urine have gone for forensic examination. An MRI scan yesterday was not completed because John became agitated and moved about. So this evening he was sedated and taken again to MRI scan. This time completed. So results tomorrow re brain tissues and evidence of mini or full stroke.
It is so difficult not being able to visit and be with him. The phone calls tell me more if I’m lucky enough to get a doctor – Dr. Ahmed today, Dr. Hind yesterday. Have been able to talk briefly with John this morning – he knows me and is responding, eg Ella’s haircut, Mary’s operation and repeating “Bye bye” (like Geoff) – and recognises songs I sing to him. Not able to speak to him tonight as he was still sedated.

Hinnie is amazing – working, caring for bairns and alongside me. It must be so hard for her. I’m just so grateful for her kindness and love.

Nell has been working since Tuesday and we might see her on Sunday, tomorrow, I think.

Having trouble sleeping tonight. Did you guess?

It’s a funny thing, but having lost two of my beloved children, the fear in the back of my mind has been that I might lose another child…

Now I find myself afraid that I might lose John. I keep willing him invisibly to come round and find his place in the world again. I can’t bear to think of him in pain or having visual problems.

10.45pm Saturday 18th September

Today has been very hard for Hinnie and I and she’s been with me with the bairns all day. This morning Dr Ahmed phoned to say the MRI scan shows that John has had an embolic stroke post operation and has been referred to the Stroke Unit in MRI. Neurologist will make an assessment of his condition on Monday – not working at weekend. High temperature 38 and on antibiotics. Bloods results do not show sepsis but could be another infection… Body observations stable, but John not speaking. Tonight Delle (nurse), encouraged him to speak to me at 7.30pm, but only throat noises before he fell asleep again. See what tomorrow brings…

Not much sleep last night but will try harder this evening. Writing this with John’s pencil. I can’t bear the thought of him being in pain and me not near him. Also I worry that he can hear and understand it all, but not respond.

He nods at Delle. Tomorrow can’t come quickly enough.

4am Monday 20th September

Four in the morning. Tried to get through to say goodnight to John last night, but got cut off while they were looking for a mobile phone – so called it a day. He’s been sleeping all day and even physios don’t want to stress him with movement.

Breakfast in Chiquitos with Hin and Noni and bairns was lovely – then we went to watch Eric drumming with Jubicana and lovely to have Nell with us. She has two days off, so coming tomorrow as well.

My bloods at twelve today and hope to hear more from the neurologist about John. Chris and Susan visited last night – a sad half hour, but good to see them.The house phone rings alot but I leave it – coping with mobile is enough. It’s very hard to talk to people – alot of fragility at the moment. Maybe a quiet few days will be good until we can see the way forward…I’ll try to get a few more hours sleep now…

A quiet day – not able to speak to John. Rang hospital before bed to ask for neurology feedback and told doctor was with patients but they would ring me back. Waited til midnight.

Doctors are busy people, with people.

Tuesday 21st September

I phoned at 9am – lines busy, but asked to speak to doctor. Dr. Md. Qureshi said Dr. Thomas and Stroke team can see improvement and current medications to continue. Couldn’t speak to John as he was being changed.

Rang at 9.40ish and was able to say good morning and listen to John telling me about colours he could see, window, sitting up in bed etc. Couldn’t wait to tell Hin in the afternoon. (We sang ‘Daisy, Daisy…’)

We rang at 2pmish and Hin was able to talk to her Dad about his day – visitors – physios and occupational therapist – ultrasound – hoist with chair, ‘like a throne’.

Hin was deeply moved and in tears of joy. “It’s a miracle!”

I remember saying that to Myles when Dom woke from his coma.

Dr said if progress continues John might be moved from ICU to another ward from Thursday on. Then I can visit!!

I rang to say goodnight and sang ‘I’ll see you in my dreams’. John asked if I’d like to say goodnight to Gina, his nurse, which I did. She was pleased he knew her name and the doctor’s name – said he’s doing well.

4.30am Wednesday 22nd September

Bins day – have just made a cuppa and got biscuits. Hin’s coming to Claraland to work today. Bit of shopping around 3 pm after her walk with David.

Andrew is back to hospital having his chest drained again – fluid from op is causing pain. Sending love to John when iIsaid goodnight to him. What a blessing Dan is to Les and Andrew!

Gonna drink my tea and sleep some more.

In the late morning I was invited to go in and visit John as he has been in ICU for ten days. Hinnie drove me in at 2pm and I spent an hour in ICU with John and able to talk with Paul, an ICU Advanced Practitioner…

He described the stroke as ‘multi-focal’ at the front of the brain, so motor function is not affected. They cannot tell at this stage what the cognitive impact will be. Care plan is to move John to a cardiac ward and physios will continue physical therapy. Then find a bed in a Neural Unit (Rochdale, Trafford, Stockport…) for rehabilitation. He warned me to think in terms of six months to one year recovery period.

John was unresponsive to me but introduced me to his nurse. He was completely preoccupied with all the nursing interventions happening in his body and tried to pull them out and to get out of bed, when Paul came to talk. He was included by Paul in the conversation, but not able to sit up without support.

He said “I want to go home. Leigh will look after me. Have you got some money? Can you pay for the car park?”

Clearly anxious about home and family. He still has feeding tube, catheter and bag and antibiotics, but is breathing for himself. He was changed and made comfy before I left – has excellent care.

3am Thursday 24th September

I couldn’t get through to ICU in the early morning call and was asked to ring later. Had a phone call from ICU saying John had been moved to Cardiac Surgery Ward 4 and to ring there.

Charlotte said he was asleep, had been confused and she was catching up with his notes. She explained visiting: 2 – 5pm or 6 – 8pm and only one person by arrangement with the ward in advance. Told her I would come at the weekend.

4am Friday 25th September

I’m looking forward to going to IKEA tomorrow with Hinnie for breakfast and gather a few things I need. I’ll phone to book a visit to John on Sunday afternoon. Better get some more sleep…

Sunday 26th September

Chris is 48 today. He liked his book and chocolate.

Nell came and we went to Lidl, then to Morrisons for lunch. We had a walk in the park. Not able to speak to John because doctors using the phones, but they said he was settled and in no pain. Took Nell home and phoned hospital again. Able to speak to John. He can see a window, but not through it. Wanted to know if I’m ok and said it was lovely to hear my voice. He seems more calm. Told him I’ll ring tomorrow.

4.30am Wedenesday 29th September

I seem to have lost two days – or two nights. It’s 4.30am and yesterday we were asked to visit you in Fairfield Hospital, Bury, John.

Hinnie was allowed to come with me and your consultant Clim Jolly – (how you’d like him!), told us all that’s going on inside you.

So now you’re on Life Support and they’re trying to find the infection that’s shocking your heart into arrest. Hopefully they’ll find an answer and a drug.

So there you were, fast asleep in your private coma – and we talked to you -no doubt you were listening.  Your sweet nurse is Alison x.

2.30am Friday October 1st

Here we are then, two and a half hours into October – rabbits! Would you believe it? Nearly the Celtic New Year again.

And yesterday John, because you didn’t wake when they reduced the sedation, they transferred you to Salford Royal hospital – where there are 17 ICU beds and 14 consultants – and hopefully you’ll have more time to wake.

Hinnie and I are absolutely exhausted. We wake with dread. Now nearly seven weeks since you were home. We can come to visit you from 5 – 6pm this evening, so we’ll do that – and on the way call in to Ward 4 in Mcr Royal to collect your valuables.

Chow is driving up today – just for the weekend, so he’ll be at Claraland when we get back from visiting you. Sid and the 1973 gang send love to you x.

1.10am Monday October 4th

Chow left for Plymouth at 7.30am. It was so good to have him with us for the weekend.

A rollercoaster of a weekend – one visit where the doctor (Dan), was hoping to take the ventilator out on Saturday 2nd Oct – then Sunday, where there is no change and your blood pressure and heart rate are rising as the sedation is lowered. So you’re still on the ventilator and responding less – but I know you can hear me – “Bring me sunshine, in your smile…”

Then Hin and I visited from 5 – 6pm this evening and Dr Jackie and nurse Emily took us for the chat in the Relations room. Jackie said the medical team have ‘reached the ceiling in the range of life support’ they can offer you. She’s anxious about the weakness on the left of the heart and difficulty to pump blood with high blood pressure. Also the failure of brain, lungs and kidneys and the stress caused to you as they lower sedation. So they are ‘weaning’ you off the sedation to lessen distress and have decided to leave ventilator in.

We listened and told them about Ria and what we had learned already. Dr Jackie said it would be  a few visits away that the medical team would make their report on the way ahead. Cardiologist and Stroke team visiting you tomorrow. You look comfortable and very still. Emily is taking your wedding ring off. x

2.15am Tuesday

Nell and I visited you together and met your nurses, Vikki and Mischa. We were amazed to see the ventilator had been removed and you were opening your eyes. Your blood pressure is stable and you have some oxygen support.

Nell was able to hold your hand and talk to you. She slowly got used to being in ICU with all the beeps and pipes and technology. She told me she was so glad to visit you. We had a cuppa at home and a chat with Hin, before Nell went off to work at the Opera House.

Wednesday October 6th

Hinnie and I visited you at 11.45am – Vikki was with you. We found you sitting up in bed, eyes open – and when you saw us, you winked at us.

Your breathing is much more quiet and you’re managing your cough yourself. We held your hand and gave you news from home and love from all your family and friends. Vikki said you were responding to her – you stuck your tongue out at her!

Dr. Tony Thomas came to talk with us . He said the Stroke team had been to see you and as your heartbeat is regular with no sign of atrial fibrillation, you will be moved to the acute Stroke ward when there is a bed. He said you don’t need what Intensive Care offers any more – but we are so grateful to ICU – and I wish you could keep Vikki!

Hinnie played you some Beach Boys ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ and you were calm as you listened to it. Then you turned your head to see where it was coming from and looked at Hinnie’s phone in her hand. We were so moved and glad for you.

At 12.30pm we said goodbye and at 5.30pm Vikki rang to say you’d been moved to Stroke Ward B3 – a rehabilitation ward and that there will be an MRI scan. We’ll see tomorrow when we can visit.

Thursday 7th October 2021

Eric’s 10th birthday – I rang at 8.20 to say happy birthday and will see him this afternoon after school. Ella has got him a sausage dog cake!

At 10.15am I had a phone call from Salford Royal ward B3 to say your condition is rapidly deteriorating. Dr Jay Kwan asked us to come as quickly as possible.

We arrived about 11.15am and found you in a side room, deeply unconscious with heavy laboured breathing and oxygen support. Lisa, palliative nurse, explained that you were close to the end of life and we could stay. Robbie, your nurse, brought me  cup of coffee. Men were emptying bins outside.

Lisa left us to go and find the Chaplain and before long, Jennifer came. She asked us about you, read from Revelation…”…I, John…” and prayed with us – blessing you and telling you, “You are safe.”

Two women came later who said they were ‘cygnets’ – volunteers who would stay with you as needed. One of them recognised you and said she lived on Lacrosse Avenue in Coppice. The Royal Oak is her pub too! Small world…

We knew we had to leave at 1.30 to get back for Eric’s birthday tea and we knew you would want us to be with him. We said goodbye to you. We were driving home when Robbie, your nurse, rang to say you had taken your last breath at 2pm.

Tuesday October 18th 2021

Last Sunday Hin and I went to Jean O’Keeffe’s 80th birthday party in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and I missed you terribly. Jean always loved to have you near.

Gary, Ant and Ben were so kind to us and glad to have us with them. Dougie was the perfect host – as he always is. It was lovely to see Jean – two years, my Besom, since we saw her. Hinnie loved meeting all the family.

Yesterday, after Hin’s work, we went into Oldham and saw Sonya, the solicitor. She was so warm and kind and clear on what she needs to do for us. She also suggested it would be a good idea for Hinnie to have Lasting Power of Attorney to handle our estate if I’m incapacitated – so we’ll work on that.

And last night we put the programme for your funeral together for printing. Sue Ward talked it  all through and will lead a non-religious ceremony as you wished.

Hin, Chris, Chow and I will speak and Nell will light your candle. The pallbearers will be Dave, Martin and their sons.

We’ve given the clothes you wore for Ria’s tree planting to Sarah Barlow – white and blue tee-shirts, jeans and linen shirt. Socks to keep your feet safe.

Plainsong

We have choir stalls in our garden
with jasmine curvilinear traceries and
wooden trusses for reliable support
when force is placed on them to keep
the roof of the sky in place.
The vault of eucalyptus is midday shade
and moonlit glisten with its
discontinuous ridge rib and one central
support to the natural intricacies in
cloisters of hawthorn.

Priceless treasures drift above and below
the ground; wisteria, honeysuckle, clematis,
ashes, bulbs, seeds, leaves, ladybirds, bees, insects,
hoverflies, bumbles, butterflies and Ria’s sleeping imp.
Soon the buddleia spires and stinging nettle
will welcome Red Admirals to your Rose Window:
to Blue Moon, The Pilgrim, The Generous Gardener,
Simply the Best, The Fighting Temeraire,
Compassion, Dark Secret, Dublin Bay,
Paul’s Scarlet, Harlequin, Super Fairy and Dogrose.

No palm leaves, but strewn-blown rose petals
tread a carpet to gate or swing,
like the child in The Selfish Giant’s garden,
or like aisle to altar in this
Cathedral of a Garden, where blackbirds live.

The Minsteryard is store for wheelbarrow, sheds,
tools, pots, seedlings, hosepipe, stones and fountain,
where next door’s frog can visit.

Journeying with John

John was asked by his GP to go to Oldham Royal hospital to have his heart checked at 10.45am on August 20th, 2021. He was told he needed a heart bypass operation and would be kept in Oldham hospital on preparatory medicine until a bed could be found in a heart specialist hospital. He waited for just over three weeks, when Hinnie, Nell and I could only see him for a brief chat in a corridor when dropping off clean clothes for him. No visits. On Sunday 12th August John phoned me to say he was waiting for an ambulance to take him to Manchester Royal Infirmary, where the surgeon and anaesthetist were waiting to prepare him for the operation the following morning.

Monday 13/9/21: Ward 3 – 0101 276 4142, by arrangement, 1 named visitor for one hour.
ICU – 0161 276 4544 – phone after 9 am daily, no visits.
1 pm: 20 mins ago taken into ICU. Please phone back in an hour, 2pm for update.
1.50 pm, Angela – sedated for 3/4 hour while warming up –

everything fine – no issues.

ring this evening before 8 pm

7.30pm Oge (day) – 7 pm off ventilator, breathing himself with oxygen, alert and relaxed. Vein from right leg used for coronary artery bypass.

Tuesday 14/9/21: 9am – had breakfast and got up to sit in chair, then back to

bed to rest, awake, on painkillers -‘feels spaced out’

Oge (day) – spoke to him and he sends love to everyone. Ring this afternoon.

2.30 pm – Oge – OK, up on chair, no lunch as a problem with swallowing –

opioids making him tired, but spoke to Hin and me.

7 pm – John: ate mash, feels nauseous, talked to him about my day. Sends love to everyone.

Wednesday 15/9/21: 9.15 am Della: Doing well, some oxygen support, sat in chair then back to bed. Drink of orange, sleeping.

3.50 pm Della: Woken up, orange drink, drains now out from chest, oxygen support likely to be off tomorrow. Probably stay ICU.

6.30 pm: Sleeping, ate some porridge, tiredness huge. Likely oxygen off tomorrow.

Tuesday 16/9/21 9.30 am – Dr. Hind: breakfast, pain well controlled with pain killers, drowsy, sitting in chair with small amount of oxygen – breathing exercises. Ring this afternoon and might be able to speak to him.

In ICU til weekend – happy about his stability.

2 pm – Dr Hind: Drowsy – not drinking or eating, trying to find out why. Head scan for mini strokes booked today and neuro will look at outcomes,

looking for possible area deprived of oxygen.

Possibly hormones lower? Bloods checking, BP and kidneys ok, the two blood vessels which were blocked are now working and heart is ok.

Limbs and head moving ok.

6.30 pm Louise: very drowsy, CT scan of head and neck done, results in hours, on feeding tube and drip. Woke John up to speak to us –

We sang American Pie and he sang two lines to Hin

Ain’t No Sunshine…Every little breeze

John repeated ‘Bye Bye’ ( as Geoff does, like Sooty) and said ‘See you soon’

Friday 17/9/21 -9.15 am: Rafi – Drs busy around John’s bed. Ring back in 20 minutes.

9.50 am Rafi: ward clerk today

Angela 1-1 nurse – Drowsy, more alert, remembered surgeon, Saleem Jahangir. stable BP, bloods show kidneys and urine fine. Needs time to wake, stands with support but not walking yet.CT scan later today via neurologist.

2.30 pm: Dr Ahmed – drowsy and a bit confused – not oriented to place MRI or time – known as delirium. Report in a few hours. Aware, conscious and all observations are stable. Delirium is a common side effect of being in ICU.

6.30 pm Rafi: John in scan now – ring in an hour.

7.30 pm Dr Ahmed: John agitated in scan and postponed this afternoon.

Scan rearranged, sedated slightly (30 mins ago) On antibiotics now as temperature went up this morning. Blood and urine cultures being examined for infection.

Nurse Julie: John asleep – not able to speak to him.

Saturday 18/9/21 9.00 am, Della – OK overnight, woke up, eyes opened – responded to Della with a nod and having a wash.

MRI results, doc will feed back if any issues, but doing rounds now, ring later.

2 pm, Dr Isa: when free will ring back re MRI plan. Very little change, sitting on side of bed with physios. No dialogue, passive but no reason to suspect visual issues.

18/9/21 2.45 pm Dr Isa – MRI result shows multiple small enfarcts in the brain which could be bypass related and stroke team referral made to neurology. Embolic stroke possibly as already on blood thinners. Same management in place, stable and no changes. Temperature high 38 and ongoing antibiotics. Bloods results establish not sepsis. Waiting for neurology assessment on Monday.

7.20 pm Della – doing well, sleepy, John listened to me and said I love you. Della gets nods from him and is sure he can see her.

Sunday 19/9/21 9.15 am – nurse busy with John, ring back in 20 minutes. 9.35 am – same

10 am Sister: drowsy and sleepy for 3 days. Being washed and referral made to Salford Royal neurology – ring later.

12.45 pm -John is listening and responded to me re dinner and garden and yes/no to questions. Responded to Andrew sends love with Yes.

“All these beautiful songs…”

Eric and drumming – ” Eee…”

“Bye bye Miss American Pie”

“Hiya…”

John has been sleeping and in bed all day today. Some positive moments this morning when he was able to respond briefly to Hinnie and I and to getting love from Andrew and hearing Eric’s voice. More news tomorrow.

6.30 pm Angela -physios not able to wake him to stand him up and John not alert enough to sit in chair. Nurse said no ward phone available.

20/9/21 9.20 am – ward mobile in use, ring back in 15 minutes.

9.40 am- Della – John is restless and wants to lie on the floor, then back to sleep. Still on feeding tube and small amount of oxygen. Dr Gureshi is on ward all day.

2.05 pm Dr Qureshi -first neurology assessment done today. Needs more time to wake for another assessment. Stroke causing drowsiness. John has been talking and giving his name. Antibiotics ongoing four days and settling infection risk

6.15 pm – Della – same, sleepy – she calls him but not waking and is asleep. Stroke team will return for assessment after first insignificant outcome.

9.15 pm Sister – hoping for him to wake in a couple of days for stroke team to come back for assessment.

Tuesday 21/9/21  9.15 am – Gina – Sleepy, eyes open.  Dr Ahmed – seems to be improving alot. Will ring back in a few hours after Stroke team. We spoke on phone –

“Good morning”

“Lovely to hear your voice”

“Gina”

“I can see a window and another window. Concrete. The light is on”

“Blue. Chalky blue, dark blue”

“It changes when the light goes out”

“A bit of yellow wall”

“Damp and cold”

(I said ‘Sweden colours, I’ll tell Andrew)

“Andrew…Sweden…”

(I sang ‘Daisy daisy’ and he finished lines..)

2.45 pm Oge – stable and ok, sitting up in bed and comfortable.

More conversation –

“Yeah, am sitting up on the bed”

“What is it?”

“Oge. She’s the one you spoke to”

(‘She’s lovely’)

“Yeah she is”

(‘and Gina’)

“Yeah we have spoken together”

(‘What can you see?’)

“I can see a bit of…looks a little bit misty light”

(‘Season of mists and…’)

“Mellow fruitfulness”

“Can you hear me alright?”

“Oh good”

“I might start coughing at some point”

“It’s just a bit difficult”

(‘I’ll sing you a song’)

“Yeah go on, I’m listening”

(‘I see your face, the summer kisses, the sunburnt hands I used to hold…’ D’you remember that one?’)

“Yes, vaguely…Who was it sung by?”

(‘It might be French, translated into English’)

“Oh yeah”

“Hinnie!” Hello…hiya”

“Can you hear me alright?”

“I’ve been trying to cough but it doesn’t work”

“I can see a longer building – it’s all concrete but it looks more like sandstone”

“It’s been quite a busy afternoon – a few differnet people today”

“Let me just get me cough going”

“Hello – a little better, Yes, I think so”

“Give them my love too”

“Are they alright?”

“Is it Friday in school?”

“Sorry, I’m getting mixed up”

“I’ve been trying to work out which day it is – in a diary”

“Let me think what happened today”

“A lady doctor saw me this afternoon”

“Physiotherapist – occupational”

“And she wanted to do a bit of a scan on my heart, rolling over on the bed – ultrasound”

“She might be Lorraine”

“She said my heart is ok”

“Later on I had two more people – occupational therapy to do with moving – chair like a throne”

“Special hoist and er, yeah, I did a bed wash”

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just before the operation”

“Ok – well, I can, that’s right, cos I went in the shower. I trimmed my hair”

“It was just to make sure the rest of my beard was trimmed right”

“Was that the 19th?”

“Oh yes, the 12th – Martin’s birthday”

“It’s really nice to talk to you”

“Lovely to hear you”

“Tara for now”

“Yeah”

“I couldn’t work out what happened…I think it was -“

(‘ You needed to rest for longer’)

7 pm Dr Thomas of Stroke Team had spoken to Dr Qureshi – on bloodthinners and usual medication. Orienting himself to time and place and can be moved to Stroke ward on Thursday if  progress continues.

7.15 pm Gina – I said goodnight to John and told him we’d been to Morrisons for tea with Eric and Ella. He’s looking forward to seeing them. He asked if I’d like to say goodbye to Gina and gave phone to her. I thanked her. She said he’s doing well and knows her name and Doctor’s name.

Wednesday 22/9/21 -10.40 am – please ring back in 20 minutes

11.50 am – please ring back in ten minutes

12 noon Jasmine – John is confused but settled

Ward Manager Julie Stone – as John has now been in ICU for ten days, I was invited to visit him today for one hour 2 – 3 or 3- 4. He is breathing without support, still has feeding tube and on antibiotics.

John knew me and introduced me to his nurse, although clearly anxious and preoccupied with the ICU paraphernalia supporting him, trying to remove pipes.

A talk with Paul, an ICU Advanced Practitioner confirmed the stroke was multi-focus at the front of the brain, with motor functions not affected, but it is not possible to know the cognitive impact. John will be moved to Cardiac Critical Care where physios will begin the stroke therapy needed. The Care Plan includes a further move to a neural unit in the future and this might mean a wait for a bed. The long-term prognosis is a six month recovery period. John was supported to sit on the bed near me and listened to Paul. He struggled with nurses and said ‘I want to go home. Leigh will take care of me.’ the nurses encouraged him to lie down and I kissed him and told him the doctors and nurses would take care of him . I gave him love from everyone and he sent love to you.

Thursday 23/9/21 9.20 am – Drs busy with John, please ring later.

10 am – phone line busy.

10.10 am – Doing well. Likely to go to Ward 3 today. Ring Caroline later to get ward phone number. and news.

3.15 pm – call at home fromMRI – John has been moved to Cardiac Critical Care in Ward 4

3.30 pm- Charlotte – John asleep, was confused ‘but he’ll be better now he’s out of ICU’

Visiting allowed 2pm – 5pm or 6pm – 8pm Ring ward to book in advance.

Friday 24/9/21 9.10 am Clare, no concerns, someone stays with him all the time at the moment in a sideroom. Loose stools and culture needs to show negative. Can visit 2-3 pm Sunday

3.10 pm – Connor, staff nurse – feeding tube checked for position in stomach via aspirate – fluid prescribed. Aspirate not possible. Xray done at 1 pm re MG tube placing – currently reviewing, then will start feeding again. Speech and language team will review for safe swallow and speaking on Monday.

Saturday 25/9/21 12 am – John taken by ambulance to Fairfield Hospital Bury and was speaking . Asked the ambulance crew how long he would be in Fairfield. Leah, sister – Acute Stroke Ward – John very confused, feeding and required 1-1 supervision. After capacity assessment has fluctuating capacity and now has capacity deprivation of liberty and wearing mittens to prevent removing of MG tube.

Ward 5, no visits at all. Phone to speak to John.

Phone Manager Emily on Monday to ask about visit. Phone again after 2pm

Sophia – John settled

MRI staff nurse phoned, please collect John’s valuables from MRI on Monday.

Sunday 26/9/21 John settled this morning – nurse on break so ring after 12

12.30 – Meds via MG tube, in side room because of infection

4.30pm I spoke to John. He knows where he is and is looking forward to when I can visit him. He checked with me that I know where Fairfield Hospital is. I do! Love to you all, more news tomorrow.

Monday 27/9/21 9.35 am Busy with meds, please ring later.

11.30 am Stacey – John has had a seizure but has recovered ok. He is tired. Monitoring him for more epileptic seizures. Speech and language will be at a later date.

2.30 pm – no reply

2,45 pm – rang but cut off twice.

Stacey – settled but temperature rise this morning. ECG OK and is more alert than when seizure happened. Emily, Ward Mgr will be in tomorrow morning.

6.30 pm Stacey – meds for John because of low sodium level, bloods results tomorrow. More alert and wants to speak. I told him about going for tea in Morrisons and he listened and responded.

Tuesday 28/9/21 ANSAPHONE call at home Please ring Ward 5.

7.45am – Robora – at 1 am John got very poorly and has been moved to ICU with infection. On oxygen and Xray done.

Ward clerk Dr Kineev – blood pressure high, got worse in ICU and John had a brief cardiac arrest but was resuscitated in five minutes. He is on ventilator and is sedated in an induced coma. Unstable but coping and very poorly.

10.15 am – Hinnie and I met Drs Jolly and Mahmoud and Alison, John’s nurse. Infection source might be in the lungs. ECG is fine, but there is a risk of organ failure as his kidney function is low but not in need of dialysis.All over support from ICU and they feel they need John to respond.

Wednesday 29/9/21 Theresa – no change overnight. No news of infection source and drs arranging a CT scan. Please ring later.

7.40pm line busy

8.10 pm John settled, slight improvement, bloods a bit better, still on ventilator, sedation reduced but no responses. Might reduce it further tomorrow. Chest and abdomen clear.

Thursday 30/9/21 Staff nurse asked me to give a password. Wuthering

John has been off sedation since 7.45 am, being washed and consultant wants to check if he’s waking. On ventilator and spontaneous movement from time to time. Monitoring BP meds and heart rate. Dr Baker and Dr Jolly. Ring again after lunch.

12.45 pm Lynn – Same situation. Not waking. John is on ventilator, sedated and with support for BP and heart rate.

After 24 hours John will be moved to ICU in Salford Royal – or could be within the hour. Just waiting for ambulance. Dr Climm Jolly said they’d tried to see if they could wake him, but no response.

3.30 pm John arrived in ICU at Salford Royal and is being settled in. Please ring later.

5.20 pm Ilias -John under sedation, doctors with him overnight and tomorrow. Visiting can be next of kin only – Hinnie and I, phone to book an hour.

Friday 1/10.21 – 2.30 pm Dr Anfal rang and our 5 to 6 pm visit has to be cancelled. John has been off sedation all day and is not waking. Is on antibiotics and chest drain for pneumonia. Kidney and bloods seem to be improving, but further brain scan needed to explore if any additional damage since last scan. Unable to visit today, but can visit tomorrow.

Saturday 2/10/21 12.30 pm Dr Dan and Virginia – no issues arising from recent brain scan. The antibiotics are correct for infection and ongoing checks being made on this three times daily. John is breathing for himself and no longer on blood pressure meds. Sedation was off from 9 am today and he’s trying to open his eyes. Dr is hoping to remove ventilator tube later today or tomorrow. We gave him your love and sang to him.

Sunday 2/10/21 1-2 pm Hinnie and I visited John. No signficant improvement as his blood pressure rose again yesterday evening and again this morning, so John is back on BP and heart meds. They are still lowering sedation, but John is making minimal response. His breathing still supported by ventilator. We gave him love from all.

Monday 4/10/21 Paula, bed 8, visited 5 – 6 pm and we spoke with Dr Jackie and nurse who told us the medical team had reached the limit of life support they can give John. Over the next few days the cardiologist, stroke team and multi=dis ICU team will examine his failing organs: brain, heart,, lungs and kidneys and we will get feedback in next few visits. John’s blood pressure and heart rate increase dangerously each time they reduce sedation and he is not responding. We arranged for Nell to visit with me tomorrow and gave him your love.

Tuesday 5/10/21 11.30 -12.30, Vikki –  Nell and I visited. No ventilator and oxygen levels are down. Cardio-respiratory team is monitoring and physiotherapy monitoring assessment of breathing. Blood pressure stable, legs moving, arms weaker, pressing my hand. More monitoring during the afternoon and we will get feedback. We sang to him and gave him your love.

Wednesday 6/10/21, 11.30 -12.30 Dr Thomas and Vikki – John is awake and alert after having the ventilator tube removed yesterday. The Stroke team have visited and as his heartbeat is regular and no sign of atrial infibrillation, it is likely he will be moved from ICU to the Critical stroke ward in the near future. Another MRI scan is planned to check again on the damage caused by the stroke. His breathing is supported minimally by oxygen and he is still fed via MG tube. His inability to swallow or speak will be central to stroke rehab work over the weeks ahead. The ICU consultant was clear that “we can’t predict the future…” and adverse reactions are always a possibility. Intensive care is not needed now and John will be equally well supported in the Stroke ward. God bless ICU. During our visit, he listened, watched, turned his head, winked, enjoyed the music we played and was looking and listening to everything going on around him. We don’t think he knew us. John is still waiting for a bed in the Stroke ward. We gave him your love.

Thursday 7/10/21  10.30am phone call from Jay Qwan, Stroke consultant with update after she was asked to see John urgently. Sepsis being treated with antibiotics, no speech and very poorly neurologically. MRI scan to see amount of brain injury not right to do when John is so poorly. New fever, very breathless New blood cultures taken, oxygen support. ICU cannot offer more life support. Please come in asap to ward B3 on ground floor.

Hinnie and I arrived at 11.45am and walked to B3 from main car park.Met Robbie, his nurse and Lisa, a palliative care nurse, who explained John is close to death and possibly not far from now. Jay Qwan, consultant who phoned us called in to see us. Lisa went to find the chaplain for us and we sat with John for an hour. Hinnie played John some music and the Chaplain came and talked with us. She said prayers and blessed John and said we could contact her at any time. Two ‘cygnets’ came – Janet and Lisa – palliative care volunteers. Janet lives near Clara St on Coppice and knows John from her pub, the Royal Oak. They stayed with John while we left…it was Eric’s birthday and we knew John would want us to go home for his party.

Robbie phoned us as we were driving home to say ‘John has taken his last breath’ – and to contact Robbie when we got home. He was preparing to wash and move John to the mortuary.

This is the update we sent out to his friends and family…

“With great sadness, we have to tell you that John died at 2 pm this afternoon, 7th October 2021.

We were called at 10.30am because his condition had deteriorated severely from the early hours and we were asked to visit as quickly as possible. He had a new fever and was very breathless, with a very poor neurological prognosis and no MRI scan had been possible. The consultant confirmed that there was no more that ICU could do and that John would remain in the Stroke ward.

We arrived at 11.45am and stayed close to him with love, music, and the comfort of Last Rites administered by the hospital chaplain. We left at 1.30 pm and were driving home when Robbie, his nurse, called us to say John had taken his last breath at 2 pm. We send you all our love and will be in touch later tomorrow.”

John’s funeral was arranged for 2.30pm on 28th October, 2021, at Hollinwood Crematorium, Oldham, according to the wishes he left.

John Cook – 16th March 1950 – 7th October 2021

We gather together

Welcome and Introduction by Sue

We light a candle

Hinnie reads

We remember and give thanks

Leigh speaks

Music

Chris speaks and reads

Hinnie speaks

Charlie speaks

Music

The Committal

Music

We move forward in Love

Music: Sibelius No. 4 Final Movement

Labi Siffre: It Must Be love

Buddy Holly: True Love Ways

Arturo Marquez – Danzon No. 2

Everyone is invited to join us for a drink and a bite to eat as we celebrate John’s life at The Victoria Hotel, Oldham.

Stepping Out of Grief with Raj

Some things have ceased
to come along with me …
the Waiting Room
the Ventilation tubes
the Infusion lines
the Finger clip
the ICU machines
the Alarms
the Catheter bag
the Plastic aprons
the Lifting and Turning
the Mouth cleansing
the Pain in your Eyes
and in your Friends’ Faces.
But Kindness walks with me.
Sweet Nurses and the Sad
Consultant who couldn’t
meet my face to tell me and
the Wise Nurse who whispered
‘She’s watchng you.’

Holly-gathering in snow
we sank to our knees
and blew on our nails.
Fixing the swing and
rocking a cuppa.
Listening to choughs as
we smelled peat bogs burn.
Sunrise from your window,
Evening calls on your drive home
and your little hand in
seed trays or stringing night-time
lights amidst Sweet Peas and
Morning Glories, in blue pots.
Muj on the bench
in the sun
and You on the bench
in the sun.
Door open, kettle on,
laptop on, washing on.
Tickets for gigs,
Embroidery threads,
Reading glasses and books,
Camera and paintings.
Duvet cover and carpet lover
Secondhand rose and loving Carer.
Fatherless Child of mine
in Sweden jacket and red shoes
dancing the night away
in the hills.
Brown-eyed girl, I have never felt
so comforted, just stepping out
from Raja’s room.
Into his view, into our hills and
listening to the peace of
a summer’s morning with
schoolchildren’s voices on the air,
while blackberries ripen and
blackbirds and larks sing
above the window Lego box.

Ode to Simon Armitage

Uncurling my thoughts and
curling up to write that
there’s something comfy about you.
Well shod, brown shoes I remember
in Oldham Probation.
I was forty one and you, a listener,
with gentleness and an interest in
my Section 10 group doing English.
Your wall display of notes,
tracing the residential hike in
High Peak country,
telling it like it is.
Seventy eight now and watching a
Poet Laureate who feels like corduroy.