Heads or Tails


The words on the screen blurred as she downed another gulp of neat vodka, wincing at its bitterness.

She toyed with the coin in her trembling hand – heads or tails – it was to decide her fate.

Her eyes, although bloodshot, remained dry; she was well past tears. Thinking of all that she had lost and what she had thrown away, she flipped the coin. She watched it spin in the air, letting it fall to the floor with a tinny ping before taking another mouthful, holding her breath, in no hurry to look at the results.

Closing her eyes, she felt the tension in her shoulders, muscles burning, her head felt too heavy on her delicate neck and she struggled to sit upright.

Her head will hurt tomorrow…

She opened her eyes and looked at the coin – tails – and smiled a slow, sad smile, thinking, “No hangover then”.

Popping open the dark bottle, she shook out a handful of tiny white pills, swallowing them all at once with the remaining vodka.

She looked to the computer and hit Send –

“I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”

*

Copyright, 2017, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

 

Reality Bites


Silver sunlight sparkles on the still surface of the water as the bow of the boat slices smoothly through it. I hear you approach from behind. You rest your hands on my shoulders, gently massaging them, “Coffee? Wine?”

I smile, “Surprise me.”

Long, heavy, leaden branches droop lazily into the canal, overburdened with foliage and blossoms. A verdant paradise of scented sensory stimulation. I close my eyes and inhale the perfume, listen to the soft lapping of the water, feel myself lightly rocked by the motion of the barge.

I hear you sink into the chair next to me and I turn to open my eyes and look at you. You are holding out a glass of sparkling white wine, cloudy condensation dripping down the glass. I take it and raise it in the air.

“To you,” you say.

“To us,” I reply and we clink a toast.

Its effervescence tickles my nostrils as I take a sip; sharp bubbles bursting on my tongue and catching in my throat making me cough slightly. Giggling I swallow and watch you as you look out at the scene before us; ducks and swans swimming amicably alongside us, green tendrils trailing beneath the surface of the water.

I feel content, relaxed and happy. Everything is just how it should be. Everything feels right.

A loud voice shatters my peace, “Now then! Time to take your vitals again, up you sit,” the strong, forcefully cheerful Dublin accent of the nurse breaking through my dream. Unwelcome, familiar pain floods my body as I struggle to sit up, my mouth parched, lips cracked.

Reality crashes in.

💋

Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com

All rights reserved

Mam


This coming Sunday, October 9th, will be a tough day for me.

It is every year.

It is a day I dread. I know it is coming, it is as inevitable as, well, the days of the week. I cannot avoid it.

*

In 1993, I was 20 years old, at college and living away from home with the boy who would later become my husband. I was crazy in love and never wanted to leave him, never wanted to spend a weekend back at home without him.

I knew my mother missed me and would have liked me to visit more. But, hey, I was young and selfish and thoughtless. And, like all 20 year olds, I thought there was all the time in the world.

I called home one day in September, from a phone booth outside the Post Office, (back in the days when we actually used phone booths), and spoke to my mother, who told me she had been to see the doctor and was going into hospital for some tests.

The next time I called home I was told she was in Intensive Care.

One month later, on October 9th, she died. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. The last thing she ever said to me was, “I love you, darlin’”. She was 53.

Turns out I didn’t have time.

I will never know what our relationship as two adult women would have been like.

I will always be the rebellious kid that left home without a backward glance. The girl who fought tooth and nail with her. The girl who rolled her eyes at her. The girl who loved her to bits but wasn’t able to show it. The girl who felt she never ‘got’ me, not the way she did my sister. The girl who was insanely jealous of their relationship.

At her funeral, in that final moment that we had to say goodbye, just before the undertaker closed the casket, in front of a crowded room of people, I bent down and kissed her cold cheek and the reality of it hit me. This was it. I think I had to be helped up. I’m not sure, but I think it was the boy I loved.

An old friend of hers I remembered from my childhood, (because she had a pet tortoise that fascinated me, she seemed so exotic and I loved visiting her house), came over, hugged me, looked me in the eyes and said, “She was so proud of you.” I never knew.

So, Sunday will come and I will think of her. We will talk about her and laugh at good memories. She was a very funny lady.

I will cry. And I will miss her.

I love you Mam.

💋

Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

Word For Wednesday (W4W) #60


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Play here!

This week’s word is:

Family.

Didn’t Phil know what he was talking about? Never has there been a truer poem in the history of all poetry! IMHO!

I also second my mate Leo’s take on family…

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When we were younger, my sister and I used to lament the fact that our family was so unlike the Cosby Show, who seemed to personify all things ideal when it came to family life. (Given recent revelations, I have reconsidered Dr. Huxtable’s appeal as a father figure…)

A clear early family memory came back to me last week, whilst watching Stewart Lee’s excellent Comedy Vehicle on BBC, on the topic of Death. He spoke about how the first time a child encounters death is often the demise of a beloved family pet and it triggered this recollection for me –

I am not sure how old I was, I would hazard a guess at between 4-6 and my father, a plasterer by trade, came home from work one day with a round Blue Ribband margarine tub in his hands, saying he had a surprise for me. I was excited. He opened the tub and inside was the tiniest, cutest little mouse, (perhaps a wee baby or a door-mouse, I am not sure). Thinking he was giving me a pet, I clapped my hands and positively jumped for joy, delighted.

Was I wrong????

He had actually brought it home as a toy for our two Jack Russell Terriers to ‘play with’ and was simply  letting me have a look before setting the poor doomed creature free into our back yard.

Cruel? Twisted? Sick?

Obviously this little mouse was not a beloved family pet, but for a few joyous minutes I thought s/he might be.

Add to the story the fact that my mother was standing next to me, cooking dinner. She had a terrible phobia of mice and I remember her saying his name and pleading with him to take the creature away from her.

I have no clue why I chose to share this story today… it’s bleak, dark and downright fucking weird!

But hey… today my family is the OH and my two furry little girls, who love me more than I could ever have hoped for, along with a collection of nephews and nieces that make my heart sing with joy and love.

Family is what you make it…

💋

Copyright, 2016, k1kat.com

All rights reserved.

Wall of Tears


If you have any unresolved issues in relation to grief you may not wish to read this post.

I was deeply saddened to read in my friend Annie‘s blog about her very recent loss of her mother after a long, difficult year of illness. It brought to mind my own lovely mother, whose hand I held as she took her last breath when I was only twenty years old.

My mother went to the doctor one day because her feet had swollen to uncomfortable, bloated size. She was sent immediately for tests and was told the swelling was called by severe deficiency of potassium. Her potassium level was so low that she had been walking around for months on the verge of a heart attack. That was shocking enough but there was much worse to come.

I called my mother from college and she told me she had to go into hospital to be treated for her potassium levels. My mother was admitted to hospital and never came back home.

She went into hospital on September 9th 1992 and died on October 9th 1992. She was 53.

I have no memory of the last time I ever saw her in our own family home. I imagine it must have been a Sunday evening as I left for college, but it was just another Sunday for me. If I had known that I would never see her again wearing her own clothes, sitting in her favourite chair, I would have seared that image of her into my memory. But I did not know and I cannot remember that day.

I do remember visiting her in hospital for the first time and walking into Intensive Care, scared by all the beeping monitors and drips, thinking “this doesn’t look good at all”. She, in typical Mammy mode, gave me a list of things she wanted me to get for her from home, written on a paper napkin. I still have that list. I think she wanted to give me a job to do to keep me feeling useful.

To cut a short story shorter, she was transferred to a bigger, better hospital. I recall driving home from there one evening with my older bother driving the car, my father in the passenger seat, (that alone should have warned me something was badly wrong), and me in the back seat. It was a silent hourlong journey. As we drove up to our house my brother reached his hand back between the front seats and grabbed mine tight  and squeezed it so hard it hurt. I started to get very, very scared.

We assembled in our living room, my father, older brother, my older sister and her husband and I was told that my mother had been diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to her liver. I stood frozen and started then to shake. I remember my brother-in-law gently taking me by the shoulders and guiding me to a seat. Then I remember my brother handing me something to drink. That is all I have of that night.

For a month we drove up and down to visit my mother in the hospital and at the time there was a lovely album out called A Woman’s Heart, featuring several well-known Irish female folk singers which we played in the car a lot on those journeys. One song in particular always spoke to me; Wall of Tears by Frances Black.

I twisted the words slightly to suit my situation. I changed the words Him or Her and cried quietly in the backseat of the car.

“Looking out my window, staring through the pain
I can’t see the rainbow for the rain
Someday Ill forget you, life goes on they say
But they don’t know what’s standing in my way
And there’s a wall of tears, I’ve got to get over
Got to stop thinking of him, got to learn not to love him
I know the sun will shine
I’m gonna be fine but until then
The rains gonna fall just like a wall of tears”

I am listening to it now and it still brings back the pain.

I miss my mother all the time. I left home when I was 17, for college, but I fell in love and decided to stay in my new town with my love so, apart from one summer, I never lived back home again. I missed that time with her. I left home during that period where mothers and daughters are still clashing constantly, fighting and struggling to understand each other. We never got to become friends, never got to know each other as women. My sister, eight years older than me, did get that and yes, I have always been jealous of that.

I am so grateful that the OH had a year of knowing my mother. It is such a comfort to me that he can share memories of her with me. He tells me often that I have turned into her. As I sing whilst cooking, or when certain expressions fall from my lips he will joke,”Hey Breeda, you’re back!” and we laugh.

As a kid, when I was told how similar I looked to her I would scrunch up my face with disgust and she would roll her eyes and say “Well thanks!” sarcastically. Now, I look at photographs and I see the resemblance, and it is incredibly striking. What’s more, I love it! My mother was a very beautiful woman, very striking, and whenever I am told that I look like her now I smile wide and say a very sincere thank you.

All I can say to Annie is that she will never stop missing her mom and she will feel the loss forever, but clichéd as it is, time really does help. The pain and sadness will lessen every day until you reach a point where thinking of her and remembering her will make you smile rather than cry.

For a long time after she died I couldn’t even talk about her or say her name but now, even though I write this with tears in my eyes, I am smiling; thinking of her funny habit of always having a bag of dry roasted peanuts in her pocket, her off-key singing, the constant clicking of her knitting needles, the way her eyes crossed comically when she looked up from reading while she adjusted to her new bifocals, playing competitive cross words against her… so many good memories.

Cherish your memories Annie.

Sending you love, peace and light.

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💋

Copyright, 2015, k1kat.com
All rights reserved.

Dumb Ways To Die…


I have always been a bit obsessed with death.

As a child I pondered about it a lot.

As a teenager I read about vampires, serial killers and psychopaths.

As part of my psychology degree I studied Death and Dying.

I have planned and imagined my own funeral many, many times.

I am not fearful of death. In my opinion my consciousness simply ceases to exist, therefore why worry about it? Its not as if I will even know I am dead.

I just stop being.

The end.

Not having any religious beliefs, I have no fear of an afterlife in hell, or of a final judgement day.

I live my life according to my own ethos based on kindness and leaving this world better than I found it, simply because it is what I believe to be the best way to live.

I often wonder how long I have left on this mortal coil?

I wonder what form my death will take?

Will it be sudden, unexpected and quick?

Or slow, painful and drawn out?

Will it be violent or peaceful?

I suspect, however, that my end will come about in the most mundane, prosaic and fairly pathetic fashion.

Here are some of my possible dumb ways to die…

 

Death by Dyson cord

I used to have a Dyson Vacuum cleaner.

It was heavy and awkward to use but it had amazing suction so I stuck with it.

As time went on I began to suspect this machine was truly out to kill me. Its electrical cord was constantly finding ways to wrap itself around my ankles. It was as if it was a malevolently sentient entity.

I suffered many close shaves with it and narrowly avoided being tripped up by it on frequent occasion.

The final straw came one day whilst vacuuming at the top of the stairs, the wicked appliance made its final attempt to murder me, and only my fast reactions and the stair bannister prevented me hurtling down the stairs.

Heart racing, blood pulsing, I sat down and envisioned my OH returning home that evening to find my broken breathless body at the bottom of the stairs.

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I decided I would not allow my death to be caused by a bloody cleaning product.

The Dyson was recycled in favour of another, cordless Dyson.

I lived to vacuum another day!

*(I should point out that my stairs are not as grand as those in the photo, and neither do I wear such glamorous attire as that while I vacuum.)

 

Death by Steamer cord

My attempt to escape death by electrical cord turned out to be futile after all.

Having traded in the corded vacuum, I purchased a rather fancy floor steamer. My first few goes with it made me very happy, resulting in sparkling, hygienic floors, super fast with no sloppy mops or buckets.

Then it happened.

I was working away, pushing the steamer across the floor when I was suddenly snapped across the ankle by the evil electrical cord.

Desperate to avoid slipping on the wet floor, my legs splayed out from under me.

I managed to strain my inner thigh muscle.

Days of pain later, I vow to keep my eyes on that pesky cord at all times.

Electrical cords hate me.

 

Death by wine

I am an oenophile.

A wine lover.

I love the flavours.

I love the aromas.

I love the sound of a cork being opened.

I love the sound of wine being poured into a glass.

I love the calming sensation that ripples through my body after a glass.

The other night, as my OH walked our dogs, I was sipping a cold glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc as I prepared dinner, when I swallowed it the wrong way.

Spluttering and coughing I tried to clear my throat.

It wasn’t working. I couldn’t catch my breath.

Holding onto the back of a chair for support, feeling my face turn redder and redder as I struggled to inhale, I began to panic.

Could my love of wine really be the end of me?

Not by liver failure, heart disease or cancer, but by simply choking to death on a mouthful of the fermented grape?

Clearly I survived to tell the tale. But the episode does truly does give fresh blood to the saying…

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Death by giant vitamin tablet.

I am starting to see a pattern to my near death experiences.

First of all electrical cords were out to kill me.

Now another chocking incident springs to mind.

As I am a bit of a health junkie I take several vitamin pills daily.

One morning after eating my breakfast I popped my usual cocktail of tablets. I tend to have a fairly gung-ho approach to this and often swallow several at once with a swig of water.

This particular morning I felt one lodge in my throat.

You know the one, that giant, horse-sized multivitamin in a gelatin capsule.

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I took another glug of water, hoping to dislodge the offending object.

Nothing.

It remained wedged in its new home, my throat.

It felt enormous, like a bulging tumour at the back of my throat.

I tried to stick my fingers back there to see if I could manually move it.

Resisting the gag reflex I dug away, my fingertips scraping the gelatin sheath but not quite able to grasp it. Starting to feel sick and panicky, I keep trying to gain purchase on the pill.

Retching and gagging into the bathroom sink I spit blood and realize I have scratched my throat in my desperate groping.

I took another gulp of water and finally the tablet is gone. The gelatin must have finally dissolved enough for the pill to pass down my throat.

I am left with a sore and bloody torn throat for the day but am glad to not be lying, suffocated on the bathroom floor.

I make a note to myself to exercise more restraint in my pill swallowing.

 

Death by dog toy or pee

As I have shared in previous posts, I am mother to two adorable little dogs, Lily and Poppy.

Lily is long past the stage of having wee accidents indoors but Poppy, being only four months old, still has the occasional lapse in bladder control.

The problem is my hardwood floor does not reveal these little puddles very well, being basically pee coloured itself to begin with.

As I tend to walk around in socks it is all too feasible to imagine treading and slipping in a little pool of the amber fluid and hitting my head on the way down against the sharp corner of my oak worktop.

Furthermore, as Poppy is in full throws of teething, in order to attempt to stop her destroying my entire house, (mostly futile attempts it has to said), I have bought her countless chew toys to keep her occupied.

I have lost count of the number of times I have tripped over a toy she has abandoned in the middle of the floor, narrowly avoiding falling.

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This little dog could be the death of me yet!

 

Death by dog blanket

Lily sleeps up on my bed but she has her own little bed next to mine, wherein resides her very favourite blanket.

Before Poppy arrived and forever altered our routine, we used to get up in the morning and Lily loved to bring me blanket and we played tug of war for a while. After this playtime I would usually have gone downstairs to make a coffee to bring back up to bed.

Without fail, Lily would have left blanket precariously perched on the top step of the stairs, directly in my path.

Negotiating my way around it with a scalding cup of coffee in my hand, first thing in the morning is one thing I do not miss about our old morning routine!

Death by spider

A previous post recounted my severe arachnaphobia.

There was a point at which the house seemed to be invaded daily by giant ugly eight legged freaks. It was a truly distressing time for me and I lived in constant fear and dread of the next unwelcome guest.

The OH researchd online and found me the most amazing, powerful spider killing spray available and bought me several cans.

The first time I used it I was amazed at the fast results and rejoiced. Any time I saw one, out came my trusty spray and, hey presto, problem solved. I could simply place a large bowl over the corpse and get on with my day.

The only downside to my new defence mechanism was the noxious, toxic fumes given off by the spray. Given that some days I had several encounters, coupled with my tendency to go overboard with things, I was never light handed with the spray and as a result there were several days I was forced to leave the house in order to avoid poisoning myself. Even upon returning after a couple of hours I found that the vapour lingered and I often needed to retreat upstairs.

How pathetic would it have been to end my life because in my attempt to kill my nemesis I inadvertently killed myself?

Since the arrival to the dogs, however, I have retired the magic spray and have resorted to my old panic attacks if I receive any uninvited visitors.

Thankfully, they seem to pop by less and less.

I suspect my two furry friends are finding them and possibly eating them for me. Thanks Lily and Poppy!

 🐶

Once again, thanks for stopping by and reading my daft little blog guys and gals. I really hope you enjoy it and stop by again.

Ciao!

💋