The autumn equinox has passed and the northern hemisphere moves from summer to winter as the seasons change. This use of seasonal change as a metaphor for the changes in our own lives is not new but never has it resonated quite so loudly with my own life before; for things are definitely changing here in my life; things that cut to the very core of who I am and how I identify myself.
Firstly and most importantly, my father is 82 and growing ever more frail; we visited him recently and the day after we returned mother found him collapsed in a chair and he was taken into hospital with pulmonary oedema and kidney failure caused by ongoing heart failure; thankfully he is recovering and is now much better but the heart failure is chronic and untreatable in an 82 year old in overall poor health. Over the past few years he has had several small heart attacks and strokes and as well as suffering from diabetes and arthritis, he is almost completely blind and in constant pain. We haven’t rushed down to hospital as he is improving and the consensus it wait until he’s back home again rather than all rush in; 5 children and attendant partners and grandchildren make quite a crowd and he finds it very overwhelming even when we stagger visits.
We are all desperately worried that should he get flu or another virus, this winter might be his last. My visit made it even more obvious how limited my time with my father might be and the disadvantages of living so far away. We had some lovely conversations and a heartbreakingly poignant moment where we said goodbye; just in case we didn’t see each other again. I hope beyond hope that I do see him again but I know that his failing health may mean I won’t. It is a real possibility that I may very soon not be my father’s daughter; the first step on becoming not the next generation but the first generation – mortality growing ever nearer, one step at a time.
My father and I are massive Terry Pratchett fans.
Secondly I am officially menopausal. It is not so much the physical changes of hot flushes, night sweats or the loss of fertility that get me down; no it’s the mental symptoms of massive mood swings, the crazy, mad evil witch queen of the planet Zorg that I seem to be channelling. Jean-Luc has been the personification of caring calm (especially in this last crisis with my father) but I do worry that my constant tears and angry outbursts will really stretch his patience and soon begin to wear thin. The menopause is really a trial in how far you can push something before it breaks; and I think that includes love and relationships.
Thirdly; and thankfully finally for you dear reader; it is a very real possibility that by April next year I may have no job. I work in local government and with the current insane focus of central government on austerity and cuts in public service to help pay off the national budget deficit in part caused by bailing out the banks which have escaped the financial censure which is being visited on the more essential public services. This has resulted in local councils battling with massive budget challenges and paring back services to the absolute legal minimum, with associated job loses as staff costs need to be cut by several thousands. This means that as nice as it is to be able to offer the public the services my team provide; the truth is the council can probably no longer afford to. That means I’ll probably be out of a job. I have always (until recently) been passionate about my work; I’ve loved doing what I do and it has formed a major part of my how I’ve identified myself.
And so as these things in my life change so do I. I am moving from one season of my life to another and what this will look like I’m not yet sure but it will be an adventure, albeit an internal one.
On a much brighter note tonight is the final of The Great British Bake Off and my money is firmly on the incredibly charming and talented Nadiya; she of the deadpan humour, wonderfully expressive face and beautiful bakes – that peacock was stunning!