saying goodbye to the family home

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the words ‘good bye’ are said daily.  we have countless euphemisms for our departures: “cheerio” “see you later” “ciao” but the words “good bye” suggests a certain finality.

i have said these words countless times but, today, i uttered those words, with finality, as i said “good bye” to the house i grew up in.

today was the hardest day.  saying ‘good bye’ to such a ‘friend’ was the only time those words have strangulated.  it was the only time i have felt a sadness unlike any other sadness i have felt. as i closed the door, for the last time, i felt something close inside me.  it was final.  something was severed, just as my umbilical cord was cut many years ago.  i now had to breathe my own breaths.  it was the first time i ever felt alone. it was the first time i felt real loneliness. i felt at a loss for a loss that was not yet gone. i felt orphaned by the searing pain of familiar nostalgia and the gnawing ache of a new melancholy.

today was the hardest day.

home is where the heart is and our home was filled with love.  as i drove down our old street, looking for a place to park, i already felt an overwhelming sense of emptiness.

and then it hit me.  this would be the last time i would ever return to this place. this place called home, to which i had returned countless times.  this place was sacred. somewhere I knew would always be there for me from when i returned from my travels.  this place was my rock.  it was grounded.  earthed.  steadfast.

a light would always be left on.  it was a place i knew i could return to and be safe when I needed to feel. to feel loved. to feel comforted.  it was my home.  it was the only family home i knew.  this home was more than a house. more than mere bricks and mortar with a few roses planted by the door.  my home was sentient.  this home was my friend.  and now i had to say ‘good bye’.

i parked the car outside and composed myself.  i sat, gripping the steering wheel, and looked into the garden.  a garden where roses grew.  roses that my late father planted.  a garden where ghosts of little Kathryns played.  i could see them all so clearly.  i could see a seven-year old Kathryn, with long blonde hair, playing with her little black poodle and giggling happily.  i could hear her.  she was truly happy and oblivious to the black clouds that would darken her future skies.  i saw a teenage Kathryn sitting on the back porch steps, on a hot summer night, with girlfriends from school – music blaring out; and i could see her saying ‘good night’ to old boyfriends.  i could see her returning home and the joy in my mother’s face, beaming, as she reached out her hands to welcome her, whether that had been returning from a trip to Sri Lanka or a trip to the local shops… my mother, she was always like that. always happy to see me home, safe.

but today she wasn’t there to welcome me.  sadly, she is now in a care home.  dementia has her in its vice-like grip and i cannot do anything to pull her out of its clutches.  she is slowly disappearing from me and, in some strange way, saying ‘good bye’ to the home was like saying ‘good bye’ to her because she, too, was home.  i have no idea where that home is now.  but i have my own home, life, love and career and i am happy.  i am happy that she could see me grow up and become the woman that i am today.

but today…

…today was the hardest day.

with a sigh, and heavy heart, i got out the car and went into the garden, fumbling in my numerous pockets for my key, whilst trying not to spill the hot coffee i had taken with me.

that garden. that garden was where i played as a young child. it was in that garden that my father taught me how to skip.  it was in that garden i played with my rabbit, Benjamin. it was in that garden i would twirl around the clothes pole until i was dizzy and giddy.  it was in that garden that i would sunbathe and it was in that garden that i would often sit and read on warm summer nights, drinking in the heady fragrance of night-scented stock that my father had planted beneath my bedroom window.

my father.  i could see his ghost too. i lingered by the old garden shed and i swear i could see him in there, through the small dirty window.  i could see his weather-beaten face. he looked as though he was working on something.  as i recall, he would spend many happy hours in that garden shed, pottering around, making hand-sculpted wooden toys and odd boxes for me to keep my secrets in.  or he would be sharpening his tools, the lawnmower’s blades or cutting the neighbour’s kids’ hair.  he was always busy but he always had time for good people and animals.

i could see the ghosts of our dogs. i could see them running about the garden and jumping up to welcome me home.

there were no little dogs to welcome me today.

i climbed the steps and put my key in the lock and turned it open.

the sun-filled porch was warm and the air was musty and hot, like a hothouse.  my mother’s bird of paradise plant stood alone.  it took seven years to flower. i am glad she got to see this happen.

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the back porch as we called it, even although, technically, was the front of the house, was a place where i would sit with my mother on lazy summer Sundays.  we would sip iced lemonade and play Scrabble, or we would talk until the small hours of the morning.

there were so many ghosts here today…

i opened the door to home.  the staircase was first to greet me.  a staircase that was not just a means of getting upstairs, or  downstairs.  this staircase was an old friend.  a place i would retreat to when i needed space from family gatherings.  a place where i could just sit and be alone with my thoughts.  thoughts often broken by the family dog licking my hand.  that staircase held so many ghosts…  as a child that staircase was a pirate ship, a jungle, an alpine mountain, the Empire State Building and a spaceship… that staircase was anything and everything that my childhood imagination could envisage.  my friends and i played on that staircase.  we would slide down it, head first… racing each other to the bottom. we would do this countless times until either my mother’s patience or the skin on my knees wore thin.

latterly, that staircase had a stair-lift.  that had now been removed but the scars remain:

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the carpet, discoloured; and holes in wall-papered walls where its fixtures once secured a safe means of aiding my mother’s mobility.

the dining room was bare.  the dining table and chairs were gone.  table and chairs.  table and chairs where once we all sat around together to eat many a family meal together.  ghosts of birthday parties.  so many candles and wishes.  so many Christmas dinners and crackers pulled. so many NYE parties, and so many times i sat at that table with my friends. so many ghosts here today – all seeking one more seat at that table.  i could hear laughter and voices from the past.  so much joy.  all that remains now is faded wallpaper and cobwebs, with patches intact where pictures once hung.

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the dining room now empty and forlorn.  a room where there once was so much love. so much laughter, and tears.  a room once filled with life and belongings now empty.  a room where, as a young child, i would play with my friends.  the old dining room table was not just a table.  in the wilds of childhood imagination, it was a Sherman tank… a spaceship… a tree-house… a cave…  or a place to hide when i hurt myself.  i used to run and hide each time i hurt myself, as i was scared of pain.  there was no table to hide beneath today. and i was hurting.

i took a deep breath and stepped into the living room. the ‘living‘ room. there was no life there today. it was empty.  boxes of stuff sat in the centre of the room waiting for someone to make a decision as to what best be done with them.  a lifetime of stuff, now in boxes waiting to be discarded.  my mother, the hoarder.

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before the wall unit took pride of place in my family’s living room, there was a piano. our family home was always filled with music.  always filled with music, love and friends.  so many family gatherings. so much joy and song.

this living room… this living space was once alive and filled with laughter; with love; with breath, now lay empty.  loveless.

the old gramophone was, as a child, the core of entertainment.  more so than the television. music was a big part of my childhood.  the house reverberated with music and song, and i am sure i once heard it sing along. but not today.

i decided to take the old gramophone home with me. i have nowhere to put it, as yet, but it pains me to see it end up on a landfill site somewhere… unwanted and discarded as junk. to me it was worthy of saving, of salvaging.  it was something i could cling onto as many hours of my childhood were had listening to scratchy old ’78s.  jesus. what will become of them?

i look out across the street. houses, where friends once lived and hear the music that we all once took great pleasure in listening to.

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and then there was the fireplace that my brother built, when he was learning how to work with stone and brick.  it quickly became the heart and electric hearth around which we sat.  me. family. friends.  i would sit by the fire, on a cold winter night, basking in the incandescent warmth of fake coals and play solitaire or read; or fall asleep curled up like my dog, faithfully by my side.

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but now the fireplace is cold. it offers no real warmth today.  i could turn it on, but it’s not ever going to be the same.  things have changed. my life has changed and like this house… this home, i feel it emptying of something irreplaceable.  is this preparation for her death?  is this symbolic?

this living room. this living space once filled with breath. once filled with laughter and love now lay empty. as i turned to close the door, i took one last ‘snapshot’ of memories but all that remains now is lampshades, covered in dust – the only tangible reminder of those who lived here lies in the minute particles of their skin as they slowly shed their mortal coil; and indentations and footprints upon the carpet – impressions of what once was there – a coffee table, sofas, armchairs… the shuffle of countless footsteps.  footsteps that once danced, but now are crippled.  these impressions will soon be gone and a new family will make this home.  fuck.  i hope they can make as many happy memories as i have accumulated over the past forty years.

but the ghosts don’t want me to leave. they are liveliest here.  they beg me to stay.  i watch them dance and play, and walk around and through me,  just as i have walked through this house.  this home.  am i a ghost now, too?

this was once the liveliest of spaces. now it feels the most empty of all the rooms; except, perhaps, for the chambers of my heart.  i linger and hear distant voices: my mother singing; my father’s laughter; old Hank Williams records, crackling.  someone, please return the stylus to the start because i, too, feel so lonesome, i could cry.

and cry i did.

i hear someone play the piano… badly.  i see the ghosts of old friends and family, baby nieces and cousins from Shetland.  i see conversations dance before me;  i can smell the sound of the old projector of when we would have family gatherings and plough through troughs of old photographs and super8 home movies.  i can smell the perfume and feel the smiles of beloved aunts.  i see so many bad choices of wallpaper.

there have been many tears, over the past forty years and more.

so i closed the door and broke down.

it feels like a loved one has died.  for so long, this house was the only home i knew.  it was where i learned to walk and talk; where i learned to read and write (thank you, Mum – for equipping me with these skills before i started school);  where i also learned how to take a photograph, roller skate and jive;  how to ride a bike (thank you to my eldest brother, home on leave from the Royal Air Force, for his patience and determination); and how to skip and knit… and kiss.

it is where i learned about life, love and loss.  it is where i now learned about myself, that i am, perhaps, not as strong as i once thought.

i exhausted myself of tears, wiped my face with trembling hands and picked myself up off the floor and continued on my quest to say goodbye to this loyal friend; to say ‘goodbye’ to this house and the ghosts of former Kathryns… the ghosts of all tomorrow’s parties.

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before heading upstairs, i ventured into the kitchen to pour myself a glass of water.  but there were no glasses. no cups.  no cups overflowing with love and hot tea.  and so i sipped the cold water from my cupped hands.

our kitchen was small, but functional. and always clean and tidy.  and there was always the fragrance of fresh laundry hanging in the air.

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upon returning home, from anywhere at any time, my mother would most likely be found in the kitchen.  she loved to bake and used to bake the most incredible scones and cookies.  i remember, as a child, following her around like a greedy pup – waiting for her to let me scrape out the remains of the cookie dough.  i can still taste its sweetness.  sadly, due to illness and depression, she hasn’t baked in a long, long time but i can still smell that warm aroma of toasted sugar and chocolate.

i look out through the net curtain to the house across the street where one of my closest friends grew up.  Linda.  we were the same age and looked similar:  two little skinny waifs with long blonde hair and huge eyes.  hers green, mine blue.  she was my soul mate and to this day, although we don’t see as much of each other as we perhaps should as life is short, when we get together it is like not one day has passed since we last hugged each other.

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i see the ghosts of these little blonde girls, playing on roller skates or bicycles or running with kites.  i see ghosts of them as teenage girls, standing on her doorstep and discussing what to wear to the next high school dance.  i see it all: pages of those old teen diaries coming to life and i reminisce, with a smile.  but where has the time gone?  it seems like only yesterday.

i remember the Belfast sink by the kitchen window and how, as children, many of us in this street were bathed in the sink.  this was mainly for convenience, i think… i hope!  i remember the teasing of friends as those who were allowed out later than my own curfew would stand by the window, and laugh and point; and me gesticulating wildly and shouting back at them, laughing.  they would only laugh until it was their turn to be the spectacle in the window. oh precious memories.  my friends and i still joke about these moments to this day.

food was a big part of our family life and social gatherings.  for many years, and much to the chagrin of my mother, i had no interest in food and she, my father and brothers tried everything from cajoling me, bribing me – even ridiculing me – in their attempts to coax me into eating.  i had become a worry.  a talking point.  i received a scolding from a red-faced aunt.  still, i couldn’t care less about food.  i wasn’t interested.  my cousin once highlighted to me that i once went through a phase of only eating food that was white.  jesus.  what a little freak!  i would only eat haddock fish, boiled potatoes, pickled onions, milk, cauliflower or lean chicken breast.  it was a  major concern.  so much so, my mother took me to the Doctor who duly examined me but seemed more preoccupied with the length of my eyelashes and my precocious stare than my incongruous diet. it was a relief to all when i became a teenager and becoming more interested in food.  food and boys.  i realised that the two can be fun. and so i learned to cook in this kitchen.

it was here that i also learned about the loss of another kind of friend.

i remember the dove grey and sky blue chequered pattern on the tiled floor. i remember finding one of our family dogs, Bonnie, lying dead there one Sunday morning.  she had been ill – more ill than the Vet had realised.  i remember the pain in my heart and the sound of my own shock and grief.  i remember curling up beside her – just as i had done so many times before by the fireplace – cradling her cold and lifeless body in my arms and seeing a trickle of blood weep from her little black nose that i loved to kiss.  i remember the sound of my heart breaking.

and as i close the kitchen door, i hear that sound again.  as fresh and raw as it was that Sunday.

and so i ventured upstairs, one step at a time.  it’s strange, but the wood of the banister felt unusually warm to the touch – almost like skin.  it felt as though this house… this home… still had a pulse.  it was like she was still breathing, and breathing with me.  as i climbed the stairs, which seemed to be endless, i noted stairway walls anointed with the oily marks, from repeated hand placements; and the faded frames of blank images, where once pictures hung, often at odd angles. unambiguous; these empty spaces will remain, until my home’s new occupants paint over them.  they are, today, the only proof  of our lives here.  they still, in a strange way, adorned the stairway – or gateway – to the quieter spaces in this home. spaces where meditative rituals took place: the brushing of hair before bedtime; the bathing; the faint mutterings of my mother’s prayers and the dreams. what dreams may come now is anyone’s guess.

i pause and take a deep breath, then step into my old bedroom. immediately, i am greeted by the same funky pink plastic lampshade i chose when i was seven years old. a lampshade i once so sorely wanted – now faded, jaded, dusty and discoloured.  that pink shade saw many a dream and was a comforting pink cloud of solace on many a sleepless night. a pink cloud of optimism, at a time when my grief for my father completely overwhelmed me.

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it was here, in this room, on this bed, that i was when i first knew real darkness.  it was here, one Sunday morning in May, that my mother came to wake me to tell me that my father had died.  it was as if someone took the sun from my sky.  it was as though all the light from life was sucked out.   as though the fires inside were extinguished.  those screams of anguish and grief, i could still hear them.  they were deafening.  they are now recorded in the very fabric of this room.  they still deafen and defy.  if i were to touch those walls, i would still hear those screams,  screams like those from a wounded animal.

my old bed, still covered with the furry horsey blanket -a gift from a favourite aunt, looked small.  and yet, at some points in my life, this was my island, my haven – a place to retreat to and listen to the radio or to write in my diary, or a place where i would go to just to think… or disappear.

i removed the clutter from it and lay down on the bed with a box of old diaries, i kept as a teenager, and thumbed through them. teenage tales beneath a pink cloud brought a little light and humour into an otherwise dark day – despite the sunshine outside.  i felt a smile break my fall.

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i opened the old built-in cupboard and was immediately transported back in time. a time where i collected Ladybird books and erasers.  although the cupboard was now empty, i could see my white ice-skates hanging up, and i could momentarily hear the slice of blades on ice; i could see, in my mind’s eye, my books – all lined up neatly; stacks of magazines, scrapbooks and old Polaroids.

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i could also see a complete collection of ‘Family of Man’ magazines i collected a child. i was precocious. how many 9 year-old girls do you know that have such an avid interest in anthropology at that tender age?

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a gentle breeze carried voices of children, playing outside in the sunshine, through the house.  i followed the voices into the toilet and was touched by the sight of a picture of the sun my mother, in her early stages of dementia, had drawn and stuck fast to the toilet wall with sellotape.

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it made me laugh out loud.

i ran my wrists under the cold tap and shook my hands dry, blotting  the excess water on my jeans as, for once, there was no fresh towel.   the children’s voices seemed to be getting louder. i followed them into the bathroom where i found the net curtain billowing softly in the breeze of an open window.  the bathroom felt cold and airy; the blue dolphin patterned wallpaper, faded and peeling.

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the old 1970s bathroom cabinet was open and empty. it once held a collection of toothbrushes, all in various states of fray; tubes of pile cream and minty fresh toothpaste, squeezed until every last drop was used, as though they had been passed through a mangle; bottles of clear Avon nail polish, with the caps screwed on squint and stuck-fast; a tub of cotton buds;  a tin of Germolene ointment; and a box full of discarded dentures.  like i say, my mother – the hoarder.

the upstairs landing, once filled with the fresh smell of pine-scented steam from hot bubble baths and the sweet stench of baby powder from habitual dustings. but now, only a strange smell of stale toiletries and cosmetics lingered there.  no fresh smell of pine. and no steam.  both the house and i had run out of steam.

i felt weary. exhausted.

standing at the entrance to my mother’s old bedroom, i caught my own reflection in the dressing table mirror.  i looked empty. i looked lost. i looked dead.

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i could not bring myself to enter.  i could still smell her perfume.  i realised then that i was beginning to mourn her, even though she was still clinging onto life. but that smell of perfume.  Youth Dew.  it was her signature fragrance.  it is not a scent i care for, however, at this point in time it was the most beautiful aroma. it filled my lungs and evoked many happy memories of special ‘mother-daughter’ moments in this little room. this room used to be my room, as a young child.  a room where my mother would sing me to sleep, or lie beside me and stroke my face until i fell asleep when i was ill. it was a room once filled with toys and dolls.  fuck.  how i hated those dolls. i used to ask my mum to chuck them in the cupboard each night as their dead eyes scared me.  feeling brave, in the throes of that memory, i opened the cupboard.  i was relieved to find it empty.  no dead-eyed dolls glaring back at me.  just empty space.   yet in the mirror, it was my own dead-eyed doll expression that would now haunt me.  taunt me.  scare me.  scare me of my own mortality and the harsh realisation that our parents are not immortal.

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my mother’s wardrobes were now empty.  this was a task i could not bring myself to undertake but never voiced my concerns.  my sister-in-law took it upon herself to remove all my mother’s clothes and donate the best of them to the charity shops that my mother believes are worthy.  i cannot begin to say just how much i appreciate my sister-in-law’s interception.  it was a very mindful and kind thing to do.  a task that i think, in hindsight, would have broke me completely.

with a heavy heart, i sat at the top of the stairs and cried so hard that i thought i would never be able to stop, cradling myself in my arms.

this was the hardest day.

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Words & Images (c) Kat McDonald 2017

dedicated to my mother.  they say home is where the heart is.  she has my heart. she is, and will always be, my home.

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for my birthday, i had a tattoo done of a little drawing she did of her and i… she says she doesn’t recall drawing it on my leg. [smile]

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i intend to have her ‘doodle’ made into a necklace for her to cherish… as a ‘mother-daughter’ thing.

Today in my heart a vague trembling of stars and all roses are as white as my pain…

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“Hello Mum…” i say

from closed throat
as i choke on tears
of the inevitable.

she is slumped
on one side.
three pillows.
three pillows hold you
and support you as
you gaze through me
with eyes dim
and full of antipsychotic
medicine.
“medicine”
medicine that has taken
my Mother and held her hostage.
it seems dark in here, in there.
there is precious little light
here now…
and it is fading fast.

i wipe the tears from my eyes
and the drool from her chin.
‘medicine’ they say.

her hands, the skin – so soft, flaccid
and thin
like tracing paper
delicate like a trace
of life… where is that spark?

where is that fire?
that spirit?
that beautiful soul?
where is my hero –
where is she?
where did she go?

“oh Mum…” i say
and hold her hand, tight.
i don’t want to let go.

“Mum? Can you hear me?”
i know you’re in there, somewhere…
do you hear me?
do you hear me, crying in the night for you
like i did, as a child,
when the monsters would come
into my dreams.
i need you, Mother.
i need you – but i can’t find you.
i can see you but
you are no longer here,
in my world.
where are you?
where did you go?
i have so many questions, Mother.
so many questions…

“Let me sing to you…” i say, choking
on dread.
i can barely breathe. gravity is
crushing and caving my chest.

i can see you, but
you’re not there.
do you hear me?
please, come back to me.
do you want to come back?
is it better where you are?
away from the grieving for the lost one;
away from the pain and prison of illness
and isolation;
away from the four walls that house you;
away from the loneliness of not hearing
or remembering…
“Oh Mum…” i say
“come back to me…”

come back to this world
where we wait…
where we, your flesh and blood, wait
for you to return.
but…
looking into your eyes, i can tell
that you are
not coming
back…
are you?

Oh Mother.
you are unaware of how my mind
tortures my heart
as i think of you,
now a prisoner of the bones
and flesh that house you…
… and your smile.

i watch you smile at me,
your mouth quivering,
frail… failing.
i think of your voice and
how you loved to sing.
is there music where you are?
because you love music and
you love to
sing…
sing for me, Mother.
sing a song for me
to comfort me –
just like you did when
i was a child.
sing out loud so i know you are there…
so i can follow your voice…
so i can find you.
i know you are in there… somewhere.

where did you go?
you left so quickly.
your eyes are shadows.
your eyes, once teeming with light,
now tired.
tired of seeing.
tired of seeing this
broken slideshow of your life.
do you see me?

do you think of me,
your youngest child.
your youngest daughter.
do you remember my laugh;
my face;
my name?

where are you, Mother?
i wish you could return
so we could take a walk
through the woods
and talk, like
we used to.
where are you, Mother?
i wish you could return
and brush my hair and
you could tell me all about where
you have been… and
what it’s like there.

because…

“i miss you, Mum…”

i seek a moment’s comfort
in knowing in your fugue
state of mind
that you are, perhaps, blissfully
unaware of
what this world has become
without you.

and yet… i am full of fear:
fear of knowing that this is the end;
fear of knowing that you are alone… there;
fear of knowing you are struggling, perhaps,
to return… clutching thoughts
with only fragments of this
and that
and this reality; with only
broken
and dis-
jointed memories and
not knowing
what
is
real.

are you lost?
or are you rambling through
the forest of your mind?
lost in that deep, dark forest.
do you know where you are?
or are you lost – in a manic
panic –
desperately searching
for a way
to come
back.

if you could, would you find your
way back
to me?
to us?
to the world you have left behind?
or…

are you happier in this sedative dream?

what is it like there, Mother?

sleep does not come easy to me these days.
i lie awake, listening to the sea and
think of you, drowning… choking… fighting
for breath… searching
for the familiar… a lifeline… to
fight against the black water
and return to us.

Oh Mother. what am i to do?
what am i to do, without you?
i am not yet ready to be an orphan.
sure, i am a grown woman
but you are my mother.
you gave me life
and now i look
towards the end
of yours.

Oh Mother.
are you too far gone?
somewhere… in that frail
and useless body
i know you exist.
i know you are in there…
but…
i can’t get to you.
i hope you can hear me?
hear my thoughts?

i hope you can hear me, Mother
as i have not abandoned you.
i am right here.

i worry that in this pergatory
you can see us… see our tears.

“why is it so dark in here?”

is it dark where you are, Mother?
is it?
i wish i could let some light in.

i wish i could just…
i wish…
i…

if you find light in your darkness, Mother,
don’t be afraid.
i have not abandoned you.
i am right here.
i will always be right here.
i hope you find some light
in your forest…
“it’s a beautiful day today, Mum”
“the sun is shining…”

what is that sound?
oh it’s my own voice.

(c) Kat McDonald 2017

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– watching someone you love be consumed with dementia is heart-wrenching… especially so when that someone is your mother… the one who gave you life and light and love.
it’s hard to watch your world become slowly starved of that light as her life slips from her, and you, with certainty of lengthening shadows and loss, can do nothing but wait.

and that weight is unbearable.

today, my heart was broken… more than i ever thought possible.  my Mother had not been allowed any visitors for almost a week as she, sadly, had to be sectioned for her own safety.  today was the first of me seeing her in a little over a week.  the change was, inevitably, a huge departure from the soul i last saw.  she is fading fast, like roses.

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my mother, aged 15

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my mother, a keen photographer it would seem…

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my  mother, on her wedding day…

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my mother, with my lost brother, William, who died 10 weeks before i was born. he was 18.

Title borrowed from one of my other heroes… Federico Garcia Lorca:

Autumn Song
November 1918

[translated by DK Fennell]

Today I sense in my heart
a vague tremor of stars,
but I lost my way
in the midst of fog.
The light trims my wings
and the pang of my gloom
will moisten the memories
at the font of knowledge.

All roses are white,
as white as my sorrow,
but the roses are not white
that have snow on them.
Once they dressed in a rainbow.
Besides there’s snow on my soul.
The snow of my soul is
kissed by flakes and scenes
which disappear in shadow
or in light when thought of.

The snow falls from the roses,
but the soul’s remains,
and the grapple of the years
makes a shroud of it.

Will the snow melt
when death takes us?
Or will there then be other snow
and other roses more perfect?
Will there be peace among us
as Christ teaches us?
Or will there never be
a solution to this question?

And if love cheats us?
Who will resurrect us
if twilight buries us
in the scientific truth
of Good, which perhaps doesn’t exist,
and Evil which flutters nearby.

What if hope gives way
and Babel ensues,
what torch will light
the roads on Earth?

If the blue sky is a fantasy,
what will become of innocence?
What will become of the heart
if Love has no arrows?

And if death is death,
what will become of poets?
and things in a cocoon
which no one remembers?
Oh sun of hopes!
Clear water! New moon!
Dull souls of stones!
Today I sense in my heart
a vague tremor of stars
and all roses are
as white as my sorrow.

Post-Brexit Thoughts from “An Immigrant”

Hello Followers and Casual Readers…

… I have to share this post written by a beautiful soul I have come to know through Social Media and mutual love of art and animals, floof and sweary words! I have not met the girl… YET… but I am working on it and I am confident that our paths will cross one fine day.
It saddens me to read this entry in her blog TetrisandCheesecakes because NOBODY should be made to feel like this. There is so much hatred in this world and we are all too quick to blame other outlets, such as mental health issues, media, peer-pressure blah blah blah… but really… the only person to blame for ignorance in the way we view and treat others is ourselves and our own blinkered ignorance.
I cannot abide racism. I cannot tolerate it and I will not turn a blind eye to it, but when a lovely girl, like Lucie, writes about the HELL that she has been through in her life only to be met with unfeeling and mindlessness by people in her circle of supposed ‘friends’ it is just too much to bear. NOBODY deserves to be treated like this. she is a human being. a wonderful, intelligent and caring human being.
please read this carefully and digest every word. she could be the girl next door, your brother’s girlfriend, your girlfriend, your daughter…. she’s a woman. a human being. being made to feel like an imposition, an inconvenience, an imposter, a freak, a taker, a faker… is completely immoral, unethical, cruel and ignorant.
next time you look at someone of colour, or converse with someone with a non-UK accent, please consider this: what is their backstory? they could be like Lucie. a good person, who fled from fear and certain death and control (something that privileged British white people cannot even begin to imagine) to a supposed better and safer life – only to be met with judgement, hatred and assumptions – is just insane. insane.
wake the fuck up, humans! #evolve

Tetris & (Cheese)cakes

The past few days haven’t been the easiest. I have seen so many stories of an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment, heartbreaking stories of families and schools being targeted by those who misguidedly thought a vote to leave the EU equalled sending all “foreigners” home. I may be unique amongst my friends as I do know people who voted “Leave” for reasons that didn’t include the immigration issue. They made the decision based on their own feelings and histories, and I really don’t want to detract from that. It’s tragic that though their personal reasons were not have racially motivated, their voices have now given credence to the racists and xenophobes in our country, who have taken their numbers as a sign that hate is justified. 52%. I really want to believe that 52% or Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland aren’t racists, and who want people like me to “go…

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Tell Lie Vision

 

tell_lie_vision

i don’t own a television.

and i don’t want one.  people ask me why i don’t have a TV, with an expression of such absurdity you would think i had just asked them if i could shit on their chest.

i take pride in myself for the fact that i don’t own a TV set. and here’s why.

it is all lies.

the mainstream media is one of the biggest liars in the history of all mankind, next to religion.

[but God is good, i hear you say.  yeah?  well if God is so good then why do kids get cancer? oh it’s God’s plan… he has greater things for them…]

FUCK OFF!  tell that to the grieving parent. tell that to the 8 year old with leukaemia writhing in agony.  

TV is full of shit and my head has enough crap in it without being fed more lies and lies by omission; the manipulation of advertisements purporting a better lifestyle – yeah, a lifestyle that feathers the nest-eggs of the ugly big corporations that are borne of greed and profit and don’t really care that they’re spraying our crops with chemicals akin to Agent Orange; poisoning your soft drinks with neuro-toxins; that that burger is to die for (yes, literally!); that those running shoes are something of a ‘miracle’ that you will need to enhance your performance to workout with style (tell that to the 5 year olds working in shit-stinking sweaty conditions for 18 hour days!); that you NEED insurance (another bête-noire of mine) – what a rip-off.  i could go on but…

anger is a negative energy.  holding onto anger will just further embitter the soul and turn it black, and turn me into even more of a misanthrope than i am already.  fuck that!

so – that is the short answer as to why i don’t own, want or need, a fucking TV set.

there have been a few songs written about TV.  and yes, the sun always shines on TV, doesn’t it?  even the epic scenes of war seem sensationalised and glossy.

Bruce Springsteen growled about having 57 channels and nothing on.

[well, turn the fucker off, Brucie and go read a book…. or write another song!]

Dire Straits and Sting wailed about wanting their MTV.  i remember a day when MTV was cool, full of good music and, dare i say it, informative.  now it’s all dating game-shows and reality TV – offering gaudy glimpses into the private lives and homes of artists most of us have never heard of, but who have sold a billion records, apparently, and have their own unrivalled ‘brand’ of bling and trainers (again endorsing the sweatshops of Hell for the poor and purporting a lifestyle of greed of profane proportions).  who needs an 18ct diamond-encrusted toilet?  it’ll fill up with shit just the same as a bog-standard (bad pun, i know!) porcelain one.

the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy wrote a real stinger of a tune: ‘Television, the Drug of the Nation’ – breeding ignorance and feeding radiation.  this song remains poignant today, spouting ‘a child watches over 1500 murders before he’s 12 years old’.

and then there’s Gil Scott-Heron.  The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.  wise words from a legendary poet and performer that needs little or no introduction.  that song is older than me and still holds the same spine-tingly poignancy as it did back in the day it was first released.  today, the Revolution will NOT be Televised, that’s for sure… but it will be on Twitter or Facebook or fucking Snapchat.

i take pride in the fact that i don’t own a TV set and that i don’t subscribe to the mainstream and worship the remote and its digibox disciples.

i find other ways of ‘educating’ myself and ‘entertaining’ myself.  there are 1000s of books to be read. more than i could read in a lifetime but i am prepared to give it a good try…

and there are places to visit. i just love to travel.  travelling offers the BEST education.

there is (too) much going on inside my head that i need to categorise, rationalise and contend with without the distraction and soul-extraction of television.

i have my own reality. i do not need to watch a group of disparate and desperate people stowed away in a houseful of cameras and sensationalism; i do not need (or want) to see ‘celebrities’ in a jungle eating worms; nor do i care for discovering Britain’s talented humans with their dancing dogs (that’s just another deplorable exploitation of animals).  i don’t want to see the cringe-worthy and patronising debacle that is breakfast tv – where two puppets interview the vulnerable and needy; which draws me nicely to the ‘pièce de résistance’ – the Jeremy fucking Kyle Show – another truly remarkable shot at bear-baiting.

is this what advocates TV as ‘entertainment’?  it’s no wonder we are being ‘dumbed-down’.   there is nothing to FEED the imagination!

i’d much rather read a book… or take a long walk along the beach… or play my guitars… or write some poetry or prose… or visit friends and family.  yes, actually visit people and talk with them, walk with them… break bread with them.

i would love to be in a position to ditch my mobile phone and take myself off the grid completely, but i need it for work.  it’s a double-edged sword.

but i’m working on it…

[steps off soap-box]

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the strongest march…

the strongest march

clouds, slowly, gather
in the bluest sky
reflected in
my altruistic
eye
as sirens wail their
woeful cry
i watch the ants
of July suck
upon a glob
of spit.
the strongest march
‘cross to the bone
dry side, near a dismantled rone;
whilst the weak
get stuck amidst,
or trampled.

clouds gather, now, at quickened
pace;
the sun no longer the white
furnace.
a cooler breeze now strikes my soul
like a hammer on
an anvil.
i hear Thor’s roar
a battlecry that rips
the sky wide open
and raindrops
splatter

down,
in a shower
of Hellfire.
what of the ants?
i watch them struggle
as they run amok
seeking cover
between the cracks,
under the crock,
or beneath
the flower, foot and flock.
as the strongest march
on, flight of
foot and brace
themselves for
their struggle and plight;
whilst the weak
get stuck in
mud.

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

– a stormy lunch hour, fulfilled by the company of ants.

pink lemonade for a blue girl

tumblr_n6nmo6HK4D1rctpomo1_500

barefoot on cool grass,
summer has spoken
in soft
dulcet tones:
of honey-bee drones
and the hum of distant traffic.

grateful flowers herald her arrival
with trumpets blaring blue and yellow.

she moves,
with sand in her shoes,
but still…
she’s here…
but only just.

i hear her
in the sea’s breath
and the depth of tide;
in gulls’ cries
and the clink of ice.

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

just another vegan rant…?

HEY FOLKS… did you know that veganism has increased by 350% in the UK? it is one of the fastest-growing movements worldwide as people become more aware, more responsible, more enlightened.

[i want to keep this brief as this post isn’t specifically self-centric…]

i have been vegan for almost a year now and it has not been an easy ride. some days are a struggle. this is particularly so in the area where i live – not TOO many places to eat out without being asked:

“what’s a vegan?”

“ah… you’re from Germany!”

“i can make you a cheese sandwich… or an omelette?”

but… more and more eateries are now catering for those choosing a plant-based lifestyle.

i feel like a burden has been lifted from my shoulders by adopting this lifestyle and following the vegan movement.  not just for my health, but for the animals, AND for the planet. i felt it was my duty. a duty of care.  and after watching movies such as ‘Vegucated’, ‘Cowspiracy’, ‘Black Fish’, ‘Earthlings’ [to name but a few!] my feelings were consolidated. verified.  i just knew i was doing the right thing, by making the sacrifice and switch.  i just knew i owed it to myself, my fellow earthlings and the planet.

the time was now.

my lover, who is also vegan, has felt compelled to share HIS journey into veganism, by way of making some videos. this one’s not for the faint-hearted, but being vegan isn’t easy… almost always we have a daily battle with many things… here is his testimony about why he became vegan, and the obstacles and objections he now battles with… he says it’s ‘just another vegan rant’ – but i think it’s so much more than that. 100% honest, with a little humour… features Alfie, our Cat.

one love, folks. we are just doing what we can, chipping away, educating ourselves, educating others… supporting the movement…. just trying to make the world a better place as we, humans, are racing our own extinction.

the time IS now.  always will be. it is never too late to make the change.

spread the love. share this around. if you are curious about veganism and how it can benefit you, feel free to contact him – subscribe, leave a like, leave a comment, ask a question, offer advice – every day is a school day.

i have been met with trolls and objection, but i always throw this rock back:

“hey buddy, the argument is not with me… it’s with your own conscience”

 

** CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES, OFF-BEAT HUMOUR & SWEARING… **

 

thoughts (c) myself, Kat McDonald 2016

video (c) Monkey Productions 2016 & Robert Davidson 2016

Ace Ventura – White Devil

Want something good to read? want something 1000% vegan, yet really meaty, to get your teeth into? here it is… fan fiction at its best!

Message from the author:
Calling all Jim Carrey fans, Vegans, lovers of all animals and lovers of a damn good read!

I think I just wrote Ace Ventura 3. A novel called Ace Ventura – White Devil.

It’s a dark and twisted tale about Ace. Ace, as you have never seen him before. He is older, wiser and just a tiny bit more insane. He has taken to vigilante style justice, utilising his animal rights organisation,
ACE (Animal Cruelty Extermination), to protect the innocent animals of the world.

And he goes by the name – White Devil.

A young FBI agent, Joshua Jamieson, is tasked with infiltrating ACE in an attempt to find and stop the White Devil, before he kills again.

But what Jamieson learns along the way, rocks the foundations of the reality he thought he knew.

Who is next on the White Devil’s list?

Can Jamieson stop the White Devil before he strikes again, and before he loses his own mind in the process?

Enjoy and share. 🙂

Ace Ventura

Chapter 1 – A Royal hunt

1Gaewick Forest, Perthshire, Scotland.

Three middle-aged men, dressed in green camouflage overalls and hiking boots, tread heavily through dense forest. The morning air is cool and fresh with a distinct pine aroma. The wood is a typical Scottish forest with a variety of different trees – oak trees, silver birch, majestic Scots pine, ash, sycamore, Douglas fir, the ancient yew tree, horse-chestnut trees and many more.

Two of the men carry on their shoulders a carved wooden pole, and tied to that pole, hanging from its feet and swinging lifelessly, is the dead body of a stag. The third man, leading the other two, carries two hunting rifles, one over each shoulder. They are in high spirits after a satisfying hunt, laughing and jeering.

‘They can camp outside of the old hag’s palace for all the good it will do them,’ sneers the man…

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associative disassociation dissociation disorder

3d concept illustration of a candy bag

a 3d misconception of life

sunshine and Aretha Franklin. must be Friday. a sanctuary. a day.

reject. eject.

i wonder about the long-haired hitch-hiker at the side of the road, resting his thumbs upon the biggest blue backpack i have ever seen. he wants to be free of this small Scottish seaside town. what makes him happy?

yellow jackets terrorise the kids. ganging up, in swarms of thirty-three to three. they want their sugar lips and stickiness.

Siamese twins stand, holding hands, on an island in the slum and slump themselves down. dual-despondence. real or illusion?

a grey-haired old lady serves hot soup from the street corner. her dirty fingernails in filthy and frayed finger-less mitts do not repulse the starving and the cold.

meanwhile, a young-girl pirouettes on blades in an ice arena nearby. the spray of cold ice rains down upon the young-boy watching in awe of her breasts and the arc of her back. wake up.

Rod Stewart tells Maggie to wake up. i have indigestion.

a young Asian boy on a red bike stops to rescue a red kite, caught in a tree. to set it free. ’tis all he wants.

the sign says ‘get in lane, Lois’. i do my best, but my patience is thread-bare. this is not real.

i can taste paper. eh?

smoker, or vaper? popcorn lung anyone? ‘you can’t do that here, mate’ says the driver. ‘how no?’ replies the man.

‘how no?’ – what the fuck does that even mean?

and a-round-a-bout we go.

green trees spark a thirst for green tea.
free parking. and yes… it’s true…
somewhere, a dog is barking…

white sky. why? windscreen and wounded fly.

for sale. my reflection, pale. the image should fetch $7. you wait and see.

Chinese banquet or dance with a prophet? don’t decide now. you get a free 14-day trial. no credit card details required.

and it is pretty here. in this hand-stitched field of daisies. this is the prettiest blanket.

discovery and shadows, blind. “taxi to Golf City?” no thank you.

a great white shark for the amusement park. her hunger and crescent-shaped tail prevail. she will cut you in two as soon as look at you.

weightless or weight loss. trim the fat.

scrambled brain from Scrabble game. i see Little Miss Muffet has a new friend.

tuning fork or fork in the road. left or right? flat or sharp?

colourful flumes dip and curl from a great height into the cold grey sea, the same sea that many have written about before me.

weak bridge. is it really weak or is it just tired, like me. my week is tiring.

ballet dancers spin in the brickyard and children paint green hearts on the gable end. a smile can disable, disarm. still, the satellite receivers twitch and turn.

i see a rose tattoo on an ample breast. “enough kindness to feed the world” she says.

a mini market pops up in the Land of Churches, whose spires aspire to greater things as the Garden of Eden swings, despite the rust and much mistrust. do you want or need what i am selling? either way, don’t sell your soul or sell out.

scaffold and cemetery flank my path. hope on one side and faith on the other.

i follow the white arrows through the Parish and take the ladder to the sky.

i watch the blue whale in the biggest blue polyester shell suit take to running and the myocardial risk of running a-ground. from bulging seams it seems like this one takes too kindly to the generous offer of mini-marts and TV ads of fizzy sodas at 99c a can. aspartame-based sugar-coated toxin. you in? you want one? maybe a pack of six?

sugar beats, sugar treats, sugar kiss, sugar kill.
and sugar will. wait and see.

there is a new Academy for new minds. am i too optimistic? can we farm a change?

the falcons hide. nowhere to be seen, despite the signs.

slabbing… this way (the arrow points to the left). is there a right way? i guess there is. what of this?

pressing on, i zip through the fields of Beautiful Fife.

i am now east of the wemyss. a town where the wheelie-bins talk. they talk about a revolution and their revolt for our failed devolution, our desperate attempt at evolution. they gather on the pavements, in their cabals and cliques. they are gossiping, chattering and clap-trapping. they are full of shit.

a man struggles with an umbrella by the side of the road but the traffic is under control. the X-men are not in service but the roses are… they climb and clamor, pretty and pink and narcissistic.

a shed with a sea view, as mythical creatures guard the entrance. mysterious.

the sky is a queer dark shade of white, i spot wild garlic growing in the hedge and my mind turns to Erik Weihenmayer; the blind man who climbed Mt Everest.
do i feel inspired or like an abject failure. i am so tired i could barely climb the thirty-nine steps that John speaks of.

what can i say? my week leaves me weak. but it is Friday. a green light.

a green light shines in the hanging garden of this Town of Gallows. a space where people scurry, with furrowed brows they flurry; their dreams pruned and pinned upon the Great British Pound and price of this Lotto life. scratch their cards to scratch their itch. enough rope to hang themselves.

i look across the sea to Rossyln.

i see the bridges. a third now across the Forth. build or burn?

it’s your turn. my mind wonders. my mind wanders.

“tuck in” says the fat monk, or Jolly Friar. jolly fryer. take your cupcakes and deep-fried pies, your nutritional myths and sugar-coated lies. stick them in the lard. drip feed the dripping. your diabetes crippling? not yet. but it will. quick! take a diet pill.

take a look. in the mirror.

breeze blocks of opportunity? cheap but offer no impunity.

i disappear beneath the bridge
and sunbathe upon the rail tracks.

(c) Kat McDonald 2016

– ramblings borne of the delirium & frustrations of trying to make the world a better place.