Well, it’s come round again. Watching Six Nations rugby matches is the first sign of its approach. Then Valentines Day. And now, today, the anniversary of your death. Is it really eight years?
So much has happened in the last 12 months, including my own health scare…now I have a better inkling of how you must have felt being told you have mesothelioma and knowing what that diagnosis meant. My suspected bowel cancer turned out to be a false alarm, but it took major robotic laparoscopic surgery last July before the pathologists could confirm that there was no sign of cancer in the removed section of bowel and associated lymph nodes. Nevertheless, it was worth going through all that to put my mind at rest…
And in between all the tests, waiting, meetings with GP and consultants, I did manage to continue traveling on and off around Europe with my Interrail pass - to the Cinque Terre, Italy, Istanbul, Turkey, and around Scandinavia, including Denmark, Sweden and Norway, even though the biggest planned trip had to be cancelled when it clashed with medical appointments.
After an enforced period of eight weeks post-op rest and recuperation, I set off again to meet up with my photography friends in Amsterdam at the end of September/early October. Later in October, there was a short break in Wells for an exhibition at the Bishops Palace, a meet up with an old friend recovering from surgery and a visit to your brother Martin and Mary before heading home. My last trip of 2023 was to Romania for a neighbour’s wedding. How sweet of them to invite me!
It’s a cruel irony that the preventable disease which killed you and your dad, is now making its presence felt in your brother Martin. While immunotherapy seems to be keeping the meso under control, it’s affecting him in other ways - diabetes and arthritis so far. That’s tough.
One more bit of sad news, Meso Warrior Mavis (who was diagnosed around the same time as you) has finally succumbed to the disease after a long, slow and painful decline. It feels like the end of an era.
Now to the good news:
We have a grandchild, born to daughter Katie and husband Davie in September, the day before our son Jack’s birthday. She’s gorgeous! I am so enjoying being a granny, but also sad you’re not here to enjoy it and she will never know her grandad…
There’s another special occasion on the horizon - a wedding! Son Jack and his lady Laura are getting married in April. I have given them your wedding band, which has now been converted into two matching rings, one each. So a little bit of you will be there at the ceremony with them and then happily ever after.
I’m making up for time lost last year due to health issues by doing a lot more traveling again this year, starting with a visit to Brazil in January, trips to France, UAE, Iceland and Spain already in the pipeline, and more traveling I hope to follow on in the autumn. Camera comes with me on every trip, and I’m occasionally in the company of a travel companion, but mainly I’m enjoying the freedom of traveling solo!
I’m still enjoying photography, and getting a little more recognition with images shortlisted in some major competitions, included in exhibitions and magazine features, plus a couple of interviews about my work published or due to be published shortly. That sort of thing massages the photography ego, but I don’t do it for that reason. I simply love it as a creative outlet which goes hand in hand with my passion for travel and introduces me to some wonderful like-minded people. Long may it last!
I’m not going to speculate about how life will pan out over the next 12 months. Just looking forward to the possibilities, and making the most of precious time. That’s something I learned in almost 7 years of supporting you between diagnosis and end of your life. But in some ways, you still go on - you’re now in the DNA of our grand daughter. The Valentine card you created and gave me 8 years ago, the day before you died, has not faded away. It’s still in pride of place on the mantelpiece in our bedroom where I see it every day when I wake up at home.
Until next year xxx