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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Tattoo

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I wanted a tattoo. I needed to have something on me that was a permanent show of the person I love , in a way that spoke to my soul. I can’t explain this need. I think people either love or hate tattoos. I certainly wasn’t overly keen on them when my sons bagan coming home with various bits of their bodies decorated and coloured but I could admire the artistry and the quality of them.

When my youngest daughter came home one day and my toddler grandson kept telling me Auntie Ellie has a butterfly on the tummy’ i honestly didn’t imagine she had got herself inked at the age of 14! That discovery goes alongside me finding out she had had her tummy button pierced only when the infection exploded and her school shirts were in the washing covered in the most disgusting gunk!

The one stipulation I made that the tattoos should have meaning and beauty and not simply ugly marks or words of hate and ignorance. 

I got my first tattoo on my 50th birthday as a present from my sons ( their friend was a gifted tattooist) I had left my first marriage of over 33 years and full of determination to embrace this new life now I had found the courage to break from the past I was tired of being safe and boring, I wanted to make a small mark of defiance and celebrate being me at last. In control, that my body was now mine to do with as I wished and no one could tell me I couldn’t do something . I found it naively shocking… I thought people would look at me differently. They might imagine me to be more outgoing or have hidden depths of naughtiness (I don’t).

A tattoo for me was a promise to myself that I would become the inner me that had been stifled for so very long, I would  be bold and fun-loving and devil-may-care, rebellious in a sexy way, and maybe even not sort my rubbish into the correct bins or eat just desserts on a sSunday.  Stay up all night listening to music or even watch slightly risque programmes on the Tv without feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Yes that first little tattoo on my foot gave me a new identity but now I wanted another. Not for me but to declare to the world that my darling husband might have gone but my love was permanent and indelibly etched on my skin and heart.In a way perhaps I wanted some physical pain to match the pain in my soul. Our love had become painful but still beautiful and enduring.

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So what to get? I had agreed with my daughter ( who now has a beautiful and thoughtfully compiled selection of skin art) that I wanted the words from ‘our song’ and we booked the appointment.

Ellie had had her unique art designed after much collaboration with Hattie, a wonderfully talented and artistic tattooist who had drawn up Marie Antoinette with Ellies face and incorporating minute details specific to what mattered to Ellie. 

I was to have ‘ and nothing else matters…’ words that are meaningful and personal, along with a tiny feather which symbolised a TV programme serenity that Andy loved.

We made our way to the ‘parlour’. Now these places to me are akin to dens of iniquity, like bookmakers and pubs, places that a Lady shouldnt frequent. I walked in feeling a little bit naughty and full of devilment. It was tastefully decorated , clean, pleasant, friendly and  with no drug induced opium smoking harlots littering chaise longues. My bubble burst!

We chatted in hushed whispers , goodness knows why as we were the only customers. I can’t begin to tell you how kind the tattooists were, knowing this was a memorium piece and my fragile state of mind they had kept our appointment times private and whether it was to save me from embarrassment or to save their customers from being subjected to a crying hysterical middle aged fat woman crying over a little tattoo and ruining ther image Im not sure but I am profoundly grateful. 

The pain was…bearable. I’d forgotten it would hurt until the moment I sat down.Then it hit me but I was stoic and barely flinched when he washed my arm with spirit. I gritted my teeth as he applied the stencil designed for me…and then the noise began. Like a dentist but worse because I had chosen this! Actually it really didn’t hurt that much and I treated it like a blood test…don’t look ,it isn’t happening, focus on something in the room and chat insanely about anything! 

It was done in next to no time, it really is quite small but very lovely. I admired it and had a few tiny tears. I choked back and focused on my daughter whose piece was huge and going to take another couple of hours! 

As we left Hattie came up and hugged me , tears pouring down her eyes at how much this had meant to me knowing my story. She cared so very much and I left feeling surrounded with care and with a part of my love story etched for all to see…

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Grieving

A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Ice cream

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It has been cold , rainy , miserable and days since I have seen a human being in person. I think for the sake of my sanity I need to pop to the shop and buy ice cream. I will get essentials at the same time of course but right now all I can imagine is ice cream. The problem is I don’t keep much in the house anymore, gone are the days visitors would arrive and I’d frantically whip up some scones or brownies. Gone the days Andy would say I fancy a brew , do we have any cake and Id say so what do you fancy and if there was nothing in the tin I’d make him something quickly. 

I don’t do sweet stuff, but just occasionally the human body seems to crave things and science proves this is to do with the state of our emotions. 

So donning clothes suitable to be seen  in public I tug a brush through my hair and decide not to check a mirror in case I decide it’s too much work before I can leave the house. 

Smugly remembering to pick up a shopping bag – seriously I have  a retirement fund’s worth of bags under the sink but I regularly forget to take them – I grab a couple of dog treats to throw for my babies and yell ‘’ bye! See you in a while, be good! ‘’ and head for the car. 

I start my usual routine, bag, check, purse, check, keys, check mask… bloody hell. I dig in my bottomless handbag and pull out a mask that really needs a wash. Ok…that’s not good, i am sure I have some disposable ones in the glove box. No… they are now strewn on the floor in the back from when I entertained my grandchildren while my daughter shopped the other day. They are now drawn on, ripped into animal shapes and screwed up to be pretend birthday presents. 

Ok…do I go back into the house and upset the dogs or try something else first, I’m starting to go off the idea of going out but I really do need milk ,bread and just to see another human so I dig in the boot. Yay! I found one. It’s damp and smells a bit like mildew because its been under a bottle of screen-wash but it will do. ok…I can leave at last. 

Eventually masked up, trolley sanitised and a pound coin found in the depths of my purse I wander into the shop. I weave my way through the few people in the aisles, its odd to think this time last year we thought nothing of slipping past people or bending past them to grab things, now we are shuffling like wary crabs to keep distance and as I allow people past or they stand aside ,  I smile forgetting they cant see my mouth so think I’m probably just staring manically.

I grab the things I need and decide that will be enough, I’m not enjoying being in public, it feels weird and uncomfortable somehow and I am not sure if it is because of the situation we are all in or I am just becoming very antisocial and uneasy, I make my way to the ice cream and look at the array on offer, All I want is pistachio but as I have never found it for sale anywhere I will have to make do with honeycomb. 

Food bought and back in the car, home and unload. I’m so relieved to be back. I can’t imagine why I had been so desperate to get out in the first place.  I grab a spoon and sit with the tub of ice cream and cuddle up with the dogs on the sofa. I turn on some music and can feel myself actually calm down . The sweet frozen yumminess is like a burst of sunshine and a jolt of something akin to actual pleasure goes through me.

This is why I am the size of a whale, I seek comfort in food. Food has probably always been akin to happiness to a certain extent  for me but now I can accept it is what I am turning to for that quick fix, food you can replace easily, You can have without feeling guilty,( unless you are dieting but that’s a problem we won’t go into at this point) and it doesn’t die on you…

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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Knickers

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I think as I drive. Far more than I should and since I have been alone one of my main thoughts as I drive into town is that if I was to just veer into that tree for any reason I wouldn’t have to keep doing ‘this’ whatever ‘this; is. Now I am NOT suicidal or about to do anything silly so please don’t imagine I’m about to ! It just seems to be a thought that is compelling but very scary at the same time. I’d never do anything to cause my children and family pain and apart from that I have my dogs to get back to but still common sense doesn’t seem to come into my brain any more. 

I digress…  so today I was driving along the country roads and as usual I imagine the car hitting a patch of ice, a deer running out and I have to veer, the wheel suddenly flying off, a plane hurtling out of the sky towards me and I have to swerve…you get the picture Im sure and then I think, but  what if I survive! I will be taken to hospital and they will have to divest me of clothing and …OMG! I have recently not been mindful of one piece of advice I think we all need to follow, wear decent undies in case you get run over by a bus. My care when dressing has been woeful, I’m not even sure I get dressed some days unless I have to go to the shop which is itself quite rare but worse..

I need new knickers. The ones lurking in my drawers are well past their best and my ‘best ones’ are now my everyday ones. Now please do not think my best knickers are little wisps of silky lace…oh no. I’m not the size or shape for that sort of frippery! I look in admiration at the images of beautiful pert bums partially swayed in gorgeous items of lingerie and then scroll past to granny knickers. My folds of flab need some serious swathing and nothing less than something akin to a sail will do. I was brought up to believe that comfy knickers are the way to cope with life.You can’t concentrate and work well if things are not ‘sitting pretty’. Unfortunately in my case comfy knickers means apple gatherers or as Mum would have said ’harvest festival knickers’ all is safely gathered in! 

I spent the rest of the journey driving  more carefully and with caution as I contemplated the horror of arriving at A and E , horrific injuries ignored as the staff look at each other in horror and whisper about the state of my undies. 

Finally home I waste no time in logging in to my usual clothing sites, and view the offerings with a heavy  heart. I really want to see things in person  as I’ve made many mistakes buying knickers that are just not ‘right’ but with  the way the world is I will make an online purchase and hope for the best.

I look at lingerie , I scan sensible, I peruse pretty and eventually I decide, what the hell…I’ll order a few pairs of ‘nice’ but decently serviceable  and a stupidly priced ( ok there is enough silk here to have keep an entire silkworm factory in business for a year) pair of silky sexy decadent knickers that I will never wear because there won’t be a situation I need such beautiful undies for . But I will know they are there and I make sure my daughters know that should I ever be in a car crash please please make sure you go to my house find the perfect pants and wrestle me into them even if I have a broken spine before the casualty staff are allowed to examine me!

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A day in the life of a slightly deranged widow… The Perfume

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I have a scent that I always wear. I have tried others and I have been bought beautiful perfumes in the past but I always go back to the same one. Ghost.But the last bottle is nearing its end. It was bought for me by Andy and I am strangely scared about it being empty. I think I will have to buy another bottle before it runs out and leave a little in this bottle to be kept by my bed. I know he would think it ridiculous if he was here or could talk to me. It’s just a bottle and he didn’t make it. He didn’t blow the glass bottle or make the scent. He didn’t even go to town and pick it out carefully. It was like so many things just an online purchase. I don’t think he even touched the bottle. When it arrived it was gift wrapped and popped under the tree with a printed label. But it was from him and the silly sentimental person I am clings to the fact it was a present from him and so beyond value.

I do wonder if I have a smell ( hopefully not sweaty smelly or stinky!) because of my scent. Does it permeate the skin over time and become part of you? Some people wear a different scent for different occasions but I am not adventurous and so is Ghost part of my DNA now? My grandaughter picked up her tshirt the other day and declared to her mum this smells like Nanny Darling! I had laundered it so maybe it was my washing powder  or was it that she had been cuddling me whatever the reason her little brother grabbed it and declared it was Nanny too… Should I worry?

When I was working in the classroom the  children would often divest themselves of their sweatshirts during the day and we would have a stacker box in the room and at the end of the day  a monitor would give them out before home time. It was common for the children to smell them if there was no name tag and declare oh thats Tims or Katies! They just knew each others ‘smells’ so well. I am sure laundry comes to play in this but not completely.

I know there are certain smells that conjure up  memories of people.  A slightly musky undertone with Chanel number 5 and cigarettes is my mum. Pipe tobacco and suntan oil seemed to be my dad and even my dog has a certain lovely smell that is just his own. Andy was soap and something safe and just him. I often think I can smell him when I am half asleep and close to dreaming.

So now I have the dilemma, do I waste part of my bottle of perfume and leave it so that I can keep it forever and buy and use another bottle now or do I stop being so ridiculously sentimental and just use it up before I buy more. I know what Andy would say, But I know he would also humour me and just buy me another bottle and smile.  

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