What have I been doing? Indeed! What have I been doing! Let us race through it in bullet points below.
- Every morning for the last two weeks, I have been rising at about 6am, and going for a cycle ride. Goodness knows where the impulse to do this has come from. But, some menopausal hormone has been released into my brain and I am compelled, with joy, to spend between half an hour and an hour cycling around the Bognor area as the sun rises. Oh I cannot tell you the pleasure the lovely country lanes and byways give me. And so, because I am hurrying, I won't. But they do. Even when it rains and the gears get stuck at number five and I need a wee.
- Mike and Julia have Motor Neuron Disease. Both are taking part in the AGD exhibitions, and I was taking taken far too long to complete their portraits. And so, I took to the studio, toothbrush and overnight bag at my feet, to finish painting. Boy Giant was left a map of the kitchen, some clues about food hiegene, and a new squeezy mop to wash up after himself. "I cannot be disturbed," I declared, and "You are disturbed enough already", was his reply. Julia's health is declining fast and I needed to show to her the painting as promised, and to go back to see her. Both portraits are now finished, and I drove, paint in my hair and bags under my eyes, to the New Forest last week to show them. It went well, and both families were pleased with the results. But Julia does not look like her portrait any more, she has lost weight and has a neck brace on. She has a feeding tube directly into her stomach, as her throat does not enable her to swallow properly now. The lady I painted was at another, earlier, stage of the journey, and I was a little sad to see that she had moved on so fast. She can only say a few words now, and managed to say that soon, when she can't speak or move at all, she will communicate only with her eyebrows. We all thought that was funny but really, it isn't. It is awful. And that is precisely what Julia will have to do. I asked her what I should write on her portrait, and after many tries, she managed to say, "All I have left is time." So I have put that in the painting.
- Mike is nuts, and what I have put on his painting is, "I had a dry sense of humour and told outrageous lies but now I am a gibbering wreck." These are among the first words that Mike tapped out to me on his computer when I first met him. Payback time.
- Monday 13 May to Wednesday 15 May, A Graceful Death is showing at St Catherine's Hospice, Crawley, for Dying Matters Awareness Week. Open Evening is Monday 13 May 4.30 - 6.30, I will be talking about the work I do, and introducing the exhibition. Tuesday 14 May is for the Hospice and the staff, and Wednesday 15 May is open to the public from 9am to 7pm. Come, it is a wonderful Hospice, and you are so welcome.
- If you come later in the day on the Wednesday, remember that I will have been there since 9am, and it is your duty to bring me biscuits. If you want a sensible conversation, some chocolate will do the trick. Just mentioning it.
- September! I am going to show AGD, and talk to the students at Brighton University about the paintings that I am doing with MND sufferers. For this project, Eileen and I are going to film an interview with Julia and her husband Barry, as soon as we can. We need to move fast, so that the interview is not just conducted with eyebrows. Mike, and his wife Michelle, are going to come and take part in the talk. This is so exciting. Mike is clever and amusing, and good at communicating, he will be wonderful. He will prepare a power point presentation, and I will interview him on his computer keypad. It is all go, and I have found another man I want to paint for the exhibition. Having said I won't do any more after the four I am doing this year, I am ignoring myself and planning another.
- Eileen has just gone home, she came for the weekend.
- I had a huge dinner
- I am going to bed now.
Next Saturday 18 May, A Graceful Death mini exhibition and fundraising event. Chichester, 2 - 4 pm. Wonderful new range of Graceful Gifts for sale. Thoughtful, beautiful and unique condolence gifts, keepsakes and memorial items for yourself or as a gift for someone who needs your thoughts and love. Poster for the event below -
It will be lovely to see you. Bring chocolate.