As Big Ben strikes midnight tomorrow up in London Town, from my house down here in Bognor Regis, my year off will officially come to an end. When asked by kind friends what I will do now, I tell them that I will be stepping into my magnificence. This seems a good idea, and a challenging goal to set. But what is life for, if not to be challenged? It has been a long year off, away from all I used to do and think, and it is a measure of the road ahead, the road already trodden, and the thinking I have done, to bundle it all up in glory and to step out of 2017 and into my magnificence.
I began last year in Mr Bedford's little house in Hurstpierpoint. Newly widowed, I could only think of life one day at a time. I remember being relieved beyond measure that I was to take the whole of 2017 off, and at that time, a single year seemed too small, too short, too insignificant to find a way back to normalcy. Not only had Alan just died, but my mother and my youngest brother Dominic had died too in the months before. In those bleak winter months, Alan's son and I packed up his wonderful home, giving things away, taking things to charity shops, letting things go. I remember being convinced that all of Alan's warm clothes, his coats and shoes, his bedding and his socks, all needed to go at once to Syria. And I found a charity that did that, from Brighton, and car loads of all his good clothes were loaded onto a lorry and taken away to a war zone. Alan also had a whole wardrobe of suits, shirts and ties. I found a charity in London that took good office wear to give to people who needed to look smart for interviews, but had nothing. I could hear Mr B approving of this. He had a powerful work ethic, born and raised a Methodist, his father a charismatic Methodist preacher - Alan had no time for people that wouldn't work. He would have loved his suits helping people to earn their way, and to find a job. Bit by bit, the house in Hurstpierpoint was dismantled until on the first of January 2017, I packed all my things from Alan's house into the car, and I left the shell of what had been for such a short while my marital home, and went back to my own home.
Once back in Bognor, I gave my lodgers notice. My lodgers, five of them, were all carefree young lads, all hearts of gold, all approved of by Mr B because they had jobs, and all of them blind to chaos. I was sad to let them go, but I needed my house back, and it seemed, my house needed rebuilding.
Coming home was like returning too early during a student party.
- There was a double mattress leaning against the banisters at the bottom of the stairs that fell on anyone passing it. Everyone had found a way to pass it that meant they didn't have to do anything about it. What mattress? they would say in a muffled voice from under the mattress itself.
- There was no front wall. A car, I am told, crashed into it one night sending all the bricks of the wall crashing into my lovely smelling roses. Boy Racers, said my lodgers sadly, as they picked their way over the rubble daily, weekly, monthly, past all the debris, on their way out to work, or the pub.
- The bins hadn't been taken out (what - every week?) - ever.
- Because there were no clear surfaces anywhere in the house, and no cutlery nor plates any more, everyone had either pizza delivered or ate cereals straight from the box. When my lovely lads started to move out, all the cutlery, plates and mugs were found knee deep under the beds. Still full. It was like finding baby triffids in every room.
- There were discarded wardrobes and chests of drawers on the landing, and mice living comfortably in the sofas on pizza.
|Jolly times with jolly grandson number one, the Dumpling Prince, George|
|Baby Arthur arrives, much to his surprise.|
|Baby Arthur sleeps on Grandma's hob top|
We will work hard together in the morning, and explore creatively with Life Boards in the afternoon. Life Boards are a wonderful way to create a representation of how you are feeling right now, which you keep to remind you of the day.
Places are limited to eight people per workshop, and cost £50 per person.
To book please email firstname.lastname@example.org, a deposit of £25 is required to secure your place.
Please bring a packed lunch, and teas, coffees and biscuits are all provided. Arrive 9.30 for a 10.00 start.
Antonia Rolls has worked with people facing the end of life for the last ten years, both as an artist and a soul midwife. A soul midwife is an emotional and spiritual companion for anyone facing the end of life, at any time from diagnosis to death, for however many minutes, hours or days are requested. Working with people facing the end of life has made Antonia see how important it is to live our lives fully now, right now, and with awareness, before we have to prepare to leave. Life, your life, is so important and learning to live it fully is a life long commitment. Wishing you had understood more as you are preparing to leave life happens all too often. Antonia's Coming Home workshop days are intended to start your awareness that you have much more power in your life than you think.