Retroladytyping …

Cheers our kid

Nick and Sal.jpg

Aged 6 and 5


My brother and I always refer to each other as Our Kid, joking that it saves remembering each others names.  In truth,  it’s  our way of expressing our love for each other  and appreciation of the fact that we’ve grown up together. 

In a couple of days time, my little brother reaches a significant big zero birthday.  How on earth can that be?  How can he have progressed from the very smart, hand-knitted cardie wearing, hair brushed little boy in that photo, without his big sister noticing?  As the eldest, my job is to keep an eye on such things.  I become distracted for a few decades and he gets all grown-up.  Along the way,  we  acquired a little sister, but we were almost teenagers by that time, so our formative years were spent  together, arguing, making up, fighting – even punching and biting – me, not him.  I wasn’t the most patient and understanding child.    My poor little brother sometimes felt the brunt of that.  Sorry Our Kid.  I hope the scars have healed.

Having survived growing up with two sisters, he has become one of the most reliable, sensible and level-headed people I know.  People who know him describe him as “the salt of the earth” and he is, he really is.  Everyone in his local area knows him.    Walking with him through his village  is never a speedy undertaking.   He’s greeted by all and sundry with a wave and often stopped for a chat, or asked for a favour.  He knows everyone, their families, their history, their jobs and they know, and trust him.  I’m proud of you Our Kid.

We’ve been through some tough times:  the usual stresses and strains of growing up aside,  in the last few years we’ve coped, alongside our  sister, with the illness from dementia  and then the deaths of both our parents.  For a couple of years, our family life was  very unsettled, worrying and even frightening, but through all that Our Kid was the rock in the family.  I know that’s a cliché, and if I can, I shall think of a better metaphor, but he is solid and reliable, so it seems appropriate.  There were quite a few times, when having visited our Mum in hospital,  I phoned him, in tears at what I had seen and heard.  Despite being busy,  (usually under a car – he’s a mechanic)  he took my calls and proceeded to calm me enough so I could drive home safely,  promising that he would phone me at a particular time that evening.  Right on cue, he did.  Thanks Our Kid.

While our parents were ill, he did most of the administrative jobs, methodically, calmly and efficiently, so my sister and I were largely spared the stress of that.  Setting up a Power of Attorney, selling a house, sorting financial matters –  complicated, stressful and not easy, particularly for someone who is known more for his prowess at practical tasks.  Maybe that’s why he could do it so well.  He tackled it  like a project, keeping methodical records,  making lists, ticking tasks off as completed and updating us constantly with progress.  If he wanted help, he asked, but that wasn’t often.   All we had to do was to sign on the dotted line.  That meant we could focus on visiting Mum in hospital, occasionally taking issue with medical professionals and arranging care for her,  knowing that other important tasks were being taken care of. Our roles weren’t always  as arbitrarily divided  as that seems – we shared when necessary, requested or desirable.  We never argued, despite all the emotional and practical strains that having two parents with dementia entails.   He was also the primary visitor for our dad.  I found that difficult for all sorts of reasons, so didn’t go so as often as I should.  He did and took care of their house and garden.  Couldn’t have got through it without you, Our Kid.

I mentioned that he’s a mechanic, and of course he’s the best.  He’s being paid to do something he does so well – mending broken items, as he does people.     He loves his job, loves engines, bikes, his garden, but most of all his family, who are (cliché alert) a credit to him.  It’s a testament to him and my sister-in-law that, despite being grown-up and with busy lives of their own, all his four children visit often, depending on their dad (and mum of course) for advice and a proper Sunday Lunch.  They also rely on him for practical help when setting up their own homes They know, as do I, that he will turn up with his toolbox and fix things, just as he can fix a tearful older sister.  Dependable, that’s Our Kid.   Quite rightly and justifiably,  he is  proud of his family and their achievements.  Well done Our Kid.

Apart from fixing things, his obsession hobby is his bike, cycling and everything which goes with that.  He is definitely A Middle-Aged Man in Lycra and the owner of one of those bikes which weigh next to nothing, has tyres as thin as my little finger and don’t even mention the saddle.  As I write this, I have a vision of him standing at our back door on my birthday, lycra-clad, with his bike leaning up against our fence, holding out a bouquet for me.  He cycles from his home, the long way round of course, to our home with the bouquet in his back-pack most years on or around that day.  I’m not sure what passing motorists make of the sight, but he doesn’t care and neither do I.  I love it.  I’m still worried about that saddle though … and those tyres are never safe, surely?  Ride safely, Our Kid.

Now he’s going to be 60, but he’s still my little brother.  I’m very proud of him, grateful to him for being the reliable, steady, but never boring man he is.  You’re great Our Kid.  Don’t change.  Also don’t stop calling me Our Kid either.  There is little else I’d rather be doing around teatime on a Saturday  than answering the phone and hearing the words “Hello, our kid.  How’s things?”  Half an hour or so later, when we’ve caught up with all our news,  hearing the words “Cheers our kid” and saying them in return,  makes me feel that all is well in our part of the world.   I feel secure knowing that Our Kid is around.  Thanks Our Kid and Happy Birthday.   Love from Our Kid (and Our Kids’ Little Sister and Our Kids and spouses, not forgetting your Great-Nephew) xxx

Tracey, Nick and me.JPG

Big sister, medium brother, little sister








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Memories, walking, talking – shared experiences – updated for 2017!!


Liz, Sally, Jenny and Kathryn and a cast of hundreds walk to remember …

As I said at the end, we will do it again … and lo and behold, the time has come around again.  This year, 2017, the Walk is taking part in Victoria Park, Bath on 3rd September.  Liz and I are in what passes for training for us … our trainers have been dusted off; our Alzheimer’s Society t-shirts have arrived.  They are a rather attractive shade of turquoise this year, complete with the new Alzheimer’s Society logo.  We are looking forward to the day as we always do.  Even more we are looking forward to being in a group of people all with the same aim:  to raise awareness of dementia, while raising money to support all those who are affected.  My story is below.  Everyone on that walk has a story to tell and that is what makes the day so special.  Alzhiemer's Society logo

I have, shamelessly, posted  link to my Just Giving page for this year at the end of this post.  Shamelessly, because I care so much about the Alzheimer’s Society and so much about doing a little bit to help alleviate its effects on everyone who experiences it, personally, as a relative of a loved one, or as a carer.  If anyone would like to donate, that would be very kind and very much appreciated.


Yesterday, in Bath, a very memorable event took place.  Among all the Georgian, Roman, retail and various tourist activities, hundreds of people assembled on Bath Rec (the home of Bath rugby – another of Bath’s claims to fame) to walk 10K (6 and a bit miles in old money) to achieve three things:  to raise awareness of dementia in all its forms, to remember those affected by this awful illness and to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.  The Society does valuable work to support people who have dementia, their families and friends, to fund research into causes and, hopefully one wonderful day, to find effective treatments and a cure.

I have taken part in two Memory Walks before this one, which was the inaugural one in Bath.  The Bath Memory Walk  was  extra special because I had the company of my friend, Liz, the other proud Grandma of our shared grandson, also Jenny and Kathryn, walking in memory of their Nan.  We didn’t see too much of them after the start – they are young, so went at a pace which we didn’t attempt to match.  We know our limits and keeping up with two twenty-somethings is probably several steps too far and fast.

I do these Walks, as well as volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Society, mostly in memory of my Mum, who died with dementia just over two years ago.  As a family, I know we, being ignorant of what dementia actually means, didn’t  always do the right things by our Mum.  We didn’t know, so how could we?  However, leaving aside any regrets, I am determined to do what little I can now, as well as finding out as much as I can about dementia, its progress and what can be done to help.     I’ve also, again with Liz, done a couple of 10K actual RUNS.  Those hurt and may not be repeated, so onward with the Memory Walks – they are doable and relatively pain-free.

Back in Bath, on a beautiful, sunny Autumn morning, so perfect for walking and an all-round feel-good day, we arrived, did the hug thing, didn’t take part in the crowd warm-up as we were so busy chatting about said shared grandson, looked at the Memory tree and added my leaf,  met up with Jenny and Kathryn,  my nieces, two of my Mum’s grand-daughters, who walking in memory of their Nan, my Mum, and … off we went,  shuffling through the Start line, in the midst of the many walkers with a shared aim – to do something to remember and  support those with experience of dementia.

Before I write any more, I must mention, again, the Memory Tree – at the site of all Memory Walks there is a Memory Tree – a large white leafless twig, with  img_0375many fluttering labels attached.  Walkers and friends are encouraged to write the name of a loved-one,  a memory and a reason why they are walking that day on a blank label, then attach it to the Memory Tree.   It may sound a little twee, but it is a very moving sight.  Some labels  mention a person’s name, some mention more, but all are special.  To see that, on a sunny day, with the label-leaves fluttering memories of so many people is very moving, as is hearing people reading out the thoughts of others.

Returning to the Walk … after the initial shuffling past the Start, participants spread out and followed the guidance of the wonderful volunteer Marshals.  We haven’t been assisted to cross the road for quite a long time, but we were very grateful to  those high-viz ladies and gentlemen who  were great at holding up traffic, directing us across and thanking each and everyone of us.   The drivers must have wondered at the diverse group of white t-shirted people walking in a  disorderly procession with accompanying dogs, toddlers and a couple of people with zimmers – Memory Walks are like that.   Hopefully, those car-bound people  will find out more and maybe even support us next year, as might the slightly bemused shoppers and tourists.

The rest of the Walk went in a sort of haze … Liz and I had lots to talk about:  our Grandson, including the showing of photographs of course, our parents, our philosophy of life  – stuff like that.  We are never short of a word or seven are Liz and me. We  passed some wonderful architecture in the city and  saw some nature in the parks among other  delights which Bath has to offer, including a great many tourists, but we were too involved with chatting and the purpose of our day to take much notice.   All around us were people supporting the same worthwhile and meaningful  cause, all with a tale to tell, some chatting amongst themselves, some quietly walking, most with personal experience of dementia, some directly, some through their loved ones, some through their patients.   Everyone was wearing a placard saying why they were walking, some with photographs, some saying “For everyone with dementia.”  Mine was personal – my Mum, of course.  IMG_0367.JPG I have worn this one for each Memory Walk, although we receive a new one to personalise each year.  Seems wrong to throw it away and start again.   I was really touched that Liz’s sign said “I am walking for Sally’s Mum.”  That was lovely.  Thank you Liz.

As well as Mum, I was thinking of the people I see weekly in our local hospital, who are coping with the multiple and unsettling difficulties of being physically unwell and  in hospital, while having dementia.  Another person who came to mind often was the amazingly brave, stoical and feisty lady I visit, also weekly, at her home.  This lady, as well as living with dementia, is a demon Scrabble player.  The Memory  Walk was for you too,  and I will beat you one day.  My hospital and home visits are each part of the Voluntary Befriending Scheme run by the Alzheimer’s Society – another example of the support they offer, along with Memory Cafes, Singing for the Brain and on-line support through its Talking Point Forum.

I like to think that we were also walking for our shared Grandson and our children, in the hope that, soon,  the shattering effects of dementia and the erosion of personality that it brings are no more.  I wish … and hope.  Meanwhile, we do what we can to just do something, however little, so that those with more knowledge and power can do more of what they already do so well.

At the finish, we collected  our medals and a free bottle of water, which we certainly needed after all that talking walking.   My medal will go in my Mum Box, with photos and other treasures, the label I always wear on these Walks and the other Medals from past Walks.

Afterwards, back to normal everyday Sunday life – we met with our husbands and went to the pub for Sunday lunch.  The day was completed when Liz’s husband, Phil – our un-official photographer, posted some pictures on Facebook.  Thanks for that Phil.  For once, I shan’t delete any unflattering shots.  Liz and I are proud of what we did.  It was ‘just’ a Walk, no more than a long stroll in the park really, but it carries so much meaning and purpose, so is special to us and, I think, everyone who takes part.  There are others throughout the Autumn at other countrywide venues if anyone else is interested in taking part.


We did it (and will do it again next year)













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