The summer has been a difficult one for stock, I have heard of many farmers who believe their losses may have been greater than usual, some with a virulent form of mastitis amongst their sheep, others losing sheep cowped/kessing (lying on their backs)due to heavy fleeces and wet weather, then there are those unexplained deaths, "she was just lying their like she was asleep". It can be frustrating, exasperating, heart wrenching even and that is without consideration of the financial loss. But it is generally accepted, as already said "where there's live ones there'll be dead ones". Livestock and dead stock go hand in hand.
A morbid subject mebbes, those working with stock are probably more hardened to the fact than city dwellers may be, but no matter how hardened you are there are times when even the hardiest can shed a tear.
There may be some out there wondering why this blog has been drying up somewhat, unlike the weather which pours out generously on an almost daily basis Shep has found inspiration and words resistant to flow of late. There have been personal issues to deal with, none less than the present one of my Mother.
Shep is finally spaened (weaned), let loose into the big wild world so to speak. As this posting is published I will be at the same crematorium I was at less than three months ago, in pretty much the same company as well. Yes, there will be tears, there will also be much laughter, catching up with folks, reminiscing and rejoicing.
It has been a long fortnight. My mother, whom asked so little of life (and gave so much), got her main wish, a wish to leave this world with her independence and dignity in tact. I was often told to "unplug the machines" or "shoot me" should she find herself in a debilitating state. I had no worries on that front as she went to bed one night and didn't awaken the next morning. A lady who had ailed little in her lifetime (a chest condition in recent years being little short of a growing inconvenience to her), had fulfilled her last wish; to leave this world peacefully, with dignity and still totally independent. What more could any of us ask for? How selfish for those of us left behind to wish it could have been any different.
So there you have it, my Mam is dead - snuffed it, curled her toes up, put it how you wish. Often upon finding a sheep just lying dead for no reason the wry humour kicks in and cause of death is pronounced as "lack of breath"! Guess Mam ran out of breath an' all. The coroner came up with a fancy name (they always do, but then they have degrees and some of us don't!) to us commoners, a massive brain bleed/stroke was the cause of lack of breath and boy! how fortunate is that, I could follow it up with "typical, Mam never did do things in half measures"! It is fair to say that myself, my brother, sister in law and Mams two grandchildren and many, many others do wish she'd given us a little bit of a warning, but then she always knew we liked surprises!
There are many happy memories to look back on, some very recent which is a blessing. Shep was a Daddy's girl it has to be said, Mam and I were probably too closely matched, both sharing strong personalities which it is fair to say did indeed clash in my youth.
With age comes wisdom and understanding (or so I've been told!), I have been able to look back to my youth and understand my mothers motives, her aspirations for her youngest and appreciate the fact that she helped forge me into the person I am today. As age crept upon both of us it drew us closer, the last conversation I had with my mother I felt as though I had been talking with a good friend, a true confidant - there is much to be said for that.
She had her hands full it is fair to say, but handled with firmness and kindness she saw her kids blossom and her grandchildren too. We all know how proud she was of us, even though her daughter didn't follow the path that had been hoped of her it was accepted graciously, "so long as your happy, that's all that matters".
A lady who didn't suffer fools gladly, abhorred any form of dishonesty and spoke it as it was - never minced her words. Never one to be in the limelight, always beavering in the background, door open to anyone "so long as they take me as I am". A lady who gave much and asked little in return, a friend to many and more than a friend to many more will be sadly missed by all of us. We all gain strength from having known her and knowing that her final wish was fulfilled.
Or was it? She was pretty much convinced that my brother and I would make a mess of her funeral arrangements (we were sternly told we couldn't organise her 80th last year "I know what you two are like" she said, as we stood before her with a wicked glint in our eyes), so much so she thought she ought to write down her wishes - well! Wishes have yet to be found............ Did she really get her final wish? Lets hope so, following the tearful bit at the crematorium with our family there is to be a memorial service to celebrate her life at her local chapel for all to enjoy, much jolly singing is the order of the day, gifts of wild daffodil bulbs for anyone who might attend ("flowers are for the living, they're no good to the dead"), hopefully we've done her proud, no doubt she'll somehow let us know if we haven't!
As the saying goes "To have loved and lost is better than not to have loved at all"
"Thank you for having been my Mam".