Monday, April 26, 2021

Moving on

If there's one thing in life that is a constant, it is that it changes. Put simply, stuff happens.

It might be little things - trying a new toothpaste, a different diet, rearranging the furniture.

It might be larger events - new job, new relationship, new house.

Or loss of the above.

In the past five or six years I have experienced huge change. 

I was made redundant from my job as editor of a weekly newspaper here in Scotland. It didn't hit me too hard, although I did notice the lack of a regular wage. I had been doing the job for about 18 years and, frankly, I was a burn-out. I was done and I knew it so the offer of leaving it behind was accepted without bitterness or rancour.

Frankly, I think my employers were glad to get rid of me because I was a dinosaur and very much a nay-sayer. No matter what cunning plan they came up with, I would sit at meetings and shake my head. I did not fit in, if I ever did.

Two years ago my wife died. I found her one morning in the dining room. She had been unwell for some time, her personality had changed until she was not the person I used to know. Things had not been easy for a number of years for a variety of reasons and I had struggled to cope.

This is the first time I believe I have written about it and I don't even know why I'm doing it now, so forgive me if I don't go into too much detail.

The day after Margaret died my dog also passed away. Katy, too, had been ailing and I think the events of the previous day had proved too much for her.

Life had changed but it had to go on. I still had bills to pay. I still had Mickey, now an only dog, and Tom, who had always been an only cat. When you have pets - or children - you cannot languish under the duvet of grief. You have to keep moving.

So I did. Eventually, I got back to writing. Author friends insisted I go with them on a tour of independent bookshops which included an overnight stay on the wonderful isle of Bute. They said it would be good for me and they were right. 

And Mickey came too!

Fooling around on St Andrew's Beach with Caro Ramsay and Michael J. Malone. 

And Mickey.

And now, and I may have mentioned this once or twice, I have moved house. I had become aware that my time in the old place, in the hills of Ayrshire in south west Scotland, was at an end. I had never been completely happy in that house - I had merely settled, as if on a bench on a long walk, knowing I still had to move on - and when one of those author friends offered to rent me this new house in the greater Glasgow area I decided it was time to move back closer to civilisation. Life is getting back to some kind of normal and the old place was too far away from everywhere. Even popping out for milk was an excursion.

And so, here I am.

Stuff happens.

Life changes.

Walking around the empty rooms of the old house on that final day was a strange experience, however. The removal of the furniture and the pictures from walls had transformed it from a home into simply a space.

And yet, there was something there.

Memories that hung like dust in the sunlight. Echoes of the past that reverberated from bare walls like the notes of a dimly remembered song. I may have only settled there but it had still been where the last few years of my life had played out, good and bad, happy and sad.

It was time to leave them where they lay and move on.

But now the three of us, the three amigos, are beginning our new adventure, in a new, but old, house in a new, but old, part of Scotland. I'm from Glasgow but not this part (which isn't really Glasgow at all but is part of the conurbation) so it's all fresh to me.

And the boys?

As I said before, they have settled in well. (I was asked for proof, so here you go)

As you can see, they have made themselves at home and there are many places within an easy drive to take Mickey for longer walks. Tom is being kept in for now but when I do let him out I think he will be supervised. They are fed and warm and loved. And that last one, I believe - I hope - is reciprocated.

I've also made myself at home. The books are on the shelves, the art is on the walls. The dust is already beginning to settle.

Okay, house.

I'm ready for new memories now.


Anna said...

Books on the shelves, animals settling in---what could be more conducive to writing?

Donna S said...

Congratulations on your new home! Hope you and your lovely animals will be very happy there. I am in the process of cleaning out my house from the death of a spouse so I can relate. I also have a wonderful cat. Everything is paused right now because of the pandemic but I keep telling myself that life and things in general will get better. All the best!

Douglas Skelton said...

Anna - if only that were the case! Getting words out is like pulling teeth right now.

Douglas Skelton said...

Donna - they really have to. But any move is a process and once you get back to it you can work through it.Sorry for your loss.

Barbara Fradkin said...

Thanks for sharing, Douglas. Those of us who have lost a spouse can relate to the experience of losing our old life and having to build a new one. It truly is a huge step, made easier by the constancy and company of pets. Good luck in your new home.

Douglas Skelton said...

Barbara - thank you. Not only pets but also good friendswho were there for me when I needed them.

Thomas Kies said...

Wow, talk about changes in your life. Good luck on the new house and the writing. You certainly deserve it. And I'm hoping your new memories are good ones!!

Tanya said...

Douglas, thank you for sharing your story. I always look forward to your posts. And I'm so sorry for your losses. You have weathered your recent changes with much grace, and I wish you and your furry boys much happiness in your new home. Sending virtual hugs to you all!

Please keep Tom inside or only let him out in an enclosure or on a leash. The outdoors are so dangerous for cats re: diseases, cars, other animals, etc. I just rescued a feral I'd been feeding who had been wounded by another cat (fortunately not seriously). He was neutered yesterday and is now settled in his cozy "apartment," my spare room, which will house him until he's comfortable enough in his new home to meet the other cats.

Cynthea said...

Your comment really drew me in and the emotion was powerful. You have been through a lot, but it sounds like you have some solid friends to support you. I wish you well in your new 'life' and know it will be good. You know what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.
Thank you for sharing.

Donis Casey said...

I hope the new digs are a better place for you and the boys in more ways than one.

Douglas Skelton said...

Thank you all for the comments. Tom will be kept in unless I take him into the garden on a supervised excursion. I don't know when that will be but he has been driving me up the wall today so I think he's getting a bit stir crazy.
As for everything else,just need to hope for the best!

Charlotte Hinger said...

This was such a moving post, Douglas. I lost my husband in 2007 and moved from Western Kansas to Colorado. This period of my life had an eerie quality.