Rainbows don’t last forever, and sadly, nor did the joyous, multi-coloured romp which was Lucy’s crazy life.
She saw the sunshine and rain which make the rainbow as symbolic to her life, which was a mixture of laughter and tears, often at the same time.
But with her warm-hearted and lively personality, very often her sorrow was expressed in private, while her happiness was shared with everyone.
Lucy wouldn’t have chosen to go yet, but she felt she had already achieved everything she wanted to in life.
She had married the man she truly adored, had a wonderful family who made her proud, was loved by her many friends and respected by everyone who knew her. Apart from the ones who thought she was barmy.
She had lived abroad, had interesting and unusual jobs, run her own business, appeared on TV for her ‘fifteen minutes of fame’ and written a book.
Towards the end of her life, she had found her perfect home at Rainbow’s End, and added the beautiful cottage garden which gave her so much pleasure.
Knowing that her time was limited meant she had the chance to say goodbye to us all in the ways which meant most to her, including creating amazing treasure chests for her grandchildren, throwing a ridiculously-lavish and unforgettable Wizard of Oz party for Sarah’s 18th birthday and sharing a lifetime of memories on her blog.
We know she would have wanted to thank everyone again for the astoundingly generous support and help you all gave her during her last months.
Her death would always have come too soon, but perhaps in that loss we have all found the true gold at the end of the rainbow – the knowledge that our memories of Lucy won’t be of the way she died, but of the way she lived.
When we think of Lucy, we will remember her washing a skunk in the kitchen sink, turning an entire room into the North Pole, chasing an escaped vulture while giving a radio interview, or desperately trying to wrap a hundred Lucky Dips in the middle of the night.
Or maybe it would be her turning up at Sarah’s school assembly to sing and dance in a homemade Olaf the Snowman costume, running down the garden naked and falling into a pile of stinging nettles, or convincing an entire zoo audience that a dead cockroach called Fluffy was simply asleep.
Lucy’s final wish to us all was, “If you see a rainbow, smile and think of me.”
As you will know, I’m not one for flights of fancy, especially ones with feathery white wings!
But while I was in hospital it seems I couldn’t avoid you, not that I was trying to.
First of all my lovely friend Karen sent me a cute card:
Next (don’t laugh) I kept hearing marvellous angelic songs being belted out like big numbers in a musical showstopper! The nurse very kindly described it as something along the lines of “auditory hallucination”. I translated this to mean “Lost the plot, hearing things, bless ‘er”.
That brush with angels made me realise that my two all-time favourite films are City of Angels and Almost an Angel. Closely followed by Michael, all very different but seemingly coincidentally all about you!
I particularly loved the concept in City of Angels that you are not human, dead or otherwise, spirits or ghosts. You are a completely separate entity. A being living within the same world as us (though not visible to us) messengers who work for God but like those faithful humans who believe in Him, you respect and honour/worship Him. I love that idea.
Then when I came out of hospital I gave Sarah the model of you that she will be able to whisper to in order to send me (and her Daddy) messages when I’m gone. It’s completely soppy … and I don’t care!!! 😛
Thank you angels, for giving me comfort (however sentimental – City of Angels, zany – Almost an Angel or downright hilarious – Michael) at the time I need it most.
Tonight there were FIVE of you all enjoying the hedgehog muesli and mealworm mix! That’s a Rainbow’s End record. 🙂
My friend Debs managed to snap three of you at one time. You don’t seem bothered by us sitting a couple of feet away, all the lights on, chatting away to each other! Sadly Debs couldn’t quite believe it so didn’t like to use her camera flash for the first few photos, hence the slightly poor quality.
I’m so excited because you’ve even begun to investigate the little “Prickle Pit-Stop” house! Genuine pic not available so I’ve photoshopped what one of you peering out looked like (not very well, really, but it shows how cute it was!)
Of course, the increase in hedgehogs goes hand in hand with the increase in mealworm costs, but dear little hoggies, you are most welcome 🙂 ❤
Debs was so thrilled to see you all, but I can’t say I blame her. I see you every night and I still get a real buzz each time – I couldn’t ever tire of watching you for as long as you want to visit!
In the hospital I kept thinking of how Dorothy feels in The Wizard of Oz. When she returns to the farmhouse she tells Auntie Em “It wasn’t a dream, it was a place, and some of it wasn’t very nice but most of it was beautiful. Still, all I kept saying was I want to go home.”
And that’s how it was. The nurses were wonderful, the NHS treatment was outstanding, everyone was trying their best to make me as comfortable as possible, but all I could think of was how much I wanted to see you again, especially your garden. And believe me, there were several times it genuinely didn’t seem a likely event.
When I got back to you, all my friends and family visited (and continue to do so) and there were flowers and gifts waiting for me – some amazing rainbow gypsophila from Sarah, a funny rainbow umbrella hat (no idea who that was from – if it was you please step up to be thanked!) and still they come. Today an amazing (as yet unphotographed) rainbow fleece arrived, again from an unknown admirer!
I have a syringe driver pumping something into me 24/7 but I kept forgetting to pick it up when I moved, so Alice made me a snazzy knitted bag to carry it around in 🙂 My poor swollen feet are also too big to wear slippers or even soft socks, so she also cut a fleece into big soft sock shapes – perfect!
And finally we get to you, my beloved cottage garden.
Most noticeable are the amazing birdie changes. Maybe because you’ve been left undisturbed for a couple of weeks, but loads of new families have arrived! I have pictures of some, but some honourable mentions go to:
When Gobbo the great tit sits on the bird feeder with a blue tit, it definitely reminds me of something …
Scruffy Buffy the blackbird with very manky-looking feathers over his eyes, feeds his enormous baby patiently
There is a sweet but noisy, destructive family of starlings. There appear to be at least 10 babies but I’ve only seen one pair of adults with them and it seems unlikely (though possible) that they’re all one clutch so maybe some have been adopted!
Mrs Robina Robin is alone now, though still taking mealworms back to her nest as fast as she can!
I have photos of my other feathered friends.
Darling Rainbow’s End, thank you for waiting for me to come out of hospital, and Oh, Auntie Em … There’s no place like home! ❤
Love from Lucy x
PS not birdie, but the other night there was a family of three hedgehogs munching mealworms merrily no more than five feet from where I sat! 🙂
EDIT: forgot to mention the dear little family of sparrows – so common when I was a child, yet getting rarer by the day. I have mum and dad looking after 5 babies – 3 girls and 2 boys – very sweet 🙂 I call them the Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheeps!
I’m afraid I took rather a spiral downwards over the Easter weekend. I’d been waiting so long for my lovely friend Lorraine (she of the Dippy Penguin love affair!) to finally be able to visit Rainbow’s End. So I was incredibly sad and disappointed when, after she’d driven all night from the Isle of Wight, instead of greeting her warmly and giving her a proud guided tour of the cottage, I fell into her arms and said “Oh I’m so glad you’re here – can you take me to hospital please?” 😦
Anyway, she did and I found myself incarcerated (or should that be incancerated?) for more than two weeks.
By the time I could finally escape (having only been able to sneak a teaspoon past the guards so tunnelling took quite some time) I’d had more things wrong with me that I thought possible and been demoted to 24-hour care end-of-life status.
That doesn’t mean I’ve only got 24 hours left (I hope!) just that I’m now getting round-the-clock care.
Right, I have to tell you I’m so poorly now I can only use one hand so I’m afraid most of my remaining posts will have to be a quick message accompanied by some pictures. I hope you’ll forgive me, but I only have about a dozen left to reach my 100 target and I’m determined to do it!
Today’s pictures are of my prison sentence … er, hospital visit 😛
I’ve been quite poorly for the last couple of weeks but I’ve struggled out of my sickbed to write you all a quick note – basically just in case those of you who don’t know me personally thought I might be dead!
Look, it’s going to happen at some point, but I simply can’t go until I’ve written all 100 letters – still a dozen to go!
With a couple of additions I shall quote Sir Winston Churchill [did I ever tell you I’m distantly related to him? When I say “distantly”, we’re talking completely untraceable – something like seventh cousin, three times removed, by marriage only!] Anyway:
I’m not sure but … “This is not the end (I hope). It is not even the beginning of the end (maybe). But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
The discomfort I’m now in is causing me problems sleeping. It’s very tiresome (and tiring!) but as always I’m trying to find something positive in all the negatives. You know what they say – “When life gives you lemons …” [Nah, screw that – I hate lemons!] but you know what I mean.
And the most positive thing about being awake in the middle of the night, or silly o’clock in the morning, is the magical unseen world of my garden. The magnificent magnolia may be losing its blooms now but the changing season means that so much of the garden is coming back to life. The flowers are springing up everywhere and during the daytime it’s already regaining its summery beauty – and becoming the perfect place for grandchildren and paper aeroplanes!
But at night it really comes to life. Did you ever read the children’s book “Tom’s Midnight Garden”? I’ve not actually heard my clock striking thirteen, but the magic is just as real. A few nights ago I saw no fewer than four hedgehogs snuffling around (it’s costing me a fortune in mealworms!), the foxes yap and the pair of tawny owls romance each other with a “twit” (her) and a “twoo” (him). Unless it’s raining, then of course it’s too wet to woo …
And as the sun begins to rise the joyous Dawn Chorus is deafening – and delightful. Thank goodness I’ve made it to another new day – it truly makes me glad to be alive! 🙂
I’m still not very well, so it might be a little while before I write my next letter, but don’t panic! I’m definitely going to get them all written before I go. And that’s a promise ❤
I had a lovely time on Saturday when Ross and Kelly renewed their wedding vows. And now I’m busy preparing Rainbow’s End for The KEAL Club (and husbands) who will be coming this weekend to celebrate Alice and Stephen’s Silver Anniversary. My head is full of all things wedding-y! 🙂
It gives me a chance to look back at my own married life, not with sadness that it ended all too soon, but with happiness as I see the joy that married life has brought to me, my friends and my family.
It’s tempting to say that Alice and Stephen have been “lucky” to have had 25 years together, but in truth I’m not sure luck has much to do with wedded bliss. It might be lucky that we found ourselves in the right place at the right time to meet our partner in the first place, but staying together “for better or worse” takes dedication and hard work.
I’ve heard marriage being compared to a house, needing a good foundation on which to build, with bricks held together with mortar etc. I’m sure this is true, but houses don’t just build themselves. It takes the hard graft of skilled tradesmen.
I don’t profess to be very good at it. My first marriage ended up a derelict shell of a building, the foundations too weak to stand the storms of time. I got married for all the wrong reasons. I stayed as long as I did for all the wrong reasons. My marriage to Frank was not so much a building as a roller coaster ride! Full of ups and downs, and certainly all the fun of the fair! But my love for my soulmate never wavered. Maybe that was the foundation – though I suspect it was more likely sheer bloody-mindedness on both our parts!
During Ross and Kelly’s renewal, rather than repeating their original vows, they each made new promises, to each other and also to each of their children, which I found endearing. It was a perfect ceremony … except for one teensy little moment when I confess my infantile humour got the better of me, and I had to avoid eye contact with Kelly lest we both ended up laughing out loud. The lady officiating was discussing the symbolism of the wedding ring.
Then she said “Ross, touch Kelly’s ring.” OK, maybe it’s just me. And Kelly. 🙂 But once I’d stifled my puerile giggles I listened to the message. The ring has no beginning and no end. It symbolises eternity and eternal love. I know this to be true. And I know this is the reason I will never, ever let my wedding ring leave my finger.
But thinking about that reminded me of an amazing, yet true, story:
When Frank was a petrol tanker driver he delivered fuel to garages all over the country every day. He wore thick protective gloves when making the deliveries. His wedding ring had never been very tight. You can guess what happened.
One day he realised that at some point his ring had fallen off while he was removing his gloves. He had no idea at which of the many garages that had happened.
I offered to buy him another one but of course he said nothing would be the same as his true wedding ring. We both sadly accepted that he would never wear a ring again.
One day he was in the company’s transport office speaking to the manager who was sitting behind his desk. The man had never done anything similar before, but on that particular day he asked Frank to come round the desk to where he was sitting so he could show him something on the computer monitor.
As Frank stood there he glanced down. The top drawer of the desk happened to be open. Sitting there, quietly minding its own business, was his wedding ring! Another tanker driver had happened to spot it (lying upright on its edge against the kerb!) in the delivery bay of the garage he’d been at the day before. The ring must have been sitting there by the kerb all those weeks.
If the other tanker driver hadn’t looked down the day before, if the manager hadn’t asked Frank to look at the monitor, if the drawer hadn’t been open, if Frank hadn’t glanced into the drawer …
A series of very fortunate events which led to Frank’s wedding ring being restored to its rightful owner!
Frank never wore the ring again. He was just too scared it might slip off again and that he wouldn’t be so lucky next time. He kept it safely in a little box.
Since he died I’ve worn his ring on a chain around my neck. It’s part of him that I can keep close to my heart forever. And my way of making sure it never goes missing again!
I’m so grateful that I married the man of my dreams. I promised to love him “for better or worse, till death do us part”, but even death didn’t stop me loving him – eternity is forever! 🙂
So, my married friends, cherish your spouse, your wedding ring, and the eternity of true love. ❤
Tomorrow you will be renewing your wedding vows, so now seems the perfect time to celebrate you as the most wonderful couple 🙂
You came into my life for the worst possible reasons – but I’m ever so glad that you did! When I was first diagnosed with cancer I needed to find someone to take care of Sarah immediately. I had just one day to organise everything before I started my harsh regime of chemotherapy. No time to wait, faff about, weigh up my options. But if I had been given my pick of a million couples and a lifetime to consider my choice, I couldn’t have found two people more amazing to look after something so very precious to me.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t really got a lot of time for Social Services. I’d never had the need to avail myself of their services in the past, though my admittedly uninformed opinion of them as, at best, inconsistent in their ability has not improved with experience. But I will happily state for the record that their actions were outstanding and brilliant during the 24 hours between my first phone call to them, and them putting you in touch with me.
From the minute we met I knew you would love and care for my daughter as if she were your own. You have opened your home and your hearts to Sarah. In fact, your whole family has become as one with our family. We have unofficially adopted you all! What started as an emergency temporary foster agreement has evolved into you both deciding to have Sarah stay with you under the Shared Lives scheme. You have, in effect, offered Sarah a forever home.
And with that kind act you have also given me complete peace of mind. It’s hard enough to accept that we have to leave our loved ones, without the additional worry of whether they will be cared for or abandoned to their fate. I know that long after I’ve gone you will be constantly working with Sarah’s brothers and my other family members to ensure that everyone will always have her best interests at heart.
I love that we have a WhatsApp group so we can always see how much fun Sarah’s having, and all the wonderful things she gets up to every day! I hope you know how much I appreciate that you bring her to see me as often as possible. You are sympathetic to how much I miss her, and you never make me feel that I’m not truly still her real Mummy.
But as Mother’s Day approaches I intend to make sure Sarah also honours you, Kelly, as the next best thing, and of course the same for you, Ross, when Father’s day comes round! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of “Siblings Day” (though knowing the Americans there probably is one!) but if there was, Owen, Ethan and Freya would certainly deserve Sarah’s love and thanks too. Even though they are still quite young, they have all shown how loving and welcoming they have been to Sarah. They seem genuinely pleased to spend time with her, and greet her with warm hugs whenever she returns to your home.
If I wrote a thousand letters I couldn’t really say everything I want to say, so I will finish by wishing you both the happiest of celebrations tomorrow – I can’t wait to see Sarah twirling in her bridesmaid dress!
I’m afraid I’m going to have to steal one of your own expressions to describe you.
You are A-Mayyyy-Ziiiing!
Since you came into Sean’s life you have brightened all of ours! 🙂 Your Irish eyes are always smiling (sure, ’tis like the morn in Spring) and laughs or funny remarks are never far away. I won’t embarrass you here for all the world to see, but I would like to remind you of the first time we met. I can still remember you pointing towards my knees and asking “So, what are those, then?” You know what I’m talking about! Classic Derek humour 😛
Frank and I were so happy that Sean found such a fabulous husband. It warms my heart to see the love you share. I recall my mum once saying that as parents we always feel that no husband or wife will ever be really good enough for our son or daughter. Before any of my boys got married I suppose I thought it must be true, but maybe I’m the luckiest mum in the world, because I couldn’t have asked for better partners for any of them.
You look after Sean so well and have become a true member of the family. You’ve even given me two lovely granddogs! Actually, we need to talk about that for a minute. I was stalking your Facebook page, ready to steal photos of you for this letter, and I couldn’t help notice there are rather a lot of pictures of Baxter and Bailey … 695 to be exact! And only 347 of Sean. Does he mind coming third place in your affections?! (And yes – I did count. And no – I don’t get out much!)
I love how enthusiastic you are about … well, everything, really! With your passion for Spiderman, DC comics (or is it Marvel? Don’t kill me!) and all things similar, a stranger might be forgiven for thinking that you are immature or frivolous. You are neither. You are hard-working and dedicated to anything you turn your hand to. I was so proud when you started Man-Maid. We always knew you were a clean freak, but not everyone would have the determination to make a useful habit into a thriving business. I only wish you lived near enough to visit me more often – my kitchen always looks better when you’ve been here!
Actually, talking about Spiderman has reminded me that your love for the character is equal to your fear of spiders! I remember how you’d squeal like a big girl’s blouse whenever you saw one of my tarantulas, but you did at least finally find the courage to hold one of the snakes … once! What a wuss 😛
No, I take that back – anyone brave enough to join the Murray clan has my utmost admiration. I’m not sure I’d dare to take me on as a mother-in-law! Thank you for putting up with me. 🙂
Hope your day is full of love ❤ and laughter 🙂 and looking forward to seeing you soon.