In June 2010, both the girls went on an end of year school trip for a week. We didn't know anything about Ady's cancer at the time.
I decided to get my lovely friend Andy to come and do some handyman work on the girls bedrooms as a surprise while they were away, because frankly their rooms were shocking and not nice little girls rooms at all !!
We worked bloody hard that week. Andy measured up for beds and wardrobes and shelves and things and left me to order all the stuff, clear the rooms of LOTS of junk and decorate......
I dropped the girls off for their trip, telling them that I would see if Andy could fix their wardrobes while they were away and maybe put a few shelves up, but not to expect too much.......I then went straight to B&Q and bought BRIGHT orange for Charlotte's room and BRIGHT yellow for Stephanie's room....well, it needed jazzing up but in hindsight, perhaps those colors were maybe a little TOO bright, but it did save on electricity !
Andy is a very artistic and creative person, and upon realizing that my ideas for the rooms were completely crap, I left him to it to do his own thing, and all I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW !!!! he did a brilliant job making wardrobes, shelves, beds and under bed drawers, and all with pretty little decorative bits on them.
He also laid laminate flooring upstairs as the carpet had had it after the electrician pulled it all up after the fuse box blew up a few weeks previously.....it was old...
I spent my time into the early hours each morning painting all the walls and MDF, and by Friday, we had just about finished with new bedding and fairly lights and lovely sheepskin rugs. I was so chuffed with it all and wished that I had rooms like theirs when I was younger.
I picked the girls up and the first thing they asked was had I managed to to anything with their rooms, they had been really excited all week thinking about it....of course, I replied that I hadn't done very much and that I was far too busy working.I said that Andy was able to fix the wardrobe and straighten the shelves, but that was it. I even made myself sound irritated that they had asked. They said that that was OK and they were grateful that I had done what I did. I could tell they were absolutely gutted, and afterwards, they told me they felt their week had been ruined but they didn't want to seem ungrateful . I love my girls.
I wish I had taken a picture of their faces and delight when they saw their rooms, all nicely painted, new tailor made beds, wardrobes, shelves, rugs and flooring and the rest. That was a really happy day.
Of course, Andy had done such a good job on the girls room and landing, that I asked him to do mine and Ady's room, which he did and did an equally brilliant job.
So upstairs was complete and then I started thinking about downstairs which was in a state of dis repair.....I didn't realize that that would have to go on hold.....
It was lovely, cracking on with the house and the girls really enjoying their rooms and my planning what to do with downstairs. I had even done a deal with Topps Tiles to get a discount on the flooring as I was planning on buying so much. Steph is an asthmatic so carpets are a bit of a no no and what with cat hairs and wellington boots, laminate is SO much easier !!!
When Ady was diagnosed with his colon cancer, we knew he would have to have some months off work. We had no idea if chemo was on the cards or what was going to happen, but we did know that we would have to claim benefits.
I have never seen so much paperwork in all my life !! And what with being self employed, there was double the amount. For about two weeks, I ploughed my way through the paperwork which was quite swamping at times and thanks to the help of a lovely person who I have never met but is an online friend, who spent hours on the phone with me explaining everything as she works in the benefits system (I will always be grateful to her), we managed to get our £65. a week to live on.
I spent hours in the job center plus office, and in the council tax office and on the phone to the free school meals office and to the council grants place to see if we could get Stephs singing lessons paid for.
I must have looked a right mess, stressed up to the eyeballs, with my folder and frizzy hair, my husband with cancer and my two girls and me fighting a battle to get every penny we could. But needs must, and I managed to get everything we were entitled to....I think.....
Times had now changed, from decorating bedrooms and planning our holiday and living a fairly care free life with after school clubs for the girls and no problem if they wanted new clothes and little nicnaks, and take always when I couldn't be bothered to cook, to scrimping on our benefits money, going to the market to get our food and no more nic naks and random clothes. This was October and Christmas was on its way.....
I am a member of a forum and have made lots of friends on there. Its only when the shit hits the fan that you realize how bloody kind some people are.
Behind my back, they had got together and organised a whip round for us. At the end of November, I think it was, the post arrived and in it, was loads of love to shop vouchers. Now its not often I am speechless, but on this particular occasion I was !!
The kindness and compassion from people, some of whom I have never met, was truly amazing and I will be forever grateful to those who made it possible for me to get the girls Christmas gifts and food for the festive season....without them, I really don't know what I would have done !!!
And then there were some school mothers who showed huge kindness too. They got together and cooked meals for me and the girls so I didn't have to worry about cooking while Ady was in hospital. Boy did that take the pressure off, and of course, I gave them all marks out of ten !!!
Then there was another internet friend who used to be a diabetic nurse specialist. I have never met her, but she too, spent hours on the phone advising me about all things sugar related. Our old GP left us to get on with it but Sal made it all better...thank you Sal !
Right,I will get back to day two of the hospital in a bit.