About writerann

I am very fortunate to live in an idylic village in Nottinghamshire with my very supportive husband and faithful dog. After many distracting years in other fields of work, writing is now my full-time passion. Historical research tends to sometimes lure me away from the physical demands of actually writing but my husband is very good at reminding me of the reality of actually getting published! Like all writers tend to find, the odd distraction is very welcome, so please drop me a line on here or on twitter.

FIELDS OF GOLD – BREAST CANCER – MY STORY OF THE LOSS OF A FRIEND

Amidst untenable emotion that stifles and subdues, the crystalline splendour of Eva Cassidy`s song – Fields of Gold – drifts amongst the congregation, sentiment dripping from the lyrics. I have a sudden urge of wanting to ask, why did you love that song so much?

Of course we all cry. A life, fifty nine years in the making that had not yet fulfilled the desires of the heart. A body engulfed in a stealty illness that crept, eventually swalllowing any trace of those desires. Desires of visiting a much-loved son in Australia. Desires of holding the expected new-born grandchild. Desires of witnessing newly planted trees reach to the sky in a grandeur of greenery.

Listenening to the words of the song, I cannot help but smile at the lyrics of – When the West Wind Blows. You didn`t know north from south – or east from west. You always got names muddled and places were a geographical nightmare.

The pall bearers gently place your coffin before the cross of Christ. Eva Cassidy`s haunting voice trancends, weightless, lubricating this density of space. The spangled brilliance of translucent colours plays upon your coffin draped in cascading lilies. With trembling hands and tears that flow shamelessly, I recall, with traumaitized incredulity, it was only just a few months ago that we did indeed walk in fields of gold.

Our friendships beginning was a fleeting half hours walk with our dogs most mornings. We walked together along the sweeping lane that stretched from our homes. Me, with my bouncy Golden Retriever Sam, you with your regal Boxer Bertie. Our daily walks did not desist as the seasons changed. Biting winds, driving rain,frost laced branches, warm spring breezes and summer searing heat. Nothing fazed us. We would chat about mundane things. The weather, what we watched on television the previous night. As our friendship grew, we realised we had a lot in common, a daughter about the same age as each others and our love of animals and wildlife. Do you remember how we would both, during the cold winter months, take our plastic bag full of bread to feed the solitary robin that would perch on the bare branch next to us? Each morning he would appear and watch us furtively as we held our daily chat on that awful lump of concrete that faced the field. Our derrieres would chill as the dampness of our implausible seat gnawed through our padding of clothes.
“God,” you would chunter, “we`ll get piles from sitting on this thing.”
Do you remember when we walked away after depositing the bag of winter nourishement, we would surrepticiously pause and watch as the robin hopped onto our lump of concrete and peck away at the feast left for him? This cheeky chap began to wait each morning for us, recognizing the two strange women with bulging bags of food and he became another friend on our daily dog walk. We shared our anguishes of rebellious teenagers and tales of your daughter that, when a teenager,was, “An awful mare!”
But you also told me in a lowered tone that hinted at the anguish of your plight simmering in secret, that your daughter had made up for her teenage antics in later years. Now, those rebellious years vanquished, your daughter had become your friend, a carer and subsequently your nurse. Your son emigrated to Australia. Amidst your obvious distress of his departure, you told me how proud you were of him. You gave me weekly reports on his progress after you had spoken and `seen` him through the inovation of advanced technology which held and displayed. almost cruelly, treasured images of a son you could see but not touch. You confided how much you were looking forward to visiting him in Australia. Sadly, fate in is entire inane irony, did not allow you to make that journey. Fate came in the form of cancer. Malignant cells took over, deliberating in its persistance of demoralization. Incredibly, before I knew you, you had survived the `silent killer` ovarian cancer and was just beginning to enjoy life again. The ovarian cancer was now dormant. But with infections, that constantly plagued you, you were finally diagnosed with breast cancer.

You began treatment with a tenacity that humbled me. I am sure in your private moments you displayed your anger and self-worthlessness. But to the outside world you remained happy and optimistic finding the daily grind of chemotherapy and radiotherapy a nusiance rather than a tragedy to incur. Your lovely blond hair fell out and you were relieved it was winter so that you could wear your hood high over your head. No-one other than your immediate friends and family knew anything was amiss. In the summer you donned a bandana that featured bright colours of the rainbow that depicted your sunny optimism. Things seemed to be going well. Chemotherapy pumped into your body and daily doses of radiotherapy shrank the tumour. However, your happy and infectious sanguinity hid a deadly secret. It was a moment I was not expecting. Just a normal day. Two dogs bouncing, ducking and diving in the golden corn. An incomprehensible moment that you spoke of as if telling me you were going shopping, or visiting the family, or having to do the ironing or clean the cooker.
“They can`t cure me – the cancer is inoperable – it`s terminal.”
I could lie and say I felt sad, shocked, lost. However I did not. I felt bloody angry. Angry that I could lose my friend to something I could not see, could not understand. That all of this we shared – could stop.

Nothing seemed to change. You were well, planning Christmas, planning to visit Australia. You were shopping, walking Bertie. I began to feel secure in that knowledge, burying the stark reality of those crippling words you spoke in that fleeting revelation. It had also struck home that you trusted me with that information. I was humbled that our relationship had reached those heights. The next revelation came in much the same way. I was totally unprepared and unaware. You seemed so well when you told me that you were feeling exhausted when we sat our bottoms on our cold lump of concrete. I joked with, “What have you been doing to make you feel so exhausted?” I had totally forgotten that you had an incurable disease.
“The cancer has spread to my other breast,” you declared wistfully. But the darkness of the implication of that fact shifted across your eyes. How much does a body, one of God`s children have to endure? I did not feel angry this time. Instead I asked God why. More than before, from the pit of my stomach that lurched in fear, I sensed your cynicism. Cancer would not let go of you. It had buried itself deep within you only to surface when you thought you were the victor. It tricked you with your days of good health and happy demeanour.

This time there was a change in you. You did not seem so optimistic. The weekly doses of chemotherapy stripped away your strength and the daily radiotherapy was painful. Even so, seeing you everyday I did not notice you in obvious decline and hung on to the fact that whilst you were receiving treatment, there was a glimmer of hope. I still hung on to that fact when you were too ill to bring Bertie for his morning walk convincing myself that you were just going through a bad time. I did plan to come to see you. I wanted to so badly. Truth was I was scared, scared to see the change from the happy, optimistic jovial friend, to the victim of a filthy disease that had dared to encompass your body. I did not want to witness you fall victim to cancers laceration of dignity and thought that you deserved better than having to succumb to its degradation. God must have thought so to, because, quite unexpectedly, he took you whilst you were asleep.

So here you lie in this little chapel surrounded by your family and friends. My tears stumble on my cheek, waiting. My hand reaches to my face, faltering to wipe them away. Will I wipe you away with them? Are you in the dark shadow of my heart as I foresee my lonely walks? Are you in the laughter that bursts from my soul as I remember your witless statements? Are you with me as I tread the future missing my friend? Are you with me when I forget to remember you?

Eva Cassidy`s voice is still holding us in a captivated state with her harmonic layered tone and I fear I will never know why you chose that song to be played at your funeral. Did you know that you had more in common with Eva Cassidy than the cancer that infiltrated you both? I recall reading an article about her after she had just passed away whereby a friend commented, “Nature was Eva`s soul. She respected and nurtured everything that grows, crawls and flies. She was not interested in a glittering career, preferring to surround herself with surpportive friends.” These words magnify everything I know of you. I want to tell you here an now about Eva`s likeness to you and I hear you say in your usual endearing surprise, “Oh was she?”

As Eva`s song trancends, luxuriantly asking, – If we remember you – and asking us to stay with you in the – Fields of Gold and gaze amongst the fields of barley – I stand with the inconceivable surprise at my own stupidity, for you have answered my question. My smile plays with the corner of my mouth and encourages the waiting tear to drop. The hot lump in my throat subsides at the rapid lurch of my heart. The answer is so obvious it is though a new era is born. You chose the song because you loved the spring – the summer – the winter`s snow.

You are with the oppulence of the changing seasons – when the orb of the sun sits in the jealous sky. You are with – the west wind that blows.

The rustle of gold sits in wait for you as your spirit transcends above natures burst of glory. Whilst nature continues with its ever-surprising metamorphosis, tantalising us to step over its boundary, you will never be gone from this world. I know that whenever I walk my lonely walk and watch the golden corn whispering and dancing – you will be there. Because:

You are the eyes of the fox that twists its head in awe of the approaching stranger.

You are the leaves that lift and curl.

You are the puddle that colours eloquently drawing the insect.

You are the robin that sits in hope.

You are the rustle that sweeps across the fields with the warm gentle breeze.

You are the cry of the new-born babe.

My walks will still be lonely, my heart still heavy. But in my sudden realization and secure in the knowledge that has come in this house of God, your final message to us all was a carefully chosen one designed to soothe the searing pain of the death of a loved one. Your final message has come in the form of a simple song that outweighs any wonderful words said in your memory.

Maybe my steps of the future will be a little lighter. Your spirit is within the wanting of what we want to believe, of what we know to be true.

You are happy. For you are:

The Fields of Gold.

In memory of my friend Anne Jenkins

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4-11-2006

Breast Cancer's photo.

Link

Eva and her family were not in the apartment now.  They had lost that during one of the hellish raids that had come at the time of restraint from the allies which had lulled them into a false sense of hoping the worst was over.  That was what the newspapers and wireless broadcasts were telling then and, of which her neighbour from upstairs had verified.  He had pounded on her door a few days after the allies had invaded Normandy to relay the good news.”Frauline Butz,” he`d gushed, rushing past her waving the Volkischer Beobachter, the Nazi party newspaper in front of her face.  “Look what`s happening in France – we have nearly won the war.  Let me read it to you.”

“It`s too soon to say.”  Pierre answered in a hushed voice.  He led Henri by the shoulder taking him away from the throng of people who were going about the daily task of making the most of their cave like existence.  “The Germans have their tanks all around the entrance to Caen.  Pierre drew Henri hard by his shoulder toward him and hissed.  “The SS have murdered over six hundred people in the village of Oradour-sur-Glane. They shot some in the market square and burned others alive in the church.”

Henri`s head shot up.  “Why would they do such a thing?”

“Because they are murderers and since the allies landed are finding any excuse to kill.”

Chapter Fifty Nine

With the shrill of the dawn chorus, the allies began the artillery pounding and when it started, it didn`t stop – not for one second. As the ground exploded, the atmosphere became contaminated with thick acrid smoke and dust which throttled senses.  Hearing became incoherent. The mind numbing continuous booms, beckoned a madness of tears and screaming.  Red hot splinters punctured and tore at flesh already seeping life juices.

71st Anniversary of D day – A Special Day

With its shuttered châteaus, cobbled streets, Norman churches and cascading blooms tumbling from balconies, being in Normandy France is always a pleasant experience.  But being there on the 6th June, the anniversary of the allied Normandy invasion, puts a whole different prospective on the experience.

For the first time tourist, visiting all of the major commemorative sites such as the cemeteries and invasion beaches moves ones heart and mind into an unexpected emotive state.

When visiting Bayeux cemetery, the biggest British and Commonwealth cemetery,you come to a place of peace and tranquillity, each grave adorned with plants and small shrubs that caress carved names and ranks of the soldiers that lie there.2015-06-05 01.26.42

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Omaha Beach, the American sector of the invasion beaches, its cemetery lying just above the beach where so many lost their lives on the 6th June 1944 and beyond, causes one to gasp at the sheer scale of the rows and rows of crosses that go on as far as the eye can see.

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What a serene sight, these young men laid to rest with the crystal blue of the channel of which they crossed with such bravery and hope for success, glistening in the background.

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But what did it for me, as it always does, was the Normandy Veterans.  Who, despite the Normandy Veterans Association disbanding in 2014, still make this pilgrimage to be here on the anniversary of D day, 6th June 1944, 71 years ago, amidst the ever grateful Normandy civilians who pay homage to these wonderful gentlemen.

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The crowds come from all over the world to witness this spectacle of unassuming old soldiers revel in the glory we all, quite rightly, give them.

And on this great day of remembrance and thanks, the sun shone, the military marched,2015-06-05 20.23.26

the pipers played, the parachutists dropped from the skies all over Normandy.2015-06-05 21.30.35

There were hymns, prayers and heartfelt words from the Mayor of Normandy bringing tears to the eyes of all.

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There was music, jitterbugging, laughter and tears.2015-06-06 03.50.28

Fireworks, applause, handshakes and embraces.

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But the most emotive of all …….

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…… was the promise to do it all again – next year.

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I will be there.

A Long time – but I`m back

2015-03-26 14.01.00Sorry I haven`t posted for a while but I`ve been busy with house – builders – children – wildlife ponds and animals etc.  Just to back me up as we writers can elaborate, here are a few photographs:         2015-05-11 23.21.00There isn`t much writing here I know – but who wants to see a page full of text when the visual element is so much more rewarding.  (I know I am making excuses here)  I forgot to add that I am also still busy with my novel so I hope you understand the predicament I sometimes find myself in – but I promise I will try – for the few of you who may be out there reading my blog – to post a little more regularly as that is the writers new rule – to connect with readers, (just been told that by an article in Mslexia which gave me the jolt to do this) and my goodness it would be nice to know once in a while that I am connecting!  It is also a relief to write freely and not be loaded down with meticulous research which my novel demands.  With the builders gone, the animals fed and watered, the wildlife pond completed, my grandson handed back to his parents, even if it is with a few photos here and there – I will keep in touch.  It would be nice to hear from you too.2014-06-23 13.34.27                                        2015-04-05 14.37.45-1 2015-05-12 04.01.30-1 2014-06-23 12.10.39 2015-05-10 10.33.39

CHAPTER FIFTY NINE – EXCERPT

This was part of a soldiers uniform swept up on Portsmouth beach – cast aside from the shores of France.  Lying here were all these items – personal items, photographs curled and stained. Some of the photographs portrayed just a single person, others, groups, that Irene assumed to be families.  There were letters, never to be read, the ink running as though tears. There were just hundreds of them.  Footwear, wallets, clothing, papers. Letters and possessions from all different nationalities washed up on Pompay beach.  It was all planned – Irene`s life.  But now the evidence of D day was here, the remnants of lives lived – and lost in a moment.

 

 

Violet was just about to fetch the trolley to fill with fresh cups and saucers before the WVS ladies came on the ward with the tea, when Audrey rushed up to her.  Leaning into her she said in a low urgent voice, “Matron wants to see us in her office right away.”

“Why, what have we done?”

Audrey shrugged, pulled a non – plus face and held out the flat of her palms in reply.  But she was already on her way. Violet hurried after her, tucking a few escaped strands of hair into her hat, hoping that her face looked reasonable.

“I have an important job.”  Matron declared to the two girls standing before her.  “One that, I am afraid, seems to elude some people and one that will not suit everybody.  It is a job that will not be an order due to the delicate nature of it, but a job that needs doing nevertheless.”

The two girls exchanged an inquisitive and nervous glance.

Matron placed her clasped hands on her desk seeming to relax a little. Taking a small intake of breath she said, “We are in desperate need of people to help out with the German prisoners who have arrived here.”  Violet sensed the definite shift in the tone of Matron`s voice which was, a little more – subdued.  “They were picked up off the beaches during the first few hours of the invasion.”

It was Audrey who spoke first.  Sideways glancing at Violet she said quietly, “I`m game if you are.”

Violet cleared her throat.  “Well it does say in our Girl Guides oath that we should help everyone,” she said with a tremor in her voice.

But even as the words spilled out, Violet was unsure.  These were Germans for goodness sake, the very ones who may have tried to kill Jack and Gary – who could have killed Jack and Gary and could also have inflicted the terrible wounds on the poor soldiers she had been tending to.  But Matron didn`t wait for any change of mind sensing the falter in Violet`s voice.  “Excellent,”  she announced with gusto.  “Here are the necessary papers to give to the guards on the doors of the Nissan hut where the prisoners are being h…, waiting to be treated,” she quickly corrected.

Both girls dare not look at the other as they in turn took the papers from Matron`s outstretched hands.

But both girls were wondering – what the hell had they done.

 

 

The key was in the lock – Isaac managed it despite his hand dancing to imaginary tunes and a dizziness that held his innocence.  He was in – the silence and the dank starkness of nothingness hitting him.  The thing under his foot – he picked it up, but not without a battle, his boot refusing to give it up until he lashed it out in mid-air.  The brown card was held in his hand before eyes that could not focus.  “Humph!”  He discarded the card, like his life had been.  “Who cares – so you`re safe – who cares – go to hell!”

Isaac stumbled to the chair – falls into a luxury that is cold and untouched.  He is ashamed.  But there is no-one to care.  No-one to hear his shuddering sobs.  How had it come to this.  This loneliness, this emotion so stark and solid it would not leave.  But now he dithered – dithered in an eternity of love that he would not allow and when he did? Spurned – sent packing – left with this nothingness and reddening eyes and a sobbing throat that only allowed –

“Go to hell – the lot of you!”