Saturday, July 16, 2011


Last Friday my mother left the home she has lived in since 1963 (she knows where she was when Kennedy died) and moved to a sheltered accommodation flat in Lewes. I had no idea how she was going to react to the change and worried that beyond her facade of stoic resignation, my mother might feel utterly miserable, but to my relief she seems blissfully happy in her new home. It's as if she has been released from a terrible burden.

The process of moving was quite frenetic. I'd been given ten days' notice and, in addition to working full time, I had to find a removal company, decorate the flat, get a carpet laid, install an electric cooker and assemble several kits of flatpack furniture.

Finding a removal company was particularly difficult: three answerphones (one of which had a 'comedy' message) and a wrong number. The final call also seemed liked a wrong number, as the phone was answered by an aristocratic gentleman called Peter,who sounded as if he'd taken too many drugs in the 60s.

The phone call began awkwardly, as Peter seemed reluctant to commit himself to anything, including the nature of his business. Perahps it was a wrong number, but I was desperate. Could Peter move my mother's possessions to Lewes? After many awkward silences and strange noises in the background, Peter said that he probably would be free on July 8th, but needed to check a few details. Could he phone me back in the evening?

A day passed and I hadn't heard a thing from Peter. I phoned him:

"Ah yes,'m glad you phoned me because I don't appear to have your number. Anyway, July 11th should be fine in Storrington. What? July 8th in Teddington? Oh...well I'll have to check my diary...hmm...hmm...yes, that should be fine too."

My heart sank.

To move couldn't have been simpler: 30 boxes, three chairs and one fridge, but when Peter - a portly, ruddy-faced man in his late 50s - arrived an hour late (only a minute before my mother ceased to be the legal owner of her house), he seemed overwhelmed by the task ahead of him.

"You said there were 20 boxes," he complained. I patiently pointed out that they were very small boxes and would have filled 20 normal ones, but he was determined to feel hard done by, pointedly refering to the refrigerator as the "fridge-freezer", as if we'd deceived him.

My mother turned to me and in a whisper that you could hear 50 yards away, said "He's a drinker."

Suddenly a van door opened and a young man walked up the garden path. "This is my er...son," explained Peter. The young man said nothing, but slowly started to rearrange the boxes as if he was playing Tetris. This was going to take all day.

I went up to my bedroom for the last time. To my surprise, my life there flashed before my eyes in a slightly crass, cinematic manner. All that was missing was a soundtrack - maybe the oboe and harp version of the Crossroads theme tune that they used to play during particularly sad moments.

I thought of the time I first discovered Radio Four, when I was eight, and listened in the dark to Mrs Rochester's terrifying wails. I also remembered the patterned wallpaper that seemed to come alive and dance in the semi-dark; recording songs from the Top 20 on Sunday evenings; practising scales on my new piano, recovering from my first hangover; listening to late night phone-ins on LBC; being cold; the sound of trains trundling past; reading Enid Blyton by torchlight; and, when I was two, being carried around the house by Dad to show me that there were no strangers hiding.

I closed the door and said goodbye.

I went downstairs and told Peter that we were going to leave. We would wait for them in Lewes. All Peter had to do was leave the door on the latch and shut it behind him when he left. What could possibly go wrong?

Mum and I got in the car and as I turned the key in the ignition, I realised that this was it. We could never go back. I had expected this to be an emotional moment for my mother, but she was too preoccupied with an anecdote about Auntie Betty to even notice. I interupted Mum and said that we should say goodbye to the house. She looked back briefly and said "The funny thing is, I don't feel anything. I just want to get to the new place."

When I had arrived, all that Mum was concerned about was being able to make a cup of tea for the removal men. It took quite a lot of persuading before she agreed to let me pack the kettle and tea bags. Later, as we joined the M25, she said "Well, I'm glad I didn't make him a cup of tea now. He's absolutely useless. I wouldn't be surprised if he locks himself out of the house."

After 40 miles, the hazy outline of the South Downs appeared in the distance. It had been raining heavily for most of the journey and I worried about my mother's chairs getting wet. But as we drew closer to Lewes, the clouds broke and the sun appeared. "This is a good sign," my mother said.

As we entered the hall of the flats, I felt like a nervous parent taking their child to university or boarding school. How would my mother get on? Would she make friends? Would she wish that she'd stayed in Teddington? These questions had haunted me for the last few months.

Walking towards the lift, we heard a loud voice behind us: "Now, who's this trying to sneak past me without saying hello?" It was the house manager. We barely knew her, but she threw her arms around my mother as if she was a long-lost relative. It was a good start, but I was still anxious to see my mother's reaction to the flat.

I opened the door and let my mother go in first: 

"Ooh, what a lovely carpet...cor, you've been busy...oh I like this...and you can see the hills...and the curtains aren't too bad...I might keep them...this is lovely, really lovely."

As we stood by the window, looking at the sheep grazing on the Downs, my phone rang:  

"Hello, this is, we're still in Teddington. The thing is, I did as you suggested and took the door off the latch and shut it behind me, but then I remembered that I'd left my briefcase in the kitchen and I really need it.What should I do?"

Several responses sprang to mind.

Peter and son eventually arrived three hours late. I decided to help them rather than waste another two hours and by 6.00, it was all over. At the end Peter was charm itself, wishing my mother a happy time in Lewes, recommending local places for a good lunch. We said goodbye and I comforted myself with the knowledge that I would never require Peter's services again.

One week on, I have been amazed by the ease with which my mother has adapted to her new circumstances. She seems genuinely happy in a way that I never dared to imagine was possible and I hope that without the burden of trying to manage a cold, damp house in a street with no shops, my mother still has at least another decade ahead of her.

The last few weeks have been exhausting, but they have also been a welcome distraction from the main thing that is going on in my life at the moment. Three weeks ago, my oldest son was diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder (it's complicated, so I'll avoid labels for the moment).

On the one hand, this news is heartbreaking, but on the other it comes as a relief after five very difficult years that culminated in us having to take our son out of school. We now know why he has found ordinary life so difficult and, more importantly, we will now be able to get him the help he needs.

It's a great pity that some of the psychologists at CAMHS didn't recognise my son's condition earlier, as he could have been spared a lot of pain and distress. Instead, we were accused of trying to 'medicalise' our son and the spotlight was turned on our parenting skills. If we had seen a psychiatrist (as opposed to a psychologist) at the beginning, our lives might have followed a very different course.

I have avoided writing about this subject for a long time because I'm aware that the appeal of this blog, for many, is the things I come across in my job: the strange book covers, old photographs and Derek's diaries. But since my son's diagnosis, I have found it increasingly difficult to write the usual, mildly amusing blog posts whilst my life is undergoing what feels like a huge, techtonic shift.

I apologise for the self-indulgent nature of this post, but it has been cathartic. I will return to the Victorian photos, politically incorrect book covers and strange ephemera soon, but for the moment, this is what I needed to write.


wmeisel said...

"Mr. Steerforth" - let me be on the record saying that I am delighted to read whatever you choose to write in this blog. I particularly enjoyed this story about moving your Mom. My best wishes to you. [ Bill Meisel]

lucy joy said...

Ugh, I feel drained just reading this post. Every possible test of your emotions in one week - and I think you've passed with flying colours.
Peter; why do we always have to deal with the Peters of this world during times of extreme stress? Mine was a Russell, and I hope I never come across another 'Peter' or 'Russell' for the rest of my days.
It's a post detailing such bitter-sweet developments, your mum is
going to be fine, so is your son - but the journey has been hard.
I avoid blogging about 2 of my sons' potential disorders because I quite like to keep my blog self-indulgent. Maybe, though I'd get the support, advice and re-assurance I crave if I did write about them.
Not a post full of wit, not a post with fascinating glimpses into the Victorian era, but still - a breathtakingly sympathetic and moving glimpse into your life.
I'm so glad you feel able to publish such a personal piece, I'm also glad I found your blog. I feel part of a select club of lucky people, and would be completely gutted if I got thrown out.

Unknown said...

Psst: It's YOUR blog -- don't apologize. A lot of us also come here because we like your writing and, well, YOU as well as we enjoy the old photos and found treasures. :)

Anonymous said...

Dear Steerforth,
A techtonic shift in many ways! Well done you for having accomplished this huge move of your mother's. I think you may find the story of Peter locking himself out funny in a few years' time. I love the photo of the clock in the window! How wonderful that she's happy there.
I want also to say that my heart goes out to you regarding your son's diagnosis. Our son also has "a diagnosis". We resisted this for a long time because we didn't want to categorise him. In the end his having a diagnosis made many things possible that wouldn't have been otherwise. We, too, were accused of bad parenting, and sadly that is a familiar story. One of the things I like so much about your blog is how you weave together the intriguing things you find at work with your own concerns and your own life. So I don't see it in any way as self-indulgent. Take good care of yourself as you all start this new chapter.

Poetry24 said...

First and foremost, Steerforth, a writer must write what he must, and you certainly are a writer. You have style that I like, and I'm sure you could make a motorway service menu entertaining.

I'm so glad that your mum is settling in okay, and that the move hasn't been too traumatic for her, or you.

And for what it's worth, I don't think you've been self-indulgent at all. Isn't a blog a kind of diary, and isn't a diary a place where you record what's happening in your life?

Helen Brocklebank said...

i don't think you should apologise at all - what you're going through is incredibly tough. It's a funny old thing, blogging, isn't it? It should be a space in which one feels free to write whatever one wants, and yet, as soon as there's a sense of a reader, one becomes very self-conscious about delivering something that might meet expectations.

I do sympathise: I've had a couple of years of trickiness on the home front with one thing and another, and found it impossible to write about, and then not able to write the usual stuff because it all felt so unimportant suddenly.

Anyway, I am very sorry for your troubles, and sincerely hope that they might get easier.

David said...


Thank you for this. I'm glad that your mother's move was successful, and I hope this reduces the stress for you.

Thank you too for sharing the news about your son. It is good that you're making progress with the professionals. I think that's a perfectly appropriate thing to tell your readers but I understand you not wanting to go into detail about this - these things are difficult to come to terms with, in fact I'm not sure you do. (My daughter has autism and, at the age of 15, doesn't speak: it's still a wrench as she passes each stage in life with modest progress).

Mrs Jones said...

We have also, just yesterday, moved my mother-in-law from the house she's lived in for the past 50+ years into a nursing home. Most of the burden has been on her daughter but my husband (her son) and I have come down this weekend to see how she is. She is being stoic. It's a big change and I can't say she's been as enthusiastic about it as your mum appears to have been. But it is the best place for her just now. I hope she grows to like it.

I'm sorry to hear about your son but at least you have a diagnosis now which is a starting point to improvement, hopefully. Oh, and don't worry about thinking your blog is self-indulgent. Of course it is - it's YOUR blog and you can write about what you bloody well like in it. Don't write it for us, your faceless readers, write it for yourself, and if you feel better for having shared something with us, then that's all to the good. So there.

Little Nell said...

I can only reiterate my previous comments on your ‘Moving’ post. I know from experience that this will be the best thing for your Mum. She will have a new lease of life. I just got back from my Dad’s 90th birthday celebrations (that’s both of them now) and their own move a few years ago definitely gave them that extra 10 years you’re wishing for for your Mum.

I can see why you feel so at odds at the moment after your son’s diagnosis. These things sure pull the rug from under you. In my previous life as headteacher, I had many dealings with CAHMS, none of which left me feeling encouraged or reassured that they were acting in the best interests of the child. Writing your post today was perhaps cathartic. It needed to be done.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad your mother has settled in to her new home so easily and happily and so sorry to hear about your son and his difficulties.

I read your blog because I like the way you write and what you write about; not just the photos and books though they are interesting, but you and your thoughts and your family. This is your blog and you can write what you want to here. If it helps you to let off a bit of steam and tell us what is going on in your life then feel free. Even if we can't help I am sure you will find sympathy.

Gardener in the Distance said...

Steerforth, I for one feel priveleged to hear of your personal experiences, and consider they give your blog real depth, rather than detract from its intended content. Your mother's move has been very positive and healthy...that must ease your mind. ( Her flat seems to have wonderful views ). I'm sorry to hear of your son's plight, but glad to know you're now in a position to rectify it,

Bob said...

Mate, you don't need to apologise for anything. It would be a pleasure to know you.
Hang in there.


Brett said...

I'm glad the move went well. You must be relieved to have it behind you, as I was last fall when I had to empty my parents' house.

Don't feel like you have to apologize. It's your blog.

I also happen to be struggling with some problems and events that have overshadowed my usual blog writing. I'm not sure I could post about them as well as you have done.

tristan said...

... and we are pleased to have read. Thanks

Grey Area said...

No need to apologise - I found that moving and interesting, to make a crass reference -

'There's more to life than books - you know.. but not much more"

- and this might horrify and amuse you at the same time -

Martin Lower said...

I only started this blogging lark in February, and recently I've written a couple of posts about my family. I'm slightly horrified, as I would have thought I'd be the last person to do that! So I know what you mean; when you sit down at the computer, you write about what comes out! Please don't apologise for being self- indulgent; I always enjoy your posts, and judging from the comments you receive, I'm far from alone in that respect.
I'm glad your mother has taken to her new home so quickly; it seems you made the right decision!
Hopefully, you can now move forward with your son; it must be a huge relief to know what you have to deal with....

Steerforth said...

Wow! What a wonderful response. I really appreciate these comments, which make such a difference - the kindness of strangers. As a full-time mother, my wife has an extensive network of people she can talk to, but I'm quite isolated so this blog is my equivalent of the pub. I must say, I like the clientele.

Reading David's comment reminded me of the other reason why I hadn't written about my son: there are plenty of people far worse off. I know four people with autistic sons and their dignity and lack of self-pity is humbling.

I always appreciate candour in other bloggers and yet during the last five years, I've been quite reticent, usually only alluding to the most important things in my life. There have been good reasons: the privacy of others, escapism, a fear of being boring and a belief in the stiff upper lip.

Most of the time I enjoy writing about other people's lives, but it's a relief to know that I this blog can also double-up as the psychiatrist's couch (or the priest's confessional).

Once again, many thanks.

P.S - LUCEWOMAN - You mention your sons' 'potential' disorders. Have you tried Mumsnet? Mrs Steerforth swears by it (and I swear at it, sometimes, when I can't use the laptop). She has received several pieces of really useful advice from anonymous healthcare professionals who, free from the burden of working to a specific agenda, have been able to point her in the right direction.

Doofus said...

What a very appropriate post title, Steerforth.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. The details you put in your posts are invariably interesting, witty, thought-provoking, or moving.

All the best to you,


Lucy R. Fisher said...

Dear Mr [[[Steerforth]]] - what they said! Especially Mr Meisel.

zmkc said...

I hope all will be resolved for your son before too long. I've been wondering since you mentioned his problems at school. Someone on the radio the other day mentioned that you are only as happy as your least happy child, which I think is, miserably, true.

Steerforth said...

Thank you Genius and Richmonde.

zmkc - That is absolutely true, and my son's predicament has cast a long shadow. Ten years ago I envisaged a very different future.

Howevever, it's not all bad. During the last six months I have gone from complete desperation to cautious (and tempered) optimism.

We are getting a lot more help and I hope that worst is over (possibly a dangerous thing to say, given that my son will be a teenage in 15 months!).

Anonymous said...

You may write about amusing finds, but your niceness tends to show through -- I guess a selection from photographs and books is always "personal" and revealing of character. Yours comes over as someone we want to spend time with.

Best wishes for your mother and your son, and for you and your wife who are entitled to some consideration too.

Steerforth said...

Thank you very much Anonymous - much appreciated.

LUCEWOMAN - I've read your comment and, as requested, didn't publish it. I hope that you manage to find an answer. There's nothing worse than not knowing (apart from, sometimes, knowing).

Kid said...

A very moving post, and one I can relate to. That bit about saying goodbye to the house was very touching. I once read a book containing the letters between C. S. Lewis and one of his friends. One of their mutual childhood friends had died some time before, but, over the years, whenever they were back home, they had both continued (either together or individually) to visit their late friend's parents at the house he had lived in while still alive. On eventually hearing that the parents had either moved or expired (it's been over 30 years since I read it - excuse my memory), his friend expressed his feelings in a letter thus: "Oh, Jack (C. S. Lewis), never to see the house again!"

The house, you see, represented so much of ther shared past that no longer having access to it and the memories it conjured up whenever they visited was as painful as any bereavement.

Should you feel the same, remember that you can visit the house and your room again, in memory, whenever you want to.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Ah the good old Napoleon mantle clock - pride of place on the new windowsill - I like it!

Delighted to hear your mum is settling into St Thomas' so beautifully and quickly, despite the lack of notice and the dodgy movers. I suppose her generation who survived the war were a little less sentimental than ours and just accepted and got on with things when it came down to it. I hope she goes from strength to strength in her new abode.

Re your older son, I am sorry to hear his diagnosis sounds somewhat serious and how he has suffered through not having one (not to mention you and Mrs Steerforth, by outrageously being accused of being the problem!), but at least he is still only 11, so hopefully there is plenty of time for corrective action to take place. And at least both you his parents and he have a name for it now and know for sure that is is no one's fault, just one of those things.

Anonymous said...

Oh Steerforth, blessings to you and yours! I'm glad that your mother's move to the new flat went fairly smoothly, in spite of the (non)help of Peter the Moving Man. (Or, since he doesn't seem to have been up to much, should I call him "Peter the Standing Man?")

Also blessings and sympathy in dealing with your son's new diagnosis. Hopefully things will go more smoothly now that you have a name for the problem. Sometimes knowing what you're dealing with is half the battle...

In the meantime, hugs to you and your family, and feel free to write whatever you wish. I always enjoy reading your posts.

Take care and God bless, Canadian Chickadee

JRSM said...

Whatever you want to write about, it's always interesting and thoughtful. And for what it's worth from another stranger on the internet, all the best with your son! Perhaps don't be reading any depressing John Christopher's for now, though.

Cat said...

You were an adorable little boy.

I'm awfully glad the move went well; you can never predict.

A few years ago my grandmother had a neighbor lady who had great trouble walking and lived in a three-story house that needed loads of work. Her children finally moved her into assisted living, very much against her wishes.

When they went to check on her the next week, she was still mad at them, but for not doing it sooner. She loved having her meals cooked and having so many people around to play cards and watch movies with and talk to.

MikeP said...

I have nothing to add to what everybody else has said. I simply wonder if your mother is in the same block in Lewes that mine is, near the brewery?

Steerforth said...

Kid - I like that anecdote - I know just what they meant about the house.

Laura - I'm not sure if people of my mother's age are more sanguine, but the generation below - people in their 60s - do seem a lot moanier and self-pitying (and scruffier - old men should wear ties and hats!). She survived the Blitz, being beaten by her father and years of poverty, so these days she feels like a child in a sweetshop.

Thank you Chickadee - your comments are always appreciated.

Cat - I haven't changed ;) Yes, my mother now wishes she'd done it a long time ago. Sheltered Accommodation/Assisted Living seems to be the perfect solution, allowing people to retain their independence and dignity without the humiliation of the full extent of their vulnerability. I've put my name down for 35 years' time.

MikeP - Yes, I think it is. St Thomas' Court?

Anonymous said...

Not that it hasn't already been said, but I wanted to say - please don't apologise for what you have written. I enjoy reading your blog because you bring insight and an interesting perspective to the things you write about. It is your style as much as the content that draws me back, especially the feeling your writing gives that you share things that mean something to you. That is the case whether you are writing about what thoughts victorian photos spark for you or the things you are dealing with in your personal life. Once again (and I mean this utterly wholeheartedly), thank you for sharing.

I am really glad you found writing this blog post cathartic, it sounds like you have had a huge amount on your plate and have been coping admirably well. Give yourself a break! ;-)

MikeP said...

Yes indeed! A good choice - my mother has been very happy there these past 15 years or so. She's called Joyce, should your mother want to say hello, though quite how they explain the connection to each other I'm not sure...

Steerforth said...

Mike - I've tried to explain blogging to my mother, but she just switches off. However, if it wasn't for the recommendation of a fellow blogger - Laura - she probably wouldn't be there now.

It bodes well that your mother has been there for such a long time (my mother met a woman yesterday who'd been there 18 years). What a contrast to old people's homes.

Rosie is very good, although my mum could have done without being roped in to attending a lecture on the Spanish Civil War. She'd never heard of it (even though she was alive at the time!) and said it was "very boring".

I'll tell her to look out for someone called Joyce. Her name's Barbara.

Thank you Pinky. I've avoided writing such a personal post for ages and I really appreciate the sympathetic response from people like yourself. I really do feel as if a burden has been eased. I know that souns corny, but that's how I feel.

Why? Perhaps because of that phrase I used earlier: the kindness of strangers - like-minded, sympathetic people who have nothing to gain from posting a comment, but are simply motivated by empathy and a generosity of spirit.

It beats the Lewes Forum!

Junie said...

No need to apologize for the content of your blog--it is, after all, your blog.

In any case, it's hardly self-indulgent for you to use your bit of cyber-space to mention major life concerns--the health and well-being of your mother and your son.

It's not the Victoriana or weird book covers or even you-know-who's diaries that make your blog worth reading. It's what you make of these things, the POV you bring to them. That's going to be present regardless of the subject matter.

My best to you and your family.

Steerforth said...

Thanks Junie.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to read about your son's troubles, I hope he gets the help he needs.

Will he continue to use CAMHS? I'm about to do so myself (with, and for, my son) and am slightly dubious now that I've read about your experience with them.

Peter (a different one!)

Steerforth said...

Peter - yes, we're still using CAMHS, as the person we're dealing with now is very good.

During the last five years we've met six people. Two were awful, another two were okay but ultimately ineffectual, and two were very good.

One of the best people was the most qualified; the other was the least qualified.

The two worst people were highly opionated. One accused us of trying to medicalise our son when he was suffering from simple sibling rivalry. Her advice: just leave it alone and it will go away.

It didn't.

With another person, I compared living with my son to accounts I'd read of domestic violence. I made it very clear that I wasn't likening the two things per se, only in terms of the emotional reaction: waking up in the morning, not knowing what mood the other person was going to be in and trying to avoid a confrontation (there have been days when I've done all the right things only to find my son kicking a hole in the wall later on). She was incredibly hostile to this observation and added, dismissively, "Oh yeah, a lot of parents have made that comparison".

Well, perhaps that implies that there was some substance to my remark.

My other concern is that CAMHS tended to have a narrow outlook. My son was assessed for Asperger's. They decided that he didn't have it (which I think was right), but rather than look for an answer to why he often behaved as if he was on the spectrum, simply closed the case and we found ourselves back at the beginning. We had to go through hell before anyone started to listen.

A friend of ours used to work for CAMHS and found the experience very frustrating. She felt that there was an obsession with not medicalising children and instead, focusing on the parents. That's all well and good if children are suffering from abuse or dysfunctional parenting, but not very helpful if it is a medical condition.

I don't know what your predicament is, but my advice would be to trust your gut feeling - you know your child. I deferred to the professionals because I trusted them, but in the end my gut feeling of eight years ago was confirmed by a psychiatrist.

That leads me to my next point. If you think it's a medical problem, try and see a psychiatrist rather than a psychologist. I wish that I'd appreciated the difference five years ago.

I realise that there are budgetry constraints and that CAMHS must see some really dreadful cases, so in the great scheme of things my so wasn't so bad. What bothered me was their attitude towards us. For example, they arranged a classroom observation when we'd already said that my son was usually well-behaved outside the home.

Sorry for this long, rambling reply. To get to the point, if the answer you get doesn't feel right, don't give up. If there's a problem, it's their job to find a solution.

Lucille said...

I'm so glad to hear that your mother's move although traumatic in the arranging, has had a happy outcome. A view of the downs is a pretty special bonus. I keep a heavy lid on large chunks of my non-bloggable life, but admire the way you have broached the subject of personal difficulties with such sensitivity. Maybe you have shown other people that they can trust to the kindness of strangers too.

Anonymous said...

Steerforth, we all love whatever you write about - it's the way you put it whatever the subject, and having had the courage to share your problems with us, know that you can turn to your blog friends for support too.

I hope that now your Mum is settled in her new flat, and that you start to have a path forward with your son, that you will find some time to relax. Take care.

Spacezilla said...

Steerforth, I think this was one of your best posts ever. Your writing delivered so much of the joys, apprehensions and surprises one experiences in life. Those who have had to do the parents house clear-out and move appreciate how honestly and fully you captured this time. All the best to your Mum too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply, Steerforth, and blimey, you must stop apologising! I really appreciate you taking the time to be so helpful; you've given me several things to think about or bear in mind when we go, which I'm sure will be useful - especially if I think we're being fobbed off or misled.

Again, many thanks, and I hope all goes well for you and your family.


Steerforth said...

Thank you Spacezilla and Gaskella. You've shown me (and Lucille, it would seem), what a force for good blogging can be. I've found the comments here humbling, moving and extremely touching.

I'm grateful to everyone who has posted a comment.

Sam Jordison said...

I missed this while on holiday. What a week... I'm lost for words. I hope your Mum is happy in her new place. Also that you your son's diagnosis helps him get the help he needs. Best of luck.