Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Curiosity Killed the Cat - Overcoming Adversity Bloghop



Today, I’m happy to participate in the “OvercomingAdversity” Bloghop, hosted by writer and blogging friend, Nick Wilford.

Nick has asked us to write a piece that revolves around the theme, overcoming adversity.  The entries will be compiled into an anthology with all proceeds going to his stepson’s college fund.

Nick’s stepson, Andrew, has cerebral palsy and hopes to attend a specialist college in Scotland, but reaching this dream has been difficult. 

It is through actions like this that Nick and his family hope to generate awareness and get Andrew the education he needs.

We truly hope that they achieve their goal.



Curiosity Killed the Cat – did it?  I don’t think so – it stimulates, keeps us interested at all levels of life ... a brief tale of hope, during a time of challenge:


You’re in London to celebrate your brothers' birthdays, your mother has travelled up from Penzance ... she is obviously not well – and the next thing we know she is in hospital with a stroke.

It’s not severe, there is hope ... she can talk.  Life takes on train journeys from Sussex – you’re exhausted ... what now?  Relocation to Cornwall to look after your mother ... life is on hold.


After 4 weeks and a dose of noro-virus she is ready for recuperation ... a short trip to the new hospital ... more strokes and our next visit is to the Acute Brain Injury Unit (ABIU): we’re lucky it has exceptional care, diagnosis and treatment.


Yet the uncertainty abounds ... will she live, how incapacitated will she be ... questions that of course we don’t have the answer to; it is serious that’s all we know.


How to adapt?  When she was able to my mother was happy to interact ... so during her time in the ABIU we go with the flow and there were days that were good and days that were bad – and all days were exhausting.


For six months the world went around before we were able to get my mother down to a Nursing Centre in Eastbourne, where I live and could be around more to support and care for her.


At the time of the first stroke she enjoyed shortish articles, or snippets of information, that would stimulate her brain with ideas or things we could laugh about together – when the incapacity strokes happened ... the progress was extremely slow and not hopeful.


By the time we reached Eastbourne she was able to communicate, I’m extremely grateful to say, though essentially was bedridden for the rest of her life (another 4.5 years).  We had to overcome the fact that she could not eat or drink ... challenging at times: but my mother having owned a care home realised and was able to work out what was what.


I wrote to friends and relatives which generated cards back – and more interaction ... the blog had started but now evolved as time went on – my mother could comprehend and always remembered ... Washington’s teeth was one of her favourites.
George Washington (1797) painted by
Gilbert Stuart


We had fun and I learnt to put her needs first - my life could go on hold for a while – because I could see a future ... I was blogging, teaching myself history, learning how others coped through their adversity.


Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it gave me hope and an education ... while I have the happy memories of those curious snippets.




Perhaps appropriately the dashboard tells me this is my 500th post - don't count, curiosity killed the cats ... only 496 show up!!


Nick's Anthology can be bought at Amazon:  Overcoming Adversity - either as a book, or in Kindle version ... please support the family .... thank you!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

62 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You were able to enrich both of your lives!

C. Lee McKenzie said...

I'm in the middle of all of this with my mom right now. What I've discovered is that during this very trying time, we're closer than we've been for a long while. I know as time becomes short, it become precious, so we fill our moments together with as much honest companionship as possible.

Alex is right: It's at these times that we have the opportunity to enrich each other's lives.

A Lady's Life said...

So well said I also took my Mothers illnesses as a learning experience. We learn so much caring for another. Before the Pope died I was able to say just by looking at his face how long he would last.
When Nancy was helping her Ronnie with his speeches , people got mad but I was able to say he must have alzheimers, which he did.
You see everything in our lives comes for a reason and we eventually see why as more doors open.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I've always said what a wonderful daughter you are, and I'll say it again. You've devoted your life to your mother's care and happiness, while making lots of new friends along the way with your amazing blog. I didn't realize that your mom couldn't eat or drink for 4 1/2 years. In addition to the IV you were her sustenance. You nourished her soul with your caring, and uplifting stories. Now you continue with all of us. Thank you Hilary!
Julie

Susanne Drazic said...

Best wishes to Nick and his family. I hope that they reach their goals.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

It's truly amazing how people shine through during life's more difficult moments. Very inspiring Hilary.

Nick Wilford said...

Thank you very much for taking part with this inspiring entry, Hilary. I love the positive attitude you have maintained, and that you both grew and developed through this experience.

Thank you for the support!

klahanie said...

Hi Hilary,

Indeed and through adversity, through the most daunting of times, a shared inner strength brings inspiration of unbounded wonder.

A timely posting and well done Nick for a provocative bloghop. We can live life discovering the positives out of negatives.

In peace, hope and gratitude for your support, Hilary.

Gary

Friko said...

There is always a way to cope. I am glad you had your mother for quite a while longer and that she was well enough to share your blogging pleasure.

I was going to add my contribution to the very worthy cause but saw too late that no more than 500 words are wanted.

Southpaw said...

Beautifully said.

Julia Hones said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Hilary. As Albert Einstein said:"The important thing is to ask questions. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

Patricia said...

This was a great trip through adversity to release...and I am going to put this post up on my facebook site and hope it will get some more shares for you friend, what a great idea for fundraising
Good writing

L.G. Smith said...

Just beginning to go through this with my mom. She fell a few years ago (twice actually) and hit her head. Now she can't remember anything new that happens for more than a few minutes. Doesn't know where she is half the time. I know how much patience it took to care for your mother all those years. But you found a brilliant way to cope.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I've always believed that your mother felt blessed to have you as a daughter, Hilary. I'm positive.

Yvonnes Poetry Corner said...

Indeed a wonderful account of overcoming adversity from your mother's point of you and your family's.

Yvonne.

Patsy said...

Curiosity is a wonderful gift.

Clarissa Draper said...

I have heard about your mother and your situation over the last few years and I think that it's wonderful that you put your life on hold to help her. I have loved your curiosity because it has provided us with many interesting blog posts.

Laura Eno said...

You were an amazing blessing to your mother. You have been the same to all of us who derive so much pleasure from your posts. Thank you for sharing with us, Hilary, and may your story also help Nick and Andrew.

Deniz Bevan said...

How wonderful that you could come through it together. Off to read about Washington!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

You were a wonderful daughter. Think of all the things you wouldn't have learned otherwise.

juliet said...

Hilary, this is a beautiful and touching piece of writing. I can feel the love between you and your mother. It's the main ingredient needed, isn't it? My new book, which is on the subject of ageing, has explored these issues around incapacity from age, and I am more convinced than ever that the heart connection remains alive and well, even as the body becomes disabled.

Leigh Covington said...

This is so wonderful and inspiring. Mother's are a special gift and it sounds like you were a wonderful blessing to her. :)

Chuck said...

Hilary somehow you were able to make such a sad time sound so uplifting...I am glad that you got 4 1/2 extra years.

Ella said...

What a daughter you have been! I knew you were a caregiver, but didn't realize how it all begin~
She knew what a treasure you were and you knew, you had a wonderful Mother~ YOU both found a way to cope~ I so admire what you shared
(((hugs)))

Robyn Campbell said...

Oh Hil! I'm so thankful that you both grew though this time. Your mother really went through some bad stuff, but having you there is what really got her through all that. I'm so very proud to call you friend. xoxo

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Being there for your mother when she needed you the most allowed you to share many special times. Not the way you would have preferred, but I'm sure you created a lot of precious memories during those times. And look! You also gained all of US through your blog, too!

Happy almost-500!

Damyanti said...

Wow. Moving. Thanks for sharing this.

Val Poore said...

By giving to your mum, you received so much yourself. A wonderful inspiring post, Hilary.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

2 part reply!!

@ Alex - enrichment is a good word

@ Lee - you seem to have got it right ... less is more at this time (much time with her, doing or discussing what she wants, and often just being) .. and I see you understand Alex' comment - very true

@ A Lady's Life - it's that understanding .. that some get, others don't ... you obviously recognised others' challenges ..

As you say - there's a reason for everything ..

@ Julie - I was around for her as much as she needed me - she never demanded and always understood if I needed to go somewhere else - she was amazing in her thoughtfulness.

We had a few challenges with the drinking scenario - the food aspect never really worried her - but she had amazing mental resilience ... and I rarely talked about food, tea time or drinks .. made it easier.

I'm amazed with the blog - it's such a benefit having you all out there .. and I love writing it

@ Susanne - I too hope the fund raising is successful for Andrew - it would be wonderful to help his College life ..

@ Keith - many thanks.. my mother inspired me, as did my uncle ... and we all worked and coped together

@ Nick and family - I do hope this helps Andrew a great deal .. my mother would have certainly approved of my participating and of your endeavours - she was always helping people ...

It's a pleasure helping Andrew - now I need to get round and read the other entries ..

@ Gary - many thanks ... you more than anyone understand. My mother had the inner strength .. I learnt much ... and it is essential to be positive, as you say ...

Thanks for your words .. peace, hope and gratitude - beautiful to read.

@ Friko - we enjoyed each other's company ... and I was able to give her some solace in various ways and keep her brain stimulated .. yet never going where she didn't want to go

I'm sure Nick would be delighted to receive your entry ... better late than never, as they say ...

@ Holly - thank you ..

@ Julia - mostly my mother asked the questions .. insisting I went home and googled, or Wikied!! Now Einstein has added to the reason for our questioning!!

@ Patricia - many thanks for sharing on FB .. something I still don't do, though I suspect many of Nick's friends will have done.

@ Luanne - I was extremely lucky my mother's memory (essentially) was all there - especially with a little prompting.

I wish you all the very best - that patience is very challenging ... I really was extremely lucky. My thoughts to you, your mother and the family.

The blog made the difference to my life these past few years .. it entertained my mother, my uncle (who was also seriously ill during this time) and me - and gave me that future (ie my brain was active and ready to move on). I'd have struggled greatly if either of them had had some form of dementia ..

@ Joylene - my mother was a woman who gave thanks at appropriate times - but never effusively or often ... yet a couple of times I had wonderful unexpected comments - made me realise I was and had been doing the right thing. Those two comments give me cheer now ...

@ Yvonne - thank you

@ Patsy - my mother was always learning through life and I can't seem to stop!



Thanks everyone I so appreciate your thoughts and comments -

- more importantly I hope our entries will give Nick something of value to his anthology - and that we raise lots of funds for Andrew so he can stay in Scotland for his College studies ...

Look after yourselves - cheers Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Part two of my replies:

@ Clarissa - I don't think I could have done otherwise and I was in a position to do so (not ideal, but able to). I love blogging knowing that you all seem to enjoy being here .. I'm very lucky: thank you.

@ Laura - many thanks for this lovely to read - I hope Nick achieves much through our support for Andrew and his College.

@ Deniz - we had so many laughs ... hysterics often! Poor old Washington - what pain he must have been in ...

@ Diane - well I know ... my eyes have well and truly been opened across the education board then sharing with so many friends along the way

@ Juliet - many thanks .. I'm interested in your book when it's ready - I'm sure there will be so many salient points in it. We certainly were comfortable and happy to be together through all the various episodes ... and she said she couldn't have coped without me ..

@ Leigh - I did my best realising that her needs were essential - and I know I helped her a great deal .. just being with her.

@ Chuck - it was uplifting and still is - I'm still learning from that period. I too am glad I got those extra years - glad the ABIU were able to bring her back to life, and she wanted to return.

@ Ella - thankfully the Nursing Centre were there ... but just to be with her was a critical part of the care. We did both find ways to cope - we were extremely lucky we both mentally adapted the way we were able to get through ...

@ Robyn - many thanks ... I'm sure my mother felt she grew too - she was always talking to herself and never lost her vocabulary .. it was greater than mine!! I had to keep up ... great stimulation for me too.

@ Susan - do you know .. I'm not sure I would have changed things - I was so grateful her brain was always aware and stimulated - that made an incredible difference ...

... and yes I've loved blogging from the people I've met - so much support ... 500 posts and creeping up with the followers too - thank you ..

@ Damyanti - thank you

@ Val - that's the truth of it .. giving and receiving - many thanks


Thanks everyone I so appreciate your thoughts and comments -

- more importantly I hope our entries will give Nick something of value to his anthology - and that we raise lots of funds for Andrew so he can stay in Scotland for his College studies ...

Look after yourselves - cheers Hilary

joss said...

I shed a tear as I read your post the strength to cope with so much is sometimes hard to find but always worth it. thank you so much for sharing. hugs

Ciara said...

It's so tough to watch a loved one suffer. You turned the situation into a blessing. Good for you and all those memories you now have.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Such a challenge and you handled it so well, Hilary. What a blessing for your mother!

Somehow I didn't realize you live in Eastbourne! I've been there...lovely place.

Rosalind Adam said...

It's been such a long hard time for you and there was a period when we were both caring for our Mums and comparing notes so I understand how difficult this kind of relationship becomes, the transition from having your Mum there to discuss your life and problems to having your Mum needing you to cope with her waning life. A lovely article, Hilary, and written for a good cause too.

nutschell said...

A difficult journey, but one that ultimately brought you closer to each other. lovely post!
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Joss .. good to meet you via Nick's blog hop. I'm just very lucky with what happened with my mother ...

@ Ciara - thankfully she rarely looked ill .. it was a challenge, but yet I don't really remember that side ..

@ Elizabeth - yes, my mother did say she was amazed at how I coped ..

Eastbourne is lovely (mainly!) .. it's fairly sedate and quiet, which is a blessing .. lovely countryside though ..

@ Ros - I remember you and your mother last year or was it two years ago ..

Not having children - my mother knew we'd cope .. so we really chatted about the blog type subjects - we dealt with things as and when we needed to ... she did say she was no longer my mother, but now I was there for her .. that made me tear up - still does.

... it was less emotional - something that my mother couldn't cope with - that part of her brain had gone ... thankfully she could laugh - a lot at times ...

@ Nutshell ... it was a difficult time - but was an interesting journey ..

Thank you so much for coming past and commenting ... all the Overcoming Adversity posts have been amazing to read ...

Cheers Hilary

Linda said...

I know it was a long hard road you traveled, but you gave something to each other than can never be taken away. Love and memories. Blessings.

M Pax said...

And now you're enriching the rest of us with your wonderful snippets.

My grandmother had a stroke, but didn't recover from it. At least ti was quick, so we're thankful for that. She was so vibrant, it would have been painful to see her otherwise.

One of my best friends had a stroke about 10 years ago, but she's OK. They thought it was a brain tumor. And it's probably one of the only times people happily said, "thank goodness it was only a stroke."

Stephen Tremp said...

Thanks Hilary for sharing your story with us. You are an awesome daughter to your mum. Coping through adversity ... much easier with someone you love.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Linda - thank you .. there's always positives along the way and that love and those memories hold together for the future ..

@ Mary - many thanks ... I can understand the desire for quickness after a stroke - and though we had some tough times .. I'm glad I had the experience for a host of reasons that my mother lived on: she wanted to ...

Strokes can hit at any age - and we do need to realise .. I'm so pleased your friend has come through and you can say "thank goodness it was only a stroke" .. it's good to know people can recover .. the brain has an amazing way of healing. This is such a useful comment - thank you ...

@ Stephen - I was very fortunate that I was able to do what I did .. and absolutely for both my uncle and my mother - the familial caring was made much easier ...

I really appreciate all these comments .. Nick's given us an opportunity to write some incredible stories .. and the anthology will be well worth buying ...

All the best - Hilary

Lynn said...

Happy 500th post - I'm glad I found your lovely blog finally. And it's lovely that it has enriched your life and others so much. And so lovely that you were so good to your mother.

Gattina said...

It's so sad when a loved one has such a terrible disease for the last years and you are there and just only can be there for her but nothing else. My grandma was so lucky, she fell asleep watching her favorite TV series and never woke up. She was 95 ! I wish that everybody could live like her until the end.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Thank you for sharing your Mum's and your story. It is obvious how much you loved her. :)

(((hugs)))

Manzanita said...

Hilary : I've always admired you for the way you shared all your bloggie friends with your mother. You enriched our lives too.
My best to Nick and his family. May his dream come true.
Love and peace from Manzanita

Inger said...

Your mom was so blessed to have you take such good care of her, keeping her interested in what was going on, both in your life and on the blogs. I know you must miss her as I miss my mom. Thank you for your encouragement on my boring medical posts.

Sara said...

Your mom was blessed to have you, but you passed on the blessing to those of us who got to know Hilary, the blogger.

Your gift to us has been an education...literally. There are so many times I reference something I read in one of your blogs.

Life has a way of lighting a candle when darkness comes. We just have to find it. Lucky for you, your mom and us, you found it:~)

Karen Lange said...

It is interesting to see the things we learn from challenges, isn't it? The importance of hope - yes, we surely need it. Glad you shared, Hilary.

Happy weekend,
Karen :)

Tamara said...

Wow. What a beautiful story. It's really inspiring how you took something so traumatic and used to to create something amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us!

The Golden Eagle said...

A powerful story of you and your mother. Thank you for sharing!

Congratulations on 500 (or so) posts!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Lynn - 500 seems so many - yet so few ... I've been lucky and I do appreciate that .. the strokes could have been so much worse - at least she could talk ...

@ Gattina - it is very sad .. but by taking the opportunity of being caught in the same situation ... and not leading our daily lives - we were able to enjoy each other's company and find interesting topics ..

In some ways I'm glad we had that enforced time ... as I was able to develop my interest in 'history' ..

@ Sharon - appreciate your comment .. have a great weekend ..

@ Manzanita - my mother was bemused she could reach round the world, while being confined to bed! She was so 'chuffed' and happy at that thought ..

I'm sure Nick will raise some good funds through the anthology ..

@ Inger - we were lucky that life worked out conveniently for us at the end .. trials and tribulations yes, but much laughter and stimulation too ..

We learn from your Swedish forays back in time, seeing your desert canyon .. and learn from the medical challenges - and I just hope the medical aspects can ease for a while .. (both the dogs and you and DH) ...

@ Sara - my mother realised that we were lucky - and she certainly would have been so happy with the interaction of all blogging colleagues ..

Can't believe I've given you an education too - a funny one .. but in a way I guess that's my aim .. I learn .. you get to read and learn too (I hope) ..

Yes - the blog has given me a light to the future, that is for sure .. and I do love writing it ..

@ Karen - the challenge was a huge shock, but it's how we cope and there's always something that gives us hope ... your comment is so on the button ...

@ Tamara - it's all I could do in the circumstances over time - I was overwhelmed with shock and grief .. but then the what can I do kicks in - how can I help etc ... how can I lighten my mother's burden - far worse than mine ... curiosity helped hugely - thankfully

@ GE - good to see you .. and thank you .. yes 500 (or so!!) posts ...

Cheers everyone - enjoy the weekend ahead .. Hilary

Glynis said...

As a stroke nurse, I can appreciate what you went through as a family. I can also say you are to be admired for all you did for your mother, it is not an easy task to face. I loved your story of overcoming adversity, thanks for sharing, Hilary.

Summer Ross said...

I love that view of Curiosity Hilary! Thank you for sharing.

Sherry Ellis said...

Your mother was blessed to have you as a daughter!

Julie Flanders said...

What a touching and beautiful story, Hilary. I never would have thought a cute saying like this could be turned into such a heartwarming tale.

Liara Covert said...

Love the reminder that everything depends on how we perceive or look at it. You can see the good in a person, situation and yourself as a choice to make the most of whatever is unfolding.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Glynis - yes you would understand our challenges as the children of a stroke patient. A mother is that special person isn't she .. at that stage in life - it was my turn to step up to the plate.

@ Summer - I hadn't really thought about the take on 'curiosity' - the title just came .. so pleased you appreciated it.

@ Sherry - we both appreciated each other in those times

@ Julie - many thanks .. as I mentioned to Summer above - the 'title' just popped into my head .. so glad it made sense!

@ Liara - wonderful to see you again .. I'm on my way over! - you spell it out here ... I chose to adapt and do the best for my mother ... and she appreciated that turn of events - I learnt along the way.

Thank you so much .. Nick's "Overcoming Adversity" has given many of us ways to tell a story, a real one or a piece of fiction .. I'm sure we'll find these posts therapeutic ... and especially the anthology when it's published.

Cheers Hilary

Tammy Theriault said...

Very touching! I've worked with stroke victims before. It can be such a trial, but when they try to be as independent as possible....well that's inspiring, too. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tammy - I was so lucky my mother's mind still worked sufficiently for us to have an interesting interlude - a happy period, albeit a sad one.

You would understand the effects strokes have on the function of the brain ... a real mix of function and emotional abilities can occur ...

Thankfully the brain does heal over time ... allowing younger people to get back to a reasonable life - a different one ... but a full life.

It was inspiring - thanks so much for commenting ... Hilary

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Your mother was blessed to have a loving, devoted daughter.

I've been through my share of adversity and have seen God bring much good out of them. While my beloved battled leukemia, he brought much cheer and hope to those around him, including the doctors and nursing staff.

Blessings,
Susan

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. oh battling leukemia must have been absolutely shattering for you - and that is devastating to 'watch' ... I'm so pleased your husband rallied for everyone - making those around him feel unphased as he was cheerful ... it does make such a difference -

- yet there are those whose illness strikes and they have no control over their reactions ... that's the very difficult aspect ...

You certainly understand how to overcome adversity ... my thoughts and admiration to you ... Hilary

Jenni Steel said...

I have been going through my share of adversity recently. Up until now, I have been looking after my father who is ninety this year. He has led a healthy life up until recently when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He is extremely deaf and also has problems walking.

However, we are gradually growing closer but the trips in and out of hospital are certainly bringing home, some truths.

To be honest this is new territory for me. I only hope I can continue to be a support for him as you were with your mum. As dad becomes more helpless so shall my disability decline too.

Your mum was very lucky to have you with her, Hilary!

Jenni

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Jenni .. I'm sorry to read about your father - and the hospital visits must be very difficult for you .. illness at the very end is so sad, and you have the added challenge of his deafness - let alone his walking.

I'm pleased he's obviously very happy to have you around to help at this period of his life - when we need to be with our parents - as you are ..

It's getting that balance and I do hope you can find the even keel - though he may take over for a while ... I was lucky (in some ways) that my mother was in a Nursing Centre ... and so I needed to be there, but didn't need to do much more ...

Certainly my mother appreciated me being around for her .. and that was the important aspect - I'm very glad I was able to do for her ...

With many thoughts to you .. Hilary