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‘Sometimes we expect more from others, because we would be willing to do that much more for them.’ Anon

‘I’m thinking of writing a novel about vegetables.

That’ll be a turnip for the books.’

Above, Simon’s rather appropriate offering today.

Day 10 post-op.

The day begins with a general assessment of pain levels. It’s ‘me, me, me‘ at the mo and that all feels a bit weird. But yes, this morning, the pain seems to have ameliorated yet again. Every day is a bit better which is a huge relief. This is not something I want to have to repeat if I blow it by doing too much, too soon. Sadly, upon her visit, the daily nurse informs me that with back surgery, it is often the case that several operations are required. 🙁

Reality kicks in after about ten minutes sitting at the breakfast table. It comes on suddenly and is mind numbingly excruciating as my pelvis seems to burn and lock up.There’s nothing for it but to do my exercises and go for a walk. As I stroll up the drive with an entourage of my three trusty furry friends and their dear little botties to the fore, Spring is definitely hammering on the door. Birds are singing and buds are beginning to burst.

Unlocking the post box at the top of the drive, I find a very special card from one of the incredibly special people we saw in England thanking us for our visit, no less. The pleasure truly was ours.

She is the mother of my childhood best friend and is at nearer 90 years old than 80, without exception, one of the most elegant, lastingly beautiful, witty, cutting, humorous, vivacious people I have ever known. No subject is off limits, in fact, the racier, the better. Laughter is to be found in everything, the graver the situation, often the more humorous.

Our two families, both with three daughters but totally opposite in lifestyle, lived next door to each other from when Caroline and I were both under the age of two. I was the youngest daughter, she the eldest. We grew up living in each others houses and through our childhood we were totally inseparable. We would laugh together until we choked or if drinking Coca Cola, until it frothed from our nostrils, spend entire summers swapping between my and her bedroom for sleepovers, ride bicycles from dawn to dusk and beyond, up and down farm tracks and building dens in ridiculously dangerous places. Halcyon days and boundless fun indeed, almost joined at the hip.

Caroline was like her mother in every way - just as beautiful, with the razor sharp wit and exuberant sense of humour. Our lives were bound together until at the age of 37, she died.

That was hard. She left a son who was not yet even a teenager. Dark times.

Sadly, time passed with too little contact between her family, her gorgeous boy and us as a family.

So now, when I see Caroline’s mum, it’s always incredibly special for me, as we laugh until the tears prickle our eyes, in a similar way to how it used to be with Caroline and I, without the nostril frothing.

Years passed, Caroline’s younger sister died as well.

As her mother said to me a few weeks ago, “to lose one daughter may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness”. Still humour after so much pain.

Incredibly then, what did I receive as well? Obviously prompted by our visit to Caroline’s mum, a message from her beautiful grandson, Caroline’s handsome boy himself. All grown up with a child of his own. My heart sang as I read such beautiful words. And we have exchanged further too. This means so much. Perhaps we can even meet up? That would be very special indeed.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, particularly recently when sharing my long spells lying down, snuggling with Titi, Arnie or Ruby. In fairness there’s not a lot of anything else to do at present. It whiles away the hours while I’m prostrate.

It also serves to focus the mind whereby I’m successfully managing to ‘wash away/come to terms’ with some things that have adversely affected my synapses over the years, causing me varying amounts of anguish. I‘ve spent far too many nighttime hours worrying about things during my life. Particularly so during the last few pre-op months as the pain=anxiety=insomnia=distress mounted.

This back surgery has proved to be more than just a physical process in many ways.

A number of those darkest hours were ruminating about a truth told to someone about their actions and the consequent effect it had upon our relationship.

The other person snapped that relationship closed, never to be opened again. In actual fact, the very minor truth that I spoke should have been told years before, instead of enabling the other person to get under my skin for so long. I do not regret my honesty for one second but cannot say that the effect was a joyous and liberating experience.

Had I not loved that person so much, it would not have hurt as it did.

However, despite the truth apparently wounding that other person, I would also have dearly loved to say to them that despite what happened, I understood why things happened and it truly was OK with me, rather than allowing them to think I was pissed off with them for so long. The only reason I was hacked off was because we hadn’t had an honest conversation.

Whether it’s painful or not, I 100% prefer people to be upfront and honest with me. If you don’t like me, that’s no problem and steer clear, but don’t reel me in and then shit on me from a great height.

If you do like me, then great, let’s get on with being friends, say it how it is, help each other out if necessary and enjoy each others company. Plenty of irreverent humour chucked into the mix? So much the better.

If I piss you off, tell me why and let’s talk about it together.

Please don’t go all moody on me and shut me out when it’s not me that’s the root of the problem.

Simon and I recently flew back to the UK to see family and friends. It was without question one of the happiest and most heartwarming visits I have made back since we moved over ten years ago. It was then we had visited Caroline’s mum.

On this occasion, we had planned to see family plus friends, some of whom we quite literally hadn’t seen for fifteen years, knowing I will be unable to travel for a minimum of two months after the back surgery.

It was amazing to catch up with so many people, even though we ran out of time to see everybody. Nearly a thousand miles driven in eleven days and so much of it unplanned, dropping in on the off chance to see people and they were, by fluke, actually there and not at work.

Karma. Good karma.

Rekindling old friendships with people who have been through so very much indeed and now thankfully have hopefully come out the other side.

Friends and family too, where it was as if we had seen each other the previous week and no years had passed at all.

Eating and drinking double our own body weight until we were fit to burst.

Serious talk sometimes too, yes, but so much laughter, memories, happiness, and love! Marvellous and jolly times. Thank you all for furnishing me with an inner glow that I will remember forever.

Another serious post. I’ll try and lighten up a bit.

More walking, more exercises, more lying down.

As I fulfil my hourly requirement to walk for an hour each day by day 10 post-op, it is with that warm inner glow.

A very warm inner glow, radiating from within.

All you really need is love.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I’m Jill, a RHS gold medal winning English professional gardener, garden designer and landscaper living in South West France since 2012. This is a personal account of my gardening life, some of the jolly and occasionally not so jolly japes that ensued while working, that probably caused my subsequent back problems.

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