Cancer. I knew it was somehow. My mum had lost quite a bit of weight over a period of weeks and her health issues seemed to get worse. June was about tests and when the dreaded C word was first mentioned. On Monday it was confirmed she had cancer and around 12 months to live.
Cancer. Such a short word with the impact of an atom bomb. The word seems to stay fixed in your head. I’m still processing the news with a mix of emotions – feeling strong one minute and in tears the next. I feel very alone even when people are around me.
The uncertainty is there. You can almost touch it. Next week will be about chemo and whether she can have it. Her low weight of 7.5 stone may stop that from happening though her strength does appear to be returning. Looking at her breaks your heart though.
So for the next few weeks it will be about processing the news and helping mum. All the plans we had for this year are depending on results, tests and a bit of good luck. If possible we will try and get her to Scotland for a holiday. Make the most of the time we have.
I’m angry. I’m heartbroken. I feel cheated. My mum did not deserve this. The only thing we can do now is get on with things and make the most of her remaining health. As a message on some flowers she recieved said ‘stay strong’. That’s what I’ll have to do too.
Group family photo near Blackhill waterfall, Isle of Skye – September 2015
The last couple of days have been among of the most painful I’ve ever experienced. Strangely, Grandma’s funeral last Thursday wasn’t the worst part – the emptying of the bungalow she called home the following day takes that honour. Something felt very wrong. It was all very surreal and immensely sad as the furniture was carried away. One of the more common sentiments among many of the village residents present at the funeral and afterwards, was that it was the end of an era for the village community. It certainly felt like the end of something you never thought would end.
I had packed a couple of cameras with me and i’m glad i had them. The day of the funeral started as a bright but foggy morning – perfect for getting some moody, atmospheric shots among the trees and around Thorpe Malsor. To be honest, it was great to have a distraction, but the photography also served a deeper purpose of recording the village that had been part of Flint family life for so long. That relationship, that physical connection, has finally gone. Was the photography a form of therapy? Undoubtedly i’d have to say yes.
I took film cameras rather than the DSLR. I did pack the digital camera but then decided to stick with a 35mm SLR and the 6×6. Later it seemed right to be shooting these final (?) images of the village using film. After all, as a teenager, I’d had great fun going around Thorpe looking for images, armed with my trusty Miranda MS2 (my first SLR camera) loaded with Boots film. Fortunately the light was great during my final stay. I’ll be publishing the 35mm and 6×6 images on the blog very soon.
Finally i come to the image above. My iPhone developed major battery problems so that it could only be used if plugged into a power socket. I would have liked to have posted some images, audioboos and tweeted more as i walked around, but it wasn’t to be. Instead i took this image, using my Nokia, of the snowdrops in the churchyard at Thorpe Malsor. For many years, my Grandparents lived in the house opposite. The proximity of the church, combined with living in a fabulous old country house, made it feel very olde world England. The snowdrops in the photo add a feeling of new life. Renewal. A new start.
It was dark when i left the village. Will i return? Well i prefer to use an au revoir rather than a definite goodbye. If I’m nearby, I’ll stop to remember some childhood memories. When it comes down to it though, the Thorpe Malsor residents were right – it is the end of an era.