Birthday Wishes


She was 82 or 83 yesterday, the glorious 12th, the commencement of the season of Grouse shooting in the UK. I’ve never seen a grouse shoot, but I have seen Grouse, red and black and a Capercaillie; the wood grouse. I saw these when life was simpler when we would travel North to see my Uncle, Aunt and cousins in Aberdeenshire, for a weeks holiday. My Uncle was not one for small talk, he was a great talker but only on his terms, and about what he wished to talk about; usually birds. He loved birds and would furnish me with a pack of pencils and a note pad, and then for the next 4 days, we would leave the house early doors at my Uncle’s behest before most had woken up and go and spot some birds. He was an expert and knew where to go, he knew where the birds would go, he took me to see an Eyrie once and we saw a Golden Eagle. We saw 100 different species of birds on those holidays, and at night when I hunkered down to sleep in the attic room surrounded by his books, photographs and stuffed with Ornithological ephemera, I would flick through my note pad, and remember each and every sighting as I read the names out to my self, lulling myself to a happy sleep.

August is a fine time for a Birthday, despite the Grouse shooting, The fields are abundant with crops awaiting the September harvest. Sunflowers turning their weighty seed head like a crowd watching the Sun perform Trapeze over their petals. But yesterday wasn’t a good day for a birthday. Her voice was despondent and forced as something was troubling her, tiring her out. Trying her patience. There is only so long you can bite your lip, pretend everything will always be as it always was. Things change wether we like them to change or not, and no manner of riches and no size of garden manicured to within an inch of its life can make up for the sadness she feels when she looks at her husband of 60 years or so. He sits in a chair, in constant pain, able to move but at the expense of searing pain to his groin and surrounding girdle.

“He’s ok as long as he stays still”

Was her answer when I asked how he was, and when I asked if I could speak to him?

“He’s up in the field”

We don’t know what is wrong, he’s had an x-ray, he’s had a telephone consultation, fat lot of use that was, She can’t hear the half of it and he can’t speak very well due to his stroke 20 years previous. That forced him into retirement, and he made an amazing recovery in so far that he gave up working like a dog, and started to enjoy the good things, more golf, more meals out, more friends, more time. But now I fear the pain has floored them both, it may not be a growth, it may just be skeletal, muscular, but entertaining the thought of moving from their dream home of 30+ years is possibly becoming a black dog in the shadows.

Thoughts of where, how, when are terrifying them. Its all they’ve ever known, the city which was once the place of Debutante balls and the society mid section of the local paper, has now changed so much they don’t recognise it and fear driving in. Covid has made their little Rural Bubble feel very small indeed, and they are not the responsibility of the village, sooner or later he may not be able to get upstairs, and then what?

“We can’t put a bed downstairs in the Dining Room; its the Dining Room

So as to where the future lies? I don’t know. I’ve made them a coffee table, I’ll be taking it over with the family a week on Saturday. I just want my parents to sell up and move over here so we can look after them, but that’s a massive knot to untangle, I just hope my fingers are nimble enough.


  1. I know. It’s the not knowing what they’re up to, who speaks to them and what they’re being told. They won’t want to trouble me with their issues, it’s either stubbornness or stupidity of a case of burying their collective heads in the sand. All I can do is offer help, that’s it


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