Fathers and sons together (including “Remembering loved ones that have passed away”)

Fathers and sons together (including “Remembering loved ones that have passed away”)

In August of the same year my mum passed away, I took my son, Oliver, to my hometown in the UK, Goole (AKA Sleepy Hollow) for the first time; he was 12 years old then.  My daughter Emma has twice visited the UK, once when she was about 14 months old (my father was alive then and fortunately he was able to spend some time with here before he fell ill and shortly passed away thereafter); she again visited when she was 7, but only for 3 or 4 days: my mum was ill at that time and I paid her a fleeting visit to check on her to make sure all was well.  This time it was just myself and Oliver and I was really looking forward to showing him around the town in which I spent my salad years.

I’ve had an intention for quite some time to take Oliver to the UK, just he and I, and I thought I’d make a holiday of it and visit London at the same time.  Oliver wanted to ride on the London Eye, take a boat cruise down the Thames, ride on a London sightseeing bus, visit some of the famous parks that London has to offer and stay a couple of nights in posh London hotel; fortunately, we managed to do all these things and we had a very good time.  London was actually the second leg of our UK trip, the first leg was to visit and stay in Goole for 4 days.  My main plan was to tidy up mum’s garden and as it’s a big garden and it hadn’t been tended to for some months I knew it would be hard work fettling it and I wondered if 4 days would be enough considering I’d planned to take Oliver out for some sightseeing around Goole.  As it turned out, I took Oliver sightseeing first and then tackled the garden; it worked out very well because I was able to get all the gardening done whilst Oliver rested his weary sightseeing limbs reading, doing homework and playing on his computer.

It’s well known that there is isn’t much to do in Goole, it’s a quiet place, hence its nickname “Sleepy Hollow” but if you like walking and biking there are plenty of places that you can visit.  There are a few adjoining local villages (Airmyn, Reedness, Whitgift, Adlingfleet, Swinefleet, Howden, Eastrington, Newport and quite a few more that make good bike rides, but you need to make sure you take a picnic basket or a lunchbox as it’s not so easy to buy food.  You could drop into one of the many pubs that one encounters along the way for food and refreshments, but considering you often have to ride at the side of busy side roads I don’t think it‘s wise to mix bike riding and drinking beer.  There are also one or two river banks that you can walk on /around and also one or two parks that offer recreation activities such as crown green bowling and tennis.

When I was a kid, I used to go to a small village just outside of Goole called Airmyn to play with some of my school friends, I had about 3/4 friends that lived there and I just loved spending time in the place.  I used to ask my dad if we could move to Airmyn, but he always used to say the houses were too expensive.  I would sometimes walk or go by bicycle and if I took the short cut down the bridal path (many years ago, the bridal path was in fact a path that bridal processions would walk down, but that doesn’t happen so often these days, if at all) it would take me about 15 minutes by bicycle and about 30 minutes on foot; if I went the long way round it would take about 30 minutes by bicycle and about 45 minutes on foot.

There is a river bank that encircles the village of Airmyn and walking on it was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid.  Often there would be sheep grazing on the side of the river bank and wild field mushrooms that I would pick and take home to my mum to cook: you had to be up early in the morning to pick the mushrooms as a lot of people took early morning walks to try to find the mushrooms.  During the summer months strawberries would be growing in the surrounding fields and I could never resist the temptation of going into the fields and picking a few; however, I remember on one occasion when I was busy trying to find the most red, biggest and sweetest strawberries a farmer came up to me and in a loud angry voice said “Hey!  What do you think you’re doing?  As I recall, I don’t think I could say anything because I was so terrified of the farmer’s angry face looking at me, I believe he then said words to the effect of :”I’ll tell you what you’re doing, you’re stealing my strawberries” and I’m going to report you to the police.  I think at that time I started crying and begged the farmer not to report me to the police and then he said something like : “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t report you to the police?”  I think I may have replied : “I promise I won’t do it again, please don’t report me.”  I then believe the farmer replied : “If I see you stealing strawberries again I will report you and you’ll have a big fine to pay, you may even end up going into a remand home.”  That really scared me and from that point forward, I never ever stole another strawberry.  I think I was about 13/14 at the time.

As already mentioned, part of my plan was to take Oliver to show him all the places I hung out in when I was a kid, including Airmyn and the river bank, but I knew it involved a lot of walking and as Oliver is not such a big walking fan I thought I may just struggle getting him around to all these places.  As it turned out, Oliver did manage to see most of my old haunts, but what with regaling him with my running commentary of stories associated with many of the places I took him to, that and all the walking he did, by the time we got back to my mum’s home he was absolutely tired out and as soon as he sat down on the sofa he was immediately asleep.  The following morning Oliver was complaining that his legs ached and he blamed me for making him walk for such a long time and that was my que to get my gardening gloves on and go and tackle the garden.

After spending 4 days in Goole we then bid it a fair-thee-well and headed off to Goole station to pick up a train to London.  On the way to Goole station we dropped in to say hello to my half auntie Enid, my mum’s cousin; fortunately, Enid was in and as it was her first time to meet Oliver she was making a big fuss of him, she gave him a small gift of some “Avengers” stickers and

Wouldn’t stop talking to him.  Oliver can speak English, but he couldn’t always understand Enid because she talks with Yorkshire accent and she speaks quite quickly, he just smiled and pretended to understand by doing a lot of nodding and saying yes and no.  It was good to see Enid, the last time I saw here was at my mum’s funeral; she talked about my mum and about how much she missed visiting her for cups of tea and chats.  As we had a train to catch, we bid Enid a fair-thee-well and went on our merry way to Goole station.

When we got to Goole station the ticket office was closed and as I did not have any pre booked tickets I was forced to buy tickets from a ticket vending machine which sounds easy, but when you do not have a smart phone things can get quite complicated which is exactly what happened.  Because I didn’t have a smart phone I could not purchase actual rail tickets the only tickets I could purchase were ticket explaining to the ticket collector on the train that I couldn’t purchase tickets because I didn’t have a smart phone.  I then presented these tickets to the collector and paid him in cash for the tickets Oliver and I needed for our journey.  Because of a train problem which we were not responsible for Oliver and I ended up getting on the wrong train and as result we were forced to pay additional money, which I eventually received back, but it took many emails to British Rail before I did. The story is a bit more involved, but it made me think that for someone for like myself that doesn’t have a smart phone you really are handicapped in this day and age without one.

I was intending to write a poem about my mum this week, but as I don’t seen to have the right creative juices flowing today, I’ve decided to leave it until next week; hopefully next week, a poem will be crafted and presented to all of you out there that click on the link that brings you here to read this.  Until next week, Covid-19 is still with us, even in Japan, so take care and keep safe.

By |September 18th, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|

Read ’em:バイキングは金髪とは限らず 通念覆す研究


By |September 18th, 2020|Categories: Read'em|Tags: |0 Comments|

Remembering loved ones that have passed away

Remembering loved ones that have passed away

My mum passed away in Scunthorpe General Hospital on May 13th, 2019; she was aged 85.  She had been poorly for quite some time before she passed away.  We have always been quite a close family and I suppose as families go we all got on pretty well together; little did my brother and I know that we would go from sharing beds and bedrooms together as kids to one day running a company together, but that became the reality and fortunately my mum and dad were alive to see their sons work hard and do something positive with their lives.

My brother Graham received an early morning call from the nursing home that my mum had been in prior to being hospitalised to inform him that mum had been taken into hospital complaining of breathing difficulties and various pains in her body.  Both Graham and I returned back to the UK as soon as we had tied up as many loose ends as possible with our work; fortunately, we were able to get back in time to be with her during the final days and hours of her life.  The hospital my mum was in is quite a way away from our hometown, so when my mum was still on a general ward we would travel back and forth by taxi or by train, sometimes a taxi going and a train coming back.  When my mum’s condition deteriorated she was moved into a private room as that is the usual hospital practice for terminally ill patients like my mum that only have a matter of days, sometimes hours left to live.  At this stage, Graham and I often found ourselves staying in my mum’s room overnight grabbing sleep as and when we could because we didn’t know how much longer she would be with us.  Although my mum was very poorly, in between the Vera Lynn song (“We’ll meet again”) that we constantly played for her during this time, we were able to share some short conversations about old times together.  These conversations generated a fair old mixture of tears and smiles and the occasional laugh, unfortunately my mum didn’t have enough energy to laugh as much as she used to do, but I could see the joy in my mum’s eyes as her mind went back to those times.

My mum’s cousin, Enid, our half auntie, paid my mum a visit in hospital a couple of times before she passed which really helped my mum a lot; Enid also spoke about the good old days, particularly about when my mum and Enid lived together as kids for about 2/3 years during WW2.  Enid reminded my mum of the time when she was a kid and she accidentally sat on her father’s freshly painted portrait of my mum’s mother, my grandma, damaging the painting and breaking the wooden frame and her father understanding it was an accident, but still having to control his feelings as he’d spent ages painting my grandma’s portrait.  Through listening to my mum’s many childhood stories I knew well that my mum’s father was an artist, not by trade, he was a miner by trade, but he was also a talented artist; he died before I was born.  Talking about such times was quite an emotional time for Enid, Enid knew that my mum was slipping away and she felt obliged to try to hide her tears as best as she could from my mum, but it wasn’t easy.

At that time, my mum was still able to comprehend what was going on around her; however, that didn’t last for very long, soon my mum became unable to open her eyes and speak and we knew she was getting close to the end of her life.  We kept getting reminded by the nurses that were looking after my mum during that time that even though she had lost the ability to open her eyes and to speak, she could still hear us even though to us it also appeared that she’d lost her ability to hear.  With Vera Lynn’s “We’ll meet again” still playing in the background, both Graham and I were talking to my mum right up until her last breath and when she took it, it was high pitched and almost as though she was singing a note and then she was gone.  Graham and I loved our mum a lot, but the only thing we regret is perhaps not making our love for her known to her enough when she was alive, but I guess a lot of us think in such a way when loved ones pass away.

On reflection, there was a lot of concern before Graham and I left Japan for the UK that we would get back in time to see our mum before she passed away, but as we now know, my mum knew she had to use what bit of strength she still had to hang on until we arrived and that’s what she did.  My mum was a very kind and caring soul, always putting others before herself, which is a very noble and gracious thing to do, but like anything else in life there is good and bad in doing that.  For example, on one or two occasions she not only put others before herself, but she put them before her family members.  A good case in point I can remember was when her youngest sister, Pat, visited our home to ask my mum to lend her some money.  My mum knew that my father had told her not to loan Pat any more money because she never paid it back, but still my mum gave Pat some money and kept it a secret from my father.  I can remember my father finding out and the heated discussion that took place between my mum and father, but after that Pat never again came calling for any money.  As far as I remember, it took quite a lot of years for my mum to get the money back that she had loaned Pat, but she did finally get it.  Sadly, not long after returning the money she had loaned from my mum, Pat passed away; Pat was an alcoholic and with the money my mum had loaned her over the years she had bought alcohol and slowly become addicted to it.  My mum never asked Pat why she needed the money, she just assumed it was for helping to support the family because her husband’s job was not so highly paid, but when my mum did find out that Pat had bought alcohol it made her realise that by never questioning Pat as to why she needed to loan money she felt partly responsible for her death.  I believe this feeling of guilt stayed with my mum right up until the end of her life as she spoke often of Pat and how so unhappy in her life Pat was, and how much more my mum felt she could have helped her when she was alive.  Mum reflected a lot about this, as she did about a lot of other things and in many ways it impacted negatively on her life, so much so that in later years she suffered with her mental health.

I think about my mum regularly and I know Graham does, we miss her a lot; we know in our hearts that we always tried the best we could for her, she knew that.  We took care of her when she was sick and helped her in other ways when she needed it, she knew we loved her and we knew she loved us and we didn’t need words to convey it.   To be continued …………………….

By |September 11th, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|

Read ’em:○○がパトカーを占拠


By |September 11th, 2020|Categories: Read'em|Tags: |0 Comments|

Stephen’s blog


Please wait …

By |September 4th, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|

Read ’em:GoToトラベル、開始から200万人が利用


By |September 4th, 2020|Categories: Read'em|Tags: |0 Comments|

A mole’s account of being another animal’s dinner.

A mole’s account of being another animal’s dinner.

A mole about to disappear down a hole is caught by a hawk on the swoop.

“Come on, swallow me whole” said the mole to the hawk.

“I can’t do that”, said the hawk “or else I’ll boak and possibly choke to death.

Instead, I’ll peck at you with my beak until I break through and you become weak and no more”.

“For goodness sake snake, you’ve caught me now, I cannot escape.

Eating me is a piece of cake for you, all you do, unlike the hawk is swallow me whole.

You then digest all but my fur using the juices in your stomach over a period of days.

You enjoy me so much you cannot wait for your next meal of mole in the hole.”

“Come on fox I graduated from the school of hard knocks and I’m not going to be an easy dinner for you today.

Your great sense of smell led you here and if you want to eat me you’ve got to dig me out of the ground.

I will not give up without a fight, the thought of your bite will keep me tunneling away until the day becomes night.

Then not a sound filled the air, only the weight of despair came down hard in the form of a paw and then I was no more.”

“I’m just a measly morsel for you weasel, go off and hunt down a more substantial meal.

Perhaps a bird, a fish, a frog for main and a hedge of berries for desert hands down beats a meal of mole.

Digging hole after hole in the hot sun of the day for such a small reward like me is not a good use of your time.

Leave me alone to fight another day, come on weasel, what do you say?”

A poem by Stephen Austwick

By |August 28th, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|

Read ’em:高速道路の最高速度120キロに


By |August 28th, 2020|Categories: Read'em|Tags: |0 Comments|

Read ’em:米でマスク義務化をめぐり攻防


By |July 31st, 2020|Categories: Read'em|Tags: |0 Comments|

Natsukashi!! _ あのキャラクター _

By |July 31st, 2020|Categories: Natsukashi|Tags: |0 Comments|

A sign from heaven

A sign from heaven

It was the day after my father’s death that a bird flew in through the garage door and perched itself near to where I was working.

To try to take my mind off my father’s passing I was busying myself with something mechanical as I often did when he was living.

I was surprised, mesmerized even, it was as if any minute this bird looking at me with such familiarity was going to greet me with a “Now then, Stephen”.

I found myself unable to avert my eyes from this very bold greyish blackish bird firmly perched on the end of a brush handle busily nodding with familiarity at scooter parts hanging from the wooden roof beams, tools positioned on shelves and larger items placed on the ground.

I began to feel warm all over and a strange sense that it was my father and not a bird that I was in the presence of.

It looked me up and down nodding in a satisfied sort of way as if to say “I’m so relieved that you turned out okay in the end”.

And then with one last look around it flew out of the door and I watched it make its way high up into the sky until I could see it no more.

In hospital my father’s sickness prevented him from saying a proper goodbye to my mother, my brother and I and that’s also what I believe he returned for.

On that day I feel my father’s spirit came back to let me know that he was okay and that he was still a part of my life and those of his other loved ones.

The warm feeling was still with me as childhood memories of my father flooded into my eyes and through this release of tears I finally felt like I was one of his sons.

A poem by Stephen Austwick.   


By |July 31st, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|

Stephen’s blog


Please wait …

By |July 24th, 2020|Categories: Stephen's Corner|Tags: |0 Comments|