It was April the last time I wrote a brief blog post and it was with a heavy heart that I failed to mention much about my personal life – after all this is an upbeat blog about my journey into building a business from painting and refurbishing, not a personal outlet for my woes. But I have shared with you snippets of my happy but dysfunctional family life along the way, because they intermingle with my working life so much, usually in a fairly chaotic, mildly eccentric manner. So it seems only fair that an explanation for my long absence is given.
Four and a half years ago I was told that Jasper had but a few weeks to live at best and that the disease he had (Cauda Equina Syndrome/Polyneuritis Equi) was progressive with no known cure. We don’t give up that easily at Barrister’s Horse Towers, so after much internet searching and a lot of disposable gloves (my boy’s rear end was paralysed), I begged for a miracle and I got one… or at least I thought I had.
The ‘miracle’ turned out to be only an interlude and in the spring of this year I knew Jasper was unwell. He’d had a couple of courses of anti-biotics for the bladder infections he was prone to getting – the Cauda Equina Syndrome left him with a weak bladder which in turn caused a few bouts of urinary tract infection. The ‘bladder’ problem turned out to be a nasty citrobacter infection, which required stronger anti-biotics than usual, which in turn knocked him for six. He gradually picked up a little, but didn’t go back to his previous good health and his bladder was very weak. I gave him pro-biotics, a vitamin and mineral supplement and lots of good food to keep him nourished, but he still wasn’t quite right.
Ironically everyone in the village kept remarking on the way he looked, which was a picture of health and happiness. His coloured horse coat was pristine white and shining bay, his urine tests were okay and the infection had cleared, but I knew he wasn’t well and was worried about him.
At about the same time as Jasper’s diagnosis in 2010, my Mum was diagnosed with depression. The doctors said that her lethargy and weight loss were classic symptoms of depression. She was prescribed anti-depressants and laxatives for her intermittent constipation. The anti-depressants didn’t work. Mum was then diagnosed with ‘anxiety’ because the doctors noted a quiver in her voice. Mum’s voice has always had a quiver, it’s just the way her voice is, but the doctors didn’t listen. She was prescribed a book on anxiety and a ridiculous diet of massive amounts of food that would test the appetite of a giant. “I’m not depressed, just fed up because I feel unwell” Mum would say. Different anti-depressants, diets and laxatives were prescribed along the way and we can now fast forward to 2014. I guess you all know where this is heading, yes? Mum was finally diagnosed with cancer at the end of July.
I’ve never felt so bewildered, frightened and inept. My lovely Mum was very ill, my beloved horse was very ill and I seemed to be running in slow motion, whilst watching a very sad film about the destruction of someone else’s family life. It was/is surreal and terrifying.
Just 11 days after diagnosis at the end of July, my Mum died on 7th August and her funeral was on 19th. I’m not good at funerals – I wear my heart on my sleeve, but I made it through the service, focusing on the task of reading a very touching poem. Mum’s woven casket looked very pretty, with a simple spray of pink roses. I put together the Order of Service booklets and added some paper bookmarks impregnated with wild flower seeds, so that everyone could plant some flowers for mum next spring. We sang ‘Morning has Broken’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’, so the service was full of the flowers and animals my family all love. I told Jasper all about it when I got home and he had lots of kisses and hugs (and treats).
The morning after the funeral, my husband arose early and quietly, so as not to disturb me. He went to do the usual morning routine that we share – flick the kettle on and take breakfast to an eagerly awaiting Jasper. Except Jasper wasn’t leaning over the stable door being his usual cheeky self, he was lying down, unable to stand up. My husband woke me and I dressed hastily and went out to my boy, whilst my husband rang the vet. “Breakfast in bed then” I said and hand fed Jasper his beloved ‘Big Boy’s Breakfast’, followed by a drink. I thanked him for holding on until after Mum’s funeral and for being such a beautiful, beautiful soul mate. He lifted his face to mine and I cried and kissed his warm, pink, baby soft muzzle. The vet came – he knows Jasper’s health history, so no explanation was needed. Jasper went to equine heaven whilst I hand fed him a doughnut.
‘The man’ came to collect Jasper. I didn’t want to be around, but had to look out for his vehicle, as the sat navs take people to a different location a mile away from home. My house doesn’t look ‘horsey’, so I fully expected the man the go driving past, but he didn’t. He pulled up right outside, jumped out his truck and said “It’s that beautiful, big coloured horse isn’t it? I knew where I was coming, I knew it was him, I just knew it was him”. I’ve seen you grazing him at the church and always slowed down to admire him.” I cried and nodded, then went to church and swore at God.
Although this is likely to be the last post for this blog, ‘The Barrister’s Horse’ lives on. I have a website under construction, so do take a trip over to barristershorse.com in a few weeks – I’ll have a blog over there, but it won’t be as personal as this blog has been over the years.
Thank you to all my readers for taking time to follow my journey from Bar school onwards; it’s been one heck of a ride! My business continues to evolve and I’m busy learning new skills.
I hope to make my precious Mum proud and to capture the beautiful spirit of ‘my’ barrister’s horse in my forthcoming work.