Well, against the odds, I made it to collect my OBE last Friday. It wasn’t until Friday morning that I could be certain I was going to make it. But thanks to the help of a lot of people and some mind over matter, I felt good. The palliative care team here pulled out all the stops to get me there, including organising back-up in London should I require it. Though not needed, it was good to know it was there. My friends in London, Jane, Jen and Steve, did everything to make thing run smoothly, and of course Jane, Emma and Alex did all they needed to get the old man there! The Palace had organised a wheel-chair and support should I require it – as it was, I was able to walk the whole thing – more walking than I done for weeks before – and since! And on top of that the sun shone all day.
The organisation of the event was extraordinary. The upper-classes were out in force with that easy charm they can do so well. They made us feel very special, carrying out their tasks with efficiency and humour, whilst also making everything run on time with military precision. The number of staff on duty was astonishing – if it had been any other public service there’d have been a lot of tut-tutting about over-staffing! Charles was the medal-pinner, and I was able to have a brief chat with him about tenant management! As a family we had great fun, hopefully combining respect for the occasion with more than a hint of irreverence.
There was of course a price to pay. I was wiped out on Saturday, and I’ve never felt as exhausted in my life as when we arrived home in Leeds on Saturday evening after a difficult train journey home. But there was an uplifting surprise pinned to our door – a beautifully made ‘armorial bearing’ based on what I’d said in my February blog (‘A new phase…with a gong’). As yet I don’t know who did it: prime suspect number one has now been ruled out. So whoever it was (and please do let me know) I just want to say how magnificent it is, beautifully conceived and constructed. You’ve got the job!
Since then I’ve not had a great week. I have good days and bad days, and often good half-days and bad half-days. We’re still trying to get the right balance of medication, and my energy levels have dropped with my weight. The care services continue to be excellent, doing all they can to make me as comfortable as possible. Each new stage takes a little while to come to terms with it. I feel I’m there with this current stage, and with the continuing wonderful support from family, friends and the services I’m feeling calm and ready to face what comes next. My last blog generated a lot of comments on the blog, e-mails, tweets, cards, texts and other messages. Thanks for these – they mean a lot to me and remind me of what a wonderful supportive wider community I belong to.