I began writing this Blog Chapter in the early part of 2021. It became lost in a sea of activity and memory. I have updated it, cut it, pasted parts of it and deleted a lot of it. A lot like my new home and my memories. Here it is in its true form with some new additions at the end.
Our time at the new house began on early January 21. The house was cold and damp to the touch. We huddled around radiators and chatted loudly about the broken heating.
Each day, we picked at the wallpaper, peeling back layer upon layer of old memories. It’s a slow process. Wallpapers crept slowly down the walls, unfurling themselves across the floor. Some sheets slipped off the walls like melted butter on a hot pan, while others remained hardened to the memory of their previous owner. A few would crumble into dust. Out of existence. Lost in the cracks on the floor.
Renovating old houses. Unraveling an often confusing tapestry of decisions and plans that belong to someone else. Someone else’s story. Someone else’s ideas. And here I am peeling back each layer of their life and replacing it with mine.
What remains of our memory and of the things and people that we meet?
Moving gets you thinking about the past. There is a lot of time to think. My mind wanders all over the place. I am reminded of past experiences, conversations, situations and moments good and bad. My past lives, my past stories. Some of it has kept me awake. Some of it I miss dearly and yearn for it and other moments I wish for it to turn to dust like the crumbling wallpaper in my new house.
Reflection encourages you to look at the past and to gaze back at things like a box of old rusty nails in the shed. As your pour over the box, occasionally, you find a little piece of treasure that you select and separate into an important pile.You study it for days before returning it o a new home. The past, just when I think I have made peace with it all, I realise there is still more to reflect on.
Outside, we made a plan to grow. We decided that all things in the paddock should be encouraged to grow. It will be an edible space for us and for the creatures who leave tracks in the field each morning. We share our space with Minks, Pine Martens and a few large Foxes. It’s less of a field and more a fairly busy thoroughfare for some resident wildlife. To add to the busyness, last week, the neighbouring horses had a foal.
There is the promise of the trees yet to come and the apples to eat. And the sun yet to break across our backs.
Yet, my memory let me down. I began to research and study my Great Aunt Ellie, her history and the history of women like her. I continue to try and understand her and conversations about her. But my memory let me down. I became foggy and forgetful. A dreamer, lost in some far away thoughts. I eventually took to sleeping for long stretches. I forgot about renovation projects and instead created a home with unfinished projects in each room. I would fall asleep early in the evening and some early afternoons. I would sleep late and resurface tired. I lost myself. The future looked like a foggy mist of memories that I would sleep through. I began to stagger when I walked, struggle to connect in conversation and feel worse with each passing day.
I tried to connect to my great aunt Ellie during this time. It was said that she would stagger as she walked too.
After some nagging, I went to the doctor. I found out that I had genetic pernicious anaemia. People with Pernicious Anaemia produce Intrinsic Factor Antibodies. And because I now have no functioning Intrinsic Factor, I cannot absorb vitamin B12 from any animal product that has been swallowed. As a consequence of not having any functioning Intrinsic Factor I become deficient in B12. Vitamin B12 is one of the three necessary ingredients that produces healthy, functioning red blood cells. The symptoms often develop (slowly) over many years. This means that doctors and patients might attribute the symptoms to advancing age or a busy modern lifestyle. Symptoms can range from numbness in hands, feet, unsteady and staggering gait, lack of coordination, blurred vision, memory and concentration, confusion, brain fog, fatigue, vertigo and a whole bunch more that I could list. I have been experiencing all these symptoms and more.
Some people develop this over time BUT some people have a genetic disposition to this. I am one of them. We have long thought that my Great Aunt Ellie also was B12 deficient as well.
It sounds like such a small thing and it is quite common but it now connects me to Ellie, to my family and explains my story, my memory loss and renewed connection to the past.
I am now on my 3rd weekly injection of B12, still tired but I am not falling asleep as I talk to people…well most people.
The field at the back of the house is now home to a herd of friendly cows. Pippin the dog chats to them most mornings, pressing their noses against the fence and skipping alongside the side of the fence.
I feel connected to Ellie, to my history and to my health.
Soon, I will be updating about St Mogues, its people, my two recent visits and future plans.