I’m late.

After my last post Mike has picked up no end, we aren’t out of the woods yet, but we are getting there. That is my reason for not blogging yesterday, we were off doing “normal” things, hence I wasn’t around to remind the world that we are all still thinking of Paula. I may not have blogged on the day but I did make my way to the blood donor centre in Birmingham and give a unit in her honour, not that I’m her type! 

I know many of the people who read the blog have a good reason that they can’t, but can I encourage those of you who can to give, even if it is only every six months or make it yearly to celebrate the life of someone you love. My biggest disappointment is that I’m not able to give platelets, I rather enjoyed sharing the experience of going on to a machine like the one Mike was on to collect his stem cells. It isn’t identical obviously, but similar enough for me to feel smug. Turns out I have too many antibodies from having the kids. (Insert sad face,)

So lecture over. 

So Paula, we still talk about you all the time, you are a benchmark for all things crafty. Most of the time we are saying “Paula would never settle for that!” but we do try our best. We have been following the buddy pattern to the letter, but no matter what size of needles I use, they still come out much smaller than yours ever did. Is it one of your practical jokes? 

Toni’s toy bag is still bursting with all the gifts you sent her. She hasn’t managed to destroy any of them yet. The dinosaur is in bits, but that is how you made her. 

I wish we had kept in touch with Bernard, but we didn’t know how else to react when Bernard in his grief said to Mike that it wasn’t fair, that Mike should be gone not you. We know what he meant, we still understand how he felt, there are a lot of bad people out there who could have taken your place. Mike felt that it was best not to be a constant reminder of the unfairness of life so we stopped getting in contact. I’m not sure we did the right thing. 

Never forgotten Sweet P. 



Two years.

I still find it hard to believe that Paula is no longer around to poke fun at us, entertain us and comfort us. We still miss her terribly, but we have reached a stage where thoughts of Paula bring more smiles than tears, although writing this has got me all teared up. 

We often ask each other “I wonder what Paula would have to say” when we see something funny or think “I must tell Paula” only to realise we can’t. Only a month ago I pointed out to Mike that despite three attempts, I could not get my courgette seeds to grow and that I reckoned Paula was interfering as she hated them. Since I pointed it out she obviously felt guilty and I now have several healthy plants. Thanks Paula.

I looked back at all the wonderful things that were said on Facebook and her blog as news of her death filtered through. The impact she had and I think still has, was tremendous. We are all better for having shared even a small part of her with Bernard and of course Buddy. Paula might have been small, but she had the heart of a lion and more compassion than there is water on Earth. 

We all miss you Paula. 

Photograph from the remembrance book at Paula’s funeral  




The Gifts in Life

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  – Marcel Proust The new year, following holiday festivities that sometimes seem to never end and have angst and stress for some, always brings about a time of reflection for me. While later in my life […]

Memories.

You look at the clock and remember where you were a week, a month, a year ago. I remember we were in Liverpool a year ago. I remember we held a very special lady’s hand all night long and watched over her while her true love snatched a few hours rest.  We will never forget how precious those last few hours were, how privileged  we were to share them with Bernard. I know it sounds “wrong” but we both really feel privileged to have been there.  
I cannot begin to express how sad we are going to feel tomorrow, but for tonight we will remember how we felt sitting up all night with Paula. How grateful for life we were as we sat there and how guilty I feel that Bernard, Karen and so many more spouses whose names I will never know, are now alone. In truth the guilt tonight is fleeting, I am proud to say I held Paula’s hand, kissed her and told her how much I loved her. I also told her how much I was going to miss her. 

I still do.

Happy Valentine’s Day, I think.

Happy Valentine’s Day dear readers. I hope you are all feeling loved today, whether by a sweetheart or by friends and family.  

Traditionally the day is for lovers and secret admirers, a day when you can express your true feelings without embarrassment. Today as we all know it is a bit too commercial, flowers that you could buy last week for £5 cost £15 today. Oh well. 

Obviously it is a day for giving out love as well as receiving and so Mike has hit the jackpot. Laid up in bed with a very nasty chest infection it isn’t going to be a day of champagne and chocolates or even a card, instead he has me waiting on him hand and foot (where does that expression come from?) while he doesn’t even know what day it is. 

I shall have to keep myself occupied with giving out more love with a project that would have had Paula reaching for her stash, and probably having completed a dozen by now. As some of you might already know if you read Deb B.’s blog, she had the idea of donating hand knitted or crocheted hats to cancer patients at her local hospital and hopefully further afield. 

Off to tend to my patient. Spread the love people. 

Christmas Confession

Hello everyone. My name is Lorna and I’m a hoarder-holic. I am also a very, very bad housewife. 

I may of mentioned it before, but I felt the need to confess it once more, especially as the last two days have been spent tidying and cleaning just two rooms in my house. Two down only three more to do before Christmas Eve, and I’m not including the bedrooms! 

I’m not even sure where it all comes from, or more precisely, who it even belongs to. The elves, pixies, fairies, hobbits, gnomes and the rest of the little people must think my house is a storage unit as all the humans around here claim it isn’t theirs. The socks down the sofa, the half glasses of milk found when the smell gives them away and the pile of shoes which grows just by the front door. 

I have yet to tackle the hallway or the kitchen, but I have done the dining room and the conservatory. It might not sound like much to those of you like Paula who never, ever put anything on the table, but in my house a flat surface, or for that matter one not too sloped, means a place to put a piece of paper or two, a book, a parcel, make-up, mirrors…… the list is endless and so was the stuff on my dining room table. 

The table now.
The dining room tree.

The conservatory was worse. As our gateway to the garden the floor was liberally decorated with muddy paw prints, various half chewed toys, wellies, muddy shoes and due to the wet weather soggy socks. The coat rack was bulging with everything from scarves to summer hats and the sofa was piled high with paperwork that needed filing, bubble wrap (well you never know when you might need it), cardboard boxes (ditto), ice cream tubs (do I need to repeat myself) and of course those essential piles of old newspapers. 

The conservatory.

Today I will try and tame the hall and make a start on the preparation for my Italian Extravaganza. I’ve got twelve hungry mouths to feed on Christmas Eve and that means twelve hand made from scratch, individual 12″ pizzas as no-one can agree on toppings. 

I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and let’s all raise a glass to those who we wish could be celebrating with us. 

Mike’s speech

When Bernard called us to give us the details of the funeral he asked Mike if he would be willing to say a few words. Mike of course agreed and the following is the speech he is making today.

Paula was one of those rare people who instantly made an impression and not only with those people she met in person. There are hundreds of blog readers across the globe who quickly came to love Paula and the tales she told of her life with Bernard, Buddy, crafting and Myeloma. We heard tales of lost keys, she hadn’t told Bernard yet, of mysterious knocks to wing mirrors, she hadn’t told Bernard yet and further purchases of yarn, did Bernard EVER know just how much she had stashed away? Then of course, there was the “Spot the Auntie Ann” competition, so even though we’d never seen her, we soon all knew what the Saints crazy lady looked like. As Paula often pointed out, Auntie Ann was nuts about them.
Lorna and I came to meet Paula through the unfortunate link of myeloma or rather she found us and was the very first person to comment on our very first blog entry on the very same day it was posted. There then followed a friendship of comments on blogs and emails. We travelled up from Wolverhampton with Toni our Jack Russell to meet Paula and the 2Bs as they became fondly known, (sorry Bernard).

Paula was there when I was going through my SCT on the end of a facebook message or email when Lorna needed support. Making light of the stress made it all so much easier to bear. Thanks to Paula I will never think of the word green in quite the same way again.

Last June Paula and Bernard did us the honour of being the witnesses at our wedding. In order to do so, Paula had to escape the hospital where she was having IV antibiotics for a nasty infection. She duly arrived with a bag of knitting which got left in the car. Paula’s natural talent for making new friends was borne out by a comment made by one of our Australian friends Lynne, who along with Dave her husband, had travelled over for the wedding and spent a mere six hours in Paula’s company.

We met Paula once almost a year ago to the day and were immediately impressed by her thoughtfulness and insight and her amazing sense of humour. B. wasn’t half bad either.


Another blog friend from New Jersey, Denise, shared Paula’s sharp wit on many an occasion and between them they would often make me blush, although Lorna didn’t seem to be affected in the same way. Denise asked me to say the following:


Really, I just can’t seem to find the words to describe how awesome Paula was and I saw that through a computer screen. I’m sure she was absolutely mind-boggling in person.

Maybe Paula’s greatest legacy though, will be the legions of Myeloma Buddies that she knitted and sent across the globe. From Ann-Arbour in Michigan down to Bogota in Columbia, across from North Carolina on the east coast of the US to California on the west, in Italy, Germany and even across to New Zealand, Paula’s buddies, blankets and special hand-made gifts mean that she will always be remembered.

The following comment was made by Phil Brabbs, an ex-American football player who was diagnosed with myeloma in his late 20s.

The Myeloma community has lost a bright soul. She used knitting to spread love to my family and many others. Still to this day my kids only know of Multiple Myeloma in the context of the “Myeloma Buddies” that they cherish and sleep with every night. When Ruby was born we got a special, special package from the UK. Paula had knitted a beautiful baby blanket for Ruby, the one she clutches to every night to comfort her when we leave the room for her to go to bed.

Paula’s generosity and sense of humour was something someone newly diagnosed with MM thrived on. She is going to be dearly missed, but never forgotten by our family. Our kids will one day know her, as they have known the gifts she has given them.

Paula – you will always be loved and thought of by the Brabbs family. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. We will continue to dominate on your behalf.
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Paula’s Funeral

We have been asked by Paula’s family to pass on details of Paula’s funeral. It is taking place on Monday 25th June at 11:00 a.m. at St Helens Crematorium, Rainford Road, Windle, St Helens, WA10 6DF. Anyone wishing to attend is welcome.

Paula requested that she have no flowers and we assume donations to Myeloma UK would have been Paula wish.

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Bag of revels

Life is like a bag of revels, just when you think you’ve sussed out the toffee you find yourself biting into a creme (or in my case a coconut) one. Yuk! Yes I’m old enough to remember when there was a coconut in there rather than the equally despised coffee. Little did we think when we got married, a year ago today, that we would be two guests down having mis-placed Sharon and now Paula (the rest of you better watch out I reckon).
The tributes to Paula have been done so much better by Sandy and Phil to name just two of her friends from across the pond. Instead I’m going to do a bag of revels, facts about Paula tribute. You’ll have to decide yourselves which, if any, are the dreaded coconut.

Paula hated my courgettes with a passion. It was so bad she wouldn’t even have them in her house. The poor things travelled all the way there just to be discarded.

Paula liked to listen to her music in the car at very high volume which meant every time B. got in the car after her he would find his eardrums practically bleeding.

Paula’s favourite film was Predator closely followed by anything that would give a sane person nightmares and Steven Seagal action movies.

Paula used to go to work in a dress and Dr Martens and her friend Chris who she worked with often had to tell her to keep her giggling down as the senior partners could hear her upstairs.

Paula’s favourite group was Metallica (hence B.’s bleeding eardrums) and she loved Alice Cooper, Bowling for Soup, Def Leppard and generally “noisy” music (or should that be noisy “music”.)

Paula had always planned to marry a 6′ 5″ blond builder, but to quote B. himself, she married him instead. Having said that, B. wanted to marry a page 3 girl and got Paula instead, so it was a fair exchange.

Paula had a wicked sense of humour and I mean just plan mean. She would send Chris, who knows nothing of knitting or crochet, to get her wool. Now Paula knew that Chris knew nothing and would send her knowing she would be asked questions such as “DK or baby?” “What gauge needle is it for?” “What’s the tension?” Poor Chris would plead with Paula not to send her, but Paula showed her no mercy.

Paula was stubborn. Auntie Anne recalls Paula’s mom taking her to get her hair cut and Paula stubbornly refusing to have it done. It was cut in the end, but Paula just sat at the table and screamed for a long time after.

Paula would always order something different from the take away menu. While B. like me stuck to the same thing, Paula would flit from dish to dish like a gastronomic butterfly.

Paula has left a big hole in so many people’s lives, but she wouldn’t want us to dwell on what we have lost, but what we gained from knowing her.

The beautiful wedding present Paula made for us.

So we will raise a glass to Paula and Sharon tonight as we celebrate our first wedding anniversary. I’m just annoyed I didn’t get the crocheted bed spread I was promised.

Update on Paula for those who don’t read Sean’s or Roo’s blogs.

The following was left by Gill, Paula’s s-i-l on another myeloma sufferers blog yesterday.

“I’m Paula’s sister in law Gill. So so sorry to hear of Sean’s passing. I can tell you that Paula was heartbroken when she heard the news. I am sorry to post here but Bernard wanted me to get information to all Paula’s wonderful online friends and I am not really sure how to do it. Paula has had the most horrendous few weeks. The last chemo treatment into her spinal fluid caused extremely severe side effects and she has been so poorly. Last night it was decided to stop further treatment and just make Paula as comfortable as possible. I have just come home from hospital with my son Neil and Bernard and wonderful Aunty Ann are still sat with Paula. It was a hard night as Paula has a few episodes of distress and agitation. However, when I left she was peaceful and far more comfortable. Thank you so much for the messages you sent to Paula on the ward. I don’t know how you did it far too computer technical for me. I read each one to her and I just know she heard every word. Please feel free to contact me through Paula’s blog (I’ll have to just go through the comments part) or we can talk on facebook. God bless to you all.”

I know that most of you who read our blog will already know the news, but I wanted to make sure that people like Dave and Lynne in OZ, who met Paula at our wedding last year, and Mike C. too, knew what was happening.

When this photo was taken Paula had actually escaped from the hospital for the day, between her 12 hourly IV antibiotics! I hope you will also note the pints belonging to Bernard and Dave!

Mike and I are due to visit her tomorrow (Saturday).