Thursday, October 27, 2011

London Left in the Lurch

Deb: I am sorry, everyone, that I disappeared from the blog in the middle of my bloggie tour of London. I had an emergency at home and had to rush back. I intended to explain in my next post, but things became whirlwind with booking flights and packing and getting updates from family and friends at home. So here is what happened in a very tiny nutshell. My Mom ended up in the hospital with gangrene in her foot, facing possible amputation. No one at home told me this was happening for three days as they didn’t want to “bother me”. That did not go down too well with me, as you can imagine, although I know their intentions were good. There are many nasty details to the story that led my Mom to this awful circumstance, but I feel that it is her private business and do not want to lay it out here. She is fine with what I am telling you. Yesterday, her wonderful doctor––who is doing everything to save her foot––did an angioplasty procedure, and some warmth instantly returned to her foot. The pulse is weak in the foot, but it is there.  Now it is a waiting game. We hope that as a result of the procedure, the foot heals itself. Time will tell. One day at a time at this point. I would love to ask everyone to keep a good thought for my Mom as we navigate this frightening set of circumstances. The good news is, her care is first rate and the doctor is wonderful. She asked him at one point, “Doctor, what would you do if you were me?” He said, “That is the wrong question. You should be asking me, ‘What would I do if it were my Mother?’” This is the doctor we all want, is it not?

As for me and London, it was like cutting the umbilical cord, I don’t mind telling you. There was no question in my mind or heart that I wanted to come home. But I was not finished with London. I knew it and London knew it. As I discarded my list of things yet to do, I had a little moment between my hand and the garbage can vowing that I would be back. And I will. I had one day between booking the flight and actually taking the flight so I packed as much as I could into that one day. I went into the All Souls Church where I had planned to attend a service on my last day in London––the 31st. This visit however served as a quiet place to meditate and say a prayer for my Mom. The All Souls Church is the last standing church of the great architect John Nash. A stunning if very simple structure, it was intended to bookend his great design of Regent Street, although that dream was never realized.
All Souls Church
We then met Colin’s aunt and uncle at Paddington Station where they arrived to spend the day with us from Swinden (yes, that’s right, British Office fans!). I bought my Mom a little Paddington bear to cheer her up. We had a lovely day showing them Little Venice and had a fabulous lunch at a stunning old pub. What makes this pub unique is the fact that it is the only pub in London that still has the little “private rooms” where the rich could enjoy themselves without being forced to sit next to the great unwashed. The really unique thing about these little rooms is that the doors leading into them are only three feet high and you are forced to duck under them to get to your private areas. I felt like Alice. Even all five-foot of me had to duck. My six-foot-two husband almost had to crawl!  The picture below might not show the proportions, but picture that door as three-feet tall, because it is!!! Maybe the pints of beer should have had little tags that said “drink me” in order to shrink me to size.  Once into the room, it is quite normal with very high ceilings.

After a fab lunch and a great visit (interrupted by texts, calls and emails from home regarding Mom) we headed back to the hotel where I packed up my suitcase, after which we headed out to Convent Garden for a great Italian dinner. Then Colin and I spent a wonderful night in the theatre––at a play called Jerusalem. During the two intermissions, my cousin and I would text back and forth regards my mom and her condition. To say my focus was split in this last day would be an understatement. Even the music as we entered the theatre made me weep. Colin was, as always, my solid right arm.
Flag photo of the curtain design for Jerusalem.
The next morning we set the alarm for an early morning wake. Although I would not make it to numerous things like the V&A and the British Museum among many others, I wanted to make sure I got to the installation at Kensington Palace, which I had been dreaming of for months. We set off. Me with a spring in my step and my husband with obligation in his shoes. To my glee, he loved it, as did I! It was absolutely magical. While Kensington Palace is being restored, they decided to let artist Chris Levine do an installation called “The Enchanted Palace” based in fact but presented like a dream with hidden princesses for the visitor to find and artistic displays that leapt out at us and drew us in. A little about that...

A palace transformed

Kensington Palace is being transformed. As the walls of the palace are being shaken by a £12 million renovation project the rubble and the dust is unleashing powerful and secret stories about the lives of Kensington's princesses. 

At the heart of the Enchanted Palace journey is a quest for the seven princesses who once lived here. Their lives have been re-imagined as installations offering a fascinating interpretation of the palace’s hidden stories. The rebellious princess who ran from an arranged marriage into the arms of love. Sad queens who bore the pain and sadness of lost babies. The young heir to the throne who escaped the controlling grasp of her overprotective mother.

Visitors must use their eyes and ears to find clues that reveal the identity of the elusive royal residents. Guided by an enchanted map, the advice of obliging palace guardians and a few helping hands, their search will take them to all the hidden corners of the State Apartments and lead them to a glittering finale where they will at last meet the princesses face to face.   

Bringing the Enchanted Palace to life are the palace guardians, our expert front of house team and professional actors, who provide a personal insight into the strange world of the palace. 

Would not have missed it for the world!!! Each room has a theme of the princesses, from tragic, to childless, to loved, and ending with “The Dancing Princesses”, Margaret and Diana. The final room had shadows dancing on the ceiling to Fred Astair singing “Dancing Cheek to Cheek”. I took a video for the blog and did not press the right button so sadly I do not have that. But we both have the lovely memory of it and we will hold on to it for you until you can go and see it for yourself.

Finally, we walked into the Kensington Gardens, as I was a gal on a mission. When my Mom was a little girl, she was given a Christmas present from the Girl Guides that she treasured. My Mom’s family was quite poor so the Guides, along with the Toronto Star Christmas Fund, were their only source and hope of gifts. This gift was a lovely colour rendition of Peter Pan in Kensington Garden. She gave me the framed photo last year knowing my deep love for all things Pan. For those of you who have been reading the London blog you will know that I purchased the Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens prints for the powder room and planned to put her print in a place of honour across from it. My plan was to surprise her with a photo of me at the statue looking up at Pan like the children in her painting did. So I did. And she loved it.  And here it is.

Anne McGrath. Keep her in your thoughts please.

Barbara: Deb, as sad as I am to have you have to come home under these circumstances, I am so relieved that you are safe and sound and that your mom is rallying. You know she is in my thoughts, as you are.

Thanks for a brilliant, evocative and sweet “guided couch tour” of London (wink). I’ve loved every single moment of it! Somehow, despite everything, you managed to end your trip on just the right perfect note. Much love xo


  1. All the best to your mom, Deb, and you are the best of daughters.

  2. Deb, so sorry to hear about your Mom. Hopefully, the angioplasty opens the arteries to get blood to her foot. I loved your London stories and I know you will go back again. Did Colin come home as well or is he still there for work? My sister is just returning from a trip tomorrow and we debated whether I should call her if my Mom took a turn for the worst. My Mom is still alive and my sister returns tomorrow. We are in that generation where we are still raising kids and care taking our parents. You are a great daughter. Let us know how she is doing.

  3. I'm sorry to hear about your dear Mom. Prayers and good thoughts being sent her way, and yours. I'm glad you were able to enjoy a little more of London before returning home and I love the picture of you with Peter. I love that statue. Get some rest and take care.

  4. Keeping your Mom in my thoughts, Deb. - Anne

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your Mom Deb and that you got the news when you were so far away (makes us feel so helpless) Thank you for your wonderful tour of London, I enjoyed every minute of it. So beautiful that it ended with you looking up at Peter Pan......a special memory of your mother and your childhood. Sending all good and positive vibes to both of you.

  6. I want to say that I am glad that you had a great time on your trip. The pictures are great and it looks like you had so much fun.

    ALso and most important I wanted to Tell you that I hope your mom is doing. Ok I will be praying for her and keeping her in my thoughts.

  7. Oh, Deb. *hugs* As promised, your mom is on multiple prayer lists.

    What percentage of her foot is gangrenous?

    And, I'd be seething over the 3 days' wait thing, too. Helpless and uninformed are 2 very icky feelings.

    How is your back? Please, even during the taking care of your mom, take care of yourself, too. I am eager for you husband to come home soon and safely and get to seeing to exactly that.

    *extra hugs* I love you, Deb.

  8. Oh goodness, so sorry to hear this. Having talked to numerous families awaiting to hear word, I can understand how nerve-wracking the waiting part can be.

    Kensington Gardens look GORGEOUS! Pub lunches...ahhhh!!! So many good memories were created in the numerous pubs I spent my time in in Scotland.

    Please keep us posted on your mom. Glad you and Colin returned safely. All the best to all of you. :]

  9. Praying for your mom, Deb! But also glad that 1. you and Colin are home safe, and 2. that you got to enjoy London! :)

    On a London note, the V/A museum and the British museum are wonderful!!! Literally spent all afternoon at both and they are definitely worth it!

    Hugs from Kentucky! <3

  10. hi deb . just want to add my name to the list of people who are sending their best wishes to you and your mom . 10 years ago my mom survived a very serious illness herself ( breast cancer ) i can totally sympathize with what you are going through .
    i send you both hugs and good vibes

  11. Oh Deb So SO SO sorry to hear about Mrs M. Keeping a good thought for her wellbeing.How is your dad doing through all this? Better I'm sure now that Number 1 Daughter is there for comfort and support but I'm sure he was distraught with it all. ( oh and my family is the same re info the "you'rebusyandwhatcouldyoudosowedidn't wantotbotheryou" schtick.) Love to you & the Mr. & Mrs M. & Colin too!

  12. Deb, I'm so sorry for this collision of things... I am sending healing thoughts for your mom, too.

    Kensington Palace sounds so cool--I've been to Kensington Gardens, but not the Palace... the one-time princess in my would have been delighted. In the park I love that tree with all the little figures...

  13. I was really enjoying coming along on your visit so to speak but this is clearly much more important. I’m so sorry to hear your Mom and family is having to deal with this, I’ll think of her and send all my positive thoughts her way.

    It must have been frustrating to be so far away and being three days behind on info as well. That would drive me nuts. I hate when people try to protect me it never makes worrisome news any better. Glad you were able to make your way home and get in a few more special stops along the way.

  14. Deb, I send wishes for a speedy, healthy recovery to your mom, and, to you, warm thoughts and hugs always, and but especially at such a rough time. I hope it was a comfort to you that you were able to spend some time with family while waiting to get back to your mom. (And thanks to Colin for that strong arm.)

    (If blood sugar levels are the issue with your mom, I'm particularly glad this doctor is involved. He sounds assertive enough to drive the point home effectively.)

    I'm so glad that you managed to visit a palace for princesses (BEAUTIFUL pictures of a place I would really love to see), and accomplish your Peter Pan mission for your mom. You were able to experience two different experiences which remind a girl of her childhood, and her mom.

    You will make it back to London and see and do all the other things you'd planned. But for now, thank you, Kensington Gardens. Mission accomplished.

    Timing truly is everything.

  15. I'm so sorry to read that.
    I know how you must feel, since something terrible happened to my mom last year...

    I hope your mom will be all right, and that she can recover...

    I always enjoyed reading these little stories about London (warmed my heart). I've never been there (I'm from Germany), but you showed me some nice places to visit.

    Please take care.

  16. Ms. McGrath,

    you didn't go into detail, but i'm going to go out on a limb here.

    i can empathize with your mum as i am currently dealing with my own health issues due to diabetes/immunity suppression.

    after 33 years of it, it's going to hell in a handbasket at THE most inopportune time...mere weeks before going to see your husband's friends perform in California, after planning for months.

    and i love my Paddington in his navy pea coat & red wellies!

    :::empathy hugs for both you & your mum:::

  17. I'm so sorry about your mom, Deb. The results from the angioplasty sound very very promising. I'm hoping, as everyone else, that she will fully recover.
    I would have been very unhappy about being left out of the loop as well If I had been in your position. I have a brother who does that kind of stuff even though I've told him it's controlling and unacceptable it continues. You need a spy in that camp, but you have lots of time to get on while she's recovering. That was a very sweet pic of you and Pan. I'm sure she loved it very much.
    Gigantic hugs and huge boxes of healing thoughts and energy,

  18. Good evening everyone. Just getting back from the hospital and so tired that you will excuse grammar and spelling I hope. Okay I am also having some wine but...
    The doctor was happy with Mom's foot today and said that it is warm which is a reason for hope. your messages of support have meant the world to me and I have read each and every one and drawn them in. She did love the Pan pix and most of all, she loves that I am home. Madge Colin had to stay as he is starring in the show and it was not needed for him to return. Madge I hope your Mom is improving. Meredith I am sorry to hear about your health condition and I wish you a full recovery. Rigel the gangrene is up her calf now. my back is feeling much better and even if it wasn't I have no time to deal with it. Holly I have done both museums on previous trips which is why I so wanted to go back. Thanks. Karen I agree with the loop issue and yeah the Pan the Pan. So wonderful. Becki, Dawn, Erin, Hart, Sharon, Linda, Lyndsie, Mary-Jo, Anne, Molly, Kate, thanks for your support (always) and your loving wishes (needed) If I have left anyone out it is not because I'm not grateful, it's because I'm seeing double. Thanks to each and every single solitary one of you. My heart is bursting.

  19. Deb -

    How is your DAD through all this?

  20. (((((Deb))))) Sending every good thought I can find to you and your mom. I hope she gets better very soon.

  21. "Colin had to stay as he is starring in the show and it was not needed for him to return."

    Just checking in for news of your mom. Glad she seems to be on the upswing, but don't like to hear the gangrene has moved up her leg. Fingers crossed for more improvement!
    Wanted to remark on your note about Colin, because something tells me he's the kind of man who would rather be home supporting you than where he is, though of course he is meeting his professional responsibilities. Because he knows you can handle this. Or he'd be outta there.

  22. Hoping things are better today! hugs

  23. If you have a couple of seconds, could we please have an update on your mom?

  24. I tweeted Colin asking about Deb and her mom and got this reply:

    @DawnMilam things are looking better. It's just a waiting game now.

    At least it's something.

  25. Hope everything will be ok. Sending my good thoughts your way.

  26. Thanks everyone for staying posted. It's true, Colin has been sick about me doing this alone but he also knows that I can handle it. I will send Barb a picture to post to show that he is holding up his end of fun and professional obligations. Mom is steady as she goes. The doctor said that the foot is not better, not worse. So we wait. The middle option of surgery (the vascular surgery) is no longer an option as the gangrene is too far up the calf. So please pray hard for the foot to heal as the alternative is horrible. The lady across from Mom who is diabetic, just had her leg amputated below the knee. My Mom confessed to us, as bizarre as this sounds that she has had a life long fear that she would have to have a limb amputated. Kills me. And scares me as my Mom is so intune. But she is being transferred to rehab and as I said to her, if there was no hope from their end, they would just schedule the surgery, they would not wait around and bother with the exercises and I truly believe that. so, hope and prayer and positive thoughts. Whatever comes, we will deal. My Mom is one brave broad. xo Thanks each and every one of you for your kindness and support.

  27. It is a bright sunny Sunday morning here in Toronto Deb, I will pray for your mother especially this sound very strong and she is lucky to have you with her. Anything is possible and healing sure is in that realm.....sending all positive vibes and light directly to your mother.

  28. You're right Mary-Jo, I am enjoying that same sunny T.O. day right now. when the sun shines, anything is possible right?

  29. Oh goodness...I hope that that is not the outcome of your dear mother, Deb. I have encountered lots and lots of diabetics in my novice nursing career; blows me away at all that can happen.

    Just take it one day at a time. Not worse is a good thing, so let's hope that the not better becomes better! Hang in, there. We're all here for you :]

  30. I am with Kelly ,Deb we are all here for you. Still praying for you and your mom.

  31. I agree that the doctor wouldn't attempt the rehab if he didn't think it had any chance of helping. It's an odd concept, to go through life thinking you may need an amputation one day. But it is only a thought, and we are all wishing and hoping that everything goes well.
    Continued {{{HUGS}}} for you, your mom, and your family, Deb.

  32. Thanks everyone. She had a rough day. Sick all day long. Just spoke to her and she is feeling better now. thanks so much you have no idea how much your support means to me. xo

  33. ((MORE HUGS)) for you and your family! :)

  34. You are definitely right Deb.....anything is possible!!!! xo

  35. Just catching up with this now. Thoughts with your mom, Deb.

    Love you strong women. You inspire me to lead a fuller, braver, more humor and wonder-filled life.

  36. Deb--having just returned from London myself (and since your blog is one of the few I read regularly), I was checking in and following along, but then I missed the last couple. I just wanted to tell you that I'm now completely ignoring halloween (ok, I was ignoring it anyway, I hate halloween so this gives me a good excuse) and using my energy to send good vibes to you & your mom......surrounding her with healing light--and you with strength--


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