Losing Kath

Love lost, read and found

Two Tales of in-Tent

Katherine was a remarkable person in many ways and the majority of those are qualities that remain mostly unsung. This was especially true when it came down to the girls and all of our nieces and nephews too.
It didn’t really matter what was going on, if we were too worn out, tired from work, worried about loved ones or generally life or just feeling like enough is enough, she would always manage to go the extra mile for the sake of the kids.
Like anyone else though, being human made her at times subject to stress, but she had an ability to manage her stresses in a way that would hardly ever impact others around her. In fact even through the most troubled of times, our daughters were often oblivious to all that was going on in the back ground and for as long as she could physically manage keeping her illness hidden at bay, she did all that she could right up to the end.
In this way, as the girls broke up for the holidays, and despite Kath being so seriously ill and barely 3 months from leaving this world, the summer of 2012 started almost exactly as the summer of 2011 was wound down.

Katherine’s dad died in the summer of 2011 from a long standing battle with cancer that had him bedridden in pain for many long months. But despite her obvious sad grief and of course all of our own, she found a way to ensure we could all holiday together soon after the funeral without feeling the guilt and in a way that she could find peace. We all went to Polperro in Cornwall the place that Kath had experienced her last holiday with her dad. As it turned out for us, this then turned out to be our own last holiday with Katherine too, but when that holiday was over we still managed a few days out and as the summer holidays of 2011 were soon winding down, the girls and I started to nag Katherine about going away to the New Forest for a weekend of camping. It was something that Kath had put up obstacles to for many a year. In this case she could remember once when she was quite young, hating the experience despite having also spent it with her dad. Over the years each time I had even suggested the idea that we should camp, she had shut me down with a tone that left no room for argument and I knew well enough to let that be that. But it still did not stop me from suggesting it every year.
Anyway, much to our surprise and after much constant begging from all of our girls, Katherine suddenly relented and agreed we would all go. Before she could think it over twice, we ordered a new tent and every accessory we thought we would need and towards the end of August for a long Bank Holiday weekend, we went and spent it down in the New Forest.
It was a lovely place and a fantastic new experience for us to have with our daughters who really enjoyed the sense of adventure and back to basics that camping instils, but it wasn’t too long before it was evident to see, that Katherine was doing it out of her love for us all more than anything else at the start. As we arrived and drove around before carefully deciding on which bit of bare earth to choose as our pitch, we mounted the tent and threw everything inside and then to make the most of the day, we went off on a long walk to explore what was there. Having spent a good time spotting wild ponies and enjoying the forest and scenery there, we headed back to set up camp and here our inexperience caught up with us in a flash.
The girls were naturally on a high about the whole new thing and in their excited state they were jumping around the inside and three compartment rooms of the tent. Kath was busy inflating the blow up beds and unpacking sleeping bags and pillows and the daylight was fading fast by the time we were trying to cook our supper and get everything set. As it turned out, the wind up LED camp light was little more than a glimmer if even a glow and before we had made the beds or eaten anything we were plunged in virtual darkness except for the night sky which shone in a way that convinced that stars do shine bright, but inside the tent it was dark and the camp site too pitch black except for a pocket torch that would lead us the way to the wash rooms far off. Even I was stressed as I couldn’t see if the sausages were cooked or where anything was and Kath was almost pulling her hair out setting up home in the dark. It was only about 9.30pm but we were still not set or unpacked and the campsite had fallen into a respectful silence of just low whispered voices far off in the dark and when our over excited girls who were still noisily running around and tripping over most things ended up dropping and breaking the torch, Katherine’s stress levels went right through the roof and she screamed out at the top of her voice to the girls, ‘I SWEAR, IF YOU GIRLS DON’T CALM DOWN RIGHT NOW, WE ARE NEVER GOING CAMPING AGAIN!’.
For a moment there was a deathly silence and the girls sat down instantly on their beds and as we looked at each other’s faces in the dim LED light, we suddenly broke down in fits of hysterics at seeing how stressed she’d become, and when I added,
‘I bet every single person in every tent of the camp, are rolling around in laughter right now at hearing what you just shouted out’, that was it, and she started to see the funny side of it too and together we spent the rest of the night uncontrollably howling with laughter and and as the hours went late into the night, the silence was often broken by the sound of one of our resistant giggles that kept getting the better of us and went on until each one of us had laughed ourselves to sleep. The next morning that was it, and Katherine had joined the rest of the world and got the camping bug too. This day however she proved herself almost an expert and none of the same things caught us out twice. This was how our summer of 2011 ended.

As the following year went on, we would keep often retelling that moment of comedy gold and would laugh just as much. That was one of my main reasons for loving Katherine as much as I did, it didn’t matter how serious things might be or what was going on behind the scenes, she was always able to have a very good laugh and over the years we have laughed together on endless things.
So when it came down to it the following year, when the summer of 2012 actually started, I shouldn’t have been surprised! She had terminal cancer and in daily pain, was not far from her demise, but the first weekend of the holidays she put all of that behind her and in our back garden with our daughters she mounted the tent and then invited their cousins our nieces and nephews for a camping sleep over. We had fun right from the start, cooked a barbeque dinner and then together the 8 of us crammed into the tent and told scary stories in just candle like light, that failed to scare anyone but that made us all laugh long into the night.
When at 4am in the morning I couldn’t take the discomfort or the lack of sleep anymore, knowing that I had to get up for work very soon, I made my excuses and slipped out to find my own bed, and Katherine despite all of her aches and inner kept burdens stayed the whole of the night, basking in the glory of her loved ones while they all slept tight.
You can read the connected other half of this holiday themed post at the following link:

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