The Teaching Autobiography, Contents: Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 4
I returned to Longview in November. I did not know that in six months time I was to endure a similar experience, for John's breakdown was even more sudden.
After the war there were many natural changes. When their husbands returned Margaret and Jean went back to their homes and Pamela, the youngest came to keep house for her father but in January she too must leave as she was to be married then. John had sold his practice but not till the end of February, after which he was to retire. For that month I had promised to look after him.
It started off with a merry week when Jean and 'the Brush' were with us. It was quiet when they left but very peaceful. February is a hot month here, there was very little doing and most afternoons John took the car to a cool shady spot by the river where we had tea. It was a horrible contrast to this peace, when one day he collapsed with a temporary loss of memory. He went to Margaret's home but arrangements were made to settle him in a nursing home very near to her. I stayed with them for some time to help give John constant companionship. It was necessary for him to be in the home but he did not take kindly to being away from his family. Even when I returned here, I went to see him once a week. As the months passed John slipped downhill and towards the end I again stayed with Margaret to give what help I could.
In spite of his knowledge John was not willing to die. I think men cling more to life than women. The day before he died I was talking to him of the Thought World. He had seemed to want me to and I was trying to give him some idea of what he might find there, to make it real and interesting. To me it was a much brighter prospect than the days he was enduring. I did draw a smile but it faded to a rueful look and with a sigh he said: "I wish I were not such a cocktail."
Jean, who had joined us, and I were both at the home next day when he sank into a final coma. I sat by and held his hand. It was not pleasant but I had a strong feeling that I could help. Most of the time I was only asking that he might be taken now. I knew the sister was right, when she told me to stay if I liked but that he was not conscious. Physically that was correct but I learnt later, for one never gets that kind of aid at the time, that my instinct had been right. Mentally I had stayed with him, until the Mother could take over. Death, as I have said, is a very lonely experience and I think it should be known that it is possible to give some kind of companionship on the way.
When I returned, a natural reaction set in and for a while life was very dark. There was no spot in all this wide bay that did not hold memories of his companionship and on Fridays it was difficult not to hear his car. For a little while it did not matter if the sun shone or not. For a time beauty vanished and that was the hardest thing of all.
Then as the years passed I drifted into my present peaceful harbourage. After a time the circle continued again and in the following years the most interesting part of the Teaching came through. It was the part that I was able to bring, because I had reached the Darkness.
When you live alone, people seem to have a curious idea that you must have lots of time to spare. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to be able to sit down and think, "What shall I do?" instead of, "What shall I do next?" A garden takes as much of my time as I have strength to give it and also I find domestic chores take almost as much time for one as for two or three. For years I have had to set apart a couple of hours for writing, so that when wet days set in and I am freed from the garden, sewing and house renovation shriek for their turn. When I am alone, I have formed a pleasant habit of reading with my meals and with the last meal of the day this is apt to encroach well into the evening. I like to get up an hour after the sun, ignoring the fact that it sometimes gets up before 6 am.
Now I have formed a habit of carrying a clock round with me and placing it where it obtrudes, so that the hour set for one job does not overstep the next. Having every hour filled makes time pass very quickly. The weeks flip by and I have hardly realised spring is gone before summer is passing and autumn just ahead. From the middle of August, when my pageant is opened by the single daffodils and the prunus blossom, till after Christmas, I like to stay at home, for my garden then repays the work given it, polyanthus, freesias, hyacinths, anemones, crab apple and wisteria, with narcissus amongst the grass, follow one after the other and in the morning the first rush into the garden is always exciting. Soon the iris fill the gap between the spring flowers and the roses and delphiniums of summer, so to be away in these months is to miss something one has with care and labour achieved.
After Christmas when the grandchildren are back at school or college I like to get away from the heat and go either to a lake in the mountains or down the coast where it is cooler. When the school holidays are over, those places are deserted and peaceful again. Then home again for early autumn which has, I think, the loveliest days of all; cool at night but the days still warm and often then windless, when the sea is silver blue and it is time to dream up the garden for next year. Later in the cold wet days of June and July, I listen to the children's arguments and go in for long weeks to Plymouth. So the years roll on quiet, busy and happy in this backwater, where I have been allowed for a while to be a spectator of life again and that, I think can be the end of my personal life.
I seem to have written more warmly about places than about people but I think, in this life places have meant more to me than people. There are flower patches in England, our magic islands in Africa and parts of the open coast here, that are as much a part of me as are my mother and my father. Perhaps the fact that I have been uprooted twice and had to start human relationships afresh, has had something to do with it but to be honest I think it lies deeper than that. I think I am backward along the Way of Service. So few people I have met 'see' with the sight I use and the implacability of their minds is so bruising, it has been lonely. So it is much easier to keep an amiable touch on the surface, than to acquire enough understanding for touch on a deeper level. After all I am a child of Truth on a pattern of Truth in this life, so perhaps much has not been asked of me beyond getting the Teaching. Yet it is my fear that I have fallen below even that. I know I have far to go and much to learn before people can raise in me the same response as do children, animals and places.
Photo 4 : Kath in her older years in New Zealand.