Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Wednesday 15 April 2009

15th April 1989

20 years ago today, my Mother died.

She had been in various Hospitals, Nursing Homes etc for the previous 17 years, having suffered the first of many many strokes in November 1972, during my first year at Grammar School. I was 10. I found her, I was alone in the house, gave her CPR and called an ambulance.

She was paralysed down her right side, had brain damage and lost her ability to speak, but by June 1973, after a long session in the excellent River mead hospital in Oxford, had recovered enough to live at home ( on the ground floor) to walk with a stick, could write with her left hand and had begun to learn to speak again. Her mental faculties were apparently unimpaired, for which we were all very grateful. Her doctors spoke of anticipating "a near full recovery".

Then she had suffered another stroke, on the eve of my last day at school in July 1973, and never recovered from it. She was standing at the gate watching me ride my pony and in the space of time it took me to put Periwinkle in the stable and walk up to where she was standing, she had another, major, stroke and by the time I got to her she was on the ground, unconscious.

I gave her (yet again) CPR and called an ambulance, but the damage was done. She suffered more than 20 further strokes in the next decade, each one eating away a bit more of her brain.

She spent the next 16 years in hospital (usually on geriatric wards) amongst very old, usually senile people ( she was only 48 when this happened but stroke victims are usually older....) and I visited her several times a week, more if she was closer to where I lived but sometimes less often if she had been moved to a hospital 20 miles away ( as happened between one visit and the next once, I turned up to see her and found she had gone that afternoon from Worcester to a new ward in Evesham...)

I won't go into the whole other story of my disintegrating relationship with my father during this time, his alcoholism and his throwing me out of my family home when I was 16, thus aborting my senior education and plans for a glitering Oxbridge degree for no good reason other than his alcoholism......but despite all this I kept on visiting MY MUM, because that's who she was, despite the paralysis, the inability to talk to me, the terrible surroundings, the soul destroying (for her and for me) nature of the geriatric wards she inhabited ( remember this was in the 70's and "Human Rights" and "Patient Dignity" were not buzzwords to "the management" The nursing staff were all wonderful but.....)

Mum attended my wedding and looked very happy to do so, she obviously approved of Compostman ( who wouldn't!) she showed lots of love and smiles whenever I went to see her (and oh however often I went, it NEVER felt like enough...)

but finally, her poor organs gave up the unequal struggle to cope with a semi paralysed body...and she died in the early hours of 15th April l989.

I was in the throes of my last week of revision for my University Finals for my Materials Science degree when this happened, I had been going to see Mum every day as she got ever weaker and I knew the end was near but still, it was a shock when the call came. I remember us going to see Mum in the early hours and after she died at 5 am coming home, in a numb state, to finally get to sleep late morning, and wake up at 3 pm, turn on the TV to see the Hillsborough disaster unfold in front of us on the TV screen.

The images I saw haunt me still. Coupled with my sad frame of mind and lack of sleep they took on an even more nightmarish quality which I can still clearly recall today.

I understand, to those who so tragically lost 96 loved ones at an innocent, pleasurable occasion like a Football match because of "officialdom", why this date is so sad and why the injustice still burns....

because I lost my Mum as well, today, 20 years ago, and whilst the circumstances are oh so totally and horribly and tragically different....we all lost loved ones on the 15th April 1989.

I can never forget this date. Nor should I. Nor should any of us.


  1. How sad. It seems that time should make it easier- but it doesn't, really.
    Peace to you, my friend.

  2. ant_sheila@yahoo.com15 April 2009 at 04:30

    I feel your pain. It is truly a sad time when you lose your Mom especially at such a young age. Mine has been gone 3 years in October,the day after my birthday. I like to think of her in a better place, walking through fields of flowers,pain free. I live in central Florida. Have a blessed day.

  3. A poignant and moving post, my thoughts are with you. Take care today.

    Love Sue xx

  4. Oh :( (((HUGS))) Sometimes there are no words.

    Your story was so moving and shifts things into a new perspective about what is important in life.

    Wishing you inner peace today ...

    Rae x

  5. Thats a sad post :o( Am sure your mama looks down & is very proud of all you have done since her passing. I hope today is a gentle one
    GTM x x

  6. I am sending you peaceful thoughts today, though I know that isn't always realistic to feel. A mother is a mother, and the loss is strong, no matter how long/short the time. I'm thinking of you.

  7. I can only echo what has been said before. You are in my thoughts today. Love Mich.x

  8. Sending you hugs and wishes for a peaceful day. I want to let you know I understand your feelings about wishing you had spent more time with your Mom, I feel that way too for my own Mom who passed 15 years ago and my Grandmother who passed 8 years ago on Easter morning...in a nursing home...

    Take care of yourself,

    your friend

  9. ah, so sad, sounds like you were an only child too.

    My parents are gone and at 52 years old and happily married, part of me still feels like an orphan.

  10. I feel so deeply for you. Your story brought tears. But your Mum was always your Mum and I'm sure she would be so proud of you and what you have achieved in spite of difficulties.


  11. CW - a beautifully written post that brought a lump to my throat.

    Thank you for sharing and I'm thinking about you this evening.

    Take care.

  12. I am sorry for you and the loss of your mum. That must have been and still is very hard. I coundn't even imagine. Remember all the great things you shared with her.

  13. Belated big (((HUGS))) to you CW. This is such a such a sad post to read and I so feel for you. You are a wonderful daughter CW and your Mother loved you so much and despite all the pain and heartbreak you have suffered losing your Mother in such a tragic way, you are a truly lovely lady.... and your Mum would be very proud of you!!!
    With All My Love, Jane xxxxx

  14. I didn't manage to compose my thoughts enough to comment yesterday, but I was thinking of you. That was a beautiful, moving post.


  15. Just to say, I sort of felt I shouldn't have posted what I posted...as it was ...too personal?

    But I am soooo glad I DID post it..

    I have kept quiet TOO long about my lovely Mum...and posting about it all helped, somehow...

    ( Cw scratches head in puzzlement?)

    Blogging, cathartic , or what !

    Anyway, thank you ALL for your lovely comments...you are all so lovely and I was very touched by your thoughtful responses.

    S x

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this I have just come across your blog and this really helped me as on the 22nd of April my husband has been gone 10yrs. I was a young confused widow at 25 with 3 young children. today I look back and can't believe I even survived those early days.

  17. I am so sorry for your loss Caroline...It is so much worse ( I guess) when it is someone we don't expect to die before us...

    My Mum, although she died very young and was taken from me for many years before she died...well I *still* expected her to die before me? As on the whole, that is what parents tend to do..

    To lose your partner, and at such a dreadfully young age...and with young children...


    Huge (((((hugs)))))to you and your family..

    and I am glad if my post helped, even a little...and I hope didn't distress you too much.

    Sarah xx


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