it was forty years ago today…..

Just been listening to the chart of 1978 on the radio and it dawned on me that is was 40 years ago tonight that I met my future husband in the Post Office pub in Liverpool.
Long dark hair, both of us, denim shirts, cheese cloth tops and Wrangler jeans were the uniform of choice back in the day, we went on to get married and have three gorgeous boys. Although our marriage didn’t last our friendship did and is as strong now as it ever was.
Forty years is a long, long time. The twenty year old me had no clue what the world was about. All the people we loved were still alive, we had yet to feel the pain of loss, and we had the future at our fingertips.
I wonder what that girl would say about the person she has now become? I think she will be disappointed that I didn’t travel the world, as she thought she would,, but at least I did move away from my home town, which was always her plan. She always planned to change the world, one way or another, right wrongs, fight the fight, well I think I can say I have given it a good shot. At twenty I thought I knew what I wanted, in hindsight I had no clue.
I am grateful for our friendship, this man and I.  There are not many people who have known me as well for as long. I think of him these days as a brother, certainly as family, and I know we are the lucky ones.
So, sitting here, having had the most mixed up six months ever I am reflecting on the past. Back to a time of rock music, beer and trips to Amsterdam. Back to a time when we had little money but plenty of energy. Camping trips in the transit van, friends piling in for a weekend of fun.  Then we had the sadness of loss, we faced it together, holding tight to new babies while trying to make sense of the fear of realisation that we were now the grown ups.  Then later, working through our differences to come out the other side firm friends forever. Our new lives, partners and new babies all mix together in one big blended family. My go to person, for forty years, would still run and help if I needed him too.
Christmas times spent together, now we share our gorgeous Granddaughter, who will grow up knowing that family is made up of people who love you, and you can never have too many of them.
So, forty years down the line, real life is different that expected, I think that is probably true for most people. I am however celebrating this anniversary today is the day I met the brother that isn’t a brother, and the forever friend tied to me through memories and children, through thick and thin. I shall raise a glass tonight to those young hopeful people, with long dark hair and smiling faces. It has turned out ok in the end, they are doing alright.

New Year – day 11, can it really be a month ago?

A month ago today we had just moved into our new little house by the sea.  Tired from carrying boxes and sorting our possessions we awoke late and were potting around the kitchen when the telephone call came.

It was one of those moments when time stands still.  It has happened to me before, this heart stopping, bad news, even as you are hearing it, you know nothing will ever be the same again.  And it won’t.

Losing people we love is never easy, of course it isn’t, but the natural progression of life means it is something no one will ever fully avoid.  They say the price of love is the pain of loss, and I cannot disagree with that.  Mostly the people I have lost have been from a different generation, parents, aunts and uncles, all loved, all missed.  A few good friends have also gone, and the pain they leave behind is different, for them we feel a sadness in a life left unfinished, the days we spend from then on are tinged with their loss, especially at family times, Christmas and birthdays, anniversaries, all have a new meaning when someone is missing.

This time it is like no other, this time it was as if a part of me, my very being, has gone.   How can I live in a world when she is not here?  How can it be, this link to my whole life long, forever broken.  It seems incredible.  I am lost and bewildered, and in a moment I find my mind full of memories, full of our lifetimes and the realisation that today is the day it changed.

We were children together, I do not remember a day of my life she wasn’t part of it.  There were three of us, I was not a sister, but in truth I was, and I still am.  My own sister arrived some years later, and although we loved her, it was the three of us against the world.  Memories of childhood, bathing together after mucky play days, of all sleeping together, sharing beds and telling stories.  We grew older and teenage years were soon upon us, these roads we travelled together, holding tight in the tough times and laughing and dancing in the long hot summers, of holidays and happy times.

Later we grew up, our worlds were changing, marriage, children, geography all got in the way, and yet we spoke often, it was as if an invisible string held us all together.  We have all had our struggles, we learned that life is not as easy in adulthood as it appeared in childhood.  We learned how to get on with what was thrown our way, and there were times when life did interrupt us.  There were times when we might go a week without talking, but seldom ever any more than that.  My whole life, sixty years, and we spoke every week.

So, today, it is a month gone by, when the three of us are now just two.  We talk often, very often, together trying to make some sense out of how we, and my little sister, are the only ones left.  Grandparents, parents and now our sister, gone.  How on earth did that happen?

As ever we are focusing on those who need us, there are children, albeit adults now, who are left without a Mum, and we shall do our best to gather them up and make sure the road ahead is smooth for them.  I am thinking of my own family and my sister, who as we all grew up, also became close and is also feeling the loss.  I have no clue what will happen next.  I don’t know how to stop this feeling of ridiculousness, how can I be living, laughing and finding new adventures, when she is not around.  Yet this is exactly what I am going to do.

You see I know that the very best way to remember people is to talk about them often, to allow yourself to feel the sadness, anger and grief and then to stand up straight, look the world in the eye, and live.  For I have the chance to do just that, to live, and I will never forget that.

I will be forever grateful for the memories I have of the happy times, when strong and wilful women reared us, when we were loved enough to be taught right from wrong, and to be forgiven when we got it wrong.  I am grateful I can remember the laughter of our Mothers, colluding together to change the world they lived in. Learning to drive, gaining independence and showing us girls that anything is possible, if you want it enough.  Lessons that have lasted a lifetime. It is because of them that we know how to get on with things, they were a living example to us girls, from them we learned to be brave.  We are brave today.

So, today, a month on, and eleven days into a new year, here we are, getting used to this new life, and I know that in time we will find peace. The future is here, right now and I will do my best to do it justice.  This circle of life is a strange one, I am already older than my Mum ever was, and the next generation are already making their way in the world.  I am hoping to show them the right way, by giving them a map to manage along life’s paths, and they will have learned the strength from all the women that have gone before them.

Tomorrow is Friday, the last day of the working week, and the weekend will be upon us, I am spending it with best friends and will savour every second, for time with those we love is a privilege not to be wasted.  The days will pass, weeks will turn into months and old memories will sit alongside new ones yet to be made.  The world will keep on keeping on, all will be well.


January Day 3 – stormy weather, Latter Day Saints and public transport…..

The house is clean, the washing is washed, the shopping is pretty much shopped all is well.  It is 10.30am and it feels like a long day ahead here in Wales.  No longer do I have neighbours who may pop in for a chat, nor children, albeit grown, who want to talk.  I think about going out to walk, but there is a storm raging and although the rain has stopped the skies are grey.

I decide to take the car up to the caravan on the hill and return the dining chairs we used over the holiday, I can check out the wind damage at the same time, then pop into the cafe to give New Year wishes to the lovely people there.

It takes time to put the seats down in the car, to clear out the debris biding its time in the boot, waiting for me to sort and clear it.  I get the chairs, there are three in total and it is a bit of a juggle to fit them all into, eventually I am all set for the off.  Except that I am going nowhere, the car, which hasn’t been driven this year is not starting.  Oh well.

I decide to walk into town, and am soon being blown along the street by the stormy gale.  Over the road a wheelie bin, full of holiday rubbish is blown over and there is a swirl of paper, card and other things flying everywhere, this is not a good place to be walking.  I carry on and see coming towards me two smartly dressed young men.  As we get close they are smiling, and we start to chat.

I had recognised them as members of the Latter Day Saints, before I heard their accents.  We shook hands and swapped thoughts on Wales, on how it feels to be an Elder, spending two years abroad for your beliefs.  We even talked about global politics including the President of the USA, they were both keen to point out they were in the UK at election time, nothing to do with them they said.   They were kind and respectful, I was honest in my opinion of organised religion, but there was much we had in common. I really enjoyed talking to them.  On a windy street in a Welsh seaside town, it was surprising, to find commonality between these boys, each a peer of my own children, and yet in a way seeming so much older.

The shop I was planning to visit was closed so I made my way back towards our house with a heavy heart.  I really didn’t want to be indoors, and yet walking in the wind was tricky.  Then I remembered about buses!!  What fun, I could still go to the cafe, but on public transport.  It was easier than I thought.

So,  I managed to do all the things I wanted but in a different way than I planned.  It struck me that my life seems to be always like this.  I am getting on with living, but nothing is as it was.  I guess that doesn’t mean things are worse than they were, just different, and I can live with different.

Back home tonight I was reflecting on the day.  Had the car started I wouldn’t have met the Elders and had such a good chat.  I enjoyed my walk from the bus stop to the cafe, and also found the freedom of not having a car to park quite a joy.  As a bonus, hubby has fixed the car, the battery needed charging, so tomorrow I can use it if I want, I am not sure, a bit of me is thinking that I may still get the bus.

So, here I am, embracing change, adapting to situations and finding treasure along the way.  I think I am doing ok at last.

Day One of a New Year

so we brought in the New Year by dancing to disco, watching fireworks, both on the tv from hubby’s home town and from our front garden, where we learned there are advantages of living on a hill, all in all it was a most jolly time.

The messages arrived all evening from friends far and wide, wishing us good fortune for the year ahead.  My daughter stopped serving pints long enough to send a text, and my 30 something son also let me know he was home safe and sound and wishing us well.

In the midst of the excitement there was a moment, when dancing with my hubby, I understood how much he means to me.  We know this year will be challenging health wise, and we have no clue what is in store, but while he is still tall and strong and dancing all is well.  We remembered how we used to love to dance in the kitchen and remarked that we hadn’t done this for a while.  Then we laughed as we remembered that we hadn’t actually had a kitchen big enough to dance in for some time.

This year is already bringing exciting changes, one son will start the job of his dreams this week. I am so proud of him, he has taken himself from work he loathed, through hard study and commitment to learning, balancing family life and social life, and is about to start a whole new adventure.  My daughter has finally stopped dithering about her future and will move at the end of this week to a city she has called home for at least ten years.  She has found a place to live and a job, and the best news of all is that she is staying in the UK.  Well at least for now she is, who knows where she will be at the end of the year.

So the blank page is open, we can begin to write our stories fresh and new.  Tomorrow I will gain control of my body again, start regular walking and stop eating quite so much, the weight gained in anxious days on the hill needs to be gone.  Taking control of that is the least I can do.

Where ever you are and who ever you are with I hope the year has started well, let us try together to make this January one that we will remember.  I am going to be choosing to be happy, and working towards being fitter.  If they are resolutions then so be it.  See you tomorrow and I will tell you how I am getting along.