on being stopped in my tracks

you would think that brushing my teeth in the morning was a fairly safe sort of activity.  Such a routine chore this is something I do every day without much thought at all.  Today, in the middle of brushing, I was stopped in my tracks.

I have no idea why, at 8.30 am this morning while looking in the bathroom mirror, the image of my Mum appeared in my heart, so strongly I had to stop brushing my teeth.  Suddenly and for no rational reason I was back in the past, before she passed away.  I could see myself, pregnant, waving to her as the ambulance men carried her down the stairs, the very last time I saw her.

Then just as quickly images flew across my mind, my boys being born, starting school, my darling girl arriving and taking over all our lives. How the twins grew ever more alike as the years went on. The children starting and leaving school. How our family has grown over the years. How my baby girl grew into a kind and funny gorgeous girl, and how, a couple of years ago my eldest boy gave us the greatest gift of all, our beautiful Granddaughter.

I felt unbelievable angry and sad.  How dare life mean that my Mum has missed all of this. How she never got to read her Grandchildren stories, and how I missed out on the support and wisdom of the generation that went before.

Tears fell, as I stood in the bathroom toothbrush in hand.  What a start to the morning.  Eventually, probably just a minute or so later the moment passed.  I finished cleaning my teeth, washed my face and got on with the business of living this life.

You see this life is the one I have.  It is up to me to make the most of every single minute, to relish in family, in sunny days and in life itself. I have already had two years more life than Mum had,  I have read my Granddaughter hundreds of stories, played in the park and rocked her to sleep in my arms.  I am fortunate beyond compare.

It’s funny how these things ambush us isn’t it? You would think some thirty years on this wouldn’t happen, yet it does.  Someone once told me that you don’t ever get over bereavement but you do get used to it and find peace.  This is true.  It is also true that every now and then the emotions escape from that safe place they are stored in my heart and turn up in a bathroom mirror, while I am cleaning my teeth.

on milestones and Nanna magic

today the woman who didn’t walk anywhere completed 700,000 steps.  It is true, in six or so weeks I have walked over 300 miles.  Today I had a companion.  My gorgeous Granddaughter and her Nanna had a day together.

She arrived early, the sun was shining so we headed out to the swings near home.  ‘Push me higher Nanna’,  this little girl loves to fly high.  Next we headed to the slide but warmed by the sunshine this was too hot to use.  We went home and prepared to go into town.

Riding in her buggy she kept a commentary all the way.  ‘The lorries have big wheels Nanna’, ‘I am counting the bricks in the wall Nanna’, life with her is always fun.  We did the boring stuff, went to the bank and a few shops and then of we went to the big park in the middle of town.  Here my little girl tackled the netting up to the slide like a professional. Despite being tiny she held her own with the bigger kids and went up and down time and again.

It was lunch time so we said goodbye to the big park and headed for home.  After lunch and a nap we went to play in Nanna’s shop, where we tested lots of toys and chatted to lots of people.  Time for home again and the pram was not welcome. ‘I walk Nanna’, of course you do, so do I.  So I am pushing the buggy with one hand and tightly holding hands with the other.  Suddenly there is a bump in the road and the gorgeous girl takes a tumble.  Oh my, the tears fell.  ‘I have a hurt knee Nanna’.  I scoop her up and kiss it better, no we don’t want to ride in the pram I am walking Nanna.  Of course you are, just like me!!

Once home we deal with the poorly knee.  To see the trust in her little eyes while Nanna bathed it with her magic water and cloth was beautiful.  I managed to clean it and found very little problem underneath.  Happily we went out to play picnics in the garden, sore knee forgotten.

I had also forgotten how love and care from Mum or Nanna can fix most things.  I read somewhere that ‘kissing it better’ really works.  I am not sure how but the brain recognises the love and all is well.

By the time Daddy comes to collect her the injury is forgotten, she is full of the fun we have had. In the evening I am remembering the precious moments throughout the day and once again am grateful I am now fit enough to enjoy life.

700,000 steps is a very long way, soon I will have done my million, but I am sure I won’t be stopping walking anytime soon

Million steps – days twenty six and seven

Monday’s walk was nothing out of the ordinary, usual route, usual steps.  Just saying it is crazy, to casually say it’s usual for me to be walking!

Tuesday started wet and windy, for the first time in a week or so I needed to wear my coat.  I did a fast route covering a couple of miles before the rain stopped and sun was starting to show.

Later I travelled with my daughter in law and beautiful Granddaughter to visit a very special place.  We went to the seaside, to a park where fairies live.  My gorgeous little girl loves fairies very much.  The first thing we saw was a wooden house, oh the excitement as we opened a tiny door and inside there were the fairies.  The look of wonder on a little face made my heart happy.  There were other fairy houses dotted around and we spent a happy hour peeping inside and squealing with delight.

I feel so happy to have a lovely family and am ever grateful I am fit enough to have fun with them.  We walked along the sea front to the beach where I was able to take a photo of my Granddaughter and her Mummy standing on the sand with the river behind them.  A poignant moment for me, as I have a photo of me as a two year old on the same sand, in almost the same place, with my Mum standing beside me.

The circle of life I guess.  My Mum never got to meet any of her Grandchildren, sadly it was not to be, so I feel the love and fortune all the more for having these special people in my life.  Down there on the beach with the same river lapping the shore, I feel connected to my past more than anywhere else in the world.  I am thinking of childhood summers on the shore, picnics and play, I am thinking of me on roller skates up and down the seafront and later as a teenager looking at the water and imagining the world at the end of the waves.

Our home town is miles away from the sea, my Granddaughter will grow up with the hills as her world not the sea, but just spending one day, on the beach and the circle feels complete.  She will never know the family who would have loved her so very much but I hope she will always understand the connections we have to the river, to the sand and most of all to each other.

By the time we arrived home I had completed a respectable 14,000 plus steps on a sunny day when memories were both remembered and made.

million steps – day 7 – on puddles

to be honest I have been feeling exhausted today.  I was out early this morning and completed my usual distance but it was a bit of a struggle.  I had a difficult moment in the park when an enormous dog was barking a lot and running around, I like big dogs as much as I like cows.  I managed to find myself a short cut through a hotel car park to avoid it, but this then meant I was off my route, from then on it was a struggle to get back in the walking zone.  For once I was very glad to be home.

I was just sorting the last of the chores when my gorgeous Granddaughter arrived to play. Waving off her lovely Mummy, we settled in to enjoy her mid morning snack.  The weather was looking a bit grey outside, but as the rain was not actually falling we set off for the park.  All the way down the hill my lovely girl is telling me about everyone she loves.  She loves her Mummy and her Daddy and her Nana, she loves her Aunty and she loves Thomas the Tank Engine, well to be more specific she loves Rosie who I think is a bus.  As ever when I am with her I see the world through her eyes.  Wagons thunder passed and she tells me ‘they are very noisy Nana’  she is not wrong.

We leave the main road behind us and wander towards the park.  We pass a building site and we stop to watch the diggers and the machinery, I am almost delighted to see one of the machines is being operated by a young woman.  This I feel is good for my Granddaughter who hopefully won’t grow up with the stereotypes of my youth.  As we are watching the builders the rain starts to fall fast.  It is that soaking fine rain that leaves you so wet without you really noticing.  We get a move on and are soon in the cafe in the park. Here is the soft play area she loves so much, and the good coffee I enjoy.

As I keep a careful watch over her playing I am touched by how she reaches out to the other children.  She smiles at everyone and is not fazed at all by new faces.  It makes me wonder when do we lose that, if we do lose it of course.  I am still the person who smiles at strangers, but I do know lots of other people don’t.   We build towers and knock them over and she shouts me from across the play area,’Nana, look at me!!’ Soon my coffee is finished and the rain has stopped.  Time to head out into the park.

Sadly the rain means the swings and slide are not usable just now, they are far too wet, but the rain has left other play opportunities.  My Granddaughter loves puddles.  She is suitably dressed in her wellies and raincoat and her infectious laughter as she runs from one puddle to another is attracting attention.  People stop to watch her, everyone is smiling, especially me.  We spend lots of time looking for and then jumping in puddles.  It occurs to me that I had forgotten the fun they can bring.

As we walk back home she is chatting away, ‘I love puddles, Nana’ she says. I am reminded that without the rain we would not have had any puddles, and surely this is as it is, always. If I wasn’t walking for Diabetes UK we would probably have used the car to go out and I probably would have gone home when the rain came down so much.  I may have missed out on the puddle jumping and a lovely morning of fun and laughter.

The step count today is less that on previous days but I have still done almost six miles, some of it making precious memories with my gorgeous girl.


on precious moments in time

It was quite something this morning when a tiny bundle of love and fun settled onto my chest as I rocked and soothed the tired tears away.  Sitting on the sofa, with the Autumn misty morning outside the window, obscuring the hills in the distance where the leaves are gently falling to the ground, the grey sky giving no hint of the blue of summer that was, I hold you tightly and love you.

Soon you settle, your little fists unclench and tiny fingers wrap around mine.  You snuggle yourself into me and your eyes, drooping at first, close gently.  Your breath is regular and I find myself taking the air at the same time, our breathing co-ordinating as you slumber.

Looking at you I am remembering another time, over thirty years ago now, when it was another child who snuggled and slept on my lap.  If I close my eyes I can see the living room with the second hand sofa, the unmatched cushions and the huge old television.  The gas fire on the wall gave us warmth on another Autumn day all those years ago. The same tables I now have in my living room sat in that room, I think of this the only furniture that has lasted the years with me.  I can remember the feelings of love, of hope and of joy, coupled with the unimaginable responsibility that was mine, to care and grow this little person into adulthood, would I ever manage to do it?

The view from the window then was not the hills and trees of our home today. Then, we looked out as pilot boats chugged out to the big ships to guide them safely into port, we saw the white waves splash against the sea wall as the sky competed for greyness with the water below and ferry boats plied their way backwards and forwards across the river.

Another time, another place, but feelings remain the same, the love and amazement at the wonderful child in my arms.  The promise of what is to come, of who you will be, where you will go and what you will teach us all.  I lay you down next to me, softly you are snoring as I write these words.  Dreaming perhaps of fun to be had, there is much to do.  You are growing and learning everyday and I am so blessed to share this time with you.

Sleep well my little one, when you awake we will read the stories I once read to your Daddy, we will play the same games and we will eat our lunch together.  The circle of life is all around. Everyday you make my heart happy.

on messages for my Granddaughter

Today is your very first birthday, the anniversary of the magical day we met for the very first time.  In the year since we have got to know you, and are delighting in watching you grow from a tiny baby into a clever, bright and beautiful toddler. It seems that already you know exactly what you want and you are not afraid to reach for it.  Good.  The time we spend together is happy and brings back the memories of your Daddy as a baby as I remember the love and fun a baby brings.

As the family gathers to celebrate there will be gifts and cards, wrapping paper to shred and cake to be eaten.  We will come together to be happy you are here and to congratulate your Mummy and Daddy for getting it all so right.  There is a present I would like to share with you, not something I can gift wrap so I have put it here.  I want to share with  you the things that I know, things I believe will be important for you to know, if not today, as you grow up and go through your life.   I hope you always know the following

1.  Know you are loved.

2.  Know that you can be whoever you want to be.  Believe in yourself and know you have to put the effort in, you can do it.

3.  Know to make the right friends.  Surround yourself with people who make you laugh, who challenge you in the right way and who will watch your back, always.

4.  Know to avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable.

5.  Know you are in charge of your body, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, you get to chose what happens to you, no one else.

6.  Know that your Mum and Dad have your best interests at heart, always.  Know this especially in your teenage years, and remember when they tell you NO they are telling you they love you.  Tough but true.

7.  Know that you can do anything you want to if you want to do it enough.  There really is no such word as can’t.  Make plans, work hard, follow your dreams.

8.  Know to hang loose some of the time.  The best adventures happen with the least planning.  Learn to trust your instincts and to listen to your heart.

9.  Know your family history.  There are a long line of strong women in your past, all of whom are rooting for you, even those you never got to meet.  They faced tough times and survived.  So will you.  Know the men in your family who you were not able to know.  Gone before you arrived, they would have loved and protected you, they would be proud of you and your Mum and Dad and as with the women in your past, a part of them will always be a part of you.

10.  Know that learning is power and it will be up to you to find out about the world and work hard to learn about what is important to you.

11. Know how to find the fun, how to laugh at the moon and dance in the street. Be sassy, be confident and be happy.

12.  Know you are loved.

Happy Birthday darling girl, loved more than you would ever guess.  A funny little girl who understands her world.   We are blessed to have you.