Looking Beyond …

thoughts and deliberations .. a theme is too restrictive


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No ordinary Mum

There is no ordinary Mum

I want you to know, that you are my wonderful mother. It is strange that when I reflect back over my childhood years, it is the ordinary yet to me, extraordinary occasions that spring to mind. The little things that demonstrate just how naturally and extravagantly you take up your parenting role.

Like the time when the three of us siblings excitedly clubbed together to buy you the first ever gift from us at Christmas, with Dad’s help. It was boots hand cream in a large tall bottle. I can picture it now. You were delighted. It was the same hand cream that you regularly bought for yourself all year round – everyday, economy, in keeping with the good housekeeping and careful spending regime that was part of our family life. You remained delighted, when from one year to the next on Christmas day, the same gift was proudly presented, unwrapped and appreciated. Mum, you never showed any disappointment in our efforts to please. The ordinary, was made extraordinary.

Like the time when we were all racing up and down the path that ran next to our house and Simon hurled headfirst from his trike onto a concrete pillar. We brought him into the kitchen all three of us screaming and frightened. You showed no fear or panic. We knew that you knew what to do, and it was sorted. And his brain didn’t fall out of the hole in his head. And you provided comfort for all. We knew nothing of your own tears or fears on that day. Mum, you were always there to comfort and wipe away the tears. The ordinary, was simply extraordinary.

Like the times when your friends and their children would come to tea. They would come in eager anticipation of the spread which they knew you would provide, of your meringues and cakes, your pies and trifles, your macaroons and scotch pancakes – warm and fresh from your own mother’s blackened griddle pan. These were accompanied by endless cups of tea and delivered with perfect hospitality and care, without any loss of attention to the animated conversation that pervaded the atmosphere. Mum, you were always content, providing feasts for the hungry and keeping faces full and happy. The ordinary, was something extraordinary.

Like the time when you took me to the village shop that sold ladybird clothes and bought me a lilac nightdress because I had to go into hospital to have my tonsils out. I was so proud to have that ladybird label, so disappointed when that nightdress became too small for me to wear. And I fondly remember those special 3-biscuit packets of bourbons at the hospital café and the squash in the plastic cups which we stopped to indulge in whenever I had my eye tests; and the cut up apple outrageously sprinkled with sugar, taken as a treat in your bedroom when I was starting to recover after being off school unwell.   Mum, you created special moments of comfort out of wearisome times. The ordinary, became extraordinary.

 

As a mother, you have always been warm, approachable, loving, generous and constantly ready to serve the needs of our family. These qualities extend way beyond your own family and I know this because there are so many friends and relatives that speak so kindly and lovingly of you. There have been so many good deeds, sacrifices and acts of compassion that you and Dad quietly undertook without any blow of trumpets or call for attention.

 

And yet, Mum, you have strength of character and a fighting spirit that might easily be missed by someone who doesn’t know you well. What people first see in you is your kindness, your care and concern for other people’s needs, and your desire to see others happy.   Only in these years of my adulthood, have I taken note of the tales of your younger days, have I reflected on the parts of you that are less Mum, and more Neville – attractive, vibrant, determined, adventurous, bright and independent.

I love that knowing look in your eye that conveys defiance, acceptance and humour all at the same time.

I love your ability to remain positive and make the most of every situation. Recent times have tested this, but you keep bouncing back strong and full of determination.

I love the things you say which come from the depth of your heart – like the other week when talking about marrying Dad 58 years ago you said, that it was the best thing you ever did!

I love the way that you led your life without so much as a hint of using your physical difficulties as an excuse to expect less, achieve less, or be less.

I love the way that you refuse to fall-in to the expected way of thinking and in your own quiet way, challenge the norm.

I love the way that you have always appreciated people for their kindness, effort and attitude and not just their achievement.

I love you Mum and still enjoy sharing precious times with you.

 

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To friendships – long and strong

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A thank you note to a special friend:

Four couples embarking on a new journey of parenthood sit on scattered cushions around the front room of a National Childbirth Trust enthusiast and teacher. They are wondering just what on earth they have signed up for. As the first group exercise unfurls and the earthy, left leaning tuition in all things maternal begins, they eye each other up suspiciously.   Right now, it isn’t parenthood they are worried about, as much as the unfolding nature of the forthcoming classes and instruction.

It is 23 years later, and we have lived to tell the tale. Having quickly identified each other’s reservations on that day, we dealt with them by meeting socially outside of the classes in order to assure ourselves that we hadn’t joined some kind of weird sect.   What some of us unknowingly had embarked on, was the beginning of a journey of lifelong friendship and support; the sharing of trials, tribulations and landmarks way beyond the birthing of those most special children that brought us together.

It was you, who sat at the helm of these developing friendships, bringing us together, spurring us on, challenging us and showing us over and over again with your energy, zest and enthusiasm that all situations in life are to be tackled head on and positively. With your generous nature, your optimism and perceptiveness, you were there at every turn and difficulty, as those of us new to parenthood stumbled our way through sleepless nights, weaning, teething and tantrums. You mopped up the tears, took our children off us for respite, gathered us together, and were constantly available. Even after we became separated as families geographically, you were the one that ensured that the friendships continued and thrived.

More than all of this, your friendship has been so special to me because you never once entertained the notion that my youngster, in his continual series of illizerof frames, hip spikas, plaster casts and splints, was anything other than one of the group, and you never once made me feel that our friendship through these times was an inconvenience. You gave this family total acceptance in our troubled journey and showed a generosity of heart beyond that of anyone else around us. I am not sure that you will ever know the significance of the times you took our two young lads to stay with you and give us a break, taking on the daily cleaning of wounds and medical care as if it were all part of the standard child-sitting duties. We will always be indebted to the love, acceptance and practical help that you gave to us during those years.

As the years went by, and our circumstances changed, it was you that fed our excitement at getting together for new year celebrations, and more latterly the infamous folk festival summer rendez-vous. Thank you. You ensured that we had many happy times together and we are still hopeful for many more.

Accompanying your generosity of spirit and your ability to organise and cajole, many other attributes – a sense of adventure, a continual striving to reach your full potential in life, to experience new and deeper things and to grow your identity – have brought many successes, adventures, joys and challenges along the way. When I look back to some of those conversations we had twenty years ago, who could possibly have imagined the journey on which your life has taken you since then? I am in awe of both what you have achieved and what you have survived.

Strong woman, not only have your nurturing, caring and loving characteristics ensured that each of your own children developed into wonderfully vibrant individuals who are able to offer and enjoy so much in their worlds, but you have enriched, inspired and encouraged other lives around you.

Long may you continue to give, and I pray that you will also receive abundantly, as you enter life’s next adventure.