Adoption, Families, Family, genealogy, history, Home, Inspiration, love, Motivation, real life

The elusive family

Isn’t it funny that something you have been searching for a long time, was right within arm’s reach all along?

It’s a problem probably only a few of us can appreciate. When your adopted, that feeling of not belonging in a family. Looking for something else, that elusive feeling of being part of the same tribe, familiar looks and the same DNA. I’d dreamt all my life of belonging.

What a load of old tosh!

My maternal grandmother kept saying that if I didn’t behave she would send me back to where I came from. That didn’t help the feeling of not belonging. My dad was the youngest of his siblings, he married late and they didn’t adopt me for another 10 years. My mum was in the middle of her siblings, two older and two younger. So I’m now at a disadvantage before I start, the youngest runt of the cousins. All older than me, being closer together than I was.

I moved away when I was 19, most of them were married and established with their own families by then. I lost contact. It didn’t worry me.

I didn’t ‘belong’ anyway.

I did find the youngest cousin on my adopted mother’s side on a genealogy site – he was 14 years older than me and luckily was the family historian. He had made up a great tree of 4 generations back, I learned so much from it.

My adopted father’s side was different. I had lost touch altogether. I searched social media in the hope they were interested in the town they had lived in till they moved away. And then one day – there she was. My dad’s niece, commenting on a link to the village she had grown up in. The cousin who I had been a bridesmaid for, whose mum had taught me to make French omelettes when I was younger in her kitchen. I tentatively sent her a message, and opened the flood gates of communication. She had been hoping to find me, I had been hoping to find her.  She too is the family historian, thankfully. She has so much useful family information, photographs and anecdotes, conversations and personal memories. She remembers my dad fondly her uncle Trevor.

We met. Her husband and my husband sitting on the periphery of the room like two china cats- while we caught up on 50 years of lost time. It has been an incredible experience, and one I am so very grateful for.

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I was looking to belong
to mix with those who looked like me
to mix with those with shared the same DNA.

We’d laugh at the same jokes
we’d share the same parentage
well one at least!
We’d belong in the same tribe.

I found some who came so close
I reached out, and almost got to touch
but just as it was offered
it was snatched away.

Fear I’d got too close?
Fear I’d find out?
Fear of a family secret?
Fear of a past history?

Rejected again I kept searching.
Then the unexpected happened.

I found someone!
Someone unexpected, from my past
someone who knew my life –
intimately.
Knew my family secrets, didn’t judge.
Was happy to have me back!

All those years of fruitless searching
for the family who wasn’t to be
to finally find someone
who had been with me from the very beginning!

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Animals and birds, Families, history, Home, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Spirt and soul

36 Steps

13 steps from the street to the house,
13 from the back of the house to the garden,
10 from the garden to the lane at the back.

A treacherous journey between the grey walls of hand hewn rock,
and green moss.
Slipping and sliding over wet slabs of paving.
To the house,
to the garden,
to the lane at the back.

The outside lavvy, a cold and scary place
spiders ready to jump,
just as you settled in for your constitutional.
The cold wet chain hanging from the white porcelain tank.
Daren’t spend too long,
not even ½ pennies worth!

Ivy covered walls to the garden,
The first step too tall for little legs.
The 2nd 3rd and 4th much easier.
Then up to the top –
you felt you had already climbed the mountain!

The sloping garden, no grass
but full of plants and flowers.
A fir tree to climb
and a shed, with a coal hatch never used!
The shallow steps up to the lane.
And freedom.

Blackberries to pick
Floxgloves to wear on fingertips
Chickens to tease,
horses to feed,
paths to climb,
newts to catch,
tadpoles in jars.
And mountains to slide down on trays!

Those were the days of my youth!!!!

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divorce, Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, marriage, New life, real life, Spirt and soul, women

Life after divorce.

I married relatively young. I was 22 when I married. I was 27 when I divorced.

I had known my husband since I was 19, and during those 8 years of marriage I had settles into a life of friendship and solidarity with those around me. They were mostly his friends. I made my own circle of friends with those I worked with. But we tended to socialised with his friends and their wives.

We went to weddings, saw babies arrive and shared their lives of both joy and sadness.

Then just like that it all disappeared. On 16th October 1987 our marriage was dissolved – as the official paper work says – and on 10th December 1987 that was it. Final. The final piece of paper was issued, and my marriage, and my life as I knew it was ended.

My girl friends who were married to my then ex-husband’s friends all disappeared as if I had never been part of their lives.  It was before the days of technology, if you wanted to meet with someone you rang them from your home phone. When they were home from work. There were no mobiles, no social media.  No easy way of contacting someone. So when I left my relationship – I left the old way of life behind.

Of course you have the wedding photos and holiday snaps in an album to look at. And that was the difficult part, as it was painful reminder of how full my life has been before my divorce. Those women had stood by me through the joys of wedded life and the pain and sorrow of infertility. Then after the separation – the breaking of ties with my past life.

How could I ask my female friends to stand by me, while their husbands stood by my ex. It was an impossible ask, and so they fell away like autumn leaves from a tree. I would not ask for divided loyalties. And they would not have to know the horrors of my final months and the sadness I had to endure.

Then 20 years later, when lives were very different and I had certainly moved on, a face from the past appeared. One of those lovely old friends of time from long ago, someone who had helped me to learn to drive, who sat with me while I drove us around for practice.  She was a friend of my new neighbour, what was the chance of that? As the time has gone on, we have met as a group, and I often talk of my ‘old life’. There is no animosity, only sorrow that things turned out the way they did. And shock that I had gone through my last year as a married woman to her friend in such harrowing circumstances.

And luckily she is still friends with another old friend from the group. And by the help of social media I am in contact with this very dear friend. We attended each other’s wedding all those years ago as young women and helped one another through the tougher times. And the first thing she said to me was ‘I have never forgotten you’. It brought me to tears, for all those lost years and lost laughs and memories.  

I won’t lose these friends again. We can’t catch up on my lost years of friendships – but going forward that friendship has a different feeling.  

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Animals and birds, Families, Family, Food

The highs and lows of a family holiday.

Life is the same isn’t it? Eat sleep repeat.

Broken up by some drinking, and lots of laughter! And a few disasters. The same that happen at home – so the family and individuals know how to respond.

It’s everyone who steps up to the mark and helps when you staying together. Making sure there is food for everyone. And the home is clean and tidy. Supporting the two littlest family members, through the fun times, the tears and tantrums. And yesterday the panic of a asthmatic 5 year old. But she rallied round to play another day!

Today is another adventure! We aren’t thinking of tomorrow….

Spot the mum. Watching cautiously while her offspring wanders off independently.

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Families, Family, Inspiration, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever

It won’t be too bad will it?

In life we have so many decisions to make. When we are young, they are often insignificant, and won’t have an impact on our future, but as we get older we have to thinks carefully about these life changing choices.

Everything in life is a jigsaw isn’t it? Each part of our life fits together to make one big picture. Ourselves, relationships, work, money and health. Without one part our life isn’t complete.

How do you then make a decision to change one part of it, which will have a big impact on another? And how will you know if you are making the right decision?

My youngest son and his girlfriend both have long commutes to work. 3 hours each day for my son, not quite so long for his girlfriend. He works long hours, and often isn’t home before 8 o’clock, she works shifts often finishing work at 11pm. He now wants to move nearer to his work, and nearer to his girlfriend’s place of work too.  And although the rent will be marginally more, financially they will be better off taking into account travel expenses and other expenses of gyms etc.

The dilemma then is that they will be a distance away then from our loving family, and his friends. They are a doting uncle and aunty, and both have a great relationship with his brother and sister in law. They have movie nights, and princess parties. He is really close to us as parents and his grandfather, and often pops in at least once a week even if it’s for ½ hour, or to watch a football match with his dad. I’ve often gone to the gym with them for a swim and a sauna.

What they will gain on one hand they will lose on the other.

Everyone’s life changes, it very rarely stays the same. Perhaps now is the time to look at quality time and not quantity time?

It will be an opportunity for us to visit them every so often, they won’t be on the other end of the world, its 25 miles away, that is a 1 ½ hr in South London traffic. That’s not so bad?  His friends would love the opportunity to meet in central London for a drink I’m sure? They can stay on weekends for family get together? I know her mum would love the opportunity to stay in London and all the shops?

It won’t be so bad will it – if they decide to move?  

Who am I trying to kid…


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Domestic Goddess, Families, Family, history, Inspiration, Laughter, love, Motivation, New life, real life, Whatever, women

1st week of retirement

Well, I’ve got that first week over with! It was a little surreal I have to say. I have been planning this now for about a year, but because of COVID I put it on hold (together with anything real) until the planned date was the end of March 2021. So it’s been in the fore front of my mind for a long time.



How do you plan for these things? The first thing I did was to go on some retirement training provided by the organisation I worked for. I walked in foolishly thinking it would be all about the best day time TV programmes to watch, the best place to buy fluffy slippers and what is the acceptable time to open the wine and/or gin! Actually it was far more helpful than that. They spoke about investments and wills and protecting you assets for the future. Its sounds rather dull – and to be honest it was a little, but very informative. I did learn things I never knew before. It also gave you time frames for the agencies you needed to contact to start the wheels in motion for this to happen seamlessly.

My count down started in December – the day I wrote my notice, and handed it to my manager!

I have been working since I was about 16. This is the first time apart from a short period when I had my two children I haven’t had to go to work every day. Not that that was an opportunity to sit and do nothing!

My first Saturday job was in the good old fashioned shop F.W.Woolworth It’s a long disappeared shop from the high street. In 2008 the chain went into administration and all shops had closed by the following year. It was a well know shop famous for its pick ‘n’ mix sweets, and ability to sell just about everything. Vinyl records, books, garden plants and tools, ladies underwear. Tinned foods, paint, nuts and bolts, children’s books and toys. The shop I worked in was in a little Welsh high street in the Rhondda. At the time I worked there we were in the throes of some dangerous activities in the British Isles. They called it the ‘Troubles’ – fighting in Northern Ireland spilling out to England and to Wales. I add this to my story – as the first job each Saturday was checking under the counters and displays for bombs! Seems odd now when you say this out loud – but the organisation involved had been known for placing incendiary bombs in shops and places where crowds of people met. Luckily I never found anything like that – just a few Riley’s chocolate toffee rolls and jelly babies that had fallen off the plastic scoops the day before and rolled under the cabinets!

I next worked for a few weeks before Christmas in a fruit and veg wholesalers, making up orders, weighing fruit and veg, and packing them into large cardboard boxes ready for deliveries. Problematic? Yes  – I didn’t know the difference between a Satsuma and a Mandarin orange. Or the different cabbages and potatoes. I soon learned!

My next job was as a waitress for a catering company. They generally did weddings, and anniversary celebrations. A great place to work as a 17 year old. Lots of banter from the ‘older’ waitresses – who were probably only a few years older than me – but seemed so much wiser on how the world – and the minds of men – worked! An eye opener to be certain. I worked here most of the time I was in college, it gave me the money to be able to go out and party. It was hard work, trying not to tip plates of food down the dresses of brides! The wedding venue was above a row of shops – the kitchen was at the back of the shops- a logistical nightmare. Although there was a dumbwaiter lift that took the food from the ground floor to the venue, the empty plates were carried down by the waitresses!  One advantage was that at the end of the night – the company took everyone home in a mini bus, more opportunity to listen to more about these young women’s lives. And I saved money on bus fare!

I left home the day after my 19th birthday, and moved to London as a nanny. I’ve worked in a makeup factory on the production line,   I then moved into the offices sales. From there I worked for an insurance company in the sales office – before computers – manually working on their sales cards. What a job!

I tried working in a pub – but that only lasted 1 week! It was too complex for me to remember the drinks, the prices of each drink, and then using a manual till and giving change- all while smiling and looking like I knew what I was doing – no chance…  I’ve typed architectural reports, sent messages on telex machines for the tax office, worked for a local hospital in the Nurse education department typing and preparing exam papers, I’ve typed meeting minutes as the secretary to the chair of the board of governors at a local school, produced a newsletters for the local scouts and organised fund raising events. I’ve been a pot washer and a waitress in a local restaurant.   I’ve cleaned offices, and polished brass handrails. And I’ve sold eggs on my own market stall! Whew! Lots of those job gave me the money to put down a deposit on a flat with my boyfriend.

I’ve  worked in a stationery company as an import sales clerk, a PA to the operations director, and then a computer operator – all for the same company over a span of 5 years. I them moved to an insurance company where I was an assistant manager.  

Then I had my two babies. But I didn’t give up work, I was my husband’s book keeper, and I did regular deliveries across south London while carrying my babies in their little carry tots in the car.

When my youngest was 4 weeks old- I went back to work as an early morning cleaner in the local Beefeater restaurant, while my hubby looked after the two boys until I came home and he went to work.  I’ve worked in Waitrose as an early morning cleaner and in a private hospital as an evening cleaner and seamstress.  Things were tough and I did what I had to do to keep food on the table and to stop us from going under.

I’ve worked as a book keeper for a carpet shop, and managed one of their shop. I’ve worked in a centre for Adults with Learning Disabilities, a fruit & vegetable import company as a sales clerk, then an Office manager in a team that provided wheelchairs. Finally I’ve spent the last 17 years &  ended my career as a Lead Administrator for a mental health service! Although during those 17 years – I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet – I was offered two secondments. Firstly within the performance management team – looking at data and how to improve things. And as a project manager working with a team who were undergoing change.  I’ve also done my sons paper rounds when they were ill, and to give them a weekend off every so often.

Is it time for me to hang my gloves up? No chance – I’m not ready to stop yet. My brain is still active, and so are my fingers. I’m looking to start some training that will allow me to go into schools and read with young people. Reading – whatever it is – is the way to learning, and independence. And as an avid reader – it hasn’t done me any harm through my life has it?

For someone who didn’t do very well in her exams, didn’t go to university – I’ve realised that life hasn’t been about learning on paper- but learning through experience. Maths isn’t my strong point. But working in retail has helped, especially when the business is yours- you don’t want to give the wrong change it’s your profit! I had an amazing accountant who helped me understand VAT when it was 15% then 17.5%, and suddenly the maths fell into place, by using it for practical matters! Making what little money you have go round also sharpens your sense of budgeting, and with it – maths!

For me retirement is about doing things at my pace, and if I want to work on days it suits me. I’m lucky to be able to do this now, and not when I’m too old to enjoy the choices.

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Families, Family, Inspiration, Laughter, loss, love, real life, women

Mother

Tomorrow we say goodbye to my mother-in-law Maureen. She has been with me through the fun times, through silly times, the sad times of loss and the happy times of marriage and children.

I knew her longer than I knew my own mother. My father in law graciously gave me away at our wedding as I had already lost my dad and my lovely mum. We are a family unit and always will be. I wanted to write something for her funeral to be read out, but didn’t have the courage to do something, so I wrote something for my hubby – her adorable son – to write on the card for her flowers from us.

You will always be my mother
and I’ll miss you every day.
I’ll miss your disposition
and the thoughtful things you say.

Your gentle touch and shining eyes
will just be a glimpse away.
I won’t ever forget you mum -
here in my heart each day.

And of course I write this for my mother – who I miss every day.

<a href="http://<span>Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Francesca Ho</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a&gt;http://<span>Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@franho?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Francesca Ho</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/yellow-flower?utm_source=unsplash&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_content=creditCopyText”>Unsplash</a></span&gt;

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Families, Inspiration, love, real life, Soul Mate, Spirt and soul

My soul mate

There is nothing more amazing than your lifelong partner and soul mate telling you how special you are to them.

I’ve known this special guy for 41 years. This year we will have been married for 30 years. He hasn’t always been mine, and I haven’t always been his. But from the beginning we have had a special kind of relationship. He was better than your brother, better than your best friend. As a group we shared life and laughter, and when the time came he shared my tears and finally after a long time – my love.

I’d made a bad mistake and chosen unwisely, but he waited patiently in the wings never imagining that one day I’d be free to love someone else. And when that time came – he was there to sweep my up in his arms, and be that person.

We always had this feeling we had been here before, been part of each other’s life. It wasn’t something we could explain, but we both felt the same thing. Perhaps we will never find the answer to that one – until next time. Perhaps that is the true meaning of  a soul mate!

We have had good times and bad. But we have ridden them with a smile. And are armed and ready for what the rest of our lives together throw at us.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the lovers out there.

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Families, Family, Inspiration, mental health, Motivation, real life, Spirt and soul, women

It’s harder when there is no plaster

I have just had the most beautiful bouquet of flowers and a sweet ‘get well’ card from my work colleagues.

flowers

I can say with my hand on my heart that I’m never sick from work, I can tell you the number of occasions I’ve been off over the last 20 years! The odd bout of sickness, a back problem where I couldn’t get up of bed, and two occasions in the same month where I was bitten on the leg by a horse fly – I don’t think it was the same fly – it was very painful, and my poor leg swelled up to the size of an elephant!

So, when I say I have been signed off sick for 3 weeks – it will be as much a surprise to you as it was to me! ‘Work related stress’. Me? How can that be? I know how and why it happened, but I don’t understand how it has affected me this way. I’m normally the swan on the water graceful above, but paddling furiously beneath the water! I don’t get fazed by hard work, juggling lots of balls in the air all at one time. Managing multi layers of complexity in work, different personalities and their own health issues, angry aggressive and sad phone calls from customers. But of course there are times when it just catches up with you. And this is just one of those times!

At first I fought it furiously. I didn’t think I needed the time away to recharge – because really this is what it is. I thought I could manage all the additional pressures, then as the 1st day at home went on and it hit me why I was like this – I realised it would help.

I have resilience in cart loads, I grew up surrounded by parents and grand-parents who had mental health issues, and from a young age have seen the effects it has on families. I learned to manage the fall out, and how to avoid some of the issues that these health problems come with. I swore before I ever had children, they would never ever see me the way I saw my parents. My beloved mother suffering weeks and months of sadness, non-communicative and zombie like, never leaving her bed – drugged up and desolate. Crying for a ‘cure’. Then more months of shopping and more shopping. The roller coaster that is Bi-Polar. My 90 year old grandmother – repetitive counting and cleaning and hand washing, all the symptoms of OCD. Ambulances and police cars late at night, and the harrowing visits to the hospital – a place no 10 year old should ever have to visit even to see their lovely amazing father, a broken war hero with ‘shell shock’. Thankfully treatment for mental health has improved over the years, but the illness has never ‘gone away’. Many people have to suffer with OCD, Bi-Polar disorder, PTSD and psychiatric crisis. The places of treatment are far kinder than 50 years ago, the long walk between locked doors in psychiatric hospital are a thing of the past – for some. Medication and other treatments have improved. And thankfully there are now initiatives to help us to talk about our issues. My mother always said that if she had a broken arm – she would have had far more sympathy and understanding – from those who saw mental health as the unseen illness!

And for some who just need that duvet day or a long time to recharge batteries, and regroup their resilience’s – there are those who see the simple things that help get them back on that road to being themselves again.

I’m re-building my mental strength. Swimming, watching favourite TV programme. Walking in the fresh air, basically doing things for me and my loved ones.

And I’d like to think I will be back as strong as ever, to support those who need me going forward.

 

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COVID-19, Families, Family, Inspiration, love, real life, Uncategorized

For my grandchildren

I wrote this in the middle of the Covid Pandemic. I shouldn’t have been concerned. They came to visit us yesterday and we hugged and squealed with laughter. As the time goes on they will forget what it was like, and I will be glad.

Will you remember who I am
after all this Hullabaloo,
will you let me hold your hand
just like you used to do?

Can I whisper in your ear
tell you stories or two,
walk down the street together
Just like we used to do?

Will you want to come and stay
as you often used to do,
or will you insist I stand
6 feet away from you?

How long will it take to remember
the fun I had with you,
to go back how it was together
after all this Hullabaloo?

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