Family, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Uncategorized

What is the meaning of family?

I wonder if I asked you what you thought the meaning of ‘family’ was, what you would say. I’m asking because I’m away on a short break currently with my family. My elderly parents in law, my youngest son and his girlfriend, my eldest son and his girlfriend and their baby daughter. I hasten to add that we are not all away together at the same time, some have been and now gone, some are saying for a little longer, and some are just staying one night. Never the less I’m still calling it a family holiday, because it is.

And what a lovely family it is. I think we all bring something to the relationship. The eldest members of the family bring unending love, family history and stories. They also bring cake, and chocolate! The young brothers each bring something. The youngest a sense of fun and energy. When you are with him you feel swept along on the sense of urgency and laughter he brings to the family, his girlfriend often has to calm him down, and sort of bring him back to reality! None the less she is full of fun and together they remind us not to get too old, and stuck in our ways.

My eldest son has recently become a dad, and he has grown up considerably over the past year or so. That doesn’t mean to say he has given up all his youthful characteristics. Not by a long way. We often share a silly video of cats doing stupid things, falling off tables, ending up in boxes and hiding in the most stupid place. He has a wicked sense of humour, and still appreciates all the quirky things that I love him for. His girlfriend is a very sensible young lady, a very hard worker, has great vision for their future, is strong willed, and passionate about her families wellbeing.

Now that’s funny, because her passion for her young family is mirrored in my passion for my family, for those who I am blood related to, and equally to those who have been brought in by other members of the family, my parents in law and my sons girlfriends. I love them all in different ways.

Being in the middle of the family, I think that hubby and I hold it all together. We are a stable part of the family, and through our mutual respect, love and friendship for one another show everyone how much we value each other, and what we feel about them. Don’t get me wrong it hasn’t all been plain sailing, but together as a family unit – we have weathered the storms.

In all this, I haven’t said about the two most important members of the family. I’ve mentioned my hubby, but haven’t said very much. Of course I could say something about his long standing suffering about being my wife, or his endless supply of humour – not always when it’s needed. The sacrifices he has made during our time together, or the joy and laughter he has brought us. But of course these are the characteristic that are running through the family, from father to son, and from son to son. And what I love in one, I see in others, and love them for that too.

And another piece of the family jigsaw – my granddaughter. And although she is not a year old, she too has the characteristics of the rest of the family. Someone who knows her own mind just like her mum, that great sense of humour like her dad and her gramps and of course her unending energy like her uncle. If she has a little bit of each one of us – she will go on to do great things.

I think you may have gathered that I feel family is vital, as a network of support and loving. As a place of safety and security in an ever complex world. We laugh at the concept of the bank of mum and dad, but we wouldn’t have survived the early years as young parents without the support of my husband’s mum and dad, and hope to be in the same position to help our younger family members if they need it. And I have no doubt they will. Their support was invaluable when I wanted to go back to work as a young mum. Actually I didn’t have a choice, I had to go back – we couldn’t afford for me to stay at home! They looked after our sons, took them back and fore to school while I worked. And for that I’m very grateful. I know their lives were enriched by the experience. I hope I can repay my sons in the same way.

Family life isn’t always such a rosy picture. I know from the own experiences of my direct family. But we need to learn from past experiences, past mistakes, and try and avoid them in the future.

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Family, genealogy, history, Inspiration, loss, real life, Uncategorized, women, Writing

My history and I

Our holiday this year has been arranged around two old postcards that were written by my grandmother Elizabeth Williams in 1954 to my mother. She was born in 1887, in a small village in the middle of Carmarthen called Trefeurig. It was a rural area, not many houses, lots of miners lived and worked in the area. Her father Richard Williams who was born in 1860 was one of those miners, he died at a relatively young age of 30 in 1890. At the time her mother had a young baby of 9 months (called Richard), two young sons of 4years old (Luther)  and a 2 year old (Thomas) and her daughter Elizabeth  – my grandmother.

Richard’s parents were Thomas and Margaret Williams. Thomas was born in about 1813. He married Margaret Williams, who was about 3 years younger than he was, and in total had 5 children. 4 sons, and 1 daughter. This is where our history becomes very confusing. The children were called Elizabeth (19), John (16) Thomas (8) Methusalem (8) and finally Richard the youngest at 1 year old – my great grandfather- Elizabeth’s father. Names were handed down in families hence the same names appearing in two generations of family.

Generally around that time children came along on a very regular basis due to the lack of birth control, normally one a year. So it is probably likely there were some still births in this and many other families, who have not be registered on the census records of 1861 that these details have come from.

The post cards I have kept for many years were written to my mum and dad in 1954. They are of two places that my grandmother had visited on her trip to west wales. It doesn’t say where she was staying, but as this place is so very near to the place her family originated from, it was highly likely that she was staying with some family.

She tells her daughter and her son-in law (my mam and dad) about the places she has visited.

‘having a lovely time out each afternoon, pity dad bach isn’t with me. I have all the places on a paper. went to Aberystwyth yesterday 10in the morning. Called at ^^^^^^ bungalow 9 of them there, very nice. a scorching afternoon after the rain, and returned Newquay we intend going to Tenby tomorrow. St Dogmails is a lovely place you get town and country here. Sat will soon be  here now hope you are both feeling good.Let us know what time to expect you home on sat. hope you have good digs I will not write again now. Kindest regards from Elfyn and Mena. fondest love mam xx and in the margin .our church marked with a spot (dogmael) ‘

I have had these postcards in my possession since my grandmother died in 1978 when she was about 92. I’ve never taken that much notice of what they were, they were just two sepia  postcards, that she had written. 4 years ago I started researching my family tree, and they became a big part of the jigsaw. She said that she was with Elfyn (her son) and his wife Mena. I had found that they lived near to his place. And in fact Elfyn had died the year I was born in 1960, in this area. On the card she makes reference to dad bach, her husband, or in those days the husband was known as dad. He had died just before this card was written.

So why am I telling you all this? Well – we decided that our holiday would be a great opportunity to visit this village where the post cards were from. We researched a local hotel, booked the break, and this story is built around the postcards.

The Cliff Hotel overlooks Poppit Sands in Cardigan. The Teify Estuary leads out to the Irish sea, Poppit Sands is on one side, and the Cliff Hotel is on the other side There is a coast guard station there, a café that does the most amazing Bara Bryth. a selection of Holiday homes, and a YHA (Youth Hostel Association) place to stay. We drove round the estuary, and parked the car in the little car park. We had a coffee in the café, and then walked onto the beach. The wide expanse of golden sand, peppered with little flecks of black and tiny pebbles and discarded cockle shells. Although it was a damp day, it certainly didn’t deter the dog walkers, dogs don’t mind the rain or the wet as they jumped in and out of the waves.

My heart soared, as I thought that this was a beach that my grandmother  (or nain as she was known to her grand children) had walked on. Of course I’d been to many places with her as I grew up with her  and she lived with us until she passed away when I was 18. I could imagine her with her son, and daughter in law travelling around in a little car, looking at the same view I was looking at. Maybe sitting in the same sea side café, and if I know my nain, eating the same cake I was eating, she had  a sweet tooth! Probably where I get it from. Of course I’d been to many places with her, she had lived with our family from when I was 8 so I grew up with her until she passed away when I was 18.

I’d like to think that she went there to gain some comfort from family, having recently been widowed. And although back in the mining communities of the early part of the last century, you appreciate that death was a part of their lives – mining accidents, and child mortality being a more regular occurrence than today – I don’t think they were so hardened to it that they were void of sadness and distress.

We then went to St Dogmaels. A quaint village perched on the mountain side. Winding streets with little houses brightly coloured cling to the mountain, and tumbled down the hill. The 60 year old picture on the post card looked nothing like the village of today, and it was difficult to find out anything that appeared on the card, so we went to the ruins of the Abbey with a little heritage centre that has a lovely café inside.

I kept this post card in my hand trying to find any reference to anything we had seen. Then when I looked for the umpteenth time, it was like a light bulb moment. There on the post card in the middle were the ruins. I had never seen them like this before – I thought they were houses. It all fell into place, and although the village on the card didn’t look like the village in 2016, the trees were more overgrown, and there of course were newer properties in the sight line I could see the village of 1955.

What an amazing day, I look some pictures of the houses in the village, as a reminder of our trip. We walked through the car park to the banks of the estuary, we saw a heron trying to catch some lunch for himself, a young man getting ready for the St Dogmaels market which is held on a Tuesday, where sellers and buyers travel from near and far.

I will go back, and visit this magical and historical place again.

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Family, Inspiration, Laughter, real life, Uncategorized, Whatever, Writing

Words and pictures

1473161330596-1376577931We all release our emotions in very different ways. I write to get things out of my head onto paper. It’s said to be cathartic and that’s so right.

When I was younger I wrote in a diary every day. In fact I had a 5 year diary, not very much room for reams of pouring out my emotions. But just enough space to say what I had eaten for my dinner, how I felt, and what I did either in school, or with my friends. On the odd occasion when life was less mundane that that, I would write on some odd scrap of paper I found, and fold it neatly and tuck it in the page. The diary is full of these little nuggets of life. A little bit of history, a simplistic lifestyle. I did this religiously for two years then life took over seriously, I went to college and then moved away. I didn’t have time for the diary, and it was locked up with a hair grip and tucked away in a drawer, and each time I moved, it came with me, my little book of memories.

Although I didn’t write down the day to day events the memories from that time have been firmly engrained in my mind. Not the everyday ‘lunch and how I was feeling’ memory, but the bigger things. Working in a factory, and how mind boggling boring it was!  Working in a restaurant, and making cocktails, now that was fun! My first holiday abroad, and getting very drunk on my favourite tipple. The first time I met some very good friends, who dip in and out of my life after 35 years. Getting married. Getting divorced. Meeting my now and forever husband, and our memories from then on.

Probably like a lot of people, we sit and reminisce about the past, the good time and the bad. We have some wonderful memories together, times when we have laughed, and times when we have embarrassed each other. When times have been sadder than sad, and the joys of parenthood, and being grandparents.

Today my mind and my computer are my diary. Memories written down, and locked away firmly. And my phone, a thousand pictures, and a thousand and more memories. But that is a different story.

 

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Family, loss, Uncategorized

The Butterfly effect

Welcome to the twilight zone. That time when the birds are just waking up, someone has just got up to go to the toilet, and the thoughts of the day penetrate your half dazed brain. The time when that little baby not ½ mile away has just realised its feed time, and is crying for her mum to come and give her some well-deserved sustenance.

I’m not normally awake at this time of the night – sorry morning, but it’s not surprising taking into consideration all that has happened over the last 24 hours. The story about our little humble family has gone viral. Not only has it been taken up by an American organisation who have published it on one of their web sites, but the main news channel BBC News has got hold of it, and has run the story . The 4th most read article today on line! An amazing fund raising idea that came out of a story of heartbreak and loss, has been taken up and is now being used as something to create awareness. Check out the article following this link –

The Butterfly Effect

All sorts of organisations, and support networks have taken up the batten. So many families, mums dads, grandparents don’t know the words to say not just to others they come in contact with – but often their own family and friends, when they suffer such a loss. From a still birth, or loss of one baby in a multiple birth. It’s hard to hold on to the fact that often you want to celebrate new life while having to grieve, and say goodbye. Often without warning.

As a parent you go through the process with the support of medical professionals at every step of the way. You’re prepared as much as you can be, with medical explanations, and practical support. But those who stand on the periphery, the grandparents and close family are not always party to this knowledge and help. We are often left floundering on how to say things, how to offer support and sympathy, but at the same feeling inside the quiet excitement at the upcoming event, sad as you know it will be.

And then of course the idea came when a well-meaning new parent who without knowing the situation, made some polite conversation in the neo natal unit that brought tears and sadness to this mum who has suffered a great loss. That must have been the moment that broke her heart, and made the situation so much more real. Of course the neo natal unit is great at making sure as a visitor you aren’t party to confidential information spoken by health professionals about their young charges, they ask you to put headphones on when you visit. But they aren’t so good at sharing some other information. That is where this practical idea was ‘born’. A simple sticker on the cot to tell everyone that this is the surviving baby of multiple births. No one has to explain anything – everyone can see straight away. And even though it’s not there to dampen your enthusiasm at your new baby – it makes you aware that some sensitivity is needed.

It’s not going to stop there, hopefully the fundraising will go on to make the lives of those in just this situation a little more bearable. More private rooms, a place to retire to and not have to see the joy of others through your sadness. And support and counselling. Something to help in your darkest hours.

Brilliant ideas are born from often difficult situations. This is one of those. It’s not just about the simple sticker, but the awareness that this subject has brought to families.

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Family, Inspiration, real life, Uncategorized

whats in a name?

Does  the name we are given stay with us for life? Not always! I’m asking because I didn’t realise how important a name is. When you become a grandparent, you have to have a different name, a name that is easy for your grand children to say, a name filled with love and laughter. A name that will reflect you, your personality and something that will roll off the tongue, and you will be remembered for this. My father in law is called Bampa. a lovely welsh name for grandfather. my children’s friends call him Bampa, their parents call him Bampa- and that is who he is!

So my husband is going to be called Gramps and after much deliberation I’m going to be called Nana. I didn’t want to be granny (I’m too young for that) nanny (that’s my mother in laws name) grandma…no.

That is until the little pickle that is my granddaughter finds her voice, and decides I’m going to be something else!

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Family, loss, real life, Uncategorized

A bitter sweet moment

The time when something good happens, only to have it whipped away and your heart is broken. When time stands still and the rollercoaster of your emotions take your breath away. When sadness is all you feel but you know you have to carry on for the life in front of you. The life so fragile you are afraid to pour on the love you feel in case it too is taken away.

This bitter sweet life is feisty and powerful. She will not give in, and kicks and cries at each beep and movement. She is loved over, cooed over, touched and whispered to.

Her long and elegant fingers stretching out for human touch, tiny hands grasp around your finger to tell you to be strong for her, for she is a fighter and each day will remember the time she shared the space with someone who couldn’t stay.

A little life who left too soon. Was here and then gone in the blink of an eye. But when she left took a part of your heart. You have the memory, the smell of the soft porcelain skin on her blanket and the pictures on your phone.

And the knowledge she will be loved as much as the feisty fighter who will carry the love forward.

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Inspiration, real life, Whatever, Writing

When you get your mojo back

I’ve been away. Not literally away, but figuratively speaking. I haven’t posted anything for a good few months. I’m sure some of you know just what that is like, some times you need the headspace to be able to find the words to write. Sometimes you just don’t have the inspiration.  I just haven’t been in the right place to put pen to paper…or get typing.

But now I feel ready again. Lots of things have happened to me – and my family while I’ve been away, I wont bore you with them. I’ll start afresh, and see where my imagination and of course real life  takes me.

 

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