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Grandma’s House is at The Seaside

Last weekend , I drove past my childhood home.  My three year-old grandson, Charlie sat next to me and we had a discussion about where people live. He understood that people live in different places, but this conversation got me thinking all day long:

Me: ‘Where do you live, Charlie?’

Charlie: ‘At home.’

Me: ‘Where is your house?’

Charlie: ‘With Mummy and Daddy and Barney.’ (Barney is their soppy, old, black Labrador)

Me: ‘Where does Grandma live?’ (I am Granny – his other grandmother is Grandma)

Charlie: ‘Grandma’s house is at the seaside in “Mablefort” (Mablethorpe).

Me: ‘Where do Granny and Grandad live?’

Charlie: ‘In “Barseagrave” (Barton Seagrave).

From this conversation it is clear to me that, in Charlie’s view, his home is not a place made of bricks and mortar. It is wherever his mummy, daddy and Barney are.  He does know that he lives near us in “Barseagrave” because he has been learning his address.

The old saying Home is Where the Heart Is, might be a cliche but from Charlie’s view of the world he lives at home and his heart is with his mummy and daddy. Places are just bricks and mortar.

Mind you, I bet his ‘seaside grandma’s house’ is a far more exciting place to be than ours!

Family

Family Quote CLose CallMany years ago, as a newlywed, I jokingly said to my mum that I bet she was glad she could stop worrying about me now I was married and had left home. Mum just gave a wry, cynical smile and said I didn’t know the half of it.

I didn’t, but I do now.

Just lately I have had many reasons to feel grateful for my family and count my blessings. It has seemed as if lurking around every corner of the town is a friend or acquaintance who is estranged from someone they love. Sons not talking to their fathers, daughters estranged from their mothers, acrimonious splits with husbands or partners, siblings who hate each other – I could go on, but the subject is so depressing, I won’t.

A couple of weeks ago I had a mildly upsetting experience which I won’t go into here. In a way, it made me smile though, because this person has got the wrong end of the stick completely. She referred to my ‘lovely non-judgemental mum’ which was partly true because mum believed that if you couldn’t say something nice about people you shouldn’t say it at all. Mum rolled out this wise mantra at least weekly for my entire life, often accompanied by a rolling of eyes and witty, casual remark that would make you almost roll on the floor, laughing!  It was the things mum didn’t say that shouted the loudest. After all, we all know that mums and daughters don’t say lots of things to each other but the ribbons of silent understanding are strong, and bound up tightly in the invisible cord that joins us forever with our mothers.

I have a close friend who is never going to get closure on a dreadful situation she suffered in the past. I have commiserated, tried to say some words of comfort and my heart goes out to her. Her mother is dead and my friend is left behind, bereft and trying hopelessly to make sense of happy childhood memories -v-the anguish of a family rift later in her life. None of it was her fault, I should add, but the pain she is left with is terrible and threatens her enjoyment of what I see as a happy future in front of her, but all she can do is agonise over the past and ask why, why, why.

I am lucky. My immediate family is strong. My three children love each other. My husband and I have been married for thirty-eight years this year. Our little family of five has now grown to eleven and I am so proud of them all. I always wanted more children and now I feel as if I have six. We have tea together every Sunday night – yes, it’s hard work, but we all agree what we have is precious and much more valuable than material possessions, swanky holidays abroad or perfect homes.

This week one of us has suffered a devastating blow, health-wise. With hardly a single word being spoken, I can feel the love radiating from my little family, surrounding and giving the injured member the strength to recover. There is an old saying ‘cut one and we all bleed’. At the moment we are all bleeding, but the blood is not red.  It is tasteless, colourless and without physical substance but its value cannot be calculated because there is no currency with which it can be evaluated. It is like we are all giving the injured member of our family a transfusion to aid their recovery.

It would be easy to say that, this week, our family has been very unlucky. I’m not going to say that, though. We have been lucky because now each and every one of us knows that life is precious and shouldn’t be wasted with petty arguments, falling-out and bad words.

As St Augustine said:

Forgiveness is the remission of sins. For it is by this that what has been lost, and was found, is saved from being lost again.

So, if you are estranged from someone you love, a son, a daughter or a parent – remember St Augustine’s words and forgive them, find what has been lost and save it from being lost again. If you don’t, one day it will be too late.

Friday, 28th September

28th September

Keyword for the day: Technology

I have my new IPhone 5 at long last.  I synced it, transferred all my contacts, registered my new nano sim card and waited … and waited ….All day it said: ‘No service’ on both my old and new phones. To be fair, Orange did say it would take between one and 24 hours for the new sim card to be switched on.  I was so impatient – I checked my new phone every few minutes all day to see if it had fired up. It finally sparked into life at six o’clock this evening.

I am a bit of a junkie for new technology.  I could have upgraded my IPhone 3GS six months ago, but wanted to wait until the new model came out. Holding the sleek and ultra-light new gadget in the palm of my hand, I thought back to my first mobile phone – I think I got it in 1995. It was an analogue model and all it did was make phone calls and send text messages. The screen was green and the text was black. I can’t remember the model, but I know not many other people in my circle of friends and acquaintances had one.

Way back in 1972, Rob had a conversation with my grandad, who was an engineer.  He held up a box of Swan matches and said to Grandad, ‘one day people will be able to speak to each other all over the world on a phone only this big.’  To which my grandad replied, ‘not in my lifetime, lad, and probably not in yours, either.’

Anyway, this is the extent of gadgets available to a technology junkie just 40 years ago:

  • A hand held Texas Instrument calculator. These cost an absolute fortune, as I recall.
  • An eight-track car stereo player. We did have one of these and a David Bowie cassette. Ziggy Stardust rocked in our little red Morris 1100 car, which was always breaking down.
  • A digital watch (you were really cool if you had one of these, which I did – a man’s black one)
  • A Polaroid Camera. We didn’t have one of these, but my parents in-law did. I hated it. I didn’t like having my photograph taken in those days, due to a distinct lack of hair, which is another story altogether!
  • A Fidelity Transistor Radio in a wooden case (this is exactly the model Rob bought me. We both had one.)
  • A reel to reel tape recorder. We have still got this up in the roof. We get it out periodically and laugh our heads of at at 17 year-old Rob singing ‘Hold your Head Up’ in a very drunken state.
  • A record player – or better still, a music centre – in your living room. We didn’t have a music centre until 1975. Mum and dad had a radiogram in the front room which played records.
  • A black and white portable TV in your bedroom.

I wonder what my grandad would have made of the IPhone 5?  What extraordinary leaps have been made in technology since 1972.

Tuesday, 25th September

Tuesday, 25th September

Keyword for the day: Seven

When I got to the madhouse (my daughter’s) this morning, I was met by a shouting son-in-law and a tearful grandson.  Despite it having taken him twenty minutes to put his socks on yesterday morning, he had apparently surpassed himself this morning and hadn’t put them on at all. Now that wouldn’t have mattered, had he (a) eaten his breakfast (b) cleaned his teeth and (c) found his book bag, coat and shoes – but he hadn’t.

‘It’s not fair,’ he sobbed, looking at me for sympathy. ‘Sophie gets everything done for her.’

‘Sophie’s only three years old,’ retaliated his dad. ‘For goodness sake, Tyler, you are seven years old. Surely you can remember to put your own socks on!’

On the way to school, we had a little chat and I told him that I could remember being seven and in trouble all the time.

‘But I do everything wrong, miss things out and forget things,’ he sniffed. ‘I’m always getting told off for it. I just can’t stop myself thinking about different things and then I forget what I’m doing.’

Hmm … not really much difference between Tyler and his granny then!