Letter 19: To the Friends Who are Family

19 February 2012

Dear Friends and honorary: (take a deep breath here …) sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, uncles and aunties, etc, etc and so on …

My blood ties are few … I have a mother and a brother living, and my dear departed father provided me with a whole crowd of first cousins and through them many more seconds and thirds.  Somehow though we were out of kilter with them in family history and we stay in rare Christmas card and family funeral touch …  No children for me and my bro, no living grand parents, aunts or uncles or anything else and so that is our little Peachey family …

So there is me – ‘friend’ to a few … sometimes called sister … I always wanted a sister – ideally a twin one; there are twin girl cousins out there in the family tree; yet not me.  Not quite an only child, but spaced from my big brother by nearly 8 years and we were together in the early years, then separated through adolescence and distance and caught up with each other later in our lives, when our dad died.

So friend becomes sister, becomes honorary Auntie to babies … this role given by friendship, affection and love extended to you, as a non blood relative.  You get to love the expansion of your friend’s lives.  The title is given as a gift and in return you give gifts back … as ‘cool aunt’ your brief is to spoil those darling children rotten when you have the ways and means at your disposal … 

So you grow up and grow older, watching the babies follow in your wake, establishing the patterns of their lives … watching the changing facial features, the family characteristics – now like their mum, now like dad … grand-dad … cousin … who knows who?  The inherent fascination and dissertation of seeing the lineage reflected and altered in unique genetic combination.

And as my world is filled with new generations, so too is my mother’s.  No blood grand-babies for her, so she becomes honorary Nanna to two.  So proud I am she does this, that she is allowed to shine and show her capability for love and generosity; and when I take her round to meet my friend’s babies, they all hang round her, for she has a child like quality which pulls them in.  Straight away, the purse is open, gifts are given … I remember HER mother too giving me sixpences, and so it goes on …

In my childhood, there were aunts and uncles and they came with affection and affinity, though rarely were there parental friends around to be granted the honorary given title I have gained in abundance.  So even now, after a quarter of a century of being an Aunt, I am so surprised at how I am accepted, welcomed and you can see – loved by those who had no choice but to have me there, to have me to share.  Now they see ME, not ‘just’ Auntie, for many of them have grown out of the title now and as I am Sandra to my life long friends, so now too to them …

And else where, I am known as ‘Auntie Sandra’ to ALL the family – adults and children alike – a huge loving reminder of the affectionate part I play in their lives. 

So the single girl creates a family, gets to hug the children and give them back … then time flows on and she becomes a strange new creature of honorary familyness – a Great Aunt indeed! 

So it was that I held one baby in my arms and looked down at her and then, so little time later, it is HER son in his turn, in my arms … I hold this new born personality for hours, looking down at him, held and sated with the special milky love that comes with cradling a precious new life.  So in that room there is Mother, Grand Mother and Auntie, all quietly together, loving this new little lad. 

Then how quickly quiet turns to toddler noise and we move on and on, inexorably, pacing through life with the new comers beside us: sometimes stopping together, sometimes in step and sometimes continents apart; and I am woven into the fabric of their living, of their memories and mostly they come closer and some shy away; and shying away is allowed, since this is not necessarily unconditional love, but it IS acceptance, just like I gladly accepted the gift of them into my rounded, bonded Auntified kind of life … 

And is it coincidence this love spills over into my vocation and how much I love my clients, those whose orbits I circle in; for as I love to be cherished, I love to cherish too and to me coaching is cherishing and loving and nurturing.  Sometimes this is soft supporting love and some times shaking love, but throughout time I would tell my babies the score if that felt required; and still they love me and still we move on and where ever it is we happen to go; we all move on in love.

   Big love and hugs,

         Auntie S xxx

PS: Peachey Letters has now been published as a book, to find out more and purchase your own copies – follow this  link…

Letter 9: To Sue

9 February 2012

Dear Suzy Blue

I’m wondering how to start this letter, as we’ve known each other such a long time, haven’t we – since we were five in fact.  And I’m blessed with two best friends I’ve known since then, how fortunate am I?  So that’s a lot of history, yes many many photos, stories, smiles and sobs.  All part of love and of life.

So Suzy Blue, the story of me and you started at infant school.  There were shared lessons, scandals and whispers.  You were always the model student, with good grades and neat hand writing.  I would get told off for talking in class, sometimes praised for my brilliance, sometimes chided for my lazy ways.  At the end of the school day we would walk home, down the streets of our childhood, where we would reach your house first, say good bye and then I would troop the last few streets alone back to my home and hearth.

We were two in a group of four girls, who together shared endless childish summers, making mud pies in summer gardens; then hopping on the bus to dance classes or swimming, all mixed in with endless chatter, laughing and boasting.  The other two girls are lost through time, occasionally glimpsed, part of the fabric of our lives.

My quiet weekends were boldened and brightened by the trips out to the countryside, the pair of us in the back of your dad’s car.  On the best trips of all, there was a corned beef sandwich wrapped in wax paper, or the ultimate treat … a glass of lemonade in a pub garden.

The next phase in our lives meant we went to the same senior school, but amongst the 1500 girls there, we found ourselves at different ends of the campus, catching glimpses of each other and now just dipping in and out of each other’s lives.  We had newer friends and walked different paths.

The clock turns again and we found ourselves together in the comfy chairs of the Sixth Form common room.  We rediscovered our friendship and created our kinship.  So then we embarked on Barcardi with Coke, school discos and boys …

The adult world beckoned and changed the ties, my Suzy Blue.   You went out into the world of work, whilst I finished my A Levels.  Then off I went to University and you became a nurse.  Still we kept in touch and that far off time, was probably the last time I wrote you a letter.  Hundreds of miles away at my northern University home, letters were such a life-line and each one was devoured and re-read and savoured, as they chronicled our ascent into adulthood.

After gaining a certificate, cap and gown, I returned home and we picked up where we left off, becoming closer still; pretty much living in each other’s pockets and still having alternative lives with family, friends and men.  I practically lived at the hospital digs in your tiny bedsitter room.  One of my favourite memories of then, is you and me walking home from the night club at 2 in the morning – an endless 3 miles home, taxi not an option … in our bare feet, our high heels dangling from our hands … ah – burning feet, happy days!

And as they loaded us into a car, with our holiday suitcases, our mothers said how they could not imagine the other one not being there … like sisters they said …

Then men happened … then a baby – your first baby, my god daughter Elizabeth; and so the edges of our relationship shimmied and altered.  Then work, more babies, the process of growing up and going through life.

You now a married women with 3 children, nourishing and nurturing the next generation.  An amazing mother, putting in so much love, so much effort and so much time.  The boundaries of our relationship altered again and still we became closer.  I became part of the family.  Me now cool ‘Auntie’ to Elizabeth, Jenny and James.  There were holidays in caravans, soothing baby tears, watching the children grow and along the way a myriad of shared sorrows and joys.  Part and not part of your family, part of the in-crowd of grand parents, in-laws, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews …

And when my father died, you were there and when your father died much later, I was there and that is how it was.

And time ebbs and it flows and then it took you away from me to live in Africa.  So I grieved for a while and when we phoned each other, we would nearly always be in tears, letting the other know they were missed and loved.  You came back to me though, you always do.

And then a shock – you became a grand mother!  Yes, that makes me a Great Aunt! Look: you know your friends will bring children into your life, but now time and love take on a whole other amazing dimension …

Well Suzy Blue, that is me and that is you.  And there are times when you are gone from me again and yet I don’t grieve now, because after so many years, we are wiser and warmer.  And we know that where ever we are, we love each other, through sharing and friendship and time; and every now and again, we remind each other of that gorgeous big little fact – don’t we?

      Lots of Love n Stuff,

                 Sandra xxx

[PS: Dear Reader, if you liked this letter, you can buy all my letters in book form by following this link…]

You & Me on your Wedding Day …