Is it Mother’s Day, Mothering Sunday or Child’s Day today?

HAPPY CHILD’S DAY

I’m reading all the Mothering Sunday posts and reflecting:
I don’t have a mum any more.
And I’m not a mother myself.
So, regardless of why, that’s just how it is today…

For every mother and every child there’s a single story.
And it’s different for each and everyone of us.
Made out of genetics, chance and a million interactions.
Starting in the womb, then pushing out and pushing a way through life.

And I’ve heard it said that we choose our parents.
That’s both coldly crazy and softly sane in different measures.
I know I have chosen what I take from and learn from mine.
That’s some bitterness turned in to much sweet reason.

I’ve chosen the love and the laughter.
The generosity, the surprise gifts and all the toast.
The recognition of a tough job with the tough and easy love.
And today, what ever our story is, to celebrate my mother.

And there are no birth babies for me, but I’ve created so much.
I’ve played with god children and cooed over little ones.
I’ve hugged, hid, tickled, spoilt and giggled many times over.
I’ve witnessed the joy of new generations and played my part in their lives.

So Happy Mother’s day, what ever your denomination.
Whether in flesh or memory – seen or invisibly felt.
Regardless of our parenthood, there wouldn’t be a mother without – us.
So celebrate and be a cause for celebration:

And most of all – have a Happy Child’s Day – what ever that means – for you.

Mum Hol 2
My mother and this child

~ Sandra Peachey – Child and Creator

PS: It’s Mothering Sunday too – not instead of… 😉

PPS: I currently have a Child’s Day special offer… You can buy the paperback of my ‘Love Letters to Life’ on Amazon for £11.99 or as a Valentine’s treat you can get an author signed copy on my website – for just £7.99 including P&P…

Featured in Psychologies Magazine and The Lady, it was also honoured as a Finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards.  

Making a perfect Mother’s Day (or any other day) gift, the book takes the best posts from this blog, adds new content and wraps it all together in a satisfying structure – that will make you feel the love, entertain and enlighten you.

It’s an easy yet satisfying read, which sees love in everything we do in life – from the big themes to the tiny, trivial minutiae of it too.

If you want to get in touch, you can contact me by clicking here…

I’m also variously known as:
* The Director of LifeWork Consultancy & Coaching;
* The Author of Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life and Co-Author of The F-Factor.
* A 2015 International Book Awards Finalist, in the Women’s Issues Category;
* The Winner of a Women Inspiring Women Award in 2013;
* As being shortlisted for Women’s Coach in the APCTC Awards 2014, also nominated in 2012 & 2013; and
* Being nominated for a Networking Mummies National Recognition Award in 2015.

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Letter to Forgiveness

Dear Forgiveness

What is there to forgive in my life?  All or nothing..?

Then this childhood memory suddenly swoops into my brain:
They didn’t know me, they’d never seen me before, but this was my day: me, a woman child of 12 or so lolling around on the swings in a strange play ground with a plaited friend.  Suddenly we were surrounded and my ‘friend’ ran off as three bigger girls gathered on me and punched, pulled, kicked and bit.  Bleeding and limping, I howled home to my mother, who held me close in horror and then sat me down and brushed out handfuls of the long blonde hair that they had yanked out of my head: my crown was completely bald and bleeding, then stinging with TCP – and to this day, the hair there has never grown back quite right – for now it is short and crooked, split and colourless, a constant reminder that hairdressers find a particularly shocking phenomenon to contemplate…

So I’ve been attacked physically, yes and verbally too; I’ve been bullied, slapped, put in mortal danger, rejected, misunderstand, deserted, overlooked, ignored, made redundant and hurt by people I loved and who I thought loved me.  I have been shocked by mild and wild acts of violence, selfishness and inconsideration that have devastated and rocked me to the very core of my being – shaking my belief in myself, in those entrusted to be with me, and in my very life.

When thinking about this theme of forgiveness, the playground bullies of my childhood came out to taunt and attack me again.  Why now? Why this instance?  I have recently reached an impasse in my life where it seems I have been challenged on so many real or imagined fronts; and the thought of forgiveness is a sudden and blatant consideration.  So this long lost and battered day in my life is rearing its’ head again and will serve to represent many wrong doings in a long and Peachey life; and I will now take their presentation as a cue to consider, resolve, heal and move on…

For an often sensitive, sometimes selfless and sometimes selfish person, living in a similar world – when people close to me – cross me, it afflicts me so very much.  This is magnified when MY feelings simply do not come into the equation of the maligned action – the perpetrator stating quintessentially that: I am not important, not cared for, or not worth the simple damned consideration.

So is that is my realm of forgiveness – created by others or dreamt up by me – a gift to be parted with or else a weapon of missed destruction…

For I remember using forgiveness with a point scoring, self satisfied, evil intent one day with my mother – who, as she so often did, was finding copious reasons to be angry with my teen self.  She was cursing and shouting and blaming, and then the tactic hit me, like a lightening bolt through my shoulders: I stood up straight, smiled, looked her in the eye and said ‘I forgive you for this and all the terrible things you have ever done to me.’  Then she flew at me like a furious animal and I was slapped and screamed at, whilst I kept yelling ‘I forgive you, I forgive you!’ through smug hot tears, and the point scored, prolonged the seething, shouting bout of unforgiving anger…

I never used that particular tactic again and have always realised after the event, that such strategies never serve me well…

So was my mother a victim of me?  Was I a victim – all those perpetrated times when I was sinned against?  Are victims made by others or are they self made creations – reacting to a chain of circumstances with a label of wrong doing, hurt and crime?

In my world, as a habituated human and my mother’s daughter – I can see blame every where – I can wear that crimson cloak of victimhood and decide it has defined me.  Then, as woman, as a coach, as some one who values her freedom of will – I can see that I can create me and my reality; and I can peel off the label or never let it stick in the first place…  And I do both: I dwell in darkness, duelling with demons, and then again, I skip in the sunshine, as time, tide, roller coaster and mentality decree…

Ultimately I find that forgiveness is a choice, a willingness, or a lack thereof… rather than a default setting sprang into via wounded reprisal – a bat to hit back what I feel someone else has beaten me with.

Forgiveness too is power – which can be smugly misused – but that is easily sensed – for along with words, forgiveness is an energy, and when it is authentically given, we just know – through tone, or eyes or six sense, or what ever our own flavour of antennae detects…

Forgiveness is power, though many would argue that it is a turning the other cheek kind of weakness.  And somehow, not to forgive, means that the perpetrator is permanently punished.  The thing is, in reality, that it is the un-forgiver that is punished – weighed down, in their own head and heart, with a burden they will carry, like a gargoyle on their back.  Such self punishment is ignored or a sacrifice to be chosen, (either consciously or unconsciously) in preference to condoning an ‘unpardonable’ act – when often it was considered to be a justified or non descript action on the part of the so called perpetrator.

And there are the minor indiscretions of life and there are atrocities beyond imagining, yet such unforgiven burdens are heavy mental weights to carry around.  They dawdle and drag you down, slowing the spirit and seeking to bloat themselves up with collected further (perceived) wrong doings – sucking them in, causing more and more to fly in and cling to one another – like iron shavings stuck to a mouldy magnet.

Yet the power comes when forgiveness is a choice and given of free will – although it is not always willingly presented.  It can come uncomfortably, or be as light and easy as a feather floating off from your forgiving hand – choosing to let it fly out of sight.

And most of all forgiveness is a gift – sometimes to the receiver, but more critically, to the giver.  Forgiveness is freedom, it is letting go of perceived or actual actions that clank and bang against our sense of self, getting in our way, filling us with dark ink; an ink that swills around our suffering souls, ready to squirt, fling or fire as ammunition out into the world, or to ripen and rot within.

So as these letters go… First of all I consider… I see what un-forgiveness does to me and brings to me.  I choose to see it as something I do not want in the life and times of me. Then I decide I want to give forgiveness and with it the cool, delicious relief and lightness that it brings to my spirit.  I name it and then I present it – this time as an act of writing.  I can breath this to its’ receiver or I can give it quietly, in my heart – simply and silently as my own cathartic ceremony.  Then I celebrate what I have done – a healing, amazing, liberating act of wonderful will.

And I know that I should be, am, will and may be forgiven – often and never too…

By giving the gift of forgiveness, I can now let the object of it go, or accept it or do what ever needs to be done to move on.  Not necessarily to forget or condone it, but to see it through different lenses, and to note how it has shaped me, in positive ways, how it makes me what I am: a vision stepping, running and then dancing in the light, to my own tune, the beating of my heart – a rhythm of pure love…

So, who ever and where you are, I forgive you, I ask your forgiveness, and most of all I forgive me

And that is how I forgive and this was my Love Letter to Forgiveness.

Yours sincerely

Sandra Peachey

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Letter to Mum… One Year On…

Dear Mum

There I was, rushing from one transient transaction to another – caught up in doing and being, and filling out and filling in the long hot hours; and eventually, in the middle of it all, I paused… and then the realisation racked and rocked me… You died a year ago, this very week…

A year… time and tide marked by the passing of days – of suns, moons and of tears. And laughter and anger too and all the other inner panoply of life, along with the external chaotic, diametric business of the outer life…  Then the crazy cliché of ‘how can that be’, how can this time have passed, have changed, have thrown me forward one whole year of existence – moving on from that one day..?

A day with a telephone call, a dazed evening journey to the hospital, a dark evening with a strange doctor explaining, wandering all around the verbal houses before he would say… when inside I was screaming – ‘just tell me!!!‘. And finally he told me… And so that was the beginning of this particular end…

And so my destination on that day changed, for that was the end of my mother’s earthly journey, and the start of renegotiating my own as a result. My sense of identity subtly shifting as my concepts of self, of connection, of reason, of pattern and of pace and place, all change and re-form and reinvent, and then connect back up, to a new whole, yet wholly recognisable me.

That it is what it is, with me – Sandra – newly orphaned child of this parish and currently good with where the journey has taken me, and yet I find that the relationship with my mother still lives and grows, and indeed ebbs and flows…

And as life is, I have thought of her and not, off and on, splinking on and away from the radar of my consciousness, and I know too, without doubt, that she is always with me, part of the DNA of my sub-consciousness.  I have lived my life to be so different from her and yet, so often, am so very much the same.

My mother was certainly feisty and often fiery and frequently noisy (her silences were, some how especially loud…).  At times, being with her felt like a constant drone of negativity, of bile and bitterness, of blaming and wailing and ranting. That is not the complete picture of course, but that is what I carried with me, for so so long, down trails of tears and disaster; till I found and released my own light, and then shone it back at her and then I could see her burning more beautiful and brighter in the glow…

Or so I think or thought… I’ve had a long tough period where my health has been difficult, dogged by headache and exhaustion, and this illness has been constant and chilling and it has changed the game of my life, taken me frequently to the doctor and to the hospital, and I have read and meditated and shared… and yet instead of healing, it has escalated to a recent point in time, through body and mind, onwards to the hated signs of menopause.

I remember well my mother’s menopause years, and I shared with her too my fizzing female teenage hormonal hours, as we were spitting and spatting through the transitions of our respective walking womanhood journeys.

And so here am I, now going through that second transition myself and not, I have to say wearing it well…  My body creates chemicals and has suffered them into my blood stream, changing the body that I thought I controlled; and then those horrible hormonal spheres infiltrated me deeper and deeper and then the mind bubbles, burns and bends with evil thoughts, hates and intentions.

Nothing would stop this vile onset – not doctor drugs, not change of diet, not chatting it all out with my female friends, neither incanting affirmations, or seeking alternative therapies. I was just not ready to accept and heal.  And so it all escalated and exploded and I started to speak out, to let my untamed thoughts and feelings free, like misty grey moths flying to a dark moon.

From this loosened version of me, I’ve said some really real and sometimes harsh things to those in my orbit… “Oh my god – I am my mother!!!”  Suddenly from my body being lassoed by horrendous hormones, I was actually possessed by my mad mother and it felt so intense that I was her, wrapped simply in my own outer skin…  Her disappointment, her bile, her anger and frustration were me and it was hell.  Hot, hurting, tearful, bloated and menacing hell.

And going through this, I have thought and said aloud, again and again, I can now understand more why she acted in those loud ways of hers, and have so much more empathy for what she said, did and felt…

The thing is, I could hate that my mother was so outspoken, so I always chose, in the past, to be the opposite.  Yet despite the hell, through the twisting agonies of hardened emotions turning to spoken word, I would remember that I secretly envied that chiding freedom of voice she had, and her complete ‘take it or leave it’ attitude.  And so everything I have said through that demonic time, I do not regret.  It was all my truth, and it was time to burn its’ way out and to face and feel the heat of its’ consequences.

With heaving, seething hormones – decisions and doings became heavy and difficult as I crawled this satanic pathway.  I wonder would the world who shared my surface swannings about have guessed?   The proud white swan was gliding in sweet sight on still waters and yet paddling furiously and drowning under water and out of subtle sight…

And that has been the year of my body and mind… and yet too, what an absolutely awesome year…  Mum would be so very proud (and I like to think, IS proud…). ‘Her’ Sandra has published a book, appeared in famous places – in print and on airwaves.  And her Sandra won an Award and received it in a gorgeous dress, with fabulous shoes and applause and dancing.  She was always proud when I did good and she was proud when I looked good.  And her Sandra has coached and spoken and supported and laughed and written and achieved so much and had the most wonderful time; going along and giving her gratitude for a crazy and amazing existence both in time and in head space.

Yet there it all was, the worse of me, inside of me, frothing and flailing; and I had to come, eventually to my own stubborn resolution, not overtly sought, for I could not see the way out.

It happened as I was leading my group of gorgeous ‘Damsels in Success’ to their own conclusions, resolutions and light… then suddenly for me too, the light bulb snapped on and there it was… sweet and blessed relief and resolution.  Here was my delicious clarity – to embrace this transition, these lessons in life and to joyfully receive my healing.  This is my selfish / selfless reason for supporting, for I constantly crave the same succulent thing too…

Well that was one balmy evening, and the next morning there I was chatting on a radio show in a strange city, and she would so love that… And then, later, my footsteps took me towards a cathedral I had never passed the portals of before – and I was drawn in, inexorably and naturally.  It was time to absorb, time to reflect, to celebrate and to make my peace.  I lit a candle and breathed the sacred atmosphere in, feeling my mother comfortable and close.

I wandered on through this sacred space and there were just two stained glass windows.  They were installed in the year I was born – so my attention was piqued and caught, as was my heart as the light streamed through the glowing arches above me.  I read that they represented the journey from darkness to light… and they were of course, there just for me – my sign, my message, my seal on healing.

And I walked out of that perfect place into intense July sunlight… A year ago, on another such beautiful July day – we said farewell to the physical mother and celebrated her life… That whole day, with its’ sun and singing; family and friending; remembrance and reconciliation, was a gorgeous gift from God for me.  Now, four seasons later, I needed this day too: to remember my mother in every way, and to heal and to reconcile – both me and her…

So now I have turned my cathedral corner and am again walking in the glorious sunlight…

A whole year ago, at my mother’s final church service, I stood up to speak my piece and this came to me: “mother has a message for you all – she has had a word with God and arranged this gorgeous sunny weather as a special thank you for being here today…”

And that is how that ending began, and then how this ending ends…

With love from

      Sandra

Doubter and Daughter xx

There are more letters to my mother, along with more ‘Love Letters to Life’ to the people, phenomena and happenings that make up my Peachey Life. You can get hold of your copy here…  or else from Amazon (in both Kindle and Paperback formats) and from all good book shops!

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The Journey into Light

Letter to Daftness

Dear Daftness

That alliteration is a great start to a letter … It is easing me in gently, with a smile, as I start to contemplate you … Dear Daftness …

Close family and friends know I have a certain delightfully, or dangerously daft quality; and to the world at large I often try to cap it or limit how much I show of it … It’s there though, part of who I am and what I do …

The thing with me is, that I love to present a professional and polished gloss to the world … Yet, so often, I’m daft … And that’s not a criticism of myself – it’s a simple description … And growing older and wiser (as well as dafter …) I’ve learnt more and more that it’s OK to show these true colours, and embrace them, and let the world see them; and then the world can decide to shirk me for it, love me for it or indeed not give a damn about my daftness … so there it is, in all it’s daft technicolour glory …

So Daftness is … being forgetful, being late, being trivial, being accident prone, being indecisive, being wantonly childish, losing self control. Sometimes it is so much me that it feels like my own brand of alien significance – defining me, slowing me down, making me cry with frustration or laugh with the Peachey familiarity of it … Daftness …

And I wonder what the reader will think – those that know me in body and place … Is that the me they recognise ..? And for some it may be a shock that I believe this of myself, and others will smile in recognition … and for others again, it may just open more doors onto their own knowing of me … and for others still, who know me from these letters alone – mere anecdote …

Now, I have consciously drawn into my orbit those that I can SAFELY be daft with … Because sometimes, believe you me, I have been vilified for it and lost jobs and people in my life because of it … Yet it is ME … imprinted in my DNA, I simply can’t change it … Though if I try hard … I can manage it and have done a damn good job of presenting my ‘got together’ professional face to the world; but that can be hard work sometimes … and more often than not – my inner clown will trip me up or show me up, and the spotlight shakes the real me out into the open.

So, true to Peachey form, at times I am good with the daft, and at times I truly hate it.  And though I KNEW that being daft and proud is all good, I probably never really GOT that, until these last few weeks since my mother’s passing … She died 2 weeks ago and so at times my brain is the consistency of a marshmallow, and I can feel like a little lost orphan, and ‘doing’ or deciding what to do with a day is difficult; and ‘being’, and being in certain places is really hard work; and patience is thin and energy is low, and the daftness quotient goes through the rude roof.

At times too, I’m on top of the world and out there in it – being amazing … it is indeed weird to be me right now … My mother passing has somehow bought out some of the worse in me and all of the best me of me, and made me ‘more so’ – in just about EVERY way.

So Love is a complicated and many splintered thing, and this is, of course, a Love Letter to Daftness.  I’m definitely more daft right now… but you know what?  I’ve realised that it is all good; I’ve decided to give in to it and to embrace it. I know that being daft is perfect for me right now and I’m going with the daft flow.  I’m being vulnerable, I’m being selfish, I’m being real.  I give permission to the daft and I welcome it.  It’s like a soft blanket of sweet childishness. Being daft right now means I have a freedom when it comes to taking care of myself, or telling others what I want, and to do as much or as little of what I feel capable of doing and giving right now …

And in this state of being, work has not been a priority, but then the world turns in such a way that without even trying, I am suddenly given new opportunities and new clients … And even in these strange and newly motherless times – when I speak and when I coach, I forego ‘daft’ and create magic instead …

So being soft and being daft has allowed friends and strangers to care for me and support me even more than they have before.  And from surrendering in this way, I’ve gained so much.  I’ve grown so much.  And who knows, I may just stay openly daft, to everyone, for ever …  Or the hard shell, with the cracks in it, may return … Yet somehow I predict that there will be more raw, deft daftness; more freedom and more expansion of my soul … Yes – after the daftness comes the light and so it is that I have moved from one four lettered word – d a f t to another – l o v e.

Now both daftness and love define me – and so it is that I have written yet another Peachey Letter to Love.

Yours beguilingly, blondely and daftly

              S xx

PS: Daftness, love, creativity, caring… it’s all in the book version of Peachey Letters – follow this link to find out more…

Letter to Loss

22 July 2012

Dear Loss

How complicated you are – you heinous thing – that thing which I have felt so much of in my life.  And yet I call this a ‘love’ letter … So, Dear Loss, let me explain, expand and elaborate …

I woke up this morning with a sense of creeping dread.  My mother died 6 days ago and in another 4 days comes her funeral.  My mother’s funeral … As my senses came to, on the morning of this day, I was permeated with the weight of horror and fear.  And then the vile bile of anger took me over …

Yes, anger pushed its’ fist into my heart, because I invited people to join me at my mother’s service and there is, so far, silence … apparently no one is coming … Then that evil, chiding voice says to me “So … those people who share your happy existence don’t give a damn about your sad times – your life is clearly a sham …”

Now in my innermost and knowing self, I realise that this voice takes over and holds you in it’s terrible thrall, especially at times like this; and it takes you down a long tunnel, where you stumble, blindly in the darkness and you cannot see what you actually have – which is – in day light reality – so very much …

The fact is, if I really choose to count, there are two particular people who it is my dearest wish be there on that Farewell Funeral Day – those being my brother and my mother’s best friend.  And of course, there will be more: friends, family, my mother’s circle … Some to bid farewell and some come to support me. And suddenly it comes back to me, in clear consciousness, what I always knew – that ten people or one hundred – if for no other reason than that is how it is, they will be the perfect ones to be there …

My own sense of significance and drama had briefly demanded more attention … Yet my mother’s passing will be marked, as we – the living – need to demarcate such turning points in our lives – to focus our loss on, and provide the means to say farewell, so we can move onwards in our own living time.  And for me the most impelling cause for a funeral is to celebrate a life having been lived, a life which has been part of your life.  There are many ancient reasons why, even in this electronic and eclectic modern age, we practice such ceremonies around birth, marriage and death …

This limbo between time from death to funeral is extreme and emotional, it has shifted the axis of my world – so my demons come out to dance on my dreams and dine on my exposed flesh.  I name and recognise these satanic creatures, and then I choose instead, to dance with the angels.

You see there I was with the expectation of attention and response.  Yet I know that there are many reasons why people do not reply and do not come, and how I feel about this is my own business – it is purely my own response to what I have put out there (which is after all an invitation, not a demand) and is in no way provoked by any one else.  And then I know that so often I have a choice about how I can feel … so having wallowed in my fear and anger, I have now let it go.  It is part of my process of processing what has happened; and now, at this time of writing, I am in a quiet space of reflection and acceptance that it will all be as it should.  This newer, positive sense comes from the pure me, the one who chooses the path of light, not the tunnel.  And verily, the dark demon of negativity still grabs me and tries to drag me down that tunnel; but I know, always, there is light at the end of it.

And we all do what we can, with what we’ve got … I had thunderbolt moment about this when someone called me to offer her support and condolences … she is going through her own very tough times at the moment, and she recalled all the offers people give at these trying times … to be there if asked … to do anything for you – if asked; and the thing is, usually no one does ask …  Well now, she said, she had decided to do SOMETHING … as much as she could manage right then, which was to offer me ‘a cuddle and cuppa’.  And I was so touched and it was a wake up call for me … me, who so many times has said, ‘just let me know if you want anything’ and then leaves it at intention … because I don’t want to intrude, or I’m busy, or my own life takes over or it’s not a priority.

And all these things are valid in their season … but may be, just may be, we could just all pause and wonder what we can do ‘beyond the words’, beyond our own small worlds, at times like these; and if that is sending our love and good wishes, then good … Yet, just for now, please support me in expanding my own horizons by considering the possibility of doing a thing, of actually paying it forward, as well as sending out a possible promise …

And I have received many such treasures in this limbo time … so much love, so much support, hugs, dinners, biscuits, transport, company and conversations.  And people have created time and space to be with me … So there it all is, in reality – all in balance; and yet, still – so fleetingly, I felt neglected – when really, I am getting exactly the attention that I need … And I want to say thank you to everyone who has given to me in any and every way, in these few last days.  I receive what you gift, so very gratefully.

So the emotional complications of my personality unfurl some more: triggered and exaggerated by sudden loss.  I kick over the implications, then I cuddle them. I give breath to the evil and the enervating, then I can reconcile the consequences and realise that these leanings are my lessons.

It comes down to this … This is a love letter to loss.  And it is a love letter in the sense that I appreciate and celebrate how this whole experience has ‘opened me out’, and how such trying times can, if we choose, alter us in positive and unimaginable ways.  And having started with anger and tears, I realise now, with humility and clarity, just how much I actually have – even when this weird day started with me swimming through the lake of my loss. And this letter may be the ramblings of a grieving child or it will be what ever it will be to its reader and what ever that is, I am good with it …

Then this letter starts to wind down … and one of the many reasons it is addressed to ‘Loss’ is that my inner poet loves the alliteration of all the Ls in a ‘Love Letter to Loss’ …

And so it is now, that I go from loss to love.  I end this letter with a salutation to loss and all the unbidden treasures that it has given me.  I do not in all honesty welcome it, yet I do intend to learn from it.  And last of all, and most of all, I raise my glass – every time: to Love …

Yours trustingly,

     Sandra

PS: Thank you for sharing this letter with me.  My mother passed away on 16 July 2012.  She was diagnosed with a condition called Parkinson’s Disease and if you could donate something to the organisation that funds research and support for this disorder, I would be very grateful for yet more gifts bestowed …  You can give online here …

Letter 16: To My Mother

16 February 2012

Dear Mum

Unexpected presents are fabulous aren’t they?  And I got one from you on Valentine’s Day.  A bunch of peach coloured roses and carnations … peach from a Peachey to a Peachey … Thank you so so much!  For this I cried, with happiness, with surprise and appreciation, because this was such an act of generosity to me and not the easiest thing to organise when you are wheel chair bound, in a nursing home and not surprisingly, given everything about who and where you are now – in body, mind and environment, that it is usually all about YOUR wants being met and met NOW!  Is THAT where my natural impatience stems from, I wonder ..?

Several weeks ago I was hauled into the head mistress / AKA the (nursing home) manager’s office to be told of bad behaviours, possible causes and then courses of action.  I went to you next … “Why did you do it?” I asked gently and you said there was a voice in your head telling you to … So that’s what drives you on now … What voice organised roses for me then, I think smilingly today ..?  I must remember that, when the other, darker voice is at work on another day in our lives …

So this is our now.  Mother become child.  My brother and I take you out and about and have to look after every aspect of your care as we go.  And one day I observed lightly that it was our Karma – we neither of us children had children, so now we were taking care of our version of child …  My brother smiled back …

There is so much water under the bridges of our lives now.  So many tears, so many shoutings, such anger, such blame.  Yes blame, such a heavy, self victimising blow of a word, of a deed.  Oh I blame blame blamed you for so much, for everything, in between those times I thought I had struggled away to be a different creature, a creature of light and laughter, the blonde haired cherub of your proud creation.

Then always I would return to you to break the news … that I was back in black …  And more blows reigned on you – no grand babies, no soft Nanna lisps to be loved and spoilt … my heart breaks to think you will probably never have that from your line.

From my babyhood on, I never doubted that you loved me, though at times you tried hard to disguise the fact, in some very extreme ways.  Your own childhood was lonely, broken and unloving and you told me you had decided you would not repeat the histories of your mother and father’s poor parental conduct, with your own children.

You were one child alone, a little girl with chestnut hair and an indomitable spirit, who refused to go to school one cold day because the colour of your tights weren’t right … who skated, loved the cinema and had a cat called Spitfire … I loved those stories of your life back then.  Though too there were the stories of betrayal, loss, ridicule and shame – the darker stories that were also woven into your life fabric.

And we shared more stories on long weekend afternoons when we watched old black and white movies on the sofa, together.  You knew all the decades old gossip of every star, gleaned from escapist movie magazines of way back when and I took it all in.

Then the tides of time turn and we grow up and grow old and there were more years and many more tears between us two.

It is an oddly natural thing to see a sort of reflection of you that is so similar and yet so very different.  Sometimes your face appears in me, sometimes your voice and oft times I have called the dark chiding hateful voice sometimes spiralling in my soul – you too.  ‘You are just like your father’ you would accuse, and he would sometimes say ‘you’re just like your mother’ and then in another moment I would be different to her.

The constant family comparisons …  The fascinating DNA lottery that gives us both blue eyes, me with blonde hair, you with dark.  Father and brother with brown eyes, father dark haired, brother fair and so on and then our myriad talents, skills and personalities – our very mysteries of making, born and nurtured.

You were born in Scotland.  I loved that – it marked me out, made me more exotic!  Yet some how Scotland rubbed off, as you left it at 18 years of age; it did not hold in your voice and there were only small clues in our Sassenach lives … some words, some poems, a Broons annual …  So a lot of your life was left behind there and I hardly knew any family from back then, except for my Nanna.  You often compare me to her – your mother … my popularity, my nature you said … that which is so different from one, is so like the other; now there is one particular photo of her cradling a baby me and looking at it now, you know exactly where I sprang from …

It is not for me to compare us in nature, since she left this world when I was six  … just too young for remembering much except the gifts of sixpences and dark chocolate she would save for her grand children’s visits to the dark little flat in Birmingham.  But there is just one more happy story, amongst the many stories to be unfurled …  You in hospital mum, having just given birth to me and Nanna comes in to room so excited and cries “where is she, where is she”, wanting to meet and know me for the first time.  And always that story was told with such pride and laughter.

And there is so much more, so many stories, so much to say and yet really, so little.  Now it boils down to this – the blaming has had to STOP for me.  I try to journey away from that, from so called past misdemeanours.  It has taken so long and I kept on blaming until recent history; even when I had tried to fix, to analyse, to change.

Then one day I literally woke up and realised, that all those dark words and actions were not really you.  Through out all your life you have done the best with what knowledge and resources you have had; and so then I was just left to love.  And love changed a lot, love created a force field around me and radiated from me, to stop me barbing and griping … and with out that, you had to love more too.  Now it’s not a complete cure … there are times when I am tired or facing a low moment and it surfaces again.  Yet I know, come what may, that I have escaped hate and guilt and I can always say, truly, that I love you.

  I love you, mum.

     Sandy Bach xxx

PS: My mother lived with Parkinsons Disease and if you would like to donate to the excellence cause of care for, and research into this condition, please follow this link…

My Valentine Gift from Mum …

Letter 7: To John

7 February 2012

Dear John

‘Dear John’ – that phrase in the world of cliché means the beginning of a ‘good bye’.  Yet this time, for me, this is the beginning of a hello, a getting in touch, a getting to know you, to connect with you and so to deepen the connection with myself and to understand the role you have played in my life.

Do you know me John, your sister, the one that came after you?  You had so little time in this living realm, a tiny baby, who did not see with living eyes the world you were born into.

Your passing was a pain, a grief, a darkness that reached into my time, born as I was 5 years after your passing.  I always knew about you – and our mother told me that not one day went by when she did not think of you.   And in tears and arguments, your memory would surface and be tossed around by our parents, a turmoil unresolved, unforgiven, never forgotten.

It’s a dark place John, to think of the pain and the torment of your passing, so let me pass back to the realms of love and dreams and consequence …

We have a living brother of course, two years older still than you; and in my dreams I have seen you, another version of my family … familiar and yet separate.

So you were a fascination to me, part of my puzzle, a missing strand of DNA.  And as a child I often imagined how you would be, if you walked in this world.

And I have realised over time that had you stayed in this world, then I probably would not be here, as I am, in this form, in this living plane of being.  So I thank you John and it’s a complicated thank you, for your part in who I am.  And because of your passing and my safe and happy arrival; my parents were so over-joyed to welcome me when my time came to enter this world.  And separately they have both told me that I was their saviour, angel child, which feels like a beautiful privilege sometimes and at other darker times, an expectation I have felt I simply couldn’t live up to.

You were named John for our grandfather – our mother’s father.  Another John gone before I was born, another John not known by me.  Though for this John I have photographs, stories and a history …  This John stands in line in our parent’s wedding photos and his physical features sometimes reveal themselves in the living descendants that are my familiars.  This John is part of our Scottish heritage and so Grandpa John was also known as ‘Jock’.  And I can only guess at what other inheritances we have all got from him.  I would love to explore that part of my past puzzle one day if I can …

And one of the many legends of Grandpa John is that he has another family, one that came after my mother; the fact of which was scandal at the time.  So my mother would say that she is an only child and so she was in fact until her mid 20s.  In recent years she has sought to know her later siblings – a half brother and sister and so I have traced the pieces of paper that would link us to them.

But what comes next?  Do they know of us?  Do they know they have a sister, niece and nephew?  And here’s the thing too, my (half) uncle out there, some where, is also John, named for Grandpa John too – and takes his first name AND his surname.

Another John not known to me, now old enough to be retired … is he still alive, does he have his own family, what did he do with his life?  Could he be a piece of the puzzle that fits, or could he care less?  I stopped the search because my mother, his half sister, became ill and needed our attention and now, further down that line, for many reasons, I’m not sure whether to pick it up again.

What ever the case, I am trusting that this John lives and loves and laughs.  And of my three Johns – brother, grand father and uncle; it is Uncle John who comes into my mind most of all, now I’m at this time in my life.  My father gave us an uncle and two aunts who have all left this world now, so it’s good to know that there is more family out there and maybe, at the end of this letter, that’s all I need to know about them.

We all have our legacies, our legends and live with the consequences of love – our own loves and the love that was created by those who went before us.  In the final analysis I want to connect to the love, live and breath it in every form and on that note I will bid all my Johns, for now, a very fond farewell.

    With love from Sandra xxx

PS: Thanks go to my brother and mother who agreed to let this letter be seen and for reminding me that when I was in my pram, we used to visit my brother John’s tiny grave.  A connection unremembered … and one for which I am grateful.   S x

[PPS: Dear Reader, this letter and more are now published in book form, you can buy your copy by following this link…]

Grandpa John, a face known and unknown …