The last few weeks have seen a lot of reflective thought. Mum’s dementia and death have made us all stop and re evaluate what is important.
What is important? What is It that defines us and makes us what we are? The values we hold now are rooted in our childhood and the values our children and grandchildren will have are rooted within us.
My grandson Tommy has been my inspiration this year. His constant smile and perseverance have spurred me on. I talk to him and promise that I will support him and make sure he is the best he can be. He makes me smile. I’m in awe of the fact that if he can’t reach something with his little arm he will use his feet. At only a year old he has learnt to cope with only one hand, he crawls, pulls himself up, balances objects and literally makes my heart melt when he strokes my arm with his little arm. He is fascinated by people and when out with him it takes me twice as long to do anything as he beams at complete strangers who then come to talk to us.
If you ask anyone about what makes a person special they will talk about personality and character – why then do we still judge by appearances, why are so many of us on diets bemoaning our shape and our cellulite?
My own grandmother always said ‘ a little bit of help is worth a lot of pity’ that from a women bringing up 7 children in a 3 bed roomed terraced house with no bathroom and an outdoor toilet – oh and her bitter, jilted great uncle living with them too ( he taught us all to swear, took up residence by the open fire, smoked a pipe and never ever removed his flat cap). No wonder she judged people by their response to and care for others. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard since her funeral when all 7 of her ‘children’ (then in their 60’s and 70’s) recounted tales of bath night and teasing dad who as the eldest got first go in the tin bath in front of the fire. When the lads talked of arguing who’s turn it was to empty uncle Ernest’s chamber pot (apparently one of his skills was to fill it to within a millimetre of the rim) tears were running down their faces as they laughed and remembered their childhood.
Values are talked about frequently in education. What values do we need to encourage and develop.
The Dalai Lama said ‘I have no religion, my religion is kindness’. We encountered such kindness during mum’s last week. It didn’t take much, a cup of coffee, a hug, a listening ear, an e mail, a regular text – all served as reminders that we weren’t on our own.
Today feels significant as it’s the first home match of the season. For the last couple of years that meant that either I or my brother had to go and sit with mum. If I’m painfully honest I dreaded it. It was like being stuck in mum’s frightening and frustrating world for several hours. The last time I did this was the week before I went to Kakuma which now feels a lifetime away. Dad is still struggling, life is very surreal at times – a phone call from my uncle with a message from mum via a medium, a first birthday party, the planning of holidays, taking flowers to a whole range of graves as mum’s ashes are in the same village cemetery as my son, her sister and her mum…and life goes on. Sunday is the anniversary of my eldest son’s death 28 years ago. At the time I couldn’t see a way forward and felt that I would never be happy again. I have friends who are suffering the loss of people close to them, I have friends who are celebrating- all I know is that kindness helps and we should never underestimate the power of friendship.