I’m so proud of them. No, I’m not talking about our girls – although they make me so proud there isn’t a blog host or an internet range large enough to hold the stuff I could write about them. No, I’m talking about my other family – my mum and dad and brother. I know this is not normal. We spend most of our lives being embarrassed or pissed off, or more often than not irritated and frustrated with these strange people who are so familiar they’re like our skin, yet so alien to us, they feel like a rash on that skin. And I’ve often felt all of those things.
Like most families, mine has had its fair share of dramas… but despite the sparks and the strifes, we’ve shared time, willingly and with pleasure. Despite branching out in our own lives, in the last ten years my brother and I have found ourselves coming together to holiday with mum and dad, and strangely our family strengthened instead of weakened as we married and grew. My mum was the central nervous system – the magnet which pulled us all together no matter how far apart we were. And in the awful days and nights after her catastrophic stroke, my dad, my brother and me – supported by my sister-in-law and husband – formed a vigil, a protective presence, a desperate determination that she would never be alone. As the weeks have slowly drifted into months and decisions were made, plans put in place we did so as a family – as she would have wanted. We are the family she taught us to be – strong in support, united in love.
My dad has been outstanding. He is 74 and caring full-time for my mum now. Most men his age couldn’t cope on their own for a day. He cares for her – and himself and does it with extraordinary competence. I don’t just mean he copes with the house and manages the washing. When I went up to visit last weekend, we had homemade soup for lunch – with homemade bread, and a stupendous homemade fish pie for tea. It was a sunny spring day so we got mum into her wheelchair and wrapped her up and took her round the park at the end of the road. The first crocuses of Spring were waving hello in the grass and we stopped to feel the sun on our faces for a moment. It was almost bearable. Because we were still together.
My mum is in a terrible place, but while she is there she is being wrapped in love. She taught us that and I hope we are making her proud. For I am proud of them – my mum, my dad, and my brother. So proud that my life has been shared with them, through the good times and the bad.