Sunday, 30 March 2014

Mothering Sunday 2014

                             I did not think it would be as hard this year. I was wrong.  
Matt at Yosemite May 2005. 
 We are making a return trip to Yosemite in May. Your dad wants to see Bridal Veil Falls in full spate. How you extolled it's praises on your trip in May 2005! We followed in yours and Heidi's footsteps in September of the same year, but the falls in the park were almost dry! It is a deferred Ruby Wedding trip from July 2013.  And this is your dad's choice. :-)  So we will be thinking of you as usual, when we feast our eyes once more on the majesty and splendour all around.
Bridal Veil Falls.Matt's photo 
At our house. 2005

Grasmere July 2006. 

Grasmere July 2006

Cowplain. Hampshire. 1978  

Isle of Wight. Ventnor. September 1977

August 1976. At a friend's wedding.
Cowplain. Hampshire. 

Friday, 28 March 2014

This is one of those times....March 28th 2014

Dear Matt,

Once again Mothering Sunday will be celebrated on 30th March, this weekend. I miss you. 
These few days hold a number of "those" anniversaries....................
It was 4 years ago today that your grandad's life slipped away in hospital. 28th March 2010.
   My own mother did not live to see her 71st birthday in 1990, the end of a very hot summer,            when the roses were a riot of colour in their garden. Now I grow roses. 
                    I  miss them. More silence where their voices used to be. 
                               No mother on Mother's day, and no you. 
Alan and his grandad. January 2010
           I will miss Alan too, at home with his own lovely family, and our grandchildren.
                     Oh how I miss you more than words can ever say, Matt.
              And last weekend a lovely thing happened, one of your old friends we hadn't seen for                years paid us an unexpected visit. He talked a lot about you, and how he felt you had left a legacy among those who knew you. Another old friend of yours contacted me this past week, and this is what he said:

"I think of Matt often. It was such a blessing for me to share a home with him for those two years and our trip to Australia together changed the course of my life"

Dad in his beloved Rossendale. June 2008

Matt and his grandad. The Duckworth Arms. Rossendale.
                       So my beloved Matt, I will forever and always simply be your mum.
Dad on the walk from Lizard Village to Kynance Cove.
September 2004. 

                                                              And on the 31st March mum and dad always celebrated their wedding anniversary, being married in 1942 during the 2nd World War.
                                              A weekend of poignant memories.      
Mum. 1940 

Mum. Rawtenstall market. 

Mum and dad in Cambridge. July 1973

Mum with her brother Ernie, and his wife, Lily.
Whinlatter Pass. Lake District. 
Love you, mum, love you dad, and love you deeply foreverly, (my word) my beautiful son. 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

People never die if they live on the lips of the living..........

                                   "You were the summer of my life."
                             Song heard everywhere the summer of 1976.
                              The year you were born                                                 

      My lovely son, here you are, that playful cheeky grin on your face, looking into the camera. It wasn't taken by me, and I forget who did, but I know I wasn't at that particular family gathering for my sister's Silver Wedding, in 2005.  I had Post Viral fatigue.
I seem to have only been writing in this blog about you with 3 month intervals recently.
   I pondered on this for awhile.........
There may be several explanations
1. I go to see the grandchildren fairly regularly, and so love being greeted by their beaming smiles.
2. I have been in so much better health the last 6 months and have been taking up my various activities once more, like the Choral Society, the Anglo-French group and the small group of us who have a French book club.
3. I have been painting, and made some Christmas cards from one of my watercolours. (I know you would have been pleased by that!)
4. Visiting friends, far and near, going for walks, then having your widow and her hubby of two years, (married in December 2011) come and stay once more from Dallas in November.
 And, dare I say it?  A sense of my life being re-formed from the smashed up pieces into which it was broken and catapulted 7 years ago last September.
   I have to say Matt, that, at times, I can feel a tinge of guilt, as though I've left you behind........
That is not the case, but to be able to really enjoy my life as it is now, is a completely new experience.
     Yes, there are the times when the reality of your loss overwhelms me at an instant, unexpectedly, when the urge to take myself off to a safe place for awhile is strong. Whether it is in the garden, or just going for a walk, or reading a book, and shutting the door to the outside world for a bit is necessary to recover.
  You will never be forgotten, and we talk about you all the time, smile and remember you.

Having the grandchildren has brought back a lot of memories of when you were a baby, then a toddler. It was such a long, hot summer in 1976, beginning in early May and finally ending the drought in early September.
I pushed you out in your pram for miles, around the area where we lived, in Hampshire, and sometimes took a sandwich to the nearby small park, along with a bottle for you. We lived in a two bed-roomed flat on the first floor, with no inside staircase and an outside balcony. It was quite a feat to get the pram, all the accoutrements and you to the ground floor. I had to do it in stages. Leave you safely in your cot or the playpen, when you were older, and take the pram down first. Remounting the two flights of stairs, which were enclosed, but on the outside of the building, to bring you down.
  Then I had to do the whole thing in reverse coming back up to the flat.

The thing I remember most vividly about that summer, was one of the songs constantly on the radio. It just summed up how I felt about watching you grow and develop into a chubby blond happy baby.
      When I got to September and October and beyond, the title words came to mean so much more to me.

      You were indeed, the very summer of my life. never to be forgotten days of sunshine, glorious sunsets, baby snuggles and first smiles, baby chatter, and teeth.
                                   One of a long line of "firsts"

I still have your baby shoes, and your baby shawl and bonnet in which we brought you home from hospital.
And now we have your last pair of sandals, your Australian bush hat and didgeridoo, alongside your wedding shoes. The whole of your life being lived in between.
 Late summer 1977

   I read a quote recently..........
                          "People never die if they live on the lips of the living"

                                     And you are always on ours.



Sunday, 29 September 2013

Two little words..........

Me and Sammy. Playing  
Here I am.........on a quiet morning....waking from sleep with tears in my eyes. 
It  is always the unexpected remark or memory stirred that takes me unawares and stops me in my tracks.
It is birthday season again. 
Yesterday we went to see your brother and his family for the day. It is his birthday today, his 29th. Next weekend it will be Sammy's. He will be two years old. 
So for the second time in a week, I drove the 90 miles south, having done the return journey mid week on my own. Yesterday Stephen drove us home. 
It was a lovely time. 
We were greeted by a very excited grandson exclaiming as he came to the door with his dad, 
"It's granny, AND grandad!" And a beautiful smile from our grand-daughter Libby, now 8 months old. 
The house was decorated with banners and balloons and we had a birthday cake with candles at lunchtime, a celebration shared. Family time. 
  We had a "one day early" birthday so they could decide how they wanted to celebrate Al's actual one today.  
    Later on we went to a nearby pub for a meal, being joined by our daughter-in-law, Jen's, brother, also called Matthew, and his family. 
Sammy and his cousin, being 6 months apart in age, greeted each other with great glee and proceeded to play together  in a whirlwind of chasing about and eventually sitting down together in matching highchairs, alongside Libby in hers, and Sammy's older cousin, who is now at school, sitting at the table 
      So, why the tears this morning?
     It is so hard to explain how it sometimes rears up and wells over. 
Yet there was a reason for how I feel now, and how I felt at one particular point yesterday afternoon....... in a public place, surrounded by family and excited laughing children......
             Two little words...................
              Unexpectedly hitting me like a shock
              My stomach feeling suddenly tight
              A stab of pain
              A stifled sob
              A wanting to shield myself from others seeing the tears
              Which had suddenly arisen unbidden
              From the well which is always there...............

              Two little words.........................
               Coming from the lips of our grandson........
               Excitedly declaring 
               "Hello Uncle Matt" 

But it wasn't you. He would've had two Uncle Matt's.
Now there is only one.
In those words I knew your absence......................... a deep, cutting, aching absence.
Hearing my grandson speak those words for the first time reached deep into my being to where the loss is held. 
It gushed suddenly to the surface and spilled over.
Your brother, sitting across the table, realising I was wrestling with the welter of pain, and came round to hold me, sharing the understanding. 
I had not thought, nor realised, that one day I would hear those two words spoken, but not to you.   
Oh, Matt, I struggled to stop myself from sobbing, but I made it.
Not wanting to upset the others, especially the children. 
But the pain is still there 
Nagging, aching, bubbling......
It will subside,
I have learned that over the last 7 years
Only for now it cannot be contained,
A part of the wound has been damaged once more and needs a little time to recover. 
Today I will give you that time Matt. 

Next weekend it will be Sammy's birthday, and he will greet his Uncle Matt once more.
At least this time I will be more prepared, maybe......maybe not.
I only know I wish the words were for you.     

"Come on grandad!"

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Retrospective......... September 10th 2013.

 Well, Matt,
Seven years on from our parting.......

I always carry your business card around with me in my purse everywhere I go. I have deleted the main address and mobile number, and highlighted the lighthouse logo that you had chosen.  Your new business was just in its infancy when you suddenly left us all here that September, 7 years ago.
But the lighthouse was one that took on a new meaning for us all.
Your earthly remains now hidden in a deep rocky crevice, close to the lighthouse at Lizard Point which all of us have known so well down the years. It's beam stretching out at night across the sea. Comforting to us all to know that light is there at night.

Lizard Point lighthouse, Cornwall. 

Lizard Point 
We were once again in France on the 10th September, and went to an old church in Gordes that day. Sitting awhile to remember both you and Chris, and lighting two candles. A wrench to the heart. As the welter of emotion began to subside, I went down to the front of the church to look at the small bouquet of flowers left in front of the altar. There was one lone sunflower standing proud above the rest. As our friends know, I now plant sunflower seeds each year in your memory, and it was so lovely to see the sunflower there............ and equally to see the ones that were blooming in the garden when we arrived home.        
Gordes. Provence. France  September 10th 2013 
From Gordes, which is reputedly the most beautiful village in France, we went to the Abbayé de Senanque, a few kilometres drive away in the wooded hills of the Lubéron, hidden in a deep valley. It was very hot and  still.
As we arrived at the main path to the abbey, which is a 5 minute walk from the car park, we were greeted by a young lady in her twenties and a man in his forties. She explained to me in French, that on that day they were offering a new service to visitors, should they wish.
Of course I then had a conversation with her, able to speak to her in her own language. She told me the monks, who were a silent order, had requested that two people greeting visitors should offer them the opportunity to write down any prayer needs, and the monks would faithfully carry these out in their devotions. There was a piece of paper on which to write a name, address, if appropriate, and then space to write a prayer request.It was written in both French and English.                  
Abbayé de Senanque. Nr Gordes. France
10th September 2013

I explained to her that it was a poignant date for us,being the 7th anniversary of yours and Chris's deaths, but I felt that it was so special to be greeted warmly and to be offered prayer. I wrote our prayer for the family. She also had slips of paper with a different Bible verse printed on each one. I took one, and it was so significant the one we received. (These were printed in French)    
Flowers in the old church at Gordes.
September 10th 2013 
                                                           "Psalm 31 v 2.
                                                         Turn your ear to me,
                                                         Come quickly to my rescue;
                                                         Be my Rock of Refuge,
                                                         A strong Fortress to save me."

How many, many times, Matt, have I fled to that place and cried out to God in my deepest needs.
 I have always, always felt that He then somehow lifted me. Oh, not all at once.Especially in the early months and years after your accident, but I was comforted.
So to be offered prayer and a verse on that anniversary date was like a whisper from God saying to us  " I am still here.........I hold your son..........and I hold  you........."

Such a place of beauty and peace. A very special time for us both as we remembered you.
 After I told your story she enfolded me in an eloquent hug, which had no need for words.
So Matt, another year gone by without you.
Miss you forever

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Summer is slipping away........

 A father touches the name of his son at the 9/11 memorial in New York.
On the tenth anniversary in 2011.   

September approaches. I used to love September.
A mother and two sons.

The fresh feel to the mornings and the changing colours of the trees. 
The sunshine still warm but mellow. 
It didn't carry with it the mark of impending tragedy. 

Now, after an unexpectedly beautiful summer, which is still greeting me most days, as I step outside and take my usual meander up the garden path, enjoying the satisfaction of the roses which I tended, now in full bloom, and  tumbling nasturtiums, glowing calendulas and sunflowers, planted in early May, when April had been so cold  Easter Day dawning in freezing temperatures, the lowest for 100 years!

And yet.........after all that horrendous winter, the plants began to grow again and blossom. 
The late Spring was so beautiful, it was worth the awfulness of the preceding season.

But Matt, once again we approach the 10th of September. 
Last weekend we had your brother and family staying here. 
Sammy is two in October and a joy to me and your father. 
Libby, at 7 months, now beginning to use her voice in baby chatter.

Sammy was looking at the photos on the set of drawers, 
He was studying them carefully.Pointing to various people, naming his mum and dad, then the ones of himself and Libby...       
He arrived at yours picture, "Who's that?" he said.
"That's Matthew" I said. 
He didn't make a comment, accepting my answer. But he wanted to know who you were, and that is enough for now.He knows your name and his dad is going to tell him all about you when he is old enough to listen to your story.
Meanwhile we are negotiating the last few days of August, and then that fateful reminder on 10th September, of your last day here with us on earth. 

Each year I think maybe this time it will be different, but now I've learned to accept it will never alter. That date is forever seared into our memories with burning hot relentlessness.
I only have to look at the photo of the grieving father in New York, ten years on from his life being changed forever, to know that the Anniversary of our 10th September, for us, will never cease to be anything other than awful.
I read a blog written by Craig Mackay and would recommend it as an honest and truthful account of his life since the death of his first wife.

Here is the link.

So, Matt, once again we are going to France and on the 10th September we will find some beautiful quiet place to mark your life. As you are indelibly, deeply, eternally, imprinted on ours.
Love mumxx  

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Memories of a summer past...........

My lovely Matt, 
Here I am, looking at you smiling out at me. I know you have your hand over your mouth but it was a joke at the time, as your brother and his mate were sitting alongside, and the picture turned into "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" Don't quite remember why now! 
   All those years when I badgered and cajoled you, and the family, to accept that I liked taking all your photos, are now very precious. 
Snapshots of you from your birth to the time when our lives were forever changed.      
So this photo, taken on 4th July 2006, is a reminder that in a few short weeks we were to lose you. A hot summer.
July 4th 2006
This year's summer has been compared to 2006. A spell recently of long hot sunny days, and warm nights. The summers in between pale in comparison.
    Now at 7.30pm it is very warm, the patio window is fully open, and was last night till 10.30pm. 
The only problem for me is that glorious summer days and warm nights remind me of that summer. 
My heart aches with the stillness of the dawn, and at the edge of dusk, when the garden gives off heady scents of honeysuckle and roses, in the cooling heat, you are always, always there. 
                         Even now the tears well up with the missing you.
      One of the reasons for writing this piece is that your dad and I had our 40th Wedding Anniversary on Sunday, 14th July. We spent it in the Lake District, having had our annual holiday with your brother and his wife and our two grandchildren, in our favourite place in Cornwall a week previously.        
          We were thinking of you as we walked by the Lake, or through fields full of meadow flowers, amongst the majesty of the surrounding crags and fells. And, oh, Matt, how we talked about you and that last hot beautiful summer, when we were all together 
   Remembering you leaning on a gate, or paddling in the cool river, or watching the farmer baling hay and then videoing him as he drove his tractor up and down the field. When we saw one collecting the hay, my heart lurched. I know the video commentary you made, off by heart.      

Mullion Cove Cornwall 5th July 2013 
Lizard village Cornwall, sunset. Saturday 6th July. 2013 

We celebrated 40 years together, and shared our memories. It was a special time. And we spent it in a beautiful place, for a few days.
 On our actual 40th Anniversary day we were on a long walk when we came upon this wood sculpture. Another couple just happened along the path and said would we like a photo taking. After exchanging a few words and telling them it was a special day, they told us that next year they hope to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary.
     So, as we journey on, we have a visible reminder that we are held in God's hands, until that day we see Him face to face and are reunited with our son, and others whom we love.