This edition is written by my fabulous coach and friend Vicky - she has so much to contribute during our parent coaching programmes and certainly isn't afraid of contributing and sharing her personal view point - This one is particularly personal to her as she shares her view on "The Ties that bind us" and her perception on the "Big C" that her father is currently faced with.
‘Its December. My favourite month. Everyone just seems happier somehow. People smile more, hold doors open, take time to make a little more small talk, everything sparkles and glistens....houses look cosy and inviting from the pavements outside and I always feel like there is more light in the world somehow.
Christmas can be one of the happiest times for people. And it can also be evocative, thought provoking and emotional. This year I have a lot to be thankful for. Amazing things are happening in my personal life and I couldn’t feel happier or more loved. But nothing is perfect all of the time, and this year, I have realised how cyclical life is, and how those that once looked after us, our parents, come to need us in ways that we never imagined they might...because our parents are invincible!....Aren’t they??
My wonderful Dad was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. It was a terribly uncertain and frightening time, and honestly to a degree, it still is. We are as a family in the throws of it all, and remain ever hopeful that we will beat it and that he will get well again. Dad has always been the ‘North’ in our house. He is overprotective, and down to earth, and warm and generous in all ways – we have never wanted for anything, especially not love. He is at the centre of our family, a strong, dependable, silly, decisive, loveable cockney!
Some days in recent months I have looked at him playing with my children and my sister’s two and I have wondered if we will ever be able to match he and my mum in terms of our parenting them. I am in awe of how they have remained steadfast as a couple and kept our family together despite the highs and lows that real life has thrown at them along the way. We are still very much a unit despite us being fully fledged adults with our own broods. And actually what keeps us together is love. It's not complicated.
I love my parents. But I have learnt as I have grown older that they are human too. They do things that drive me crazy sometimes. They often will treat me like ‘the baby’ and at 33 years old, that can be difficult to deal with. My mum comes over and steals washing out of my basket (shouldn’t complain I know, but I worry that she is doing too much at her time of life as it is and I do know how to use my washing machine!). She tells me she needs to keep busy and laughs it off. Dad is old fashioned and worries about me travelling alone. It's infuriating sometimes, because believe it or not, I am happy and comfortable travelling alone – my work takes me all over the County for goodness sake!
But they have fostered such love and respect and admiration for one another in our family that now it's me who is doing the worrying.
I worry about hospital appointments, about them asking the consultant the right questions (Dad won’t have me at the appointments – he’s worried I will worry! The irony!), about results, and procedures and his resilience and state of mind. I worry about them getting into London – they insist on getting the train and I would much rather drive them door to door. I feel protective as I see them slightly more vulnerable. I feel tearful when I see them crossing the road to meet me, hand in hand. I make a mental vow to always reach for my partner's hand in public, no matter how old we get. I worry about the future a little....my fab Dad’s future.
I always thought that it was parents that do the ‘looking after’. And we do. Mine did. There is nothing that my parents wouldn’t do for my sister and I. They are the most supportive, loving, caring people and I would be lost without them. As they get older, I have come to realise that I will take up the mantle again at some point – I will look after them. And why wouldn’t I? I want to. They have devoted themselves to us, to our family, to me and now my children. And now that they have reached a point where they need help and support and reassurance, I will do everything I can to look after them. Everything in this life comes back around. That’s why I think families exist.
This whole experience with ‘the big C’ has had me questioning what else matters really? Relationships – the centre of everything. Without loving, kind, meaningful relationships, life is surely just a void.
This could all get a little bit depressing! Cancer tends to do that. Well you know what?? Stick it Cancer!
We are going to put up the sparkliest tree, buy thoughtful gifts, hug one another hard and be so very grateful that we have such special people to surround ourselves with at this time of the year. In the background we will continue doing what needs to doing, attending appointments and forging ahead with treatment plans....but our hearts will be filled with love and gratitude.
Whatever the New Year brings, I will be remembering how fortunate I am to be part of something so special. My colourful, beautiful, loving, crazy family.