As individuals we all go through diverse and unique experiences which collide together to create the characters we become, totally distinctive and unlike any other being. Leaving us feeling solitary and solo. Sometimes it is in the most crowded of places that you feel so alone and isolated. I was told something this weekend which had a deep effect on me.
Cousin Cat and I met up for a rare family party. Due to life and geographical distances it is not often we get together, other than weddings but increasingly at funerals. This was a fun opportunity to recap, remember and ruminate on how we have all changed and grown up over the intervening years. We explored our mutual struggles with being working mothers and bringing up our children, we swapped stories of emotion, trauma and triumphs. we giggled at the gruesome, the guidance and the rebellion.
It was her husband who came over and joined us as we cried with laughter and asked us what was so funny. Cousin Cat commented “did you know Middle Son was run over, knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured skull?”
The bewilderment on his face as he said, “that’s hardly funny” sent us both into further gales of laughter. How could he understand that we were not actually laughing at the incident but at how Middle Son had overcome this hurdle and now as a grown man was about to depart the family nest and build adventures of his own. Not to mention; his emotionally sapped parents who have suffered with all his ups and downs and even now were about to release some of the home reins.
It reminded me of another moment of emotion that Number 1 Son probably will never understand; when at 14 he was told he would not be able to play rugby due to injury for a whole season. To a young teenager a whole season or year as it effectively was, might seem like the rest of his life. To a world weary mother who had spent a week researching on the internet and was terrified the doctor was going to say he would never play again,“one season” were the sweetest words I think I have ever heard. Now a 20 year old he has spent his first season playing in the first team and taking part in cup matches when work allowed.
The morning after the party I was reminded of the 1992 Olympics and Derek Redmond. I cannot hope to convey the emotion of the moment, the true grit, bravery and sheer courage he showed to finish that race after his hamstring snapped in such dramatic fashion. Derek slowed but did not stop, he hobbled on determined to reach the finish. Such blatant agony etched on his face, felt by every onlooker as they willed him on with each excruciating step. Suddenly from the stands a man broke through and pushed off the security guards to run across the track with the words “I am here son!”
Leaning heavily on his father’s shoulders the pair staggered and stumbled across the line. The video of the event is widely available but I must warn you, tissues are a must.
Of course with the Olympics just round the corner, there will be so many stories of battles and brawls to reach this pinnacle of perfection. We will learn of the determination and sacrifices that have been made and the huge cost in emotion and hard work to have overcome the hurdles so far.
Happiness is often tinged with sadness. I have a deep belief that success comes through the striving, conquering and defeating of setbacks. Achievement comes from tragedy to deliver a deeper intense emotional high. Without the adversities in life, we would never enjoy the bittersweet taste of accomplishment.
How I would love life to be a rose-tinted smooth un-traumatic journey but it isn’t like that and it’s the bumps and bruises that build us into the people we are together with the unseen posts of support that hold and guide us along that unforgiving road.
Sexy Sporty Dad and I went to Paris last weekend to watch the “Tour de France” final. We had a wonderful view from le Place de la Concorde at the base of the Champs Elysees. I was surprised when my hero Chris Froome who had led the race for 3 weeks was not out in front leading the pack where I expected him to be. He was dropping further and further back till on the last lap he had made his way to the back. Amazingly so was the rest of his team; the same team who had fought so hard through rain, sun, mountains and sprints to keep him in the lead. That same team, who now in front of me linked their arms across the wide expanse of the Champs Elysees, with the Arc de Triumph as back drop. Chris may have won the tour but the whole team crossed the line as one. It is a moment I will remember forever. It had been a team effort to get him to victory and he now acknowledged their support and sacrifice in that simple gesture.
I don’t actually remember who won the 400m in the Barcelona 1992 Olympics although it will be well documented. Somewhere there will be a richly deserved gold medal proudly displayed in someone’s front room. But somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I keep an image of two men struggling over the finish line together.
Enjoy the next few weeks of determination, there will be emotion, there will be tears and there will be disappointments as well as successes. The amazing stories that will be told of overcoming adversity especially when the Paralympics follow on; will all include the essential element support. Naturally I want England to win all the gold medals but the inspirational tales that will be told of many of the athletes will be the memories that remain.
Having laughed till we cried not only about my children and struggles Cousin Cat and I talked of her own family with the different worries and concerns her children caused as they grew to adulthood. As we parted at the end of a lovely evening Cousin Cat whispered in my ear “remember you are not alone and what doesn’t break you actually makes you who you are.”
Simple words that mean a lot!
I am counting the days till I go off to Swanwick again this year and immerse myself in my bubble of writing, inspiration and support. Although Memories waits for the send off to an agent, I have been kept busy writing small bits of content for work and the web. What to pack, to remember to take with me, to leave behind. And what style nails will I choose for this year’s school?