Tag Archives: children

A Pregnant Pause

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
Lyndon B Johnson, 36th US President

She never opened an email from an unknown address.  So why did she that time?  She couldn’t give you an answer.

The email was from a young woman looking for her birth mother.  Many years ago, far too many years ago, Sandy had been caught up in the headiness of the 60s.  Beads, music and free love.  Such carefree times that she and her friends  really thought would never end.  But they ended when she discovered she was pregnant.  Only 17 years old, estranged from her parents and her only friends were members of this hedonistic set. Where to turn?  There was nobody in her set to confide in or to give her any advice.

Then for the first time in many years she found herself in a church.  She had passed it many times but today when she saw the open door she went inside.  She sat down in a pew at the back and quietly thought about her situation.  How could she deal with it all alone?

A quiet voice intruded into her chaotic thoughts “You are troubled my child.  Perhaps I could help?”  The speaker was an elderly clergyman who had noticed her sitting at the back of the church for a long time.  His quiet voice interrupted her thoughts and she burst into tears.  She then told this kindly gent her problems.  She had no family to turn to, no money and few friends and she was pregnant.

But of course in those times, the clergyman had heard this tale many times.  Young people thinking they were invincible and convinced that nothing bad could happen to them.  He told her of a home for unmarried mothers, where she could stay until the child was born.  She would have to work while she was there in the laundry or the kitchen until her time to give birth was close.  She didn’t much like the idea of institutionalised living but really did she have a choice.

The alternative was crawling back to her parents.  Her mother would have been ashamed and less that supportive and her father?  Well he would have retreated into his study and let her mother deal with the situation.

No, the option being put forward by this clergyman was the better of the two.

He excused himself to make a phone call leaving her alone.  She thought again of the alternatives to what he was suggesting.  Maybe somebody knew of a way to get rid of the unwanted child.  She knew there were people who would perform this operation for cash. But she didn’t have any cash and she didn’t know anybody who would lend her some and most of all she didn’t know who amongst her friends and acquaintances would know where to find such people.  So the home for unmarried mothers had to be the choice.

When the clergyman returned he had on his hat.  He told her the home was a short walk from the church and they could go now.  So reluctantly she left the sanctuary of the church where for the first time in many days she had found some peace.  They took a short walk and ended in front of a two storey house that looked no different from the other family homes on the street.  There was nothing proclaiming its role and obviously those involved in running the home did so quietly.  If she hadn’t been taken there she would have passed it as just another family home.

He rang the bell and the door was quickly opened by a smiling older woman who embraced Sandy and told her welcome.  The house was quiet and comforting.  In the background was the sound of a baby crying but it didn’t disturb the peace she felt in this house.

The clergyman bid her goodbye and after thanks and tears from Sandy, he left her.  She never saw him again.  After the birth of her child she went to the church to thank him but he was no longer there.  He had been transferred to a parish miles away.  So the best she could do was to write a letter to thank him.

A healthy daughter was born and as had been decided the child was offered for adoption.  Sandy knew this was the best/only alternative for this child so after one last hug she gave her up.  She knew nothing of where her child would grow up and with whom.

Through the years she had thought of this daughter.  Where she was and how she was living.  Was she in a loving family home?  Did she have siblings?  What was she doing now that she had finished school?  So many unanswered questions.  But her experiences in those months spent in the care of the women who ran the home, assured her that the couple would have been properly vetted and she just knew they would give her child a good home.

And now, out of the blue this email asking if she could be this woman’s mother.  How did she feel about it.  She had been divorced several years earlier and her only son and his family had emigrated to Canada so she was alone.  Oh they kept in regular touch by phone and Skype.  They visited from time to time and she had been to Vancouver to visit them but apart from a few good friends she was on her own.

Her ex-husband had been told of the adoption but they had never shared the information with their son agreeing that he need never know.  What to do?  Should she/could she ask her ex-husband for help and advice?  She went to bed upset and wondering just what to do….

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
Winnie-the-Pooh A.A. Milne

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trusting Family

Recently I discovered Five Sentence Fiction  and decided to try my hand at writing a story in only five sentences.
This week’s word is FAMILY.

The soldiers burst into the school, yelling, shouting orders and firing rifles.  The children, scared, huddled together under their desks trying to hide from the angry men.  But they were soon discovered and brought out of hiding with the girls being separated from the boys who were locked into the school hall with the staff.

Then the terrified girls were herded onto buses and quickly driven away from the school.

Only then, when the firing had ceased and the yelling had stopped and it was possible to think, did the petrified child think of her family and knew they would find her and take her home again.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

Click on the badge to see what others have written.

Writing 101 – Point of View

Still playing catch up.  Hopefully tomorrow I shall be caught up.

Day 9 and the challenge is:

A man and a woman walk through the park together, holding hands. They pass an old woman sitting on a bench. The old woman is knitting a small, red sweater. The man begins to cry. Write this scene.

Today’s twist: write the scene from three different points of view: from the perspective of the man, then the woman, and finally the old woman.

The man suddenly stopped. He looked at the old woman knitting her red sweater and broke into loud sobs. “Hush dear. It is alright” said the woman who was walking with him.

“But what if he doesn’t respond.” said the man. “What if he is a vegetable for ever?” “What if we hadn’t persevered and insisted that he have the operation. He was a happy little boy, now who knows what will happen to him.”

Taking his hand in hers and gently wiping away his tears the woman said “But we had to give him the chance to live life as any other normal little boy. Without this operation he would never have run around chasing a ball, never have played cricket or rugby and would have always been sitting on the sidelines watching life go by. I am sure that we have done the right thing.” And with a smile she turned him back towards the hospital where their young son lay recovering from an operation.

The woman is much more pragmatic than the man, although she too is very concerned about the condition of their son. She has had many conversations with herself, their married daughter and their medical advisers before and since reaching the decision to go ahead with the operation.

The sick child has been born many years after their only daughter, who has since married and moved away. She and her mother are in close contact and since the decision was made to have the operation, they have been in contact daily.

While she is conciliatory towards her husband, helping him in this terrible time, she also wishes he would ‘buck up’ and perhaps support her more. Hard times are easier if there is somebody to share them with.

The old woman is knitting the red sweater for her grandson. She doesn’t know whether it will ever reach him. He is living in Algeria with his mother and his father, who is a doctor.  She is greatly worried about them.  However, she continues to send parcels to the family regularly but does not know if or when they receive them as contact with them is difficult if not impossible.

So she knits and sends presents as a way to keep some connection with her family during this scary time.

Writing 101: Give and Take

Day 7 and today’s challenge is:

Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else. and

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

I really struggled with this challenge and am not sure if I understood what the challenger was getting at but here is my attempt.

tantrum

“I will not go” she said tearfully, as she stamped her little foot.

“But you must” said her mother. “You have already promised and Suzy will be so disappointed if you don’t go.”

No response; so in her most conciliatory tone her mother offered “Tell you what, I’ll pick you up afterwards and we’ll go to Tony’s for dinner and you can choose anything off the grown up menu”

Suddenly the child was all smiles and in her most beguiling voice she said “Really? Then I’ll have oysters and an enormous hamburger, fries, ice cream and a large glass of chilled champagne to go with it”.

Huh, sometimes we are hoisted by our own petard or maybe just second guessed by a three year old child.

I wrote something along these lines in a Trifecta Challenge some time ago.  You might be interested to read it

Post script – Thanks to those who commented and mentioned that the words were a little out of the usual vocabulary for many three year olds.  I accept this constructive criticism.  I was trying to show that the little girl was copying her mother in choosing what to eat (but perhaps not the hamburger and fries).  I would have been more believable had she said something like “and a large glass of that bubbly drink that you like so much”.

A Voyage of Discovery

After reading and commenting on Noelene’s blog today I trawled back to the very first blog I wrote on March 1, 2011.  This was an introduction of me to you (or anybody out there who wanted to read what I thought) and this post attracted no comments, no visitors and so I guess no interest.

I then went on to read some more of the early posts.  But writing a blog (and re-reading earlier posts) has been a learning process for me.   Clearly I was growing more confident in what I was putting out to the blog and because of that I was attracting more readers, comments and almost unbelievably, followers.

Many blogs that I follow focus on one or two aspects of life, themes or particular interests.  Mine just simply meanders around, aimlessly following the many and mixed pathways of this elderly woman’s mind. Note here – according to my grandsons the two words one doesn’t use around Granma are ‘Old” and “Age”.  When my No 2 grandson was about 9 I had a fall and an ambulance officer asked how old I was.  Robbie quickly jumped and told the guy that we didn’t use that word around Granma but he knew that Granma was 39 plus GST (Goods and Services Tax).  The ambulance man was delighted and asked if he could use that phrase.

I have dwelt at some length on growing up in London during and after the war.  There are many posts on this subject and no doubt there will be many more.  These are written particularly for the four young men collectively known as my grandsons.  As my son has said on several occasions, and particularly when the boys were young , words to the effect that if he and his sister couldn’t understand what life was like then how could we expect the boys to understand.  So the series of posts on growing up was introduced.

I wrote about my DYS (Dashing Young Scotsman) and our travels, our children and our long and happy life together.  Then about his sudden death and the catalyst for writing my book ‘Suddenly Single’.  I told about the support and love that I received from family and friends at this time.

I have written about my love and friendship with my two sisters.   Although we live impossibly far away from each other we are still best friends.  During the riots in London in August 2011 and after speaking to my sister there, I penned this Ode to a Sister.

I have shared some of what I learned and passed on to clients during my time as a Life Coach.  I truly believe that I learned more from my clients than they ever did for me.

I introduced to you my programme called Memories – writing your memories for those who come after you.  This is where I coined the phrase – ‘To live in lives we leave behind is not to die”  So I wrote my memories and shared what I learned in so doing with others.  And this was easy and enjoyable.  I am currently working on putting the process into a book to share with others.

I told some tales of when I was the Wedding Coordinator at an historic church in Wellington.  Many more tales linger in my brain from this very happy time.  I said this was the best job I ever had and I meant it.

And I have let loose a few rants at what I consider to be the ridiculous behaviour of some people; the unthinking attitude of some in power; the naivety of some and the penalties they pay for being so, and on and on covering anything at all that takes my mind on that day and at that time.

I almost forgot my foray into writing fiction.  I received a postcard from my sister in the US and this led me to write the first in a series about hats.  Then Sallyann at Photographic Memories wrote a post about Cars and I read a challenge in that post.  So a continuation of the hats saga was embarked upon and we had lots of fun looking for the bonnets.  This saga took another turn when Thomas Stazyk  introduced the ‘the swarthy gent in the Panama hat’ in a comment on one of the posts.  This saga is continuing.

And I cannot forget my darling Lotte; the Tibetan Spaniel who shared my life, my walks and my adventures until her untimely death a couple of months ago. She left a huge hole in my heart .  And now my new companion, the Beautiful Miss Bella is working her way into my heart.  She has a totally different attitude to life than Miss Lotte but she leaves nobody in any doubt that she loves me.  She is fiercely protective of me even though she weighs all of 5 kgs.

So in the two years in which I have been blogging I have learned plenty.  I have met many friends in the blogosphere, have learned that I really like writing and would like to do more of it.  I have enjoyed my foray into fiction writing and have started writing poetry.

And just to forewarn you, I plan to keep blogging.  And a warning!

“When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me……………..
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”
From “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, English Poet, 1932-

Book cover

To The Gasworks

We were watching something on TV tonight and the subject of coke came up.  Do you know that coke is the end result of coal that has been burned?  According to Wikipedia “Coke is a fuel with few impurities and a high carbon content. It is the solid carbonaceous material derived from destructive distillation of low-ash, low-sulfur bituminous coal. Cokes made from coal are grey, hard, and porous.”

Don’t know about any of that but I do know that it gave off enough heat to warm our apartment.

During and immediately after the war coal was rationed and as open fires were the main form of heating in most houses it was sorely missed.  I remember one day my Mother dressed us all in our coats, hats and gloves and took us outside the apartment.  There, sitting at our front door was a pram borrowed from a neighbour.

About a mile or so from where we lived was the local gasworks that consumed enormous amounts of coal and then discarded the coke that was left.  One day Mother had heard that one could buy coke but that one had to go to the gasworks yard to collect it.  Hence the pram borrowed from the neighbour.

Gasometer_in_East_London

Gasometer in East London via Wikipedia

I remember it was a bitterly cold winter day – I think mid-afternoon – and the four of us walked to the gasworks.  When we arrived we were met with a long line of women who obviously had heard the same rumour.   I seem to remember there were only women in the queue, I suppose all the men were away fighting.

The line moved slowly, oh so slowly for three little girls with nothing to do but stand around.  I remember putting my youngest sister into the pram and my elder sister and I wheeled her up and down the line, talking to strangers and showing off our darling sister.  I can’t imagine any mother allowing her children to do this today.  Talking to strangers and accepting candy from some of them.  And they were all glad of anything to relieve the monotony of standing in line. I think other children joined us in our perambulations.

Eventually, we were at the head of the queue.  Mother asked how much she could have and was told two bags.  She paid whatever was asked (2 shillings comes to mind but I may be wrong) and the kindly man loaded the bags into the pram for us.

By this time it was dark as well as bitterly cold, but mother was in an exuberant mood.  She had bought extra heating for us.  And I do remember that as we trudged back home she balanced our youngest sister on top of the coke bags while my elder sister and I skipped along the road.  Mother’s excitement was catching although at the time we really didn’t understand the reason for it.  But in the cold nights ahead we were very pleased that we had gone to the gasworks.

How strong those women were who kept their homes and families together while their men were away fighting for King and country.  I wonder if I would have been as resilient as my Mother in the same circumstances.

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
Author Unknown

Lucky lucky me

As I have said before, I have lived a blessed life.  An easy childhood with loving, non abusive parents, two supportive sisters,a loving and caring husband and two decent children so the thought of physical and/or mental abuse is very strange to me.

I started on this rant months ago after  reading a post from Elizabeth at Mirth and Motivation entitled My Name is Luka.  I hadn’t heard the song she quotes but it certainly brought tears to my eyes when I listened to it.

Several months ago I wrote on this subject – Excess Baggage – and lamented on the plight of many children here in New Zealand.  We have one of the worst records of child abuse in the Western world and we are so tiny – 4.1 million at the last census.  Note the 2011 census wasn’t carried out because of the devastation caused in the February Christchurch earthquake.  The census has just been completed and it will be interesting to see how many more people have chosen to make their homes here.

It is estimated approximately 15 percent of children are born at risk of abuse, and over 80,000 children witness family violence each year, according to the Child Protection Services (CPS).  How many of those children as they grow up will say (as Luka says in Susan Vega’s song)

“And they only hit until you cry
After that, you don’t ask why
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore
You just don’t argue anymore…

It’s time for us all, wherever we live to stand up and say that this must not be allowed to continue.  While we read about the abuse we hear little or nothing from our law makers as to how we can curb this growing violence.  What can we as members of the general public do to stop these alarming figures from rising even higher?  We can be aware of what is happening around us and if we do suspect abuse in a family then we can and should report it to the Police.  We are assured that confidentiality will be maintained and perhaps, we could be instrumental in helping one small child get away from the regular, or even sporadic abuse.

End of today’s rant.  And an update on the Beautiful Miss Bella.  For the first time today she was left in the house alone for a couple of hours.  When I returned she was sitting on the living room window sill patiently for me.  And what a welcome I received.

Later in the afternoon we went for a short walk in the dog park where she encountered several new friends.  Well I hope they will become friends in time.  I am continuing to be entranced by this lively little clockwork toy that I have let into my life.

Dogs have given us their absolute all.
We are the centre of their universe.
We are the focus of their love and faith and trust.  They serve us in return for scraps.
It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
Roger Caras, president emeritus of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
1928-2001

What Do I Want For Christmas

Pohutakawa tree

Pohutokawa, NZ Christmas Tree
Image via Wikipedia

Santa Baby, slip a sable under the tree
for me.
been an awful good girl, Santa baby,
so hurry down the chimney tonight.

Santa baby, a 54 convertible too,
Light blue.
I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

Always at this time of the year, I have a flashback to Eartha Kitt singing “Santa Baby”  She doesn’t want much.  Apart from the sable and the convertible above, she asks for a yacht, a platinum mine, a duplex and checks, Christmas decorations from Tiffany’s and a ring.  Well a girl has to know what she wants.  And of course, this is all in fun.  Watch and listen here.

But what do you want for Christmas?  Last year Katie at k8edid put her wishes in a very clever verse.  So what is it that you want for Christmas, apart that is, for world peace and everybody being well housed, fed and clothed?

And what do I want for me?  Well, I really don’t want any more ‘stuff’.  I have spent the past two and half years clearing it all out and now find that it is perfectly possible to live with so much less ‘stuff’.

  • What I want is the love and friendship of my children, their spouses and their children
  • I would like to keep the level of health that I now enjoy
  • And while keeping my old friends, I would like to meet some new ones.

What do I want for others?

Boys planting

  • What I particularly want is for all children in the world to find a happy and safe place to grow up in, knowing that they are loved, respected and cared for so they may grow up to be happy, well-rounded young people.
    Here in New Zealand we have a dismal record of child abuse.  I should like this to be addressed here and all around the world.
  • I would like all children to know a world where they are not surrounded by war, bombs and deprivation
  • I should like all children to have enough to eat, fresh water to drink and clothes to keep them warm
  • For the adults –
    • Of course, peace and security
    • Love and friendship
    • Good health
    • The freedom that we enjoy to express their beliefs openly without fear of reprisal

So what do you want for Christmas ?  For my friends of the Jewish faith please forgive my ignorance if I ask whether you exchange gifts at this time of the year – Hanukkah; and I address the same questions to my Muslim friends and any Buddhists or other religions who might read my blog.

Whatever your religious beliefs, I hope you have a happy time shared with family and friends.

Happy Holidays

 

One Down, Three To Go

Success sign

Another milestone in life.  Yesterday was the last day at school for my Number One grandson.  Apart from going to sit four or five exams, his connection with school days is over.  And now the rest of his life, with all its adventures and excitements is opening in front of him.

This is one laid back almost 18 year old kid.  When I saw him on Wednesday he was getting ready for the leavers’ dinner,  unfazed by the fact that this huge change was about to take place in his life.

How exciting the next few years will be for him as he discovers an independent lifestyle through university and his other activities.  Since he got his own car a year or so ago, he has become fairly independent of his parents, but now…..

And I wonder how his late grandfather would react to this strong, charming young man who was only a toddler when he last saw him.  Would he be proud of how his grandson has grown and is maturing.  I am sure that the answer would be a resounding yes!

So go forth into the world young man, knowing that anything and everything is possible.  It’s your choice what you do from here on and what you make of yourself.  But know always, that you are greatly loved my No 1 Grandson.


Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.
Ruth Goode
, author, 1905-1997

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A Very Simple Pleasure

The area in which I now live is a mix of young families, grown up families, single people, professional singles and couples, and retirees like me.

The other day my day was made when I arrived home.  As I was getting out of the car I heard two little voices calling “Judith, Judith” and there were the two,  little girls from across the road calling me to come and talk.  These delightful little ones are 4 and 2 years old and I was thrilled that they wanted to speak to me.

They showed me the treasures they had gathered that day with the elder one prompting her sister all the time.  The treasures were leaves, a couple of flowering weeds, a pebble and a bird’s feather – what innocence they displayed. We ‘chatted’ for some minutes and then I was told by the elder one, that they were waiting for friends who were coming for a sleepover.  I was told that one was only a baby and so wouldn’t be playing but her big sister would.  I heard that they would stay the night and then go home to their own house the next day.  This information was imparted with such seriousness and then when the car carrying the friends arrived, their excitement knew no bounds – I love that expression and it really tells how they were.  Jumping up and down and calling their friends’ names.

This simple interaction with these two little girls brought me so much pleasure  and I thought after I left them that often we look for happiness in the big things, when in fact happiness and pleasures are all around us if we just take the time to look.

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
“Leisure” by William Henry Davies, Welsh Poet & writer 1871-1940.

Davies plaque

So tomorrow take some time just to be and to look around and see the little things that make life worthwhile.  Two little girls made by heart sing that day – what makes yours sing?