I look back a lot. And I mean a lot. Not in a negative, self critical type of way, but one full of nostalgic memories and I smile whenever I think of the past.
If I were taken to Heaven today, those close to me would know that I’ve lived a happy, fulfilled and contented life. I’ve been graced with an amazing son and husband and I was born into an amazing family with wonderfully loving parents and siblings who would move heaven and earth for me (and who I’ve had more scrapes with as children and adults than the average clumsy 2 year old).
My earliest memory is sat in my highchair, eating a Mr Men yoghurt – how I remember that I don’t know, but I do. I remember Mummy tucking me in to bed as a small child and I remember Dad spending hours brushing my long blonde hair – no one bar Daddy could brush my hair!
Years later, Dad would hold my hair whilst I was sick from drinking one too many jager bombs, slumped on the bathroom floor crying that at 30, I was back home; no home of my own anymore, no boyfriend and only a shite job to look forward come Monday morning. Little did I know, that that experience alone of being 30, single and boyfriendless, living at home with my Dad and my brother and sister, would help shape the person I am today.
My childhood was happy, very happy. I remember fondly Mummy warming my school uniform on a cold winter’s morning in front of the fire in the dining room as we ate breakfast and forcing me to drink a cup of tea to ‘warm’ me up before we’d leave the house and wait for the very cold school bus. As I got older, I’d help Mum get my younger brothers and sisters ready; Mum would be running around with a flannel in one hand and a hair brush in the other and we’d laugh as as all ran around the house, chasing each other!
Primary school was ace. Mrs Pascoe our primary teacher had an inability to shout and Sister Patricia was a deathly white shade who looked on the brink of death, but whom had a heart of gold. Sister Monica our Headmistress was a kind lady who was followed by the enigmatic Mr Woulfe, who we were permitted to call ‘Frank’ his shortened Christian name, upon touching french soil when we went to Lourdes in 1992.
I laugh when I remember Gypsy horses running amok on our school field and Mr Woulfe would chase after them with a huge staff – often a cigarette in the other hand, all 20 chubby stone of him chasing these horses, whilst Mr Webdale would try and strike the fear of god into us all by yelling his head off and turning into a beetroot during the process. Of course we ignored him as the whole school cheered Mr Woulfe on as if he were some athlete running the 100m sprint – a very exciting time for us primary children!
I remember being told off by Mrs Coddinton for chatting too much (not a lot has changed in 25 years) to Laura Kilbride and Laura Grantham and then she’d smile and tell me it was ok to talk, but only in situations that permitted it (I still try and remember this advice when I go to open my mouth and some shite comes spilling out, but by then, Mrs Coddington’s words have long since failed me).
In Mrs Rhodes class, I sat next to Marc Chikhani and I’d yell at him for trying to steal my pencils and god forbid if his arm became too close to mine – Marc probably still has nightmares over my space issues all these years later! I remember sat with James Foster waiting for the BBC computer to be wheeled in and load and him threatening to wipe imaginary bogies over me whilst I sat threatening to dob him in – over it, all memories that I can remember as though they were yesterday.
Chrissy Allan our years’ heartthrob took me to his football formal when we 10 and that is when I first had my fragile little heart broken, when on the Monday morning after the said formal, Robert Cubbon greeted me off the school bus to tell me that Chrissy had chucked me for the beautiful Louise McPherson. Years later at uni, I’d accompany Chris to another football formal, only for me to end up blind drunk, falling down a set of escalators in the hotel and embarrassing him by my whole body ending up on his best friend’s face in the taxi, propelling me onto Ryan’s face… Needless to say Chrissy never invited me to another formal ever again….I guess I got my own back for him dumping me 10 years before!!!
Then there were the Mum’s that would help with school trips – Mrs Gornall, Mrs Packham and Mrs Chikhani I remember vividly; they’d put the fear of God into you with thier fiece gazes, but they were the kindest ladies that parents could rely on to whip us naughty little children into shape!
Some of my best memories have been with my brothers and sisters. It’s fair to say that all 6 of us are very different indeed. Forever bound by blood, we’re a tight little unit – we may not agree on each other’s political, religious or social ideologies, but there’s nothing we won’t do for one another. There’s so many amazing memories I have, that I could literally write a book but my favourite memories are Christmas time. We’d bound downstairs at our Grandparents house, Mum & Dad as excited as were and it’d be a free for all – all 6 of us diving under the tree! Even as adults now, we may not wake together Christmas morning, but we always open presents together and it’s still as manic now as it’s ever been!
I’ve the best of friends that a girl could ask for Emma Howells and Helen Timms ( I still can’t grow up and call them by their married names), are the best. 3am What’s App conversations with Helen when our boys were babies were standard and that girl single handedly got me through night feeds and the crippling loneliness that accompanies them.
Emma always has and always will have my back. There’s no one as fierce as her (she was fierce well before Beyonce made it cool), no one with a more cutting mouth or witty comeback – inseparable since we were 11, my teenage years were the least stressful a teenage girl could have when you’ve a best friend who laughs her way through everything. Emma, Helen – dudes I love you both and I love how our 3 boys adore each other too.
They say that cousins are your first best friends and that’s so true. Nige, Laura and Ryan Dutchak have always been like 3 further siblings and not a lot has changed as adults! Nige married Tamara who is like another sister and Laura is Godmother to my baby boy – there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for this motley crue and their amazing little kiddies who we love.
And there’s my husband an my son. My world.
My husband as I’ve said before, is a 14 year old boy stuck in a 38 year old’s body. Outgoing and funny, he’s the life and soul of any party and has taught me that the biggest gift you can bestow on yourself, is to laugh at yourself, lots. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t make me laugh; even during my labour, I was laughing even as I cried – the best birthing partner ever! My Mr Potatohead and Actionman all rolled into one! We’ve had so many fun times and he’s made me laugh so much that I’ve almost pee’d my pants at times. The most horizontal and laid back person I’ve met, Wayne is like a beacon of light – the light never fades or dulls, it shines on drowning the darkness as it approaches. My happiest memories of him always include Harry; wherever one is, the other isn’t far behind. It was love at first sight for Wayne when he first met Harry and my favourite memory of them is Wayne holding Harry to the window when he was 2 days old and telling him the world is his oyster and he can do what ever his heart tells him too.
And there’s the absolute love and joy of my life, my darling, my baby, my son, my Harry.
Harry is just the most perfect little boy a Mother could ask for. There’s been so many amazing memories with our son, it’s hard to pick only a couple out. The first time he walked was a truly amazing memory as we both witnessed it and Harry was proud as punch (I even managed to capture on camera too!). As a little baby, he was always laughing and smiling and I remember you only had to blow raspberries and he’d crease himself laughing, full on belly giggles rocking his little body.
These days, Harry’s growing into a beautiful, headstrong, independent little boy. It doesn’t seem like two minutes since we were leaving him in the baby room at nursery with Melissa and Kavita (who were like 2nd mothers to him) and these days he’s now obsessed with his best friends, ‘Franks’ Frankie and Freddie with whom he’s spent his nursery life with – Mummy doesn’t even get so much as a look in these days!
As I look back, I look back with fondness, happy to have a mind so enriched with fun and happy times. Teachers and school friends who’ve sharpened my moral compass, best friends who’ve seen me at my best and my worst and a family that would rival the Brady bunch. A family as hard as diamonds – throw the weight of the world at the, and still they come off without a scratch.Parents who me to love, to be independent and speak my mind – to stand up for those who aren’t as outgoing as me. My husband and son who light up my world – never do I see dark day with clouds with them, only the sun fighting to come out from behind them.
My beloved Grandad always told me to never look back, “Looking back Jenny, it only means you won’t see what’s in front of you.” Perhaps in some cases, but in my case, it means I embrace the memories from the past and look to the future to continue to enjoy happiness and the memories that it will bring. Life so far has been good and fun, sprinkled with some sadness but from the sadness, I embrace the fact that life’s short – I embrace the past and look forward to many more happy and fun times ahead – each memory has impacted upon me greatly for me to remember them so vividly.
We’re a long time dead after all, so best to embrace the past and the future and to live life to the happiest.