Who am I?
Daughter, nearly a year on from the sudden death of my mother, trying to support my father as he falls away into motor neurone disease, holding on to the self they created in their parenting of me: happy, resilient, loving, amused and amusing. This self is buffetted hard by the rain and wind of loss and sadness but she still stands up, most of the time. Thank you Mum and Dad for that.
Wife, sharing with my husband the loss of his father and receiving his help with my own demands. Torn by living in one place and loving in another. Having his company on the road as the miles pile up under the wheels. Needing to find time to focus on each other
Mother and stepmother, feeling at the moment most strongly myself when I talk to my daughter and my son, loving their deep sympathy and understanding, their practicality, watching them in their turn parenting their children and seeing how totally they are adult, responsible not only for themselves but for others. Being with them is balm to the soul. Cherishing the love and care of my stepchildren, different from that of my own children but no less important and no less essential to my well being. Feeling I do not have enough time or energy for everyone.
Grandmother, suddenly moved to laughter by a grandchild, brought into the moment. Today nearly five year old grandson was given a large model of a plane to his total delight. "Look Grandma. It's like a big rocket ship, full of mysterious things." "Mysterious things", that is what we need. The two babies in the family, smiling.
Sister, sharing the loss of our mother with my brother and sister. Knowing that, as my sister and I struggle to find ways to support our father, we understand each other, we support each other. Admiring the way my brother and his wife cope with their own problems arising from my brother's health. The relationship with our siblings is a fascinating one. It may, as our parents die, become the longest relationship in terms of time that we have, predating that with our partners and our children, part of the landscape of our lives.
Friend, not as good a friend as I would like to be, not enough present, although the warmth of my friends on my recent big birthday reminded me that they understand. I need to find more time for them. I tend to seize on a day with no claims upon it to take time for myself but sometimes I would get just as much nourishment in a different way from time with a friend. It is much easier to find time for local friends than for those at a distance. Note to self: make it happen.
Colleague? Not any more although the contact with other people who provide accommodation for visitors or who write is important to me to keep in touch with that part of myself.
And just me? This has been a challenging year for that. Gardening provided the passion and even intellectual challenge as I tried to make something here which was a fit for the place. Gardening takes time and being present. It has been squeezed out and I almost find it easier to be totally disconnected from it than to cope with the frustrations of doing not enough and doing it badly. I feel as if a bit of me is missing if I am not obsessing about the garden and yet that is the only thing to do just now. There are only so many hours and days and weeks. Yoga is something I do for me and keeps me centred in a way I could never have imagined. Last week I joined a choir and was amazed at how energised it made me feel. Today for the first time for weeks I picked up some knitting again. I have of course made a total hames of it and am now busily pulling back what I have done but still, I liked the feel of the needles in my hands. So here we are, sometimes bobbing up and down a bit, but head above water, still here, still me. Thanks to all my lovely family coming along on the journey and buoying me up in the waves.