I was out in the garden and a neighbour was playing with his toddlers. They were laughing and having great fun. Suddenly, I flicked back to the 1950’s and my three sisters, all of us out in the street. They were laughing and they were, in theory, under my care. I recall the joy of it all and I shared it, alone in the garden, with my neighbour. However, the joy was short lived. Memories come in a package, maybe the good first and then the regrets close behind. I am aware that I resented having to look after my sisters. My mother constantly reminded me of this responsibility and it stopped me going off with friends. That resentment now upsets me, my own small mindedness. It’s odd how sibling memories could intrude so readily into your day.
The life journey
That resentment was so formative on my life. Children, for me, meant poverty and restriction. Breaking out from the council estate became an objective. The weekend climbing in North Wales or over in the Peak District thrilled me to the core. Having wheels to reach those dreamlands was the purpose of paid work. However, when Ann and I married, how did that work out? Firstly, I was a problem, always wanting to do stuff, never settling. Secondly, I doubted myself as a potential parent having lived all those years in a stressful house. Our absent father hung over us like a bad dream. How could we be normal? That said, I was also sympathetic to the poor and disenfranchised: I had been there. So, in my bereavement work I was always going to strive for people.
It’s odd, is it not, how one can drift from sibling memories into a review of one’s life. Clearly, it’s because our life is an aglomeration of all these aspects. We are the model, the one shaped by so many years of exposure to the day to day tribulations. This is, of course, wonderful. Each of us shaped and moulded by the good and the bad. Perhaps the bad is an essential part of it. Is the good purely a reflection of knowing the bad? Perhaps I need to copy these sibling lambs, uncomplicated, desirous only of milk and a grassy meadow in the Peak District.