I took Joshua into school yesterday as I was having my second ‘school day’ of the week. We arrived with our music blaring out and the windows down, as it was sunny morning, so Joshua was happy. He rushed upstairs without a backwards glance, keen to get on with his busy school day. I was fulfilling my role as school governor in the morning, monitoring how their new reading programme was being implemented across the school ,so I went in a range of Junior classes to observe and to speak to the staff. It was an interesting and fun morning, that flew by.
I then met my sister for lunch and then we both came back to school for my afternoon Mental Health session with parents. I had chosen a loose theme of grief/loss to discuss, as it seemed relevant at this point in time. There were just seven of us in total, which was a perfect number for everyone to have a say and for people to show their more vulnerable sides with confidence too. I was pleased with how the discussion went and of course we had general chat over cake too, so it was not all doom and gloom. I love how ,when I set these groups up years ago, I thought that I was offering support to other parents. But more recently, they have been supporting me with friendship, rather than just being the other way around. That means, for me, that the group works well as it is not just a one way street, which it probably was at the beginning. I was amused at their confidence in my ability to provide home-baked goodies, so much so that some did not have any lunch, just to leave room for my baking.
These groups do not happen overnight, it takes time for people to feel comfortable and confident. I really hope that they will be my legacy at school once Joshua leaves next year and that they will continue to grow from strength to strength. We will have a whole new crop of new parents from September and hopefully some of them will join us. I think that the baking was the initial incentive for parents to come along, but now I think it is the support that brings them along, hopefully the home-baking is just a bonus and that being the case, it should continue on after my time. Alternatively, I have a year to hand over some of my favourite recipes and to encourage a culture of home-baking to anyone who was willing to learn. Perhaps next year we could meet in the cookery room, create and then eat what has been made as part of our transition?
I have never been a real fan or sender of sympathy cards, yet I have received so many that it is rather overwhelming. They are all sent with the best of intentions : some from friends of mine, who did not know Mum particularly but knew of her, through me and knew how important she was to me and therefore they appreciated the pain that I will be feeling. My favourite cards however are those that come from those who knew Mum and are able to share memories with us or to tell us what she meant to them. As have said before, we knew we were loved , but we are now hearing more about what Mum used to say about us and many of the cards say how proud she was of her family.
Joshua received his first sympathy card yesterday, one just for him, and it made me cry as I read it to him: ” I am sure that you will miss your Granny very much. She adored you and was so proud of you! She talked about you so much and loved to tell us about your love of music!” They are beautiful words and although I already knew that, it was still comforting to hear them from elsewhere. She always showed a keen interest in Joshua and although she lived over 2 hours away, she wanted to share in his life, so she enjoyed coming to school Christmas concerts for instance and asked for a tour of Joshua’s previous respite provision, so that she could visualise where he was spending his time. His paintings and creations were proudly displayed on Mum’s kitchen wall.
All of the adjectives that are being used to describe our Mum, are words that I would love to think that people would use about me too , as they are all good values : kind, brave, smiling, interested in others and loyal. That is Mum’s legacy and she is certainly a tough act to follow. The minister asked us this week for Mum’s weaknesses as we were telling her how perfect she was; we thought for a while, then agreed that she was rather obsessive about her recycling and rubbish separation! At her house, we were often told off for putting something plastic into the general waste rather than washing it and putting it in the recyclable bin. We agreed that to live for 79 years and to have that as your only fault , was pretty impressive and it made us smile. Even now we are trying to maintain her high standards : last week I was ironing her duvet cover, as Mum would do, even though I would never do that at home. In many walks of life, it is important that we do not let Mum down,so we are often asking ourselves : what would Mum do in this situation? If we use that as our moral compass, I am confident that we will not go far wrong.