I woke quite early this morning, and pulling up the blind, thought 'what a difference from yesterday morning', when the sky was blue and the air clear. Today it was slightly misty, still and dull. I lay in bed with the dogs snuggled up close, and pondered on my life, the highs and lows, the good times and the bad, and the uncertain future ahead of me.
I realised what a wonderful life I had enjoyed, notwithstanding my marriage - a union which showed such promise, produced two glorious girls, and descended into a miserable fight for survival.
I loved living in the country village in Kent, where my two girls grew up. We had such fun - there were a lot of young children the same age, their parents became our friends, and we enjoyed simple pleasures. The girls had rabbits, Peter and Dandelion, Dsndelion grew enormous and used to be hauled around by the junior daughter under her arm, his poor hind legs dangling. We used to let him roam free in the garden, but he loved to nip next door and we spent hours trying to catch him. We bought two guinea pigs, both of whom turned out to pregnant, and soon we had Gin and Tonic, Whisky and Soda, Antony and Cleopatra et al .... Our lives were dominated by the wretched creatures, arguments over feeding, clearing out the hutches, remembering to buy the hay/sawdust, on and on it went!
There were fewer expensive toys around thirty years ago, so pets, tents made out of sheets and bamboo poles, trips to the beach and strawberry picking were the order of the day. Life was so much simpler.
We lived in a large rambling clapboard house, shabby but much loved - my girls loved it so, and still talk nostalgically about their life there. Three floors, little passageways, nooks and crannies, perfect for hide and seek and sleepovers with their friends. The summers in my mind were always warm, meals always eaten outside, my memories are bathed in a roseate glow, as memories so often are - I recall how sad we were to leave, and can remember taking a last look round, before locking the front door for the very last time. The echo of a child's laughter in the playroom on the top floor, the smell of the woodsmoke in the drawing room inglenook, the junior daughter's tears because she was leaving a pet graveyard in the garden, and wanted to take the long dead pets with us! 24 years later, I can still remember it all.
I remember the Brownie enrolments, the attempts at riding a bicycle with out stabilisers, the ballet lessons, the riding lessons, the junior daughter getting so much pleasure out of her little sailing dinghy, the fancy dress parties, the children's birthday parties with the magician, the junior daughter calling out that she knew how he did all the tricks - thus ruining it for everyone! One particular child who stayed the night, and would not go to bed at all - I wanted to wring her neck.
Also - the adult pleasures. The husband and I travelled widely on business, and visited some amazing places. The opera houses in Vienna, Munich, Paris, New York. I got to know Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Munich, New York so well, the art galleries and museums in those places, how lucky I was.
As I walked up the lane to church this morning, I was still in a reflective mood and this continued as the Remembrance Day service began. As I said yesterday, I have felt particularly affected by the recent deaths of our soldiers in Afghanistan. This morning, as we remembered and honoured them, I thought about my early morning reveries about my girls growing up. I realised that there were many families now where there would be no such shared memories of children growing up and of a family life together, and my heart went out to them. I am so lucky to have had the life that I have had, and appreciate it so much.
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