Today is a poignant day when I could choose to mourn loss, consider ‘what could have been’ but instead I choose to be positive. I am genuinely overwhelmed by a feeling of LOVE, so indulge me in an ‘open letter’ of thanks and love.
Flippantly I start with shoes …I love my shoes, over 100 pairs and still counting, with a significant amount in red and black. A passion which started in childhood. I remember my Nana had a rack in her bedroom; shoes in all colours and matching handbags. I discovered this passion early and I’m told, I often had shoes removed as I slept as I wouldn’t take them off when awake. Apparently my first pair were red.
A love of social media (I know ……sad…). It has broadened my world, found me friends I would have never met otherwise, supported my learning and my work and is a friend itself, always there, filling downtime and keeping me connected, turning the big world into a community.
A love of travel. I’ve been to places I could only dream of a child. I experienced the vast Grand Canyon last year – a place on my ‘bucket list’ so thank you for making that dream come true. I’ve visited the Sphinx and the Pyramids, climbed into the valley of Petra to see the beautiful pink coloured Treasury. I’ve stood on the observation deck of the Empire State Building overlooking Manhattan, climbed into the crown of the Statue of Liberty, visited landmarks in Washington (thank you my friend, for taking me to all the places you had visited the day before J ), reflected at the Reflecting Pool, stood on Omaha and Gold Beaches in Northern France and reflected once again.
Sat in the peace and solitude of beautiful Snowdonia, pondered over babbling brooks and waterfalls in Yorkshire, both spiritual places for me. Experienced the glaciers of The Rockies and the desolation of the Prairies in Canada. Made a local in Atlanta, found family didn’t know we had in Carrickmacross, and rocked with the best in Rhodes.
I love London – a place I visit almost weekly. I was patriotic as we hosted the 2012 Olympics and emotional when visiting the Olympic Village and Stadium last year with family and friends. What a summer that was!
I’ve done the tourist stuff, stayed in wonderful luxurious hotels, sat on the South Bank with a book and ‘people watched’ in Covent Garden. I’ve contemplated art at The Tate and National Gallery, seen football and Springsteen at Wembley, exhibitions and Pink Floyd at Earls Court. I’ve sat in the beautiful Royal Parks, walked the wards of some of the most amazing hospitals that serve our country, been a visitor in the ‘corridors of power’ at Westminster (very 2012) and presented in conference rooms of companies across the capital. I often catch the No.59 bus towards Waterloo, and when it travels over the Thames and sing ‘Waterloo Sunset’ even if it’s in my head. I do love London. It was once said ‘If you tire of London, you tire of life. I’m not tired!
And I love home – definitely where the heart is!
My love of music. A true passion and so I can’t go more than a few hours without music. Music is like a drug. I have a music ‘player’ in every room of my home ranging from a 1930’s gramophone to 21st Century iPod docking stations, with record and tape players in the middle. The first record I bought was the eternal ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen and I haven’t stopped since. Music has been a constant in my life bringing me joy and helping me through hard times. I recall my Mums love of John Lennon, The Carpenters, ABBA, John Denver and my Dads choice being Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison. I recall the family singing ‘ Country Roads’ whilst driving through the highways of Canada and I remember watching Live Aid in 1985, when my Dad put the TV in the garden as it was such a hot day.
And what a poignant moment when the first song I heard this morning was Pink Floyd ‘Shine on you Crazy Diamond’. It’s a message!
Music has brought me new friends and new experiences. I’ve try to see live music every week. I love tribute bands (love you boys, you know who you are!!) as well as seeing the real thing. I was in the audience at THE Led Zeppelin reunion concert in 2007, seen the Rolling Stones from a VIP area in Hyde Park, rocked to the Foo Fighters many times including at the Milton Keynes Bowl and was treated to seeing them in Atlanta on my birthday in 2011. I have been known to have an unhealthy love of a certain drummer!
My first gig was David Bowie, when I crept under the fence at the MK Bowl. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Robert Plant & Patty Griffin for free at Rough Trade Record Store in Whitechapel as well as seeing them front centre at an intimate ‘warm up’ gig in Gloucester. I’ve experienced a tutorial on music composition from John Paul Jones in a small gallery in Cambridge and then saw him along with thousands others at Glastonbury, playing bass with Seasick Steve. I loved seeing old Guns & Roses in New York and saw ‘new’ GnRs in Las Vegas last year (Thank you Ian! X). I’ve seen (most of) Pink Floyd in the 1980s and saw Roger Waters build ‘The Wall’, with my oldest son in 2011. His first gig was The Spice Girls for which I hope I’m forgiven, since we have shared seeing The Who and Them Crooked Vultures, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Black Sabbath and numerous legends at Glastonbury. I took my younger son to see ACDC aged 8, followed by Green Day and Springsteen. They both come to festivals with me and I hope they remember a mum who gave the opportunity to experience one the most joyous thing ….. music.
Love to Dave Lewis and the TBL gang, who share my love of music in particular the love of Led Zeppelin. Dave shares his passion and includes me and my family in his world; we’ve shared film premiers, record fairs, met band members, been to small and big gigs, had BBQs, pub meets with beer and had tea in Bedford! Dave thanks for the mentions in the TBL magazines and in turn I send my love and appreciation in keeping this wonderful music in our lives.
Lastly a mention to the Rhodes Rockers who have taken me ‘into the fold’ and surrounded me with the music that brings me joy!
I NEED music in my life, I really can’t live without it. As Ahmet Urtegun said… What a great life, this life of music.
And to my friends…..
I have amazing friends. From those I have met on social media, who I have yet to meet but feel I know, we share a love for many things and there is an unspoken respect and fondness.
To old friends who were once lost, and since found on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We have memories from childhood, from school days and some from ‘young adulthood’. We shared exams, lessons, music, parties, good times and sad times, we found and lost love, moved on, moved away but it has been wonderful to have you back in my life, even if for some, it is at a distance.
Love to my colleagues who support my passion of the NHS, however boring I get. Peers who give so generously of their time, expertise and experience. Giving me opportunities that are outside my expectations. I’m lucky to work with you now or to have worked with you, where we strive to support and improve the NHS and those it serves.
From colleagues who started as mere acquaintances and grown into mentors and good friends. We have shared teleconferences in our pyjamas, had countless train journeys, boring meetings, shared apartments and even beds. We have travelled all over the country from London to Bristol, to Manchester, Sedgwick and Malden. We’ve been to Florida and Frimley, we met in Coventry, Hinckley, Newbury and Manchester in conference rooms and churches, sat and drank wine after hours and put the world to rights. Through friendship I’ve had weekends in Whitby, pizza in Piccadilly and spent inspirational afternoons in special calm garden near Aylesbury. In sharing those frustrations and successes, I love you all! And we WILL save the NHS!
Love to ‘The Bletchley Circle’ – the ‘mums’ who share enduring love of our children, as well as gossip, poker and wine! We have shared fireworks (How much!!??), BBQs, School Nativities, school gate banter! You gave this working mum a friendly face to connect with in an often scary ‘stay- at- home- mum -mafia’ filled playground. Love to my neighbours who have offered practical help and support in difficult times and shared their home with my little boy- both here and in Sweden. You have all opened up my world, supported me with child care, given me laughter filled evening, friendship and love. Love you all – and see you Saturday!
Here I include a Bletchley Park friend- who has helped me and my boys in very dark times. And throughout all the months and years has remained a constant support, helping me with practical stuff, providing me with a debating and conversational partner. We share curry, wine and gossip, and a love of Turing. Love you too.
Love to The Girls – My closest group of friends from whom I’ve shared highs and the lows , weddings and funerals, redundancy, new jobs , break- ups, pain and pleasure, shared achievements of children, dressing up at Black Tie events and dressing down at health spas. Shared laughter and tears; laughed so much on a plane to New York, we thought we would be sick, smuggled champagne on board pre 9/11 and drank champagne legitimately on board post 9/11. Tears – well they happen, we get through it. Scary moments when we ‘just escaped’ arrest on a Rome bus to calm and secure meetings at coffee shops and pubs. For our regular Christmas meal where we share gifts and laughter, wine and love. Thank you for patching me up , taken care of me , giving me a key to your house ( I still have it !!) And for being people I could ring at 2am and it would be OK.
And when you need me, I am here. I will always love you and thank you for all your support.
To a special lady and her family with whom I share a passion for music and the NHS. This lady knows me all too well! Love to her poor husband who puts up with endless chatter (5 hours non-stop chatter in a car is the record I think!) and is still accepting of me. Thank you for lending me your wife for nights of music, gossip & Burlesque, for sharing your home and your caravan! Thank you for allowing me access to your circle of friends who also love music and for the introduction to the ‘dark side’ of Rammstein and Drowning Pool. Thank you to my friend who texts me daily, is always there, shares my hopes and dreams and even if I don’t ask, helps me. The unwritten stuff: doing my washing when I was struggling, bringing my dog and kids treats, bandaging my knee when, like a child I fell and really hurt myself. I didn’t ask for this help but it is given without ever wanting anything back, proactive actions of love. For that and everything I love you, your lovely family and YOU ROCK!
To my friend who has supported me through thick and thin, my dearest and longest standing friend who despite my mistakes, remains loyal and loving. My mentor at work, who told me to save money each month (sorry!!), helped me learn a profession and gave me confidence. My friend with whom, I have shared joy and tears, who has stood by me when it was hard for her. My friend who supported me as ‘bridesmaid’, and chose me to be hers. A godmother to my son, and who trusted me to be Godmother to her daughter. My friend who sat with me when I lost my mum, who brought me flowers to make me smile, who shared my fears when told I potentially was carrying a sick child (I wasn’t!!), sat with me through tests and rejoiced in good news. Gave unwavering support through my own cancer scare.
My staunchest supporters, who even now promotes what I do to others and fights my corner. The lady who will filled my fridge with food when I have been short of money, done my ironing when she baby sat my children. The lady whom I’ve shared a hilarious time in a caravan with our two very small boys, who probably didn’t realise their mums, could laugh so much – at a chicken! You are my ‘wingman’ as they would say in ‘Top Gun’.
My friend – who has held my hand and my heart since 1984
I love you very much x
To my friend who was once near, now across the Atlantic. The ‘best man’ who takes that role to heart, who has listened to me, provided counsel, support advice and love. Who cares for and protects my boys as he does his own, who provides a constant support and deep friendship.
Who invited me into the warmth of his family, and through that I have new friends. A man who has kept my family close when it would have been easier to let go. Love you always.
My family – for those far and wide whom I don’t often see (we need to sort that!!) but when I do the love is palpable! A strong golden thread running through our family. We connect on phones and Facebook and we need to change this to ‘face to face’. We share memories and blood. We also share a love of Whiskey. See you all soon, and although we may not be in constant contact, the love is there and it is deep and real.
For my lovely mum, who I HOPE I am turning into! If I do that will make me very happy. I miss you every day but I know you are with me. You guide me, I still feel your love and I know that you would be proud of me. I love you, even if you are not her to tell in person.
And I see your actions come through in my dear friend who will quietly, without fuss pop something into her shopping as she knows I worry about spending money on myself – just what you used to do. Thank you, you know who you are xx
My Dad, a solid support to me and my boys, who is calm and steady. My rock. The quiet man of high moral values, who says little until it is needed. The man, who checks my oil and water in my car, arranges for things to be mended, picks up my children when I can’t and in return , I cook for him and he eats it without complaint! My Dad who provides a role model to my boys, their ‘football, golf and cinema’ companion. My Dad, the Granddad who will spend time with my boys so this Mum can have a coffee and browse the shops rather than be caught up in 3D action & adventure!
My Dad – the man in my life who has been a constant figure, giving me love strength and wonderful childhood memories. The man who only ever loved my mum – and always will. I love you always.
My sister – who I apparently I used to pinch as I was a jealous big sister…forgive me that! From childhood to adult hood (are we really this old?) you are my friend, my confidant and supporter. You understand family politics, quirks and can often second guess my thoughts. You are my first choice of ‘house, dog and baby sitter’, allowing the freedom and space to escape being a mum for a while and pursue my love of music and travel. I can’t thank you enough. You share my memories, you share the pain of loss and the joy of new beginnings, you love my boys as they were yours, this can never be understated. My secret keeper, too much to say and you know it all. You get it!
Love you forever, ‘little sis! And I look forward to sharing your birthday next week xxx
And finally love to my boys…. My beautiful, funny, courageous, intelligent, talented boys. From before you arrived, you were loved. In a way probably only a mum can understand. That unconditional love you have for a child. From the minute I saw you both and held you in my arms I adored you. From healthy chubby babies you have blossomed into beautiful intelligent talented young men. You have grown in confidence and achieved so much. You make me so proud with the smallest things. I love watching you play guitar and play football. You make me smile; you don’t cause me problems or heartache.
And I know I am right in my opinion as everyone who meets you tells me what wonderful boys you are, we all can’t be wrong. I hope I can be forgiven for any mistakes I’ve made and together we go forward to fight the world. To me you epitomise the true meaning of love and I love you both with every atom of my being. To have you in my life I am eternally grateful and I can’t wait to see you venture into the world as you enter your second year at University and second year at secondary school respectively. Remember I will always be here at home for you, wherever that home may be. If we are together, that is home.
So today, on a day which I may have faced with sadness, I reflect on love and how fortunate I am. How lucky I am, to know the real meaning of love and to look forwards with hope for the future.