Friday, August 03, 2007

What's really important

It has been quite a week. The chaos surrounding our move is still slowly simmering around us and I keep reminding myself that this move is a good - no, actually a fantastic thing - one that will change our lives in a way so positive I can only just begin to imagine it. The fact that I might get to actually have two houses really excites me, that is for sure! As does the idea that I will be closer to one of my very best friends.
She came up this weekend with her husband and family and I was reminded how much I miss them. We used to live across the street from each other until about eight years ago. Now we get together about three times a year, not nearly enough. This weekend was particularly lovely in that it involved two days where it did not rain! It was our first sunshine in ages, and I was the happiest I can remember being for a long time sitting at Ilam in the Peak District having a picnic all together. The kids were laughing and playing as we sat and chatted in the precious sunshine.
Anyway, regardless of exactly where it is, our new home should be considerably closer to hers so we should be able to meet up much more regularly. I can’t wait. In the meantime though I am still mired in the confusion this move seems to entail, having meeting after meeting with removal consultants, our premier banker and various new home builders. I am also still desperately trying to sort out our lives, having realised that in the space of this last nearly eight years we have accumulated a huge amount of stuff, most of which we do not need. In fact, most of which we have forgotten we have! Despite 12 trips to the dump and numerous trips to the charity shop I am still, embarrassingly, surrounded by clutter. There are a lot of sentimental things I want and need to keep, but if I don’t pull my finger out I am going to struggle to find space for them!
Of course, all this confusion often gives rise to short tempers and I spent a lot of last week behaving rather badly, and I was joined by my nearest and dearest in this most undesirable of pursuits. We snipped and snapped at each other, falling out and making up at such speed we often found ourselves forgetting whether we were contented or cross. As usual when one begins behaving rather badly, one often finds oneself snapped back to reality and regretting the amount of time one has lost being petulant or stupid, or even both.
You see, on Sunday afternoon, just after my friend had left, we had one of those awful phone calls. I totally was not expecting it, although the lady in question was quite elderly and had serious heart problems. However she was one of those amazing people whose vitality and zest for life just bubbles round her so that one really does not believe it will ever stop doing so. If ever someone really lived, it was my Aunt Trish. Not that her life was easy mind you. A divorced mom of five in the day when the very idea of single moms had people shaking their heads, she raised five lovely daughters who are a total credit to her. She had lots of friends, and she really did live life absolutely to the full. She travelled to England from Canada more than once, and knew more about the country I live in than I do. I’ll always remember seeing her arrive at my wedding with her daughters and my two little cousins. Most of my family were unable to make the trip, but they did and I really was thrilled. Although Aunt Trish struggled with heart problems in the last few years, she always insisted she was doing fine, and got up to all sorts of mischief – even going off on the streetcar by herself (at 83!!) despite being entreated by her daughters not to. They looked after her so well that she was able to live nearly independently till the end.
I was the only one who called her Trish. I can’t remember why I did that, but I’ve persisted in it my whole life. Everyone else called her Pat, perhaps a more suitable short form for Patricia than the one I chose. But to me, she was, and always will be Aunt Trish. She was my Godmother, the last one I had left. Of course, I’ve been busy these last few years, but I regret not having kept in touch better. I spoke to Aunt Trish about two months ago, and when we got the phone call saying she had died, her birthday card, along with a long overdue letter, was sitting on the side table by the door.
This very undesirable snap back to reality in the form of finding out about the death of someone I love has, not surprisingly, caused me to resolve to remember what is important. Life is far too short, and our family far too precious, to spend time sniping and snipping, regardless of what chaos is circling round one’s ankles. I’ve also resolved to get in touch when I am thinking of someone, instead of waiting till later. One of the difficult lessons in life is that we do not always have the luxury of later. But the most important things Aunt Trish has taught me were to not waste time worrying, to live life to the full, to experience everything you possibly can, to get out there and just live life to the full. Excellent lessons from a really amazing lady.

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