My intention behind starting a blog was….
Actually, I don’t really know.
But I knew I didn’t want a blog centered on pretty pictures; images of the perfect life that one can never achieve without photoshop. I also didn’t want to promote an altered version of myself (a blog persona, per se). If I was going to do a blog, I promised myself that I would show my true self – my flawed self. I have come to embrace my flaws, they are an intricate part of who I am. Plus, there’s a great feeling of empowerment when you can actually own your flaws.
So this post is going to be a little different. It’s not about paint, or furniture – it’s about me. My posts won’t always be this self-indulgent, I pinky-swear. There will be posts talking about paint and furniture, and more of my screw ups.
Today, I thought I’d share something of me. Something personal.
Backtrack forty some years. To when I was a young child.
(let me just preface by saying that this isn’t a sob story, or a ‘woe is me’ fable. It is what it is).
Mine was not the greatest or happiest of childhoods. It wasn’t brutally awful, but it wasn’t a childhood to be envied. I’ve since come to understand that every experience (good or bad) is a learning opportunity. And for that reason, I wouldn’t change anything about my childhood now. Trust me, many lessons have been learned.
While my childhood was pretty crappy in many ways, it had one saving grace. My Auntie Elaine.
She was my Someone.
Elaine was my father’s older sister. She had met her husband, Frank, in the military (she actually packed his parachutes). She left Wales and moved to Yorkshire, to be close to his family. The greatest injustice was that she never had children. She would have been a wonderful mother.
While she never had children of her own, she mothered my sisters and I. Auntie Elaine and Uncle Frank lived in a small terrace cottage, in the middle of vast fields. Literally.
It comprised of a living room, tiny kitchen, equally tiny bathroom and one bedroom. Her house is the second on the left in the photo. The house is situated in a village, aptly named Mountain. Its terrain is beautifully rugged. Because of the high altitude, the weather in winter can be fierce and unforgiving. Many a night, we stood by the bedroom window and listened to the howling winds spin and encircle the tiny house. Even today, I still miss that sound. It seems strangely ironic that a place so fraught with ruggedness could be a soft place to land. But it was. There was a certain sense of safety within its enrapture.
For many years, on the weekends, my sister and I would go to stay at the house. Usually, it would involve two or three bus rides to get there. I don’t think I could even begin to think of my childhood without those much-needed reprieves. Without being overly dramatic or nauseatingly sentimental, the weekends served as a keyhole of how life could be.
It was a very, very simple existence.
48 hours of Simple.
We sat by the coal fire and learned how to knit. We sat and looked through family photos. We sat, while protesting, having our hair cut by an overly-zealous, scissor-welding aunt. We walked through the surrounding fields, and made daisy chains. We spent hours playing roly-poly down the hills. My sister and I sat on the roof of the coal shed, and we ate lunch to the amusement of the visiting cows.
If I could pin point a feeling, an emotion, of what those weekends meant to me it would be the complete feeling of unconditional love. It’s hard to speak about the deep feeling that I experienced just by the simple deed of going to bed feeling loved. Or waking up the next morning knowing that the love would still be there.
Untouched. Unaltered. Unwavering.
Love showed itself in the crackle of the coal fire, in the distant sound of the radio humming, in the raging winds outside, and in the crazy lopsided haircuts.
I often tend to think that true unconditional love is taken for granted. If you have it as a child, the chances are that you will believe that everyone has it. But not every child does. Every child should be able to feel the deep satisfying joy of going to bed feeling loved; but sadly sometimes unconditional love refuses to show itself. It passes some people by.
Auntie Elaine stopped it in its tracks, and delivered it to us. Like an unexpected gift.
I paid a visit to Mountain on my trip to England. Auntie Elaine is long gone. The house is there, although it’s changed somewhat. And while the structure of the house has altered, the feeling that it brings about in me, remains. A glimpse of what heaven will feel like.
Yesterday I heard that a troubled funny man had taken his own life. And I started to think about how things maybe could have been different for him, if he had a Someone. Maybe he did, but he just couldn’t recognize it. Someone who could be his soft place to fall. Someone who could give him unconditional love.
Because isn’t that what we all need.
A slice of Heaven.