Monthly Archives: February 2015

Family.

No one in life is born in a vacuum. No one is born who is unrelated to others. Some people are unlucky by birth and are attached through blood to people who cause them harm by abandonment, hurt, abuse, neglect, cruelty and/or shame. Others are luckier. They grow in an extended family that nurture, love, support and care. The roll of the dice is so arbitrary, and I often reflect on how wonderfully they tumbled for me.

My younger life has been documented to some degree in the stories that I have already written. The family that I was born into have been present throughout that time. I have had Parents, Grand Parents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins who I have always known and loved. They were all there during the course of my life, and no one was estranged or apart. How fortunate I am. How lucky I have been to know and love all of these special people that are my kin, my blood, my heritage.

My maternal grandmother, ‘Sis Furlong’ had seven children. Two sets of twins and three other children. Monnie (my mam), Paddy, Elizabeth (BiBi) & Philip, Leo, Paul & Pauline. My Aunt BiBi and Uncle Phil recently celebrated their 80th birthday. They are the first set of twins and Paul & Pauline are the second.

BiBi & Phil decided to have parties for their birthday, and invitations were sent out to family and friends from all around the world to come and celebrate with them.

So recently as a clan on two different nights, in two different venues, we gathered and we celebrated. We talked, we danced, we laughed, we cried, we drank, we sang and we rejoiced being a family that is confidently and lovingly connected despite the ages and geographical distance that lies between some of us.

I watched a beautiful montage of family photos set to music, of my lovely Aunt and Uncle when they were younger. It documented their lives, their loves and their happiness. I cried watching my lovely Uncle Leo and my Mam no longer with us, but who were remembered with such love and great affection by all who were watching. I laughed, hugged and cried with some of my cousins who I hadn’t seen for quite a while, but yet we all slipped effortlessly into that wonderful comfortable place where being part of a large loving family was the biggest thing that was happening alongside the birthday celebrations. It was hard to tear myself away and to say good night.

My Aunts and Uncles have created a fantastic dynasty and there were so many cousins and their spouses present over the party days. My cousins, who I grew up with, now have their own partners and adult children who are also part of this great and extended family.

Marrying or joining a clan like this must have been daunting, but hats off to everyone who was brave enough, because everyone who did so has added to the beauty and texture that make it so very special. My cousin’s partners, husbands and wives have all become my beloved relations who I absolutely adore, and are as much a part of my kin as my own children are.

I’ve missed my mam so much over the past two years, and no one will ever replace her, but I was down in BiBi’s for lunch just before the parties started and was out in the porch having a sneaky fag with my Aunty Pauline (Monnie’s younger sister) when she chuckled and threw some remark my way. Tears sprung into my eyes, because it was like having Mam back in that moment. Mannerisms and family sayings are so unique and are absolute identifiers of kin. I looked at her and could see my mother in her eyes, her smile and her chuckle and was so very glad to be there beside her.

I truly appreciate and love all the people in my family. They are a part of my bloodline and heritage. They are my kin. I feel it instinctively, and would do my utmost in a heartbeat to answer a call of distress from any one of them to be there if I was needed. Mam was at the centre of this family and although she is no longer here, I love that her people continue to love me and include me in their family meals and get together’s. I feel privileged to be included in cousin family gatherings as I have been so much recently, and I humbly acknowledge that I am so very fortunate having such special warm and loving people to call my own. I really hope that my kids realise what a cracking family that they belong to.

Destiny can be about gazing back into an older life with the fervent hope that its values and tradition continue into the future.

Words and language.

I caught a TV series recently following child geniuses in their quest to be the best according to MENSA, the high IQ society. It has been fascinating. The programme followed several contestants throughout the heats allowing the viewer to catch a glimpse of these wonderful children, their parents and their guardians come under pressure to perform and make a particular grade. I am not sure how I would feel if this were a child of mine, and thankfully I never had to make decisions like this. One set of parents moved from the UK to Italy when their child was three years of age in order to enrol him in a particular kindergarten that was very educationally focused on child geniuses. It’s quite extraordinary the sacrifices that some people make for the sake of their children.

One thing that struck me about the competitors was their extended and eloquent vocabulary. One 12 year old participant who eventually won the competition, moved to England from India three years ago with her non English speaking Tamil family in order to enhance her ability to speak English. It is her 2nd language yet she has been the world Scrabble under twelve champion twice already.

Her vocabulary was so extensive. I envy that. I adore words and I love adding to my personal ‘repertoire’ all the time. Some people collect stamps, I like to collect words. I store them up inside my head in a beautiful mariner’s trunk that is lined with imaginary colourful fabric and cushioned boxes. All the special words that I rarely use in every day conversions get stored in here.

Whimsical words like ‘serendipity’, ‘fortuitous’, ’juxtaposition’, ‘murmur’, ‘myriad’ and ‘enchanting’ are words that are beautiful in their expression and sound, but are not for general conversation. ‘Reprehensible’, ‘ghastly’, ‘quintessential’ and ‘languid’ are other words that I would love to use daily but I don’t. Using words like these in my experience create divisions, as some people need them to be explained and understood in their context. When I have to explain the definition of a beautiful word that I am using for the sheer joy of using it, I feel that I am somehow being pretentious to the person who doesn’t understand its meaning. I usually give the explanation by using another word to replace the one that I have used, and I have been asked on numerous occasions why I didn’t use the simpler version in the first place.

This stops me writing in the way that I would love to. I have thousands of words stored in my mind that burst with colour, feeling, texture and excitement. I ‘think’ them all the time, but I don’t use them in my everyday speech as I don’t want to appear grandiose. I don’t want the people that I come into contact with to feel that I am using another language, and I don’t want to sound like I am trying to be impressive.

Simplicity has its place in everyday speech, and using language without being ‘flowery ‘is a way of communicating and being generally understood. However, I believe that there is a beauty and eloquence that is getting lost in our modern language because of the many words that are not regularly being used and spoken.

I wonder if I will eventually start a secret club that meets and ‘exchanges’ words in an undisclosed cavern where the password to enter will be a word that is the beautiful equivalent of a simpler version that is understood by many ?

Would anyone else care to join?

Destiny may be appreciating that it’s more important to be simply understood by many rather than being a linguistic marvel to few.