I want to talk about family because mine have been on my mind so much lately. I am a keen genealogist and have a record of my dad's family back to the early 1700s in Norfolk, where many of my family still live. One of my sisters and my sister-in-law have joined me in this research and are both responsible for some amazing findings - they are like a couple of terriers with a bone! This photograph shows my great grandfather's shop in Holt. He was a clockmaker and here he is outside his shop. The family were also responsible for bringing gas and electricity to Holt and I rather like that - they were forward thinkers. My great grandmother was one of a huge family from Salthouse and died well into her 90s, a devout Christian and tending to the elderly (that does make me laugh) until the day before she died. She died peacefully in her sleep.
This is Grandad Jim. My maternal grandfather, a strong, forthright character who grew up on the Liverpool docks, one of 12 children. They were Irish immigrants and have another fascinating story (for another time). He died at the age of 93 just a couple of weeks before #4 was born. For a while he lived with Mr Thrifty and I in Sheffield and told us the most wonderful tales of his life which I will treasure forever. Regular readers to my blog will know that he joined the merchant navy as a very young lad and also worked on the Aquitania, the sister ship of the Titanic. He drank milkshakes in New York during prohibition and was docked at the Black Sea to watch refugees fleeing from the Russian revolution. This man was living history. I still miss him. I will ask someone in the family if they have a picture of my grandmother, one of my favourite people in the whole world, and then I will share her story with you.
Families are diverse and complicated. I come from a large family and have five siblings - 3 brothers and 2 sisters - and am naturally closer to some than to others. They are all amazing people though, with their own stories to tell. My mother has been my role model. This is her holding me - isn't she gorgeous?
My Mum doesn't moan. Whatever life throws at her, she just gets on with it. She always worked and taught me how to be strong. We haven't always been close, but I have unlimited admiration for her. She is now in her 70s and in spite of significant health issues in the last 10 years, she comes in to my school every week to do French speaking practice with my year 11s (she is a retired Head of Languages). One of my students described her as a "legend" and she is. They adore her. I love the fact that I have rarely heard her be mean about anyone. I am not saying she always gets it right, but she is one of life's optimists and she is enduringly positive. She has had one hell of a life and she still smiles and still looks like a film star. I love you Ma x
Then there's my sisters..............
This isn't us, but it could have been. I am the oldest. These two women are amongst my all time favourite people. They are awesome. They are both highly intelligent (scarily so!), beautiful, amazing people. Like all families, we have our ups and downs, but I will always love them. They know me better than anyone else - warts and all. I had a personal crisis last year and my little sister rang and told me she was there for me - whatever - that was what helped pull me through. They are both so funny they make me cry with laughter. I think that when people say, there is nothing like a sister, they are so on the ball. Most of my family are teachers and I know that both of my sisters make a huge difference in the schools where they work. If you get to read this - thank you for all you have brought to my life xxx
Then there's me as mother and aunt. I have 4 wonderful children - 3 sons and a daughter - and 10 nieces and nephews, and a great nephew, just on my side of the family. You heard me talk about Pumpkin and Pie who I see the most of and I am looking forward to getting to know my latest niece who was born last October. I am going to call her Buttercup because I have a feeling she is going to shine and brighten all of our lives. I wish we all saw more of each other but people are busy and life passes by. If any of you guys pass this way - know that you are loved xxx
I wish you a wonderful day xxx