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The Bakers

11 November 09

On Wednesday I went to my God Motherís funeral. June Francis Eve Newport.  She was my Dads older sister.  She was only 66.  For most of her life Auntie June had suffered with mental health issues.  She took tablets to lift her mood when she was depressed and tablets to lower her mood when she was high.  I remember her having a 7 day tablet box.

When I was younger Auntie June was said to suffer from manic depression. I remember as a child she would spend weeks at a time in Severals Hospital, which was a place where patients with mental instability went until their medication was under control.  In this place my aunt had electric shock treatment, she also lived along side people that had sadly committed murder in their illness, people on the outside who looked just like you and I.

As a child being an observer, when Auntie June was unwell it was quite frightening.  She didnít always make sense when she spoke, and at times seemed quite aggressive.  She didnít seem in control of her emotions.  And I remember her home being chaotic and untidy at times.

But most of all I remember her contentedness with her life.  You could have a conversation with Auntie June about anything.  She had an opinion.  It was said that she was a super bright lady, somebody who once could write 80 words per minute shorthand.  As a child I remember feeling really self conscious about the size of my nose.  Auntie June said I had a lovely profile.  As a child I dreamt of being an actress Auntie June said my stage name should be Amber St Claire because it was more romantic.

As a child I saw that the Love and support around Auntie June was second to none.  Both from Nan and Granddad and from her husband, my Uncle Dermott, who was totally devoted to her.  He was the nicest man I can ever remember.  He often seemed to be in and out of work.  Once when he was working as a Dustman or a road sweeper, he found a beautiful little old suede, red wine coloured, Wordsworth poetry book, with gold edging on the pages.  He gave it to me as a gift and I still have and love that little book till this very day.  I donít know if that book inspired my Love of writing, or if I was writing before that gift came, but anyhow, to have been given such a treasure feels highly memorable and significant.  Both my Auntie June and my Dad wrote beautiful poetry.

Sadly Uncle Dermott died of a heart attack in his sleep some 20 years ago, it ran in his family.  My poor younger cousin at about the age of 14 tried to revive his Daddy, but it was no use.  That day Auntie June lost her primary carer and her devoted husband and the boys their lovely Daddy.  Years later both Nan and Granddad then past away and my Dad prematurely died at 59, he was Junes younger brother by 2 years.

I remember that although life at times must have been incredibly tough for her two sons (my cousins were just a little younger than me)  their Love and tenderness towards their Mum, and towards life in general was and is just awesome.  They are now two of the gentlest, most sweet natured family men you could ever wish to meet.  Two men with the kindest souls.

We had a terrifically happy childhood playing 40 40 together over the marsh, and making camp in the ancient caravan at the end of the garden.  Nan and Granddad had chickens and vegetables and fruit and home made carrot whisky.  They always laid the tablecloth when we came to stay.  ďPut the condiments on the tableĒ I remember my Granddad saying.  On the side there was always a little basket of warm eggs that the children collected with my Nan from the chickens.  The fox a couple of times killed the chickens, until my Granddad was told to urinate around the edge of the chicken pen.  It worked.  Fox never came back.

Nan and Granddad with hind sight led a very basic life style.  They never travelled.  They didnít own much.  They bought local or hand reared meat and rabbits off the man up the road, sometimes for casserole, sometimes for our pets.  Granddad knocked up a hutch in half an hour, out of scraps from his amazing shed.  Often we would go out with the men oystering and cockling, walk out on the tide to the island that often had sheep on it.  We would play happily for hours and then the tide would come in, and the dads had to swim us all home on their backs, with their bounty.  When we got home there was always a treat of Cadburys milk chocolate, hidden in a 1950 style cocktail cabinet and lemonade, or sometimes we would have ice cream sodaís. 

Swallows nested in their front porch just above the door way year after year, swooping in just above your head.  Rather than use the back garden every one used to use the front south facing garden, and endless neighbours and passers by frequently used to come and join in with a chat, a drink or the fun.

At night time it was dark, there were no street lamps.  (they lived down a dirt gravel track)  It was like going back in time.  The family would walk up to the little social club, where we would play endless asteroids or space invaders in the childrenís room, or we would stay home with Nan and play cards for copper.  At night time all the children used to sleep in Nannyís bed, with a feather mattress that used to leave the shape of your body in the bed when you moved.  There was a giant arched mirror over the top which at night time used to feel sometimes magical, sometimes scary.

In later days I remember quite often just making the trip down to see them all with my Dad, we would always take the romantic country route and Dad would reminisce and tell stories, and go through the little old villages, and stop off at some ancient pubs.  Happy happy days.

This week I went to Auntie June funeral.  My other poor cousin now 34, tried to revive his Mum after she had passed away.  But her time had come.  Having slept every night in her wedding ring and watch, the night she died she took them off and left them on the side. 

Iím sad that in later years I didnít spend more time in her company.  She lived not very far away.  But modern life with 5 children and busy ness and my commitments else where, meant that I didnít find as much time as I should have, to be her way, with her.  Although Auntie June was my Godmother, I donít remember her speaking to me of God.  I didnít think she had had so much influence over my life.

I was so wrong.

At her funeral I found out what a wonderful and simple Christian she was.  And how in the nights that she couldnít sleep, because her illness was keeping her awake.  When everyone else was sleeping, she was spending time with God, reading her bible.  She then drifted off to sleep the following day, in the company of others.  Her minister talked about her kindness to people, and of how she always asked how people were, despite her own health.  And despite not being an official member, she always supported the church and her friends who belonged there.

The Newportís and the Bakers had a simple and gentle way of living that to me was totally God Blessed.  I remember my Granddad and my Dad being very passionate people, sometimes loud and quick to defend, but always full of an underlying compassion and Love.  Their simple pleasures in life and their conversations and relationships they had with people, were the most important things.  Possessions and the like were unimportant.  Their lifestyle and values have been the single biggest influence in my life.  For although they never often spoke of God and although they never proclaimed to understand the great mystery, they lived simply, and humbly, and always with accessible and priceless Love.

My Dads family and you Aunty June have blessed my life more that I could ever have wished.  So thank you from the bottom of my heart for reminding me.

Sweet God Bless you all xxx

11th November 09

The Hand of God

I will forever see the hand of God in Love, and in sharing kindness and openness.

In the innocence of childhood, and honesty, and the wiseness of the elderly.

In the compassion of all my fellow humans.  In birth, in death and in truth.

And forever, everyday, I see God in the cycle and breath of nature.  In the relationship between plants, animals and people.

But most of all, I see God in Love.

He has no hands but our hands xxx

Sweet God Bless you all xxx

November 5th 09

Oh dear blog

My soon to be 12 year old daughter is so wise.  I have been in tears all last night and all day today.  My daughter asked me why I was crying so I told her.

Last night I went to see Fr Paul.  He is our new parish priest.  He is lovely.  He explained to me that although I am welcome to carry on being part of St Sabinaís community, as I have been for the past 16 months, I can not be received into the Catholic faith.

Because although my first husband has problems with alcohol and aggression and didnít want to stay married.  And although my now husbands first wife deserted him after a 25 year happy marriage, and bought a new home with a new man.  And although us being divorced from those first partners and now married to each other for 6 happy years, the Catholic church sees us as still being married to our first spouses, and therefore, us as living in sin with each other.  We do not qualify for annulment in both our first marriages.  My husband although christened C of E, has a humanist outlook, and he still happily supported his first wife in her methodist faith for their 32 year relationship.

Catholicism after a long and seeking journey is my chosen faith.  Every part of me wants to be accepted by the catholic faith.  I go to mass weekly.  Jesus reaches me every week in my little church.  My time there feels sacred.  Daily I listen to pray as you go, daily I pray.  Our children have been received into the faith in our church.  All my children are baptised Catholic.

In my life after so much heart ache and so much loss, I need and want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.  And from the church community I do.  I knew it would be a long and difficult process to get an annulment.  But it now turns out that unless our first spouses die, or my now husband dies, I will not be entitled to become a Catholic.  This has come as a complete and utter shock.  And so the pain continues.

My daughter held me close and in her wiseness she said.  But Mummy, God already accepts you just as you are.  She also said that what I had done in Gods eyes was the right thing to do, because I divorced so that my children didnít have to live in an aggressive marriage.  And she said to me that even if the church doesnít see me as a Catholic she already does.  I carried on crying as we held each other close.  What an amazing child both me and the Catholic faith have been blessed with.  I Love my first born, she makes me feel God blessed.

It seems that God wants me to be a free spirit at the same time as being a mother to five little Catholic children.

A Spiritual Lesson

29th Oct 09

Today I went on an early morning, autumn dawn walk.  I love the escape.  I love the contemplation time.  I love turning up my iPod, whilst my mind just drifts and empties itself of lifeís clutter.  I love the working through of unconscious matters.  I love the untangling of emotions.  And I love the peace which fills me as I empty my mind over to God.

These past weeks have been emotionally draining, with conflicting thoughts of Annulment for my first marriage, and of causing further heart ache, when already past sadnessís have been laid to rest.  I fully know of Gods blessings at my first wedding,  because for me God and Love were fully present.  For God is in me.  The marriage may have been flawed though, because I dont know for sure that John entered into it with the same understanding and faith in marriage as I did, for he had no role model marriage to follow.

I know he couldnt believe in a God, when there was so much sadness in the world.  So deciphering the difference between our own failings, lack of faith,  Gods will, and now church doctrine is personally unclear.  I know I prayed to God every single day, to give us the skills to resolve our issues, and we were not given them.    But still there are things that must be done in order to be fully accepted by my chosen faith, because of the ancient institution which holds it.  Divorce alone is not enough.

These past weeks have seen sadnessís and endings and sketchy beginnings.  There has been fear of the future and of the soon to be approaching imminent loss of elderly friends, whom I have grown to Love.  These losses, I feel like I will have to face, first hand and mostly alone, as others who are connected have moved away.  Not to mention fear of unexpected losses, to which I am all too familiar.

There have been frustrations between me and a very special person, whom I deeply love.  Lack of conversation and expression, and then to compensate, over expression.  And silence and spoken truths and unspoken truths and aloneness.  So I try and read between the lines.  I donít know why, but I need to engage with people.  I just am that kind of person.  I want to understand and respect peoples feelings and that is so difficult when there is silence.  I want to share and express, and hold close in life.

I need (as we all do) unconditional Love.  Especially since I lost my Daddy.  I am fortunate my older husband has it in abundance, seemingly the more I need it , the more he seems to have.  Unswerving, unfaltering, steadfast Love.   I struggle with his humanist complete lack of spirituality, and his non belief in eternity.  But he does have faith in the very goodness and rightness of life.

We talk often about our huge difference in age, and our few different interests, and our few different friends, and in our maturity and Love and faithfulness for each other, we understand that external friendship, can bring both an alternative outlook and a richness to us as individuals, and in return enriches what we share and bring to each other.  We do spend 95 % of our time in closeness to each other, as I am at home and my husband is in the office up the garden path.  We share our life.

I Love.  I Love my friends deeply.  I have always loved.  Few but deep.  And no amount of distance or silence or circumstance or distraction will ever stop me Loving.  Because It is of me.  And on a daily basis, I know I shouldnít, but I forever desire that unconditional return of  Love, from the people whom I so Love.  And on a daily basis I am forever disappointed, when I feel it fall short.  Then I feel sad.

And then I go on my early morning Autumn dawn walks,  Today there was the deepest, densest, most mysterious, thick blanket of mist all around.  I walked through the woods, along the old railway line, then along the sea front.  The sky, the sea and the land, were all one floating cool whisper of white, with only the immediate path visible ahead.  The grey pathway, dropping into 20ft of  icy ocean and then nothing.

But I did not feel alone.  Although I could not see, for the life of me, in which direction I was going, I felt held and protected.  And I understood that just to put one foot in front of the other on the short immediately visible path ahead, was all I needed to do, in order to be guided safely home.

And so in Life, just like now when I am feeling a little lost and uncertain and unsure of direction, in a random blessing of nature God teaches me a comforting spiritual lesson and most awesomely that in all my aloneness, his unconditional Love will never falter or fall short.

Amazingly when I arrive home, although still sad from a dear loved ones silence, another dearest friend cheers me with a long, wise and special phone call.  Then another friendís lovely card makes it through the postal strike.  Then the arrival of some beautiful flowers and a heartfelt card from another friend whom I had helped.  One by one their loving kindness poured in.

And God teaches me how to be humble xxx

4th October 09

So Much Love

On Sunday I shocked myself by telling an old lady friend that I loved her. I donít know where the words came from, it just happened before I had time to think about it. Without a blink this lady turned right back to me and said "and I love you too my dear, you have been a very good friend to me.Ē   During a sad week this has been keeping me warm. x

This week on Saturday evening when I was at mass we turned to offer each other peace.  For those of you who do not know, in the Catholic Church before you take communion, you turn to the people around you, hold hands and say the words ďpeace be with you.Ē  I sit right at the back of the church, and on a weekly basis a dear quiet lady and I always touch hands and offer each other a simple brief ďpeace be with youĒ, before turning to others with the same blessing.

This week however instead of the brief blessing this lady hugged me close, kissed me and said ďyou are a very special person my dear,  peace be with you alwaysĒ.  I can not think what I have done to make her feels this.  But just her kindness was enough to hold me whilst I couldnít contain my emotions any longer.  The tears came instantly without warning and the poor people in the row in front of me didnít quite know where to look.   I was already feeling emotional inside as it was the first Mass with our new priest who seems lovely,  but such a deep sadness at the leaving of our most special Fr Martin whom I love dearly.  I feel so very blessed to have found such a place.

Last week Fr Martin's leaving mass was beautiful and all about loving kindness.  This weeks mass was compassionate and poignant and all about eternal life, and the sacrament of marriage.  So much love this week.  So much hurting and sadness.   So much hope.  So much loving kindness.  So much emotion.  I have felt over whelmed with emotion and exhausted.

The Holy Spirit deeply touching our lives.

We are only here for such a small amount of time, but with just a few words or a little loving kindness we can make such a very big difference.

I know it can be difficult for those less expressive, but in what ever way you can, show or tell somebody that you Love them today.  It will I am sure come back to bless you xxx

With my Love forever
Amber xxx