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Sabbatical, Day 50: On Not Taking Family For Granted

So today is Mothering Sunday – ‘not to be confused with Mother’s Day’, as Wikipedia says at the top of its entry. A time to remember our mother the Church, the Bride of Christ, as well as a time to honour those in our families who often more than anyone else have epitomised the selfless and sacrificial characteristics of love.

Today in the UK it is poignant to do so, given the death last night of Jade Goody, leaving her two small boys to remember Mothering Sunday as the first day of their bereavement each year. I imagine that if Jade could have hung on through today, she would have done. It is popular to talk of terminally ill people hanging on through certain events and then giving up. My father-in-law said he never wanted my wife and her sister to witness him die, and he slipped away just after they left visiting him at the hospital. Somebody else I know died thirty minutes after the midnight that signified the end of her husband’s eightieth birthday. 

But it is not always possible, and Jade Goody was taken from her sons at a most cruel time. When I heard of her death this morning, I had a deep sense that our children should never take their mother for granted. Right now, in their young ways, they don’t. I hope they never do. 

It has been hard to focus on Debbie today, because it is also Rebekah’s sixth birthday. And in a true sign of motherly love, although we gave her some presents and cards, Debbie has deferred the attention and focus of the day to our little girl. 

Rebekah with her '6' balloon for her birthday

Rebekah with her '6' balloon for her birthday

Here she is, taking great delight in the balloon we bought to mark the occasion. She derived pleasure from all her presents, large and small. She is still at the age where the cost of the gift is not the issue. Long may it last! 

Several relatives and friends sent money for her, so we put that inside another present, a purse, and rather naughtily took her Sunday shopping. Now that she is doing some basic addition and subtraction at school, we hope it will be an early lesson in financial management!

We allowed Rebekah to choose the venue for lunch out. To our relief, she didn’t opt for the children’s interminably regular haunt of Pizza Hut, but another low-cost venue, Wetherspoon’s. Student friends of ours see it as a great place for low-cost booze (surely a curse in our society), we see it as a good venue for cheap meals. OK, you can tell they’re not prepared from fresh on site, but when funds are limited, a location where the four of us can feed for £20 is welcome. We have developed a family grace for mealtimes where we thank God for each member of our family, as well as the food. We then amend it when there are particular things to be grateful for: today was one of those days.

Back home now, Rebekah is enjoying the first High School Musical film on DVD. She had acquired numbers 2 and 3 as presents, and is watching the first one again to get back into the story. I’m going to wrap up the blog post a little early today, because this evening I shall be packing for tomorrow’s drive to Lee Abbey, and helping Debbie sort one or two domestic issues before leaving. 

dsc_0041So I’ll just close with this picture of Rebekah from yesterday. Here she is, in her birthday sash, and wearing a princess crown, waiting with Mark to greet her guests at her pottery party at The Glazed Look.

Happy Birthday, little girl – it’s been six amazing years since that foggy morning when you came into the world courtesy of an emergency Caesarean when induction drugs were sending your heartbeat all over the place. Look at you now – kind, clever and fun!

Mum and Dad love you so much.

Sabbatical, Day 49: Rebekah’s Party

I didn’t think I’d keep up my record of daily sabbatical blogs today. By tea-time, I was in bed, exhausted and with a dreadful headache. Several bad nights’ sleep had taken their toll, and adrenaline had kept me going until finally I kept dropping off on the sofa to the embarrassment of the family.

Tomorrow is Rebekah’s sixth birthday, and today was her party. She had chosen a pottery party with ten friends at local studion The Glazed Look. That was going to make for a quiet celebration, rather than exuberant running around and noisy games. When Debbie booked his for her at her request, we didn’t know how significant that was going to be.

Because, just after 6 am, Debbie woke me to say Rebekah had been awake three times in the night with ear pain. (I may be having trouble getting to sleep at present, but once I do, there’s little that would wake me.) She also had a discharge from her right ear. By 6:30, I was on the phone to the out of hours doctors’ service, getting an appointment at their clinic for 8:10 am. Just as I had taken Mark there a couple of weeks ag on a Saturday night, now I was taxi for my daughter.

With nobody in the queue, she was seen on time by a lovely, gentle Indian doctor, and out came the usual prescription for amoxicillin – just what we expected. The nearest pharmacy open at that time on a Saturday was at Tesco, so we drove there. Knowing Rebekah doesn’t like the usual banana flavour of amoxicillin, he prepared an orange version. However, that didn’t make any difference to her dislike. But with alternating doses of calpol and calprofen, at least she got through her party and crashed out a little bit this afternoon. How devastated she and we would have been, had she not been able to. So it’s a big thank you today to the NHS staff who coped so kindly and efficiently with a little girl’s distress.

And with that I’m going to sign off, finishing some supper and watching Tottenham’s glorious victory over Chelsea today on Match of the Day.