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Location: United Kingdom

Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

At the side of the road.

Yesterday, I set out at 7am on a road to trip to the London temple.
If I start to explain all about the temple, this post will be so long it'd take 3 hours longer to read it ( and it's going to be a long one to start with) and I would forget so many important facts and details it could end in tears. That's not what this post is all about. This post is, of course, all about ME.
I was going to the temple because I haven't been for a long time ( since H and I were sealed over 2 years ago) and also because yesterday was a date set for all the women in our area, who belong to the LDS church to travel together for the day, attend a meeting inside the temple, have lunch together, have fun and replenish our spiritual batteries together. Perfect.
Now, I will say this about the temple, when you walk into the building, from outside where the weight of the world can bow you down, the feeling is like none other. It is akin to the warmest fire on the coldest day, the softest bed on the most wearying night. It is all encompassing, uplifting, calming. It is truly the Lord's house. I like that feeling.
It is also a place where incredible work is done. That's all. If I start to explain the work...we're back to me missing things and leading away from the things I want to say.
The first thing I will say is that I really don't like coach trips, in a smaller way than flying it gives me that claustrophobic feeling of being STUCK....get me out! I also suffer from travel sickness on coaches. Blargh...coaches are stuffy and hot and I don't like them much at all. So, my friends and I, just 4 of us decided that we would travel by car together, have a really great day and go at our own pace, meet up for lunch with all the others and then travel back at our own pace, stopping where we fancy and arriving home happy and smug, with none of that weary feeling coach travellers suffer.
Great plan! We decided that we would go in Sara's car because hers is biggest and she has Savannah who is 3 months old, more room for car seats and baby bags and us and our bags of picnic and spare clothes.
Sara came to get me at 7am and I felt a little nostalgic as her car is so similar to my old rust bucket, that faithful old crap heap that carried my family and me around for all those years, moved furniture from many old houses to many new houses, took us all from pillar to post and back again, cost me several hundreds of pounds if not thousands in petrol and repairs and eventually died of a broken head gasket right before we went to America for a 3 week holiday of a lifetime. Bloody thing.

We went to collect Naomi, mother of 4, and Gemma, mother of my 3 great nephews, which means she is my niece. We arrived at Gemma's to see her ex husband loading the kids into his car, so we sat outside for a few minutes trying to decide what name best suits him, Knob was the winner by the way, good job we were headed to the Lord's house where we would be sure to repent, probably although we didn't really feel terribly sorry because he really IS a Knob.

Off we went and 3 minutes into the journey, Sara said " So, anyone got a map?"

That is so Sara, I have never met anyone quite like Sara, mother of 5. She is 26 and Jack, her oldest child is 6, Savannah is 3 months, Amber, Aimee and Seth are in between. They are quite beautiful and extraordinary children, Jack makes my Seth look like an imbecile, he has been reading fluently from the age of about 5 months, he is a college professor in a little fair haired, brainy headed body.
Amber is equally bright and equally beautiful, Aimee is like my Eli, she is so typically normal and delicious and the prettiest daintiest of girlies.
Seth, well he is nearly 2. Last year he had liver cancer, hepatoblastoma. He had 70% of his liver removed, 70%.
This year, he has no sign of cancer, his liver has completely regrown, he is fit and healthy and he is a living sign that with God, nothing is impossible. He almost died, but he didn't, when he had an intensive chemotherapy his hair grew, he grew, he showed us all that all things can be endured with a smile. Extraordinary child, with an extraordinary mother ( and father but he didn't come yesterday, he stayed home with 4 children and said "Sara, it's 4 children? What's the problem...GO!")
Sara is so laid back she leaves us all speechless, I suspect she does all she does because the small stuff? Meh....doesn't matter. She's awesome. ( check my whole blog and see is I EVER use that'll find I don't, if I am using it now, it's because I mean it and can't think of a single other word that will do instead)

I sat in the front of the car with Sara and we talked non stop as she drove. We stopped half way at some services and had a wee, bought some snacks and warmed a bottle for Savannah who hadn't made a sound so far on the journey. She was fed and strapped back into her seat and off we went again.
20 minutes up the road Sara said "Hmmm, look the oil light is flashing, that doesn't seem like a good thing does it?"
" No, I don't think that should happen was our helpful reply, followed by various mechanical suggestions like " ooh look, the engine light is on as well, maybe the lights are just not working" and " Andy put oil in, he maybe put too much in and the car doesn't like it, he may have spilled some and that's why we can smell burning? "
Then...'Actually I have my foot flat to the floor and I'm only doing 60 mph..oh 50....uh oh 20'....Damn.
Followed by "SMOKE!! Get the BABY OUT!"

There followed 3 hours of waiting. It began with much hilarity, as is our wont, faced with crapola, laugh about it...that small stuff? Meh.


We called from the roadside SOS phone because we are women, none of us knew where we were, using that phone they can tell US, while Gemma called, using her roadside recovery, they told her that they could see us via the video camera and GET THOSE OTHER PEOPLE AWAY FROM THE CAR!!!!!


Because we are great under stress, we forgot we had cell phones to call each other and so Gemma had to RUN and snatch them from the very jaws of death..RUN GEMMA! RUN!!!

After 45 minutes an RAC man arrived. Because I have such old cruddy cars I am well acquainted with RAC men, pretty much every one I have met has been a veritable joy to see. happy and helpful, quick and always go beyond the call of duty. Not this one.

He was the least helpful, least cheerful, most deserving of a smack in the mouth RAC man I have ever encountered, he told Sara that her car was indeed very dead ( from the obviously hereditary blown up head gasket disease) and that he couldn't tow it because it had to go on the back of a big truck. Another truck would be here in 30 minutes. He told us that for the next 2 1/2 hours and that is pretty much all he told us, apart from he couldn't help, he could tow us 10 miles or nowhere, there was no way we could upgrade or pay extra, nothing he would or could do and someone else would be here in 30 minutes.
The picture I took of him is of his back because his face made me want to punch it, on the way to the Lord's house or not, that was a face to slap for sure.

Right after we called the SOS phone people the police arrived, having had a call to report a car on fire.....they were cheery and helpful, gave us space blankets to keep us warm and told us that help would be here in 30 minutes but maybe the fire brigade would be here before then because a fire had been reported.


Gemma came alive at that bit of news and did her make up, right there, right prepared.
Bloody liars all, because we saw neither hide nor hair or any hulking fire men, could have been burned to a crisp right there and they could have cared. Darn video camera must have reported that we weren't ablaze after all.


3 hours. We caught the sun....we are all aglow and healthy looking. I must say though that if you plan to sit by the road for several hours, don't wear a skirt and support tights, really. Don't.


This baby, this teeny little 10lber Savannah, didn't make a sound, she slept and woke, she smiled and slept, she snuggled and was probably the most perfect baby in the world. She is her mother's daughter, what a delight!


Eventually a cheerful chap arrived, a rough looking, bald headed, smiley faced knight in a big old truck. In minutes ( more than 30 but less than 3 hours) we were loaded up and all of us laughing and exclaiming about how WARM it was and how SOFT these seats were, we joked and felt so happy to be on our way to Surrey at last.
When we arrived at the temple, after a 2 hour trip in the bumpy truck with seats that only felt soft for about 15 minutes and then were very very hard and bum achey, the driver said "Hey! I know this're pne of THOSE! My ex wife was one of THOSE, she was a good girl she was, Theresa, she's called. Oh no...did I swear? If I had known you were one of THOSE, I wouldn't have? Did I say anything I shouldn't have because you are good girls, you're all lovely you are, you've all made my day"
I am proud to be one of THOSE ... I hope we didn't say or do anything to make him ever think THOSE are anything but good people.

We had missed the lunch and we were running so late but we so wanted to just be there, just meet up and see people, just get into the temple for an hour.
We arrived at 3.10pm, the bus back was leaving at 4pm. We had time to run into the shop, buy a few bits and bobs, have a wee and get on the bus and come home.
We received much sympathy and there were plenty of ' oh no! Poor you! ' comments but you know what? None of us felt hard done by, not at all.
I had had quite the most incredible day. I spoke to Sara about things that we both felt during times of such distress, we both admitted to knowing without doubt that when times should have been the darkest, we were lifted, when things should have been unbearable, we were calm.
We spoke of angels and we bore testimony of knowing the God lives.
I learned things about me that I hadn't realised. I learned things about Sara that are not obvious to us as we meet up and watch what is happening.
I felt that the whole day was as it should be, I wasn't at all worried that I had missed anything, I didn't for a second feel as though the day was wasted.
I loved that when I got on the coach people wanted me to sit with them, people said they wanted a laugh and they wanted me to provide it.

We did laugh, most of the way home, until we stopped at the services ( same one as on the way up) When we had eaten and were on our way again, I told my friends that I was going to listen to my iPod and some of the music that H had downloaded for me.
The thing about iPods, good ones, is that when those headphones go in, the world is shut out, the quality of music is incredible and the music fills your soul ( unless is jazz music, in which case it would make you want to punch someone very hard, I imagine, I'd better not ever find out on my iPod because I HATE jazz music)
That's when the tears started.
The words of the songs I was listening to touched the very part of me I try not to visit. I don't want to feel the raw emotions that those songs brought out.

I learned, beginning at the side of the road and ending on the bus home, all the reasons I am sad inside all the time. I understood why I avoid places that will make me feel.
I knew at once why I am distant with the boys, why I walk away when H is reading scripture and telling stories to the boys of gospel principles. I know now why I am the way I am.
I started to cry on the bus, I cried myself to sleep, I howled when I woke up, I sobbed when I got to church, I sat in the car and I cried some more, I came home and went to bed and I woke up and am crying again.
The tears are healing the last part of my sadness.
I have spoken to Howard and he held me, I explained what I have been feeling and he corrected me.
I spoke to my dearest friend Jane and she helped me see how things are rather than how I was seeing them, I called my mum and she told me her thoughts.
I have mourned for all the things I can't change. I have accepted that I have made huge mistakes and that as sad as that is, I can't undo them. I can ensure that I don't make them again, I understand that all the things I have been doing, or not doing with the boys are a result of feeling as though I have failed my big children.
I have felt so desperately that I did it all wrong with my older children, especially Sophie, that I had to stay way from the little ones in all things that mattered, I have fed, clothed, kissed, played and I have run away from anything spiritual, I have stood back and allowed H to do all those things that I felt I have failed at.
I never taught Sophie that she is of such infinite worth that she should always treasure who and what she is, I didn't show her that she should stand tall and dare to be different, that all that she is should be celebrated, that no-one deserves to touch her unless he is worthy of her. I didn't help her see that she is priceless and worth more than some scum who tells her what he thinks she wants to hear in order to get what he wants.
I have watched her sell her soul for drugs and while I understand that she chose to do that, I didn't do whatever it took to teach her that this is not ever a path to go down, that drugs and drink are never the answer. How does she not know about prayer and about faith? How did I never show her what really matters?
The answer to all my questions is 'who knows?' What matters is that she is not dead, she is right here and every day, somehow she is moving towards a place where she knows exactly what she is worth. Every day I see more and more that she sees what is important, that she understands she is loved and that she deserves every scrap of real love that comes her way. It is not to late to teach her, to show her, to love her until she gets it, until she knows that she is priceless and worthy of every great and glorious blessing.
It's time to let go of all that sadness and for me to stop hiding from anything that makes me feel any kind of emotion, I know I can give these little boys, with H everything they need, I know that I did everything I knew how to do for my big children. I only have to look at them, all of them, to see that even if I made mistakes, I did a whole load of things right, they are divine, they are happy and well, they are good and upright human beings and I did that.
I deserve to be their mother. That's enough.
I learned all this at the side of the road, was yesterday a wasted day? I say not.
Does the Lord know what we need and how to give that to us? Absolutely.
I know that. That's more than enough.
What a day. Mother's day. Indeed.

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Blogger Sarah said...

Thank you, Helen! In so many ways and for so many reasons I needed these words today. You make me proud to be one of THOSE.

9:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so happy you are finally shovelling the rest of the crap out! Not sure what i did to deserve a friend like you xxxxx

10:33 pm  
Blogger Naomi Miles said...

Ah Helen, I hadn't realised it had been so long since you last went to the temple, You will have to come with us when Gemma goes again, we'll do everything we didn't get to do next time!

P.S. I think I should have worn my sports was a long couple of hours in a truck with no shock absorbers!

10:51 pm  
Blogger Jenn said...

Oh Helen, it was so worth the wait to read that blog. You never fail to show me more little glimpses of YOU that just make me love you even more. I do love you. And I think you are a marvellous mum, and a real person that has real faith, and makes real mistakes like we all do, and is able to make real joy out of the sometimes scrumpy poopy circumstances!

11:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unreal. Your post. Unreal. So full of depth and beauty and sadness but in the end of utter beauty and of the final and inescapable beauty that above all things above all those things that surround us that allow us to think negatively or with sadness is Christ who holds us above those things and sees His children with love and beauty. He is INDEED an awesome God.

When I read what you placed there about the big kids my breath was stopped for a moment. These children you worried you failed are the same children who: have been saved b/c of Him and b/c of Him in you, who think to buy tickets and hotel rooms for his parents to show his love, that cradles his newborn son with love and safety: the way his mother held him, the same children who laugh and bring joy to others. You are indeed their mother and how blessed they are to have you and you them. Yes, our God *IS* an awesome God.

2:36 pm  
Blogger Tired Mom of Six said...

Your epiphany had me in tears. So glad that those tears you had were healing for you. I love you - think you're brilliant really. 6 kids and I can only hope to raise mine the way you've raised yours.

3:32 pm  
Blogger sarah said...

thank you for sharing. you are pure beauty inside and out. you give me something to strive for with my boys.s

3:51 pm  
Blogger Kourtnie :) said...

I think you've earned a gold star next to your name for all your effort. Wow, what a day. Great way to look at a potentially terrible circumstance.

10:25 pm  
Anonymous jane said...

Im so glad that you have started to see things in a different light and you are allowing yourself time to heal and focus on the wonderful oppotunities that are ahead for you all.

10:58 pm  

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