A few weeks ago my Dad lost his best friend. He was my younger brother’s Godfather and my “adopted” Godfather. He was such a good Godfather to my brother, I adopted him for myself! Since he passed away I have found it difficult to explain to people who didn’t know him, how important he was to our family. We grew up with him, I am closer to him and my “adopted Godmother” than I am most of my aunties and uncles, so describing my him as my ‘brother’s Godfather’ just doesn’t really do our relationship justice.
My Godfather (as I will call him) had a long battle with cancer; one we knew would ultimately defeat him but that doesn’t mean he didn’t give it his best shot. Because of his illness, it meant he had time to write down his thoughts and he asked for these to be read at his funeral. If there is any small (very small) antidote to having to battle such a horrendous disease it is probably the ability to share one’s thoughts with loved ones. One of his closest friends bravely read to all of my Godfather’s friends and family his parting thoughts. There was one that stuck immediately as he said it and that I have thought about a lot since it was said. My Godfather believed that the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. I could have guessed he would have said this from the way in which he spent his life, spending so much time with his friends and family.
And, to me, this seems even more important now that I am a mum. Isaac is now 10 months old and I have become one of those mums who has already started saying that I can’t believe how quickly time goes! I honestly can’t believe how quickly time goes! I do think it feels quicker now that I count our lives in months rather than years – I have never before told anyone how old I am in weeks or months but I now have to keep a close track on how many months my son has been here (I gave up counting weeks when we got to about 20!) just in case someone asks the question. You get very funny looks if you can’t give an instant reply! So I know how precious time is and I am starting to feel just how incredibly quickly it disappears. I also know you shouldn’t take anything for granted. My Godfather was the same age as my Dad and he is the first close person I have lost who is not a grandparent. The loss feels different, he was too young, he should have had more time to enjoy the things he loved doing – spending time with friends, a good beer and good music (although everyone who knew him would say this was a matter of taste!) The number of people that came to his funeral was testament to the emphasis he put on his friendships.
Whilst I sit here and write this I vow to live by his belief; to focus on a better work life balance, look at my phone less, enjoy the simpler things in life and spend more time with friends and family. I know if Isaac could speak and you asked him if he wanted me to go to work or stay at home and play he’d want me to stay. I can see it in his smile when I get home from work. My time, to him, is more precious than anything. But, as with so many of us these days, I have a career that by its nature expects long hours, not always, but more often than not, and a phone that comes home with me each evening and all weekend. I want to succeed in my career as well as be a mum and I know I am not the only new mum who feels like, whilst trying to find that balance, I’m doing neither to the best of my ability!
Now my maternity leave is over I find that my 7 days with Isaac now have to be crammed into 3 and it’s hard. My husband and I are blessed with lots of friends and family who want to see Isaac often and by default that means us too (although I am sure for most it really is just by default!) And now, because of Isaac, it is so much more obvious when we don’t see someone for a while – the gap between visits is emphasised by the fact we know they haven’t seen Isaac since he was x months old, and he couldn’t [insert latest development] then but now he can, and he’s grown so quickly! And because we are part of a generation where our friends and family are scattered around the country and beyond, having been to university and stayed or found a husband / wife or a job which means we live away from where we grew up (we are guilty of this too) a quick cup of tea or lunch easily takes a day or involves a weekend away. We find ourselves torn between wanting to spend time with friends and family and wanting to avoid sitting on the M25 (or any other road that resembles a busy car park) on a Sunday evening!
And then in between work, play, tidying, cleaning, washing (so much washing), cooking, shopping, life admin, commuting (that sacred hour in the day where I can sit by myself and read a book, or the news or (cue gasps) catch up on social media), visiting friends, hosting friends, I sometimes just want to hang out with my husband and Isaac, just the 3 of us for a few hours, a day, a weekend.. To my husband, this is the most important bit. When I told him I was writing this his first response was to remind me not to forget that we both needed to give time to each other too. In between everything else it’s so easy to forget that and he is then left with the grumpy and tired offcuts of me which he usually has to share with the cast of Greys Anatomy!
So, here it is. I completely agree, Uncle Ronnie, time is the greatest gift. You of all people have every absolute right to tell us that. So I will try very very hard, especially for Isaac, to get the balance right because I have learnt from you that friends and family really are invaluable and little else is as important as spending time with them.