I’m writing this the week after you turned three. Three whole years you’ve spent on this planet and what a three years they’ve been. I often use you as one of the reasons I started blogging, so it felt natural to write this as a letter blog post to you, so one day you may read it, but I’m hoping your mummy reads it too because I’ve something to share with her.
Three years you arrived into our lives, the long awaited and much loved first-born grandchild for Grandma and Grandad. My first niece or nephew. You took me by surprise right from day one, I didn’t expect to feel such a connection to you. If I’m honest Libster I was a little worried I’d be a bit rubbish as an aunt, not too interested, there have been so many little people in my life and I’d began to realise that I probably didn’t want my own family, but nothing could prepare me for what I felt for you. It was different to any connection I’ve had before. It was almost animal, when I held you for the first time I knew that I’d do anything for you. Maybe this is what love, true love, really is – an instant, physical, visceral connection easily induced for one so little and helpless, and one who at some subconscious level I know is one of my own.
In some ways I think it’s quite selfish, driven by ego almost. I watch you, your mannerisms, character, willfulness and I see me, a little Georgie! I love that, I love your spirit, your determination, your questioning. I love the fact that you are as happy dressed as a pirate as minnie mouse! I love watching you with your little sister. It’s ace having one, there will no doubt be times when she is a complete pain, she’ll irk you and irritate you but trust me there are few things as comforting in life as knowing you’re never really on your own, you’ve always got your siblings around to rely on if you need to. You’re doing a great job as a big sister, never doubt that!
So what can I share with you Libbie? I’ve listed ten things, there are more, these might not even be the most important things but they’re want came to mind:
1) Never, ever, let people tell you that you can’t do something because you’re a girl. You can do anything that you want to if you work hard enough. You can succeed and achieve if you believe, so don’t listen to people who say no.
2) Never stop asking questions – as you get older people play this trick on you where they suggest asking questions is dumb because it let’s on that you don’t know something. That’s ok, in fact it’s more than ok, it’s essential. People who pretend to have all the answers are just pretending. Even your teachers and your Mum and Dad sometimes.
3) Have fun and play lots – play with the dolls, babies and prams, but play with the lego, football and swords too. Dress up, pretend, make believe and discover. Play often and when you get older make time to play, life can be a lot of fun but sometimes it’s easy to forget that if you work too hard. Don’t take things too seriously.
4) Trust Grandma – if you ever need anything, or want to share something, or don’t know who to talk to then trust Grandma. Your Daddy will tell you a (true) story about Grandma talking to the fish the night you were born which makes her sound quite mad. So, ok, if you need to know about fish ask someone else but anything else ask Grandma.
5) Offer your opinion but don’t forget your manners – life is easier when people work together, sometimes people are shy about offering their opinion, sometimes it can be easier not to. It’s up to you but never forget your manners, and sometimes it helps to ask if someone wants to know what you think before you offer it! Remember also that some people offer their opinion silently by doing, some people communicate differently, there are many people who are more quiet than us and it’s important that we listen to what they have to say.
6) You can be friends with boys and girls – at some point in your life people will suggest that you can’t really be best friends with a boy, don’t worry this probably won’t happen for a few years yet. Never forget Harry and what fun you’ve had together and don’t let anyone tell you not to be friends with boys. It’s an old fashioned thing that some people haven’t let go of yet. Be friends with the people who make you feel best about yourself irrespective of their gender, age, nationality, sexuality – it’s all nonsense!
7) Don’t worry about what to do when you grow up – when I was growing up people were always nagging me to decide what I wanted to be as a grown up, I never knew. Sometimes I wanted to be a Blue Peter presenter, others a skip lorry driver, at times a special education teacher – I never did any of those, and I’m still not sure what to do when I grow up and I’m ten times older than you, so don’t worry about it. You’ll make good decisions when they come along.
8) Respect your Mum and Dad - Auntie Georgie hasn’t got what it takes to be a parent, it’s really one of the hardest jobs in the world and your Mum and Dad are doing it brilliantly. The strange thing is that most jobs have long periods of training and preparation, people go to university or college, they study and get help to be good at it – there isn’t too much support for being a mummy, no-one gives you a certificate or tells you how well you’re doing. I guess you kind of have to figure it out as you go along, which must be very scary, especially when all of a sudden there are two of you. I am so proud of your Mum, she has worked so hard and she’s one of the bestest mummies out there. Remember that when she frustrates you or tells you no or insists that you sleep all night!
9) Wear hats – the secret to wearing hats is believing that you look good in them Libs. I don’t think you can have too many hats, they are a great talking point and they’re practical too, Grandad would always say that 90% of your heat goes out the top of your head, so wear hats, be confident, believe you look good and other people will believe it too.
10) Be friendly and love freely – this will probably seem a bit obvious. Life is much better if you’re friendly, look out for people, share your friendship and love. As you get older you might find some people aren’t what you hoped they were, some people might let you down, don’t take it personally. It’s not worth worrying about. The strange thing is if you worry too much, and try to protect yourself from being hurt, you miss out on so much in life. Don’t worry about being hurt, or losing friends, be friendly and kind and people will be good back. You’ll hear about lots of nasty and scary things in life but most people are good, and most things are positive.
So there you go some thoughts as you enter your next year. I hope this one is as much fun as the last three.
Lots and lots of love,
It’s 81 days since my amazing Dad died. He had been fighting bile duct cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, for five years and two months.
Today is World Cancer Day and the campaign is seeking to dispel four key myths about cancer, I hope this blog helps to dispel at least two – that cancer is a disease of the wealthy, elderly and developed countries (Dad was 65 when he died) and that cancer is a death sentence. Dad did indeed die as a result of his cancer but his life was no death sentence.
Current figures suggest that 1 in 3 of us will develop cancer in our lifetimes. Trust me this disease isn’t something that happens to other people, look around, there’s a good chance that at least one of the people sitting with you this evening are likely to face this illness, and it could of course be you. Recent research shows that people in the UK are still too good at the stiff upper lip when it comes to cancer diagnosis – concerns about wasting GP’s time or being embarrassed prevail. If you have any concerns about your health then raise them with a medical professional as soon as possible.
Cancer Research UK estimate that 1000 people are diagnosed with bile duct cancer each year in England, so (very) crude maths suggests that in England alone 222 people have received a diagnosis of bile duct cancer since Dad died. If this blog, or any of it’s positivity about living with and fighting this disease, reaches one of those people or their families then it’s work is done.
If you wish to know more about life with cancer then take a look at Kate Granger’s blog or Helen Fawkes’s blog – two amazingly inspirational women who are sharing their experience of life with cancer.