For those who missed it(!) I had a milestone birthday in May and as far as I knew was being taken out for a family meal to celebrate. Unbeknownst to me plans were being made over the last year by my husband, Jason, who then roped in my younger sister, Lisa, to help him plan things.
Thank god I bought a new dress as we arrived at a lovely, country pub and restaurant only for me to be shoved forward through the door to make my entrance! My first thought as I opened the door was why are my parents-in-law here? They should be looking after my children who should be in bed! Then I saw my two daughters looking beautiful in new dresses and sandals and realised they had come to celebrate too. There were lots of faces beyond and it was all totally unexpected.
I had been a bit suspicious, earlier that day, when my mum made a lasagne for lunch which is totally out of character for her if she was going out for a meal in the evening. Jason fobbed me off with "she's thinking about you not eating until later" I dismissed it as thought it made sense for her to want to look after us as we were staying with her.
At the party Jason presented me with a book and inside was a flyer with a picture of Venice on and the dates of our trip! I was so pleased as Venice has my heart and I have always wanted to return. We went the following Monday and I relaxed immediately. I was so pleased that it was still as wonderful a place as I remembered.
When we returned, after three nights away, the girls were very pleased to see us and Jason's parents had done a great job looking after them and everything else. I missed them a lot but I knew they were in safe hands which helps. I then had another night out with friends locally and some unexpected friends turned up so another nice surprise!
I was a very lucky, spoilt girl and am luckier still to have a loving husband, who knows me so well, and wonderful family and friends to make sure I had the best birthday ever. My older sister also flew over from Netherlands for the party which was also unexpected and it was nice to have all my siblings there with Mum and other family and friends.
This year was going to be different and tough because it was a milestone birthday for me and the first birthday without my Dad, who sadly passed away in December from Mesothelioma: cancer caused by asbestos. His presence was missed at my party that's for sure and I know he would have loved having a rock and roll with mum and his daughters on the dance floor. I'm sure he was there with us all. We miss him dearly and there were some emotional moments for some that night.
The Inquest into Dad's death also took place recently and our family finally heard the official news that Dad died from an Industrial Disease and liability is with a former employer who allowed him to work with asbestos without any protection or ensuring he was aware of the dangers to enable him to make informed choices. He was given no opportunity and therefore no chance to save his own life and it took decades for the deadly effects of asbestos to become apparent. It was almost six months since we lost Dad and with the Inquest came renewed pain and grief as my family pondered the unfairness of his death once more.
I found it all quite overwhelming and found myself lacking in energy and enthusiasm as grief overcame me once again. I allowed myself to slow down, knowing that I was mentally exhausted and I took a short break from writing and the whirl of social networking. I was worried that I may never be able to write the same again as with every day I wasn't writing I felt my confidence in my abilities slowly ebbing away.
It was with great relief, when I did finally sit down and work on some Larry stories, that the words flowed from me as if they had been waiting inside to come out. It was with my renewed energy that I produced Larry the Liger - the Dangerous Day and I am very proud of it because it was written during some difficult times. I love this story and indeed all the stories I have written but this one seems to have a bit of everything and makes people smile and laugh when they read it which is fantastic to know I created such a story.
Then came another first since losing Dad - Father's Day. It was a difficult time leading up to it as there are so many things around to remind you to celebrate your father. I also had to make sure I didn't overlook my own husband as he is a great Dad to our daughters. Mum was staying with us and it helped having someone else to focus on. We spent the day in Broadstairs but stopped on the way so I could let a balloon go in memory of my Dad. It floated up high and drifted away; it seemed very appropriate and symbolic. I know my sisters and brother also each let a balloon go. I do wonder where our balloons ended up!
Another first was the milestone date of six months since Dad died. It happened to fall in the same week as Father's Day so it was a very emotional time. I was glad Mum was staying with us so we could be there for one another and I know the whole family were thinking of Dad and each other.
I know there will be more firsts to come and new milestones to reach. The events of the last year and a half have provided so much emotion that I am certain my writing can only be better for it. I feel every word I write and I am so pleased to be able to share my stories with you all.
My Dad would have been turning 74 years old on July 30th. Another first...