Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The best party ever?

Eight years ago I went to the best - and the worst - party I think I'll ever go to. Hard to imagine something so beautiful could, in fact, be one of the most painful evenings of my life. 

It was a small gathering, just my parents and me, together in a small space, holding hands, laughing, crying, reminiscing, deliberating. So much discussion with, in fact, so few words.

We remembered family holidays - those camping trips in the 70's which were our own version of Emma Kennedy's The Tent, The Bucket and Me. My Dad would pack EVERYTHING into Mum's Mini, the tent taking up the whole boot, the car filled to the rafters with everything else. He would build me a seat on top of a few boxes and then pack the car around me! And we'd be off, 'up north' with several other families to a campsite (I use that term VERY loosely - my memory is that it was simply a field with one downpipe on the edge of a forest and near a VERY cold stream that we washed in - if we had to!). Oh my, what fun we all had, though! 

We laughed and remembered funny incidents..."D'you remember when Dad...?" "What about the time when....?" You know the type of thing.

We went 'travelling' together that night, remembering trips to the Algarve, Mallorca, France (remember, Mum, when you forgot what side of the road to drive on in Bordeaux and found yourself faced with three lanes of traffic heading your way?!!), me recounting my solo trips to France as a teenager and then my round-the-world travels after university, which then led to questions - I was so independent, how was that for you as my parents? How could you, Mum, feel comfortable with me doing that? How could you let me? At the time my daughter was 18 months old. I could barely cope with being away from her for the working day, let alone imagine her travelling the world as a young woman on her own. Really? Was I going to be able to do that for her? My Mum, with her usual strength of conviction, told me I would, that I would just know when the time was right for that to happen. That I would be able to give my girl the wings she needed, like she had given me, and it would be right. I'm still not sure I wholly believe her but I'm holding her words in my heart and trusting that she will be right.

And so it went on, our evening of extreme loveliness, heads together, remembering, imagining, dreaming and waiting. Waiting for the inevitable end that was coming but that none of us wanted to accept.

At the end of the evening, Mum said, quite clearly, "Thank you for coming to my party". The three of us squeezed hands and did our best to smile, despite the tears streaming down our faces.

My mum was at the end of her life. 

This party was the last that we would share in person. 

And it was beautiful.

Filling the time before lunch...

Last Saturday was a most glorious autumn day - slightly chilly but beautifully sunny. More of a lightweight cardigan day than the full on scarf and boots day the week turned into. 

Looking to kill an hour before lunch, I encouraged my littlest daughter and her friend to make an autumn mobile each rather than start watching TV. 

First up, we grabbed a basket and headed out in search of 'treasure'. As it turned out we didn't have to venture far before we found loads of gorgeous leaves; the colours a mix of reds and greens with a bit of yellow and orange thrown in too. We had such a lovely time sorting through the piles of leaves that our plan for a major nature trail soon turned into more of a 'find your favourite leaves from this massive pile'! It was hard not to pick them all up!

(You'll notice Fudge Bear, the class mascot, helping out too!)

Home we went and laid out our stick (that the leaves would be hanging from) on the patio table and sorted out our favourite leaves from the mass. That was a challenge in itself!

We were rather impatient which meant that instead of pressing the leaves so they would stay flat, we used sticky back plastic front and back to keep them from curling. You could laminate them too, if you've got the equipment (we don't so we didn't!!). It was a bit laborious and won't last forever, but it was a good temporary option.

So, each leaf was stuck onto the sticky side, then another piece stuck on top. Push them together to seal and then some scissor exercise by trimming around the edge - not too close though or the leaf will pop out!!

Once we were happy with our leaves, I used two strands of orange embroidery thread to tie all the leaves in a line, then wrapped this around the stick to hold them in place. 

My daughter also found some conkers she wanted to add. My challenge was to poke a skewer through the conker to make a hole WITHOUT stabbing myself in the process!! Thankfully I avoided any major incident.

Once the strings of leaves or conkers were tied into place, I added another strand of thread to make a hanger.

And then we were done! 

Finding somewhere to hang it to take a photograph wasn't so easy, but I'm sure you get the drift.

This was SO simple and SO lovely to do. I recommend it to everyone, whatever your age!!