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Letter to my Father

Seven years ago, I wrote this letter to my father on the anniversary of his passing. Now for Fathers' Day, I am resending it, with love.

Hi Dad, it’s me, Jo.

Hard to believe it’s been 15 years since I held your hand, 15 years since I kissed your    familiar, Old Spice scented cheek.

I wish you’d allowed us to talk about the fact that you were dying. We all had to say goodbye in so many coded, oblique ways in those seven short weeks of your illness. Do you remember? I said to you, “I can’t imagine a world without you in it,” and that was the closest you allowed me to come to “I love you.”  

The nearest you came to admitting you knew you wouldn’t be leaving the hospice was: “do what needs to be done.” You meant, don’t let me suffer and the wonderful staff there made sure that you didn’t.

It’s true that time is a great healer. After 15 years I don’t think about you every single...

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The Greatest Love of All

Whether you believe in a Higher Power, God, the connectedness of all things or nothing at all, your relationship with yourself is inevitably going to be the most enduring human relationship of your life! If we can't find love and compassion for the flawed yet vulnerable essence of ourselves, what hope do we have of loving others... or being happy?

This Valentine's Day my Facebook feed is filled with posts about

  • how loved the poster feels because an extravagant gesture has been made by a loved one and
  • how sad and unloved the poster feels because they either don't have someone to make that extravagant gesture, or whose love interest just doesn't play the game and
  • exhortations to self love

But what does that mean, exactly? (Don't be rude, you at the back!)

First of all, what is "Valentine's Day"? Let's have a quick look at all the elements that make up this annual festival of love and misery: St Valentine, Cupid, roses, hearts and cards.

  • Legend has it that a Christian priest,...
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Once the Nest is Empty

This week was my wedding anniversary. 37 years of wedded. I’d say bliss, but seriously, who is blissful for 37 years straight? In honour of our mutual persistence, and mindful of the fact that September – the prime month for chicks to leave home – is fast approaching, I thought I’d share some thoughts about the upside once the nest is empty!

The sadness some of us feel when our nests empty is real, but it has to be said, once you get past the shock of facing each other across the breakfast table and realising that yes, you actually have to talk to each other unless you want to eat in silence, there are upsides to the children leaving home. So, if the nest is empty at your place, here are a few reasons to celebrate:

There’s no one around to catch you having a cuddle in the kitchen, ergo no one will make vomiting noises
When you return home after both going out, everything will be exactly as you left it
There is food in the fridge
And beer/wine
You...

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Conversations with my Husband

I love my husband. No, really, I do. But after 30 years of marriage we do get on each other’s nerves at times! Take Sunday morning.

Him: My knee hurts.

Me: Oh dear. Why?

Him: (becoming animated) we were playing on hard ground yesterday so the ball was quick-

Me: (interrupting in a desperate attempt to get him to stop) Did you get hit on the knee by a cricket ball?

Him: (ignoring me) I was batting sticky-leg-before-wicket-straight-on (this is just a rough translation, you understand) and I’d just clipped the ball on the outside of my bat-

Me: So you got hit on the knee by a cricket ball?

Him: Smithy was running the crease on the left hand side of the leg-over googlie and the Umpire was biased because he’s only got one eye. Jonesy was giving their team a bit of rag which was a bit out of order when I was 99 for 56 in the fifth division league of gentlemen

Me: (desperately) My ears are bleeding…

Him: (oblivious) yaddah yaddah yaddah cricket…blah blah...

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Letter to my Daughter on the Eve of her Wedding

Watching the Royal Wedding, I was struck by how alone the Bride’s mother appeared. I was reminded of the day my daughter was married and how many mixed emotions there were swirling through my mind, and I wanted to give the new Duchess’ mother, Doria, a huge hug! I wonder what she said to her daughter as they travelled to the chapel?

This is the letter I wrote to my daughter:

Dear Katy,

So here we are on the eve of your wedding – your last day as a Blackwell. Tomorrow you will make the biggest commitment of your life so far and all your family and friends will gather together to witness the vows that you – and Frank – are about to make.

The day is yours, but your marriage belongs also to family and society at large, for a wedding is not just about the joining together of two people, but the beginning of a family unit. Whether that remains the two of you, or whether you are blessed with children, I know that you both will take that responsibility...

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