Last Christmas we were supposed to be going down to stay with my daughter and son-in-law. Sadly, his mother's husband was rushed into hospital shortly before, and ended up in intensive care. Obviously it was far more important to go and stay with his mother to offer her support, than to have David and myself as visitors. Consequently David took me to Portugal for Christmas, so we spent Christmas Day walking in the sunshine on the beach, which was lovely, though far from traditional! Poor John is still in hospital and unable to feed himself as I write.
However, what with one thing and another, I hadn't seen my daughter since before Christmas, so was delighted to receive a call from her a couple of weeks ago saying she was on holiday in Scotland, and planning to call in to see me on her way home. A lovely surprise which resulted in David helping me to clear all the car boot stuff from the spare bedroom, so that there was room to put up beds for Rachel and Andrew. He also mopped all the floors for me, as I struggle with my back when doing things like that.
It was a delight to have the pair of them to stay for a short while, and would have been even nicer to have seen them for longer! David and I will go and stay down there for a few days this summer.
I took advantage of Rachel's visit to get her to look at some of my short stories. One of them is about a little girl called Precious, and it prompted memories from Rachel. Way back when I was a teenager, I was told it was unlikely I would ever have children as my innards weren't working properly. I was lucky enough to become pregnant, and have Rachel as a result. Since she was born she has been the most precious aspect of my life, and still is. She probably always will be!
However, the point is, whenever people asked why I didn't have any more children I simply said that since I had a perfect daughter, why would I want any more children? I didn't go into my medical history every time! Rachel told me that she had overheard me saying this through her life, and she had always felt special, knowing that she was the perfect child.
I wasn't aware of this until she told me as she was reading my story!! She explained that during a brief conversation about a year ago, I had mentioned that her father and I had tried, briefly, to have another child, but failed, and she had been shocked by this, having firmly believed that she was perfect and we didn't want any more children. She was confirming the feelings of the child in my story in a very strong way. We really have no way of being aware of what our children overhear, and how deeply they can be affected.
Fortunately it has always been true that she was loved, and she was pretty perfect, too, when I compare her to the babies and children I have known over the years - both as a children's nanny, and nearly two decades of working in a primay school. And she knows that she is still loved and always will be. We still tell each other that we love each other every time we speak on the phone. How many mothers and daughters do that, I wonder? I hope that we always will.
I feel that I'm very lucky in my relationship with my daughter. When she left home, years ago now, to take up her place at Oxford, I told her that if she needed me, I was always at the end of a phone. Day or night, she could ring if she needed me. It says a lot for our relationship that over the years she has phoned in the middle of the night; not often, but when she needed to talk to me, she's phoned. She knew I meant what I said - I will always be here for her. Always.