365 Happy Days – A smile a day – Part 27

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I’m coming back to my blog as I travel home from Paris, having spent the weekend with my family. Both of my brothers and their kids as well as Jake and Kerry; Alexandra and Gautier her now fiancé, after a romantic proposal over the weekend, of course live in the beautiful city.

Both of my brothers families have been touched by tragedy in addition to losing Luke; with my southern nephew losing a close friend in a boating accident, he was injured in the incident and witnessed his friend in great pain before he was air lifted to hospital where he later died.

My older brother’s wife told me while we were away about a good friend of hers who lost her only son in a car accident a year ago. The car was being driven by a 15 year old when it crashed, 3 young people died that night, 3 families were devastated.

We spoke about how people cope, the things they do to get them through the rest of their lives without their child. I’ve mentioned before that I can’t imagine how you get up every day when it’s your only child, but I do know that child wouldn’t want a parent to grieve and be in pain for the rest of their lives.

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I really believe that for me my parents and my childhood have a big part to play in my attitude to life since I’ve been a mother who’s lost a child. I’ve talked about my Mum a lot and this weekend was really a time to remember both her and Bob my husband; Peter and Kerry’s Dad and yet we’ve talked about my Dad a fair bit too.

I’m going to go a long way back now, my Dad, Reginald Hogg, not posh enough to have a middle name so he said, was the only child of a man I knew as Pop (Harold) Hogg and to my shame a Grandmother whose name I can’t recall!

His mother died when I was a baby, but not before she inflicted some pretty strong stuff on my poor Mum. The day a very young Diana married Reg, a man 7 years older, Grandma Hogg shouted the church down as her boy was in her mind taken from her. Not the best start to a marriage, but it was to last for 35 years until Dad died at the age of 64.

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My older brother Keith was born 2 years after they were married, then in common with my experiences my Mum lost a baby at virtually full term, the baby girl died and she was forced to give birth to a child who would have no life. She had taken Thalidomide and in this case the effect was to kill the baby before it was born.

I was then born by caesarean after they’d been told the same thing had happened again, I’ve only learnt that very recently, it must have been a really terrible time for them! My little brother Ian, like Luke, blond and blue eyed came along a few years later.

We had what I would describe as a really happy childhood, we had a summer holiday every year without fail. We used to get up in what felt to me the middle of the night and set on our way to Devon. As I got older I used to hate the long journey but goodness love the holidays. For many years we went to a place in Westward Ho called Buckleigh! It was a magical place for a child as we’d meet the same people regularly and have wonderful freedoms as everyone looked out for each other’s kids.

One of my best memories was of my Dad digging like a demon on the beach at Westward Ho and producing a car he himself could sit in! I’m not too sure who was the biggest of the kids! We were also allowed to miss breakfast; I reckon a Fanta and a Bar Six for breakfast would be judged as very bad form now; then it seemed so incredibly decadent!

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Cricket was also a very big part of our lives as we grew up, Dad was a wicket keeper and batsman and for a fair few years when we were little he carried on playing in Dulwich in spite of us living in Chipping Ongar in Essex. I know I’m most probably wrong but I can remember summers that only ever had sunshine as we spent hours running round the edge of a cricket pitch!

In time my Dad would get given a company car as part of his job; he never told us when a new one was expected. It was so exciting when he turned up with a new model; I think my favourite was a bright yellow cortina, what a snazzy surprise that was! The worst was a green Austin Princess, the local garage literally opened a book of faults just for that car!

I imagine that for an only child to find himself part of an immediate family unit of 5 must have been a challenge; one that Dad didn’t always cope with too well particularly as we became teenagers. I was, you many not be shocked to know, something of a rebel, far too interested in boys! I’m sure I went out with the odd lad just because my parents would disapprove! I can remember one who really wasn’t my style but who was much older than me and drove a snazzy car (see a pattern here?) and who my parents didn’t like. So, yes of course I went out with him!

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My interest in Spurs coincided with a penchant for playing darts; so at 17 my weekends looked like; darts with my friends (all boys) in the pub on a Friday night, followed by poker for money until the early hours of the morning, for money naturally. Then off to football with the same group of lads. That must have been an odd time for my parents, but in particular for the man who called his ‘little girl’ Toots.

We argued like demons at times, but there was never a moment I queried the love both of my parents had for me. Another memory is of a Benson & Hedges cricket final at Lords, the Home of Cricket. Dad wasn’t worried about taking his teenage daughter along, he really is at the heart of my love for sport. I should think the fact that I was a Spurs supporting must have been a great disappointment for him, but he never made that plain.

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He was over the moon when Luke was born and completely adored him!  I spent a lot of time with my parents when Luke was little, which I’m very grateful for as Dad died when he Luke was 3.  He was a Type 1 diabetic and although in his latter years he lived a healthy lifestyle, the condition took its toll on his body and he had a heart attack he didn’t recover from.

A full weekend with my family reconfirms the bond that we have; I’m sure both my parents would have approved of the time we spent together in Paris.


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