Thursday, 11 August 2011

Beaches and blessings

Like pediatrician and author Dr Marianne E. Neifert,  I believe “a family is what you make it. It is made stronger, not my the number of heads counted at the dinner table but by the rituals you help family members create, by the memories you share, by the commitment of time, caring and love you show to one another, and by the hopes for the future you have both as individuals and as a unit”.

With this observation in mind and sincerely hoping “a family in harmony will prosper,” I decided to combat the growing number of sibling disputes by way of a visit to the seaside.  Good weather combined with an unexpected mid week day off for my husband not only enabled us to get to the coast without running the weekend traffic jam gauntlet but also offered us an opportunity to take our ten and twelve year old as well as three of our grandchildren ages eleven, six and three. A substantial picnic along with buckets, spades, wet suits, flotation jackets and an inflated tractor inner-tube were carefully crammed into every available space in and on our car, while a selection of choral offerings from our passengers marked the level of excitement in the air during the journey.
Within an hour or two of our arrival, once a lengthy disembarkation had been completed, lunch served, crabs collected and sandcastles built, I was left to snooze in the sunshine while endless swashbuckling adventures involving our five charges and the inner tube were played out on the shoreline under my husband’s watchful eye. Towards the end of the afternoon, prompted only by the onset of hunger, my wanderers returned to find their beautifully engineered sandcastles, both lovingly and expertly constructed with the help of my husband, had attracted some enthusiastic but clumsy interest from some neighboring children.  Panicked by the potential for destruction, my ten year old son very politely suggested they ask their own Dad to construct a similar offering which they would be then be able to call their own.

As the small boy and his little sister got up to leave he said without malice,
”I can’t ask my Dad to build me anything because he left us when I was little and even though my Mum got us a new Dad he had to leave too because he and my Mum hated each other.  Now I don’t have any Dad but I really like your sandcastle.”

I could see from the look on my children and grandchildren’s faces that they were shocked and saddened by the boy’s statement. After a few moments of thoughtful silence, a discussion of some gravity had all five of them locked in debate.  Before long an agreement was reached and my husband and I were informed that a new sandcastle village was to be built for the sole use of the fatherless boy and his sister. An hour later the boy was found and presented with a comparable architectural masterpiece and this time the look of shock was on his face rather than the faces of my own children.

Twice he said,” Is this really for me?”

As I watched my five charges move off towards the shoreline to embark on more inner-tube adventures, I saw the beneficiaries of their efforts settle down to some intense sandcastle based play wearing faces that shone with unadulterated pleasure.
Not only am I immensely proud that my children and my grandchildren showed understanding and compassion for two children they believed to be less fortunate than them, but I am doubly impressed they applied their collective expertise to design a solution through a caring commitment of their time as a unit. I am also all only too aware that, had I chosen a different path when our HBOS troubles began, it could well have been my own children explaining the lack of a fatherly presence to strangers on a beach and not someone else’s.

A day at the beach and a regrettable gap in a small boy's life provided me with a heartwarming opportunity to see just how much my children still have in spite of our financial traumas.  It also afforded my an illustration of how much they value and have benefited from the rewards of a loving and secure family environment which, thankfully, has remained uncontaminated by unsympathetic creditors.  It is for this reason and for their sakes that I continue to covertly struggle on behind the scenes while battling with the Lloyds Banking Group. I do this in the hope that one day my husband and I will be able to enjoy family life, after debt, free from the legacy of HBOS greed and economic recession.

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