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The Magic

This is my first adult attempt at poetry, something I loved as a child. Please be gentle in your critique of it.

 

 

I love that we are all connected, I love that sense of one

That nature reconnects us all when everything is done

The gentle swaying of the trees reminds me of my soul

That we were once from earth it seems a fairly simple role

 

Our only job whilst being here is learning what we need

The earth, the sun and water join to blossom with the seed

No need to stray too far but most forget the magic script

And suffer from a disconnect as from our plan we’re ripped

 

We struggle with our role it seems and lose the sense of flow

And make life so much harder, inside we always know

The things we need to focus on get lost within the mix

And conflict becomes the norm for us, we lose the will to fix

 

If only we would trust in life and allow the love to flow

It’s not our job to plan it all as nature always knows

If only we would trust ourselves and show up to witness now

The world would be a better place and full of fizz and pow

 

Our lives are meant to play with love & ease and fun

But we forget our childhood magic and seek to push and run

We need to slow ourselves right down and take the time to play

And when we finally get it right the magic saves the day

 

I love that we are all connected, I love that sense of one

That nature reconnects us all when everything is done

The gentle swaying of the trees reminds me of my soul

That we were once from earth it seems a fairly simple role

Seconds Out Round 2

I have been really struggling as the lockdown continues and saw a return of my depression symptoms, so much so that I had to go back on medication again. At the same time my chronic pain got worse and the treatment I had just before lockdown did nothing at all to ease it. For the last few weeks I struggled to get out of bed before mid afternoon and couldn’t get motivated to do much of anything. Until last week I was wasting the days away watching TV, surfing social media and playing games on my phone.

My consultant had reminded me about the importance of exercise in controlling the pain and, without my weekly wheelchair tennis sessions, I was doing absolutely nothing. My physio referral won’t happen until after lockdown now, so I went online and downloaded some recommended back exercises to do at home. I had a week where I did those every day but, gradually, they just made the pain worse and so I had to stop again. I had resigned myself to living a half life until the pandemic had resolved but then I was offered a lifeline by an adaptive boxing coach (Luiz Faye – see picture) who is running seated boxing fitness classes online, every weekday.

Anyone who knows me will know that it’s not really in my nature to go around punching people. My friends were surprised when I started to do Tae Kwon Do, a few years ago, when I was still able to. But I absolutely loved it, although I never really enjoyed the sparring part. I was always much happier doing patterns, solo moves and pad work. I was a bit nervous about trying boxing because, again, I didn’t really want to punch actual people. However Luiz reassured me that plenty of people enjoyed the sport by just doing the training, combinations and pad work and there was no requirement to hit anyone, phew!!!

I did my first session on Friday and absolutely loved it. It was held in the morning and that was the first day since lockdown that I have had a happy and productive day. The exercise is really working as an excellent antidepressant for me, so much so that I’m going to wean myself off the medication again. I’m going to taper down my pain meds as well as it’s really helping my pain too. I am so glad I found it and can already feel my fitness improving along with my core muscles and stamina.

Luiz is an excellent coach and stresses the importance of pacing ourselves, there’s no pressure to do too much and the other students are an interesting and fun group. She is patient and very clear about what to expect and I find myself wanting to check out a real boxing gym once lockdown is over. Something that I never expected to want to do. It’s a shame she lives up in Yorkshire but the World Boxing Council is hoping to set up groups around the country once they have worked out the relevant protocols and the online classes are going to continue. This is something I will definitely be keeping in my life going forward.

If you know of any fellow wheelies who might be interested then please share and check out Luiz’s facebook group which has full details. https://www.facebook.com/groups/699514570786482

My take on the Corona Virus and a call for help

I’ve struggled with lots of things since the lockdown to slow the spread of the corona virus was enforced.

I miss going to the coast and smelling the seaside smells, listening to the waves roll in and crash on the shore and maybe, if it’s warm enough, having a bag of chips sitting outside (they never taste as good anywhere else and, I’m old enough to remember how they tasted even better when we were allowed to eat them out of newspaper, that’s something I miss at anytime)

I miss hugs with my daughter and friends and can’t wait to hug everyone as soon as we are allowed to do that.

I miss my face to face networking, although online networking has it’s advantages (how many of us are wearing pyjama bottoms whilst we chat away in our “business voices” hahaha?) I started my own group just before all of this and have had to move that online now (www.bit.ly/coffeeladies)

But I have gained some positives in my life too.

I am loving my new daily habit (most days anyway, I have had some dark moments when that’s not happened) of going for a walk outside. I’m so grateful that we live so close to the canal and really feel for anyone who is stuck in a flat with no green spaces nearby.

I am loving the sense of community that is starting to blossom amongst the fear and worry. I am part of a local initiative to help out anyone in my neighbourhood who can’t get out and am doing some shopping and collecting prescriptions for a few local people. I’ve also joined the NHS volunteer initiative which is similar but on a much larger scale (https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/03/your-nhs-needs-you-nhs-call-for-volunteer-army) This isn’t operating fully yet as they have been overwhelmed by the numbers who have volunteered and they’ve had to pause new applications whilst they process the 750,000 people who lined up to help out (WOW!!!)

I’m loving how much decluttering I’m getting done. Something like this clearly shows us how unimportant “stuff” is and I’m working my way through getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve me anymore. That includes activities. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I want keep in my business. I’m 60 in 2 months time and want to semi retire so I will be concentrating more on my writing going forward. I also want to do more meditation and will be running a local group when the restrictions have been lifted. I’m going to practice my skills by running a free online group every Monday during lockdown (www.bit.ly/suzimed) and then start the face to face version once we’re back to normal. Although I suspect our new normal will look very different, with all the new things we will take out of our current experiences.

I’ve been trying to get back to writing my novel recently. It’s all about a girl who discovers she’s half fairy on her 14th Birthday. I plan a whole series of these books which will follow her as she learns how to navigate her world now she knows about her magical heritage. The trouble is it’s really hard to write about magic, unicorns etc when all around you is news of illness, death and hardship. I’ve got stuck and desperately need some help to get going again.

I was thinking about this recently and have come up with an idea which might help. I’ve opened a facebook group and asked for people to help me out with ideas on where to take the story and what some of the plot twists might be. That way I hope it’ll kickstart my imagination again. It will also allow others to contribute to a book and feel some of their ideas have helped form the storylines. Please come and join if you’d like to contribute, I’ll be posting my first request for help over the weekend. (www.bit.ly/bookcoop)

To finish this post off I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the people who have carried on working selflessly during these tricky times. Let’s take a moment to appreciate all of the NHS workers (to include cleaners, porters etc.), teachers, private care workers, police, farmers, military, pharmacists, dustmen, shop assistants, postal workers, delivery drivers and anyone who else who are keeping the infrastructure going. We are very grateful for what you are doing.

Stay safe everyone and remember …..

Imaginary fears do as much damage to your happiness as real ones. Let your imagination take you to happy places, the feelings that will generate will carry you through the darkest of days.

Stay safe and see you on the other side

Photos by Robyn Budlender & Ella Jardim on Unsplash

Do it now!!!

Winter time is a tricky time for me as I’m fairly certain I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). A friend (thanks James Blakeway) recommended taking Vitamin D and that has helped enormously. I also use a Daylight lamp and try and get outside for a walk on a regular basis.

One of the things that often go off plan in this season is my weight. I am a classic yo-yo dieter and use food to try (unsuccessfully) to manage my emotions. I have no idea why I still do this as I know it doesn’t help but I obviously still have an old script playing in my subconscious. As part of my new strategy for managing that, I have started to attend a slimming club to get weighed. I find that helps me enormously (I know that’s part of my “people pleasing” pysche and need to change that but it works so don’t judge me in this instance) Anyways part of the group activity involves us having a discussion about our feelings and attitudes towards food.

Last night we found ourselves discussing why we save some of our “stuff” for the future. Caroline, the group leader, talked about only wearing your Manolo Blahnic shoes (see Carrie in Sex & The City if you’re shoe person like me) on limited occasions and saving them for best. I have lots of Yankee Candles in my house and I light them up on a regular basis. However I know lots of people who choose to keep them intact and never burn them. We only get one life so we should be living it now and not saving stuff for later. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but some of us won’t have a later. (My mum died when she was 45 at a time when she finally had some spare money to use on holidays etc but never got to experience that freedom) So light the candle, wear the Manolo’s (I have a pair that have only been worn once so I’m looking for some more opportunities to get them on) use your best china or do whatever it is you’ve been keeping pristine. have fun!!!

As part of last night’s group we also had to make 3 commitments. I committed to writing for at least half an hour on 5 out of 7 days a week, taking a 10 minute walk outside on 5 of 7 days and have totally forgotten the last one (should have taken a photo of them like Caroline suggested but thought my memory was OK, mistake!) So this blog post is my commitment to doing that and those two things will help me to lift my mood and see me through to spring.

Would love to hear from you what you will be doing differently as a result of reading this post. Post a comment or use the contact form on my website http://www.suzimagic.com

Photo by Eduardo C.G. on Unsplash

Choices affect the Magic

I watched “The Secret” (https://www.youtube.com/user/thesecret) a few years ago and since then have been reading a lot about the law of attraction. My favourite author on the subject is Genevieve Davis. If you’d like to check out her first book you can find it here :- https://amzn.to/2QegV3F . She talks about the common failure in manifesting things as being an inability to get yourself into what she calls “the receiving state”.

I find it really difficult to fully relax and let go and am married to someone who finds it even more difficult. That’s a challenge for me as I can get myself into “the receiving state” but I can struggle to remain there, especially if he’s busy concentrating on everything that might go wrong and focusing on negativity and lack. If anyone has any tips for remaining positive in the face of a “glass half empty” person then I’d love to hear what they are.

Something happened earlier this week that demonstrated this perfectly. We are on holiday in Tenerife and had booked to go on a half day coach trip to see the volcanic scenery around a now dormant volcano on the island. We went down and had an early breakfast and then met the coach outside the hotel . My anxiety levels always rise when we’re using public transport as I am a part time wheelchair user. I had managed to put aside my fears that my chair wouldn’t fit in the bus, the company would forget to save me a seat at the front (so I wouldn’t have to walk too far when I got on) or I wouldn’t be able to manage the steps up into the coach. I was in the receiving state and trusting the universe to look after me and feeling really good. The magic was flowing and I was looking forward to an adventure with conviction that all would be well.

Then my husband discovered he hadn’t got his mobile phone. We realised he must have left it somewhere in the hotel that morning as he’d had it with him at breakfast. He immediately went into negativity mode and was insisting that that would be the last time he saw the phone as someone would obviously have stolen it from wherever he had left it. We rang the phone to see if someone might answer but no-one did and then rang the hotel to tell them what had happened and ask them to keep a lookout for it. He wanted me to ring it every few minutes and keep ringing it in case we got an answer.

I was trying to remain calm during this and explained that there was nothing more we could do now. I tried to get him to focus on enjoying our trip and said dwelling on it wouldn’t change anything but he refused to get out of his angry mode. Negative energy was positively oozing out of him so I wasn’t surprised when the lady tour guide leaned over and asked if we could be a bit quieter as she was finding it hard to concentrate on her commentary, which she was giving in 3 separate languages. He did stop then and shortly after we heard from the hotel that they’d found the phone and would hold it at reception until we got back.

He’d had a choice and chosen lack which probably would have manifested a lost phone if he’d been on his own. However I like to think my focus on how friendly the hotel staff and guests were and how helpful, everybody had been up until that point, swayed the universe to give it back in this instance.

We always have choices and our choices affect how the law of attraction works in our lives. Choose well and the magic will flow.

My next little book of poetry is going to be dedicated to this subject with sections about manifesting, meditation and trusting rather than controlling. Watch out for information about when it might be published.

I’ll sign off now as the sunshine awaits.

Today’s featured image is my view as I was writing this.

My support family

Last night I joined a group of people, most of which I hadn’t met before, for a curry (a food I absolutely don’t enjoy!!!) Why did I do it you may ask? Well I have been a member of a networking organisation for well over a year now and have met friends, customers and new team members for my business through it.

4 Networking is not like a lot of the traditional networking organisations where you are pressured into passing on referrals and helping people do business with people they don’t even know. It’s all about building real relationships with individuals and getting to know, like and trust them before you go on to do business with them. To be honest most of the people I work with have become personal friends.

When you are in business as a sole trader it can be a very lonely place to be. Joining this organisation has meant I have support and lots of people who I can bounce ideas off. It seems to attract people who are my sort of people and I genuinely look forward to going to the meetings.

My first introduction to 4N was when I went to a lunch group over in Chard, Somerset (sadly this group has since folded). I was met at the door by the lovely Kirtsy Grimes from http://www.weloveourlocals.co.uk  Kirsty was wearing a cat dress, cat ears, cat paws and even a tail. I instantly knew that this was the right fit for me as I absolutely adore cats and also anyone who has the nerve to dress up like this inspires me to do funky things too. The meeting was held at http://www.ferneanimalsanctuary.org and there I was introduced to the magic that is 4N. I joined up and can’t imagine being without the support of everyone I have met at all the meetings since.

Brad Burton, the founder of the organisation, also runs a private members group, on facebook, which gives you tasks to help you further develop your business. Last night’s curry meet up was a chance to meet some of the people from that private group so I went along to discover the two dimensional people I had gotten to know online were actually real life flesh and blood people too. It was great fun. In the featured image you can just see the top of my headband at the end of the table behind Alison’s (lady with long black hair) head.

Yesterday’s experience inspired me to write today’s poem so here it is for you to enjoy.

 

How to explain what 4N is

It’s Brad’s magical network, it’s just the Biz

So who is Brad I hear you say

Well he used to be a drug dealer, back in the day

 

But then he had life’s shit in his face

He turned around and left his place

To go down south and start again

He left behind that grief and pain

 

He didn’t know a soul down there

So went to network and lost his hair

The groups he joined were formal and stuffy

So he formed his own, they’re a bit more fluffy

 

Instead of sharing boring facts

You get to know some personal stats

The meetings are half business, half fun

If you don’t like the person, just cut and run

 

That way you meet your own little tribe

Get customers, referrals and a lovely vibe

It takes some time to build rapport

So carry on and you’ll get more

 

4N rocks, it’s like having support

When you work on your own it’s your home port

So don’t go it alone, come along and join in

You’ll go away with business and a big grin

 

If you’d like to find a local 4N group near you then message me at suzifrench9@gmail.com and I can book you into a meeting to check it out

It’s Here

Well at last my book is out there. http://www.amazon.com/author/suzifrench

I cried when the first copy arrived and I held it in my hands for the first time. I wrote it in the hope that it would help fellow OCD, anxiety and depression sufferers that there was life after mental illness.

If you’d asked me 11 years ago whether I thought I’d ever be well enough and happy enough to write and self publish a book about my experiences I would have laughed in your face. Back then it felt like my life was over and I’d never be happy again.

Fast forward 11 years and here I am happy, fulfilled and enjoying my life. I am self employed with a couple of other businesses besides my writing and everything I do is done with the intention of making a difference to people’s lives.

My first amazon review was a complete stranger and she said it was helpful and she wished it were longer so I’ve already achieved my goal of helping people with mental health issues. I hope it will be helpful to those that care for sufferers too and give them a little insight into how strange our experiences can be.

Life is good just now and I am already thinking about making a whole series of poetry books which deal with improving the quality of people’s lives.

Mental Health benefits frustration

Haven’t been doing much magical writing recently as I’ve been bogged down in sorting out the last bits of mum-in-law’s estate and dealing with a DWP appeal for a family member. I get Personal Independence Payments for my physical disability but lost my Mental health component quite a while ago now as they deemed me to have no issues. I’m lucky enough to be financially secure so didn’t appeal that decision as I realised the stress that would involve would be detrimental to my health and may have even made my problems worse.
Unfortunately some of my friends and family are not in that same position so have to run the gauntlet of dealing with an inherently unfair system. I have seen quite a few personal examples where people, who are clearly chronically unwell with mental health issues, have been denied benefits (PIP & Employment Support Allowance (ESA)) which are essential for them to be able to live and then have to go through the highly stressful process of appealing that decision in order to get them reinstated. They are trapped in their illness because these frequent interactions erode their already fragile mental health state and prevent them from moving forwards and getting better.
Surely the money spent on these procedures would be better spent on more therapy for sufferers to give them a chance of escaping this cycle? I appreciate there are some people claiming benefits who are not unwell and need “weeding out”. But, for those that are unwell, the system is actually causing their problems to worsen.
An example from last year saw me attend an interview with a friend. They were clearly highly distressed during the interview but co-operated and answered questions as well as they could. Their benefits were stopped shortly afterwards and we appealed on paper for a reconsideration. The report they produced bore no resemblance to what was said during the interview and was full of lies. That paper appeal failed so we lodged a final appeal. This stage goes to a panel of independent people who look at everything and reach a final decision.
Our appeal took place in an official court building and was heard by a psychiatrist and a chairwoman. (The cost must have been huge) They asked us about one aspect of my friend’s condition and then asked us to step out for a few minutes. When they called us back they advised us the appeal had been won on just that one aspect and they didn’t need to consider the other 9 aspects that this benefit uses to ascertain whether someone qualifies to receive it.
My friend had had to go through nearly a year of being on no benefit (luckily their family was able to support them) and their mental health deteriorated even further during that time as they worried and stressed about the outcome continually. Even though it has now been reinstated they worry about when they will next be called in. Given past history it is very likely the whole process will have to be gone through again as they have already been through it twice.
So I wrote a poem to sum up my frustrations :
It is my lot to help my friends
When DWP letters do descend
They ask to see the one concerned
The fear inside their souls is burned
For mental health is very fragile
And these dark letters remove a smile
An interview so often follows
Prior to it loved ones sit and wallow
In feelings of their very worst day
Why won’t they let us have our say?
The game is fixed to turf us out
Their fixed agenda what it’s all about
How can we heal and grow and play?
When we keep repeating our worst day
Why not spend the money involved,
On therapies, why not? Problems solved
But that’s too easy and may not work
Much quicker to search for those that shirk
So on it goes and stuck we are
Feeling helpless, bearing scars

My book release draws closer

I’ve been pretty busy for the last few weeks. I’ve been sorting out my mum in law’s estate and concentrating on getting further along the path to publishing my first book. One set of activities has been really bad for my anxiety & depression but the book preparations have kept me going.

I’ve now started working with an amazing couple who run a company that helps people like me self-publish. You can find them at http://www.authorpackages.com Mark has been hard at work on my cover design, after doing my editing. All that’s left now is for Lorna, the other half of the team, to get it formatted for me and then I’ll be able to get it out there.

I’m really excited about it all and can’t wait to share the end result. So I thought I’d do a quick non – traditional haiku to celebrate getting this far. It has the 5-7-5 pattern of words instead of syllables. If you’re unfamiliar with haiku poetry then maybe you need to get the book when it comes out as it contains an explanation of what it involves. It’s also a concise story of my experiences with OCD, Anxiety & Depression and is aimed at anyone who suffers with these conditions themselves or their loved ones or carers.

 

Written finally done deep joy

Fizzing excited nervous like it will they

Help others see pain fear

 

 

Cover design by Mark Reid

 

An inspirational Lady

My family and I said a final farewell to my Mother-In-Law, Ginette French, last week. The humanist celebrant, Alison Orchard composed a fabulous story about her life which was read out at the service we held to celebrate her life. It would be a shame if only the few people who attended the service got to hear her story so I’ve decided to share it with anyone who might be interested in her life, which included living in German occupied Paris during the second world war. A lot of her stories died with her but this bit can live on, as her legacy to the world.

I can highly recommend Alison if you’re looking for a humanist celebrant as this is the second time I’ve used her and, on both occasions, she really worked hard to get a true understanding of the people she was talking about and did so in a truly warm and compassionate way. You can find her here :- http://www.humanist.org.uk/alisonorchard

 

**************************

Ginette had a longer life than most and, with a little help and support of others, she remained independent and relatively fit until the last few months of her life, doing the splits into her seventies and going shopping on the Tesco bus . She remained able to live in her own home, with the help of her sons , right up until early last year. As a self-sufficient person she would have appreciated that; she eventually moved into the Ashdowne Care Home last July and there the staff provided her with a happy and loving environment to end her days; she remained in good spirits and retained her strong presence until the last few days of her life; and the end, when it came, was calm and peaceful; beautiful even.

The greatest blessing of all is that Ginette had an interesting and fulfilling life; she found love and friendship and, as someone who liked the finer things in life, she enjoyed what the world had to offer her. Hers was a strong character, fools suffered, she liked things to be right and did her best to make them so. She was a woman of substance with a bright and passionate presence and a resolute and determined spirit; you knew when she was in the room! And she lived life to the full, all the while gracing our world with her beauty, elegance and style. In the words of Coco Chanel, that Suzi thought described Ginette so well, “You can be gorgeous at thirty, charming at forty and irresistible for the rest of your life”

There is much to respect and admire; we must celebrate her life today.

Here is her story:-

Ginette Braziér was born in Paris on 18th April, 1927, to Alice and her engraver husband, Robert, known as Mimi and Pipi, Ginette was as sophisticated and lively as the city she grew up in; she was Parisienne through and through. Times were hard when she was a girl, and her parents were strict, but hers was a fortunate upbringing, too; her grandparents were wealthy, they had a beautiful house in the suburbs of the city and were looked after by servants; Ginette loved going to visit them there, whenever she could. She liked the outdoors, learned to swim from an early age and she enjoyed swimming in the River Marne and she was, by all accounts, a good and enthusiastic dancer

But life was to change for young Ginette when in 1940, when she was thirteen, Nazi Germany began their occupation of France during the Second World War. The people were as humiliated as they were frightened, and Paris became quiet and dark.

In his book, ‘When Paris Went Dark’, Ronald C. Rosbottom writes:

“The cacophony of daily urban engagement — passersby, hawkers, street minstrels and performers, construction work, and especially traffic noise — was severely diminished . . . writers of the period … emphasize how quiet Paris became during those years. Sometimes the silence brought benefits, when pleasant sounds — birdsong, music — were able to reach Parisians’ ears. . . . But mostly, the new silence in such a vital capital [was] confusing and intermittently frightening. Police sirens were more menacing, airplane engines meant danger, a shout or scream demanded a more nervous response.”

 

Ginette often spoke with sadness when she told you how she lost a lot of her Jewish schoolfriends, whom she assumes were killed in concentration camps, certainly she never saw them again once they had been transported away. Ginette’s father took a more pragmatic approach and, always one to value education, he encouraged his daughter to learn German. She wasn’t keen, however, and became instead a proficient English speaker, although no one is quite sure how! Despite his pragmatism over learning the language he certainly wasn’t a supporter or collaborator of the Germans. Indeed his engraving skills were put to good use by the French resistance movement as he helped out producing false identification documents and travel papers wherever he could.

Ginette played part in the French resistance movement, too. By all accounts on one occasion the resistance were planning to attack a German building in her neighbourhood. They enlisted her help to go around an tell all the local residents to stay inside. However her dad was furious when he heard that the French had started firing on the Germans before his daughter had finished, putting her life at risk. Later on, during the mass exodus of parisiens from the city, she was once again forced to take evasive action. To save hers and her family’s lives. This time she ended up diving into ditches alongside the roads as german planes bombed the civilian convoys leaving Paris.

Despite all this, she grew up to be the most stunningly beautiful young woman; slim, poised and classy, with curly hair and natural fitness and elegance; she loved clothes, often embellishing garments she had bought to make them unique and chic. On leaving school Ginette trained as a secretary, learning to touch type in the process, and, when she went to England in her early twenties and found a company with a typewriter which had a French keyboard, she settled to work in London.

It was at a dance that she was to meet her future husband, Reg. ‘I’m French’, she told him. ‘I’m French, too’, he replied. She was puzzled until Reg showed her his identity card and she realised he was called Reg French! They made a handsome pair as you can see on your orders of service. And, so it was that French woman, Ginette, became Mrs French! The newly weds settled in Tottenham.

Theirs was a good marriage; they were different in character, Ginette was sparkly and chatty and Reg was quiet and liked fishing, but he became something of a shed man and they did lots of activities apart with Reg taking care of the garden and Ginette keeping a neat and tidy house; it worked and they each contributed to the other’s happiness!

They were to have two children, Alan and Jean-Pierre, known as John. Ginette had a strong sense of family and responsibility and she was supportive and protective with her sons; no-one short changed anyone in her family! Alan only told his mother once about the problems he was facing at school, he didn’t want Ginette knocking on the door of the headmaster’s office and demanding things change ever again

She enjoyed cooking, although with Reg’s tastes being somewhat traditional, she had to abandon the French cooking she loved, to embrace meat, potatoes and two veg; she made lovely cakes, too.

But she wasn’t a serious mother and Alan remembers her dancing in the living room, donning a gas mask to de-flea the cat and joining a noisy party next door whilst Reg went to sleep in the bath on the quiet side of the house! She warmly welcomed Alan’s friends and she never minded them mimicking her accent!

 Ginette returned to work between the births of Alan and John and again when John was older. She worked in an international clothing distribution company, Tibbet and Britten, for a while, a job in which her French came in very handy and she insisted she was given a smoke free office but, when she was made redundant, she rang up Marks and Spencer and she started work there just days later. Hers was an enterprising and confident spirit

They enjoyed some lovely holidays, to places like Spain and Ibiza and especially to Cravante, a tiny village in mid France where Ginette’s grandparents had now moved. Their property was large, with a beautiful garden for the children to play in.

When her father, Pipi, died, though, Ginette and Reg retired a little early and moved to Bournemouth, they were able to bring Ginette’s mother over from France and Ginette cared for her very dedicatedly. Sadly in time Reg, too, became ill, Ginette didn’t want anyone else looking after him – they were sure not to have done a good job – and she nursed him until he died fifteen years ago.

Ginette enjoyed reading romantic books and historical novels; she loved old films, as well some of the soaps and quiz programmes; she liked to sing, especially along to old French songs; she continued to holiday, in America and New Mexico; she embraced computers and learned to email, although she still liked to write letters; and she looked amazing every day of her life! Suzi vividly remembers when they hired a French gite and Ginette was with them; they went for a walk through the forest, Ginette insisted on wearing open toed shoes which inevitably filled up with leaves and stones as tghey went. Once their picnic lunch was finished  Ginette decided to put the plastic sandwich bags over her feet to protect her shoes…. and she still looked as classy as ever!

Sadly everything we cherish passes out of our lives. Perhaps it is only when we face this truth as those we love become ill and die that we realize how precious life with them has been.

Ginette did become frail, especially after her fall and her eyesight began to decline, and, after spending some time living with John, she came to Tiverton to live near Alan and Suzi. They were glad that the staff there seemed to like her and made such an effort to make her as comfortable and engaged as possible and they were warmly thanked at Ginette’s funeral. It was here that she died.

Don’t forget to remember Ginette, perhaps when you look through photographs, enjoy a French song or buy some new clothes, as she loved to do. In that way you will strengthen her legacy and she can come with you into your future.

The world is a sadder place without Ginette, but I’m sure you will agree, for you, a far more colourful and stylish place for her having been in it.

 

Goodbye Ginette

Here’s a poem I wrote which will be read out at my mother in-law’s funeral later this week.
 
Goodbye Ginette you’ve gone to rest
Among the stars, you were the best
A mum to Alan and to John
A wife to Reg who’d already gone
 
A character you most certainly were
A friend to animals of feather and fur
We remember the pigeon you set free
In London Zoo it had to be
 
When Alan was young he remembers well
His friends were welcomed and treated swell
Cheese on toast was lovingly made
Can can performed, you weren’t even paid
 
You loved your life and lived all with a smile
Not afraid to go that extra mile
You lived through war, in Paris, tough
But helped the resistance, did enough
 
Through all your family were your guiding light
You fought for them with all your might
But now’s your time to leave us all
And return to where you hear the call
 
Didi sends love, your brother dear
He’s back in France, but in spirit he’s here
And all the friends and family gone before
Send loving wishes as they watch you soar
 
Although you’re gone you’re not forgot
We’ll think of you, how could we not
You’ll linger on in all our minds
Your love endures and family binds