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2 + 2 = 4, heartbreak and hearts full of joy. Tears of dispare and tears of love.
I live with my wife and foster daughter. We’ve all had experiences of being let down by birth family and struggle with the word. sometimes we prefer to call ourselves a team. We make a good team
At 62 I ‘ve found a way to live alongside my Mum without worrying what she thinks or trying to understand her. I have realised and accepted that I have no emotional attachment to her, no sense of belonging and that this is OK. I can be the dutiful daughter and I can respect her wishes, ensure her life is comfortable and do anything required to help her. The relief is enormous.
My mother was of the task based generation, where time management was crucial and all tasks had measurable outcomes, preferably visual. Shining the step with red polish, sheets out to dry before work, windows cleaned, children bathed and fed.
Parenting was also task based. My sister and I were kept in line with stern looks and threats hissed through gritted teeth. We didn’t question it. Nothing was negotiable. We were fed, bathed, sent to school and taken to visit grandparents every other weekend. A lost Thank you or a missed please were jumped on, vanity was frowned upon and ‘lying was the ultimate sin resulting in early bedtimes and loss of freedom. As we grew older her world was still very black and white, judgements came thick and fast and my kids were wary of her. Disappointments made for tense family get togethers and my sister retreated into the shadows 15 years ago. I remained struggling to understand her take on the world, her relationship with Dad and the overwhelming outpouring of emotion she lavished on the dog.
So I have now accepted it and I am grateful not to follow in her footsteps, to have showered my kids with affection and to have given them freedom to make their own mistakes but above all, I have engaged with life, sort things that challenge and questioned routine reactions where she sits behind high walls with few visitors ‘nursing her wrath to keep it warm’
A First born’s story
I am the firstborn of five siblings. I grew up moving from place to place in Ethiopia because my mother was a teacher and needed to move around because of her career and family. My father and mother died when I was 16 and 17 respectively. They left behind a 7, 9,13, 15 and 17 year olds behind. since then, and way earlier than this, I have been responsible for raising my siblings. As a first born, I was my mother’s helping hand. Thank my mom for influencing me to be an independent and strong woman. I became a teacher following her footsteps and that meant I was able to provide for my siblings. We nested under a small roof, relieved that we did not disintegrate, attended school, held each other’s hands through the bad and the ugly and survived the orphanage. I attended continued education, my siblings finished school and completed some post secondary.
Life is full of turns and twists. I started my own family 13 years ago and immigrated to Canada following my husband who studied here. I had to make a tough decision leaving my two younger brothers behind(my two sisters were adults by then). They were attending the last year of high school.
As a firstborn, I accepted the mother figure life has made me to become. Though my younger sisters and a half sister decided to take on the responsibility of supporting my brothers when I moved to Canada, it’s not been easy for me to leave them behind. With the pain of settling in a new country, I also felt that I abundoned my siblings. I left my job backhome and I had a baby in 6 weeks after arriving in Canada. So I don’t have any income to support them. Even after I started earning income after a year of arriving in Canada, marriage meant supporting the new family and making compromises- I was not able to help. I suffered silently: always worried about my siblings, instead of being grateful for my food, I often cried imagining my siblings going hungry. I was not satisfied with the very minimal financial support we were able to provide. I often say to myself I am a firstborn and there is a heavy weight on my shoulders. My husband is a last born and his philosophy in providing financial assistance is completely different. So I felt like nobody will understand me. Not my husband, not my children, not my family backhome. Everyday, every moment, every meal makes me think of my siblings. I always tried to crack what I can to help with the university, medical expenses or life expenses. But I objectively know that I am not doing close to enough. Now, is a firstborn’s marriage supposed to be tough because of all this ? I left my siblings behind, but not the responsibility, not my unconditional love, not my commitment to their success until death do us part.
This meant though, working so hard to change things in my life, arguments, negotiations, …so much more. This meant, my marriage is struggling, our love is rotting under the rug! I felt incapacitated. Life for me becomes continuously contemplating divorce, always wanting to help but not able to, living like one leg in and one leg out, not being able to fully settle, bitterness.
The saddest part since my mother’s passing has been loosing one of my brothers in January 2020. He has been unwell for a while. I prayed, hoped and thought that death will give us some time, at least to try our best. In the 12 years I have been away, I only visited my family two times and spent time with my brother in hours. He has been working so he has not been available during the day, I had to move around to visit family and friends. When I saw him after his illness, I knew that he was really unwell. I cried, he told me not to cry or he will leave me. I took him to a public hospital, the day before I came back to Canada, with my three little ones and visiting others everywhere, I didn’t get enough time to spend with him. I pleaded for more time but I was unsuccessful. We did nothing really in the one day we had at the hospital. They referred him elsewhere. I also told my siblings to facilitate a referral so we can fundraise for him to get medical help abroad. I advised him to follow up and update me. I knew then, unless he gets advanced treatment, things might get worse. Despite my daily prayers, a year after I saw him, I learned that he is gone, gone too early(at 30) before he started living, death beat my plans and I felt God abondend me. What happened to my worry and my prayers? Why?He is gone, I was not on his side, I heard his passing just like that and I am living on! January 12,2020, I was 8 months pregnant, March 2020 Covid-19 shutdown! He has no idea that I didn’t even bereave with my siblings yet and I don’t know when I will be going. As if I didn’t hold him in the pocket of my heart since he was a baby, as if my dairy is not full of his name, as if I didn’t fight for him, he is gone and I am here. The last messenger text he sent me says thank you to my two children then and me and my husband.
Now I am living with the agony of grief: losing a brother I raised like my child, not being able to find him better treatment, shame for not being rebellious enough to save him, shame for being too submissive to my life and anger for facing all this alone. I realized that as much as I am grieving him, I am grieving my own life. I felt that I gave up on matters very dear to my heart got my family to stay in tact and I am living the consequences. Regret, loss of interest in life and purpose, remorse and deep pain and sadness.
I keep my brother in my heart and soul every day and every moment. The weight of his loss feels like I am carrying a crocodile in my belly and this beast is waiting to swallow me. It’s roar would deafen me, it’s move would crash me, it’s spit would poison me but yet I am carrying it, I am cuddling it until death do us part.
A firstborn’s burden! I couldn’t save my mother because I was too young and had nothing to help with. She died of illness and poverty at 38. I couldn’t save(at least) try to save my brother because I had to give in to the will of my marriage. The next and last tragedy will be my younger sister who is struggling in poverty with three young children and who in fact had to care for and bury my mother and brother as I was away both times. I am a first born living with remorse, lifelong burden, shame and guilt. I grieve alone, I might die sad!
Family is home. Wherever they are, whenever they are with me, I’m home.?
I wish I’d spoken to my mum about her heartbreak. She wrote it all down; several times. I read and I feel her pain, the torment, the disappointment and mental anguish. I wished I’d been there for her, but now she’s gone. I hope she knows.
We are a fostering family, our hearts are bigger than we ever knew!
We have grown our family with a small, funny, cheeky, girl who challenges us with all that she has been through, she however also makes me and my heart so proud of everything she achieves everyday!
It’s just me and pickle. But there’s enough love to give some to the rest of the world
Just into the ambulance Dad looked at me and said “You are harming children”. His eyes flitting away and back, he said it twice. It was the only madness of the journey away from his hometown to his care home: this thing he didn’t want to happen. “Errors” – he talks of making errors, like this cruel disease is punishment. Our family overthinks, overanalyses, lets the fear grow roots in the cracks of doubt. Fear is the most debilitating force in our family. It shrinks courage and it shrinks possibility. Our family has held onto a misconception that mental ill-health is a luxury or a punishment. My grandmothers held grief and shame close to their hearts in harsh times, until they became confused with love.
I think in my view, family is the smallest unit of a country population . In other word, family is the foundation of any community,society or the country as a whole. So to have good family is to have good citizens in any given country.
Family is complex, confusing, childish, defensive, quick to judge, vicious, hard, dismissive and rejecting.
Our family is a kinship family, we have 4 grandchildren we are guardians for, as hard as it is we would not change having them,.it can be stressful but it’s also full of so much love and laughter too. X
Much of our family has been broken without realising. It has trickled down like a leaking pipe collecting at the bottom. I am the puddle, the flood, the crumbling walls of the years of it. I am drying out, recasting the foundation onto solid ground, replacing all the rot and pipe work and dodgy electrics to finally make a home that is safe. It is not my family’s fault. But I have splinters in my hands and plaster thick like sand under my nails from scratching at the walls and clinging from the gutter. The house is heavy with it, and I am not a plumber, plasterer, carpenter, electrician. I am only me, their blood in my veins and trying to make peace with it.
Some people’s houses
Have no love, like a desert.
Mine’s a rain forest
Family is love, struggle and resolution, unconditional, expanding and contracting, safety net and launch pad, rest, joyful, celebration and commiseration, compassion, always evolving
Family is complicated. My daughter is adopted and has many siblings whom are also adopted. She sometimes asks if she’ll get a new mummy because of all the change she’s experienced. She is constantly testing the attachment. But family is strength, grit and determination, you push yourself to the furthest limits and realise you’re capable of so much.
Family is standing up for someone, hearing things you don’t want to hear but sticking by them no matter what. Family is pride, love, and bravery but it’s also tiring and hardwork at times.
My family is a middle class .we are 5 sibling. My mothe age half of My father was government worker.my mother was housewife.i have 3 brother and 1 sister. Due to age difference both my families need different. My mother more moder than father.but he is one of scholar of Orthodox church.
As an Ethiopian diaspora, the pressure of family responsibility when I am supposed to take care of my entire family has been stressful for for last 20 years. This is something we Ethiopians and probably other immigrants suffer with quietly.
And so she lived with the Irish woman in town when her father went away to the mine. She’d dress in her white blouse and have her hair braided into two long pigtails on school days. She liked to learn. She was quick with ciphers and they told her she had beautiful handwriting. The boys sitting behind her never could resist dipping the ends of her long plaits into the ink well, often ruining her blouse. The Irish woman would not believe that she never noticed these shenanigans. “Stop fibbing, Viola” she’d say, “and go and clean your blouse, again.” She’d much rather have been wandering the slopes of Anvil Mountain, collecting alpine flowers, or find some wild rhubarb, outside in the fresh air. She missed her dog. She missed her mother. She missed not feeling so alone.
My paternal grandmother was born in Silverton, Colorado (a mining town at 9k ft elevation, high in the San Juan Mtns) in February of 1908, the only daughter of Italian immigrants who were original settlers of the town. Her mother died when she was 6. She often talked about how she would spend her time as a child, outside, alone on the hillsides, playing with her dog or other animals, amongst the wildflowers. When her father died in 1925 she came east by train to CT to live with her only known relative, her mother’s sister and never returned to her beloved moubtains. But she shared her stories with her grandchildren, and when I had the chance to visit Silverton in 2011, the land knew me, and I knew it. I wished I could have visited with her.
Family is time spent with my brother who played action man and Barbie with me as a child, building parachutes to throw them from the bedroom window and watch them glide to the ground. Family is writing to him every day he was away in the British army looking out for children in far off countries. Family is watching him spend endless hours with my own children recreating joy and wonder. Family is having an adventurer who brought love and compassion to our lives. Family is sharing the grief of loss when he is lost to us and yet seeing him live everyday in others. Family is live, joy, caring, sharing and sometimes loss. But always remembering. If we remember we never truly loose.
My birth family was the centering force of stability and love in my life – something I didn’t fully appreciate until after my parents died in the late 1990’s.
My grandparents are originally from Ireland and the North East of England. My uncles used to work in the coal mine in Boldon Colliery near South Sheilds and Whitley Bay. My grandfather took part in the Jarrow March. My uncle fought in the Korean War. My grandmother lost her husband when she was 51 years old, she remained single and worked two or three jobs at a time. She wallpapered my kitchen when she was 82 years old. She loved Hawaiian music and said she could have written all of Catherine Cookson’s books. She would be very happy to know I have two published poems so far.
I was brought up by my grandmother, and at her funeral I spoke about family being all about shared stories- something I’d heard at a talk by you a few days before. I also spoke about what a cool grandmother she was- staying out later and partying more than me when I was a teenager- much my embarrassment!
I live in Surrey now, but I was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I wrote a poem about all the wonderful memories of my childhood at my Grandparent’s house. It’s called ‘The Lullaby of Wallsend’
Listen very carefully, can you hear that train go by?
That’s the sound of my childhood and I’m about to tell you why.
That mundane monotonous sound might not mean much to you,
But it brings back happy memories to me and all my crew.
My Grandparents lived by the Metro line in the wonderful North East,
Many Sundays spent there while Nana would cook up a feast.
Homemade Yorkshire puddings the best we’d all agree,
Lots of laughter and music and endless cups of tea.
Stottie cakes, horse racing on the telly, Grandad’s strong cigar,
Smells and tastes of my upbringing, the happiest one by far.
Pork and pease pudding sarnies from the butchers down the road,
Family popping over, the conversation always flowed.
Grandad telling stories from when he worked at the local shipyard,
I have so much respect for all those people who laboured so hard.
Holding our breath through the Tyne Tunnel, one of our favourite games.
All the neighbours welcoming, knowing each one of our names.
On the streets armies of black and white kits proud of their local team,
If Newcastle had won the match that day it was every magpies dream.
We’d often stay the night and hear the Metro doors “beep beep”,
That was my sweet lullaby that sent me off to sleep.
My Grandparents may no longer be with us but I will forever have these special memories to keep them alive.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my story.
We have an exhausting dynamic where we always end up ‘fighting’ and it is difficult to be oneself as we misunderstand so often; and yet we have a very close bond, for better or worse. And it is in its own way founded on how passionately we all feel, about love and decency even if on the face of it, it might not seem that way to an outsider or indeed to all of us and often not all at the same time. Sometimes some of us get that we love each other when others don’t!!
When my mother died and I was standing next to her, I thought: now she will never know her father. She was adopted from abroad, knew her mother once she was an adult, but could never trace anything about her Jewish father. I felt so sad for her.
My Grandparents are both from Saint Lucia,
A place that tourism is used ta.
Now I am in the UK I feel all alone;
But for me St.Lucia is a place I call home.
My skin brown like the bark of the tree,
that keeps that soup and the leaves.
Mangos falling all across the streets floor,
My Uncle Mal would always eat one on the sea shore.
I met an aunt of mine in a place called Gros islet gladly,
it was her that showed me a whole tree of family.
I was shocked to see cousins with slanted eyes like mine,
a wide nose like mine and the same precise lip designs.
God is truly good, and I realized we must share the same blood too;
Green fig and salt fish is our national dish, one of few.
every christmas I yearn to spend there as the days lessen,
would you believe we spend the whole day listening to country and western.
The elders dance to Quadrille in Creole printed fine fabrics,
I am a child of Saint Lucian lineage with Saint Lucian habits.
The Patios we speak, outsiders call it “broken French”
and insiders call “the Sulphur springs” an “awoken stench”.
Our landmark is the two pitons that I call Saint Lucia’s podium;
yet not a day goes by that others ask if I am Ethiopian.
My lineage must go back further than I know NASA,
but it explains why I grew up with an affiliation to Rasta!
Families can bring out the best and the worst in you. They are full of love and hate, you need to recognise the latter to ensure they feel the former!
My dad passed away in September last year. He and Mam had been married for 67 years. Yesterday was the first time, since Dad passed, that I saw pure joy in her face again. We are in London visiting her grandchildren (my adult children.) The love is palpable. ❤️
“you don’t know your born”!
That’s how lucky I am. I know, and am so grateful.
A family, freedom, a home and love.
My parents worked hard, doing their best for my brother and me.
Only now I am grown up, I realise the effort.
To care, provide, nurture and guide.
We were blessed. To be close and ok. To be there. Together.
My grandparents were brilliant.
To me, they were love and family itself.
Saturday’s at Nannie Besties. Watching wrestling or snooker on TV. She did the pools. Would take us to Disney if she won .
I remember the smell of tomatoes in the greenhouse. Her soap.
The patterned carpets and her slippers.
Visiting great aunties. Slobbery kiss!
Wipe it off! But so sweet and comfy.
Half term at my grans. SE22. 185 bus., Bacon sandwich, blankets.
The telly had doors?!
The bath was in the kitchen. Joany lived upstairs.
Skate round the park with a pull along dog. watching Why Don’t You and Top of the Pops. Electric blankets. The smell of germoline.
Now they have all passed. Memories so dear. So so lucky.
Here we are now. My parents are old. I’m getting on too – truth be told!
My dad’s in a home. I miss him so much. Mums heart is broken.
We feel guilty and sad.
He is well cared for but alone. No visiting for so long. He is vanishing. Family. We need to be near. To hug and to kiss. To sing and listen and clap along. Comb his hair. Feed him treats. Is he sad without us.?
I pray he is content. His memory is gone. We hang on to ours.
My role is reversed now. They need me to help them
Gladly of course. I owe them the world.
And a family of my own too! I still can’t believe! A husband who loves me, and two beautiful girls.
I hope I am enough. That I am up to the job.
I’m tired and emotional. Scared and in awe.
But so so thankful.
To be loved and to love.
Drive eachother mad of course.
But that’s a sign we care huh?!?
Love is the thing.
Hug, smile. Tell them. Share. Play. Listen.
Our family grew from 2 to 3 in January 2021. Miles has brought such joy and happiness to our extended family after such a difficult year of being apart
My Nanna crocheted a blanket for each of her grandchildren.
Granny was our anchor in turbulent and unpredictable times. My sisters and I would spend a precious week or so of the summer holidays with her and Grandpa. It was kind of like a retreat for us slightly unruly kids – time out of a challenging family life at home. She made proper meals – from scratch – plate pies were a favourite (with gravy of course). We would line up in the yard and she would pass pancakes through the window. She’d also cut our fringe too short, mend our clothes and make us go to the church next door. Thinking about it she’d covered all the bases! She used to take us swimming to an outdoor pool in her wonderful old Volvo that she polished with pledge. We would cry when we had to leave, but her love would sustain us until the next time.
Family, it’s complicated. Isn’t it meant to be where we all go home too? But it’s not, is it? Family is complicated.
I could tell you of the stories, of the lies, of the loves, of the suicides, the children, the adventures, the gardens and the flowers. I could look at the betrayals across the generations of my family or the dedication and love.
Maybe I could ponder my own sense of attachment to family, or my need to break free of its constraints.
I tried to think of one family story to share with Lemn, but I couldn’t. It’s too big to squeeze down into a soundbite. Family it’s complicated, isn’t it?
Perhaps that’s it’s greatest asset.
P.S. I still don’t know if it’s true that we all (girls that is) turn into our mothers and I’m 55. Do boys turn into their dads?
Family is a feeling, a memory. My close family members are no longer here, but I am standing on the shoulders of giants. My family supports me and pushes me upwards. In my family, some are members by blood, others not. My dad, funny, always looking for a laugh (often down the pub), my step dad – so calm and kind. On my mum’s side, a large East End family: my great aunt, foster mother to many; my grandmother, my memories of whom are faded, but who was kind and nurturing, and alive every day in my mother. And my own mum, recently lost, and whose absence is almost unbearable. I include friends in my family – my first boyfriend, not seen for decades, but who helped to shape me nonetheless. My family includes the unknown – the child who was miscarried, and the adopted child my partner and I hope to welcome. My family is evolving – it feels like I have been loved, and I want to pass that feeling on.
I love my family. Sometimes they frustrate me but they are everything to me. I now have twin nieces and I love them so much.
Family is my way of coming back to my sense roots no matter where we all are in the world and however many years later.
My brother and I lost our parents before we were 25. We only have each other now. We have no other family members. That which should have made us close, holding on to each other, in reality made us insignificant and irrelevant. We no longer speak without the glue to hold us tigether.
What a wonderful idea to share thoughts of family – you are welcome to join ours! I
I do have the incredible opportunity of being an identical twin(female). We have two siblings (male). My parents have passed on after a hardworking, simple life that became full of joy for them. We all were brought up near London and later in life all moved on to Sussex. We chose to live very separate lives, but near each other. A family is a responsibility, like THE MOST PRECIOUS JEWEL AND REALISING DURING YOUR NLIFE YOU HAD BEST NOT LOOSE IT !! Where does family stop though? An international organisation called SERVAS – set up to encourage Peace and Friendship worldwide – gives me the opportunity to make everyone like family. With love
Christmas was very special when I was little. My mum, aunt and their cousins would take it in turns to host. Boxing Day was always my favourite as it felt more like a party and all the extended family would be there. Each family member would take their turn to sing, and I remember just watching and taking it all in, and loving it. We don’t do it anymore and I still miss those huge family gatherings with the loud chatter, song, laughter and endless plates of meat and potato pie.
My family on my Father side started in Southern Ireland and then came to England; In the first part of the 20th Century.My Granddad changed his first & last names so he could find work at 14 in the mines of West Yorkshire. Being from Ireland he didnt always find England a welcoming place. He went on to have a large loving family. My own Father, my Grandad’s son who was brought up in Yorkshire emigrated to Australia when he retired, so in my lifetime we have spanned several continents. My Mother’s parents came from Ireland too and settled in Sheffield. One of my Mothers sisters emigrated to Canada in the 1950’s so I now have many cousins and relatives in Canada too.We once had a family gathering on my Mothers side in Sheffield and in the community hall were over a hundred of my relations; all looking very familiar to me. Family means having lots of loving brothers and sisters and many, many cousins. It means never been alone; there is always someone to phone or write to. Family are the ties that bind you to a place and people forever. They are our connection to our past and our future. Growing up our household was noisy and I could never have any space to be alone but I wouldnt change that now. Coming from a large family which travelled for work means that I have an outward positive view of the world and that I dont believe in International borders. I believe that newcomers are just family that we havent met yet! I have friends who I count as part of my family too. I feel very lucky and I cherish my family.
If I visualise a happy, safe space, my brain takes me to my parents kitchen of my childhood home. There, 6 (or more) cats would be settled around the Aga, or on the chairs with at least one dog under the kitchen table. My grandfather would be sitting in a chair, smoking a cheroot, or off to the sitting room to watch ‘Egg Heads’. And tea, always tea. Perhaps the kettle would be on, perhaps the tea would be in the pot, brewing, but it would never be far away. And there, I would sit, and relish the warm mug in my hands, a cat in my lap, and my mother nearby.
When I lived in Canada as a kid every summer my parents, brother and I would go to Algonquin Park, canoeing and camping in the wilderness, with our guide and friend Trevor. One evening my dad was chopping wood and cut his thumb almost clean off. With blood spurting we were left with two options: either leave immediately and canoe through the night to the nearest hospital, or go to sleep and do it in the morning, bandaging his thumb up as best as possible in the meantime. We went with the first option. The five of us packed up our bags and tents, loaded them onto the canoes, and set off.
Through the blood, panic and chaos, we found ourselves paddling up a still lake in the dead of night. All you could hear was the trickle of water falling off the oar with each stroke, and the call of a loon in the distance, as the moonlit mist settled around us. My dad paddling at the back, deliriously exclaiming how beautiful it was and how proud he was of his family pulling together when it was needed. It ended up being one of our favourite memories.
I miss my family back in Manchester and Kent, but I love my smaller family here in Northern Ireland too.
I feel blessed to have more than one place to call home.
Family is not anchored in a place it’s a feeling of safety and love. And I’m lucky to have been loved by family members around the globe.
Love in a Shoebox
Every New Yorker of my generation has an Aunt Gladys.
Mine was big, beautiful and never short of an opinion or two. She never married, and my brothers and I became her surrogate children. She regularly took us on thrilling outings – to the Bronx Zoo, to Broadway shows, days out at the amusement park at Coney Island, and the like. When she died at the age of 86, I assumed responsibility for clearing her apartment. Believe me, this was no small task. Gladys’s apartment was pretty much a Black Hole – nothing that entered ever left. I chanced upon a shoebox at the back of a wardrobe. It contained a collection of old love letters, amongst which were six blue envelopes held together with a rubber band. These revealed the story of a short courtship that took place between November 1945 and January 1946 in the Greenpoint neighbourhood of Brooklyn, where Gladys was born and grew up.
The letters were from a G.I. who had recently returned from the Pacific conflict and spotted Gladys helping out in our family candy store/newsagent/soda shop. Apparently smitten at first sight, ‘Bob’, who didn’t want to embarrass the young Gladys who he thought too beautiful not to have a boyfriend, wrote her a letter of introduction. Subsequent letters revealed that they spoke on the phone a few times and eventually went to a movie where they held hands. His letters, long and with beautiful penmanship and not a single crossing out, were written in the ‘Brooklynese’ of the time and in Damon Runyon-like prose that jumped off the page – befitting the New York Daily News tabloid journalist that Bob was. The letters tell the story, not just of a courtship, but also of his bitterness about the war. He writes:
“Go ahead sucker pick up that 60-pound pack and that rifle. Chase the Jap, dodge bullets, run, bleed, suffer, die, put your young life on the line for 50 bucks a month. Go ahead dope, sweat, fight for that democracy stuff they scream about back home, live, and sleep in mud and see dead men all around you, hear your heart thump and break out in a cold sweat as you stand your ground to meet the Jap at close quarters as they come screaming crazily into your lines, age 100 years in one night, sucker!”
In his sixth and final letter, we find that Gladys has “dumped” him, claiming that she felt guilty as she was still corresponding with a boyfriend who had not yet returned from the war. Here we find Bob to be distraught, seemingly suicidal. He has quit his job, he says, as he can now see no future for himself and no point in carrying on.
Was Gladys telling the truth? I think not. My wife, upon reading the letters, immediately said “Gladys was spinning a yarn”.
What makes us think so, you may well ask. Quite simply, it is inconceivable that Gladys’s parents, my grandparents, would have ever been allowed to have a relationship with Bob if they had known about him. And why not? One simple clue: my grandparents were very religious orthodox Jews, and included amongst the small cache of Bob’s letters was a Christmas card along with his photograph.
No New York Jew would ever have sent anyone a Christmas card – probably not now and most certainly not in 1945!
We are a mixed parentage family of 5 – Paul, Jackie, Harvey, Maddie and Ethan. We live in Norwich and have been here for 19 years.
Summer holidays in West Cork. Each family member is represented ; either in the frame My dad and i ,or by my sisters reading book ,my brothers fishing rod and the smile we are giving the photographer ,My mum!
Carefree memories we all share
That keep us together despite our grown up varying paths!
A packet of Quavers evokes such a powerful memory for me.
My parents got arranged marriage in Sri Lanka in the early 1960’s. My mother was 19yrs and my dad 26yrs. They never met before the wedding day. My mother was the eldest child of 5 other siblings. My mother wanted to continue education but that wasn’t allowed.
My parents came to the UK and had 4 children a year apart starting in 1965. My father was a heavy smoker, drinker and ate meat. My mother a non smoker non drinker and vegetarian. My father was very violent to all of us as an alcoholic. My mother got night shift work and other jobs to help feed us.
Unfortunately the violence started straight away. My mother begged her parents in Sri Lanka to help but they couldn’t do anything. Both her parents died within months of each other tragically leaving her siblings as orphans and her helpless to support them given her own terrible situation with husband and 4 small kids – no money -violence – strange country.
Growing up we never had parties or went on holiday and friends and family mainly shunned us.
On Mother’s Day one year my father drank so much we again had to all leave the house. My mother couldn’t drive so we walked everywhere. He fell and hit his head at home. He was found by a relative and taken to hospital. We didn’t realise he was taken to a mental institution for 6 months and they did a front lobal lobotomy. He changed when he came out and didn’t drink again but his personality changed and acted as a tramp picking up cigarette butts in the street. We as children pretended he wasn’t our father when we saw him.
Anyway a memory is my mother taking us four children to the corner shop to get bottle of whiskey for my father as she was forced to. We enjoyed being out of the house and a real treat for us was a bag of quavers as we were often very hungry. We loved quavers. It was special. Bittersweet memory. I buy quavers for my daughter and tell her this. She has no idea. Thank god. Fortunately me and my siblings have all done well in life. My father died 2003. My mother is still alive and well. Quavers is such a gift.
Desperately trying to plot a route back to the UK to be reunited with my family this summer.
You don’t choose your family and as a child you don’t have any say in how family dynamics operate. Many kids have aspects of their family life they would not choose. As a teacher I’m aware of just how many kids have challenging family circumstances and often no one to turn to to alleviate those circumstances.
As a child I did get frustrated with my parents specially my Dad who influenced my educational choices in a direction I would not have chosen if left to myself. As an adult I realised how lucky I had been as this was pretty much the only negative aspect of my upbringing. Yes, there were arguments, differences of opinion and sometimes more serious clashes but overall our relationships were positive.
My parents were non practising Jews, politically very active – left of course – culturally very inclusive and had a large social circle that included my aunts, uncles and cousins. My sister and I had the freedom of playing in a neighbourhood bombed site with other local kids, were often taken to the theatre and musical events, encouraged to engage in political activities, to form our own friendships and bring home any of those friends.
I was the first one in the family to marry a non -Jewish boy, my parents welcomed him into the family and gave us the biggest wedding celebration party. Some of my aunts and uncles were not so happy about me marrying ‘out’ but it did eventually help my deaf cousin when he chose a non -Jewish girl to marry.
We moved to Brighton when my husband got a job there and bought our house because it had a very large – for Brighton – garden and a four car two story garage. Eventually we had the garage converted and my in laws moved in. Some years later my father -in -law died but my mother -in -law stayed on living in the garage. A couple of years later my husband died very suddenly. My mother -in -law was very domineering and tried hard to influence how I lived my life. I wasn’t complicit and when she had the opportunity, she moved out to live near her daughter.
My son moved into the garage very soon after she left. Twenty years later he is still there with his partner and three lovely daughters. Again, an overall very positive relationship that we both work to maintain. I wish that were true for all the kids I’ve worked with and children everywhere.
My family and I have had our ups and downs. We have fallen out, not spoken, made up again, shouted and screamed at each other, but the love is still there and always will be.
When I was 8, my ma left my da, taking my sister and I early one morning while he was sleeping,, leaving my eldest 3 siblings who were later in their teens and at a stage where leaving for 200 miles away would have been disruptive. Let’s just say he and whisky didn’t agree.
In those days (the 80’s) there was no internet, mobile ma didn’t exist and we made do with occasional calls to a red telephone box.
All these years later, we continue to get on like a house on fire, perhaps partly shaped by or even because of these events.
Initially I was angry in my teens and throughtout my 20′. Over time I’ve come to realise that being in your 20’s and having 5 kids and not a lot of money would have been tough in those days and it’s far too easy to pass judgment. . Better to have empathy.
Family to me means being there through thick and thin.
Family is the people you choose to love, whether they share blood with you or not.
When there were thunderstorms at night, we’d be woken up and given chocolate. Just a gentle tap to wake us up, a coin of chocolate during the storm and then off to bed.
My parents separated when I was young. I remember crying myself to sleep shortly after, as I found a postcard of a sheep that my Dad had sent me when he had been away when I was a baby. But then I did get to go shopping and choose a new duvet set, to 6 year old me that was healing. I am so fortunate that now, 32 years later, my parents remain friends with each other.
I am living at home again now, with my mum and dad. None of us sleep well because we are all anxiously listening out in case one of us is unwell in the night. If one person goes to the loo the other two are then awake on tenterhooks for the next 15 mins. None of us discuss it. It’s sad and also sweet.
Jason Manford (by Lemn Sissay)
It’s Lemn Sissay here. I saw Jason Manford’s tweet about family and I asked him if I could post it on this site. He replied “Of course brother”. So here it is.
My father moved over from India as a child in the 60s, and grew up in Crawley as the eldest of 5 children. He married my mother, a white woman, after they met at Cambridge. Though my grandparents didn’t approve of the marriage and did not attend the wedding, over the years things have softened and our family is gorgeous and mixed and so full of love. We have people from all faiths and all backgrounds in our wonderful chaos and I love every bit of it.
Dad arrived in the 70s in Teesport from Cape Verde one day. An intelligent ships navigator, big hair and big flares. Influencer James Brown.
Not much of that in Middlesbrough then. Met Mam with big hair and skinny jeans (she’d faint in them). Her brothers had big hair and flares, but they were ‘accepted’ in a unique Middlesbrough.
Mams family were proper –
Town centre, Over the Border, Grove Hill. Doors always left open and sat on the front. Life changing stuff happened on those fronts. Monney borrowed, children fed, children stayed over neighbours… sometimes for decades.
My Nanna took ‘kids in’ and ‘made things right’. She protected her own and everyone elses. She watched snooker on the black and white TV. Knew every colour but hated that little young spotty player Steven Hendrie -easy Nanna, easy…
Allsorts of ‘can’t mentions’ happening all the time and not just the crime but the time that it took for somebody to look at what needed to change in family.
1979 and I come along. Grew up in the best street with my asian mates – Michael Jackson cards, Hubba Bubba and cricket. The food… the scraps… the car dents… the cennectedness.
Dad worked in security after the ships cause his Intelligentness wasn’t recognised then – big man can work security and chase the ‘border’ kids. Jesus. A black guy doing security in over the border – if you know you know…
Dad connected though. He talked, he listned, he fixed, he helped, he laughed, he held babies, he had a cuppa. Those border kids grew and had families themselves. My Dad proud as punch of the Border Kids.
He retired a service manager in our council – well respected and knew loads. His intelligence was used up.
Dad’s from Cape Verde islands. My great Grandma I met once. Didn’t say much. Used to sit in the chair and whack everyone across the face. I rocked up in 1997 for my first visit and got face strokes and smiles – miss you Untia Gran Vu Vu.
Cape Verde Grandma, Vu Vu, Dads Mam. She’s lush like. She’s the rock of the Cape Verde Family. Money kept in the bra or stashed under the… (can’t say she’d flip).
Vu Vu toom kids in… stayed for years… Grandad Vu Vo was a nice guy. Parkinsons took him. He gave us all the hairline and lots of other relatives too. Family is family.
My sister’s so nice, the best sister. Not around much but we couldn’t be any closer.
So me and my Wifey and bestie we have our 3 blessings, our children. All I’ve ever wanted was my own family – no other aspirations.
My Ma and Pa (my in laws) love them to bits. So caring and kind… that’s good for my kids. They’re fully functional. Played life with an A*.
My jobs is working for Middlesbrough children and young people. I love it. Always will do. I’m a Middlesbrough lad and the town matters so much to me. I guess… no, they are my family too.
My Dad taught me that every person was of equal worth, regardless of their status, race, colour, gender, occupation, intelligence, financial worth and that everyone deserved the same respect. I was much older when I realised what a gift he had offered.
I didnt know my father growing up. He left when I was just a few months old.
Sometimes I would sneak a look at his photo in the draw, trying to see if there was anything of me in his face.
When his mother, my grandmother, passed away my mum went to the funeral and came back and said she’d seen my brother.
I didn’t know I had a brother (I was in my twenties) and I’m an only child.
I had always wanted siblings and suddenly there was this new relationship.
Following the funeral we made contact and started to build a relationship.
Unfortunately before we had an opportunity to meet he died suddenly.
I also had a half sister and we did meet but it sadly wasn’t like the TV tearful reunion. It just felt strange.
I’ve not built a relationship with my biological father. It’s been attempted but again these things aren’t simple.
He was adopted and didn’t know his birth parents so my history on one side of my family is completely unknown.
But I have the luck of being brought up with loving parents.
Whilst I didn’t know all about my past, (and my mother’s family also have their own story of losses and grief), I feel no losses.
It’s important that whilst we need to acknowledge the past, we don’t feel we have to take that baggage into our future.
We need to acknowledge and forgive the past and move forward with Love.
My family mean the world to me and i dont know where I’d be without them.
We have been through more than id like to think about but we’ve stuck together.
Thank you my family.
Miss you dad.
Mum was from Simons Town she was sent by her family to see what England was like as her Grandfather was from Birmingham. Dad was working in London, was two years younger, late for work and buying a paper and some tobacco. He set eyes on Mum and decided that was the woman he was going to marry. Mum took a little persuading but they were together 60 years. Dad was always deceptively determined once he set his mind to something. He persuaded her with the temptation of further travel as he had his National Service call up. There was also strong urging on the part of Mum’s Mum – (she and Dad had an immediate rapport Ma was adopted and had a tough childhood, Dad had a quiet father and a difficult mother.). Needless to say they married but Dad failed his medical. However the urge to travel remained strong so we became £10 Poms and left in the late 60’s for Western Australia. Later Dad’s sister came to live with us before she married. I remember watching the Moon landing in the front room of our house in Kelmscott. I remember Mum being alerted to the presence of a large Iguana in the garden by one of our dogs. I remember our surprise to find the front room window full of frogs during a rainstorm and eating navel oranges and passion fruit from the garden. I remember my brother and I darting in and out of sprinklers on peoples lawns on our way to school. I remember Christmas on the beach. We had many experiences together that made us who we are and different when we returned to the UK. Here is a little mosaic of our family, our parents gave us riches in terms of love and life experiences. Gone but never forgotten. PS the painting is by my brother – I found it whilst we were clearing Dad’s shed ❤️
My great grandmother always told a story about how my dad as a little boy tied up her cat so it would stay with him. He hated this story, she told it like he was cruel or odd but he said he loved the cat and had just wanted it to stay. When I was little I put our cat in the wicker washing basket so it would stay in my room. I never told my dad but I think he might have known. I think I was a bit cruel to the cat, but I loved him too
I am one of 7 children from two marriages. We ways had Sunday roast together and then watched Sunday night TV. My step dad would give us a not from his wallet and we would walk round to the local shop and buy as many bars of chocolate as we could. My dad would then hold the bag high above our heads and we would have to lucky dip for a bar.
My growing up could be described as a bit of Just William, the Beano and Dandy mixed with Saturday Cinema, rolled up in a chip paper. My Mother and Father were so loving and full of good things and tried to give us all education and free ideas, in a rural agricultural idyll. Post-war, rationing, not a lot to live on other than the land and what we could make of it. But we did. My dad was an entirely resourceful independent man. Had been at Dunkirk and never wanted to say much about it. The other side of that Lemn, and whoever reads this was fear of losing their children. Or whatever the psychologists might write in that order. The love was suffocating for me, so as much as I could, I was with school friends and their families more than my own. Out on my bike, across fields through the woods on adventures. Not in a knowingly harmful way to Mum and Dad but I knew my ‘place’ was somewhere else – others might say growing up wanting to find your own way. My father’s mother had come to live with us after her friend died and she became my confidant and storyteller in a way, reading to me when I got home from school, going for walks in the warm summer evenings and not so warm evenings but then I was quite young. Toast in front of her fire. Telling me things of other times and other places. She had even chosen my name, my mum had said. She passed away in our front room [her bed-sitting room] after not being right during the day and my mum had phoned the doctor, who said give her some aspirin and I’ll call in, in the morning. I wasn’t that old about seven or eight I guess. And couldn’t understand why she was taken away from us [meaning me mostly, probably]. It’s affected me my whole life. Then, as the others of my small family have gone, my other grandmother, my mum, dad, brother, uncle and just a few months ago my beautiful sister. And friends from school, art school, former colleagues and pub-pals it goes on. Then, as things pass through the grip of our fingers like grains of sand, sometimes, it’s just so hard. to bear. But my family were never the type to talk much about some of these things. Just tightened the apron strings to hold on to what they had. ‘Just keeping on,’ was one of my dad’s expressions when asked how he was. So I kept on doing what I wanted and needed for me, not the family, even though our love for each other was strong, I was on the other side of it.
I would pretend I was asleep and squeeze my eyes tight shut. I could hear him shivering, then talking his wellies off and the squeak of the back door. I had butterflies in my tummy. His whistling would start with a different tune,Monday was always a Beatles song! The bucket handle rhythmic pinging made me squeal silently with joy and go right under the covers. I felt him draw breath as the door handle turned, a gasp of fatherhood I reckon, he whispered ‘ we’ve been blessed by another beautiful day, are you waking up to dance with me in it again? I’d titter; he’d pretend he hadn’t heard. He scratched and rustled about his business and we together and apart waited for the draw. Then the smell, especially if it was wet coal and then my nose tested the warm flames as they stretched upwards and my arms mirrored with a yawn. ‘Hello beautiful, you’ve made my day with those eyes, my girl… it’s a riproar today, porridge is on, best get to your brother…’. And then the magical wink, I wanted to burst! I put on his cloak of complete and utter love as I followed in his footsteps to once again dance through my childhood days. And the frost melted away from the inside of our windows as our family breath gave heat forever after.
Family is all of us together. Spirits and souls that will live forever. Family. The ones who were, are and will be.
Started as nuclear: traditional husband, wife, son, daughter. Now blossomed into wife, female partner, son and daughter, who are also part of father, father’s partner, half brother and half sister. At the heart of it are mother, son and daughter who love, laugh, challenge and fight like crazy 😊 Family is a sense of belonging whilst still searching for that untouchable essence of what it is that’s missing. Family is chosen. Family is challenge when you need it, judgement when you deserve it and security at all times.
True family are the people who love you more than words can ever say. There’s a deep connection that can survive even when it’s never spoken about.
My grandma always said ‘a family who plays together, stays together’ and so we always make time for a game, no matter the occasion.
When I’m not feeling well I just want my mammy’s cool hand on my forehead and her to make me poached eggs on wheaten bread toast. And all my 4 brothers and sisters are the same even though she’s been dead for 2 and a half years now. There is no other hand or no other poached eggs the same
Family isn’t just about blood. I have been so welcomed by my husband’s family for the last 25 years l can’t imagine life without them. My paternal and maternal relationship was poor to say the least and my Nan and Grandad were my saviour, both sadly are no longer here but l have my extended non blood family who are my world. I cannot talk about family without the biggest shout out to my wonderful husband and my amazing 16 year old son who is becoming a young man in his own right!! 💕💕😍
My grandfather, my love. (uploaded wrong photo on previous story)
The respect we have for each others difference blows my mind. I’m a family therapist and see all the things we could have done better and all the things (of which there are many more) that we have surpassed the majority. Our love is full we try (and sometimes fail) to encourage the beauty in each other and walk beside each other when our ugliness shows.
I ended up in Chile on a whim, deciding to extend a backpacking trip by going further south still, thinking that I might be able to land a job in the wine trade. This was so long ago (1991) that I was even able to sell my plane ticket back to the UK to someone else who flew back as me – no tight security controls back then and it wasn’t an uncommon practice!
At some point, a new friend I made at the English Language school introduced me to friends of hers. And as it happened, the original friend eventually cut ties with everyone in Santiago and moved away, and those friends of hers became so, so close, that they are to this day my Chilean family. Who’d have known that we would become so close…???
In those early days, there was no email, no whatsapp, no zoom; a 1 minute phone call home to the UK cost the equivalent of 10 GBP which was a lot of money then. My sister was herself halfway across the world on her own adventures, so contact was by postcards, occasional parcels home and Poste Restante (methinks today’s generations would have a hard time with this…!). But the relationship that developed with my Chilean family was not one of replacement or substitution – I was lucky to feel very solid ties to and have the support (moral) of my parents. Instead it simply flowed organically, and without realising it, very deep and caring bonds were created in parallel.
And over the following years, in fact, both families met and now they always ask after each other, equally assimilated into my life. And the values and traits that make both my family are the same: love, acceptance, care, forgiveness, being there whenever, whatever and whyever,
I’m back in Europe now (Spain), so it’s been wonderful to be nearer to my Uk family (now spread to Morocco and France), but I miss those in Chile tremendously.
When my daughter was 6, I would get up very early in the morning sometimes and write at my desk in the quiet before the day starts. She slept in my bed often at that time, and on occasion she would wake and wander, more asleep than awake to look for me. When I held her and kissed her hair the smell of her, all warm, wrapped in slumber, hair muzzled was so intense, it was a transcendental experience. I breathed in big lung fulls, knowing that no other smell in my life would come close.
Family is try to love people even when they are difficult to like.
Family is like that cup of tea made when you have just woken up from a nap and are drowsy – perfectly brewed tea leaves marred with either too much or too little milk, courtesy of loose sleepy hands. Striving to be ideal, mostly missing the mark. Many don’t even have the luxury of that cup of tea, or even a bed to take that nap on.
It’s so terribly sad when some family members choose to exclude siblings, nieces, cousins and close relatives just because the deceased said so.
My relationship with my mother was always volatile towards me even though I spent much of life up until my 40’s providing for her financially and emotionally whilst my siblings moved away and rarely visited her except, it seemed, when they needed something such as a place to stay or…babysitting (which she called me up to help with anyway and offloaded my niece on to me – not that I minded, I loved/love my niece).
For my mental well-being and the sake of my own family (my temper was terrible after a session with my mother) I had to let go and be free of her narcissistic personality. This meant that she now leaned on my brother and sister for support and I guess they finally had a taste of her qualities. I was quickly dismissed from any contact with them event though I tried to maintain contact, they never replied.
On the death of my mother, my brother in law rang to tell me – with an amount of glee I feel – that she had died and that she had said I was not to attend her funeral. So … that’s what the did. They didn’t invite me, or her grand daughter, because, as my bother-in-law said ‘then I’d know where and when the funeral would be taking place’ and ‘they didn’t want me to make a scene’.
I don’t hate them. I actually feel very sorry for them that, on her orders, they carried out the last evil action of my mother towards me. I have forgiven them but they will have to live with what they have done.
Funerals are for the living.
The dead have moved on.
It’s a shame that some of the living can’t or won’t.
Our family was 90% pets. Rescue dogs, feral cats, other people’s abandoned creatures – whoever needed a home, be they four-legged, six-legged, one-footed, furry, slimy, scaly, they were welcomed into our house. The giant African land snail who would only eat the middle of the cucumber, the gerbils we looked after while my sister’s friend went on holiday only for her to not want them back when she returned, the stick insects who multiplied until they were countless and my sister sold them for a pound each at school. Until I was 18 and left for uni I had no idea what it was to go to bed and not have to share it with someone fluffy.
To me, pets are family, and pets make a family.
We lived in the hills. We had a big extended family of the sort you’ll find all over the world where cousins are like brothers and sisters, where in my Mother’s family the oldest had left by the time the youngest had arrived, where someone died young, too young and others last forever, where everyone worked with their hands and the women became nurses, where someone had to stay behind to look after the parents, where everything was out there somewhere and took years to come back and it was all gone, where choices and not choices cast you into an adulthood that is away out over the sea and only the faintest soundings of home are possible and language has to be reinvented daily to recognize the world at all. They told us to come in at night or the fox would get us. We knew the names of the fields. No one lives there now.
We all feel that family is forever but that is not the reality
For some families are incomplete, that’s what happened to me
The eldest of five, 3 boys 2girls, a mum and a dad
But since 1987, there’s a space where there used to be a 7 yr old lad.
It was xmas time , a time for laughter and joy
Though was not meant to be for this little boy
On his way back from school, just off the bus
A car out of nowhere, tore the heart out of all of us
So yea, family that’s what we are, a group connected by blood
Has it’s ups and downs , it’s bad times and good
We may not have him with us but he never left our hearts
And surely that’s where the meaning of family truly starts
It’s the people that we care for, whether they be kith or kin
Open up your heart to them, let those people in
Tell them that you love them, show them every day
You never know the moment when they will be tqken away.
Family can be painful, family can be love. Family can feel like a duty and being in one is sometimes tough. But where would i be without one? I would be lost.
Neither of my parents loved me. I walked away when I was 21. I’ve always struggled to accept love as an adult. The pain never goes away.
My family’s secrets are still tumbling out, 50 years after the death of my mother and seven years after the death of my father. It is both bitter and sweet. Last year, I learnt of yet another new half brother, who is an utter joy! I previously learnt that, after my mother died, my father told his side of the family that we’d gone to live with my mother’s side of the family. I’m fact he put us into care and visited so rarely that the last time I saw him as child, I did not recognise him.
Family to me is about truly belonging. Growing up, our house was all about ‘Dad’s music’. My brother and I used to complain about it so much. It was so uncool. But these days, those are the sounds of my childhood. Neil Young. Bob Dylan. Today, those artists are some of my favourites, and I sing those songs to my own young children as an invisible thread from one generation to the next. I can’t listen to Birds by Neil Young without a pang of nostalgia and often a tear in my eye.
Your mum stopping your siblings sitting in your seat when you’ve only gone to the toilet! 🥰
Our family would not be complete without the dog and cats, they are the glue that holds us together.?
My Grandfather died 31 years ago when I was 11. And for that short 11 years I knew him I think he had the greatest impact on me above anyone I have ever known and his love has carried me through life. So many songs I hear now that he would play to me, only this morning Sugar sugar by the archers came on the radio and im right back there with him, he loved that song. We planted flowers together, collected wildlife stickers together, enjoyed a sweet cup of tea together, he would hide 10 pence coins amongst the flowers so I would find them and tell me the butterflies left it for me. So many memories of him, I can still smell him and hear his laugh and the older I get I cant quite believe I only knew him for 11 years, he is there imprinted on my heart.
When my teenage children are out and about my heart is in my mouth until they are home safe. They will never know about my fear.
I’m one of 5 sisters, when we were little we went on a family holiday to Butlins. My mum entered the Glamorous Grannie competition with me! We got 2nd place and she was made up!???
There is a strong family look shared between me and my cousins, from my mother’s side of the family and I love the feeling of connection this gives me. I know I am lucky to have it. My dad’s side of the family are all deceased so I cherish feeling part of something bigger.
Family, like home, is a loaded word. I have one child. No partner. My Mum is dead. My brothers are estranged, from each other and from me. I don’t feel like I’m part of, or belong to anyones family. The rhetoric of “friends & family” during the pandemic has left me feeling very isolated & alone. Family size food packs. Family discount. They all exclude people like me. Families should be about love, and I love my son fiercely, but he is all I have. I am his Mum, Dad, Grandma, Auntie, sibling, cousin and everything else in one. There is no one else to call on. There is such pain in the loneliness of not belonging.
My family are fu***d up. The woman are fat and single.
My father came to the UK in 1975. He was 25. I’m not sure whether his dream was to come or whether he needed to come to support his family back home. He came from India where he was a bank manager with a first class bachelor of science degree in Physics. I’m sure he told me that he sat some exams for his brother too. He used to revise under a coconut tree. When he arrived, he needed to hit the ground running to support his family here as well as in India so he took whatever manual work he could find. He could not pursue his profession and worked incredibly hard as initially a Train Driver in London and then a Postman in Leicester, where he remained until he retired in 2013. He once had a drink at the pub near the West Ham stadium, Upton Park, back in the 70s and was racially abused by some fools. His black West Indian friend protected him and stood up for him. Solidarity. I thank that man for protecting my father. When I think about my father, I think of love and sacrifice. He has sacrificed, along with my mother, everything for us. He started this journey of sacrifice way before he stepped foot on British shores in 1975. After the age of 25 he only saw his mother and father a few more times. Can you imagine only seeing your folks 3 more times after you turn 25? I can’t. Now, at the nimble age of 70, I wonder what goes through his kind brilliant mind? What memories he recalls and what he thinks about the future? I hope that he knows that many people love him. I’m sure that if all you reading this met him, you would love him too. Well, maybe you know him a little bit now too 🙂
I have several families. The one I grew up. The one I created with my son and his mother. The one I created with my daughter and her mother. And the small family of friends I hold dear. Unconditional love all around. And all these families are connected through me and give each other sustenance.
We had an amazing great aunt who lived in Chorlton Cum Hardy and we used to visit regularly from Wigan. My mum didn’t drive so my brother myself and mum would travel there by bus and train. It was like a different world coming into Manchester Victoria station. We would always have homemade cakes when we got to her house and in the summer would put on shows in the garden with an old sheet as a curtain. Auntie Mabel was the one who introduced us to the game Boy, girl, flower, fruit, which we still play to this day.
You’re the open smell of clothes dried in the summer sun,
You’re the violet light between night’s death and the throes of morning,
You’re the cotton blanket in the closed drawer,
You’re the silent repartee in this novel of longing.
You’re the perfect peeled potato,
You’re the siesta at the beach cove,
You’re the stone sandcastle
And you’re the love of love of love of love.
At one point in our house we managed to have four completely different diets yet we still had no problems all making our food and eating it: I was vegetarian, my brother completely kosher, mother Type 1 diabetic and father a total omnivore who just ate from a continually evolving pot of soup that he just added more ingredients to every day. Proud we could all be so different yet get along fine!
I have a small family on my mother’s side which is both precious and difficult. On my father’s side, who is the son of an Arab immigrant with many names, my family is imagined. It is both everything and nothing. I know nothing about them, so they don’t exist. But they’re also the zenith of family as I’ve dreamt up everything about them.
My mum and dad had 6 kids and their childhoods were blessed and blighted in equal part. Our kids are doing better. We hope.
My family like to sing. My mum’s family is from Ireland and my dad is Scottish and when we all gather together we sing songs – old, new, a capella or with a guitar. Some of my best memories are sitting round the table singing with them all, everyone a bit tipsy, a fire in the grate, harmonies flying off the ceiling. I want this for my children too. I want their lives to be full of song.
Just before I turned 40, I discovered I was adopted as a baby
When all else fails, food brings us together.
My mother’s cousin was Bill Millin, he was a Commando in WW2 and Lord Lovat’s piper, and one of the many heroes of the D Day landings and battles in France.
Bill used to stay in our home town in Scotland but eventually left and settled in the south of England, but he was fond of my mother and visited us often over the following years. As a small boy I would sit and listen to his tales of marching across Pegasus Bridge, bullets whizzing past his head, killing his colleagues, but none hitting him.
Various explanations were offered for this, that the German troops were sure he must be crazy so didn’t shoot him, but it seems more likely that the German commander was so impressed by Bill’s bravery that he ordered his men to avoid shooting him. I always liked the latter explanation, that a vestige of honour was maintained even in the midst of madness.
But what I did not discover until fairly recently was the impact the D Day landings had on my mother.
As a young woman in central Scotland, born into a large mining family of 15 children, she found work in a munitions factory, driving a crane. Around this time a cousin from Canada came over with the Allied troops to join in the D Day landings, and along with a group of his fellow Canadians, visited my mum’s family home and spent some time before going off to fight. Sadly her cousin was killed during the Landings and was buried in France.
By this time mum had moved to the Scottish Highlands, asked to come up to look after one of her sister’s family. And it was here that she met my dad, got married and settled down, raising three children. Decades later mum went with my dad to France to visit her cousin’s grave, just one young man amongst an uncountable number who fell in that foreign field. I still have some of the photos mum took of this trip. It was obvious that for some reason this particular event was significant, for reasons other than just the death of a relative, but I never discovered why.
Later in life my dad suffered severe ill health and passed away when only 70 after a miserable retirement punctuated by mental illness, but an illness which revealed many aspects of his life he had kept concealed. Mum gamely carried on and eventually, when in her late 60’s, decided to go alone to Canada to visit the remaining cousins she’d never met, several of whom were older than her and infirm and she wanted to see them before they died. She met up with some in the Saskatchewan plains, and then traveled to the B.C. coast to meet others. She had a great time.
But more than ten years later, and starting to show the early signs of dementia, mum quietly revealed a story she’d concealed for almost 60 years. I’m not sure of her motivation….maybe a sense of her failing mind, the love of ‘the story’, a feeling of guilt, or perhaps and more likely, just closing a circle that had for too long been left unattended….
Biting her lip, a glass of wine in her hand, and her eyes focused somewhere distant, she told me the story of her trip to Canada…….
“I didn’t just go to see the cousins………och…..John it’s a long story…….” and a tear welled up in her eye….“..when the Canadians came I fell in love with one of them……and we got engaged……”
….then…a long silence. Another sip of wine. A tear wiped before it started to obey the inexorable pull of gravity.
“He….well…he…bought me a ring, we were engaged, and I was so happy…. But then he had to go to war, off to fight in Europe, and I went to the railway station to see him and his fellow soldiers off, to wish them well. And then…….(a long regretful sigh)..and then……..my mum, your granny, and one of my big sisters appeared, and they pulled the ring off my finger and shouted at him…..and I just remember them throwing the ring at him, telling him it would never happen between us and the ring CLINK CLINK CLINKing and rolling along the platform towards him, and I was pulled away and he left on the train……….I can still remember his face, so sad, I could see it through my tears as the train left…..and then…..I never saw him again.”
Another silence, thoughts being lined up, emotion swelling and choking……both of us
“And then I heard nothing more from him, and I moved north and met your dad, and we had a family and…..and….”
A long pensive stare out of the window.
“But I discovered only a short time ago, after your dad died, that my Canadian soldier had written to me, had written many many letters, but they never got to me, your granny or my sisters destroyed them, didn’t forward them to me, never told me he’d persisted trying to get in touch…..and he kept trying and trying….he never forgot me……and…….and……I never forgot him either….”
I’m utterly silent now, transfixed as the story unfolds….
“But I knew roughly where he’d been born in Canada, so when I went to visit the cousins all those years ago what I didn’t tell you or anybody was that I bought a bus ticket and went to the nearest small town to where I knew he came from, hundreds and hundreds of miles from where I should have been going. I didn’t know where to start – it was only a small plains town, a farming centre, but spread out, so I went to the Town Hall where they had a small tourist office and asked. There was a woman at the desk and she smiled and I asked her if she might be able to help me locate someone. “Who is it?” she enquired so I said, just a Canadian soldier I met when he was in Scotland before the D Day landings, he was with my cousin, and I just ….well…wanted to get in touch with him again.”
“What was his name?” she asked, so I told her……”
“She smiled even more broadly. “He was my father-in-law!” she said.”
Mum stood and listened as the woman explained that he’d survived the war, came home to Canada and eventually met his wife, a local girl, and had a family. But, with emotion cracking in her voice continued ….“…..sadly he died…just last year, I’m so sorry.”
A circle closed. Letters written, never received; a love lost against a backdrop of a war that saw the loss of many. But each one had a story, and it took many many years to discover just a fraction of the story of my mother’s experience.
And when my son is old enough I’ll tell him too. About war, about love, and most of all about the importance of stories. About keeping them safe. Then passing them on to family.
During the Summer of 1976 I remember Grampie taking us for a walk to buy us Strawberry Mivvies. On the way we popped tar bubbles that were forming on the pavements due to the heat.
My family is unique. It’s made up of two dads and two mixed race boys. A wonderful mix which works perfectly.
It’s like many flavours you wouldn’t expect to work creating the most wonderful taste.
There is a recurring impact of the story of my first family where I am daughter and sister to my family now, where I am wife and mother. Sometimes, this is a wonderful blueprint and sometimes it is a terrible hindrance.
I can remember the day that you were born, and the day after when I visited your mother in the hospital, my sister. A baby niece, Matilda, lifted out from your mummy’s opened tummy. It hit me then, like it hadn’t before, the fact of you.
I remember too, when we stayed together at Christmas when you were 1. We played together, you and me, with colourful cups that stacked to form a tower. I remember you looking up at me, and how we stacked them over and over. My sister said to me, ‘I think you’ve made a friend’.
Later we would ‘sew’ with shoelaces, thread them through a colourful board that we could decorate with animal shapes. Each time I visited, you would ask me, ‘can we sew’? We would sit cross-legged on your bedroom floor. You would thread the coloured lines, and I would tie the knots.
More recently we laughed together, stayed up silly late playing a game that we couldn’t put down. Babysitting you, supposedly, I told my sister I forgot myself, that time slipped by as it can do, was outrun by our play.
Now, it’s been a while, and although I message you sometimes to wish that I could hug you, this time apart has shaken me. I think I am supposed to say that it doesn’t change anything, or that something about family is unshakeable.
So I’m writing this message to you, to our being apart. To how I love you, albeit unbeknownst to you, to try and show the fierceness of the good you give to me. Your bravery.
My family growing up had highs and lows but taught me how to love and be loved. My mother showed me a sense of family that was always open to others, willing to include and accept even when she didn’t understand what or how to embrace. Because she knew what it felt like to be rejected. I’m imprinted by her heart. There are many in our family who have joined us along the way on this journey of life. The love and care makes them family.
My family are of Spanish origins – there’s a long history of colonialism and pain cause by and inflicted upon my Peruvian family, but my Arequipeñan mother was raised by a strict but kind matriarch, and a slightly bumbling but equally loving father, who lived only to go fishing and used to swear that he was once cursed by a witch to never be happy in love.
My mother wanted to be a diplomat like her grandfather, a socialist political exile who fought for the less fortunate and was persecuted for it. However, by the time she was old enough to go to diplomatic college, terrorism was abound in Peru. She moved to Canada, where she started a different life, a different career, and was put on the path that led her to England, where she had me and my younger sister.
Both of my parental lines include decendants from the island of Ireland
Before I was born, my parents were looking for somewhere to live in Paris.
My dad was strongly against living on the other side of the ring road, while my mum didn’t understand why they should buy a tiny studio instead of a 2 bed just for a postcode. My dad explained that it was because his family was from Montmartre and he was really proud of his history. They took part in the Revolution, in the Commune avec much more. Eventually, my mum found a flat in Ivry-sur-Seine, just outside the ring road, after much discussion, she convinced him to buy a 2 bed there. My dad was a bit disappointed but knew it was a sensible decision.
30 years later, we’re in a pandemic and I am bored. A bit randomly I decide to do my family tree. Luckily, most of French archives have been digitalised so I can find nearly all the information I need. I do read many stories about my dad’s family in Montmartre, all cramped in a tiny flat with view on the Little Crown train line. But they moved there in 1920’s. Before this, half of them where in Libya, the other half… In Ivry-sur-Seine.
They were there physically, but not ‘there’ in any other sense. We have contact occassionally, but I have lived a different, better, more fulfilling life
The C*********’s – they were Tom’s family. My best friend at school. A split family. Mum living on one side of Balham. His Dad, his step-mum and sister Alice living on the other side. I was living in a children’s home in Roehampton and had stopped going to school. One day I was at Tom’s house (his mum’s) and she asked me why I wasn’t going to school. ‘They knock on my bedroom door in the morning and ask if I want to go to school and I just say no now and they leave me and just go and knock on the next door’. I remember Helen’s face, a mixture of sadness, shock and anger. I don’t remember hardly any time passing before she said ‘What if you came to live here, would you go to school?’ I dared not think it was even possible, but of course said yes. Imagine being able to live with your best friend. Helen get in touch with my local authority. She spoke to my social worker. Went to meetings, filled out forms and jumped through every hoop. She made no promises to me except I could stay until I completed my mock exams and then we’d take it from there. Her honesty meant everything and in a few weeks I was living with her and Tom and his little brother Joe. It was like a dream come true. Weeks passed. I kept going to school and in that time Tom’s dad and his family also took me in, so when Tom and Joe would move between their two families I would move too. At first I felt like an extra, a plus one, and odd-end, but both C********* families never made me feel like that, that came from within myself. Being abandoned by my blood family created a hole that is hard to fill. I knew I was different within the C********* family, but I was also the same. Closer to them then I woulld have expected. I felt their care, I felt their love and when us boys got out of hand I felt their disappointment equally with Tom and Joe as we sat that on the sofa all being read the riot act. A part of me loved it. Getting told together, having barriers thrown up around us, expectations being thrust upon us and the three of us like brothers sat on that sofa taking the heat. There was not a single moment when I remember crossing over from a friend who had come to stay for a little while to becoming part of the family. Blood I would have once thought would have been the ultimate barrier, but it never got in the way. Blood is chance. Blood in coincidence. But this was more. It cut through those barriers. The C*********’s opened their doors, their hearts and their arms and let me fall into their family, now my family and still my family twenty five years later. I stayed with the C*********’s for another two years before I went to University, but even today they’re never far away. Just a post code away, a WhatApp message away, two stops on the train away, a recalled memory away…most importantly their part of me and I carry them all, isn’t that what family is about. There is no escape and I love it.
Family is feeling known and seen. It’s seeing yourself in family members, past and present and them seeing themselves in you. It’s not having to explain. It’s deep, ancestral, spiritual and sensory knowledge and understanding of ourselves and each other. At times it is too much, to be seen and have yourself reflected back at you. It can therefore be challenging, maddening and even depressing. I guess that’s why families can feel so difficult yet so fabulous all at once- the deepest love mixed with the deepest hate. It’s also where we first learn about ourselves and others and how we can exist, show up and interact in the world around us. Like a microcosm of everything.
My sister taught me confidence, how to navigate the world in my twenties and how to have fun. I miss her everyday
I was the youngest of 7 children. I came to England when i was 24 years old. My mum died in January.
We are here part black, part white. Sometimes all around seems dark as night. When all feels hopeless and nothing right, you turn to family to find the light.
My father 1912-1977 was born in Middlesbrough and my mother 1924-2017 was born in India . My mother was the daughter of American Methodist Missionaries posted out to India . My father and mother met whilst out in India where my father was an administrator in the Indian Civil Service from 1935-1947.
I am writing this because photographs of Lemn Sissay as a baby reminds me so much of my Ethiopian adopted grandson. The resemblance is amazing. Liam my beautiful grandson born in April 2014 was abandoned by his mother or family for unknown reasons. He was found in Addis Ababa by a Security Guard on a grass bank covered in a white blanket crawling with ants. He was said to be 2 or 3 days old. The Security Guard gave him the Ethiopian name of Dagwali. My son and daughter-in-law adopted him and named him Liam Dxxxxxi. He lived happily in Dubai with them until he was diagnosed with SSPE a rare condition that develops after measles infection destroying nerve cells in the brain.
The Doctors a Great Ormond Street Hospital told us on Liam’s third birthday that he was terminally ill. He died in July 2019. Liam had big brown eyes and big smile and was full of fun and laughter. It gives me comfort to think Liam would have grown up with the same big smile and similar looks to Mr Lemn Sissay.
I think of Liam everyday and loved him so much. He is in my heart.
My loveliest memory is so simple Going to the launderette with my nan – the washing in an old pushchair. The ride back was sooo good – sitting on a pile of warm and dry washing – it felt like a carriage!!! Every nan seemed to have an old pushchair for washing and shopping !!
I always knew I was adopted, but not in a ‘special’ way, more a ‘saved from the gutter way’. My adoption and that of other adoptees in the family was not a good experience. Let’s leave it there, I’m not writing about that per se. My husband Roger has researched family trees for over forty-five years, as a hobby; but I’ve always said no to my family tree. However, when the laws changed back in 1976, after a few years we traced and met my birth family, or rather, my father (on several occasions). My mother wanted to keep the secret from everyone still, including her two subsequent children. My full-blooded brother and sister; my birth parents married each other when I was six years old.
Fast forward to January 2017, both adopted parents now dead and after yet another adopted family rejection by my godparents/aunt and uncle I said to Roger, I need to know where I’m from, I want to know my bloodline and so he started tracing my family tree one evening when I out. By the time I got home, through my father’s line he was back to the Plantagenets and beyond. This finally inspired me to but fingers to keyboard and writie my journey of finding me…
Chapter Extract: – finding My Birth Certificate
One of the ups of the ups and downs of Roger’s work as an offshore Pipeline Engineer was the ‘being entertained’ bit. It was August 1990, a lovely summers day and we were being taken to dinner at the rather swanky Greenhouse Restaurant; Gary Rhodes was head chef at the time, sadly both restaurant and chef are no longer with us. I organised our baby sitter to come early and meet the girls from school and I took the train into London. I would have been dressed in my best, probably a Laura Ashley dress back then, and feeling good. I went to St Catherine’s House on the corner of Kingsway and the Aldwych which at that time housed the Births, Deaths and Marriages records for England. That too is no more. It closed its doors in 1973 and became the headquarters of an oil company, Exxon Mobil. Civil registration began on 1st July 1837 and originally records were kept at Somerset House. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to St Catherine’s House. We had taken Rachel and Lou to show them their entries in the big registers. And they really were big, old, dusty leather-bound books. Each book held records for quarter of each year. There was row upon row of plain, no nonsense bookshelves housing hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of registers. I can’t remember whether the entries were handwritten or typed but you looked up your name in the register for the quarter of the year that your birth day was in and there you were – except I wasn’t. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be in the register along with Roger, the girls and everyone else since 1837.
I, along with every other officially adopted person since 1926 was excluded from polite society, kept separate, we were on the naughty shelf. I still remember the feeling of indignation and hurt, on behalf of us all, that we were side-lined. I’d like to feel that that made us special, not being among the great rabble of society; that we had a special place because we were special. It didn’t. I felt the tears prick my eyes but I stuffed my feelings down into my shoes on that first visit because I was there as a mum, not an adoptee. This was a family outing and afterwards we took the girls to The Chicago Meatpackers (another long gone); the girls loved watching the trains zoom along the tracks above our heads, I loved the pulled pork sandwich with and apple coleslaw. This was family time.
But on that August day, I was on a mission. I now knew my original birth name, and of course I knew my birthday, which meant I could now look me up in the register. I was definitely discombobulated excitement and trepidation; I got confused about where to look and had to ask an assistant to point me in the right direction. It was really quite simple. I found the register for June 1956, my finger traced up and down the pages until I saw me: Patricia Bxxxn. My finger clung to the entry. Me, a different me, an other me, but still me. The overhead fluorescent lights still hummed as the world stopped spinning while this monumental moment materialised before my eyes, ink on parchment page. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs. I was screaming, inside my head – I’ve found me, I’m here. I’m not a secret, this is me. Look everyone, Me. I’ve found ME. No one looked. Heads continued bobbing down in private searching.
I took a pencil and carefully filled in the form with the reference number, went to the cashier’s window and handed over my money. I had just ordered my original birth certificate. The certificate for me; before I was adopted. My certificate valid from 10th June 1956 until my adoption certificate was issued on 26th November 1956. Another existence, before a file and a ‘chop’, as they call it in Malaysia; chop seems more fitting. One life, one future was chopped off and another began with an official stamp on official paper. Northumberland was swopped for Suffolk, both coastal, both with rivers. How different would my life have been without that chop? Best not to dwell ‘some’ would say, ‘some’ have said…
I waited for my birth certificate to arrive. When it did, I was stunned to discover that Roland’s name wasn’t on it. A blank where my father’s name should be. Why didn’t Ann acknowledge him, it seemed a scandal in the making to leave it blank, as if she didn’t know; what would the neighbours say if they found out? Was it to put ‘me’ of the scent? I now know that its all down to good old-fashioned bureaucracy, if the father’s not present when a birth is registered, his name is not on the certificate. However, a father can register the birth without the mother being present, arcane English law at work.
Birth certificates are required to have the details of the biological mother and – where possible – the details of the biological father.
In other words, if you’re not married to the child’s mother, you need to be present at the birth registration to guarantee your right to parental responsibility.
It is usually the mother’s responsibility to register the birth, but the father can do it on his own if he is married to the mother.
Ann was in Lowestoft, I’ve no idea where Roland was. He just got a phone call and the matter was never spoken about again, ever, until I showed up.
It’s now 2021, it’s taken me another thirty-two years to get to this point. I’ve started many times. I’ve written on the terrace of the Red Piano Bar in Cambodia, on a balcony overlooking the Andaman Sea; on a five-mastered clipper in the Caribbean. I’ve ripped up the pages and binned them in airport lounges; deleted the files from my computer in my study and definitely hit delete sitting on the deck of a friend’s house in Bozeman, Montana. I’ve taken writing classes up front and personal and by zoom in the pandemic. Friends across the miles, across the years have said “when are you going to write your story”, my husband says it a lot.
My maternal Grandmother is Welsh , a small pretty woman with delicate features. Little but fierce and so ahead of her time. From this Welsh speaking female 5 children were born and raised children of their own resulting in 4 grandchildren with their growing families in 🇺🇸 America , 3 grandchildren with their growing families in Australia 🇦🇺 1 grandson with his family in Thailand and myself who brought up my children in Wales 🏴 . While some emigrated to England . One small Granny can change the World 🌎 and it is truly round
We flitted to Scotland after my dad was found in a caravan with a neighbour – she was a social worker. This little village was an oasis to grow up in. Fields, fish farms, farmers and fun! We had snow in the winter and swam in rivers filled with the rain from our surrounding hills in summer. I believed the collection I could see from my bedroom was actually a sleeping, friendly giant. My older brother used to push me around our house on a Sindy beach buggy, as I dodged the jagged Artex walls.
My mother and father died within two years of each other, they were our everything. My brothers and sisters (6 of us!) are very close and we are convinced that our parents are always nearby when we need them, two magpie birds visit and let us know all will be ok.
I always assumed my mixed ethnic background was Indigenous, Spanish and probably Arab from northern Africa. Recently, I found out that I am also descendant of Sephardic Jews that were expelled from Spain in the 16th century. I like to think that my body carries many stories of colonialism, hope and resistance. I like to imagine those stories and think that my body brings them together to remind us that we are one, that we are simply human.
Family is love, laughter, eating together and holidays.
I remember camping in the summer with my family. Us kids would run wild, climb trees, explore new places and old alike. It was pure heaven!
Family is your heartbeat. We dance in time to eachothers rhythm. We sing in harmonious embrace. Without family, my heart ceases to work as it should do.
It’s 2.45am and I’m lying awake with so many thoughts, worries & memories racing around my head. Even though I’m exhausted & need to be up in 5 hours with my best smile on and my ears wide open. I’m Zoe, a foster mum so our family changes on a regular basis. The three main characters never change in our ever evolving family. There’s myself, my husband and our beautiful 18 year old son.. So why am I struggling to sleep? Well, our youngest family member has been with us now for 4 years but on Monday he leaves us to start the next part of his family journey. Don’t worry it’s a very happy reunion but I don’t mind admitting it has been a very, very difficult 4 years. He will be returning back to his mum after 8 long years of only seeing each other once a month for an hour in a grim contact centre. I worry if he’ll cope, if he’ll end up back in the system, if she will cope, will the support we fought long and hard for him to have just fall away without me there at the helm? So many, many worries. We will wave him off with his box full of memories as he disappears out of sight in a strange car with only his social worker by his side. We will sit round the table that night for dinner and talk about all the things we hope we did well, what we could have done better and contemplate who will arrive next needing a safe place to call home.
I learnt how to share early on, before most ever do. I learnt how to share in the womb. Two heart beats, two bodies in one perfect room, a magic box of baby talk between me and you. Its easy to share when you know how to. Easy peasy, it just takes two – two babas babbling like a river running through their very own beautiful boogaboo world. Every mystery a frontier we chart together. Every treasure, every story better shared. A secret language of laughter and dancing hands, of understanding she’s got my back, and my nose, and my eyes and the way our smiles crack when we’re tired, the way we curl up together and lean in, soft and warm and almost one thing, but two. Not as easy learning that duplication is unusual. Freaky, even. People stare. We get asked so many questions – what is it like, being a twin? Oh! Look! So strange, so odd, look at those weirdos! Did you ever?! What is strange? The world seems to pull us apart with their expectations of singularity. It’s hard saying ‘I’ when I want to say ‘we.’ You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve never quite understood the word ‘me.’ Sharing is all I know how to do. It’s hard being one when your rhythm is two.
Together we are stronger. We havd just lost nan but we grieve as one
I have two amazing children, that I haven’t been able to see because of the pandemic. Jessica and Steven are my world and I miss them so much. I am so lucky to have two such incredible people in my life.
Also I miss my lovely parents, both of whom have recently passed. If I got to spend just one day with anyone, it would be my mum and dad, for just one last hug.
My great grand uncle Charlie was the most colourful character. Charismatic, handsome, always immaculately turned out, he had a louche, languid charm, a razor sharp wit and a predilection for beautiful women, a good cigar and the inside of a casino. He brought a heavily pregnant croupier to the door of my grandparents, asking them to look after her until she had the baby. He talked his sister into giving him her half of the company they had inherited from their father, and promptly lost it at cards. He was jailed at one stage for a gambling debt (the family explained it away vaguely by telling people he had “got lost”). But somehow, everyone loved him. He was a gifted magician and would entrance any children he met with his close up tricks. I am sure that there are many, many more stories about the extraordinary life of Uncle Charlie, and I wish I knew them.
When i was a child i liked to watch old black and white pictures on the tv with my Grandmother. She would always get very involved in the story and says things like ‘ hes a clever actor. He’ll work out she lying.’ It made it so entertaining
Our family history research shows my great-great-grandfather Simon Jacobson was a translator in the Russian Merchant Marines. He married Rose Jusman, and they lived in Liverpool.
What i would like to share is a memory of a short few years i had a cat, her name was smokey and she meant the world to me, she showed me such love and commitment that wasn’t available to me from my family,my family set up was very dysfunctional, my deepest memory was when smokey was pregnant with kittens and i stayed with her throughout the labour i was only allowed to keep one of the kittens and the rest were disposed off which horrified me. I named my new kitten cinders, i remember their soft fur and gentle touch and the melodic purr as she cuddled up to me as i hid away in the green house reading books, Love comes in unexpected ways and smokey helped me through a very difficult patch in my life i will forever be grateful to her.
For many people a smell can relocate them through time or space. Not so much for me but an image? Certainly. And this wooden green door set into a wall draped with ivy transports me back through time to my primary school years when my love of reading was embedded into my very fibres. The book? The Secret Garden, of course. What else could it be? A mysterious door set into a high wall through which there is no automatic entry.
Some books I read and truly never think of again. Others stay with me in the immediate aftermath. A rare few I carry with me for life and so it is with this classic. I loved the challenge of reading the Yorkshire accent – I was fascinated that language could be written to represent true speech. As children we are accustomed to reading grammatically correct pieces – “Yes, I am going to the shop. Would you like to come with me?” rather than the vernacular – “Yeah, I’m goin’ to the shop. You comin’?” I remember the teachers who would make me repeat myself if I dared shorten the we are to we’re or you will to you’ll. This was my first exposure to a written dialect and I struggled with it at first. I sounded the abbreviated words out loud and pondered their meaning. I recall hearing the accent on tv and knowing instantly that that was what I had been trying to read.
The character of Colin – the sickly boy who had been confined to his bed – infuriated me. I distinctly recall wanting to shake him and to tell him to give over his egocentric ways. I had little patience for his moaning. I was more fond of Dickon, the free spirited animal lover. I fantasised about living his life, free to roam as he pleased and to make friends with all manner of wild creatures. I admired his respect for his family and the maturity he showed. The wild boy had much to teach the wealthier cousins of the story.
And I identified with the heroine, Mary Lennox, of course. The book begins with her being orphaned in India and sent to live with an uncle in, well, Yorkshire. Just as Anne of Green Gables was fostered from the mainland, Emily of New Moon and Pollyanna are sent to live with aunts – as is James of Giant Peach fame. Oliver Twist gets adopted. Harry Potter was orphaned. We never know the origins of the dark haired, ill tempered Heathcliff. (The Secret Garden had been a wonderful introduction to the moors on which he and Cathy lived, loved and died.)
I blush to think that I was well into my 30s before realising what so many literary heroes of mine have in common and why they held such interest to me. As an adopted child I was accustomed to wondering what could have been – most people are born into their family and that is the only place they could ever belong. Yes, I was born to a set of parents but from there my life could have taken any number of turns. There was another girl adopted into a family living in Arklow the same week as me. I do not know her name but I know a little of her story and it could easily have been mine. Her father died from suicide when we were still teenagers and I remember feeling so grateful and then guilty that that was her fate and not mine. Afterall, what factor decided which of us would go live with which family? That I even grew up in Arklow was not a predestined given. Adopted from a Dublin agency I could easily have ended up anywhere on the eastern side of the country. I might have never met my Arklow born husband and raised my own two Arklow born children.
But my love of reading – where was it born? In my Saturday trips to the library, walking up the steps into the echoey tiled entrance hall, the books cradled in my arms. Each week I would gaze at the large marine bomb on display in fascination before entering into the library’s hushed tones. I stood at the brown counter that gradually shrank as I grew and would pass over my small pile of books to one of the two elderly ladies behind the desk. Then I would do my rushed library walk – a quick step movement denying energy but unable to hide my enthusiasm – to the children’s shelves to eek out authors I loved and unread tomes, while frequently glancing over to the adult shelves for reassurance. There, eeking out loved authors and unread tomes, would stand my mother, holding books close to her face to read the first page or so to gauge interest. As the years passed the text in her books became larger and my books morphed into young adult material but for years we both honoured our hushed ritual of the choosing.
And, apart from poor troubled Heathcliff, those characters I loved all lived happily ever after. As, for the most part, did I.
As an only child, of my parents (though I had much older half siblings) my playmates were always hugely important to me. I remember long warm summer days, where I only seemed to go home for meals. We would play in the street: British Bulldog, May I, Farmer may I cross your Golden River, Budge, Tiggy on High and so many others. We gave ‘baccys’ on bikes and some dads built go-carts. As we got older and roamed a bit further, we often got into bother scrumping for apples, falling into rivers and streams (or being pushed) when fishing, with our jam jars and nets, in Meanwood Park and The Hollies. Halcyon days full of fun and freedom.
My family is flexible – it is not a static concept, the very essence of it and of its boundaries is blurry. In stories of immigration, loss and diaspora, it is hard to keep in touch, recognizing others as part of your own family. What is it that ties us together ? Memories, places we left, feeling, the shape of an eye, photos ? We need something that binds us. In Judaism, it is the family that is at the epicenter of religion, not the synagogue. Sacrality and ritual: we find them in family traditions and stories. We create space with ties, memory with love. Family is learning how not to forget.
Because of the family I was born into, I have always been scared my husband would leave me, that I wasn’t good enough to be loved by him. Then I had my daughter, and I stopped being scared, because she is a special kind of glue, the most precious, glorious person I have ever met.
I want to tell you about my grandmother, who died in January of this year aged 96. She made ice cream for literally anyone, and regularly used to beat me when we watched University Challenge. In 1939 her Canadian stepfather moved her and her younger siblings to Canada to be safer, and after she finished university early, she snuck onto a Belgian arms ship to come back to the UK and do her wartime duty, fixing radios for the WRNS. During her lifetime she lived in North London, her older brother in Switzerland, her younger half brother in Seattle, and her younger half sister in Israel. She was the last one of them left for many years. I feel too far away from my sister while we live on opposite sides of London. I can’t imagine the isolation she must have felt during her lifetime.
I underestimated my family. They have proved to be amazing to me. All the years of doubt – should my parents stay together? Would we ever learn not to explode into arguments when together? – We’ve all learnt what each others’ limits are, I think, and don’t push each other so far beyond what each person can handle. My parents have done everything in their power to help me make a home for my children and stand on my own two feet. We hung in there. We’re not all cosy together, but it’s strong in its own way.
My father fought in 1st World War in Palestine. my mother was 30 years younger than him.. she had had TB and spent 3years convalescent on The Isle of Wright .
Family. My family has changed a lot throughout my life. I lived in Shetland with my mam and dad until they split up when I was a toddler. Me and mam moved to the mainland, life was happy I seen my mam as my best friend but addiction took a hold of her and at the age of about 7 my dad won a full custody of me in the courts with the help of his mam and dad my grandparents, we moved back to Shetland. I cant say I liked it much to begin with, I had missed so much school when id lived with mam, being stuck inside all day learning over the summer holidays was the last thing I wanted to do, especially when id been used to an amount of freedom that wasn’t very normal for someone my age. Me and dad lived with my grandparents at first in their big Victorian home, we had taken my kitten Kiara up to Shetland with us and it made the summer indoors bearable until I met new kids after summer.
I ended up having a very stable and loving family network me and dad got our own home and granny and grandad always had space for me, as did my dads brother my uncle. I still missed mam and seen her in the holidays. When I was ten addiction got the better of my mam and she passed away. I wont go through the sad details of the funeral or the experience of death. I will however share the bonds that followed. I think hardship does bring people closer together but my dad became my hero and a beckon of strength for me during the weeks, months and years that followed. I was torn up as any kid would be but dad just kept feeding my soul with knowledge, books, media and most of all love. He had endless encouragement and understanding which I think is what a good parent should do but doesn’t always manage- we’re all human at the end of the day! But my dad did manage it. People who knew me and dad always commented on our ability to know what each other was thinking without having to say to each other. My dad had a saying for everything too, whether he made it up or it was a common turn of phrase; if id behaved well as a kid to I was as good as gold, when I stumbled my toes running up the stairs dad would say, if you’re going to be dump you gotta be tough. My personal favourite was one he made up on the spot when I was a teenager, your life by the magic of rhyme, don’t worry sweetheart there’s plenty of time. My granny became my stand in mam of sorts and it suited me just fine that she didn’t try and encroach trying to be my mam. She took me through the woman hood side of life and was always starting creative projects with me way into my teenage years. Grandad was just always there I suppose. I don’t know how else to put it, he has always been such a calm and serene soul. I never ever got shouted at by grandad if I ever got into trouble he would sit me down and talk calmly through what I had done wrong, why I had done it and what could be done to make things right. I was nurtured so much by my family and I truly see how its made me into the woman I am today. The times when me and my dad would go to my grandparents for Sunday dinner were the times I have felt most at home in my life, sat round talking about the week that had passed.
When I was 21 my dad died. By that stage my grandparents had divorced and the beautiful Victorian house was sold on. My grandparents are still a big part of my life though and I speak to them on the phone a lot. I have a boyfriend, his family and some friends who love me. My idea of family has been changed again since my dads passing. I feel like I’m looking through a thick glass windows to normal families when I go to a wedding, or being invited to something as simple as a Sunday roast. Don’t get me wrong I want to be invited to these things and I love being around the people who mean so much to me. I’m just trying to figure out what family means to me now that im reaching my mid 20s, and to be honest nothing I feel now comes close to the security the word family brought me in my mid teens. There is a place that has helped fill in some of the gaps in my life that I have been looking to find, the Whocares?Scotland family has given me so much. Its not just an organisation to me its a place of nurturing, somewhere you can find yourself through the compassion of others. The sense of connection surprised me as I really didn’t think you could be this close to people you hardly knew. Some might try say that its solidarity that brings people to WhoCares?Scotland but for me I was a lost soul looking for a family and an identity and the family at WhoCares?Scotland are the ones who found me and brought me into the fold.
I am learning how to connect, I’ve always known how to empathise but my attachments have been unhealthy in friendships since my dad died. Ive wanted my friends to fill that family hole that was left but really the surface level friendships that we manage to build can only go so deep. The love can be real and returned in full, but the exception to be able to rely on in life is going a bit far. Thankfully I do have a couple of friends that I can rely on in the real world when things get tough and they are my family. When it comes to building me up and nurturing me I think my couple pals and WhoCares?Scotland, with them by my side I can keep on going through life and keep my head above water.
My dad had undiagnosed ADHD. He had crazy boundless energy and he was exciting to be around. Nothing was ever boring if my dad was involved. I, on the other hand, grew into a calm, chilled person. My dad helped me develop patience. I am a better parent because of him.
My family are my life
My family is dominated by my mother. I have always searched for but never achieved her approval. She is sensitive and brutal, fierce and fragile, loving and unkind, god fearing and judgemental, demanding of the highest standards of herself and others but never feeling as if anyone achieves them including herself. Her feelings which are out there and visceral have always trumped mine which are inward and repressed. I wonder what its like to be free of the shackles of maternal love.
This is a lovely project Lemn , Thank you
I have an ache like no other when I have not seen my Grandchildren. I actually feel a physical heart throb when I get a photo or video of them
I found my daughter on the bedroom floor of her rented house. Her 4 year old son lay beside her with his eyes tightly shut, pretending to be asleep. My 6 year old granddaughter was in her room. Every toy she owned had been pulled down onto the floor. She had been into her mothers room, she knew there was no response from mummy. Mummy wasn’t waking up.
They came to live with me that night and have done this past 3 and a half years.
“Are you my family?” the boy said after visiting their dad and his girlfriend and their young son.
” You have a different name to mine”
So I explained about his mothers name being that of my first husband, my name being that of a combination of my maiden name and my third husband, like his was a combination of his mum and dads surnames but that yes, we were most definitely family.
Family is blue skies then horizontal rain;
Out early and up through corries to plateau and mountain peak,
Squares of chocolate and hot squash,
Giggles when gloves won’t slip onto cold, wet fingers.
A kiss on the forehead,
A scream of frustration,
A waulking song,
Family is floating in blue spaces,
With the pull and suck of a paddle
Through smooth liquid seaweed.
Our eldest is a back-seat paddler,
Always noting inadequacies;
And so, a swap in the shallows
Curled toes in wet sand.
Family picks at its own scabs,
Rips stitches, slams doors in its own face,
And cries into endless pillows.
Family pulls its punches,
Presents a united front, a force to be reckoned with,
And curates a will of its own.
Family is honesty.
Family is tenderness.
Family is courage.
Family is fractal.
Family is hope.
Family is oxygen.
My family is crafted. Our ties are not blood ties, they are heartfelt bonds that are stronger than anything I could imagine in this world. The pleasure in my people is so powerful, it sometimes hurts. My adolescent son, without prompting, gives a fleeting and discreet peck on my forehead—pang. A friend has a lost look in her eyes, so I fold her in an embrace—crunch. Out of the corner of my partner’s mouth, comes the sweetest smirk—whack. Family conjures up the stormy and exhilarating tensions of pleasure and pain. Family is not a rare gem that is found but is a well-polished stone that uniquely glistens and sparkles with effort and care. My family is everything.
I want to tell you about my old Uncle Tom, he lived to 100! My granny’s brother, she didn’t speak to him for years, basically because she was a bit snobby, it was complicated, but quite sad. When I did meet Tom, as an adult,, it was like seeing the male version of my granny, which was very funny! But, Tom, he had lived a great life, he was a rebel, he messed around and didn’t do what he was told. He was in the Navy, and caught their attention for his bad behaviour, always breaking the rules. So they gave him the choice, youre out or secret service, let’s make use of that wild spirit and intelligence, seeking its own fun! He never told us about that service but he always had a twinkle in his eye. Their was a great story about rum! I’m lucky to have had great men in my family, those who are no longer here, like Tom, I aspire to have their spirit, drive and adventure in me. He had a great laugh too and when he turned 100 he was interviewed by Radio Ipswich and he recommended a fry up every day and a pint! Haha! I love and miss him, be kind and fun whenever you can. Take risks, tell stories, be yourself and have a twinkle in your eyes xx
Family is strange and some of it estranged, which hurts. But the burning I feel in my chest reminds me of how much I love the ones who are close. And a few of my friends have become chosen family. They help with the absence of presence.
For me, life and being part of a family is a journey where the whole array of emotions are evoked. Feelings that include joy, worry, fun, sorrow, frustrations, humour and anger. As individuals we mismatch and harmonise. Our personal histories are emotional and complex. Despite of and because of all this, the foundation maintaining our family is love.
My family is me and my three children who are 22, 21 and 17. They are each individuals but there are similarities between us. We are all creative people but in unique ways. We share family stories amd support each other through life. We are open amd honest with each other. I have learned about many things because of the interests of my children. I’ve also learned to trust them as they got older and consider the older two as friends (the younger one is not quite there yet).
Close bond , everlasting,, connected
We get by on love, chaos, humility, apologies, forgiveness, long walks, pizza and morning hugs.
there was so much laughter in our home. We have gone to Church all our lives and we still do… we avoid to look at each other even in Church lest we burst into laughter just by looking at each other .
Being in my family as a child was like being in a gang. We had our own language and our own jokes, our stories and our mythology. We were invincible and invincibly were ‘we’. As we’ve grown and moved away sometimes family has tugged and pulled uncomfortably, sometimes it has been an ear worm, a song which sings itself when I’m not directly listening. Always it has been a net.
A house stands bright at the top of the rise
As you climb through green bracken and gorse
Deep hedges conceal all its magic inside
And all of its memories of course.
This is my home. This is the place
Where I played as a child and ran free
Where I laid on the grass with a book in my hand
Where I knew that I could be me.
Where we stayed out all day, building dens, building dams
Then ran back home for our tea.
It’s not just the place but the people within
Those you’re attached to by elastic and string
Whose hearts chime with yours, who draw you back in,
Whose love you can trust, through thick and through thin.
And it isn’t just those that are there when you go
But all of the people you’ve been lucky to know
And share happy gatherings over the years;
They’re part of its fabric and part of the trees
And the shrubs and the flowers, the grass and the breeze
That blows over the forest and in through the gate
They’re part of the memories that make it the place
Where you know you belong, that is inside of you.
That began as a seed and grew as you grew.
Hide and seek children, barefoot on the grass
At family gatherings of many years past,
On garden chairs, with tea cups, the elderly dears
who are part of the magic that’s been there through the years.
From the very first visit when the grass dry and tall
invited us in to discover it all.
Over the gate we tumbled and ran
Exploring this place, the adventure began
Down paths through the trees where the well pump stood
to the shed with old paint pots and pieces of wood
The garden ran happily untamed and wild
Perfect for hiding places, when you are a child.
The house so neglected, forlorn and unloved
Arched windows and pillars, a red roof above.
And cascading wisteria bedecking its face
Twisting tendrils through windows to capture the place.
We sat on the porch steps and breathed it all in
Enchanted; a new life about to begin.
The roots that I grew here, grew into my soul
It’s a place I feel grounded and rested and whole
It’s the distance, in some ways, now that I’ve flown,
That conjures the magic that calls me back home.
My parents fostered 2 children when we were little. They came to us aged 9 and 12. We were aged 1, 2, 4 and 5. They lived with us until they were adults. I always considered them part of our family.
Dad was a natural comedian, people loved him because he was really quick and funny. He was also a really good singer and would get up at the ‘Go as you Please’ nights at the pubs and clubs. We grew up in a house of laughter and song. I love it when people comment that we, his 4 children, have his sense of humour, we can all hold a tune as well. One story my mam recounts was when they had an argument and he threatened to not make her laugh any more 😂❤️ Of course he couldn’t stay grumpy for long 💕Hapoy birthday Lemn xxxx
When love is shown it’s wonderful , when it’s not it’s painful
I’m a twin and will love my brother forever, though we are verg different. Family is about connection, with whoever we’ve become – because we garden. What we grow includes things taken as seedlings from our dear much missed dad’s garden – so there are plants nodding in borders all over the country. When I see them flower and glory in my garden, I’m with my dad, my twin, my mum, my little sister. Grown and growing together somehow, so when we meet up it’s like we were never apart and all that growing continues. So my image? Would be (if the system let me copy it in, which for sone reason it won’t) of something growing still, passed to me by my dad, the wise and funny gardener whose wisdom, humour and green fingers we now pass down the generations growing on from here.
When I wasn’t looking, Tom suddenly appeared. He is my older brother by four years and was born to our mother Aasta May when so many miles away from her family and home. Tom was adopted in April 1950, four or six weeks after his birth, and it took 65 years for me to learn about any of this. Since acquiring such knowledge, I have layered much of its warm and welcome certainty with surmise and deduction, each strand of imagining attached to increasing feelings of sadness for mom giving up a son I am sure she wanted to love. I can never know for sure why she journeyed the nearly 500 miles from Omaha to Denver to give birth, but researching reveals that at the Florence Crittenton Home where Tom was born, the rule was he, like all new babies, would be given up for adoption – mothers there for that very reason and with the dreadful motivation usually being concealment of a family’s embarrassment and shame. I might assume our mother asked the Lutheran Social Services to handle that adoption – one of three commonest ‘agency’ choices – but I can never know for sure why she christened my brother Michael, though I can also assume this was her reason for giving the same meaningful name to me.
I’ve learned that family is not just your blood relatives. Family are ghe people who welcome you with open arms, love you in spite of yourself and never give up on you. Family are the people who open their hearts and homes to you. Family, something i always yearned for yet felt i didnt deserve. Even when i had my own children i didnt know how to be a father or how to love them. Until one day people i didnt know made me a part of their family and taught me how to love my own. Family is where i am safest.
THE DAY ALL THE TOYS WENT ON A TRIP
It was a nice sunny afternoon. The Beatles were on the radio singing “Penny Lane”. I was three.
My older half-brother Graham said “Oh alright then, I’ll take you round the block” after me badgering him for ages to have a go in his motorbike sidecar. I was fascinated with it’s scale. To me in my little world it looked like a teeny tiny car. A short while later he was horrified to see I had crammed every dolly/teddy/glass animal/ I owned into his sidecar. We were off! How exciting. Three minutes later we were back home. I didn’t mind the trips brevity. Everything in my world was so small. It was fine. And a day I’ll never forget. What a trip! Thanks Graham!
When my Aunty, my mum’s younger sister (there was 3 girls) and always my Grandparents favourite, was a teenager she moved to Plymouth with some other girl friends from the local area. My strict Grandpa reluctantly agreed. Then he had a call from another parent one of the girls was taking the pill so Grandpa got in the car, late at night, drove to the flat and turfed Ruth out. Just a rumour one of them was on the pill was enough! She had no choice and had to say for weeks and weeks it wasn’t her who was on the pill to be allowed to return to the flat. Years later at family celebrations we laugh about this story, or we did, our family is all very fractured now but this shows how times change. I still loved my Grandpa; he was a man of his time trying to do his best and pregnancy when unmarried was one of his biggest fears for one of his three daughters.
A letter to my dad, my rock, my prayer worrier;
It will be almost six years since you went to your heavenly father so suddenly, leaving a hole I cannot fill. Doing what you taught me, your values and love of your family, community, and country—striving to honor you every day by trying to do my corner of the world better.
The last time we spoke, you told me to leave my life in God’s hand. To praise him through my triumphs and challenges, to surrender all to him, and say TEMESGEN!!/ PRAISE!!/.
You said, “leave your worries and surrender. Lift your hands and say I surrender!!” It has been hard without you, I see you every day in my son’s and my daughter’s kindness, my sisters’ tenacity and faith, my borther^s heart, my mom^s determination.
Thank you for praying for us , teaching us to have strong faith, love each other, share what we have, and do it all to honor God.
I miss you, and I love you.
Your baby girl
Family is the small things that aren’t small at all, and that you carry all your life. Memories to cherish, building blocks of your character and important narratives of who you are, your refuge when ever you need one. Here’s a small thing: my dad borrowed a camera from his colleague at work to capture a moment of me being awarded a prize at primary school.. On the way we found it didn’t work…my dad stopped at an electronic shop and buys a brand new camera he could ill-afford. He managed just one blurred picture of me getting my prize – he didn’t quite know how to work the damn thing. After the ceremony, I took a picture of Dad explaining the operating manual to my Mom. It’s one of my favourite photos of my youthful, loving parents whose adventures mostly revolved around what they did for their kids. The small things…
My Mam enraged me because she was paranoid about my car and wouldn’t let me drive it with my son in it. Then later my brother and sister in law told me that they were expecting another baby, and we had champagne. Mam is still wrong, but it’s because she loves us.
My mother was unexpectedly bereaved last March. We were not able to visit her at first because of self isolation and lockdown rules. My sister sent my mum a poem, by text, every night at about 11.30 pm for the first few weeks . At least one of them was by Lemn Sissay. Mum said receiving these bedtime poems from her younger daughter was one of the things that helped her heal the most in those difficult days .
We grew up in a big house on a square in London. I knew we had more than most people living in the area. My mum said that she had grown up in Ireland, but after she died I found out that in fact she grew up in Earl’s Court, above a butcher’s shop, and that her family were very poor. I wasn’t half Irish after all. And Mum had made it all up, because she wanted to escape from the world she grew up in. She went to grammar school and became ashamed of her family. I have met my aunt and 2 cousins now, and feel a sadness and anger that the class system in this country divided us and deprived us me of my family when I was growing up and needed them
5 marriages, 3 divorces, 3 sisters, 2 brothers, 3 deaths.
When people ask I have often said ‘oh my families complicated’, but it’s not really what I mean, and that’s just describing it be outside definitions and putting people in my family in boxes with labels that the outside world wants in order to understand – asks to understand by our ‘blood relations’, mother, father, step parent, half-sister, step brother….they are my parents, my brothers and my sisters, we shared parts of our lives together, we loved people together and we grieved for people together, differently but together.
At the heart of all that is my Mum, who has driven me crazy over the years, but who I love with all my heart. She’s at the centre, because without her fire, and her adventure and her challenge, non or us would know each other and actually for me it’s not very complicated at all. I have been lucky enough to have 5 parents and 5 brothers and sisters, and yet I’m an only child – how lucky am I! It’s not complicated because I have been cloaked in love from this big messy beautiful, dysfunctional family.
Each of us hurt and scared in different ways, and I know some deeper than others. Maybe I’m the one who see’s our family through rose coloured spectacles and, after all I was the who only experienced some of the drunkenness on the every- other- weekends and holidays, I was the one who still had my Mum as an anchor, and my extended web of family on that side when you lost yours.
What is family to me, a beautiful mix of wonderful different people, who I love with all my heart, who I would not have known if my life had been ‘conventional’ by other people’s standards.
This is not complicated, this is beautiful, and messy and love, and hurt, and let down, and love and sadness and joy and sharing and love.
My sisters are who keep me sane and smiling, even when we face difficulties as we have all our lives
It is the solid and secure foundation of my life 💕
I had a baby 7 weeks ago; mine and my partners first child. We are now a family. Within hours of him arriving I felt a love, protectiveness and attachment that I had never felt before, and imagined a loss, worry and failure that I could never contemplate before. I immediately understood my relationship with my parents more, and the idea of family became something else to me.
When my daughter was born I was so very surprised to find that from the very first second of her life she led the way in what she needed and I followed, rather than the other way round as I’d previously understood from the expression ‘bringing up a child’.
The picture is of my sister and me on Christmas Day 2020, taken by my daughter. There are only three of us in the country and we were determined to spend that time together.
The traditional concelt of family is somewhat alien to me. Of course, i grew up in a family. Quite a large one, actually. It was hard for me to see all of the other kids at school with their ‘normal’ families. Meanwhile, at home I had two alcoholic parents and lived my childhood flinching as a glass flew across the room. No extended family members helped or supported myself and my siblings – something that in hindsight (now having nephews of my own) is baffling to me. Stereotypically, family is supposed to love and care about you, but it felt the opposite. Then I went to university, and everyone got drunk and shared their own disfunctional stories of their families. Our crazy mums and dads became famous to one another. Being the only one left every easter, summer and christmas because i didn’t have a good family to go back to just emphasised to everyone else the need I had to be cared for – often traveling to stay with friends in their hometown and enjoying a few evenings with their families. The contrast was fascinsting. And then by the time I left university three years later, i had created my own family. A group of misfits who had just experienced some of the craziest years of our lives together.l. I still don’t know if a ‘normal’ family exists, but I hope I can give my children something closer to it in the future. Not all stories about families are lovely, and it’s ok to recognise and honour those who missed out on a fairy tale concept of family.
Originally from a farming background, my parents had four daughters. Two became nurses ( i am one of those) two became farmers. I am married with Two beautiful adult sons who have amazing partners. Believe in living for the moment
Born to young parents youth club sweethearts, married as teens had us 4 kids rapid. Our childhood was fun structured lots of freedom outdoors as we had to be out so as not to mess up the house or cause them bother. We entertained each other 3 of us shared a bedroom till my Dad bought outright our first house. He was driven by money you see. We hardly saw him but when we did he was fun and adventurous he would pack the car to ‘set off’ we went all over the north of England the 6 of us packed in the car to experience days out. Mum was the arty one and creative made amazing food. We went from rags to riches rapid and then boom our parents ‘lost it’ arguing and wrecking everything we had – Mum left us all & we had years of turmoil they divorced. I was angry with them for a longtime not now but its incredible how much we all care for them in their old age. As siblings we parented each other & we parent our parents. So family has taught me how to be resilient, how to channel drama, that comedy and story telling are my go to coping strategies. Family can be complicated unpredictable and emotional. Families are forever changing mum always said ‘nothing lasts for forever’ …… I expect very little from my parents as they remain highly needy and demanding!
Family is more than blood and biology, it is a circle of friends who’s love is so strong and supportive that it protects you from any challenge life throws at you.
My mother was Peruvian and my father was English. We lived in 5 countries so I was sent to school in the UK. However my mother’s bond with her family was so strong that we still carry it to this day even though she died 12 years ago. I am very close to my cousins in Peru and my brother lives there. Peru is such a big part of me and my siblings. I look English but peel away a layer and Peru is there. For me Peru is family.
My parents split when I was ten in a pretty dramatic way. We liked to do things in a big way in our family! Dad was difficult to live with, disabled from a life changing accident he had when he was nineteen on a night out in Brighton. Him and his friend, driving back to barracks fell asleep, the car crashed down the side of the coast road, dad went through the roof. He was told he would never walk again. Dad being dad had none of it. He dragged himself up and down the stairs of his council flat morning and night till he got his legs working. But the injuries went deep and covered other pain from a seriously dysfunctional family life where alcohol ruled the day.
Mum and dad met and fell in love. But very soon after the birth of first my brother and then me, the cracks started to appear and the bouts of violence. Women in those days couldn’t just leave, even though the divorce law was in place, you had to prove cruelty and bad treatment ans have the finances to support you, so mum was instructed to keep a ten year diary.
So, there I was, just home from school and mum says, ‘you and your brother, meet me in the living room as I have something important to tell you’. What could it be? worst case sinarios were playing loud tunes in my head – nan’s died, the guinea pigs eaten it’s baby, mums found the broken ornament under my bed!
Mum told us we were leaving dad and going on a new journey with a man called frank who we were to call uncle frank. We were moving to Gravesend and starting a new life. It all sounded so exciting that we didn’t have a chance to think about what we were leaving behind. The moment of dad finding the house empty haunted me for many years to come.
Looking back years later I realised that mum must have had so much courage to do what she did and leave an abusive relationship
Dad eventually found another partner.
Moving from a sleepy kent village and thrown into a mixed comprehensive on an estate in Gravesend was a rude awakening and made bad education look sissy. Every girl in my class was called Sharon or Tracey and they were tough. If you dared look at them you would get a punch. My defence against the dark arts was to eat and build body armour but this just made matters worse, self loathing amidst the chanting of ‘fatty foster’ was a torment that almost took me to the edge.
Mum decided to take me to the doctor and I got put on a diet of lettuce and celery. Be to honest this was a god send as I have always loved my greens to this day! Learning the shamans ritual of being taunted with home made chips waved under my nose whilst chomping on a carrot has had its benefits.
The diet worked, I lost weight and gained confidence. Nan, a brilliant seamstress who could magic a dress out of thin air, tailored made me a school dress that emphasised my new figure. I felt like the bees knees. The name calling vanished behind the cloak of immaturity and I gained respect. ‘The dress’ my savour, my chariot, helped me put on a ‘new me’ to step out into the world in and was to feature many times, in many guises, in the years to come.
The image attached is of my daughter modelling a paper dress I made from torn pieces of wallpaper inscribed with words.
KT – Kath W.
I was one of four – we were always busy, always had jobs to do, both parents working full time and grandparents to help out too across the road. My cousin says she remembers it was always noisy and she loved it. I have three chicks, always noisy, busy and happy. Three of eleven grandchildren in our family, all grown up, and we are now awaiting the arrival of number eight in the next generation. It’s still noisy and busy but spread out. Our house extended to accommodate granny in our granny flat, where it is quieter but often noisy as it overflows with love and chicks.
My great grandmother and two of her daughters were involved in the Belgian resistance during the second world war.
Buying the ticket
To catch the train
To gaze out the window –
Forehead against cool glass –
To peer past the gates
To family waiting
And into the car –
Smells of dog and rug –
And back to the house
And out to the garden
And toes in wet grass
Ignoring a thistle
In arch of a foot
An old cricket bat
And a tennis ball calling
The dog joining in –
One hand one bounce rule –
With the sun in your eyes
Try to angle the catch,
Gran joining in
In wait for a pause
In the game
Purple mouths purple fingers
Dew drop jean hems
Wiping bare feet on door mat
Not to bring in the dirt
Box of apples by back door
Stacked up high from the Fall
Telly loud for the parrot
Chuckling with the canned laughs
Biscuit tin full of bourbons
Orange squash by the sink
Running through skidding slightly
Rug moving like socks
On wooden floors –
Charles and Diana
Wedding glasses witness all –
Barrel straight into Grandpa
Arms wide, moustache tickles,
Cotton shirt collar worn down
Under sky blue v-neck
With holes at the elbows
Full of love and worn softness.
Buying the ticket.
I was raised by my grandparents, aunts and uncles!
For me it’s a feeling not a relationship. Feeling safe and heard and valued makea me think of people as family.
Dear Lemn Sissay, greetings! My mother is everything to me. This poem I wrote all about her life journey as I understand it. I shared it on poemhunter.com years ago. Fabric. Chapter 1. Rich farmer lots of children. Wife died tempo disrupted grief stricken. His half sister with issues of her own, abducted his favorite daughter, uprooted from her birthplace, one of her brothers was the accomplice, the eight year old changed her pace, new city became her new identity, was it the sugar cane? sweetening her life thus? she blended aunt diligently helped, sent her to school raised her good, rode bicycle to move around, at the paper factory she worked, whenever school closed, aunt didn’t mind. She met him there, he pursued her, she was only sixteen. Chapter 2. Defied the aunt married the man. Started journey without plan. Family unit strengthened thanks to first born. Happiness reigned, woman thrived. Half a year baby fell ill. Gone to heaven bereaved woman stood still. What made her trust life once again? What was the reason? Was it the love for the man? Was it the belief not to question? Accepting must be in her nature. Or! Support group helped her to move on? Comforting massaging her belly with butter. A little of this a little of that. Second child here let’s name her. Another town woman didn’t groan. Followed man loyally he’s her guardian. A baby boy oh what a joy! On second thought! So demanding. So draining. Pushed aside his sister oh dear oh dear. Chapter 3. On the move once again do not frown. Man is trying family is growing. To the capital city full of opportunity. Man struggled buckled but never surrendered. Happy family life sustained him good. Day time laborer night time scholar. The fourth child is so pretty. Sunshine befitted her beauty. The happy woman weaving her nest in earnest , welcomed her father siblings extended family members, frequently visited she radiated. Accommodating nature won her neighbors. Her house is full no distress. Regarding her husband who fought hard, couldn’t get paid as he should, he was forced to make decision. Gave up fighting for cause which wasn’t his own. Family comes first he was no politician. became a seaman fifth child wasn’t one. Chapter 4. Her life was lost without him, she cried hard life became grim. She endured a lot making ends meet., did Socialism helped or hindered? food was rationed. life was censored. Ethio-Somali war dictated everything to the war front! contribute yourself to the utmost, children had fun take heed. songs of war filled their head. staged and played out wars of their own. Re-enacting hilariously what went on.
I have always been fascinated by the stories behind the names of my aunts, uncles, and grandparents on my mother’s side. They tell such a poignant story of their journey. My grandfather’s name was Bishaw (if God wants). He was born months after his father died in a war. His mother, who was depressed and feeling overwhelmed, named him Bishaw as circumstances were dire, and so, if God wants, let him live; if not, let him die. My grandmother was Tarikua, which means her story. This couple’s and their family’s story is beautifully and powerfully written in their children’s names. Their first child was Desta – happiness – happy at their first born! Then came my mother, Tewabech, she became beautiful, and she IS beautiful! Then, two children were born – Besufekad (by God’s will) and Ejegayehu (I saw so much!). Unfortunately, these two children died while they were young. Two years after their deaths, Badege was born. His name means I hope he grows – a direct reflection of the pain and loss they experienced. After him, Alemayehu (I saw the world) in both the loss and the joy. Then, Temesgen (praise be to God – through whom all gifts flow), Tarekegn (God has reconciled with me), Genet (Heaven), and Yehualashet (the last seed), who was, in fact, the last born of this family. Names are powerful!
Today we buried my Mum’s ashes – born on 29 Dec 1932, died on her 87th birthday, 2019. The pandemic prevented her being re-united with my Dad sooner, and my sister, in Canada, from being with us today. A rebellious, individual spirit until the end, I’m glad Mum didn’t have to experience Covid restrictions. Miss you Mum xx
In my late forties my sister decided to tell me that our Dad wasn’t really my Dad. My darling Dad, who I grieved and missed and who had lived and cared for me with no discernible difference from my other sisters, was not my Father. He knew this when I was born, when he put his name on my birth certificate and in order to keep the family together kept his silence. The silence was to protect me and the rest of the family. After finding out I too have remained silent. To protect my Mother who would be destroyed if she knew I knew the truth. Inside I am screaming,
I wasn’t a planed baby and it was 1967 so my mum went through a scary time. But my dad married her and they’re still together. I’ve got a younger sister and loads of cousins. My extended family are also great friends of mine. We really get on and have a laugh together. I’m so grateful for them all. I’m a stepmum, mum, mum to a disabled adult. My life is full of love but definitely not easy. My youngest child is 23 this year, I already have two step-grandchildren and I love that. I’m happiest when I’ve got my children, nieces and family around me. I would’ve adopted children and given birth to more if my disabled son hadn’t needed so much extra help. The imperfections are what make it all perfect. Love is not easy, parenting can be tough work. Acceptance, letting go and gratitude can create magic, though.
I taught for 40 years, when I met my last tutor group, I told them that I would do my best for all of them to achieve their best, we made a pact, we learnt to trust each other and accepted that we could all make mistakes but with help from each other we would succeed. We talked all the time, before school, at breaktime, lunchtime, after school, we all did a lot of listening too. They often complained that I was expecting too much, that I was the only tutor who gave homework, that nobody else had to write essays every other week… They brought their parents for me to mediate when parents were too strict, they introduced me to them as ‘Madame B, my professional Mum’.
We did develop as a family, over a period of 5 years, When groups were halved for tutors to work intensively with their tutees, there was no way I could split my family, we stayed together, all 31 of us; a few had left to see how green the grass was on the other side but the majority came back, some came to work with me during a summer holiday to catch up with all the missing homework as they wanted to be in the best group in their last year, I ‘lost 2 weeks’ of my summer holiday but it was worth it. They all did really well in their exams.
I retired but we kept meeting on social media, I was invited to birthday parties, engagements, weddings, Chritmas reunions, they came to my house for parties, brought me their babies etc…My children were not the only ones I kept contact with, I have wonderful memories of seeing exhibitions with their parents, inviting 3 generations of their family for lunch in my garden etc…
This huge extended family of mine is a real rainbow, full of diversity, love and wonderful experiences!
There was always a long queue for the loo; if you were lucky enough to get inside that small, cold and draughty cubicle, you were even more fortunate to get out, because the door handle was rusty and stuck; and some smart Alec on the other side of the door was always ready to make sure you might never be seen again. And so I learned to climb through windows – narrow and high – and turned myself aged 7 or so into an escape artist.
When I look in, family is all about husbands, wives, Mums, Dads, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, nephews, nieces, Nanas and Grandpas. I’ve always felt lucky to have such stability around me.
When I look out, I see that family can also mean so much more than this. When there’s complexity or uncertainty or trauma, people often create their own family. It might look a bit different to what I’m used to, but the same things sit at the heart – love, security, support and a future together.
21 years ago today my son Frank was born, very early in the morning at St Thomas’s hospital by the river Thames. All my other pregnancies had ended in miscarriage and he was our ‘miracle’. We lived then on a street of little houses in East London, and when we raced out to our car at the crack of dawn, to my amazement several faces of women who were my neighbours popped out of their windows to send us good luck. How they knew, what woke them was a mystery, but a beautiful sign of that extended family a good neighbourhood gives you. When we got home his unofficial aunties were in straight away to see him and welcome him to the world.
I have 3 children now grown up – to me they are wonderful and are successful adults with their own children and good jobs. Despite some difficulties – 2 have fathers who have abandoned them, one is adopted by me and her father is unknown, they have grown into loving parents and I am so proud of them and they and their families are such a source of joy
I created a family when I had none. There was no mum, no dad, no grandparents, no uncles, there was just me.
I am now the proud and dedicated mother of 6 children, two of my sons are not on this earth anymore, and I miss them every day.
My other 4 children keeps me going, fills me with pride, with love, with strength.
I am a grandmother now, of a sweet little baby boy, and he has and will always have a grandmother, my children will always have a mother.
These children, this grandchild, they will always know love, because I will always be their fighter, their protector, their comfort and their foundation.
Family is love. Family is self sacrifice, family is true.
Family doesn’t have to consist of blood, when blood turns their back on you, go and create your own family.
I am a matriarch, that is how I choose to define me, I choose to rise and be who my children needs me to be.
I was a child without love, a child who was abandoned, abused, not wanted.
Family is love, and love keeps us alive.
I want family to be the brightest strongest thing but my reality is so different. I guess I am lucky I get christmas and birthday cards and a call once a couple of months. Family is just me and my son now and he is the brightest light in the whole world to me. I chose people to be my family, friends who are there, and his acceptance of them makes my heart sing.
On the day I brought my youngest daughter home when she was born , my middle daughter, who was 4 at the time, was so proud of her new sister that she went out to the front garden to collect all the children from our street to come upstairs one by one , into the bedroom where I was resting in bed, to show her off!
I always felt like I was not part of family due to being in foster care. I had “Real” and Foster family. I was not accepted by both but in both families they were shining lights for me My Aunt Julie in my real family and my foster sister they both have me feeling like I’m worth something and not feel like a nobody or nothing. Another person in my family was Nana she was imperfect set in her ways yet the world was changing too fast but she was loved and she loved.
My father was not in my life until my teens but was not interested in me he just wanted to marry me off so he his family gained dowry not in my life since was a child and left again at 13. Came back when I was 30 lecturing me. At least the advice I was given with respect and love from my Aunt, Foster Sis, Nana. My destain against my father is he is overtly religious and throws that down my throat like he is perfect. I have been disowned due to me speaking truth about how evil he was towards my mother and me. You need family even if you don’t have one. The help in times in need. Just don’t let it be all and end of all because you don’t have family. I don’t really see my family as much due to the pandemic and I feel more further apart and alone. I may reunite with My Foster Sister and Aunt. My not have a great mother or father or foster mother but I learned how to never treat anyone. Family for me now is myself until I create one or find someone who accepts me. That will almost certainly impossible.
My family made me who I am today. Early years and bonding is so important. The biggest influence in my life was my dad.
I try to remember the words that were pronounced badly or that my children did not understand. There are some that I remember and that make me smile.
When my brother died, we were all there. My sister in law, his daughter, me, my husband, my daughter. We held hands and talked about our times together and he just sighed and died. So we had a cup of tea and cried and laughed. Still miss him.
My mum is from Burma ( now Myanmar) but her family were displaced when she was a child during independence. Her family were Eurasian so were forced to denounce their European identity or leave. We have lost all links with any relatives back there. Burma has always remained in our family though, through food and stories. As we lose my grandparents generation we lose their stories too. I wish I’d paid more attention or recorded them. It has been bittersweet to now feel more connected with other Burmese people in the UK – as we raise awareness of the horrific attacks on the Burmese people by the current military junta. I often wonder about the family I do not know, who are living through that. My heart goes out to them. (The photo is of my mum and uncle as kids. We don’t know who the man was – family or family friend. It reminds me of our many lost connections).
For me there is no greater love, that moves me from inside out, than that for my (now adult) children. Apologies to my husband who of course I love very much too. But my love for my children is visceral and almost a physical feeling. My happiest times are when I am with them.
We are now part of a blended family. My children were quite young when my first marriage broke up. Some years later I remarried and my husband had 2 slightly older children. I feel that one of my biggest achievements in life has been the successful blending of our 2 families despite some initial teething problems. Our four adult children enjoy each other’s company and have relationships independent of my husband and I. They have fun getting together and sharing what thy consider funny stories about my husband and I!!! They like to time their Christmases so that they coincide their visits and we all share time together.
A couple of years ago when we had some spare money we decided the best thing we could offer our children was to rent a villa abroad off season and they could all dip in and out when it suited them and have a holiday. To our amusement they all wanted to be there at the same time. It was such a success that we decided to repeat it but the pandemic prevented it happening.
I am so happy and proud that I have a great relationship with my stepchildren and that my children and their stepdad have a very easy relationship too. Each of our 4 children have lived with us as young adults for extended periods of time (though rarely at the same time) for various reasons. We have enjoyed this very much and I feel this has been a privilege.
This all sounds smug and somewhat boastful and it is not something I express easily and freely but I feel it is one of the best achievements of my life.
I am English. But I am also fifth generation Irish, my family first came over in the famine. I am the first generation to marry ‘out’, the first to marry someone of English, not Irish, heritage. I don’t think the English realise how hard they are to assimilate with.
A group of people who live for and love one another in the greater circle of love.
A father who always provided his children with tender love. Who educated them beyond his means.
A mother who cared for her husband when life’s fortunes abandoned him and jumped left, center and right to cover his role towards his children.
Siblings and cousins who love and fight, care and nag, comfort and tease each other. Who remain kids to this day in the eyes of their parents. Who speak in an ordinary language but understood only by members of the circle, the unsaid included.
Family is my forever home. Family is hate. Family is love. Family is sacred. Family is a glove. Soft as a velvet. Hard as a stone. I learnt about function from dysfunction. I learnt about connection from disconnection. I learnt about friendship from being left alone. In my family. In my forever home. Thank you Lemn Sissay. You are an inspiration. May your light shine forever in this big, small world…
My family is extended a million times over. Anyone brings home a friend, new partner or colleague, you automatically become family and can never leave
Family, I thonk are Roots….but I della likes I have no Roots and this lets me feel like a leaf in the Wind, a child in a Square of an unknown Place She saw for the First Time at the Age of Seven….that feat Is Always with me although consecutive love although my own next family. I’m a woman, a wife, a teacher but i’m Always searching for my Roots.
I grew up thinking a ‘flodear’ was a real word meaning to spill something. But it was really “Flo, dear!” after a great aunt Floretta who always dropped food down her ample bosom and her husband would say, “Oh, Flo dear.”
Family for me is safety, unconditional love, joy. Mostly I think about my immediate family but there is an invisible thread that ties me to those extended and further away. I know how lucky I am to have the comfort and security of a loving family. My mother created this despite her own turbulent and challenging childhood. My father has always put family first. Family is everything to me, the love I can give and receive is like having a safety net, a bubble of love that I know will catch me if I fall, celebrate when I fly and walk beside me every day.
Family isn’t something I’ve always had growing up. Being taken from my own to somewhere that isn’t my own. Through being in care and experiencing different families, I had time to learn what family is and what it isn’t. At a stage in my life the system was family . I’ve finally connected a relationship with my ‘real’ family it may not be what I dreamt it would be but it’s reality and nothing can take away from that. Positive or negative that’s my family. I am in awe of the days i can make more memories with them. Establishing a relationship with my family has shown me I’m not merely another statistic of a care leaver there is more to life. Such as, embracing the culture and language from my home country where I was born in Somalia many things I have missed out on. Family is my safe place, it is has kept me hopeful. My family kept me hopeful in times of being broken. In multiple homes with a broken system with doubts of no where to call home. My ‘real’ family made it all worth it, through all the feelings I have endured in the name of ‘family’ However for me family is also a word that is still confusing. Maybe one day it won’t and that day will be amazing ?!!!
My Dad is Irish and my Mum is half-Irish and half-Lithuanian. Her Dad (my grandad who unfortunately died when I was three) fled Lithuania and was separated from the rest of his family – he never heard from or saw them again. I was born in London and yet I wouldn’t be here if my grandad hadn’t sacrificed being with his family in order to survive. Family is wishing us, it is brutal, it is heartbreaking, it is powerful. We have the need within us to create our own family anchors if we are without one.
An old Guyanese saying my Dad used to say that made me and my sister laugh when he said it in his resigned fashion when we’d upset him. “When your own lice bite you you’re well bitten.” Still don’t know what he meant.
Baci, swallows returning home and long manicured nails. When I was very little I didn’t speak much Italian, but I knew the word for kisses due to my obsession with the delicious bite size chocolates that each contained a short note about love; ‘Baci’. One day, before speaking with my beloved Nonna on the phone, I asked my Mum for an Italian word for a big number- she taught me ‘Mille’, a thousand. At the end of the call, I closed it by saying ‘ciao, mille baci!’ (goodbye, a thousand kisses). I’ll never forget the laugh my Nonna gave, I could feel her smiling down the phone. It became our special sign off, our secret shorthand for the love we had/have for one another. She was wonderful in every way, patient, funny, kind, with impeccable taste in suits and long manicured nails that she used to run through my hair to send me to sleep. The last thing she ever told me was to eat, I was 16 and I had been starving myself. I’m 28 now, and sometimes I wish she could see now how sustained I am, how full my life is with love and good food and joy. I think in some way she knows, or at least she knew I would be ok in the end. I sometimes see her in dreams – it’s very comforting, she is often behind a door, drenched in golden light and just holds me for a while. When I turned 18, my Mum and I went and got a tattoo together in memory of her. My Mum and Dad had just moved away to Greece and I was out in the world living independently. We each got a swallow on our wrist as we had read that sailors used to get them as a symbol of always returning home to their families after long journeys at sea. Under my Mums swallow is the word ‘Mille’ and under mine ‘Baci’. It’s my only tattoo and every day I look at it. It makes me think of my Nonna, my Mum and the strength that love brings to families who are far apart. We can connect to one another in physical spaces, in memories and dreams and that is how I return home.
1985. I’m 14. A Friday in September. Our family changed. My Mum took an overdose. Found by my Dad. I was sent to school. My Mum Survived. Six weeks in a local Psychiatric Hospital. Came home. Never mentioned. Never spoken about. At 49 I still carry the pain. The unanswered questions. Only my best friend from school knows as she held my hand as I cried in assembly that day. That’s my family. We don’t talk. We brush things aside. Still hurting.
When I think of my family I think of my grandmother. She had a tremendous impact on my teenage years where she was my refuge and I was her support and partner in crime. The was closer to me than anyone else ever was.
She was a single mum in the 1950s having split up with the father of my dad before he was born.
I grew up in a large house my grandmother jointly owned with her much older sister who also lived there with her family. Despite this, my grandmother was the matriarch, ran the household (well actually both), ran the fields and gardens, she was working full time and at some point took over the care for her sister and her brother in law when their child failed. Her loyalty to her sister, who struggled with mental health and its decline, inability to properly care for her family at some point, let my grandmother make enormous sacrifices – from travel to love.
She was resilient, humble, outspoken and when I was in trouble she helped building bridges and create perspectives. She looked after the teenage me and I looked after her and supported her when her health started to fail.
I miss her dearly but still can hear her voice calling me, see her standing on the landing in our house and feel the hugs we gave each other.
Making mince pies…..
Coerced into memory:
the pastry yellow under my nails,
every circular cut
a neat-edged summary
of Christmas ritual.
Before the wreck of age grounded
you on rocks of wild assertion,
dulled your mind and wasted muscles,
the top seat was yours,
directing willing and unwilling hands
for Christmas dinner.
Once done, our stomachs bulging,
table cleared, cheese
for any corners left unfilled,
your Christmas court included
party tricks, a song or recitation.
Yours, learned by heart, Excelsior,
the Banner with a Strange Device.
Then port passed clockwise,
cracker jokes read out in turn:
I say, I say, I say;
boum boum; kindly get off.
Christmas Day is signalled
by mince pies for breakfast.
Remembering now that once
they were shaped like coffins.
In the beginning, it’s rough green carpet and the smell of sweet spit and everything bright and sharp. Falling asleep in the middle of the road and knowing you’ll get to where you’re going anyway. In the middle, inconvenience, lumbering trail of the uncool, coiling embarrassment. The car waiting outside with its windows up in the cold. Then one day, looking up, up at the youngest, not down. It’s a packet of crisps at the pub, shared – willingly. Gangly elbows, winks and in-jokes. Seeing the road, and choosing to go home.
No one family is the same as another – and you put up with stuff from close family that you would never tolerate from a friend. That said it works the other way too !
WHAT A LEGACY: Celebrating my MUM ANNE b1922 epitomised FAMILY (not just her own but welcomed other waifs & strays). Came from Milltown, Tuam, Co. Galway during the 2nd WW. Trained & worked as a nurse: Psychiatric, General & Midwife (her best work love) Had 8 Children, 19 Grandchildren (only 1 deceased) & 18 Greatchildren. Died @ 98, Jan 2021: Alzheimer’s, Covid positive (not recorded). Loved her family, community, church: RC, anything green!, current affairs, spectator sports (especially snooker football & horseracing & anything else that had legs!). Devoted to us all, UK, Eire, Indonesia the world. Sadly gone but never forgotten. We miss you so much, not an easy life but lots & lots of joy! A truly loving, kind, supportive Mother & true friend to all. Thanks Lemn Sissay for this wonderful opportunity
For me the word family never meant much, family is a random group of people only connected by chance and some shared memories sometimes chance is merciful and good sometimes chance is cruel and sadistic. In my case it chance was good not amazing but good there are some things seperating us and some things uniting us; values, ways of living, self expression, sleep rythms and many more. We get along well enough and yet to different to be very close. Ultimately I’d say the most important thing about family is that they shape who you are and I’ve seen many good examples of this and many bad examples of this, people broken, abused or manipulated by the people who raised them. Words that always meant a lot to me are Love and Acceptance sometimes that is found within family sometimes it isn’t. I’ve always felt loved and accepted by my godparents, by some people at the church I was part of once, to a certain degree by my family and now also by my friends to me that is more important than blood and yet now that the health of my last remaining grandparent is slowly declining I want to call her more often.
I’m thankful that I grew up with over 15 brothers and sisters, all of which needed a loving home. I thank God everyday that whether they are brothers and sisters by blood or not, that I had an experience of family like no other because my Mum and Dad were willing to do something I wish more people would. There was never a quiet day in the household and I wouldn’t want it any other way!
Some people jell with their biological families, and some collect like minded people around them to love and to hold. The people that love you, are there for you when needed, listen to you – these are the people who make you feel safe in this world.
I lost my father about a month ago. I know you would expect that from most daughters in life, but my father was a hero (for myself at least and I think my 6 siblings would agree) and an inspiration for many people in my small country. He defined politics and the private sector in a way not everybody would agree but that’s life. He believed in integrity, diversity and integration in a city where more than half of the residents are foreign passport holders. He wanted all of them to have their say. To have their vote on the politics and public services that defined their country of choice and to whose wealth and economy they had all contributed. He came out with a vision for a green economy before anyone was ready or pressured enough to think about it. All of this took a toll on his private life. He was certainly not present very much. But he was there when we needed him most and he was a mentor. When we were kids, we would have regular Friday pizza dates with him and he would insist that we take 24 bites of each piece. It basically turned something so yummy like a pizza into a vegetable soup. He taught us about history, politics and music with the attention to detail and complexity of an academic. Knowledge humbled him because he knew he wouldnt be able to get it all. And that there were two sides to the same coin. But he was also a crafter, a painter, a builder. He was fascinated about the logistics of travel. Of cars, ships, boats and planes. Not so much the leisure side of it, but how time & space could be compressed so that we could buy fresh tulips on the market in the morning or safely deliver beluga whales from China to Iceland so that they could be released from captivity into the ocean. Like anyone of his generation, he was confronted with technology. But he embraced it with open arms. He loved it. He would track every flight we took over his flight radar app, from departure to landing. He would arrive right on time to hug us. Technology meant that he was instantly connected to the world and all the knowledge it had on offer. I didn’t mean to write an hommage to my father, but I miss him so very much and there were so many questions I still needed to ask. The pandemic has deprived my family of the last moments we could have spent together, of the last Christmas that we used to celebrate with abundance of joy like we celebrated every dinner we held together. Covid deprived my mother of the possibility of attending to him in hospital as he left this world. But he would not have wanted to leave this place in anger. On the last day we spoke on the phone he commented on the linguistic and cultural diversity of the hospital staff & how it reflected life in the city where he lived & loved. He left us thinking about a society defined not by closed borders, national sentiment and fear but one characterised by diversity, integration and opportunities. Rest in peace Papa.
I’ve found my family to be created and re-created in different places and spaces over time. I think family is in constant change and flux, not a tree but a plant which pops up year after year, in the same place of your garden but always different, with new seedlings and cuttings dotted off in other places.
I am an Ethiopian, a former civil servant, and a socialist who helped the Ginbot 7 and Borena shifta over the years when they worked to overthrow the western supported dictatorship in Ethiopia. I finally have a chance to cast a ballot next June to decide who leads my country. Despite considering myself a patriot who served his country – part of my family is now supporting the TPLF (the remnants of the former dictatorship who are still trying to return to power) and others are supporting ethno-nationalists who are hell-bent on demonizing particular ethnic groups or religions for the woes of the world. Including cousins I hold very dear. I now wonder if they are fighting to return the suffering we faced during the past 30 years. And there was much suffering and death and deprivation. And there is no need to elaborate here – as there is no doubt of the suffering and death that was caused by the former powers we have now overthrown. I would not have done it- were it not for my family’s safety. I would not have served save for the fact that I believed the safety of my family as well as the safety of the families of comrades and fellow Ethiopians depended on service. There was no other motivation. Now at this moment of history for my country – I am both glad that we made it this far – and worried we may not go further together. I have little appetite to forgive members of my family who stand with the enemy – and I suspect they feel the same of me. So no wise words from me. Just words to tell of the struggle even within families. And sharing the worry we have for our future as family.
my family is a roller coaster of emotions
I come from a long line of happy people, happy people who tell stories, stories that remind us of why we are happy.
For me, the greatest of the storytells was my grandfather. His stories were tall and broad and full of colour and I believed them all.
I have just returned to the town i grew up in, literally days ago, and im wandering around and bumping into these stories, ones I never even knew I knew. Like ghost on the hills, onky these ghosts have flesh and a tangibility that evokes a myriad of emotion that i cant explain.
As I drive over the estuary (the misty marshes) and glace to my right, I see three hills topped with white houses that shine in the sun…the Secret Isles of Avalon, my grandfather said…and of course i thiugh that was face, because everything is always hidden in plain sight.
And now i live on one of these Isles of Avalon, in a house thst coincidentally has been built exactly where my grandfather told me the gold at the end of the tainbow was buried.
And the thing I love most about this, is that he was right…gold is here, nit of the metaliç variety….but in the family I have grown and brought with me and the happiness we share. We know we are lucky, that we have been gifted with the keys of life, passed down from generation to generation and we know how to find magic exactly where we are.
Im living in a half remembered dream, surrounded by little catch phrases and the smell of vegetables roasting in the oven…and surrounded by the laughter of these little people who came long after my story teller had died.
And I sit here and I smile and I wonder who’s stories will narrate their lives, and I pray to my magical spaces that they can be their own narrators.
My Indian parents both now sadly deceased were married in 1957 having never met each other before. They grew to love each other and had such a strong bond. Mum cared for dad until he passed in 2014 – she was devastated to lose him but gradually regained her zest for life. We lost her to Covid in 2020.
Both doctors thsey moved to the UK in 1961 and worked for the NHS until retirement.
My older brother was born in India, myself & younger brother in tge UK.
We are all married. I now live in the Netherlands
We are a close family-pre Covid meeting up often. We were raised with a strong sense of family ties despite distance, and compassion & care for others. I can’t wait until travel is easier and we can meet again
Tell you about my family
Ok, but where to start
Do you want happy memories?
Or enter painful territory?
Because my family
Like most families
Is a hod podge
A mixed up reality
I remember great grandparents
Ancient people we visited once a year
Smelling of old age and cigarettes
They looked like they might break
So I stood slightly away
Before going to Blackpool pleasure beach
Couldn’t have been more different from each other
Two halves of a family
Never to mix together
We visited mum’s parents
Every time she hated it
Yet she persisted
So many put downs
Such a negative situation
Passed down yet again
I know there was love
But it was hidden
Couldn’t be given
Couldn’t be shown
Instead harsh words were thrown
I watched my mum be less
Hurt, yet again
And then cry or rant
In pain she couldn’t express
A duty to be performed
To attend and find contempt….
Those expectations were passed on
But I couldn’t take it on
And that caused rifts
So many family shifts
Which wider family judged
I was pushed and shoved
But I stood my ground
To protect myself and my family
I had to care for them and me
The endless negativity
Could break me
That’s the reality
In separation I still loved
And I hurt
Just as she hurt
I don’t think anyone can
Ever understand the pain
Of separation even when you’ve made the right decision
Of knowing you are hated
Unknown and yet judged
They don’t know I never felt loved
Because my mum never felt loved by her mum
That’s the generational reality
My mum is now gone
Her pain at an end
We eventually found
Beyond the pain we shared
There was love
Which we learned to express
That healed us both
Though I’m healing still
Doing the work to break
The chain of heartache
My dad’s side were older
Yet somehow younger
There was dementia
I remember bouncing on grandad’s knee
Before he was cared for behind locked doors
Does he even know me?
I hope that he knows me
So much love
My gran loved him constantly
That was clear to me
So wonderful to see
And when he died
And I remember her telling me
With no more pain
No more confusion
A place of endless love
A belief so strong that it’s never gone
And gran lived old
Not quite old enough for a telegram
But very nearly
I’ll never forget the call
To say she’d died
And end of an era
Yet somehow she was nearer
She’s still near me
Her words ring in my ears
Her faith resonates in my heart
When asked to name a hero
It’s her name I whisper
Of course there’s more family
People I love intensely
Sons who never took a breath
Their story a hurt so deep
It would take too many words
To share here
Their story has been written
Their place in my heart eternal
And then there’s my daughter
Who I love immensely
Perhaps too intensely
Because love matters
More than anything
She will NEVER think
I don’t love her
Nothing she could ever do
Could break that love
I pray each morning
That the generational pain
That love flows openly
So that’s my family
Or at least a glimpse from me I hope it tells you something
These are the people who make you feel safe in this world
Through the natural order of life, my family are declining in numbers. I am thankful for the memories of those now gone, for the loving and joyous times and even for the sharp pains of the loss. This pain is the signal of the importance of family and each jab of pain a reminder to cherish those present. I’m so lucky to have love remaining and love departed, warmth, safety and security.
They tell you the truth. They hold you up when you are down. They will always be the constant in a world of in consistencies and change. They are our refuge, our hearth, my heart.
My family first consisted of 5 children and our parents who came to England in 1950 from Jamaica, but not as a couple. They came to London to create a new life for themselves. My mother was to complete her nurse’s training. My dad was an experienced bricklayer who was offered a job with British Rail which he held until retirement. We think our parents met through our mum’s cousin, who also worked for British Rail. Mum was a high colour beauty so it was no surprise that she started a relationship with someone who turned out to be my dad. We lived in a north London village called Crouch End and had our own house from the year I was born, 1954. The three boys and two girls that were our original family became four boys and three girls when two of my mum’s kids from a former relationship in Jamaica were sent to live with us. At home, we were a Jamaican family. Like many homeowners I later discovered, we lived in fewer of the rooms in our house so that others from Jamaica could come and stay a while until they found somewhere else to settle. Eventually, our mum’s brother-in-law and his eldest son came to live with us, too. This became long-term and the son got married from our house and the wife moved in, too, and they had their first child while living there. So, from an early age, family has meant sharing and helping others. That is the Caribbean way.
Family is so much more than who is related by blood. I’m an only child, no aunts or uncles, no cousins. But through my faith family, my Christian family, I have relatives all over the world. People who I love and, I know love me unconditionally just like we all know we are overwhelmingly and totally loved by our father God. That’s why I’m so completely passionate about welcome for those who who need family wrapped around them through fostering, adoption, supported lodgings.
Lie here by the fire that your Daddy has made, feel the warmth of his smile.
Watch now as the dog lays her paws down beside you and rest for a while.
Hold tightly as we walk the valleys, the moorlands with heather in bloom.
Hear my voice and know that I’ll always be with you this side of the moon.
Sound the call of the people we love who can’t wait to be with you,
Wait to feel tiny hands pressed in their own, time and again.
Still new memories make as you smile at them, rosy cheeks gleaming,
Watching their shadows on a silver screen, waiting for when…
Still, they know you, they know you, son of our times.
Yes, they know you, they know you, son of our times.
And we’ll show you, we’ll show you how to love and to thrive.
’Cause we know you, we know you, son of our times.
I thought I’d share something in verse.
We admire it as a child
Idolise it at eight
Fight with it in teens
Shout at it when late
We extend it to grow
Build on it with age
Touch the tiny hands
To write another page
We see parents in what we do
With the passing of time
Understanding them later on
When their lot became mine
We see the cycle return
Though forget what to do
It’s just the ways of a family
At least, from my view.
Sorting out my parent’s house after they died I came across this piece of writing by my mother. She gave birth to 11 children and didn’t have much time for herself but she sometimes wrote about her feelings. This is what she wrote.
My family means so much to me, I love them so very much, you see.
Six lovely girls and five lovely boys all fill my life with such wonderful joys.
I have had unkind things said to me about the size of my family but I’m happy with all eleven lovely children sent from Heaven.
Sadly are first born aged forty years died of cancer there were lots of tears.
Our dear Walter is now free of pain and we know one day we’ll meet again.
We now have daughters and sons -in law and are blessed with grandchildren.
Our family home was full of love.
My grandmother, daughter of a doctor from Scotland, gave dance lessons to the Emperor Hirohito of Japan during the 1920s
Both my brother and I grew closer to my parents when we moved out. Were we just difficult to live with or is it because now we both live alone we have a better understanding of what it’s like being a grown-up? That’s the big question for me and my family. I guess we’ll never know.
I’m adopted and became a mother for the first time two years ago and I am now pregnant with my second baby. The huge journey I have been on healing and understanding my role as a mother and what family can mean is something painful but incredible. I find it impossible to articulate but I know there are a minority few who understand & this gives strength. Love to all those who do.
FAMILY CAN BE A KINGDOM FOR THE AMBIVALENT
It can be the best or worst thing in the world.
I believed there were penguins in Jamaica until my teens because my mum called children Jamaican penguins.
Humans are bound up in thought. Collective & individual. Thereby, families are a large collection of old thinking, with the potential for new thinking. We hear & see & feel the thoughts of the family members we were raised by & were situated in. Similarly the thoughts of the families that we are part of today & the extended families some of us have through relationship-building. Seeing thought in families as created, in flux & truthless, is powerful. It can allow us to see beyond thought, to reach something universal & profound. Thought is not real, but it creates the illusion it is.
My family is where my shoulders are down.
Family is feeling safe and loved. Family is about growing together and ensuring that each member has a voice.
Family is about trust.
Family is like a warm hug on a cold day.
Family is what you decide it will be. If there is a gap where a parent would have been, there is a gap in your knowledge of who you are. And so you you fill in that gap.
I thought I understood what family meant to me. But since my husband died my views have changed. Family ie blood relatives have turned their back and not one have stepped up for my children as I had imagined or hoped for. Family literally just means we share the same blood. My children will forever know what it is to be loved.. I will make sure of that but when I die what then.? I hope I live long enough to see them all through to adulthood.
My family has a whole vocabulary of its own that started growing when my daughter started learning to talk. Oatcakes are still ‘agiks’, blackcurrant squash is still ‘purple juice’ and French bread is ‘scrunch bread’ because she heard the word ‘French’ and didn’t know it, but the bread is scrunchy, so she thought that’s what it must be. She’s 18 now, but the list continues to grow. The latest is ‘placky wocky’ for a plastic document wallet, owing to a delightful slip of the tongue by my husband.
My family was good at giving me money.
It’s OK not to love members of your family. Some things were never going to happen.
I’ll take my family extended and extending please!
Although I live in North America now, I grew up in Addis with my 7 siblings. One memory I have is of us trying to put together a talent show of singing and some acrobatics for my parents and grandma. And one time my sister slipped while doing some move and my grandma stood up to help and my dad told her “you can’t go to her. She is on tv.” Never a dull moment. Wish my parents were still alive.
Family is everything for me.
My Dad a beautiful man died aged 93 last September. We had lost Mum 3 years earlier after a long and painful battle with MS. Dad cared for Mum untill his own health started to fail.He had dementia but his love for me made it clearer he always remembered me , my family and my brothers family. On the Thursday before we died we sat together in the garden of his care home. He was confused, as I held his hand he said “what’s going on Lynn where am I”. I explained that we had moved him from his native Manchester to be closer to us because he needed extra help ” Oh right yes ” ..I added ” you have looked after us all for so long and we wanted to look after you” and without a beat and with such clarity he said ” but that was a pleasure “.. I was so blessed to have that unconditional love to have parents who were interested in the details of my life and my families life. To be there present when I needed help, guidance, a loan.. I was loved and to me that is family. A bumpy road of highs and lows but ultimately the love. I miss my Dad he was my truest friend always kind and honest. I am now happily married and have 16 year old twins. In my relationship with them I try and often fail to show that understanding, patience . I often say to myself what would Dad do and come back to just hold their hand and say something so kind and loving show them how loved, precious and special they are to me. That is my Dads legacy love.
In 1989 I was newly divorced with 2 daughters. My eldest daughter had a friend who was very unhappy, she had lost her mum at 2 weeks old and was being raised by her dad and a stepmum who abused her mentally. I felt a need to do something about it and offered for her to live with us. After speaking to her dad she moved in with us until adulthood and when her stepmum died she went back to be with her dad.
32 years. later she is still my daughter, we are close friends and I am granny to her daughter. Family, for me, is not about blood ties, it’s about love. I love her with all my heart and I am so glad she came into my life.
Jet Jack George
in my family Water is Thicker than Blood, bound interwind by love, cross-pollination of kindness. Oak tree sheds as many new acons for new oaks to grow.
political post-1968 riots in Paris led My birth mother who went to London to write the longest poem on London. Fell in Love end up serving time at her majesty’s pleasure… after her release adjustment was difficult.. Her family was words and friends whilst her children slipped away into the wind.. if it wasn’t for a nurturing of nature in how a family of Australians brought me and my siblings together…
descendants of a common ancestor – earth, wind, fire and water – family is nature a gang with a common goal of love that can heal and grow and keep safe under,
What is family its the house owned by the family of bond, connection and that is what makes a foundation for one to stand tall and to put one foot in front of the other knowing you have your tribe who ever is in it.
I became a mum via adoption to a little 6 year old. Hes now 23 and although family life has been extremely difficult at times for us we have never given up on one another. We are now fighting for his baby daughter to be able to know us. Family is who is there for you but biology and knowing your identity and history is important too.
Family to me is that security blanket that everyone deserves, but not everyone gets.
My family, and by extension, my husband’s family, are the most supportive, loud and considerate people, I’ve ever met. Family to me means someone is on your side, has your best interests at heart, and that can apply to blood relations as well as the friends you consider family too
36 years ago a chance meeting in Moss Side, Manchester. When I came across a young lad with dreadlocks and a walking stick looking lost. I asked him where he wanted to go? He replied 8411 where he was doing a poetry reading I replied I was going there too. So we made our way to 8411 together and have been friends ever since. We have shared many good times and some not so good times but despite this our friendship has lasted. It’s been an unconditional friendship and we have been honest and open with our views and opinions this was hard at times as we didn’t always agree but we learnt to respect each other viewpoint. We have had each other’s back through the tough times and shared the successes making our bond stronger.
So when thinking of who is family I believe you are born in a family and through your life you meet people who become part of your family and so Lemn Sissay I chose you to be part of my famIly
Family is bonds of love and care that can span continents, always there.
As I’ve got older, I’ve become more and more interested in my family history, trying to recall stories and anecdotes that may shed some light on directions of research, and inevitably dispelling some as myths or partially remembered. Sadly, there are few now whom I am able to quiz and check. If only I’d been more attentive at the time, so much more information could have been captured and sifted for accuracy. An example is that my Mum believed that her mother was born in the Scottish Borders, so I took her there years ago, only revealing the destination once we’d passed The Lakes and Carlisle. She was genuinely excited, a special few hours for both of us. Sadly, after she died I found that it wasn’t her mother who was born there, but her grandmother. If only I could have told her that. Another example is an aunt who was adopted into the family failry secretively at the time (pre-WW2), and she untook research to uncover her origins but, although this was spoken about in front of me whilst I was a teenager, I didn’t absorb the information and have only established the truth through my own research in recent years, many years after her death. There was definitely a sense of shame in the family about this, typical of the time but not at all shocking in a modern context. If only …
When I was a kid family was scary: I spent the time picking up after alcoholic parents and was constantly on edge.
I’m an adult and have built my own family. We argue about bedtimes, chicken nuggets, mess and noise. We also play the drumming game on the Nintendo Switch and the family take the mickey out of my lack of coordination!
I’m safe now.
Our family is connected across villages and cities, mountains and seas, stories and emotions.
Family is the reason your house is full of mad trinkets you’d never buy yourself but have been left to you and you keep tight hold of because they remind you of those who have passed.
Family is the ‘circle’ of my life. I grow up, I see a new family, new “rings of people” around me evolve. Being a widow is being both parents to my two amazing children as I see them tenderly creating new ‘rings’. Life circles on.
When it works it’s beautiful. When it fails is life changing. My failing start has made me so determined to give my children the best. The diff between what I want and what I give however varies. I feel like
Sometimes the best family is the one you choose yourself.
You can’t choose them, there can be dark days that will stay with you all your life, you will need to be strong , to be the better person when parents become ill and you need to show compassion. All our lives have many twists and turns, take time as an adult to try and make sense of your parents actions when you were a child. Even if it’s tiny ; find some forgiveness in order to move on positively in your own life and become the parent you needed as a child
Family is messy
Like tree roots – knotted, intertwined, spreading deep, life giving, dark, nourishing
Who was the one who feeds me mostly?
It’s my mum, it’s my mum.
Who’s the one that baths me mostly
It’s my mum, it’s my mum.
Who’s the one who gives me snuggles?
It’s my mum, it’s my mum.
She’s the one who does me airplane
She’s the one who takes me to Nursery
She’s the one who takes me from Lunch Club
She’s the one who goes to work in the world,
You smell like a beautiful candle smell.
You smell like a candle when it blows away
It smells really nice—the burnt bit.
You smell like a blown candle.
My family come from family who come from far away. My family are loud. My family eat gherkins and chicken soup. My family love fiercely and sometimes that fierceness is hard. They are mine.
Family is so important. Family is safety in numbers. Family is being yourself. Family is about a team. Family is helping each other to be better people. Saying a forever goodbye is so hard.
Transient love. Frightening behaviour. Arguements Kindness. Being known. Being bored. Taking people for granted Missing people I loved. Regrets.
My family have laughed, cried, argued and always come out the other end. We have our share of ‘odd bods’ (not naming anyone!) and sometimes life isn’t easy, but we muddle through. There’s nothing like family.
When they use the term ‘victorian’ to describe a parenting style do they mean distant or uncaring?
Is it out of politeness we use the term because emotional austerity suggests the cruel impact on a child.
An orphan may cling to hopes of understandable barriers that prevent their parents’ presence but here you sat, present and absent and undeniable.
Still…..(though undeserved )
With all my love,
Diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 12 I was lucky to have a dad who encouraged me to challenge myself. Nothing changed in my activities, weekly swimming club – my dad would be standing at the side with a Mars bar. On the way home there would be a bag of hot salt and vinegared chips. We took up kayaking,, again there he was alongside me with several Mars bars! He never ever made me feel that being a girl made me less of a person. Despite comments from others
As well as always challenging me he also supported my creative side and was a brilliant role model, always reading. Fifty years on we still sit and draw, paint and read together. He instilled in me a love of life and I know how lucky I am to still have him. Our roles have reversed and I now care for him and my mum, but what he has contributed to mine, my husband and my children’s lives is irreplaceable xx
I’m adopted and so is my sister. We don’t share birth parents. My adoptive parents were wonderful. Sadly both are now dead. I always knew I was adopted and have no desire to find my birth parents. Family is not only bonded by blood.
This is the memory of the last time I saw my Grandpop.
For the last year of his life (not that either of us knew it at the time) I saw my grandparents on a weekly basis. On this particular week, my Nan had to go into hospital for a check-up. My Aunty took her and I stayed in with Grandpop.
There were many things Grandpop loved in life, but two of his favourites were cricket and classical music. That day we sat and watched the e cricket, he was patient as I asked questions (I still don’t fully understand cricket!) and gleeful as he watched England do their thing.
When the innings were finished for that day, he decided he wanted to listen to some classical music. I found a CD that was agreeable to him and we sat side-by-side, holding hands as Beethoven’s moonlight sonata broke through the heat of the summer afternoon.
It was as if fate knew this would be the last time we saw each other, and planned a perfect, peaceful day for us to appreciate one another’s company.
Grandpop passed away two weeks later whilst I was on holiday. I was given the choice to go see his body, but decided to keep hold of the last memory of that perfect day. I still remember the click of the cricket ball against the bat, the moving piano music floating through the air, and the coolness of his hand in mine.
I miss him when I think of him, his picture in my living room more than 15 years later to remind me of that day. I’m lucky to have known that stillness and love.
I hadn’t realised what my family was until after my Mum died.
Growing up my family felt large and mighty. Seeing my aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents regularly felt normal. It felt like you were part of something. It felt safe and comforting.
I felt sorry for my friends at school who didn’t get to experience the things I did, and that my family gave me.
What I didn’t fully appreciate, was my family included friends and neighbours and wasn’t just restricted to relatives from marriage or blood.
What I realised, when I turned around at the church and saw the hundreds of people there at my Mother’s funeral, was my family was a community.
A community where I knew all the parts but was never aware of the size and reach of the whole but they had all shaped me.
My family was all those people and more.
Only I never understood that until one of the chief foundation builders of that community was gone. I hope she got to see and know the role she played in building it.
So if you want know about family, it’s not about shared dna or names. It’s about people who give love, acceptance, support and encouragement. It’s about the people you fallout with and disagree. It’s about the ones who break your heart and the ones who heal it. It’s about being there.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it’s not a village it’s a community. And if you build a good one, no matter where or with who, that is a family. The very best kind.
Trust me because I had the best one.
Family have a shorthand. Having a collective memory, having shared experiences or an upbringing, means that you can reference something in conversation and know that the other person can recall the specific events or instance you are talking about – without explanation. ‘This is like the hotel in Bristol.’ ‘Do you remember what she wore to that wedding?’ ‘Nana has always said…’ Family have a shorthand. And their recriminations about your worst and bleakest and darkest times will come as easily to mind as the better memories.
When you grow up, if you have your family around you, you think it is the same as everyone else’s. It’s only later you find out not everybody’s nan outlives her 3 sons. We shouldn’t regret what we didn’t ask about, feel guilty of our ignorance as children, but take the facts of our memories forward. Sneaking sherry (not without encouragement) as we put up the decorations, the scabby black dog Rex, the relations living 3 families in one Street, two joined by a back garden, grandad collecting seeds and magazine cuttings about plants and flowers, money clubs and blockades against buses coming down our street.
I always thought that my family was perfect in every way and then I grew older and noticed the cracks and struggles. I realised I never really knew my eldest brother. I realised that I never connected to my other brother who was only three years older. These issues feel like they last a life time and nothing can fix them because we’re nothing but a collection of memories. But I also found that beyond those struggles there was happiness and laughter! Family photos of skipping rocks in Anglesey (accidentally throwing one at my brothers head) and stories of daft accidents that made everyone laugh as soon as they happened. Family isn’t something you can choose but you can choose to make the most of. I’m glad as I’ve aged that I’ve realised that my family is truly imperfect and a total mess but I wouldn’t change them for anything.
I am very close to my immediate family. We celebrate each other every occasion we can. I’m not sure I will ever experience such cheer-leading as I get from my parents, brother and husband. But family is more than blood relations, it can be community or shared values and ideals. You can find family in unexpected places, even during a pandemic. Maybe then especially so!
My mum wore an apron with pasta shapes on it for about 3 months, before we realised all the many pieces of pasta were in the shape of a penis
Family is forged from the connections made with others. It is strengthened by acceptance of one another – just as we are.
Family are the like wildflowers along the path whose brilliant and diverse colours open the mind – whose love is there equally in ups and downs, happiness and sorrow, gain and loss – whose caring bears witness to my story. Some members of the fellowship are family I was born to, others are kin because we care for one another. Some are four legged!
Family don’t need you to explain yourself. They get it.
Their wrapping paper is love.
I will never be as close to anyone in my life as I am with my two sisters. We’ve been through everything together and come out stronger.
Although my childhood was hard, I am working even harder to make sure that my son feels happy, safe and loved. I am giving him the childhood I never had.
Family is what you make of it. They are large, small, quiet, loud, crazy, loving, comforting, challenging and beautiful. There is no definition that meets everyone’s family. They may have no blood relation, but they are still family. Robin Williams said it well in ‘Good Will Hunting’ – “Chuckie is family – he’d lie down in traffic for you.”
My family isn’t perfect. We have our squabbles. We share meals and repeat stories and memories, over and over again. We laugh. My family is unconditional love.
I grew up in North Wales in the 60’s and 70’s. I was English, when I opened my mouth out came an English accent,. I was surrounded by North Wales accents, it didn’t go down well. I soon learned not to open my mouth because that was better for me. My father bullied my brother at the dinner table and we all sat round in scared silence and watched. Scared that if we spoke out against this it would be us next, scared for our brother, wondering why our mother, the only other adult, didn’t stop him. So there was no point in telling my family what was happening at school, was there ? I told in other ways though. I told by stealing cake, biscuits, chocolate, and later money from my mothers purse and later still the pic and mix from Woolworths. No one ever noticed though. When I walked to school I prayed to God, Please God make me invisible. I just didn’t specify what kind of invisible. I mean’t invisible from the bullies, instead I got to be invisibile from those that should have noticed. my pain. I never really had friends until I was 15. It messed me up for a while.
Now I have my own family. I am a mum. When my kids come home and tell me they have been bullied I tell the school. I wait all day to see how the school have dealt with it. I am nearly sick with worry, what if I have made it worse for them by telling ? Some schools are better than others at dealing with bullying.
I took what happened in my childhood, all the pain and hurt, and made sure it doesn’t happen to my children. |I brought them up that it doesn’t matter what accent a person has, or what they look like .Racism hurts. It can leave scars that hurt forever, that can mess your life up. People are people are people and they deserve respect, and to be treated fairly, and to have friends and someone who loves them regardless of the way they speak, their race, their religion or anything. Fairness just simply for being a human.
My family is so precious, my son is my inspiration. Even after 3 operations he is so content; I know our love will live forever!
Family isn’t about blood, family is who is there for you. Family roles like mum and dad create expectations about how that person should behave, but not all meet those expectations, and not all can live up to that. Some family members are best left behind while others may be invited on board, to share the best that life has to offer. Family does matter but it’s not always dictated by birth certificates or family trees but by belonging and being you.
The idea of “Family” can change in the blink of an eye. In the 1930s my (now late) mother found out, at the age of 25 when she asked for her birth certificate to get married, that the family she had grown up in was not her own, and that she had been stolen from her pram in 1915 as a plaything for a disturbed 14 year old girl, and brought up with a false name. That her birth mother was unmarried, and the police did not take her seriously when she reported her baby missing.
Shared memories, even if my stories are different from my brothers stories. How central my mum was to everything we were as a family. Making a new family, with all the possibility of New Year’s Eve …… over the next 20 years and longer, cos ur babies are always ur babies
My dad was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service during WW2, and mum was a laundress. They married when mum was 20 years old, mum’s dress made from parachute silk. I was born when she was 29 and my brother 6 years later, at home. I thought from the sound i heard that he was a new budgie ! Boy, did we fight and still do. I accidentally scratched his eye with a plastic flower stem when he was about 18 months old, and he threw a plastic dressing table tray at me : i still bear the scar over my left eye. My parents didn’t have much but we were never aware of that. In later times, they apologised and said they wanted to make up for it: we told them to spend what they had on themselves as we had missed out on nothing. We had a loving family, who listened, had time for us, and encouraged us. I so miss them : pops died aged 60, mum almost 91.
My family is my everything. As well as my biological family that includes my foster sister and her family, my husband’s family and my ex’s family. As a genealogist I also include our ancestors in that because they and their experiences are mixed into us. I love when we can get together and hug and all talk at the same time. Family brings pain – family members die, they fall out, they are separated by distance – but that is the price of love. And with every year love just expands to encompass more and more family members.
My mum and I went to Cork a few weeks before I got married. It was a wonderful trip, and my first time there. What a friendly city. I felt the beginnings of a sense of belonging that I had so hoped I might. My mum’s mum was born and raised in Cork. Orphaned, she’d lost her mum when she was really young and then she’d emigrated to the UK as a teenager and built a life. She was a super nan to us. Her sense of humour and friendliness was well known throughout the city she’d settled in. across the sea. But she seldom talked of her life back in Cork. When she did it was about school, never home. I assumed that was because of the pain of having lost her mum so young. So that’s all we knew about my great-grandma. She’d lived, had children, died when they were young and was buried at a cemetery we knew the address of thanks to the family-research of a relative over in America. We boarded a bus from the city centre, turned up to the cemetery office, and asked if it would be possible for someone to help us in finding the grave. Despite some confusion around my great-grandma’s name and the spelling of it as we had it, the very kind man on duty said he had a dim memory of seeing a surname like my great-grandmas, as it was an unusual one. He went to the records room and started to search through the large dusty books that chronicle in lists inked on parchment the thousands of lives that had ended but would be held ever since between memories, wisps of stories just like ours, and the plots, headstones and flowers in this large cemetery just on the outskirts of Cork. It was a really rainy day. I don’t think everyone would have gone to the trouble and effort that man did to help us. He came through to where we were anxiously waiting, a huge volume of records in his grasp. “She’s here, I know it”. The book went down onto his busy desk and our eyes followed his finger racing down the page, one line for every life lived. “Here. Here she is”. Her name. Yes, that’s her. Slightly different spelling but we’d just been a couple of letters away from her. Date of death. That was confusing. She’d died when my nan was really young hadn’t she? This date was the year my nan had left Cork, when she was 19. The kind man’s finger traced a little further across, and then instinctively he slowed, looked at us and asked us if we were ok. Place of death. Cork Mental Asylum. Deep breath. Racing heart. So many questions. Did my nan, all those years growing up thinking she was an orphan even know her mum was still alive but being kept in the asylum? Or is that the story she’d told us to protect us from the pain of knowing. I knew asylums in that era were not humane places to live let alone to die. The kind man’s hand traced a little further. Cause of death. Mental disease. Can you die of mental disease, I think to myself. If you die at your own hand you can, or perhaps hers was a death borne of the filth she would have been left in in that place at that time. Sorrow whichever way you look at it. I feel devastated. And then I realise we are already walking now, following the kind man and he’s taking us through the rain to find her. “I know you, great-grandma, and I am with you. We will find you.” I think to myself, or maybe I am saying it out loud. I have spent time in psychiatric wards as an inpatient. Quite different almost 100 years on but the taboos and sorrow are still there. My mum has helped me through and faced every sorrow with me. We never knew what ghosts we were carrying with us at the time. Great-grandma we will find you and I will know you and I will remember you and your cells are in mine and I will never seek to hide your story. Let me soothe your sorrow just in remembering and respecting you and all you have brought into the world as there are so many of us thanks to you and there is so much light in the world now thanks to you and despite all you suffered then. A strange sense of calm washes over me. “I know who I am now. And now I know you too. My great-nan. Maybe this is the missing piece of the puzzle in my soul and so I can heal now.” The kind man pays his respects and leaves us to it. Mum and I cry but the tears are gentle, compassionate and we instinctively want to sooth my great-nan’s sorrow. There is an unbreakable bond between us, and I am proud of every aspect of it. What she would have weathered. Where all our empathy, creativity, resolve and sense of humours derive. I know it’s her. I feel like she understands what I have been through with my own mental disease too. But there’s plenty more to us both that just that. My great-nan. The rain clears. My hand’s on her grave now. She’s buried with others who do not share her name. We since learn she was taken in by this other family and cared for by them, having been an orphan herself. She’d then gone to live with a man in another family and had kids. That was my great-grandad but he obviously hadn’t been happy for her to be laid to rest with him. My instinct tells me this is cruel but maybe the stigma then was too much. Who am I to judge. And either way, here on her same stone was a family that did not not deny her, and would be proud to lie with her in peace forever. And here we were too. She’ll be with me forever now and I won’t ever lie about or deny her. We are family, so many families intertwined and who gave birth to who is almost immaterial when you think of the human kindnesses that have got us all to this particular graveside together, on this day, the living and the dead. Mum takes a picture of me with my great-nan. We stay a little longer and then begin the walk back to the bus stop. I call my sister, overflowing with it all. The bus back to the city and our warm hotel trundles unknowingly past the old mental asylum building. You will never be forgotten now, my great-nan. I am your family and I am proud of who you were and grateful for your life. We are going to bring my sister back with us next time. And I’ll take my husband one day too. And maybe, one day, my great-nan’s great-great-grandchild, who knows.
My family is small
7 to be exact that’s all I need no one else wanted to help us when we needed it. This made my family big (to me) full of love we don’t need others we are the family we need as we survive
Family can be sweet and sour. Family can be everything and not much. Love and like are different things. Choices aren’t always straightforward when it comes to family. Family changes, expanding and contracting. I do wonder what will happen down the line…
We are a mixed family English Jewish father married to a British Indian Roman Catholic… one son lives in Bali and has a Russian girlfriend, the other in Barcelona and has a Colombian girlfriend. Dad is fantastically practical and can fix just about anything and tells the worst dad jokes ever😩Mum incredibly creative, caring and community-minded. She is a fantastic cook and loves art, music, dance, theatre, volunteering and interested in all different cultures. Son number 1 is creative, adventurous, curious, senditive, entrepreneurial and alternative. Son number 2 is canny, smart, sociable, warm, emotionally intelligent, thoughtful and loved by all who meet him. We are all different, LOVE to travel and explore the World through the eyes of others and make a great, loving family unit. SO PROUD of our love of diversity.🥰🙏
I envied everyone’s family as mine wasn’t happy. So I looked on from the edge wishing, hoping. It’s made me who I am today. My early life I took risks and had fantastic adventures because family life was so oppressive and claustrophobic. I collected quite a few lovely friends along the way who are still in my life, who I feel very close to, like family but I was also lucky to have cousins who were my rock and had a huge influence. My life now is focused on being a better parent, which I absolutely love. Who knew that the best bits of family are the simple things, like eating together, going on walks, watching tv together, playing games. The thing that surprises me most days is that my family want to be with me, which is something I never felt when I was growing up and the other, that family are the people who love and care for you and that doesn’t have to be linked to genes.
The word family tree is so much more appropriate than it appears. We use it to refer to the visible connections like surnames, households and marriage, yet just like trees there is so much more hiding underneath. Trees are different heights and shapes and sizes and above ground appear strong and independent and yet underneath the ground there are invisible connections that tie them to each other, hearing cries for help and reacting accordingly. When we feed these links, nourish these connections and put others needs before ourselves, the family can be a secure, safe foundation on which you can rely in times of need. When you cut (or are cut) free from it , you may look strong but you are fighting for you alone and the only person who knows what you may need is you…and you are not always the best judge.
My mum’s Grandma, Emma, eloped with Mum’s Grandad, Sam Sykes, from Brighouse in Yorkshire to Manchester in the 1890s because her father disapproved of him. Sam was a music hall chairman and did Yorkshire monologues that always ended “If that tin bridge hadn’t have bended, my life would have been ended”
My family is scattered, up north, down south, in New Zealand. When we’re together it’s so fun and effortless, we never run out of things to talk about. But we’re apart so often, when I was younger I thought that one day I might live closer to my cousins, but now I’m older we’ve scattered even further and my brother has moved to the other side of the world. Thank god for technology.
We’re a family of 5; me, my husband and our 3 wonderful adult sons. When they were younger we thought we weren’t typical or usual – lots of arguments and shouting. Then one son’s girlfriend, whose parents were separated, said how much she loved coming to us. We seemed like a real family, holidayed together, laughed and ate together and with lots of family traditions. It made me grateful and to really value what we had and still have.
Family is coming home for Christmas and walking through the door, running to the kitchen and checking the baking tins in the cupboard by the back door to see what Mum has baked, iced buns and cornflake biscuits and shortbread, and then it is running to your old bedroom and seeing what Mum and Dad have left on your pillow, newspaper cuttings and chocolates and anything they found that made them think of you and your sisters when you were away. Christmas is joyful and messy with new clothes and mountains of presents (my sister clears away all the paper just like Nanny (Mum’s mum) did), and we have the same food every year and Billy Connolly on tv. Boxing day is chocolate and staying in pyjamas and making a puzzle all together and eating turkey vol-au-vents. New Year’s eve is quiet and sad and Dad retreats to his study and Mum does angry baking, always caramel tarts, I don’t know why.
Just returning ‘home’ after living abroad for over 20 years and for all this time, my friends were my family. Great to be back but I will miss having them in my daily life. I will learn to manage my expectations. For my ‘blood’ family I remain the person who left home a long time ago – I have changed, grown up. I will try to be myself, without shrinking back to a younger version of me.
Family is complicated, but we survived and thrived. Family isn’t a fairy tale or fantasy. It’s hard work and sometimes painful . At the end of the day though families are a little community, loving and caring too. Families make you laugh a lot which make it’s all ok
I came from a very unloving family parents who never expressed or told their children they were loved. So when my time came to be a part of a family of our making we put love & expressions of compassion and happiness first & foremost.
Family means a number of things to me: there is your biological family and there is your ‘logical family’, to quote Armistead Maupin, this includes your close friends. I feel fortunate to have both.😀
I want to tell you about my Gran, Peggy. She was brought up in Salford and before United trained there her Anderson shelter during WWII was on the Cliff. Her family name was Anderson and I always thought that war shelters were named after the families who used them!!! I was wrong but how she left when I revealed that later in life. She passed last year at 93. She was a wonderful human, never judged me always loved me and always made me feel safe and warm. One of my favourite phrases that she used was “Those that know you know you have better, those that don’t don’t matter.” She was right of course and armed me with self confidence if I didn’t have the in shoes or clothes…it didn’t matter. She was a staunch Manchester United fan and the last thing she ever said to me was “what’s the score?” Unfortunately her beloved team were losing to Liverpool and I had to confess that, but hushed her back to sleep and she died the next day. I loved her and miss her so much. Thank you Lemn for this opportunity to share x
“Family”. Only you, and you alone, can define it.
My mum was an immigrant, she died a couple of weeks ago. I was worried that I would lose some of my sense of culture and heritage with her passing, but my family overseas have shown how strong our connection truly is. I think that is part of her incredible legacy.
Although I know my family isn’t perfect, and they wind me up, and I used to wish they were different when I was younger, and I can attribute certain negative aspects of my personality and experience to them, and I resent them for certain things, I also know some important other things. That I am loved, and I am part of a family who are mine, and I appreciate all they have done for me. Don’t take your family for granted.
My parents divorced when I was 2 years old. My step dad has been around since then & is wonderful. Neither my husband nor I have any siblings. So our 2 boys have no aunts, uncles or cousins!
We call ourselves the Rainbow Family, stretching from Brighton to Glasgow
Family is the the people who belong to you, even when you’re not getting on. There is security in having somewhere to belong, people who belong to us, people we belong to. Family gatherings like birthday celebrations, weddings, Holy Communion and Confirmation parties, funerals and “just because” remind us who we are and where our roots are. They are moments for family culture: the same old jokes, stories about long-gone relatives, phrases that mean little outside the family, finding accents we’ve lost coming back, sharing hugs, recognising the smell of ones we love, meeting new boyfriends, girlfriends, children & grandchildren, and seeing them find a place among us.
Sara Asunción Beck
All four members of my family were born in different decades, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s
Our back door had 4 glass panels, with the bottom one boarded over. I thought the door just came like that, until I found out it was because my older brother had locked my parents out when he was small and the fire brigade had to come and cut out the panel.
We choose to stay, to turn up for each other. We choose to stick around even when it is awkward, or uncomfortable, and especially when it is laughter-filled and comforting. We choose to forgive and even forget some days. And we choose to let it grow…to fold more in when people choose us back. My family is multicultural, multilingual and multiplying. Blood doesnt define us, nor do court orders, nor does opinions whether good or bad. We define us.
my family are brilliant and bonkers. we have our ups and downs and we mercilessly take the mickey out of each other which is hilarious. if you didn’t know us you’d think we hated each other. but through life’s ups and downs we will always have each others back. but don’t expect any sympathy, you will have the piss taken out of you and no matter what the situation is there is always a movie quote to make it better!
Tough at times. Harsh sometimes. Warm and forgiving too. Mine has shrunk too small. I miss my Mum who passed away 3 years ago. She was a challenge! Feisty yet sensitive, I had to send her to a nursing home and my heart still aches because I did that. She told me I would regret it for the rest of my life. She was right. All too small.
When I was a kid Grandad and I were inseparable, the apple of each other’s eyes. He gave me a love of sport, and slapstick, and Ella Fitzgerald. We went every week for Sunday dinner – theirs was, and still is, my second home. Gran was a bit invisible but now, as an adult and mother, I know her and value her so much. She inspires me, at 99, with her determination, her wicked humour, her life force. Gran spent WW2 in London and Belgium, bending beams to divert German planes and dancing in service clubs. Her mum was from Belfast, born illegitimate, a WW1 land girl. Her mum before her from Aughnacloy, a small Irish town, became a linen factory ‘Millie’ in Belfast then a housekeeper in Yorkshire by the time she was 23. Family connects me to strong, independent, brave, vital women.
Family of origin is a swear word. Three hundred plus miles and running. North to South. Food to stuff the pain down. Replaced Love, support and care not given. The denial, loss of one of its own, taboo. How can we heal, come to terms, come together?
I am a silent, lonely paper boat in a raging sea of loneliness…
Family of origin is a swear word., toxic, soul destroying, life taking.
Yes, Jesus loves me though? That is what the book says. But… the beatings, emotional torture, psychological warfare, psychosis brings a altered state of consciousness (ASC).
A prisioner of thoughts, involintary mutisim stifled by sound tracks of the past
Family of origin is a swear word, kindness was used as a weapon.
Unconditional love, what’s that?
I found love through creating my own.
My children, I learned unconditiinal love, from you.
The love & caring of my kids
Following on from some really difficult and painful years, I’m taking time to stop and appreciate how far we have come. We have had major issues around poor mental health within my family, and it has taken every ounce of strength to hold everyone together totally against the odds. Life is peaceful right now and in truth I’m very proud of myself. My youngest son is on the cusp of adulthood and I’m extraordinarily proud of both of my sons, they are true gentleman. If the adults they have become is a reflection of my parenting, then I am a superhero. You have no idea what I have gone through to have reached this point of self appreciation, but please indulge me a moment to enjoy my achievement.
The love I have for my family is beyond words.
1975; I Love my dog and he loves. He has been in my life for now 7 years; the thing is, my baby sister arrived 5 years ago and… well… he harbours very negative feelings towards her; today he has bitten her hand… it is not the first time… my Mum and Dad have decided he is dangerous… so he has to go. Sitting on my grandfather’s lap, my distress has no end; I sob and sob.., why can’t she go?! Why does he have to go?!
Family is more than DNA. It’s about who is there for us when we need them most and who we would drop everything for. Unconditional love and support. I have a foster family and amazing friends, they mean the world to me. I’m lucky x
Mine is a secret. I don’t tell people that I am Gypsy because of discrimination
I am the eldest of 4 children, the daughter of a Yorkshire-born French teacher and artist, and a Scottish sailor and Merchant Navy Captain. I am mum to 5, grandma to 3, aunt to 5, and soon-to-be great-aunt. My family is wonderful and frustrating by turn, but it is mine, and I love them all dearly.
I miss my Mom. If you have one you should tell her you love her now.
My story is from when I was back home in the UK, during 2020. My Mum lives alone in St Helens and she had to “shield” because she’s very vulnerable to Covid-19. Five months into the pandemic I was able to get a Covid test., and as soon as the result came back negative, I drove over to see her. When I got there I said “do you think we can hug?” She said “yeah, it’ll be fine” and we laughed and hugged. I welled up, but I didn’t let her see. At the time I thought she didn’t seem all that bothered about our hug, and I felt a little upset about that. I don’t really know why,. Perhaps because I thought this was a really special moment. and I wanted us to be able to remember this moment and share this memory. But six months later she genuinely surprised me when she casually turned to me and said “remember when you drove over after your covid test and you gave me a hug? I really liked that,. It was so lovely” It makes me happy that we can remember this together
Arash! My dear cousin, it’s been 12 years since I’ve seen you and 6 since you have passed away. Oh to go back and go through Shiraz with our bikes on a nice sunny day. This light is on for you Cuzzy
My mother and father moved to Manchester from Pakistan when my brother was 1. My parents navigated their way through raising their children in two disparate, and sometimes clashing cultures. I can’t comprehend how difficult that must have been.
four of us
Walking together, connected. Then, walking apart a while – to just be, to live, to learn, to change, to become. More like myself. Selfishly. We must, now and then. I am different from you in many aspects.
It is lucky we orient towards one another, and we are soon walking along again.
Why do we seek always to come together, and suffer when a life ends? Is it the shared history – the time served together? Or, our close genetic affinity?
I start to miss you just as you are leaving, and to feel sad when we convene again, anticipating the next long walk apart.
“I never thought this day would come. You, the grandchildren, coming down into this remote valley more than eighty-five years later. Come; let me show you something. Among those bushes over there in the plains, someone found the bones of your grandfather and uncle. We think the current owner of that patch of land has found their wartime grave. Come back next annual festival of Giorgis, and we will bury them properly at the church.” A distant cousin was talking about the consecrated cemetery of Eshete Ager Giorgis. He took me to the edge of the high ground to look into valley and pointed towards the only remaining patch of bushes in the dusty land below.
For the first time in my lifespan of over half a century, I am visiting the ancestral lands of my father’s family. My father died thirty-one years ago, and he had never returned to this land since he left it as a ten-year-old boy. He had told my siblings and me that his father and brother were killed during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the late 1930s. The same bullets that killed them had badly wounded my father and his mother. Their wounds took almost a year to heal enough for them to leave.
My father’s family had left their home and ancestral lands to volunteer to serve under a regional military leader. My father was five when they “went into the woods” (chaka ghebbu, as they say in Amharic), and he lived the life of the resistance fighter in the hills and bushes around Kesem Wenz.. His family worked by night, denying the invaders respite from fighting. My father’s father was a priest farmer, but he chose to fight rather than work for the fascist Italian invader (fashish taliyan) in his own country. They slept or watched by day and traveled by night. It was as they slept that my uncle and grandfather were killed,. My grandmother and my father, who had been sleeping on the opposite side of them, woke up riddled with bullets.
My ancestral legacy became real to me at that moment on the ridge.
My dad (who died in Feb 2021) explained the notion of the maori word whanau to me- your extended family in the widest sense. The people, relatives, family friends who are significant in your life. Dad and me often talked about our whanau in England, NZ, Canada, America and the non blood almost honorary family members who witness, support and make up our lives. Dad &I made up the term ‘ heart family’, meaning the people who witness our life journeys, see the bumps and bruises as well as the beautiful bits. I love that term ‘heart family’. Love you Dad.
My family is my sister – she is the only constant in my life. She has loved and protected me as much as she was able. We share no bloodline. We only share memories and love and hurt. We found out in late life that we were adopted by serial abusers, who we thought were our real family. A third girl was also adopted but she was taken away badly damaged. There were just the three of us, Bernice, Bernadette and Amanda. Now there’s just the two of us. I didn’t have children because I thought I carried their genes. We both carry scars. I found my real family but hers are in Africa and can’t be found. She is my real family.
Frustration fear a bed for the night , safe just keep your door shut and don’t be the one to blame .
Four to feel secure with , safety in numbers , teas ready the last piece of bread ,not another word said .
What times mum home and what will she bring ,misguided love a cuddle and 20p for the club.
What advice have they bestowed , what drive desire and worldly knowledge .
Survival from day to day , no ones home when the knock on the door comes .
No matter what tea at 5 before kingy comes alive .
Toast on the fire and close your door ,
Stay on your own side , talk about nothing except I spy with your little eye.
Loyalty behind these four walls, no trouble at our door ,
Say nothing and it didn’t happen , a nod a hug , what time is Parkinson on.
A whole world of non communication , agendas , values no litter anywhere .
Cards at Christmas , humorous tales for ol lang syne , a knowing look from time to time .
What time is mum home ?
T S D
I’ve recently found hundreds of cousins I didn’t know I have. I’ve still never met any of them but I’ve always felt like I was related to hundreds of people who were missing. Now they are not missing I feel fine. From feeling related to all Davieses, I feel friendly to all people and always have done. It was Davieses marrying Davieses all the way back, we are all one. But the real me is something else, despite that unassailable warmth! My DNA is happy, my mind explores truth.
My great grandparents on both sides were Irish originally, although we don’t know any Irish family, which is a shame. I was born and brought up in Portsmouth, the eldest of 3 siblings (pictured) and we lived next door but one to my maternal grandparents and my aunt and uncle. As kids we ran backwards and forwards between the two houses, and as we grew, our heads could be seen above the garden wall when we ran. We were so lucky to grow up surrounded by family and although we have had our ups and downs, we are all there for each other when it matters. My nan and my uncle have passed away, but my aunt and my parents, now in their 80s, are still living there, and my parents have 5 grandchildren, who like their parents, ran between the two houses. I have lived in Brighton for over 30 years now, but visited Portsmouth regularly until the pandemic. We speak on the phone, but I am looking forward to seeing them more often now, fingers crossed 😊
My world was complete, when at 9.30pm, a November night I got a phone call from my daughter who I had given up for adoption 28 years before… It was the beginning of a whole new world, a world where she found out she had two brothers and a sister, a world where we met, hugged and laughed and cried… A world where understanding, love and more more is just what is needed… A world where I am so grateful she found me
My wife Gayle, had a kidney transplant three years ago and her wonderful sister Leigh as the donor, Gayle now has a new lease of life and started as she meant to go on by doing her first wingwalk
My mum was a residential ‘housemother’ looking after young kids in a children’s home. She cared for and loved every one as if they were her own children. We were one big, noisy, magnificent family.
Family doesn’t always mean blood. I grew up in foster care and many of those foster carers (along with close friends) became my family..
I have five grandsons. They are all uniquely talented at something. The two oldest have their own band. They write songs and sing, play guitar drums and piano. They are 12 year old twins. Next in age is Our sons oldest boy(not quite 11). He had a poem published when he was 6. He has a unique ability with people and is very popular at school. Next in age is his younger brother. He is 8. He is fascinated by everything and learns things quickly. He can make any Lego model and will devote a whole day to doing just that. Last is the younger brother of the twins. He has just turned 7. He has climbed 50 wainwright’s since he was 4 and is always happy. His talent is drawing. There are other things you could know about these remarkable children because being gruru I could write a whole book about them.
My family is changing. Sometimes I think it is falling apart. At my best I hope it is moving towards something different, but positive, that will sustain these children. I have thought about what is best for a family, to keep it together because it is ‘family’ or to redefine it and try and be happier in a different kind of family. I wish I knew.
My Nan. She was the gentle matriarch of the family, even if she didn’t know it herself. All she wanted was to spread kindness, to uplift others with her beautiful smile, and to make sure we all knew just how grateful she was for her family and her life. She passed away a month before her 99th birthday. Her memory will forever bring warmth to the whole family. She is my inspiration.
I have no family of my own – my parents and husband are dead, and I have no siblings or children but other, rather unusual families give me immense pleasure. I’m an amateur botanist and every plant belongs to a family: Buttercups to Ranunculaceae, Daisies to Asteraceae and more exotically, Orchids to Orchidaceae… A great joy is to venture deep into the countryside or even mooch round urban wasteland and crouching down with plant ID book in hand, hand lens to my eye and bottom in the air, try and identify the plants I see. Habitat and colours, sizes, shapes and smells of leaves, flowers and stems are all helpful in identifying a plant and linking it to its family. Sometimes I’m defeated – the plant is too small, too young or too withered or shares features with several other very similar plants. And every now and then botanists rename a family, genus or a species which can prove a challenge. The common names of many plants are delightfully apt or poetic but I have tried to train myself to use the botanical names which are universally recognised. And botanists like to truncate the scientific names so Scrophularia nodosa (Common figwort) becomes Scroph nod and Cardamine pratensis (Cuckooflower/Lady’s smock) becomes Card prat. All very quirky.
Family is the center of one’s identity. The last 27 years the definition of has changed due to migration of the global community. Your parents can be your immediate family, sponsor’s, adoptive parents, human services, and friends can be considered a family. The majority of family functions are replaced with co workers or anyone that an individual identify as a protector
Sharing DNA isn’t what it takes to make a family.
I was brought up in a Large Catholic family, one of the youngest among about 30 cousins. We were sent to Catholic schools that taught us queer is evil, and being told to fear the only queer member of the family – an uncle who was sent for conversion therapy (the physical torture kond) and who’s a convicted pederast.
So like many people in the queer community, I have had to secretly find my own family.
Right now I’m not out to the Catholic family, as I still haven’t accepted the risk of losing them. But I know I’ll have to at some point.
My Dad liked:
a good joke
a good book
a good man
a good pud.
My family were descendants of a mix of Jewish immigrants from Spain (way back) on one side and Russia on the other. My Russian great grandparents had to escape the Bolsheviks by fleeing to Finland then down through Scotland and ended up in London’s East End.
Family is making sure that no one gets left behind
Family is belonging
Family is shared
Family is pressure
Family is precious
Family is being given a role to play
Family is my heart aching at every smile
Family is protection
Family is stress
Family is saying ‘I’ve got you’
Family is safety in numbers
Family is hard work
Family is being a team
Family is repetitive
Family is real hugs
Family is expectation
Family is never being objective
Family is everything
Family is worrying
Family is achieving the impossible
Family is wanting the impossible
Family is fun
Family is never letting go
Family is making sure that no one gets left behind
My/Our family has been blessed to experience the genuine power and strength that love and protection for each other provides. We also know the devastation that comes when one member of that family who was so loved – namely husband, father, brother was taken from us.
My/Our family has also seen the genuine destruction and pain that occurs when family love is not given, shown, or been removed. We also know thankfully that even when there has been a difficult start, with nurture and love over time, that families can be built.
I feel blessed to have such a wonderful family full of love. I also have strong bonds of friendship and consider some very good friends as a family. I am truly thankful.
“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me!”
Whenever I’m afraid to take a risk he always says ‘you can do anything!’. He tells me time and time again how proud he is that I wholeheartedly chase my dreams as an adult. He’s always there to pick me up when I’m down. He taught me how to ride a bike, drive a car and that a scrape on my knee wasn’t the end of the world, just an experience.
There are so many stories aren’t there? I think of my nan who I miss all the time and how she made my world feel warm and good. She was a great cook and baker, I think of her standing in her tiny kitchen in her little old cottage on a country Lane on the edge of a Kentish village. She would make delicious things, familiar and homey – a Victoria sponge, an apple pie, cheese scones, she made old-fashioned dinners such as toad in the hole or fish pie or suet and bacon roly poly. She was a rough and ready, instinctive cook. We’d all squeeze around the table in her kitchen, the kids all wedged in the gap under the stairs, elbows jostling. She was a tiny person, about 4 ft 11, but she had a big hearty laugh, she loved a joke, but she also had a feisty side. She and grandad would shout and she threw things at him, he probably deserved it, but then sometimes he didn’t. She was straight-forward, down to earth, loved a bit of glamour, to dance. She had a pair of silver high heels in the 70s, I loved them, would slip them on and practise being grown up. I loved the smell of her clothes in the wardrobe. She wasn’t clever my nan, not in an academic way. She said words a bit wrong, which made us laugh, she had left school at 14 to go into service, she was the cooks assistant, lighting fires at 5am in the big house. She always worked for others. She grew up in the class system, she knew her place. She didn’t challenge it. Her family were labourers, hop pickers. She’d lost a husband to polio when she was 35, when he died with a couple of days, they put her on a bus home. She went into menopause almost immediately – the shock was profound. Her home was attached to his job as a farm labourer, she had three children, her own mother to look after, she had two jobs. She married my grandad, he brought four children of his own, she became mum to all. He was a long-haul lorry driver so she carried everything, she just got on with it. She became known as battling nanny, that was her nickname, when she was cross she would raise up her fists, but then she’d soon be laughing at herself. She was full of love, she had enough for everyone. She made us all feel special. She took us grand children for bus rides, let us stay overnight, was always ready with a cuddle. She washed me in the kitchen sink. She wrapped me in her electric blanket at night. She let me have a Tunnocks wafer from her biscuit tin. I loved it at her house. Playing with her Knick knacks, flicking through her old records. She always had a bottle of cherry brandy in the living room. She had photographs of family all over, and we heard the same, and slightly altered stories of them all, and also about us – the days out together, family events, reliving the memories was part of the weave in the fabric, keeping us all close. She wasn’t all one thing, my nan, there were secrets. Things you learn when you overhear a conversation. She’d had a long affair with a smart-suited chap from the East End, who moved down to Kent, and my aunt was borne out of that relationship, it was a scandal. People whispered. She had a reputation for being a bit of a good-time girl in her day. In the war she was a cook, they had to stand her on a box to serve the men, she loved to flirt and to laugh. She lost people in the war, a brother on a ship, he was in the engine room, they never found the ship when it went down. But she loved the war too, she talked about the spirit of people, she loved being in the middle of things. I loved her so much. I miss her so much. She was the best nan. When she was dying at 92, she became wafer-thin, she wasn’t my nan anymore, I could hardly look at her, in the bed in the care home. She hallucinated, she thought a big yawning furnace was on the other side of the door, waiting to take her. When she died I read a poem at her funeral, I thought I’d keep it together, but I couldn’t, I choked and I wept. I weep now. There’s a big hole in my heart, in who I am. She’s there and she’s not, like with her passing I have also lost a bit of my past, you can remember it but you can’t find it, it’s gone, you can’t go back, you move forward and get older yourself, it’s a strange and painful distance. Sweet and painful.
We’re a blended family since six years ago with three daughters, two granddaughters and a grandson
I am 67 years old i am an only child adopted when i was 6 weeks old my moher was Irish one of thirteen children my father Scottish he was a war hero. We were a very close knit family. I am married to a loving quiet Northern Irish man we live in Manchester we have five children
And six grandchildren.
We are the parents of two children, 9 and 10. I was christened when born but am an atheist. My husband is Jewish and we see our children as being Jewish too, despite the absence of the mother’s line. The children’s grandfather and grandmother fought for the liberation of South Africa against the apartheid regime and loved on Liliesleaf farm in Jo’burg and shared their home with Nelson Mandela and other senior African National
Congress members who were later arrested in July 1962. My children are very, very proud of the extraordinary sacrifices that their grandparents and others made for the liberation of South Africa.
We are a family of quizzers and gamers. We especially love playing board games and get very competitive.
Sunday morning swimming – Dad teaching me, my brother and friends and that magical moment when he let me go, swimming unaided; the same with removing bicycle stabilisers. The driving not so well – I turned into Steve McQueen speed thrill seeker. The rebel wild child had risen
Jade Moira L.
Coming from an eclectic mixed heritage upbringing (German/Russian, Indian and Jamaican) I thrive on the importance of history, identity and identity politics. Even if my questions aren’t answered or there is no definitive conclusion, the driving force for the meaning of family for me is what came before me, what brought me here into the now, and what will take me into the future, especially my son, who is also of mixed heritage. We are part of a bigger conversation. Family begins with food, fashion, education, music, faith and religion. The list is continuous. Family comes with the purpose of giving your bearings a world filled with love and hope, despite the inevitable evidence of war, conflict, devastation and poverty. Family build bridges. Family bring neighbours together in times of joy and crisis. Family offer the ongoing light at the end of the tunnel. Family is you and I.
Family is ever expanding and contracting, with loved ones passing and new ones arriving, queer chosen family, animals, soulmates and friends. For the family I have yet to meet, I already love.
I know I’m very lucky. I grew up with the understanding that family is everything. They’re there for you in the hard times in daylight and out of the blue in the middle of the night, even if you haven’t really spoken for years. AND, they will join in with and be the backbone & funnybone of any celebrations. For us, it goes even deeper. Anyone who is a solid friend of a family member also by default, becomes an extende member of our whole family along with their brothers, sisters, cousins, aunties etc etc. I know I can ring any of my clan at 3am and babble senslessly until I’ve found a mental place where I feel ready to move on.. I also know that the next time I speak to them they’ll react to me in the context of how I am that particular day. That to me is family and anyone who supports and understands you in that way is family.
Family means knowing you belong to something private, special, unique. Your own club.
Being raised by a loving family in a small town, I felt the need to see the world. The small town gave me safety, seeing Africa gave me freedom. My heart found its home in Ethiopia, I found my new, own, family.
Family is past. There is no one left. No shared memories. No anchor. Nothing.
The joy of family picnics! Sandy sandwiches and sticky fingers. Cartwheels in the sunshine and huddling together under picnic blankets as the rain lashes down and sideways, till you’re wetter than being in the sea. Laughing till the tears stream down your face as you peel off the sodden clothes and look up at the blue sky, feeling the damp wet dark sand between your toes and the warmth of the sunshine as it reappears. The smiling faces, these carefree moments, memories to treasure.
Family is incredibly special and can sustain me through the toughest of times. Yet my family, marriage specifically, has created the toughest of times. Yet without my marriage the family that sustains me wouldnt exist. I find that so thought provoking.
Family life can be a bumpy road. The joy of the early years, when children admire and look up to you, are distant memories when you head into the more troublesome years of adolescence.
Factors out-with your control prey on your precious offspring, polluting their experiences and their view of their family, friends and the world. It’s at this point that family must take on an alternative role, one which watches from the sidelines but is there at the drop of a hat to catch the fall. It is required to be available, when you least expect it, 11pm when the day has passed its best, lasting into the wee small hours.
The forced drawing up of the drawbridge was always a suggestion that was met with resistance but was a much needed top up to keep mental wellbeing afloat. Making time, however big or small, to reconnect, to be curious, to wonder, helped to keep the foundations of healthy values and expectations in the mind. Family was important and even in the darkest days it was essential to keep going, even when it felt your efforts were making little difference.
It is the constant reminder of family that helped us to get our beautiful baby girl back and to support her through the healing that she so badly needed.
That’s how strong family can be.
A masters student from China recently told me that it is a custom to think of family as a harbour. And it got me thinking about what it means for a little boat to be in a harbour. That a lighthouse got you there safely, and steered you from the rocks. That its a place to rest ànd find balance from the sea and the waves. That the harbour master and their crew makes sure everyone is cared for. That its a place to take stock, catch your breath and refuel before setting sail for the next adventure. And its always there, constant, awaiting you when next you need it.
And whilst the saying is true that “a ship in the harbour is safe but thats not what ships were built for’, that student made me thankful for every family harbour, however constructed, that gives safety and solace for little boats.
I look back on my family life as child an it is only recently I realise just how lucky we 6 kids was .
Family holidays every year Wales or Cornwall . Proper meals when we got home from school .
Sunday roasts ,I loved Sunday evening tea always box of different cakes and you take your pick ,bath then PJ’s sit in front of warm fire.
I live in Wales now coming from Liverpool and days out here brings back so many lovely memories .
But some families can drift apart once the parents have passed ,
That was one of my Mum’s fears she never ever wanted that to happen and when she was ill often spoke her fear.
She must of sensed it . She was right .
I was adopted illegally when I was born. Never met or find out any information about my biological parents. Now my adoptive mother, who I really loved, suddenly passed away, I couldn’t say goodbye or travel home to see my family because of the pandemic and I feel really lost about it all
As an adoptee, I know that my birth mum was one of 12. I have a big family and yet I am unable to make connection due to their loyalty to my mum. What is it they fear? I simply want to know my blood kin.
I love my daughter’s more than anything, but one moved abroad and won’t speak to me and the other has ASD and has turned to drugs and I can’t help her. So all my love means nothing. It is lost
Family is not only blood I was blessed with my parents friends becoming extended family, additional father and mother figures I could speak to and run things by. It made me realise that you don’t choose blood relatives but you must always treasure them. My mum came here from Grenada, never having seen the cold and had no coat, only a cardigan, she had never seen or been on an escalator either. So when her brother collected her from the airport her lost luggage stayed lost as she was too scared to travel on the tube with him to Baker Street to identify it. My older brother arrived in UK at 17 and became a trainee car mechanic, he told me he had never seen hail stones and ran from the forecourt in fear and refused to go back out. It took them ages to convince him it was safe. Now these two people, one gone, are 2 of the most adventurous and fearless people I know. Little humble beginnings created monster amazing people.
I have a large extended family and have so missed the celebrations that punctuated our lives pre-Covid – birthdays, Christmas, Easter, baptisms, weddings, First Communions. I didn’t fully appreciate how much these events gave meaning to the months until they were taken away. As my own children grow bigger and more independent, my parents are becoming more dependent on others as they age. My dad was born during the Great Depression (photo of him as a child), evacuated during the war and despite much pain and heartache along the way, has lived a life full of love – it is hard to see him struggle to remember things now
In mid life I found out I had a brother, then I found out I had a sister. My mother threatened to kill herself if I met them. She must have suffered so much. I met my brother once. The fractures still hurt even after, possiblly more after, her death. I don’t know what to do with those feelings. My own family are supportive, my own children so loving and kind. Families are unique. It’s only when we try to homogenised them it goes tits up.
Being good enough is all that matters
My Family is quite small, hubby & 3 Children, but the children have grown and married. The eldest has given us the most glorious gift of a granddaughter 20 month’s now & is expecting again. I am so proud of all that they have achieved – somehow , their achievements seem so much more important than ours ever did. A GP, a radiotherapist & a manager. Their kindness and goodness is what is important now….. strange how time changes things. I love it when we go away for family weekends in the country.
Lockdown had been hard & restrictive. Two children live close by but one lives an hour away so ICT had been important, as it enabled me to see her regularly.
Being together is so important.
I was born in 1961 to a single Mum, who was unable to keep me and adopted by a wonderful couple called June & Arthur, who had no children of their own.
The memories of lost family bind and heft – of my grandmother every time the steam hisses and I iron her route around a shirt: a summer glut in my garden and once again I am four years old, helping my grandfather shell bright peas in the early evening sun.
I spend years visiting my Dad in prison when I was growing up. Mum said we were visiting him at work. Then I got to an age where I could read the signs and I understood where he was. I didn’t want to visit anymore. My early work life was spent worrying colleagues would find out what kind of family I was from (judgements, assumptions). Now I don’t care much. It doesn’t matter. It never really did. Life’s too short. I try and embrace every experience. It makes me who I am today.
I come from a large family, my father had 5 brothers and one sister. My mother a twin ( also a girl) and they had had two brothers.
All that generation has now died, my mother the last, to Covid in September 2020.
On my father’s side there were 8 in the next generation.
Some of the 8 married, some more than once, others were unlucky in love and others remained single by choice or as result of events. There are no children for a future generation so that side of the family tree will grow will extend no further.
Our name is dying out!
It has been much discussed at times between siblings and cousins. We joke about it probably being for the best ( I don’t laugh). My theory is that we were all part of a very close family, families that looked out for each other at all times and for some of us siblings and parents that were involved in every life event.
Was the closeness too much in the end for an outsider to make a big impact, possibly for some of us but for others there was no urge to bring a child in this world. For others it was the spouse that did not want children.
Our name is dying out but on my mother’s side from her twin and other cousins there are grandchildren and even great grandchildren. So the tree is extending leaning over to one side but not toppled yet.
Family is the chain which connects us, weaving back into other times and places, into other climes and continents. This same chain takes us forward, with hope and knowledge into a lighted future.
My family (my parents) are no longer with me, but they remain in my heart.
During tough times, I can still hear my dad say “Well that’s just the way the cookie crumbles…so what next?” It always helps me stop and focus on a solution.
The most embarrassing but funny dad moment happened in 1977, when in front of my mates, he ran around the house in his red y-fronts and vest each time Liverpool scored in the European Cup Final. It was my dad, I was trying to be cool, so of course I was mortified. 🙂
And mum, if we’d had a falling out, it would always end with the offer of a big mug of warm, milky coffee. Mum would pop her head around my bedroom door and ask if I would like one. Sometimes I would still sulk and refuse, only later in life did I realise just how hard it must have been for her to make that first move and face an hostile rejection from a moody teenager.
She was such a beautiful and sensitive soul, and never ever refused my attempts at reconciling or putting to bed an argument. “Don’t upset yourself” she’d say “.Drink up whilst it’s still warm” This ritual continued into my adulthood.
What I wouldn’t give to hear her warm cajoling and sympathetic voice again and experience her unconditional love for me.
These are long happy, cherished memories. so thank you for prompting me to reflect. and allowing me to share.
I was surrounded by a large family in Hulme for the early part of my life – before the clearances. It came as a great surprise to me in later years, that ‘The Croft’ where we played was a bombed out area of what used to be back to back houses. I remember many things, the Bonfire Night we burnt the old piano, swinging around the lampposts on old rope, The Imperial cinema where we saw our first animation – The Sword in the Stone – with chips on the way home, sitting on the step of The Little Tamworth pub waiting for my Grandad – collecting the old penny from those going in and out – and I remember when we were to move – to ‘ the country’ and how my Uncle Ernie said I would like it because there was (pause for dramatic effect) -a field. I didn’t know what one was and when we got to the new estate we were to live there were bare open spaces and I thought’….that must be ‘The Field’ – holy ground. The old ones are gone now and I miss them all dreadfully – it is an amazing thing to be loved Lemn, I never took it for granted.
Family is where your hear gets broken and put back together a million times
I will always miss my mum
To me family is the most important thing, however the term family to me isn’t just those related by blood, it is the special people in your life who are true friends who then feel part of your family and you know you are there for each other.
My mother sexually abused me. Of course mothers don’t do that kind of thing in polite English society so I must be making it all up. My family are now the people who know my secret and love me anyway. My birth family are strangers to me and I prefer it that way.
They constantly fluctuate with multiple organic moving parts that fit and don’t fit all at once. Their is a memory that is different for every participant.
My mother and grandmother both died in their 60s but whilst I didn’t meet my grandmother, my own daughter met her grandmother (my mother) before she passed. I feel a strong sense of being European from my Italian and welsh heritage.
I grew up in a big family in the north west of England and something that most families did and still do on a Sunday is have a roast dinner. Our family home wasn’t very big and we couldn’t afford a big dinner table for all of us to sit around. So we all had to take it in turns to eat our lunch, with our Mum dishing out plates of food but never actually sitting down herself. She would always start prepping food early Sunday morning and I would usually wake up to the smell of the roast cooking which made my tummy rumble with excitement. As with most food cooked in the 1970s/80s, the meat would usually be like old boot leather and the vegetables sloppy and overcooked but it always tasted like the best meal in the world because Mum had cooked it. I’ve lived away from home for most of my adult life but when I visit my siblings’ homes, it usually involves eating a massive roast dinner and the family memories come flooding back as we remember our Mum Alice, the best roast dinner maker in Birkenhead.
I will always remember my mum singing to me: “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey, you’ll never know, dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away”.
Our family consists of Me my husband and our daughter Georgie . I was adopted as a child went through a very difficult time . I ended up on drugs and alcolhol . I became a Christian and my life completely turned around . I got married to the amazing Brian also a Christian who had been a heroin addict . Our beautiful daughter Georgie is with us on an SGO , the incredible thing is that Georgie is my great neice from the family i was adopted out of. Georgie has development issues as she was born addicted to drugs and had a brain bleed at a day old. We are a happy unit enjoying life and making the most of every day . I am an author and my husband runs a community grocery store .
“Get yer hair cut.” This is what my father would say to me whilst lightly cuffing my head. I think this was his way of expressing his affection physically of which there were few other expressions.
This morning, I was reflecting about dad and my experience of losing him in 1983 when I was 19. He was 79 then and had lived a good life, however, I was not ready to accept that he was no longer with me. For many years (ten, in fact), whenever I thought of him, I would mentally draw a blind curtain (one of those that one finds in the US which you pull down) and sometimes, I put a brick wall in between him and I. Temporarily, my pain would ease and I did not have to confront my reality. There was a period in my life when I was living in Copenhagen that dad started to come every night in my dreams which I increasingly became uncomfortable with. I didn’t know how to stop him from coming into my dreams so often; he was still so much a part of my life which became increasing disturbing since I knew that he no longer was physically alive. One morning, I decided to have a one-way conversation with him, out-loud. I told him that I now accept that he no longer is alive and that he please don’t come into my dreams so often. Almost miraculously, he stopped appearing in my dreams. I truly believe that he was more relieved than I as I was holding on to him. It was me that was chaining him still to this world and preventing him from moving on. That moment of realisation was one of the monumental learning for me about death, attachment and the importance of mourning. I miss him still and am thankful whenever he comes and visits me. I know he is not just out there, but here, in me – and – I am comforted he is alive in me, and within all his children and their children.
My brother Dan was my total inspiration. He explored lots of spiritual stuff way ahead of my own journey and was such a role model. We were such good fiends. I wish he was here to share things with me now, however we had a fabulous 35year sibling relationship with LOVE, TEASING, TEARS and COMPETITION.
Kitty C. for Joseph C.
Here is a poem written by my dad, who took his own life six years ago. He was a magnificent writer, but his words weren’t shared with the world so here they are now…
“ In the late summer of 2012 marital or partner breakdown and distress in Great Britain swelled,
like a freak spring tide,
sweeping away entire households,
scattering possessions and hopeful dreams;
drowning those without a powerful instinct for survival.
Loving promises were denied or re-written,
once easy companions became artful combatants.
In the minds of the principal players,
the history of the marriage was redrafted to have been always doomed.
Love was recast as delusion.
And the children?
Counters in a game, bargaining chips.
Dazed children shuttling back and forth in ever more complex co- parenting agreements.
Children doomed to see their father once or twice a month, or never.
The meal is gone
The plates are washed
And the taxi draws away”
Joseph C. (1967-2015)
A place of violence is a hard place to grow
While the world outside our home was sometimes hard due to racism inside I always felt safe and loved with my family. What a gift this was.
My first family abandoned me at a children’s psychiatric hospital when I was 9, the carers there let my second family step father come and abuse me. I moved to a children’s home, then a second. I was then homed with a foster family, which then broke up, there goes family 3! These days, I tell people I have no family and I’m happy with that. They tend to say sorry when I tell them.. Why? I survived my 3 families, is that not good?
My grandad was Polish but I never got to meet him as he died when my dad was 10, I’ve only seen one photo of him. He had been through a concentration camp and survived but died prematurely probably because of it. My family of us 4 is everything to me. I’ve got all I need if I have them 🥰
Family was my Nana Young. Two of her daughters died of cystic fibrosis so she lived with her heart broken but was so full of love. She made my childhood so happy and full of wonderful memories. I wish I could hug her again and thank her for being so wonderful. She was so beautiful and strong.
I’m feeling and seeing family from the inside out for the first time! I’m 54! It never was this way. Dementia and Alzheimer’s have removed barriers formed by their religion and their shame, their judgement from that, their traumas from being war children, their poor mental health their anxiety, their need to be modest, humble, proper, pure, replaced with laughing, dirty jokes, swearing and banter, some late night drinking. It’s better late than never… damage begets damage -!Ive gifted my own children both good and bad – and how strange life is to rob them of some of their faculties and yet this be a joy right now! Feeling joyful at experiencing what I perceive to be a felt sense of family!!! I’ve learnt to forgive through my sons forgiving me! Healing begets healing! Pain isn’t present, not this second, , loneliness doesn’t sting, though it lives in me, but today, this moment, I belong. .
My Nan, who passed many years ago, had a little white ceramic dish hung up on the wall of her wood-panelled kitchen. The words printed on this trinket informed my wonder-filled 7 year-old self that it was of great importance. Indeed, it was A Round Tuit and possession of such an item meant that I would be a much more ‘efficient worker’ and that ‘the many things that have needed to be accomplished will get done’. Decades passed and I had forgotten of it’s existence until last year I spotted the same little dish in a charity shop. As I stood there holding the dish, marvelling at having come across such a nostalgic item, I felt my grandmothers rough hands in mine, smelled the buttered toast she would make me for my breakfast and heard her broad Salford accent chuckle ‘ecky thump!’ in my ear. So now if I find myself putting off a difficult task or avoiding a challenging situation I remember that as a proud owner of one putting things off until I get around to it is not longer an excuse. I miss you every day Nan.
She was 92, our mum
It doesn’t matter her age
Who defines a good innings?
She was robbed of life
Her last year
Shielded from a virus
Engulfed by loneliness
Her heart was sinking
No more friends popping by
No more days out
No wider family to lift her spirits
The company that makes life worth living
She’d lived through war
Through black outs
No desire to be phased out
Her hair, still raven not all grey
Her gait, unsteady not paralysed
Her hearing, dulled but not silenced
Her mind, still curious, still sharp
For words not yet spoken
She cried ‘I’m not ready to die’
In the grips of death
She thought it untimely, unkindly
No, she wasn’t ready to die
Nor us, to say goodbye.
My family story has a before and after. Up to the age of 32 I took family for granted. Then, when my dad died in a gliding accident, everything changed.
I was very lucky to grow up in a loving family. I’m an only child because my mum had chemo after I was born and couldn’t have any more children. But I had four wonderful grandparents, who I saw often and loved very much. Three of my grandparents had died by the time I was 21, but my youngest grandparent, granddad Erik, got to know me as an adult, and we met up for holidays in the Algarve and chatted lots on the phone.
When my dad died at 64, granddad Erik – his dad – couldn’t go on. He was heartbroken. He died a few months later of a heart attack.
My mum wasn’t able to cry about losing my dad, and this really bothered her. I believe it is what brought on her aggressive form of endometrial cancer. She died in UCLH hospital, smiling till the end. The last time I saw my mum and my granddad, they both waved goodbye – I’d never seen them do that before. I think they knew it was the last goodbye.
So within 15 months my family was gone. I spent ten years grieving and only recently have been able to feel more normal again. I think about them every day and will never stop loving them.
Lemn, thank you for this project. I read your book recently, and you are an inspiration!
I moved into my house 2 years ago. The first place I have owned on my own and that I hope to make into a long-term home. I’ve moved around a lot over the decades since I left home at 17.
Just as you enter through the gate there is a small tree on the right hand side. It is a conifer of some sort. As your arm brushes passed it a smell from the tree reaches your nose. The smell always take me back to my Grandfather’s garden. There were three big trees of the same type as mine in a row at the end of the grass, next to an almond tree where a squirrel used to live (that squirrel once bit my Dad, but we used to like watching it from the dining room window). Behind the trees my Grandfather grew vegetables and I remember being trusted at a young age to go to the vegetable patch to cut chives to add to dinner. It felt like a great adventure to go down the garden passed the trees. We played all the time on the grass in front – bat and ball games in the summer when we visited for a few weeks at a time. But behind the trees was more mysterious and exciting. And my Grandfather was quite Victorian and a bit scary so it felt like a great responsibility to be asked and trusted by him to do something to contribute to his amazing culinary creations. He always went to town with cooking when we visited and dinner was a very big deal during the holidays. – 3 course meals, making sure you used the right cutlery, being super polite, but also eating very tasty food.
Every time I step into my new home domain I get a happy flash back to these trees and to happy, carefree summer days spent in the garden, and the adventure of chive picking. Nice to have a link back through the generations and the miles to happy times from childhood.
My family are the most important part of my life. I love them all so much. My favourite sound is that of my son & granchildren’s giggles, in fact anyone of them laughing out loud!
I miss hearing my brother he left us too soon.
Loving, caring, Generous and humble
Although we are scattered all over the world the love we have for each other keeps us close.
When I was about 9, we went on holiday to Mablethorpe and stayed in a caravan. My mum, my dad, my younger sister and my older brother. My dad sleep walks. He got up in the night and wee’d in every single pair of shoes we had. My mum was so mad and made my mum go out and buy us all flip flops while our shoes dried! Now flip flops are a cruel running joke in our family! I don’t know why that was the first story that spung to mind!
Family is something that society decides you are worthy of.
My family is from Jamaica and my wife’s family is from Colombia. Getting our family together for a photo is never easy because we have grown to include nephews, nieces, grandnieces, and nephews from Haiti, Peru, and Turkey. Luckily, we have holidays when we can go to the movies and catch up on family gossip.
My parents, both from wildly different families, always formed the largest part of my world. If I had to name only one of the many things I learnt from them, it would be that your family is yours to form and to craft, and that it is precious. I feel like that’s a feeling shared by many, but I also think it’s important to note that my parents never forced my sister and I to remain in contact with anyone who brought us sadness and pain – no matter the relation. Your loved ones are your universe.
My nan brought up my dad and his brother on her own during the 1940s and 50s. She never spoke about their father. My mum is the only person left who could tell me about my grandfather. Sadly, she has Alzheimer’s.
my family is light
I am a family of one. Family is a word and a thing that fills me with sorrow. The family that made me disintegrated when I was 6 and the family I tried to make as an adult also disintegrated. When I say things about family to friends they say ‘but we are your family’, ‘you are family to us’. I know they mean well but in the times when these words truly count friends don’t remember what they said.
I only met a lot of my family in the last 4 years including finding out 2 years ago I have a little brother. Getting to know them has helped me to make sense of myself and find connections I never thought I’d have again since the death of my wonderful Grandy (grandma).
My grandparents all were penniless refugees from violence, poverty and hatred. They all died before I was born but I always felt I knew them and their struggles and achievements. I identify with my maternal grandparents more as I was more involved with them as there were 11 uncles and aunts and their spouses and countless cousins for me to share with. All but a handful of us have died but their memories stay with those of us who remain…still in touch and close tho we have moved away from where we were born
My mother was the third youngest of her immense family, a shy and unassuming woman, who took care of her ill and dying parents and then my father when became ill whilst serving in the army, fighting a war that frightened him.
The quality I’m most proud of in myself, learned from my mother, was compassion…real compassion born out of love for those she cared for including me. I always knew love
From blurred, mixed and sometimes whispered and confused beginnings, stories of origin dying with each generation. Ordinary but caring and loving our family spans tge world and includes ireland scadinavia london yorkshire wales and liverpòol. One of our children and two cousins on different sides had children born with down syndrome. Happiness success and educatiom has not always spread evenly and the extended family is cast nationwide. Our near family seems to be slowly gravitating to Yorkshire and Lincolnshire now….
I have lots of different feelings when i think of my family. Love, longing, guilt, closeness, far apart, duty, touch, loss, death, deep deep connectedness, tricky dynamics, care, caring, beautiful people at the core.
Sometimes at the weekend we would get up late (a rare event for us) and have a long and leisurely breakfast – cereal, toast, maybe a fry-up. We called this decadent, delicious meal a Dan Dare! I don’t know why. As a child I didn’t realise this was a family word – I thought every family enjoyed the occasional fattening Dan Dare at the weekend. This is one of my warmest family memories. Food, comfort and belonging.
My parents left Ireland in the 1950’s married in London, raised 6 children and settled there. In 2016 I retired to Ireland… Ireland is where my heart belongs.
Grew up in single parent family, away from other relatives and just a much older autistic brother. Never really understood families until I got married and had kids of my own. Now family is everything to me.
I have 12 brothers and sisters. One of them is a sister from my mom, 11 of them are brothers and sisters from my father. I share both parents with none. I hear that such relationships are referenced as half sister/brother. I never felt the need to do so. The love has always been full.
Over 75% of people with my surname are from East Yorkshire and it’s more than likely we’re all related somewhere along the way – the family was split during the English Civil War but both sides have remained in the area pretty much to this day. You can tell people we still all have the same nose!
I am now estranged from half of my immediate family; growing up my extended family all lived so close together and saw each other all the time. Feels like two lives.
My granny was born in Glasgow and was a very important person in my life. I remember her as someone who was kind, thoughtful and didn’t suffer fools gladly! During the final few months of her life, she lived in a residential home in Urmston, Manchester and we were all able to visit her regularly (during lockdown) due to the fantastic measures staff had put in place to ensure safety. The last time I visited her, my partner Clare and I were able to tell her of our intention to name our daughter ‘Kit’ after her and she was touched and typically self-effacing, asking “why would you want to call her that?”. Kit Senior died in July last year and Kit Junior was born in November, and is proving to be just as strong a personality as her great-grandmother. I’ve attached a pic of a poem I wrote to tell my gran the happy news!
Family is those who you hold the closest in your heart – who share your values and beliefs and love you for who you are. They are not always blood relations, and may not be in your day to day life
As the youngest of five my childhood combined tenderness, teasing, support and fighting for my voice to be heard. Though I’m 54 now and an independent woman, whenever we get together again as a family I revert back to being the ‘baby’ of the family, teased, loved, patronised and occasionally frustrated!
David Dolan Martin
I have a wide and extended family – my Biological Family, spread across the UK and the USA, and my Logical Family here in Manchester, which consists of my husband, Jez; and my two adopted sons Ed and Andrew, who we got to know, love and support during adulthood. – With thanks to Armistead Maupin for the ‘Logical Family’ name from ‘Tales of the City.
My Biological Family is my brother, Robert, and my sisters Nicki and Kate and a brood of 10 nephews and nieces. We’re close and don’t see enough of each other.
My grandmother died giving birth to my mother. She put into the ” Care System”. When she gave birth to me I was put into the system too along with my brother. When we grew up my brother went in search for my mother who we had never met. She rejected him and he then took his own life. Bless him. That’s it. Family erased.
Beautiful big bold proud humble. We look out for and help one another. Not all members are biological. We are all Jock Thamsons bairns
I grew up in Sudan ,iam a Muslim, but in my country there are defrent religions ,some tribes in Nuba Mountains ,they make there God by there own hands ,and pray for him.
They are not Christian, just without relegion,and pray for there own handmade idols
My father is an old man handicape ,always lay on the bed ,but he still can be funny, my mam blind sick woman,she singing some times ,she has a very nice voice
I have a very large family, and little brother of 5
My partner was my chosen family. He fed the birds in our garden. There was a pigeon with two white wing feathers and a limp, and he always made sure she got extra food. She looked for his shape in the kitchen window and would gobble towards him. My partner died from cancer in December 2020. I feed the birds now. His pigeon still comes to look for him.
My Mum had a finely tuned Paisley wit. I was chuffed to get into a smaller size. Smugly telling the staff member this, Mum replied ‘ They can make mistakes with the labels at the factory.’ She always surprised us with her quick lines. Such great fun to be around! Plenty more stories if you want them?
We have been clearing out my parents house as my elderly, disabled dad is now in a care home and mum moving to a sheltered flat next door. They lived there since the early 80s so piles and piles of our family history. Bank statements; committee minutes from charity work long ceased; ornaments (including the damaged statue of cavalier we all knew as “Cromwell”); photos of people long dead or much older; invitations for events now a distant memory; guide books to stately homes, which we were dragged around as kids; round robin Christmas cards; and postcards saying what a lovely holiday was being had by the sender. All of family life ,to be sorted into throw, pack or give away.
I really believe that family is chosen. I love my biological family, but I love my chosen family just as much!!
It was love at first sight to me, when I watched Paul, charismatic consultant plastic and reconstructive surgery, examine one of my patients at my request. I was some years younger than him. As to my first year of surgical training, I was a baby compared to his experience.
His advice was clear and elaborate, I blushed and was speechless. He seemed rather distant, not even kind.
Of course I couldn’t avoid the hospital gossip: he was a ‘womanizer’, a ’Don Juan’, a ’Casanova’. I never heard it told in a teasing funny way, rather criticising viciously. I decided, love-struck, he must never have been deeply in love, and paid no attention to rumours.
On the other hand: his surgical skills invariably were highly praised, his kindness to patients too.
Things rapidly changed, soon I was writing him little love poems, and friends trained me into talking his local Bruges dialect.
One early morning after a ‘Jazz-Club’ night’ I recited him a poem in his ‘local pronunciation’, and that seduced him, as he told me years later. He played the cello, Bach, Händel, Scarlatti became more familiar (I grew up with Mozart!), and I introduced him to literature and I was his guide to London and to Italy.
My dear father said he “loved Paul as his son”, Paul loved my mother, his family was delighted with me.
We got married at the moment my training to be a surgery consultant was complete. The suffragette in me cherishes the moment my Professor solemnly declared that “I was the first woman at this University to achieve this degree”. A dream come true.…
So we had the most fabulous wedding-promotion party: much love in the air, and both our families had artistry in their genes. The result was a firework of music, comedy, satire, a blessing that was kept as a surprise, a gigantic gift.
And now we agreed to have babies.
When our wonderful blonde daughter Anne (soon called Nan) was born, there was joy all over. My lovely, bright little Nan, a mother’s dream-child she was; she still is, a paediatrician with a family of her own, and two incredible kids, college students now, Lauren and Arthur, whom I both adore.
As all went well, when Nan was 18 months old, I gave birth to a perfect little sister, Elisabeth, with dark curly hair this one, exactly like her father.
Now I knew Paul had preferred a boy, but his behaviour was somewhat weird: he had accepted the name, but he said he didn’t like it, he delayed endlessly legal obligations, well, I was too gloriously happy to pay attention to that!
I was still in Maternity when my Mother, taking care of Nan, came to see me, pale, hands trembling in shock. With a heavy heart she slowly told me she had discovered beyond the shadow of a doubt that Paul had a mistress.
He had a mistress even since before we married.
And this mistress was my very own baby-sister, younger than me by 6 years.
This came as an utter surprise to me so denial and disbelief were followed by bewilderment and confusion. My sister I adored, my little sister I had been the first person after Mum to hold in my arms when she was born? My little sister I had helped nursing, my little sister I had told countless stories and fairy tales, she who knew me so well?
A betrayal that size I could barely fathom, let alone understand.
I held my beautiful healthy baby breastfeeding, and I decided I would let nothing, absolutely nothing, destroy the bliss of this perfectly happy, unique moment.
I knew then and there it was the beginning of the end of my marriage.
Me: “Mum, do I look fat?”. Mum: “There’s more fat on an oven chip!” (1980s)
There’s father at the centre of course, flame haired and athletic, intensely blue eyed, preserved in my memory as a forty year old. He was from a rich family and his nanny used to tie him up and lock him in a dark cupboard. His anger could be sudden and the violence all the more poignant for its restraint. Brittle, he wanted to love but seemed to struggle with the how of it. But we once cried together, listening to a flamenco mass by Paco Peña. My mother was the steady backdrop. She knew when we, my two brothers and I, needed warmth, when to push us and when to protect us. We separated from my dad for almost a year, leaving Cornwall to live with a great aunt in Dorset. But home was uncomfortable even after our return. My father, trapped in his role as patriarch, was arbiter of quality and of morality. Us children fled as soon as we could, to London, Scotland and Spain.
Being apart allows the family to sort of work, but the anger, violence and moral outrage did a lot of harm and I wish it had been different.
Dad is frail now, and he seems to have moved past religion. Thanks perhaps to a late diagnosis of depression and the right medication, he’s happier and easier to be around than he used to be. He and mum are very old and won’t be with us for many more years.
Now I’ve made another family. It is my turn to be a father, but not, I hope, a patriarch. All I want is for the family to be a secure, loving space in what can be a stormy world. This family is a haven made of chores and routines and small kindnesses and many small corrections. I hope it’s a place my daughters want to leave, but only when there is something better to go to. And I hope we’ll preserve it as their safety net in times of need.
I thought I knew them but I didn’t.
I thought I could trust them but they betrayed my trust and broke my heart.. My family was toxic. And that was my gift, now I can see and feel!
Mother, Father. Three Children.
Family is whatever you want it to be.
My grandparents and siblings are my born family.
My foster-Mum was my family.
My friends are my family.
My partner and dog are my family.
Family to me means love and acceptance.
J Mark Dodds
My Dad’s Walking 100 miles for #Pubs he’s got Alzheimers and knows how much single people like him depend on good pubs for friendship and community
I have Special Guardianship of my 3 grandchildren after my daughter tragically died in 2015. They each come with there own trauma but i love them dearly
Imperfect and loving is family, mine was an east anglian childhood flavoured with south yorkshire esprit. we are all just atoms.
I feel fortunate in my family. I come from a stable home, where parental love and warmth were in evidence, where I felt cared for and attended to as a child.
Both my parents are now a long time dead. My two older siblings have died, one some years before mum (which was very distressing for her) and one more recently. There remain only me, and a younger sister.
I’d like to talk about these two older brothers. My experience of them was very different, both as a child and as an adult. I suppose the point of the story is to show that differences are real, ought to be recognised, and that the ubiquitous ‘happy family’ narrative needs to be viewed with some caution.
My oldest brother Paul was a complex person; he was emotionally expressive (sometimes clumsily), and was passionately interested in music. He had a personal interest in Native American history and knew lots about it. That was unique in my experience – we were working class Catholics living in a small mill town in Lancashire. He served in the army for 6 years and I think he flourished there better than anywhere else. But he couldn’t stomach more tours of duty in N Ireland. When he left, he struggled to live independently and we had lots of scrapes – Paul got into debt, panicked and behaved badly sometimes, and was estranged for a time. But he loved his nephews and nieces – was a huge Clarets fan – and took the kids to matches.
What I remember best about him was his generosity. He had little. But he shared what he had. He was not a proprietorial brother. The music in the house was largely his, the Hi-Fi, with excellent speakers, and amplifier, was his. He let me (I was 12 years younger than him, mind) listen to his entire music collection, carefully crafter and curated. I owe my tastes in music – in large measure – to his education and promptings. And his collection was very eclectic: Nina Simone, Shirley Bassey, Queen, Beatles, Roy Wood, Genesis, Deep Purple, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole Trio, Jim Reeves, Platters, Hollies, Status Quo, Elvis… He gave me a good start, and I went on from there.
Paul was not immediately supportive of me when I came out as gay: but we got past that. We got past the scrapes, the estrangement, and found lots to respect in one another. When I brought home my first serious bf, he was warm, welcoming, celebratory. I cherish my memories of him.
My older brother Philip (8 years separated us two) was, outwardly, much more successful than Paul. They didn’t get on, ever, as far as I could tell. I remember them fighting. I remember the circumstances which prompted the fights. I said Paul was emotionally expressive – he’d get het up about things he felt strongly about. He’d also missed some school – with childhood TB – and he was not as clever as Phil. Phil would argue with Paul, Paul would not be able to hold his ground (even if he was right) and things would escalate to violence. Since Phil was bigger, taller, heavier and fitter than Paul, he always won. I detested him then for his provocations and machismo,.
Phil and I had scarcely anything to do with one another as brothers, even though we shared a room for years and years. I didn’t interest him: too young, not sporty, equally clever as him, with different interests and enthusiasms. The pattern was set in childhood and never altered. When I came out as gay – I was simply an embarrassment to him . It was not valued among his circle (though one of his police fiends came on to me in the gents at his wedding.).
When we graduated to adults, Phil simply ignored me, as far as possible. Of course, mums being mums, this always distressed our mum. My sister and I were close. Phil and I not. The few memories I have of direct interaction with him as a child are unflattering. Whilst mum was alive, he made some attempts to maintain those superficial relationships that oil social interactions. At Christmas, I would be invited up to his house. (mum would have questioned my absence) but when she died, so did the invites. It was no hardship. We had little to say to one another as kids; still less, as adults.
When he was dying there was some strange pressure (sister and Phil’s wife?) to visit. I felt no need. Nor, I suspect, did Phil. There was no estrangement or hostility. We each recognised that being brothers was an accident of birth.: we were not friends,. But the pressure was unrelenting and I did visit, twice. There was tea, biscuits and the same social chitchat that had characterised the last 40 years.
I don’t have memories of Phil to cherish – like I do of Paul. What I want to say is that’s more than OK. Families are points of origin – biologically. But that doesn’t make them, necessarily, nourishing places, enduring places, welcoming places.
I like families that are enduring, nourishing, welcoming, celebratory. I know some glorious examples.
But some are not. If family is not a place where you can flourish, it’s ok to recognise that and be open to other possibilities. Create your own. Promote and safeguard your own flourishing.
Be safe. Be happy.
I have been sent a form about cancer testing. I need to talk with my siblings about their experiences with cancer and to try and get some of our family history together so I can find out what my risk is. One of my siblings has replied straightaway and is going to find me everything they know. One of them has had cancer, may have cancer now and may or may not reply. Everything they do tell me will be on the understanding that I do not share it with any of the other siblings and will be veiled in secrecy and little untold bits. My third sibling is unlikely to reply and when faced with this in a couple of month’s time will say something like ‘Oh yes, I meant to reply to that, yes.’ Our experiences of each other are worlds apart and yet somehow we are all meant to be as one.
I was 11 when my baby brother was born and I really did believe – for years – that my parents had him for me. He was a dream come true. I would wake up every night to check he was still breathing. He was my baby. When he was hurt, he came to me to kiss it better. He is 33 now but will always be my baby brother.
I raised 4 children and aged 54 took on 3 grandchildren. They are precious and have made me laugh and given me so many memories. They have also connected me to my paternal great grandmother who took on 3 grandchildren when she was 53.
When I was about age 5 our family went to Kenmore on Loch Tay and my Dad asked if I wanted to go in a canoe. I wasn’t keen until he told me he would come too. The paddles splashed and the water was cold as it streamed through my fingers. The sun shone on the stones as the shadow of the boat flew over the bottom of the loch.
When my son was 10 days old he collapsed and had to be resuscitated. He had to stay in intensive care for a weak to see if he would recover enough to survive an open heart operation. They said he would need two further operations and that it was 50/50 whether he would see age 5. The operation went well and we were transferred back to Canterbury Hospital to get well enough to go home.
One evening on the ward, my sone was too tired to sleep and I was too stressed to comfort him. I took him to the Quiet room and as he lay on my chest, I told him about the canoe trip I’d been on with my Dad. The paddles splashed and the water was cold as it streamed through my fingers. The sun shone on the stones as the shadow of the boat flew over the bottom of the loch. The paddles splashed and the water was cold…over and over…until I relaxed and he slept.
When I was four my Aunt died, leaving behind my 18month old cousin. My parents adopted her and we grew up as sisters. My parents never told her but in year 5, the teacher asked her what it was like to be adopted!!!??? From that point, our relationship began to crumble. As adults we don’t talk and her life has taken some unfortunate turns. My husband and I have one daughter – the light of our life – and due to cancer treatment I can not have any more children. We now foster, it is the best decision we ever made! The children who we care for are amazing and each and every one of them become family from the moment we meet.
Kurt Knopf was born in Vienna.
In 1939 he was evacuated to England. At the age of 17 he joined the British army and in 1944 he landed back on a European beach on D-Day + 6.
Rita Hahn was born in Vienna.
She did not leave Austria and in 1941 was interned in the Nazi ghetto known as Theresienstadt. At the end of the war she was liberated by Russians and eventually moved to England.
After the war they met in West Hampstead and married. Rita became a dress designer. Kurt supported Arsenal. They brought up a family.
My family aren’t the ‘conventional’ sort but you eventually realise none really are. They’re all a bit odd.However, what mine gave me was unconditional love. That’s much more important than being the conventional sort….
My family exists as it is now because of something that happened to me. The thing that happened (my husband leaving me with a 9mth old baby) seemed like the end of the world. But it changed my life completely, now I have a new family, slightly dysfunctional, but loving and kind. It wouldn’t exist if the bad time hadn’t happened, I’m almost grateful that it did.
We love this poem by our son Lucas W________(9)
This is my family
In my point of view
My mother, father and sister too
I love my family I love it a lot
That is pretty much all I have got.
I am a family secret. I was told I was a Throwback to explain the colour of my skin.
My father was a Holocaust survivor who was naturalised British 10 years after the war. He was always cheerful and optimistic. After his death I read letters he wrote to our mom, saying how nervous he was to meet her friends in 1949 in case they didn’t like his German accent. But to us his children he only said funny stories and was always positive. I admire him and at the same time I’m a bit sad he could not feel more comfortable to open up.
I am a grandmother and have been married and widowed and have lived on my own for over ten years. I have two children who are now grown up and have children of their own. I have found my children and grandchildren a source of great comfort and support.
During lockdown I was lucky to be able to help my daughter who works for the NHS with the cooking and running the household and keeping an eye on my elder grandchild. I also helped my son with home schooling my granddaughter. I learned stuff from a six year old that I didn’t know. A zebra is considered mature when the offspring can recognise the pattern of his mother’s stripes, was one of the many facts I didn’t know.
I was born in 1949 to an unmarried woman. My twin brother and I were placed for adoption. He was my family until he died aged 3 months. Then I lost my new-found family as my adoptive parents divorced when I was 3 years old. My adoptive father gained custody of me. He was a wonderful father but I was a lonely, only child. My friends’ families became my family and I often outstayed my welcome at their houses. I rarely saw my adoptive mother until she remarried when I was 10 years old. I “inherited” two stepsisters (my stepfather’s daughters). At last I had siblings, something I had always wanted. Spending time with them on their farm was idyllic. My adoptive father died when I was 17 and by that time I had met my future husband. We married young and started our own family – three wonderful children. They were, and are, my world. But I had another family out there. Just before my 50th birthday I finally tracked down my birth mother. Despite being married three times she had never had any more children. However, she had had another child two years before me – a son. We had different fathers and he was also placed for adoption. He found our birth mother some years before I did. It’s a cliché, but meeting blood relatives for the first time and discovering the resemblances is an extraordinary experience. My family rapidly expanded – I discovered and met three half siblings on my birth father’s side. Unfortunately I never met my birth father as he had already died. Suddenly I had more family than I knew what to do with! My birth mother died in 2018 – bizarrely on the same date as my twin brother. Although her husbands had always known about my half brother and I, she had never told even her closest friends. The funeral was a surreal event. When the celebrant mentioned us in his opening address an audible gasp ran through the congregation. I can understand why she kept us secret. Being quite a pillar of her local community she was frightened of being judged. She was an ordinary woman who, at the time when we were born, had virtually no options other than letting us go. I think her friends would have understood. I’m not that lonely little girl anymore. I have a huge extended family all of whom I love. The ‘steps’ and ‘halfs’ don’t matter, they are my siblings – full stop. My husband and have been married for nearly 52 years and we have six fantastic grandchildren. The next generation.
Family to me is as much about those you are born to as those you chose to have in your life – a family created, drawn together, a deliberate choice. Those at the start, those you meet to share the journey and especially those friends who have seen you through the best and worst of times. Family is the heart, home and hearth. A safe haven., but encourages strong winds.
Family is chosen and blood gets thinned by water over time.
Yes, our family live in 4 different countries
My dad always hated the phrase ‘kill two birds with one stone’. He used to replace it with ‘cuddle two koalas with one hug’.
My grandmothers mothers’ name was Welfare….Edith Welfare….
We are 9. Married, birth children and foster children. All doing family together.
My Granny, Viva, met my Grandad Dick in hospital in the 2nd World War. He was in the navy and suffered catastrophic burns caused in an explosion on his ship. His face, eyelids, neck, jaw were all gone. He was covered in bandages and had skin grafted from his legs to his face. She cared for him, they fell in love with him wrapped in bandages. They had 3 amazing children, one being my mum. She continued to be a nurse, he ran the local iron mongers and was a scout leader, never letting his scars stop him from doing anything. They were the best Grandparents to their 7 children, we are so proud of their story. We call ourselves Team Dick & Viva.
I learnt at a very early age that friends are the most important family, we choose them based on trust
My family is my source of strength and happiness,,
Families can exist in many forms. They do not have to be biological. Where there is trust, safety, love and understanding there is a family.
Our ancesters include Jonathan Swift, Mary Shelley and the poet Dryden..
“You won’t lose by it” was a favourite expression of my dads who sadly is no longer with us but this phrase and more importantly the sentiment, confines to be quoted by myself and now my two boys. Always with us
We tried for a child for eight years. We completed our family in 2016 and adopted our son. We were definitely meant to find each other and life is such a gift now. Family should always be about love, security and safety. I wanted to share our story and give a special tribute to our son so I created a children’s book called Eddy Finds a Family. The story shows both the parent and child’s journey and how Flossy, Frank Flamingo and Eddy Emu find each other and become a family. It’s now my passion in life to support other adoptive families and help all children learn and understand about adoption.
Family is waking every 2 hours to rock your baba to sleep. It is those in jokes that sometimes only needs a knowing smile to access. It’s becoming a mother and appreciating your parents a 100 times more for all they did. Family is a comforting space, ritual, shared memories. Family is a deep connection that travels around the world and ties you together even when you apart. Family is pushing each other’s buttons, knowing each other inside out. Family can be lonely when you feel unheard or unseen. Family is imperfect but always home. Family is a little hand holding yours so gently but firmly that it takes your breath away. Family is everything, especially ehen it’s not there.
Family isn’t blood and DNA. It’s the people who you feel safe with, who show up no matter if you are riding the bus or travelling in a limo. It’s the people who call you when they need help and trust you enough to be their authentic selves. There’s no need to tidy up when you enter one another’s homes. You know each others likes and dislikes. You have been sad together, grieved together, been angry together, celebrated together, laughed together, been stuck in crummy situations together that you’ll talk about in the years to come… ‘Remember when….?” Building a family is hard work, but when you all put the effort in, care for and trust one another, and keep choosing to show up. It is worth more than gold.
My grandmother came from the town that’s now lit up on the map – a small woman who you’d probably overlook, until you got to know her, her barbed wit, her laughs, her astuteness, her philosophical slants and rock solid sense of self. We loved her till the very end and always will.
My family is tiny but perfect to me. I have one daughter and one mother. We are all only children.
The hands that first held me were strong and safe. The sinews of Dad’s were knotted and taut like the bark of a tree. Mum’s were elegant and deft, supple like willow. I see their hands when I hold my own children. I hope they are as strong and safe.
DNA is not the same as family.
Just because someone related to me is a monster, I don’t have to own them.
They are there for one another
Family is love, connectedness and trust. It may be blood, it may be free of friendship it may be both, it is always real and natural. We are residents on earth and can share what it means to be together as one unity of hope in humility. Blood is a coincidence, love involves effort and belief. We need family to become our true selves, we need sanity to know out true wealth. I am you and you are me. Would you like a cup of tea? it’s free…..
Our route to having a family turned out to be different to what we were expecting, and much harder than we were expecting, but perhaps it turned out to be the best route.
We longed for a child; our child desperately needed parents and a forever home. The most precious gift. Love trumps biology.
My grandads family lived in Rawtenstall and were labourers in Sunnyside Print works in 1900s. I moved here in 2016 after researching my family history.
My family always say, no matter how far you are, we’re only a phonecall away.
“Don’t forget that when you walk out of this door, you are an ambassador for this family.” I remember my dad telling me this, I must’ve been pre-teen. I also remember people describing us as being a lucky family. A parking space would appear, things would line up or. work out. My parents made a bold, brave move when we three children were small to move us to the countryside for quality of life and education. I grew up knowing that education and trying your best at school was really important to them, but so was following a path that made us happy. I’m grateful for growing up a little sheltered, curious and confident.
It’s only now that I more clearly see the powerful role models our parents were., how they shaped (and continue to shape) our family values. As self-made and self-reliant working parents, unconventionally forging their own path with hard work, dignity, and love. Running their own businesses, juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities, retraining and achieving further education later in life, challenging gender norms, going out of their way for neighbours, friends, colleagues and strangers. I’ve never been more proud and lucky to be an ambassador for our family when I step out of my own front door, wherever I live.
Family can be as wide or as broad as you like. They are your best friends and your fiercest critics, but for me the overarching sentiment with family is love.
My parents were of West Indian heritage, and had 6 children of which I am the second eldest. My parents were always drumming it into us to be kind, and to treat others how we would want to be treated, but one phrase that our mum used, and often was when we used to squabble and fight as you do as siblings was ”don’t fight with your sister or your brother, when you are older they will become your best friend.’ Well, who was to know those words would become be true.
My eldest brother Richard, at a very early age had a kidney problem and later on during his life, he was told that eventually his kidneys would fail. 11 years ago, when he was told that dialysis was going to be an option, I decided i would not say anything to any family member but would go and see if I could be a match to be a live kidney donor. After 9 months of going through various tests etc, i got the green light. I spoke to my parents first and said this is what I wanted to do, my mum took my hands with tears in her eyes and asked if I was sure, as I write this now I am tearing up.
I eventually told my brother that I had the tests and that I am a match and am happy to donate a kidney to him, he wasn’t sure at first and my mum, apparently said to him., if Polly wants to donate you should gratefully accept. He did and on 19th January 2011 Richard received my left kidney avoiding a lifetime of dialysis. It was extremely hard because 2 months prior to the transplant we lost our beloved mother, but I was so grateful that she knew of our intentions beforehand.. Richard is doing extremely well. today.
Today All my five siblings and their families live in close proximity of each other, and before lockdown there was always a family function, BBQ or some reason for us all to connect. Long may it continue.
There’s more than one way to become a mummy
They are there for you through thick and thin. Dependable, and with your best interests at heart.
When I was a child and it was bedtime, and I was snug under a soft layer of woolly blankets, I would maybe hear my mum outside my room and I would say, ‘come in and talk to me, pleeeeese. And more often than not she would. She’d come and sit on my bed and for a few cosy sleepy moments I’d have my mum all to myself and I’d talk about school, friends, books, anything to keep her there longer. And when I’d get sleepy she would rub my back and sometimes quietly sing and I’d drift off. She’s been gone a long time now but those bedtime memories are still there and that’s comforting.
This picture is me with my foster family, which was also my first family. Here I am on the right in my foster father’s arms. My title for this picture would be “Unconditional Love.” I was with my foster family until I was nine. After that, I was taken into a local authority children’s home, which was cold and institutional.
My great mother meant the world. It was my grandmother after God. The time I spent with her was terrific. Whenever I saw her, I felt calm. With a song, she greeted me. But we were just like an old couple.
Sometimes, She will ask me to come to sleep; when I sit comfortably and see TVs with her husbands, second wife, and stepchildren, I will comply. I’d quit talking to her once in the bedroom, but I could not refute her! I loved her so much and always will. Other times, She showed me every gift she had got from her children during mother’s day. Then she will be surprised not to get one from me after multiples attempt explaining mother’s day tradition. She will still ask for her missing present. Well, dear grandma, I wish you a Happy mother’s day. I hope you’ve got a super one because you are reunited eternally with our dearest loving, sweet and kind mother. I know you loved each other so much, and I hope you have great smiles, chat and laughter. Love from Mamiii.
What I’ve learnt is that you can’t choose what you’re born into. You can’t choose your family. Family still have to earn your love, it’s not just a given.
I was born the youngest of 6 children. I thought family was everything. I adored my mother and loved my siblings, mostly. My father was a disciplinarian.
Both my parents became very religious and aged 9 i was sent abroad to a convent school. I hated it. I missed home. I missed my life, my interests, my friends. I came home during school holidays only.
In the 10 years I was away, my parents adopted 5 more children.
I finally returned to England and a year later, my mother died, suddenly.
She left behind 5 small children aged 4-10. A husband who loved only her, and god. And me and my older siblings, bereft. 3 of us took it in turn to bring up our younger siblings.
But religion was my father’s sole focus and driver. 4 of my 5 younger siblings had special needs. He wanted to ‘save their souls’, i saw their potential for happiness, independence, fulfilment.
In time, the family was split. Those who wanted to please my father. And those who dared to challenge.
He died 2 years ago, following years of dementia. He had no interest in my children, said they were ‘bastards’ as i didn’t marry. He disowned me in his Will. Not one of my siblings cared enough to rectify this.
So, from a family of 11 children, I no longer belong at all. It’s a hard love to put out, the love for one’s family. Pieces of me have extinguished with it. But I focus my love on those who are worthy. Who are genuinely good people. Who care. Who support. On my own 2 beautiful children.
I work hard to earn their love every day. To be the person that hears them, that sees them, that holds them, that encourages them. Their love is not a given, a right, just because I am their mum. Loving them shows me what family can be. What being a mum can be. Its a powerful bond. But one that needs care, understanding, acceptance and needs to evolve.
Just me and my wonderful son, so proud of what he has achieved…
Family is everything. Family to me and mine means a safe place, a warm secure spot, somewhere to be understood and to understand. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate, we make a fuss and we love each other even when life is very hard and very sad. Food is important to family life and the sharing of meals all together at the table is a weekly highlight that restores us for the days ahead. Laughter and shared memory strengthens our family and each person brings something unique to the family unit. Quirks are accepted, flaws are forgiven and patient tolerance is taught. Our family life motto is ‘never give up, never surrender’ and we always pull together as a team in the good and the bad, tough or easy, light or dark. Our family is home.
Since my Dad died when i was 16, and my mother moved away, my family has become my friends who are now my real family
they represent home, bond, love
Fortnightly quizzes over Zoom when we couldn’t be together and every time Mum announcing the 10 minute warning and asking in a panic, ‘should we log out and log back in again?’ – Priceless!
I feel at home when we’re together. Our eldest boys are adults & live together – 2hours away. My mother lives 2hours away in another direction! My father in law lives 6hours away in yet another direction! I wish we saw each other more. I wish we lived closer together. I’m just glad everyone is happy. Our youngest is still at school – but has amazing future goals. We used to holiday all together – I’d love to do that again sometime.
I love the memory of my Dad reading Winnie-the -Pooh to me at bedtime and doing all the voices!
Family is heaven and hell
For my dad who died recently. He taught me as a child to blow raspberries when I saw the Queen. I’m still a Republican. He taught me a lot about kindness, equality and socialism.
My family give unconditional love at all times. They’re special!
My Nan used to warm her hands by the fire and use the warmth to heat up my little cheeks
My family is my strength and my weakness,
my calm and my frustration,
my happiness and my sadness,
my compassion and my indifference, my laughter and my sadness,
my trust and my doubt.
My descendants from a common ancestor.
Joy, laughter, love, comfort, pain, struggle, delight, work, home, belong, support, love, love, love
The lockdown has prompted longer, deeper family conversations, memories and revelations than would have happened otherwise. One such threw up the contrast between on the one hand my grandson at four years going to school for the first time (..and all the inevitable worries around how he would react, making sure he was picked up safely – only about a third of a mile from his home, etc; and on the other stories arising about my long deceased Father’s first school days.
Dad was born in the far West of Ireland into pretty poor circumstances the youngest of nine children. Seems he started school when he was only three, had to walk four miles there and the same back again with no adult to accompany him. This was over rough ground in all kinds of weather including the worst snow storms and gales. This tiny tot was also obliged to carry a heavy sod of ‘turf’ (peat for the schoolroom fire) as a kind of payment for the education.
Oh, and he had no shoes.
If you were born after World War II in a developed country, count your blessings.
My late Father Dennis Bird was in the RAF and as a baby I live in Germany. My Dad was born in Eastbourne and spent most of his childhood in Shoreham-by-Sea. In 1968 he came out of the RAF and went into the Civil Service, and we moved back to Shoreham where I lived for 48 years before moving to Lancing.
My late Mum Anne ( nee Chant) was born in Cheshire and as a young girl lived in Cheadle Hulme. She met my Dad at her Cousin John Silvester’s first wedding where she was a Bridesmaids. Uncle John was my Dad’s Best Friend and they’d gone to school in Shoreham together. My Dad was due to be Bestman at my Uncle’s wedding but was due to be posted by the RAF, however he got a problem with his knee , having to have an operation, so didn’t take up the post therefore was able to attend the wedding. He and my Mum did their courting while he was convalescing at Bradly Court which was a convalescent home for service men. On their third meeting my Dad asked my Mum to marry him. They were married in East Croydon on the 14 th March, 1959.
My Dad sadly died on the 30th July, 2005 ( my Mum’s 71st birthday) of a heartattack, he was 74.
My darling Mum was a Medical Secretary for many years and worked at Aldrington Day Hospital. In later life she developed Lewy Bodies Disease and went from being an independent lady living in her own home, to a little old lady in a wheelchair living in a Care Home. Lewy Bodies Disease is a form of Dementia where you also get hallucinations. It is a dreadful disease like all forms of Dementia as you loose the person twice, once when the person gets the disease and once when they die. My Mum died on the 10th January, 2015, I miss her every day.
I have one Sister, Juliet ( after ” Romeo And Juliet”) who is four years younger than me at 56. She is a Special Needs Teaching Assistant at the main Comprehensive School in Bognor Regis. She lives in Aldwick with her retired Baptist Minister Husband Richard Starling ( yes Juliet went from a Bird to a Starling!!!!!!!!!). In may ways their Love Story is like my Mum and Dad’s in the fact that Richard proposed to Juliet on their second date. They were married at Shoreham Baptist Church on the 4 th July, 1987, the day after Juliet’s 23rd birthday.
Obviously Juliet and Richard are my closest family members and I really missed seeing them during Covid and the “Lock Downs.” On the 31st October, 2020 I celebrated my 60th birthday with an Afternoon Tea at Angering Manor Hotel. It was such a special afternoon which I shared with Juliet and Richard, (who I hadn’t seen since February), my Best Friend Alison ( who I’ve known since we were 12) and her Husband Martin ( they live in the same road as me) and my Friend Janet.
Family and Friends are the most important things in your life and I certainly wouldn’t be without mine!!!!
My wonderful parents are long gone and I miss them every day. They live on through my thoughts, words and deeds. They encouraged me to live my own life so I’ve lived in Scotland since 1988, 450 miles from London where I was born. My family now is not about blood. It’s a wonderful partner of 29 years and a host of fabulous people, near and far, who enrich my life, care about me, teach me, challenge me and make me laugh. I hope I do the same for them.
From Africa & Spain to Ireland, to New York to Scotland. From Scotland to Berlin, Kent to Australia & Essex via several attempts to learn ourselves. A story of 5 generations in a few words.
I survived my family, i pulled myself away from them, & i built my own tribe. my grief is part of me, and my capacity to love undiminished.
My family’s dynamics don’t flow top-to-bottom, the love from each previous generation filtering down and down, in the way I assumed that all families worked. Mine moves up and down, the affection, commitment and closeness sometimes bypassing one person, just to come crashing back down from a generation above. Knowing when to stand under this crashing wave, and when to put up the umbrella, is a type of spiritual gymnastics that I didn’t realise those outside our dynamic even knew existed. Those people basked in shared familial love, appreciating its consistent rhythm. As an adult, listening to the belonging-words that cling to nouns and tuning-in to the quicksteps of conversation told me where I would be able to steal back some of the familial love; where the reservoir sat at that particular time. None of this bitterness is to say that I resent my family, goodness no. I can see barely a fraction of the theatrical setup that allowed me to play out my life upon its stage. Instead, I am keenly aware that some threads remain uncut and some bonds left in place when they can be peacefully separated. If I can tell you something about family, it is this; that the bonds that form it should be flexible and metamorphic, flexing to meet the status of the family in that moment, rather than the stubborn clutching at bonds that have been inflexible and static in their closeness since birth.
My family is all over the world. I’m sure it didn’t intend to be like that it’s just happened. Family is belonging and it’s caring. It’s not always blood. My family is other people family. We are connected but not related. We look out for each other and care but it may be virtual or it may be real life.
I grew up in the 50s when generally, parents were emotionally undemonstrative. I hope that I changed that with my own (one parent) family. I so love my kids & am so proud of their independence & resilience.
My family is happy. Me and my husband got together at 16 and are nearly 60 now with kids and grandkids who are fab! I honestly don’t know how our life happened, I’m just glad it did. My own dad came from rural poverty in Southern Ireland at the start of ww2 when he was 4. They lived in poverty in Liverpool but he always felt blessed because he went to school, had a home to live in. He met my mum, they got married and 7 of us were born, proper boring normal stuff!
This is a story told in my family. My dad’s dad foughf in WW1, was declared MIA, presumed dead. Turned up a couple of months later and, well, just got on with his life. Decided to get married, but his parish record showed him as deceased, so had to turn up with a local magistrate to confirn he was who he said he was.
My late parents were both smokers. When I was about nine (circa 1963) my father had a bad bout of influenza. Post recovery he lit up a cigarette, inhaled deeply and then threw it in to the coal fire saying it made him feel sick. We never saw him smoke again.
Forty years later when I visited Dad in hospital after his first hip operation he let me in on a secret. Firstly, feeling sick was just a pretence. He had calculated that by giving up smoking he could afford nine shillings and eleven pence a month (just shy of 50p) to rent a black and white TV from Robinson Rentals. He felt that if growing up without a TV I would be disadvantaged. Secondly, he didn’t want my Mum to feel that she had to give up as well. Hence the pretence.
What a wonderful and thoughtful liar he was!
We live in Yorkshire, our adopted home. We arrived in Yorkshire with a tiny baby and a three year old. They are now 27 and 24. Family is ever changing in a beautiful way. I lost my Dad when I was only 24 years old, way too early but have been blessed with arrivals of babies, a step family, nieces and nephews and additions of my son’s wonderful partners who bring some much appreciated female balance to our family . The boys still love heading back to Yorkshire and we create new family memories each time. They are proud of their roots. My family started as a small but beautiful acorn and is growing into the most wonderful, strong tree.
I haven’t seen my dad for many years. He lives about 4 miles away. He met a woman who controls his every move, and part of that control is to cut off access to his family. I did try to see him – secretly for a while. I had to make sure my baby didn’t cry or she might hear, on one of the many times she called him each hour to ask him where he was. She went to prison for swindling elderly men out of their life savings, and then I managed to see him more. But ultimately, he has chosen her over his family, and after many years of contacting him and being rebuffed, I have admitted defeat. I think about him most days.
My family are built of strong women and caring men. This lovely yet small bubble of complex, funny, emotionally intelligent people have made this world a glorious place to be.
My family are built of strong women and caring men. This lovely yet small bubble of complex, funny, emotionally intelligent people have made this world a glorious place to be.
My wonderful life partner is from here. I’m from Scotland. We live in England and have two boys navigating their early teenage years. We also have a 2 month old puppy. All of our life experiences are very different from where we are now, but I am grateful and proud to be a partner, Dad and puppy trainer.
From day one the landscape was bare.The State fed and clothed me.Dusted files every now and then. Swept me out with a sparse old broom at 18.Scariest moment of my whole life. Overwhelming.Realism is my family. Realism is my life.
Having gone through the ups and downs of IVF to become a parent, being able to watch my husband interact with our toddler son is one of my most joyful moments in life.
There were good times and bad. But always love
Family was me, Mum, Dad and a sister. Later on, my family was me, my wife and two children. Now it includes grandchildren. Plus a brother I found late in life. Family is love, stable but flexible
Family is what I think with
Family is not exactly the same since Mum went. She gave us so much of her life and so many opportunities to follow.
She gave me my first interest in wanting to discover other countries and languages. She did this by giving me wonderful books that opened my mind. She knitted national costume clothes for my dolls.
She gave me the opportunity to start my journey in music with a school band that has become an extended family and did not miss one of our concerts.
She wrote to me every week when I moved to Spain and when she got too ill to write , she dictated postcards and birthdays cards to my sister who would post them onto me.
Dearest Mum with your postivity and smile, I miss you everyday but your supportive words and love are always with me. I love you.
Love my children so much and hope they know as I felt so unloved and tried to be a different parent.
Family is home, a sense of belonging. Having lost my parents relatively young, and with no siblings, I have at times felt untethered and rootless. But over time my husband and children, and my network of close friends, have helped my roots grow again and I am very grateful for that. I want to create the same security for those I love.
I have three children and one lovely and amazing wife. It has been an honour and a privilege to go through life with them and although nothing amazing or horrendous or complicated has happened to us is really fun to create a new story with an interesting group of people. It has been brilliant to see how each of us has developed through this journey that we are going throughAnd it has been one of the most interesting parts of my life getting to know my three children as they develop. The most interesting story I know but one that is heartwarming and fulfilling for me.
Family is like a bag of revels – mainly wonderful but with the occasional person that is quite horrid. Family is broader than blood – in fact – blood is immaterial since we are all made of the same stuff whatever we look like. Family can be about location, where your heart belongs and where your soul sings. It can be about mother earth or about God. Family should be about open arms to all people and all places. My family is grieving the loss of my Dad – life will never be the same. I have to find the places in life where I feel close to him and seek out comfort in the world around me. My heart is broken.
I have a lot of family, and we sprawl across the country and to others, so there is always someone to drop in on when we travel. At the moment though, I miss being with my grandchildren for birthdays and ordinary days. Virtual hugs are not enough when little ones are growing up and you are scared they won’t know who you are.
My husband and I are divorced. We have two children and are still great friends. He has a new wife and daughter but we have all expanded to change shape and embrace each other. His wider family – parents, sisters, nieces and their kids – many of them live close by. I come from a small family. Being a part of a bigger family group has brought me such joy.
My grandma used to tell my sister and I that ‘we come from a long line of formidable women’, I say this to my daughter when we face anything challenging; it’s good to feel the strength of those women behind us.
This is where the rest of my family are. My dad was a British expat in Prague, and when he moved out there the first place he went to was a pub, naturally. There, he met a Czech lady working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, as the song literally goes. However, that was going to be my aunt. They became best friends (and still are) When my mother first met my father (they were both on a night out with her sister) he asked if he could stay at my mum’s place as he lived on the opposite side of Prague and she let him. That was a lie. He lived a ten minute walk away from her. That little lie led to currently 20 years of marriage, with 3 kids (I’m the oldest and was 2 when my mother followed my Dad back to the UK when she was pregnant with my brother). We haven’t seen my family back home in a year due the pandemic, and it’s been rough. This isn’t unique, but my heart and love goes out to the families going through the same.
My Mum was adopted when she was 4 months old, her parents always made her adoption date a special day each year. Although we have lost my grandparents now, my Dad and my sister and I still do the same by sending her a message or sometimes flowers. It’s a celebration of how lucky my Mum was to have wonderful parents and how much they treasured her.
This photo was taken in 1914 in a small town in southern Italy. The teacher is my grandmother Serafina. The pupil at her side is my grandmother Cesira. The first died at 113, the second at 101.
I was brought up in a single parent family in a housing estate in Scotland. My Mother decided not to marry my Father when she found out they were expecting me. She chose a much harder life which meant my life was also harder. I was dearly loved by my Mother and my many aunties and uncles as well as my Grandparents. I felt safe and supported even though things were often challenging. Because of my childhood experiences without a Father I decided to become a foster carer after having my own two children and getting married. I wanted to try and give that secure family unit to the children that came to live with us.
It’s been 14 years of fostering now and although incredibly hard at times, It has been the most heartfelt and life changing journey. It has given my life a purpose, to try and give children the opportunity to chose the future they deserve. Often the hardest thing has been for the children to believe in themselves and to love themselves when they have usually come from broken families. A functional family is one of the most important things to help you reach your potential and most importantly feel loved and secure. Without that start your path through life is probably going to be a much harder and longer journey of discovery. For me I think we all need to belong and that to me is what family is.
Our family of 3 daughters and their mum. All separate and myself separated from them for several years . Wasted years really but nothing can bring them back or change the past… people often say “if I’d known then what I know now” . But its true. This photo was of our “girls” trip to New York just a few short years ago. A happy memory and brought us all closer. Mum wanted to plan another but sadly we lost her to pancreatic cancer 5 weeks after diagnosis at the end of 2019. Shes shining bright up above though..Along with our lovely Nanna.
My only contact with my brother is a present and card at Christmas, but we are fine with that. My only contact with my husband is letters through the post, and we are not fine with that.
Our family saying is “you’ve ruined Christmas “ when anything, at any time of the year, goes wrong. This came about after sisters 4 and 5 cooked Xmas dinner for sister 2 and her family as she was working Xmas day. The turkey was raw when served. We’ve never lived it down.
My son born in Liverpool went to Australia to see his sister and met her New Zealand friend. They have been married 21 years now. My daughter born in Liverpool went to New Zealand to work and met a guy on line and they have been married 9 years. So 2 Liverpool siblings marry 2 New Zealanders from across the world and now live in Tauranga. Their parents decided to follow them as we missed our grandchildren and now we all live within 5 minutes of each other in New Zealand.
I live in Brighton with my husband Trevor. I have 2 grown up children Anna and Luke. We would not be here without the love of two people, my parents who wrote each other love letters during the war and went against my mum’s family who didn’t want them to marry because of prejudice against my catholic dad. She married him. We are here. Love rules!
As the eldest of six, I still text each of my siblings each night to say goodnight. Important that I keep my family connected since the death of both my parents
Better together through good and bad times we have grown stronger and closer.
It’s not limited to blood and birth, it’s who choose once here on earth
In Cyprus years ago it was the tradition to invite the entire village to your wedding. If a bride and groom were too poor to afford this, the alternative was to ‘steal’ your young bride and elope to a nearby village, where the priest would be happy to be paid to perform the ceremony. My grandfather did this and took his beautiful young bride away on his donkey. They returned, married, 4 days later. They loved each other dearly and remained together all their lives. They had 8 children and 39 (!) Grandchildren. The family is large and loud and has travelled far and wide, picking up our partners from many different countries, cultures and religions. We get together as much as possible to hug and laugh and tell old stories. A large part of our identity is carried forward in our food. So we cook and bake and eat together, absorbing recipes from our extended families. Like all the best families we are splendid and blended.
My family during lockdown changed, a foster child joined at the beginning of lockdown and my daughters boyfriend came for a holiday and got stuck here. It’s been amazing!! Family’s can change and grow.
We have just adopted an 8 year old girl with special needs. Our eldest birth child is 20 years and our youngest is 13. It has become an incredible spiritual experience to truly love someone else’s child.
I grew up in a family, not a particularly happy family although I didn’t know that at the time. I knew I had to get away from it to become myself. I got away, I became myself. I still have my family, and I’m glad of that although I once thought I didn’t want it. I don’t have children, but I do have family. You can’t not have family, if you have family. I think of my family stretching back through time – I think about the other ones that didn’t have children – they’re still part of the family. We are little unbranching twigs but we are still there, on the tree. If you go back far enough, we’re all part of the same tree. All one family.
I am a village boy from Ethiopia. I am the first child and the only boy in the family. Of course, I am the only child of my mom. I grew up in a family with true love. My stepmom was an exemplary mom. As the only boy in the family, my dad is also my older brother and close friend. Caring for and love each other is the characteristics of my family life.
My daughters have inspired me to be content that in giving them life my own life is worthwhile. They inspire me to reach to the future whilst they are a living legacy of my past. Although my Dad passed away over 10 years ago I feel his presence through the love and dreams of my girls. His calm peace and direction still steers all our lives. His love and wit remain a thread in the tapestry of our family life through which we all illustrate our future. For that I’m so grateful and proud.
My children are precious to me, my father was the example of what it means to be a parent. He came over to Britain in the 50s as a 9 year old boy. He worked so hard for his family and gave his life to us children. I understand how much he went through to put me and my sister first and. The fact that he died when I was 12 means my children never got to meet their inspirational grandad but they still love him so much and he lives on through us all.
My family is my husband and myself. We got married at 22 and 24, which seems impossibly young, but felt completely right and still does. It’s been five years now and I wouldn’t change it at all. Tomorrow we are going to meet a dog, hopefully they will become part of our family too.
I can tell you about a 15year old boy named Ram…who migrated from a small village in the Punjab in India in 1965…who married a girl named Vijay a few weeks before he was to leave to travel with his father, to become a man and follow their dreams of a better life. I can tell you of the many fathers, sons, brothers and uncles from the same village who did the same.. I can tell you of 3 years of being apart before Ram and Vijay met again….. I could tell you so much more of first borns lost… of the many jobs had … of living with mother-in-laws, father-in-laws, sister-in laws with love but no control… of cold baths and cold hearts from a land and it’s people instead of the welcome and warmth that was left behind. I can tell you of disconnection that leads to mental illness and alcoholism and. the desperate need to keep a strong sense of family, belonging and culture sometimes by force but mainly through the vibrant heart beat of a language, food and music. I could tell you of fulfilling the capitalist dream of big business only to be lost and lamented with a broken heart… I could tell you of the love shared despite it all… of four daughters and 6 grandchildren… of finding joy through the pain through connecting back to that vibrant heart beat of food, music, dance and family gatherings…
We lived in Africa until I was 10. My mum was homesick for Northumberland all the time we were there, but we only realised years later.
I am in awe of my teenage children, they are both so kind and loving and just lovely to be around. I have secretly LOVED them being locked down with us over the past year as I know these moments will one day be just memories.
Our family is 2 adults 2 boys (nearly men!) and a cat – much loved. I’m the only female and strive to ensure they see women and their way of thinking.. they go to the local school/college and have girls and boys as mates..also seeing boys feelings and ensuring they are loved, hugged and we LAUGH- they make me laugh so hard everyday. Boys push humour boundaries ❤️
I come from a family that comes from nowhere and have tumbled with someone to somewhere I belong
We have catalogues of ‘in’ jokes that make sense only to us that make us laugh like no comedy show in the world could compete with.
My grandparents were Irish immigrants to Western Australia.
family is seeing you at your worst and holding you tight
family is sitting on the stairs and listening in
family is stealing my brothers’ t-shirts
family is a knowledge of the small parts that make up who we are
family is knowing nothing useful at all
family is a set of assumptions
family is letting someone know you are thinking of them
family is friends
family can be chosen
family is fear of being put in a box
family makes for regression
family is cousins you used to make plays with in the loft, and now they’re somewhere else living they’re own lives probably thinking about you in some abstract terms
family is labels
family is being told to smile at gatherings
family is let me cry to you when you haven’t seen me cry in years – and sorry if it’s awkward
family is mum
family is food
family is talking about food whilst eating food
family is inside jokes
family is Summer in Japan 2005
family is cycles of learning
family is mum and dad telling me that they promise not to be like their parents are in old age
family is expectation
family is not something i know how to define, what it will be for me
family is not just having a spouse and kids, I’m determined to define it for myself
family is global
family is my lover
My family is, lovely, we don’t always agree, but we deffo love each other (a lot) … as a kid me, my sister and brother were taught to be nice to each other and as I grew up I really couldn’t understand whenever anyone told me they didn’t get on with a sister or a brother.
My mum, is my mum, she’s not my best friend… she’s me mam… the first person I think of whenever I Idon’t feel great (I wan’ me mam 😊)
My dad died nearly 8 years ago, and the pain and grief was just so, so awful… thinking ” I’ll ring home, chat with mum and catch up on football with dad” then… remember… ah, nah… he’s not here…. …. …. the first anniversary of his death came, which was awful, I missed him soooo much, I was heartbroken, daddy’s girl… ( we never quite grow up) … then, slowly but surely… I stopped crying when I thought of him… and started to live again.
I have lovely memories of growing up… parents who did their best, immigrants who wanted their kids to be happy… to have nice lives… Christmas was and is about family, eating together, watching tv, going for a walk in the park… midnight mass…
Family is… who I am… or at least… where it all started… my love of food amd cooking… learning to be a nice/ kind person… knowing that I can call my mum, brother or sister… and knowing that they know they can call me ( that last one is really important)…
I must add, family isnt perfect, far from it… but…. hmmm, family is comfortable…. where I can be me…
I lost my dad 4, 5 years ago when my boy/ girl twins where 10 months old. I travelled from London where I live to a small village in Greece where he lived to see him before he died. I stayed there for 4 days, he went in and out of hospital twice in those 4 days. He died a week later and I could not go to the funeral. I said to him goodbye at the hospital on my way to the airport. We both knew that we would probably not see each other again. We could not say goodbye to each other or promise that we will see each other again…but I knew that this was the last time, although he was still alive. And he probably knew too. ‘Take care of yourself’ he said ‘Don’t lose hope when you go through the storms of life, I had to ride through quite a few storms, and what storms some of them they were, but they all calm down in the end’. He knew I was really struggling with the early months of twin parenthood.
I never had enough time with my dad. We were an immigrant family and for a lot of my childhood he worked I Australia whilst we lived in Greece. I truly appreciated him in the last years of his life when rapture became possible to repair…
I wish I had created more time to spend with him whilst he was still alive, I didn’t as back then I did not have much appreciation of how limited time really is and how quickly it goes.
My children, now 5,5 often ask me if ‘papous’ ( grandfather in Greek) is ‘up in the sky. I think the openness of the sky makes a good, free place for him to be if he happens to be hanging out up there…
My ancestors loved to travel, I do too. Careers were limited for women, Secretary, Nurse, Teacher–so I went to college & chose Sociology & Psychology. I practiced marriage a few times, the last one stuck and we added 3 children.
Easy laughter and deep affection
Are the glue that binds my family
We’re curious, chatty and have questions
About everything from football to alchemy
We celebrate Santa Lucia Day every year (December 13th) and I never realized how special it is until I went to college and no longer had the necessary supplies
I believed my upbringing was normal until I looked back trying to understand my frustrations in life. My paternal grandparents treated us like royalty and visits were filled with cake and jelly but on maternal grandparent visits we were sidelined and ignored whilst the chain smoking back biting took place. I don’t remember being hugged or told I was loved, only that I was the reason my parents had married. After suffering much trauma from an accident, miscarriage and violent marriage, I distanced myself from my mother for so long that I did not recognise her when we met. She had a lot to answer for my condition, but I cannot blame her for her own upbringing. My step mother stepped into fill some of the hole but it was too late for me. I see friends hug their children, I see my father hug my half sister – it’s alien to me but I understand how important it is and how lucky they all are in being able to demonstrate their love for each other.
Family is big and small, near and far, loving and hating, caring and hiding.
Family is living in each other’s pockets and never seeing each other at all, united and separated, blended and lost.
Family is lonely and overbearing, loud and quiet, rich and poor, joyful and heartache.
Family is familiar and unknown, routine and chaotic. Family is mine, ours and yours.
Family is forever.
I lost my dad this year, he was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a son, an uncle, a brother in law. He is missed.
He was adopted as a baby, in those times a mother without a wedding ring was not to be. The day she said hello was the day she said goodbye.
My dad was fortunate to have been adopted and loved by his parents nonetheless. He had two names but only ever known by one. He left this world never knowing his mother … that was his wish, he thought he was never wanted.
I often spend time thinking about her, the mother he never knew, the grandmother I never knew, the great grandmother my children will never know…it’s funny how someone so unknown can occupy so much of your thoughts and it’s mind blowing that there is someone out there in this world that unbeknown to me or them that we are family.
We are a lovely familly of 3 name PAMJAMSAM guess who is the husband ? The wife ? And the child ? 😝😝😝
I remember the Christmas Eve when I learned that Father Christmas was no real. I lay in the z-bed (this is what we called the temporary bed) in my grandparents bedroom. My nose was cold as their house was so cold (no central heating) and my nan had made the bed very tight and snug. My toes were warm on the hot water bottle she gave me. I remember the feeling of lying in that bed. I remember feeling loved and happy and excited about it being Christmas morning. Then the bedroom door cracked open and the light from the hall came into the room in a line. I saw in this line of lightt my Dad’s arm reach on to the top of my Nan and Granddad’s wardrobe and carefully, slowly pull a box of presents from the top of the wardrobe and in to the hall. In that moment, I realised that Father Christmas was not real. I realised that the man with a red coat and white beard who came to the house on Christmas afternoons was my grandad dressed up. It was the happiest moment in my life as it is the earliest memory when all I can remember is love and happiness but also the saddest moment because on some level I realised things just would not always be as simple as they seemed right then. Father Christmas was not real. A spell had been broken. I miss that feeling and I miss my wonderful grandparents and my wonderful Dad.
Never has our bubble been as close, we are a team moving forwards against the world
My family is growing. It gives me a place to feel safe and delight in the love that I feel
It took years of therapy and moving across the continent for me to be at peace with my family. To recognise how my aunt’s passing at a young age affected the relationship between my grandmother and my mother, how my father modeled his behaviour after his own, and how the background of history and political upheaval in Poland complicated all of that. I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me about fairness and tolerance, even if they sometimes failed to follow their own lessons. I’m grateful to my grandparents to only ever show me love and acceptance, even when I told them things I now know they had no understanding of. I will keep the good things and pass them onto my son, and remember the mistakes to be able to avoid them.
Our family is my daughter and I. Sometimes I feel that people see us as “less” or not quite a family but to me we are perfect and our family time is the happiest, full of learning and laughing and so much love.
My children and I live apart much of the time but we have always been and we always will be the strongest little unit
We are a family where adoprin ribbens it way through our lives making us a family of many nations…. England, South Africa, Ethiopia and Ireland.
Way back with our first child aged around 3 we heard the word ‘principle ‘ on the radio. In a discussion about its meaning we formed together a set of family principles. Both our children (4 and 7) know them off by heart: Be safe, be kind, persevere and focus. We do refer to it a lot!
My Nan is in the London area along with my Mum and Dad .I feel privileged to have known my great grandfather and great grandmother on my maternal side and now my two sons have also known their great grandmother and therefore their roots . My Nan will be 100 in June and my son , her eldest great grandson has also made her a great ,great grandmother . Living our family history in real time . My own children are now making our family history in Leicester. Family history intrigues me so glad I got to meet my ancestors who where from Somerset.
I have two beautiful daughters, neither of them are my biological children but I love them with all my heart
My family, back home in Uganda was huge. My maternal grandmother had 13 children and my mum had 5 children. I had aunties and uncles who were younger than me. We all lived quite close to each other. Life was exciting from simple pleasures. We were not rich but didn’t feel lacking in anything. Things are so different here. I still have a large family, but everyone is so busy and we are all scattered around the country and world.The only time we all meet is at weddings and funerals. There is still this bond between us, but not so much with the new younger members of all the different families. Nuclear families are okay, but a close extended family is so much more.
We all like a good laugh and have a dry, sarcastic sense of humour. My son has the raspiest laugh for an 8 year old.
I am the eldest of four daughters. We lived in Bath – opposite the site of a former laundry. My mother made most of our dresses. My father worked with wood. We had a long narrow garden with a small patch of grass where we played. The long summer holidays were spent mostly in the garden. We would use the back-ways – the lanes behind our house to visit other children who lived in our street.
There were local parks to visit. The sandpits was where we went most. Walking there via a large plot of allotment gardens. Further afield was the Royal Victoria Park; with a small aviary, and a large Botanical Gardens. The play area is very different now.
Summer holidays were always the last week of July and the first week of August. Factories always closed for two weeks. We mostly travelled by train to places like Bournmouth, Swanage, Weymouth and Weston-super-Mare. Holidays were spent on the beach, with much sun bathing and swimming in the cold sea. On occasions we walked on the cliffs to neighbouring resorts. So from Lyme Regis we walked to Charmouth. We did this when my youngest sister surprised us about the distance she could walk. Another place we went to was Dawlish with the Warren close by. The seawalls were adjacent to the mainline railway route. At high tide we had to walk on the seawalls.
So in my childhood we went to London once. I planned our walking tour of the capital.
We went into town once or twice a year to buy shoes. The local shopping centre (Moorland Road) was OK for food – but sold not much else. We walked everywhere in Bath.
My parents divorced after I started work. Both parents still lived in the local area.
As an adult I moved to Bristol where I still live. Due to the pandemic we have not met as a family since Xmas 2019. We have all tried to avoid travelling out of our local area. I have kept in touch with my sisters using the internet (mostly emails). We have all tried to telephone my parents once (or twice) a week. Tomorrow I am meeting up with my youngest sister and her boys. We will be walking to a nearby village and have prepared a picnic to share. This seems quite a big event. I hope everyone enjoys the walk. I certainly will. I will put the copies of the photographs I take on Facebook. That way I can record the trip and the things we see on the way.
John Arthur Gilman
Making memories with family keeps my heart alive
I have two incredible sons: They’re eleven and eight. My eldest son is full of love for his friends, and my younger son gets really interested in really interesting and unusual things. I’m an addict in recovery and they’ve both been affected by times when I’ve been in active addiction but I’m working hard to change and things are better for them.
I was born just after the 2nd World War. I lived in a small terraced house with my parents and older brother. We didn’t have much but my mum and dad worked hard to provide for us. It was a simple but very happy childhood. Family was everything.
2 figures dominate my family story. My maternal grandfather from a crofting family with 8 teenage sons who left Dumfries for east Yorkshire. They found work as farm labourers. My grandfather and his brothers used to cycle into the local village to drink, sing, fight and entertain the local girls. My grandparents were quickly married and spent the next 30years moving their small family around the country looking for herdsmen jobs. They roughed it. My grandfather watched and learned his trade, selectively breeding Holstein pedigree cattle and gaining international renown. He was a great and good man – a wonderful singer and a huge influence on my father, his son in law, and therefore on me. The 2nd figure is my paternal grandmother, born before her time. The ugly duckling in her family she ran away to war in 1939 aged 16. Her application was rejected but her dad found her, listened and agreed to lie about her age. She drove ambulances in the war, could strip an engine and pit it back together and had a nice sideline in pink diesel. After the war, pregnant and living in a Nissan hut she continued to fight and all her children owe their careers to her sacrifice. So here I am, “metropolitan elite” sitting in a terrace house in London, working in a public library and owing them all my diligence, my fight and refusal to give up.
I have crazy aunts, cousin’s, villains and thieves , uncles I’m proud of but mams no longer here ❤️ sometimes I think of her and my dad, then remember the good times forgetting the bad, family was a haven from rain and a storm but the future wasn’t bright the day we were born, Now ! back in the Future of past years my memory will forever last, co’s back then, we were the future, the future of Mam & Dad
Sitting with the wife I was legally allowed to marry, watching our 6th foster baby make her unsteady crawling way towards the kitten we accidentally adopted I’m reminded that family isn’t always what you are born into or even what you choose but sometimes just what you end up with 🥰 and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Love is family and our family is love ❤️🏳️🌈❤️
There is a quote from “The Young Offender’s ” that says ” Its not about the family you’re born into – it’s about the family that works. “Being an adoptive family comes with its unique challenges and aint like the TV shows!I love my daughter and partner so much, it that it fills my heart.
I moved around a lot as a child (and again in early adulthood) and people used to suggest I was ‘strong’ to be able to up sticks and start again. It was only once my Mum died when she was just 62 that I felt rootless and adrift. I realised that wherever she was, she grounded me and made me feel I had roots to return to. I’m making new roots with my own family now.
My family moved countries several times while I was a child. Home was not a place, it was where we were together.
My family love me as much as they can. We all wish that was enough.
Both my parents had the veneer of law-abiding members of society but both had criminal convictions for fraud.
My Nanna was a fabulous baker, and her speciality was fruitcakes for Christmas cakes. Even in her last year, at a ripe old age 96 she baked 22 Christmas cakes for family and friends all across the UK.
I am either alone, or everyone privately dear to me are my family.
I grew up all over the world with my family , and my children are now experiencing similar.
My dad used to do this thing with my niece when she was younger. He’d say ‘how many of us are there?’ She’d say ‘2’. He would tell her it was 4. ‘Well, there’s me and thee’., ‘and there’s us two. That makes 4!’
Very much a matriarchy my mother’s family came from Ireland to London some time before the Second World War. My nana, mother and aunties eventually moved to Glasgow, others stayed in London.
I don’t know much about my fathers family, he left when I was very young but he was Scottish from the Campbeltown area.
Life was very hard for my mum bringing me up in a single parent family. It was not accepted in the early 60’s. poverty and hardship took its toll. But there was always music and singing in my house.
Having been brought up as an only child I discovered at the age of 50 that I had 3 half sisters and a brother, two of whom I have met.
I moved to England at 16 to find work and now live in Shrewsbury. I have 2 children, both born in Manchester. One lives there and one is in Aberdeen. All the rest of my family are still in Scotland.
My family have been the core of who i am and that keeps me smiling with fun memories. I come from a large extended Jamaican family-9 siblings and many many neices abd nephews. My ma and pa where together over 50 years before my dads death. My parents worked hard and instilled that in her birth children and grandchildren. I think we are a pretty close family who respect and love each other. That love is often expressed wherever we are through our family wattsapp group. Much as I’m grown with 2 adult kids of my own and found various ‘tribes’ over the years -nothing beats my largesse family..
Family is being truthful and ugly, loving and hating, caring and hiding.
Family is being in each other’s pockets and never seeing each other, loud and quiet, easy and hard.
Family is lonely and over bearing, happiness and sadness, joyful and heart ache.
Family is familiar and unknown, selfish and selfless, family is mine, ours and yours.
Family is forever.
My father passed away this year, he left this world never knowing who is biological parents were he had two names yet only ever called by one.
Born in a time when mothers were made to feel ashamed and outcast without a wedding ring. So much so that the day she said hello was the day she had to say goodbye.
My father was fortunate to be adopted by his parents and experienced love nonetheless. It was never his wish to know…thinking he had not been wanted.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the mother he never knew, the grandmother I never knew, the great grandmother my children will never know. It’s funny how a stranger who will always remain so, can consume so many thoughts.
I have a sister and she has two adopted daughters
My family shrank and grew over the years. My family consists of birth and friends I grew up with in a home. I think I had two mothers, a nun and my mum. They were very opposite and they live inside me. I carry a strong faith. I have left my birth country like my mother once did when she left me behind for over a decade, but unlike her I never came back. I uprooted and grew new ones. I have family of blood and friends and it changes from time to time as life does. I am grateful for the family I have.
We love board games, casino games and quizzes. My daughter’s fraction skills come from her being the croupier when she was big enough to reach the roulette wheel. Her Granda is a bad (!) influence.
We are very close family but last year during COVID-19 pandemic my father died. I thought my world has ended as he is someone I call to laugh and joke when things got tough. He always say to me makesure you always look after number one and that number one is you.
I also see my colleagues as my extended family as they are the ones I see almost everyday before pandemic and now on teams and zoom. Thank you for asking me to take part. Best Regards
Family has been a split thing in my life. Growing up family was something to coexist with without affection or love.
Family as a parent was full of love and cuddles and lots of ‘ I love you’ said to one another, so that my children’s foundations of life were completely and utterly different to mine.
I am immensely proud of my family. We are a big extended family and well-known in our community. We support, we love, we are kind, we laugh…a lot. When we meet up in our entirity, it feels like coming home. Warm and comforting. Happy memories, happy people, happy days forever. I love each and every one to the moon and back.
I have four Sons. I gave birth to the eldest. The next three guys were fostered. One from 6 days old ( now 19), one from 4 weeks old ( now 17), one from 2 weeks old ( died at 9 months from illness in 2007). They have all had very different journeys but are loved equally. They are all my Sons! I wondered when I first started fostering children 20 years ago, if it was possible to feel as attached to a child you haven’t given birth to? The answer is yes!
I have four sisters and my Mam and Dad are luckily still alive. As a result, my boys have a huge support network of grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. We are truly blessed. Family is everything to me.
I have four Sons and I could not possibly be and prouder as a mother of them all ❤️
The Kelly family is huge and we joke that our family motto is “kick one, kick us all”
Families are held together with love. Wherever there is love, there is family.
I’ve got three brothers, one who no longer talks to me, one I’m not biologically related to and one I’ve never met. My first family was full of physical and emotional violence & I went to live in a children’s home on my 13th birthday (got a cake though!). I moved in with my second family 16 months later – a single mum & a son who wanted a sibling. They and their family are my family now, and have been for 40 years. No parent is perfect, but most can be forgiven. No child ever asked to be born.
I have many families that I belong too. My nuclear family of my Mum, Dad and Brother whose heritage comes from the sugar cane fields of the Demerara River in Guyana, South America to the shores of the British Isles. I have the family I married into with similar heritage as my own but riased in the beautiful fells of the Lake District. I have my spiritual family nurtured from my Hindu faith where we come togehter in love for God and service to mankind and all of creation. I have my school family where I teach and nurture the children in my care. My Crisis family who I volunteer with each Christmas to help the homeless. I have my fur family who share my bed, my food and my heart. I have my earth family, my universal family my soul family, the kindred spirits I meet on many or a few chapters of my life journey. Thank you to all my families for helping to shape me to be the person I am. Togehter we are the heartbeat of the world.
Family is everything to me. I hold those present and those past in my heart.
We aren’t able to be physically close and don’t speak frequently but there they all are filling my heart.
Moments, memories. Good and bad come to mind. Sometimes they are shared snd sometimes they are not.
Often I have a sense of ‘you had to be there’ to really ‘get’ the ridiculousness, funniness, fear or hate from that time.
A fully formed adult now but I carry my younger selves inside… and it’s my family who can wake those younger selves up… for good or ill !!
Tough times aplenty but happy fun times too… none of which I’d change ( well, apart from a few😉)
My mother, who lost her own mother at the age of 14 and left her place at a grammar school to care for her father and siblings. Then cared for her husband and children., a marvellous mother, who would rather spend time with us than doing the housework.. And taught her children the value of education, opportunity and independence, letting us learn through our mistakes but was there to support and pick up the pieces. She only had a few years of time at the end of her life to call her own, but made every minute count. Such an inspiration., I love her and miss her always.
My father, a handsome, generous and kind man, who cared for us more than we ever knew; who showed little emotion but was so loving and proud of us all. I never appreciated him fully when he was alive, and wish I could hug him and tell him how much I love him.
My brother, who I love dearly, and so want to spend more time with him and his wonderful wife.
Last but not least, my incredible husband, chance brought us together and he is the light of my life and the best of friends as well. He makes us so happy.
I am so lucky to have had the best of family life with them all.
Complex, loving, funny, secure.
I am adopted. I had a special connection to my adopted dad. He died 5 years ago and I miss him desperately. He was Italian and used to tell me the bedtime story of Goldilocks and the The Three Bears. All the bears were Italian, had Italian names, Italian accents and ate spaghetti and meatballs instead of porridge. We would laugh and laugh. I loved it and him so much.
My family is my sustenance and support. I’m one of five siblings, now in our 50s and 60s(in fact, the oldest just turned 70), and we are all still close despite being many hundreds of miles apart. Our children and their children have built a web of relationships that span the world, from Thailand to Turkey, from Germany to the UK. Family shows me that geographical borders are meaningless; in fact, there are so many multi-cultural, multi-national families like ours that I believe borders should be obliterated from the map. Family teaches that we are all human, and that the things that unite us in love and compassion are infinitely more valuable than the things that might divide us. I’m eternally grateful that we were brought up to love, cherish, and respect one another, and we have built lifelong friendships and unbreakable bonds within our sibling group. I’m saddened to know that families like ours are not the norm, even though they should be.
Is a special connection I share with people I love. It isn’t limited to people I’m related to or who has the title ‘mother’, ‘sister’, ‘aunt’, my family is made up of people who are close to me and often, the ones I choose, are more special to the ones I am related to
The word ‘ Family ‘ is said in every episode of East Enders. Family – has so many definitions. It includes people we don’t know and those we would love to be related to. We can form a family, or discover it. It can create and destroy, love and hate,
build and demolish.
We are open, messy, flawed, argumentative, angry, grudging, fun, loving, funny, supportive, secretive, oversharing… we the women are dominant. Our stories, heartbreak, personalities shaping everything. To me, anyway…. the men are there but that’s not where the strength, the transformation, the moulding, the adaption is. We have fractured, remained unforgiven, rebuilt, seen the joy in the everyday, inconsequential passing of time…because that’s what it all is. It’s who we all are in the end. Small moments, postcards of that minute in time
My daughters are strong , through loss they Grow. By Loving they Give.
Family: Psychological Inheritance, Reversing Adversity and Leaving a Healthier Legacy.
My great grandmother, Ann Parker, born in 1856, suffered unresolved catastrophic loss and trauma in her youth. Unsurprisingly, she went on to suffer deep lasting depression and was a lifelong alcoholic. As I researched her life my compassion for her grew. But I unravelled a transgenerational legacy of loss, trauma, anxiety, and depression that was passed down these branches of the family.
The psychological legacy revealed repeated patterns of behaviour that I too had unwittingly passed on. This discovery helped me understand how we can use theories of mental health, positive psychology, and neuroscience to heal our psychological inheritance, reverse adversity and help present and future generations thrive.
Working class Ann, in a closed agricultural community, had few options and no treatment to give her hope. I admire her tenacity to keep going while looking after the home and raising a family. I believe we need to be kind to the depths of our being when we recognise that we, too, have written unresolved issues into our neurology and psychology.
We can only do the best we can at the time and learn the lessons life presents to us according to the limits of our skills, energy, and resources.
We will get stuck, walk another’s road, miss our path in the dark and sometimes feel overwhelmed. As an author I now encourage people to consider their family’s psychological inheritance, for good and for ill. We can move forward as best as we are able and trust that those who come after us will continue the journey towards a wholly healthy legacy.
We used to go on family holidays from Bromley, Kent to Cornwall in the ’60s and early ’70s. This was before all the motorways and before the clunk-clicking of the seatbelt laws. Our dad would do much of the driving at night, my brother Martin and I snuggled up in sleeping bags in the flat back of a Morris Oxford, our mum reading the map, in the dim yellow glow. Our dad would make up stories about Wiry Worm – who was very good at disgusing himself as a car-door handle, for example, and about Pink Coggle, a triangular-shaped man with a very round dog called Bumbo. (Pink Coggle entered his home through a triangular door, Bumbo through a round one.) In one Pink Coggle story, the She-Bears were enjoying a meal when their plates of food started floating up the chimney… and Pink Coggle’s was called in to work out what had happened and why. (I think it was something to do with the theft of pearls.) Dad was, of course, making it all up as he went along. Those Cornish holidays were very special, with their vanilla ice-cream, warm, lime-green fizzy Corona, and buckets & spades, but those stories on the journeys there and back again were very special too. Today, I write children’s stories for a living. Thanks, Dad. Happy memories.
We became a multiracial family through fostering. When i was 3 in 1966 my parents fostered a little boy whose parents were working and studying in the UK from Nigeria. He was called Fola and he stayed for 3 years. His parents visited often and stayed in touch over many years..sending beautiful cloth my Mum made into dresses for me and my sisters to wear to our south london primary school.
Ten years ago, now aged 47 my husband and I were foster parents and were asked to take an emergency placement of 2 little girls aged 2 & 3 from a Nigerian family. We were supposed to be a short term stay but they are still with us. We love our girls and have learnt so much from and with them as they grow. We have learned how to manage trauma filled nightmares, how to give them music lessons as both have inborn talent, how to cane row their hair, how to shut down racist nonsense, how to ensure they are given Black role models in every aspect of life and most of all how to make family from people you have no biological connection to.
Strong Irish Catholic grandparents who despite Catholic routes, empowered the next generation to be comfortable in the own skins and fed that down the generations. A mix of parents who had their children young, happy adoption stories and surrogacy stories, all within a family who just love to be together and love each other unequivocally and unwaveringly. Exactly as those Irish grandparents would have wanted generations on.
Through no conscious plan I find myself living a stones throw from where my mum and aunt were born, in a bungalow beside Arthur’s seat. My granny was terrified of hospitals perhaps after working as a nurse in the Second World War so the sisters were born there, at home. (Despite being the other side of the park from one of the best maternity hospitals, Elsie Inglis.) My granny told me my mum was late in arriving and my grandfather was fed up with living with the midwife. So frustrated he daily dragged her up the mountain until labour began. I feel part of this place, grounded & bound by stories & history, From my grandparents, through my mum, myself ending with my children.
“I have an amazing growing up family”
Family is the glue that keeps us together. Family is my moral compass, my safe place of shelter and warmth.
Family is unconditional love and I’m blessed to have an abundance of it.
My daughter is studying in Chicago and I miss her terribly but am so proud and excited for her. When our children grow up and follow their hearts it is such a double-edged sword. We work so hard to help our lovely little ones grow up to be brave, independent and ambitious. Then they go and carry through on their dreams and travel halfway around the world to do their “thing”. Without Covid, I would be seeing her graduate in a few months. But it seems unlikely that I will be able to do so. This is a sad situation but is not at all important compared to all those who have lost their lives and the families impacted by this dreadful pandemic.
My family—children, grandchildren, sister—have seen me through this difficult year. I’m so lucky to have Family.
Family gone. No siblings left but me.
My family has always migrated (Wales to Liverpool, Wales to Argentina, UK to US, UK to Jamaica; Jamaica to US). My family has also expanded to ‘adopt’ others – usually older children from harsh circumstances.
My family as a single parent and part of the sandwich generation is that of warm, strong friendships that support and hold me during darker times. And rejoice with me in the happy moments . I’m also a social entrepreneur working in the community to create social change , community is family too
Families need work, like marriages, to keep them healthy and long-lasting. Communicating, being thoughtful, being respectful, not taking them for granted – all these are needed to keep a family strong and together.
Family is forgiveness, love and understanding in order to overcome difficulties, no matter what, bruised battered and surviving.
For whatever the reason, I miss my daughter, my heart is cracked, it aches and I can only hope her heart misses me too x
This is where I met the love of my life. We are going to start our own family soon.
My great grandmother’s husband died just after their son was born. She worked out in the fields with the women from the town and used to keep her son, my great-uncle, wrapped up in the undergrowth while she worked. One day a group of men rode through the fields on horses, totally drunk, stopped where the women were working, and one of them said he was looking for a wife. The women pushed her forward because they knew she needed support with the new born baby. This drunk horse-rider was my great grandfather, their son was my grandad.
Family bring a depth of connection and love like no other.
I am longing
to see my granddaughter, born in Qatar in 2020. Until this is possible, she thinks grandma lives in the I pad, but at least she recognises me. Technology bringing families together during the most difficult of times.
Sometimes you get to make a new one. Sometimes you’re in more than one at once. Some of those will be good experiences, some may not be. Sometimes you can choose to make dormant the ones that are not right for you although you will always carry a part of them with you
On a small graveyard in the woods above my hometown, my Dad lies buried. The German word for graveyard is Friedhof – peace yard – and this little graveyard really is an oasis where you hear nothing but the singing of birds and sometimes the ringing of church bells down in the Ruhr valley below. You see all kinds of bird there: blackbirds, robins, blue tits and nuthatches.
The day my Dad died was a beautiful warm day towards the end of May. My sister and me had spent the night sleeping on a mattress next to his bed, listening to his rattling breath going in and out. In the morning, we had opened the window a little bit because it was getting hot. The birch tree outside his bedroom gently swayed in the wind. Then suddenly my sister screamed. A bird.
A bird had flown into his room and was fluttering around the ceiling. My mother said it was his soul.
The bird, a nuthatch with bright orange and blue feathers, got stuck behind some baskets. Nuthatches are the only birds that can run up the bark of a tree and down. Up and down – heaven and hell – this world and the other. I picked it up gently and it sat on my finger with its beak and black eyes wide open. I put my hand outside the window, beckoned it to leave.
“Come on, fly off, it’s fine.”
It took a minute or so until it set off into the lush green garden and was gone.
About an hour later it became quiet in my father’s bedroom. His rattling breath had stopped. He was gone.
Since then I always think of my Dad when I see a nuthatch in the graveyard.
I only realise now as a young adult, the arguably innate tendency to idealize my mostly absent father whose ignorance and unwillingness to engage in my life has finally sunk in after years of attempts to make a “mends”.
My mum, overprotective in many aspects but with justified reason (she is among many whose partner is unfaithful), raised me with values and empathy I will be forever grateful for.
But the unknown always tempted me. It came in the form of dreams, a familiar smell, a reference. Contemplating what my father was doing, and whether he thought about me as I often as I did him, and whether he would call sometime.
In a kind of twisted way, the distance and sometimes painfully scarce communication feels like safety. In the rare moment I do see my father, I often wish he would acknowledge his lack of presence, over the years, to take interest and connect with me. Instead our meetings are shallow and brief.
But the nature of family tells that one loves through example, and my father’s mother (an alcoholic), and his father (a stoic money driven figure), never did celebrate his birthday. And so I forgive his absence, and insensitivities. And after many attempts to reconnect with him, I am coming to be at peace with our relationship. Society projects inadequacy towards those who fail to represent its nuclear standards of an intact family, but we shall never fill that void in several moments wishing for something other than what circumstances we have been dealt.
And so, perhaps if we draw on the strength of our experiences, and be grateful for such realizations that the imperfect builds resilience, and gratitude, we can accept and let go, stop idealizing, and move on with our life, with likely a little more wisdom.
My family is not defined by bloodlines
but a fabric I can weave
Family is those I love on my terms
And who I trust and can believe
Family was a word used when I was young
To define who I “belonged” to
And as I grew I learnt
I could add and take away
Those who caused me pain
I could create my own family
Design my own pattern of love
The scars are just reminders
Of a life that I once lived
And now I have a family
My partner, children, friends
We are a beautiful patchwork
Constantly evolving and flowing
My family is not defined by bloodlines
My family is the safe space that holds us all together. We love making new memories and talking about old memories, laughing about all the things we did and still do. We are all fiercely independent beings, but our favourite times are when we are all together.
When we were little and lived in Maud, we used to spend Christmas at my grandparents. Us kids would sit at a wee table in the living room, while the adults sat at the big table in the dining room. We didn’t complain because it meant we could watch Top of the Pops. We always had two desserts: “clootie dumpling” (kind of Scottish Christmas pudding) and my grandma’s trifle. She made the best trifle and it had a layer of smooshed dates in it. She’s the only person I have known to put that in her trifle. I have never been able to make a trifle as good as her’s. She also made the best Empire biscuits – which we just called Grandma’s biscuits
Life requires the decisiveness of it’s owner.
Family is about a deep
sense of belonging. If you don’t have that when you are little you try to cultivate it all your life.
At 34, I found out that my parents did not give birth to me. My mum is my aunt and I have no blood connection with my dad. It broke my heart at the time, but I am fine about it. I would not change my family for any other.
My Grandfather never returned home from WW2. He left behind my Nana and my infant Mum. My Nan grieved the rest of her life for him. She could not speak about him. She was a wonderfully tough lady and I adored her. She worked in the cotton mills, and as a cleaner at Wigan College. I still remember her singing the old Irish songs with a couple of Tipples in her. She was very loved, and terribly missed. Elizabeth Padgett (d 2000)
Family is a tangle of weaves, a wave crashing to our beach… Family is when you reach out walk through water and pick up up that stitch…
My boys are grown and gone. I am so proud of them. The times we meet are the best of times. Joy. They have been few of late. But we are close.
A long time ago I took off on an adventure around the world and found myself in Australia for a year; back then there was no internet or mobile phones; I heard that my much loved grandma was dying of cancer; I decided I should write her a letter telling her about my adventures and telling her I loved her; I signed off, as she always did in her birthday cards to me, with the ending “love and plonkers” ….. she died not long after while I was still in Australia. Years later, when I saw my uncle, he told me he had been with her when she received my letter, he told me how proudly she had shown my letter to all of the nurses “it’s from my grandson” she told them “he’s having an adventure in Australia!” … he told me how happy receiving my letter had made her, oftentimes it’s the simplest little things in life that can be the most powerful
I am a divorced mother of two grown-up sons. I have lived alone for the last 15 years.
Had a happy childhood but was turned upside down by the death of both my parents and grandparents within a 2 year period in my formative teenage years. The love of my Aunt and my dear friends Nick and Ruth saw me through and I now have an amazing husband an two beautiful children, I also have a dear sister and nephew and a special sister in law and niece. Every day I feel thankful
I was adopted as a baby. Chosen! So how has the chosen one ended up all alone? I have no family now.
Family is safety and happiness. It doesn’t have to be biological to be amazing.
Diké Omeje is an incredibly loved poet, creative, son, brother and uncle. He passed away in 2007 but he lives on through his words. For me family is a verb and it is to love, and to remember.
Family is not just about the people who you are related to by birth. It is who you choose to be a part of your life.
you dont have to like them to love them
We all put each other first. We love and respect one another. My mom NEVER eats alone, she will wait for us to come home. I am the youngest and even in my 40s I am “the little one” and my family will do anything for me.
they are a constant and yet constantly changing
There were four of us Mum Scottish Dad French, Paul and me who were brought up in London. We were there for each other always, never angry for long. Absolute unconditional love. I miss them
One of the greatest things I was given as a child was a 1950’s esque childhood (I was born 1976) where I could play, run, hide all over my Grandads farm. I recall my grandma making huge teas of roast meats, buns, sandwiches during haymaking to feed all of the workers. She’d wrap sandwiches in a red spotted handkerchief and tie it to a stick which my sister and I carried over our shoulder as we ran through the fields on a Sunday evening as those working in the field stacked the hay bales for collection. We climbed to the top of the bales and sat eating our sandwich tea in the summer evening light. Pure joy.
Families are complicated. You can love them even when they hurt you. They shape you, but not always for the better. Not all families are happy families, though there.may be happy memories amidst the painful. I have loved and hated and walked away from parts of my family. I have seen the failings and forgiven other parts. Family will never be a simple thing for me, but I have learnt to be ok with that.
My family is blended, it’s made up of birth family members, adopted family members and friends that have become family. Family is everything and we share the good and the bad together, through the sun and the rain. Family is being part of something, part of someone and having a sense of belonging. Theres always someone at the end of the phone or to open a door and welcome me. Family is everything x
NayNay and Dinka
- My family is really so kind / they love us so much, they squeeze our faces off and kiss us!/ and i really love my family / there are quite a few people in my family who have died, and its sad to think about it/ also one person in our family is in jail/ my brother looks after me and cares about me so much, he plays with me all week/my brother is so kind to me / mummy and momma are so good, they help us go to bed at the right time. Anyone would do anything to have these mummies.
My mother used to keep a garden, when we were children she would show us all the plants and teach us everything about growing vegetables. She is also a very caring person and she would visit disadvantaged family and deliver food and clothes, this was a great learning lesson for us, we saw with our eyes the difficulties others had and how fortunate we were. Our house was modest but often served as a free guest house for people who needed a place where to stay. I am very thankful to have been given this examples of caring.
Family is love, belief, connection and loyalty
When I was young family was about rules my Mum and Dad made and fighting with my two brothers. As I got older we all felt more like friends. I am so thankful that my Dad is still around – he has been such a stalwart over the years and so generous. I can’t imagine life without him, or without my brothers for that matter. One day I will have to face those times, but for now we are still family.
When I was younger I absolutely took family for granted. They were annoying as a teenager. I hated being collected by my Mum at night when everyone else was allowed to make their own way home at a much later time than I was allowed out… But life happened. My family split and I moved away. I grew out of my limited, self absorbed teenage years and recognised the tremendous hard work and love that my Mum put into our family. It’s her life and we are truly blessed to have her in our lives. She has shown and exemplified true love in a way that I will forever be thankful for, as has her own Mum. Both left to raise families alone and doing it without complaint and always with fierce protection and hard work.
I’ve been introduced to families recently who are very fractured… Abuse, violence, substance abuse, severe mental health issues. These events have caused lifelong ripples for the members of these families. Their relationships are strained and complicated. Amazing what an impact our childhood has on us.
I am now a stepmum and have responsibilities to look after two young women who have faced extreme circumstances in their upbringing. Their views on family are so very different from mine and I do my best every day to try to share with them the same devotion and examples of hard work and dedication that I was raised with. To show them stability and love which isn’t linked to them needing to do things to earn it.
Families are funny things. I have several close friends who are without a doubt my family. Several non-biological important people in my life call me sister and they truly are my siblings. I have been looked after by friends I call my Bristol family when I was in dire straits and far away from my “real” family. I have a stepmum, stepbrothers and stepsisters and now stepdaughters. They themselves have several stepdads. Modern day families sure are complicated things.
I guess I would also like to give a shout out to people who have longed for children but cannot have them. They, too, live in family units which often go unrecognised because they do not have children. And yet they are still a family in their coupledom.
My brother just had his first child… A gorgeous boy who feels a world away. The first biological child within my immediate family unit… And one who will probably be a toddler by the time I can finally meet him as a result of the limitations covid has brought with it. Tremendously exciting and yet somehow difficult to believe as photos from lands afar just don’t have the same sense of reality as real- life cheek squidges.
Essentially, some are blessed with being born into loving families but others are blessed with finding people who feel like family as they make their way through life. The families that we build around ourselves in life can be equally, if not more important in helping us along our journey. Sharing in the highs and lows and seeing the world together.
I guess family is what you make of it. Just treasure every positive moment as you never know what the future holds, whether they are biological or soulful family relationships. Be there for those you care about and tell those special to you that they are loved. And remember that you too are loved by those people who you have welcomed into your life as your biological or chosen family.
We are the Fisher family from Lancaster. Family is a Saturday night lockdown film festival, it’s a walk along a canal towpath watching the seasons change through nature and weather. Family is a question on a chalk board in the kitchen; where did you feel most at peace? Answered by us all, including the cat. Our birthdays are spaced evenly throughout the year in 3 month intervals, as if we were somehow designed to be a family. Family is parting ways as our oldest child, now an adult, prepares to journey North for education and edification. Family is not knowing when to be quiet when the Sewing Bee is on but being looked at in a way that says we are together, we always have been and we always will.
today’s is my Dad’s birthday and with every year that passes since his death I appreciate more what an innocent and loving person he was. But saying that is so at odds to how our day to day relationship was. the joke in our family was that my Dad and I fought , because our tempers and our obstinate natures were too similar. He was over 6 feet tall, loud and with a huge laugh. But looking back the trips to steam railways (his hobby), the drives along tiny unmarked roads to seaside picnics at an out of the way beach and the seemingly endless hours in the garage helping to fix cars (usually sitting at the wheel pressing the brake peddle or turning on and off lights), were all time which he chose to spend with his children. I still go to call upstairs when a scene with a steam engine comes on TV to tell him to switch channel, I have endless photos and memories of favourite spots by the shore (and of my knees turning blue with the cold of the Irish sea) and my brother still acts as his own car mechanic (and often mine and his daughter’s too). I think now that (as a person , not just my Dad) his enjoyment of finding out how things worked and his pleasure at finding something “useful” on the beach to take home, reflected a childlike joy. He had no artifice, no hidden agenda and he didn’t expect it of anyone else.. Sometimes that meant he spoke too bluntly and offended people, but it also meant his love and loyalty those he loved
was unquestioning, his laughter was infectious and when I have a really fabulous meal I now hear his voice saying “delightful, absolutely delightful”.
Our family is created through adoption. I didn’t do a ‘good’ thing by becoming an adoptive parent. Adoptees aren’t ‘chosen’ or ‘special’. Adoption happens for lots of reasons. Birth parents and families are not at blame – they need more support to be able to keep their children. Adoptees and their parents need better support and funding. The U.K. government needs to think with new and radical eyes, so that many more children do not enter the care system.
At the heart of adoption is loss.
This loss impacts on adoptees, birth parents, birth families, adoptive parents.
The journey is navigating this loss.
‘Love’ is a small part of the journey. Love is not enough.
Here is a picture. Finding our way through loss and feeling/finding the love.
My family is large, very large! And diverse! We are working class, some would be considered lower class by certain members of society. We’re always in each other’s business which is annoying at times but mainly means someone has got your back & will support, care and love you no matter what
Best of both worlds, no siblings
Heaps of cousin love
I have an incredible family. I always feel safe & loved. My parents were always there for me. I have a sister that now is someone who has grown to be a support for me through some difficult years. I had amazing Grandparents. My Grandma lived to be 106 years old. She was an inspiration. I had a special cousin who sadly committed suicide. I wanted my own family and it took years. I finally managed to hold my son for the first time at only 11 days old. I thank his natural Mother every day for my family. Grown up now, married to a kind & thoughtful woman with a son of their own. I am now the happiest Nan. I also have a step son who is there for me. I’m blessed to have wonderful nieces & nephews & great nieces & nephews. My friends are my family. It’s not all been as it seems but my family & friends are what keep me positive & hopeful & shine like the brightest light.
My family are all grown up and for the first time my husband and I are living in our own! We live beside the sea and love it when our family visit and spend time together in the beach
Granny’s house was a thin house, its long hall
beside the taboo parlour, that quaint smell,
through a lounge-diner, the hulking table
between three-bar fire and cathode ray tube.
Dank light dovetailed terraces: dim scullery,
enamel sink, cream gas-stove and larder.
Back door led out to the chain-flush toilet,
Grandad’s tools rusting in the shed, orchard.
Mum talks of the three months we lived there when:
‘like a skivvy, dad’s rent stuffed in her purse.’
‘Keep Susan quiet and out of my sight’,
I’ve a memory of a striped chaise longue –
I think it was my bed…upstairs bathroom.
Granny had to walk through mum’s room, often.
I found it hard to place even my immediate family in one location. They are spread across the country (and world!).
Families need effort. They are an organism living, breathing shedding skin and re-generating. If you do not tend to your family it will wither and become weakened. Conversely, if you lift your family up and help them to shine they will reward the soil that holds all of you.
I see the people I surround myself with (near & far) as my family. It took me a long time to find my tribe. They each have a key that unlocks a different part of me. Some have a key to more than one lock. I’m grateful for them always
Family is important to me because it was important to my parents. I want to tell you about my dad. He was abandoned at an orphanage by his mother at age 5 in Ireland, where he was abused in pretty much every way imaginable by people whose whole existence was supposedly based on the scriptures of the Christian religion which apparently should provide a moral compass to the world……..God help us! I don’t know where he put all the anger, loss, resentment, pain and suffering but he certainly didn’t bring it in to our lives. He didn’t try to live a big life, he was a quiet, gentle man, didn’t fill the world with his grievances and opinions. He was not ambitious but worked as much as he needed to, to provide for us. And he was funny, in a very unconscious natural way and he really loved my mum. I sometimes feel sad that I will never be loved the way my dad loved my mum. This story doesn’t end well. Me and my husband chose badly. Neither of us are really bad people but we don’t work well together. We adopted two beautiful children and we haven’t been able to give them what they needed and now they are nearly grown, they are sad………really sad. I know it’s not just because of our bad marriage, the world is overwhelming now, they have the loss of their birth family to bear, and other trauma to process, but I know that might have been easier to cope with if they had that unwavering base that I had. That and the loss of my dad makes me a bit sad too. I think we are a sad family.
My family still all live in my hometown and these roots are my comfort despite being desperate to branch out and explore the world. They catch me when I fall and lift me up when I need it 💕
My sister’s daughter was born the year my dad died. My nephew wanted to know where his sister had come from. We told him that she came from the stars. When my dad passed 3 months later we were all at home and after we’d all said our good byes my nephew wanted to see his ‘Opa’. So I took him and he looked at him for a long time and then asked if he could touch him. After carefully stroking his hand he asked:”Has Opa gone to the stars now?”
My Dad was my hero, my best friend growing up! He taught neveverything i am today, hiw to respect and help others, to be kind and polite, to be a gent! I miss him so much! I am a social worker today because of Dad. I can build a house today because of Dad. I’m a great Dad today myself because Dad. We lost him 2 years ago and I miss him!
I can trace me family tree I. This village back to C16th. I moved one mile away from here and raised my own family. My three children have wings and have flown to new places
My died died of a ruptured aneurysm when he was 51, he was an otherwise healthy man. His liver and kidneys were donated to help 3 people. This was a very difficult decision. At his funeral and elderly man told me that my Dad was a generous man. I imagine he bought him a pint or two. This memory helps me understand the descion, my Dad was a generous man in so many ways.
For me family isn’t just about my blood relatives. Here is my “family bubble” pictured on my daughter’s birthday (the first time eating out together after 5 months of lockdown). We are not all related but our blended family focuses on our love and lifelong commitment to our children and our respect and support for each other. We know we are lucky to have these special bonds. 💕
My family is spread all across the country and the world but our humour and memories bring us together and makes them feel close.
I hope we can be laughing all together again soon.
Family in any form has the abilities by nature to show you unconditional love abs light.
Our family has been through a lot together, but though all of those challenges we are now more vulnerable with each other and conversations are often very deep. No matter where I go in the world, I feel like grounded when I return to my little town in the SE USA where everyone knows who I am and asks me about my life.
Both sides of my family came from Ireland. On one side they left the lush but impoverished lushness of the Wexford countryside, and the tailoring skills handed down through generations, to explore America and Canada, Australia and Tasmania, and in my grandma’s case, to cook for the wealthy in Liverpool and my grandfather changed from farm labourer to dock labourer. My father’s grandfather left the poverty of Co Galway and joined the British Army and my grandfather, invalided out of the army on a pension of one shilling and sixpence a week, wore instead the uniform of a doorman at a cinema in Liverpool. Ireland was still, in my parents’ generation, referred to as home. I claimed my Irish passport. My children claimed theirs. Ireland has a home in my heart.
My Gran died last year. She was 91. She was brought up in the 1930s in a northern English farming family. Her dad died when she was 9 and her mum remarried, so she became the eldest child of 9 – 2 full siblings, 5 steps and a half. She loved them all the same; it wasn’t just about blood. She married and was widowed aged 35, left with 3 girls (ironically my mum was also 9 when her dad died). One of the ‘girls’ married and had 2 boys. One – my mum – had me when she was 20 years old and got divorced when I was 2. We moved back to live with my Gran, who brought me up alongside my mum. I realised the other day that there has been no long-lasting, traditional, mother and father combination in my direct maternal family since 1938! My current family heavily revolves around my husband’s brilliant daughter and her children, as well as my mum, aunts and cousins, onevof whom now lives in Australia. It is a complicated and wonderful thing, including a range of nationalities, colours, cultures, religions, genders, sexualities and experiences. It’s definitely not just about blood.
My family isn’t tied by blood it’s tied by love. My beautiful extended family may not all share my genes but share my heart and mind. Some I’ve sadly never met. They are all in there, neatly tucked so there’s always room for one more. When I can no longer touch or hold them close I look for them in my memories. Feeling and holding them once more. They make me laugh and they make me cry… they make me.
From the moment I was born I was loved by my father and brother. That love has been a constant in my life. My father succumbed to cancer twenty years ago and I think about him most days. He would have been proud of his grandsons. They’ve grown in fine caring people, fighting inequality whenever they see it. And his two adorable great grandsons would have had another doting granddad.
My family are hard working and try to do right thing. They are scarred by own childhood experiences which means they cannot care for each other and emotionally damaging.
Awkard. Solid surface and molten mantel underneath. I feel like the hobbit in the shires on the surface. Our family is potentially seismically active. The surface area to volume ratio of a sphere is 3/r. If this represents the odds of earthquakes and volcanoes catching me then the bigger my family, the safer I am. Connect, connect, connect with the second cousins and the distant rellies who live far away and also the ones banished by turning backs to them.
My idea of family has changed over the years. I grew up in a traditional family in a small village where every old lady or man leaning on a gatepost seemed to be a family member of some sort. This was quite overwhelming at a young age. When I left home, like many young people, I only went home rarely and didn’t give much thought to keeping in touch. That was until I spent time abroad in a culture in which family and extended families were integral to everyday life. Thankfully when I came back I moved closer to my parents and had a few close years with them before they passed away. My family now is different again. Me the kids and the dog. Their father and I are friends and he sometimes lives in the house when he’s in the country. People keep telling me ‘that’s weird you’ve only recently got divorced!’. I don’t think so., it’s good for the kids so it’s good for my family. Family is what you make it . It’s about people supporting each other no matter who they are or what the relationship.
I arrived in England from St vincent and the Grenadines T the age if 4 to find my family with auntie’s help. I am so grateful for. They are the scaffold in my life holding me up with love keeping me strong always there keeping me secure. How lucky am I. I hope they know i am doing the same for the.
I am adopted and this is the centre of who I am. It is like a fault line that cuts straight through me. Family and home are two very complicated words. I met my birth families at nineteen. I had ten sets of grandparents and met them all apart from one grandfather. I gained two brothers and sisters. There are things about me that are innate, uncanny similarities that I share with my birth family, but the experience of the first nineteen years of my life is unshakeable and stands me apart. I feel I am always just a little outside. Being outside has become a super-power. I have deep connections with people who share no blood link and people who do. I have been loved, nurtured, and cared for by people other than my parents. Now that I am older, I see family as roots spreading out, not spreading down. I have close friends who are my family and a daughter who has taught me the simplicity of giving and receiving love.
My parents started “going out” when they were about 16 – my dad is now 87 and mum 84 years old. My dad had covid, a heart attack and sepsis last year. He’s just begun weight training twice a week
I didn’t understand why all the children at school had grandparents. Where were mine? Why couldn’t I meet them? I raged at my Mum who was raised an orphan. “God spare my Mum,” muttered my Dad who had seen his mother twice since he settled in Ethiopia a decade before I was born. Excited, I begged for a meeting ti be arranged. The circumstances were unusual. I had to travel across the Indian Ocean to see her. The train took forever before I finally arrived covered in dust that I’d gathered in my hair and all over my face when I stuck my head out the window to meet the breeze. It was summertime in India.. I had no idea why my Uncle and Aunt peered at me quizzically until I accidentally ran my fingers through my hair and stained them black. I caught my reflection in a window and apologised feverishly, “It was hit,” I tried to explain to my Uncle snd Aunt. I was sixteen and happy when I was finally shown into the bathroom. A bucket of cold water was rationed for my bath. It felt great. I used it sparingly so I could have a luxurious last splash after all the soap and shampoo was rinsed out. I hadn’t known what to expect. She didn’t speak English and I knew no Malyalam. But I had been well advised and dropped down to touch her feet in greeting. Her hand found my head and I received her blessing. Finally I met my Dad’s Amma.. My Andama.
I am 51 and the longest I have lived anywhere is 7 years. Moving around this much means that my roots are in people, not places. My family. Family by birth and family by choice. Family by shared experience, both painful and joyful. When my father died, the first thing my mother and sisters and I did, was to open a bottle of champagne (it was 730 am!) and starting telling stories about him. We laughed and cried, remembering such silliness, such a temper, such devotion. All this with him in the corner. We sat there for hours, holding him with us, between us with our stories. Binding him to us and us to each other. He’s been gone 10 years now.
Family is love, joy, warmth kisses and hugs. Nurturing, security/safety and continuity. Families share hapiness and sadness, is broken and mended lost and found. We are as Individuals a reflection of our family. And we all make the world.
My sister and I were ill as babies. In and out of hospital. She had meningitis and I was badly scalded. My sister nearly died, I think. It impacted our lives, always. There was so much love, but so much fear. Being a parent myself now, I think about how that must have felt and makes me respect my parents even more. I wish my mum was here to tell her, she’ll be gone five years this week.
A tangled string of fairy lights.
My adoptive parents told me my twin sister died at birth but then she found me when we were both 32. She also introduced me to two other sisters and a brother from the same parents as mine, so all full blood relatives. I am 72 years old now and have had 40 years of precious loving friendship with them all. You won’t be surprised to know that I am a fierce believer in telling the truth, no matter how difficult it may be. We all have the right to our truth.
When my husband died in 1991 my sons where very little they where my saving grace as they kept me sane, motivated me with the result that I have a lovely relation ship with them which makes us a very close family, family is everything without it there is nothing to bind heal and grow.
My family is unique. I am a love child. My mom was 17 when she has me. My dad and mom started living together from that age on, build a house, have another 4 boys, my mom went back to school. Got a job. They both work hard to raise 5 kids and help other family members. During all these time they never had a marriage certificate. After 40 years of living together my 2 children witnessed when they signed at church as husband and wife. They are still together after 55 years blessed with 5 children and 9 grand children. This story of my parents teachs us that its love that can keep family together not a marriage certificate or weddings.
About 20 years ago my mum lived in Belgium, my brother lived in Spain and I lived in London. We have all now moved with our families to Brighton and can walk to each others houses.
My great nanna got pregnant at 14 when she was in service. She had twins. She kept the girl and gave the boy to a neighbour. The girl died in her late teens of scarlet fever. My nanna grew up both knowing and not knowing her brother as it couldn’t be acknowledged.
Mixed up and fragmented but I try really hard with my own children not to repeat in any way what I experienced. Family is hard most of the time with tiny moments of joy that you have to hang onto in order to keep going. I was not lucky with what I was given but I am striving to make the experience of my children better than mine
As a child I didn’t choose my family but as an adult I do. I am now blessed with a wonderful family. They fill my heart with joy and there is always at least one person I am worried about!
Family is everything for me.
Spread out over continents
My five children and my two grandsons are my sunshine
Family builds you up for life or damage you for life. I am afraid I was damaged by my parents and living in suffering even if I am not under their abusive household anymore.
My family lived in a famous crescent in which much fun was had. It could of been an episode from the “Young ones”. There was plenty of laughter and beer, plenty of humorous stories and beer, endless football talk and beer, various women and beer. And when we would stop laughing we would all nip down to the pub and have a beer… you had a few beers too.
Welcoming my new generation:
Family feels over-glorified by those few who are fortunate enough to have a ‘functioning’ one. There can be much smugness associated with the concept & many hide behind it as a predictable and lame life purpose. Family can, in fact, be a bind and a sort of prison. Despite external appearances, it’s possible to feel incredibly lonely within, and ostracised by, a family. Don’t believe the hype.
Myself and my sister moved to Australia and left our parents behind. It has been a great experience for me but now I worry about my parents who are getting older and have no family around to look after them. I’d love them to move here too but they’ve lived in the same town/area for 50 years and I don’t think they’d like it here.
Family is the purpose of who you are & why you are here for. Family is what you have to live for. Family is the epic centre of who you are. That start from how your DNA conjoined to the way I answer this question. Thst is family
Our family song (created by my adopted son at age 3):
I love you
You love me
That’s what makes us family.
I love you and
You love me,
We’re a happy family.
I live a long way away from my sisters and twin. We chat each week but I miss them dearly. My mum died two years ago but because I wasn’t there, I sometimes imagine that it didn’t happen and that she is still there, welcoming me with a cheeky grin and infectiously childish sense of humour
Sisay Atrsaw Degalass
I have had only mother since my birth,but she passed away before a year.I realized my self as I am olny living this world after she died. I am feeling loness..I had many skills but…
My dog would hide under my bed scared when he heard my dad come in .
My grandad was a boxer called Ray ‘Darkie’ Moore. He sung ditties. Always wore a tie pin. Sold suits to guests at a family wedding from the church car park. He also took me and my twin to Keith Moon’s house for afternoon tea. My grandad felt larger than life.
They left Constantinople in 1863, for Manchester, England.
I come from a family of 4 powerful girls raised by the most amazing parents. Me and my sisters are unique as we are very different at the same time we are very similar. We are similar in our hearts, our respect for the others, our way of looking into life. We are different on our lifestyles. I immigrated to the UK 18 years ago but we kept our bound very strong, which we are now trying to pass on to our children. Our parents were able to bring up the best in each of us. I am most grateful to God for giving me the most extraordinary family.
To many people I would be seen as an only child but I’m not. I have two sisters and a brother from my mum’s previous marriage and two ‘sisters from another mister’ and a ‘brother from another mother’ from their father. I know in other families I might not even know my extended family but I am very lucky that I do. It also means I have a total of 15 nephews and nieces which is a constant joy!
I have a biological family but I always felt the odd one out .. the ugly duckling …. and as I have aged I have had to
Find my tribe of soul brothers and sisters who love me … and I don’t have to bend myself out of shape to fit in and feel accepted … Tribe … my tribe …. weird and wonderful
Mum to my brother one Christmas…
“Will you come to midnight mass with me?”
“I think it’s too late for me Mum..”
Mum: “it’s never too late to be redeemed”
“I meant too late at night… but thanks Mum…”
Family is my joy, my laughter, my security, my trauma, and my love wrapped into a magical but confusing sense of belonging.
I am the odd one out in my family as I am the only one who is not adopted. My husband and both our children are adopted, as are our 2 rescue cats:
My family mean everything to me! I wouldn’t change them for the world. My mum cooks for the whole family every Thursday, so the children and grandchildren all usually meet up on a Thursday evening after work/ school to spend time with mum and dad (12 of us in total). Throughout the pandemic my mum maintained the family tradition and parcelled up all of our dinners, every single Thursday in containers and would have them ready for us bagged up, in her front porch. Bless her!!!♥️
I grew up on the edge of a fen in a remote cottage with no running water or electricity. We weren’t the cleanest children! My siblings and I were a feral tribe, climbing trees, making dens, paddling boats, with extraordinary parents who had chosen this way of life with all the physical discomfort and dangers it brought. The well water was not potable, all had to be boiled, so I don’t trust cold water only drink tea even now. But we played cards, board games, read books and learned to play musical instruments, argued about anything, laid the dinner table, washed and wiped up together singing in the kitchen, along with many people who came from all over the world and stayed with us, some for refuge, some for company or conversation . My Mum was a primary school teacher, five children, biked to work over the fields to the next village, a force to be reckoned with. She had us out in the woods sawing up trees at an early age, and later in life she was fond of wielding a chainsaw. My Dad was a genius, and that isn’t always an easy condition to live with. We used to have terrible arguments about the meaning of words, and the thesaurus would be slammed down as a challenge in the middle of the dinner table, which was good for language and very bad for digestion.. I love being a member of my family, the physical hardships we shared and the freedom we had to roam and play and take risks has stood us in good stead..
my father was a Kindertransport child fromAustria and I now live in wales
The word family is making sure my children have a better childhood than I did. That they feel loved unconditionally, that they have a voice and that they can simply enjoy being childish. For me family is throwing off the shrouds of a painful past, breaking the cycle and making sure it is different for those I have brought into the world. To take those hard, sharp, bitter memories and create something beautiful in my children and my children’s children, then and only then was it not in vain.
Many generations of my family are from here, although I was born in Yeovil, Somerset. I feel a strong connection to this part of Ireland it’s a beautiful, comfortable place for me to be.
Family is the only constant for me, no matter what, they are there for me, no judgement, just love
None and all and everything, started with all was pushed away ended with none that’s everything.
It was my daughter’s cardiac arrest in ICU as I held her in my arms that has defined what family means to me . She lives on and thrives and I live for her.
Karen J McDonnell
I love the mix I’m made of: ancient Irish, 18th century Palatine refugees, an English migrant, a soldier in our War of Independence, a 2-faith elopement. They are gone. They wrote my story.
My family are those who try to understand me, and me of them. My family are those who I can laugh, argue, cry and rejoice with, always with acceptance, but not always without pain. My family support each other and try not to complain. My family is valuable and will always remain. There is no fear of rejection.. Though my family may not be my blood family, the values I hold through which my family grew all started with Mum and Dad. My family.
My remaining family is small but growing as my daughter is about to give birth. Our connected heritages stretched to the England, Northern Ireland, Caribbean, Nigeria, Ghana, Poland, Russia and has survived wars, persecution, colonialism and adversity.
My family are scattered across the country and I lament not knowing my cousins. I could walk past them in the street and not even realise. My grandfather lived to 100 and he was the glue that kept the family stories alive. I miss him.
Blended family vibes
Strawberry moon Luna-Eve
Ry demands the ‘nook’ every night
Tom is the clever one & so fiesty
Mama JoJo they all call her name
Dad, st-dad, JC is their bearded hero
Mix us up in a blender & we’re smooth
Sometimes there’s a pip, a seed
Wor Family is heart, hugs and light.
If you love someone you have to let them go. This isn’t easy. We have two sons…. one in Bali, One in Barcelona. We are so proud of them both…, I love their Independence and live vicariously through them. My husband is less adventurous and is very unhappy that his sons have gone to live abroad. He is envious of families that live close by and socialise/spend time together. I am just very happy that my sons are happy and I know they love us but they need to live their own lives now. I know that they will remain close wherever they live in the World and I am very excited to go and visit them. Family dynamics are so interesting… I feel my husband wants to keep his family close because he has separation issues due to losing his father at a young age and having to assume the fatherly role in order to look after both his mother and stepmother… and “grow up” very quickly. He has never allowed himself to fully grieve the loss of his beloved father… which keeps him living constantly in the past.
My 4 siblings & I all supported each other when our mother was in her last phase of life & needed much support. We did not fall out over her care
My family has two kids, one who is adopted and one who is not. Although I love them both so fiercely, the adopted one really struggles to accept that we are his family and is always looking away towards his birthplace and biological parents. It has become my mission to try to build up this child so he knows we will welcome any family from his past into our own but also, more importantly, to feel that we are enough for him and that he is enough for us.
I carry my family everywhere I go. They are in my thoughts and actions and are integral to my being. I thank my parents for gifting me a love of reading, and a sense of humour.
Our family name was Hare – we played with this by acting like rabbits – two sons called Ben Hate too
We might not share DNA and we may not share a name but we share memories, happy memories, and that’s what makes us family.
My little family are the very centre of my world. Nothing is, or could ever be, more important…
They are my best friends
I have a birth family and adoptive family. After 50 years of not knowing, I have a sister, a brother and nephews, and family other than my children who look and act like me! It’s amazing, full of loss and joy. Having a child made me realise why people love their family…
My family is a web of love and support. The golden thread is their respect for and appreciation of others, and an unwavering faith.
I have only one sibling and an grateful for that but because both my parents came from large families I have tens of cousins who are all unique and amazing people. It was great growing up, so much attention and love. Now that I am older the number of funerals are accelerating away but weirdly bringing the surviving family back together.
My Grandfather was from a close family. He was a talented athlete and apparently he used to love running in the beautiful Wicklow countryside. He moved to London for work in the 1950s but he was killed several years later, in an accident on a building site. He had four young sons (including my Dad). The boys were separated and my Grandfather’s death had a profound effect on the family. I grew up feeling that sense of loss and not really knowing my Dad’s family. I often wonder what my family would be like if the accident hadn’t happened.
Yes. I was in care too Lemn. In foster care at birth, back with my mum aged 3, my mum left me when I was aged 6 and back in care i went. My foster family had lots of problems and i was sexually abused for several years while with them. The death of my foster mother, when i was 16, set me free.
The City of Brighton is and has been my ‘mother’ as it provided consistency, familiarity, a council house, friends and 3 partners over several years- 2 men I had my 3 children with and my wife, who I married in 2016. I benefited from a Labour government who paid my tuition and childcare costs so i could train to be a therapist. I have 3 adult children now, a ‘created’ family of my own, they are great : ) My kids are Truly wonderful, open and kind individuals.
Theres a lot more to my story and yet I have included here most of the main events! Lemn, your ‘child of the state’ video opened my heart so much. I came and saw you in Brighton a couple of years ago, at Sussex Uni, and cried silent tears. Those tears have only ever been cried due to listening to you. Thank you. You showed me someone like you, who was also someone like me. I will always hold something of you in my heart for that.
Im sorry and angry that they hurt you. I cant help feeling we are warriors too. We had weights attached to us, but we were not held back.
I love to know I am safe in my family now.
My great grandparents “escaped” the Holocaust to Argentina. Did they escape? After living her whole life in Argentina Their daughter, my grandmother, took her own life, and ensured her daughter, my mother found her. Let’s talk inherited trauma! It destroyed my mum’s life. 26 years ago… she still fights to overcome that.
I didn’t truly ‘feel’ the concept of family until I became a parent. I had a happy childhood, my parents loved me – but for whatever reason, I didn’t feel much emotion around the idea of family. I valued independence and autonomy above all.
But after I had my daughter (now aged 4), I felt inextricably enmeshed with both her and my husband. We are interdependent, a unit, and family is my main priority. I want my daughter to have the warmth and security that a family (when it functions well!) provides.
The experience of motherhood has also strengthened my bonds with my own mum and dad. Because of family, I’m constantly torn between staying in California (where we emigrated from the UK seven years ago) and returning ‘home’ so that my parents can be part of their granddaughter’s life. It’s an impossible decision. Whose needs should count most? In many ways, families are a balancing act.
The idea of family is something I have been striving for all my life
Family is people whom you have chosen to love, and who have chosen to love you. They may be blood or birth related.. Or not. And they may include a large huggable dog. (Insert pet of your choice)
Our home is full of laughter. My family are special humans and home is a safe place. I know how blessed we are. Sending love to the world and praying all families have a safe place to call home.
My mum and dad did not make me, they adopted me & my brother & created a loving family. As with any family there have been highs & lows but I have always known that they love me unconditionally.
We have courage to stand up for what we believe in.
I come from a large extended family, we’ve all always been close, and I thought I understood love. Then when my daughter was born, again I thought I really understood love. However when my beautiful daughter was diagnosed with a heart condition at 7 and we’ve faced losing her and watched her handle the whole journey, collapse, diagnosis, surgeries, with such dignity, maturity and resilience- that’s when I truly understood that love.
Family does not have to be blood. I have three children, none of which I’ve given birth to but acquired by various means!
My boy ‘M’ is 29 and came to live with me when he was 8yrs old, (I fostered him) he has additional needs but is such fun to be with, he chose to stay with me post 18yrs which was such an affirmation to me. I’m so glad I got to do lockdown with him!
My daughter ‘J’ is the daughter of my best friend who died so I am her ‘spare Mum’ (she’s a mum now so I’m ‘Granny B…. to two adorable boys’).
My daughter ‘C’ had a tough time with her birth family, we met when she was in her 20’s and I became ‘Mum’
They are all so different, for many years I grieved that I had not had children of my own, but I could not have loved them more than I love these three.
nine months ago my dad died of a brutal and fast moving cancer. he has been married to my mum for nearly 60 years. my mum and I cared for him until his last breath. what an honour to help someone leave. 4 weeks ago my mum died of a brutal and fast moving cancer. we knew the road mum and I. one night at 2am my mum held my hands and said ‘I will wait until your brother gets here and then I will go and be with your dad.’ ‘okay’, I said ‘we can help you do that.’ my brother flew across the world to get here in time. I watched the clock, I checked the plane arrivals, I told my mum ‘he is coming, he is coming.’ he arrived and my mum grasped his hand and told him she loved him. my mum died the next day. my family was my mum and dad. but after almost 60 years together they were not meant to be apart were they? so now we start again with our children. and we won’t ever wait until there is only one more day to say ‘I love you.’
My family home has been the same since I was born but I’m connected to so many people across the globe, home can be many places simultaneously. Cousins live in Europe, Canada, America, Australia, India and the next generation are spreading their wings even further. Love makes the distance feel insignificant.
Being with my family is being at home. I love them so much and I feel so loved in return.
Loving, irritating, caring, maddening, supportive, believe in you, can be yourself, high expectations, intimacy, laughter, silliness.
My mam was in an unmarried mothers home when she had me, MYdad says that when he met my mam it was the making of him… and me as well. Me and my sister are like chalk and cheese but we all love each other. My son became a dad at 17. My grandson is 6 now. My dad is really well rad.. he knows lots about native Americans and Irish history. He knows so much. My mam didn’t liane to read until she was 14.. the teacher took time to teach her. It was a big family and there was an ash in each school year. My uncle Martin was her youngest brother she was one of eleven .. he was Down’s syndrome person he’s was a shining light… my family gave me the end of one era and moved into another.. from post war generation to now… l have memories and roots now that l didn’t understand when l was younger.. lm bound but not held back by my memories .. my family experience gives me context to my life… l like getting older .. l hope that l leave that to family coming after me… ..
Freya aka Shaz
Not only can they bring joy and love but also pain an heartbreak
We have 6 children , 1 foster son and a black Labrador . We had a chocolate Labrador called Dudley who once belonged to the chef Gordon Ramsey .
Never really knowing my father’s side of the family, after reuniting with him after many years and him having been diagnosed with alzheimer’s it was very tough to establish even some basic facts about the family. I thankfully met my dads siblings, an aunt and uncle. I took a dna test and discovered that they had another sibling that my grandad had fathered of whom they knew nothing about. My uncle’s 78 and now speaks regularly to his half sister. He’s hoping to make it over to Ireland later this year with me to met his siter and her son for the first time. I feel proud and content. This has all come about due to a series of huge coincidences. Life is strange and beautiful. Families too.
I grew up hearing snippets about my forebears and not really taking them in. Boring, yawn. Now I think about these things more and in one case I realise the desperation of a sick female relative who took a chair outside on a cold night and sat there to end her life by hypothermia. My uncle, Gordon, who you may remember from France, Lemn, can probably tell the tale.
On Wednesday the 6th May my family celebrated the 100th. anniversary of my father’s birth by meeting together at his place of rest in Highgate Cemetery. It was the first time that me and my sister Natasha and our children have been able to meet since lockdown, it was wonderful to be reunited again and share tears and laughter in the rain.
My grandad, who like his father and his grandad, started working life at the Railway Works in Swindon. He later became a lecturer and a huge support of my education. His answer to anything and everything was 4 foot 8 and a half (4′ 8 1/2″) which is railway standard gauge. I’m only 4’11” so not much bigger anyway. All of which to say that’s why I know the random, not especially useful fact in my everyday life, that standard gauge is 4 foot 8 and a half.
We were never demonstrative. Four boys who went to a brutal Catholic grammar school where emotions were not so much frowned upon as beaten out of us. Never sent a Mother or Fathers Day card. Never understood why some people did.
I emigrated to Spain in 1992 and was bowled over by the family structures and codes. To some extent I was welcomed into families and finally understood what families are for.
My mother a catholic grammar school girl from the deprived side of the tracks. My father from a privileged boarding school. They met at Cambridge. She worked hard to get there his family paid for him to get there. He had every privilege anyone could wish for. He was a deeply un happy person. They split up when I was 3. He was very abusive physically and mentally. My mother was a strong independent woman. When I was 7 she met my step mum. It was like the sun came out after years of hard times. I then grew up in the 80’s and 90’s in a farming town with 2 mums. They stood out I can tell you. When I was 10 she became ill. When I was 16 she died of cancer. My step mum nursed her through her treatments and held her hand until she took her last breath on the 10th October 1998. At that time the hospice staff didn’t even acknowledge their relationship and just called them “friends”. I am 39 with children of my own. I think of my mum every single day. I talk to her in my mind. I have lived longer with our her than with her. I am the same age now that Mama and Christine got together and my son is the same age I was. I feel blessed to have had such love in my life that I can pass that heirloom to my beautiful babies.
My family is made of a powerful love that has sometimes been overwhelming and claustrophobic. But It is so good to be loved. It is always there. It is a knowing. An understanding that we are and will be loved. We know because we are told often.
This sums up my childhood with my family and one of the best memory I have of my dad who is no longer with us. We use to collect our Christmas tree from a local nursery which we would carry home, which involved crossing some busy roads with a lot of lorries. With my mum, dad and two my sisters we picked a tree and started the walk home. With my dad holding the bottom of the tree and me holding the top of the tree we started the walk home, we started to cross the main road. All of a sudden we realised a lorry was coming straight at us. My dad was pulling the tree one way and my pulling the other way shouting at each other which way to go, with the rest of the family laughing at the side of the road, I thought it was game over just before Christmas. Luckily the lorry stopped for us and we managed to get across the road safely and the tree home in one piece. Since loosing my dad it’s one of my favourite memories which symbolises our family life, just a little bit chaotic, supportive, fun and together
Every year as a child we went to Tenby for our Easter and summer holidays. My Dad grew up there, and his grandad was coastguard. Great grandad died rescuing a dog who was stuck on the cliffs, and the town bought his bereaved family a house – which is still owned by my brother
Family to me was a feeling of entrapped, blindsided false faith…Family to me is feeling safe, held, loved and free…Family will be the gentle firmness of our connectedness-ready to catch you if you fall and propel you back out into your galaxy of hope.
Chaotic but precious
Growing up in the 1970s my family didn’t have much money and we were often given hand me downs from other families. I remember a favourite cardigan. It was blue and in the top left hand corner it had my initials embroidered in red cotton. I learnt later from my mum that my dad had embroidered my initials. When I asked him why, he said he wanted me to think that the cardigan had been made just for me. I was thinking about this the other day when I sewed the holes in my favourite cardigan (not the one I wore when I was a child!)😃.
I have three sisters, the eldest of whom is 14 years older than me. Although we are one family our perspectives and experiences of our parents and each other are all different and change as we age.
My mum was very special, but sadly passed away when she was only 50. Born on the Shankill Road, married at 18, three children at 23 and raised the family in 1970s Belfast.
As well as a great sense of humour and a commitment to justice and fairness, she passed on a determination to make the most of my opportunities, to do sonething useful. Circumstances of time and place conspired to prevent her having a career, and my workaholic tendencies might be in part a response to that.
I’m approaching 50, and see her in the mirror every day.