For the first 6 months of this year I’ve had to concentrate on my day to day job, hence my lack of posts.
I wasn’t sure I would find the time to write about the things that concern me as a grandparent, both as an alienated grandparent or as a grandparent carer, which many grandparents find themselves in the juxtaposition of.
To be frank my energy levels were so zapped during the legal battle, (which thankfully ended with a working court order in 2013) and the subsequent financial hardships as a consequence, I had no choice but to return to full time employment.
I am lucky in that I get to work with a fantastic team in a very diverse community in the heart of Manchester and make a difference to older people’s lives. #ILoveMyJob
Things were just beginning to run smoothly when the Manchester Arena Attack happened on May 22nd 2017 and for the second time in my life time my home city was attacked by some random violent terrorist, the first time was in December 1992.
I could go on to tell you how the first attack changed my life forever, by succumbing to the inevitable anxiety and depression and fear of public spaces, but that won’t help and I now realise 25 years on how those terrorists won their battle of fear and terror by forever changing my life and the way I went about it, even though mercifully nobody died in that first attack.
It took me a long time to seek the right help for my fears and anxieties and no amount of attacks will ever break my resolve to live my life to the fullest to enjoy each and every moment I can with friends, family and community.
I am fiercely proud of my city of Manchester for the way it has come together in the days that have followed since 22nd May and my prayers and thoughts will always be with the families and friends who lost loved ones or were injured in this senseless attack.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you have been affected in any way find someone to talk to, but do not let terror defeat you, we owe it to the victims, to live life to the fullest on their behalf, volunteer in your local community and help those who are the most vulnerable such as the elderly, many of whom no longer venture out.
Many of the elderly are NOT on social media but will be tuning into their TV’s and Radio’s and will be absorbing the wall to wall coverage of terror, so please pop into your local community centre/hub and church, temple or mosque and ask for their latest newsletter or what’s on guide and post in your local streets.
You can also work with your local community to raise funds for projects in your area that help make a difference.
“If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don’t, they never were.”
— Kahlil Gibran
This quotation from the famous poet and philosopher has always been a part of my life, I have often quoted it to my children when discussing matters of the heart, and difficult relationships in particular.
Some relationships are worth ‘fighting for’ and some are just not, it’s that simple it really is, when you remove all the emotion and drama, that is the philosophy that we all come back to and settle upon.
It is a lot easier to write and quote Kahlil Gibran, than it is to live by it when you’re in the midst of a court case or as I have dramatically put it myself in the past “battling to maintain a relationship with my granddaughter”.
As a Grandmother it is extremely hard to “let go” of a small child you have helped care for and have a close relationship with, particularly when her parents are fighting over her, and she is all too aware of the battles confusing her and dividing her loyalties. All your instincts as a Grandparent want to protect and keep her stable; it is really difficult when those parents move across country too!
That was the position I found myself in five years ago, and the case continues, although progress is being made and I have learnt a few valuable lessons along the way.
Maintaining contact with a family member is always worth fighting for.
Choose your words carefully and know when to use them.
Choose your battles wisely know when to let something go, for the sake of peace.
Keep the dialogue between you open and friendly.
Never undermine the parents; you are the grandparent not the parent!
Never be demanding, always be flexible.
Listen to what type of relationship the child wants with you,( they don’t all want to sleepover or travel long distances)
Write old fashioned letters regularly even if the child does not reply, (it took my granddaughter four years but that first letter was a real heart-warming breakthrough for us.)
Remember that the child is growing and developing new skills and tastes, go at their pace and allow for change.
This is not a definitive list and a lot depends on the kind of relationship you have with the child’s parents, whether they are blood relatives or not the list still applies.
I’m hoping that when we return to court in two weeks that it will be for the last time, having re-established a relationship with my granddaughter in a way that she is happy and comfortable with and that her parents are willing to support.