This final blog entry in my Celebrant’s Imagination series is written back home in Falmouth. My parents and I settled here in 1970 after four years of travel. My parents favoured Coverack but were worried it might be isolating for an 11 year old girl (me). It was a pin in the map that brought us here. We lived in the town for eight years before finally moving to Coverack, just a few months before my dad’s early death. Although my mum stayed in Cornwall (except for a few years in the 1980/90s when she lived nearer to me during a particularly difficult time – see below) it took me 34 years to get back (via London, Cheshire, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Coventry and Plymouth). I’m still travelling though as clearly this part of my particular socialisation has had a lasting influence.
In thinking again about my particular path to celebrancy my positive and negative life experiences are equally relevant. Just a short extract from something I wrote for an academic conference on motherhood and mothering last year:
I’m thinking back to the day when my mother thought I meant to kill myself.
No babies for me, it seemed. A realisation I felt painfully emotionally and physically. . . a complete challenge to all my hopes and expectations. On the day in question I ran from my mum towards the river. ‘Don’t, don’t,’ she shouted running after me. But I never intended to jump and I wasn’t running from her but from myself. . . .
I have adapted. I have been fulfilled in other ways. The following nearly 30 years have been busy. I feel privileged to have been able to spend so much time researching and writing about issues such as pregnancy loss, infertility and childlessness. Issues that I and others feel are important, yet often misunderstood and/or misrepresented. I am grateful for the meaningful relationships I have with the children, and more recently, grandchildren of others. But I feel sure that I would not have survived intact, reformed as whole without my mother’s support and unconditional love. For her it was all about me, always about me and it was not until after her death that I realised she never, ever, spoke of her own loss, no babies for me; no grandbabies for her.
|Dorothy Thornton (MY MUM)
It was at my mother’s funeral in 2012 that I finally decided that I would like to become a civil celebrant. Although I chose the music and the readings (just as I did for my husband John’s funeral two years earlier) and read a eulogy that I had written the service was still not what I hoped for, officiated by a man who appeared not to have listened to anything I had told him about my mum; my Dorothy.
Alongside the significant losses in my life the constant positive affirmation from my parents, the encouragement from my two husbands (especially John), the caring and continuing support from my small extended family (both biological and via marriage) and my work-based relationships all make me the person that I am. And of course there is another group of people that are hugely important to my personal auto/biography, to myself; my friends. Recently sociologists have begun to research and write about the increasing focus of many on ‘friends as family’. The significant others we couldn't do without and who are, or should be, central to the ceremonies and celebrations in our lives. This is certainly, absolutely relevant to me.Without my friends, a few in particular (they know who they are), life would be much harder and so much less fun.