When I was little we would take trips to Scotland during the half term holidays. Our family of five, plus the dog, would all bundle into our forest green Rover, top box and trailer attached, and drive the eight+ hours up north to some wonderfully rustic and remote cottage. We would always be joined by our Aunt, Uncle and cousins and together we would spend the week exploring. With a pot of piping hot fresh porridge bubbling away on the stove and an endless supply of fresh Scottish air – we were always on the brink of an adventure.
These were some of the best days of my childhood and remain some of the best times of my life. What makes them really special is the memories I have of my Mum from these holidays. She was unmistakable in her blue and green walking fleece accompanied by matching headband. I don’t think I remember her ever being happier.
Losing her to cancer when I was 18 was a devastating experience – one which I will never get over. As well as missing out on making new memories together, her absence in my life in more recent years has meant that I’ve missed out on learning those all important life lessons from her. There is however one particular thing that she taught me during one of our wild Scottish ramblings which I still hold very close to my heart: Stop and ‘share a moment’.
On these holidays, we would spend the days hiking through the countryside, exploring endless landscapes, spotting yet another bald-eagle (or what we learnt years later to be a common Buzzard!) and excitedly making dams in the streams we stumbled across. But Mum was always there with her hip-flask full of brandy telling us to stop, look around and ‘share a moment’. And we would. All nine of us (with me as the youngest) would be forced to just stop, look around and appreciate where we were and what we had – together.
Now, I’m sure the warmth in her belly after a shot of Brandy was pretty high up on her list of reasons to stop and take in these moments – she did love a tipple. But I also know in my bones that she was planning for those special shared moments from the day we first booked our holiday, and more than likely she was planning for them right from the day that my siblings and I were born. I know this because it’s what I do. I put so much time and effort into planning my trips so that I can stop and take a moment and remember them in 20 years time, in the same way that I look back fondly on memories from 20 years ago.
To imagine what I’d like to look back on in 20 years time doesn’t always sit comfortably with me. My Mum died when she was 50, and in 20 years, I will be 51. I have always had this overwhelming feeling that I will die the way my Mum did, far too young and far too soon. So, for a long time, thinking and planning too far ahead has crippled me with fear. But more recently, I’ve had a shift in perspective. Instead I want to try and live for the now and do all that I can to enjoy both the everyday and special moments as wholeheartedly as I can. And I want to continue to plan for my family holidays, so that in 20 years time I can look back on them the way I look back on the memories of my Mum, with pure happiness.