What do you get if you cross a Vicar and a Circus Performer? No, this is not a bad joke, unless I am.
My father was born almost 71 years ago in an area that he describes as the “Slums” of Birmingham. He was the youngest of 13 children, money was sparse. Dad tells of being sent to school in Aunty Jean’s boots because that was all he had, he made his parents proud and was accepted to Grammar School passing his eleven plus with flying colours. His place was passed up because the uniform was too expensive. My father soon began his working life, he was a glazier, he was a bit of a lad, he wanted adventure and he joined Billy Smarts Circus. A fire-eater, a sword swallower, I love to think of my Dad as a legend of the big top.
Mum was the oldest of three, daughter of a woodwork master, some might suggest that my mother’s family were middle class, they bought their house they owned a car Mum sang a song about “peep-toed shoes” in the garden. Growing up in Kent, the garden of England, Mum studied hard, she graduated university with a classics degree. My mother became a social worker. When I was 19 my mum took the brave step to change her path, she studied once again, my Mum followed her calling and was ordained.
We all know the saying two sides to every story. While typing this tale I realised that what I know of my parents meeting, the early romance and marriage has been told to me by my Dad. They met through work. Dad decided not to go with the big top on an Australian tour, he somehow started working in childcare. He met this a raven haired social worker wearing an ankle sweeping skirt as she bought a referral to the home in which he worked. He fell head over heels for my mother, eventually she agreed to marry him. A happy ever after…. it is for me.
I know I do not say this often enough, but I am so fortunate to be the daughter of this unusual mix. My Mum and Dad might have come from opposite ends of England, different backgrounds and contrasting experiences but their union has created a family I am blessed to be part of. Last year as Mr & Mrs they celebrated 40 years of marriage. As a family we dined together in celebration, three generations, six grandchildren at the centre of the day Grandma and Granddad who despite the challenges they faced remained together supported each other and still do.
In posting alphabetically on themes of gratitude over the last month I have considered a great deal. Thought of what makes me smile and laugh, reflected on what has kept me going during times of difficulty. I sit in awe of what my parents share, they have a lifetime together, their lifetime created mine and through all the chaos I created my Mum and Dad have been a constant support.
A terrible teenager I put strain on the patience of my parents, a strain that most would have buckled under, but they never turned away. When I left, moved out at only 17 I wanted to prove my parents wrong, it didn’t work out that way but not once did I hear the words “I told you so”. Now as I face the trials of a teenager’s parent I cringe to think what I subjected them too, but I thank them with an open heart for their example has been an inspiration to me.
My greatest fear in posting this on my blog is that I fail to convey the patience, love and kindness my mum and dad have bestowed on my life. It is so easy to take things for granted, I love my parents very much, for the examples they have set and the inspiration they continue to be. I am the luckiest daughter of a Vicar and a Circus Performer and will always be grateful that they are parents to me.