The Best of Times

My diary has been a sporadic affair, sometimes months going by without an entry but, flicking through it now, I can see a pattern emerging. All the good times seem to be there, red letter days and when things were not so good, silence.

This is how it began.

Aug 1958

I’m 8 today and I’m having a party. I got a Hula Hoop and three singles, Yakety-Yak, Splish Splash and Bird Dog. I keep playing them and mum says I’m driving her mad!!

I also had some books and this diary, so I’ve gotta write in it.

Yes the enthusiasm for writing a diary was definitely lacking but I will go forward ten years.

May 1968

I can’t believe it Josh has asked me out! We’re going to the pictures on Friday to see 2001:A Space Odyssey. Not sure what to wear but anything is better than school uniform. He sees me in that everyday. I’ve fancied him for ages because he’s quiet and gentle, not cocky like so many of the other lads. I can’t believe I’m going out with a boy!

Aug 1968

I’m eighteen today and very excited because we’re going to London to see, ‘Cabaret’. I wanted to see ‘Hair’ but Mum and Dad said it wasn’t suitable. Do they think I’m a kid? 

To be honest any show in the West End would be good. Josh is coming with us. I think I’m in love with him because I feel sort of odd when I see him; my stomach does a flip. We’ve being going out together every Friday for weeks now. I can’t wait for tonight!!

I’m also going away in October to Lancaster University. I’m scared and excited. I’ll miss everyone, especially Josh. Anyway I’m eighteen, leaving home and beginning my life as an adult. (Help!)

Aug 1978

“I’m twenty-eight today. Normally I’d be writing reams about my presents, a party or a treat but something much more momentous is happening tomorrow. I’m getting married!! 

Dave is wonderful and I’m so lucky. I only met him by accident, literally. I was getting off a bus and there was a huge puddle so I tried to leap over it but fell. As I lay in the puddle I could feel the cold water seeping into my clothes but I was so shocked I couldn’t move. Then this gorgeous man asked me if I thought I could get up. I said yes but when I tried to push myself to sit up I realised I’d broken my arm. Then I felt sick.

Anyway, to cut a long story short my Sir Galahad called for an ambulance and came with me. We chatted and found we had music, books and a love of walking in common and the relationship developed into love. 

There’s been such a lot to organise, church, reception, cake, dress, bridesmaids and guest list. But it’s all done now. Tomorrow is the BIG DAY!  My life begins tomorrow as Mrs (Lady) Galahad. No I’ll really be Mrs Amelia Shore.

(Now I know what you’re asking. What happened to Josh? Well I can fill in the gap and say he was not a good letter writer and Lancaster University was a long way away. We drifted apart as I studied and moved on.’ 

Aug 1988

“It was my birthday yesterday but I was too tired to write in my diary. Thirty eight and I’ve just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. He has loads of black hair and all the bits he should have. He’s gorgeous! I love feeding him. Dave is besotted too. We desperately wanted a baby and in the end we went through fertility treatment and it wasn’t easy – took ages. But he was worth all of the heartache and waiting. We haven’t decided on a name yet but I want to call him Ashleigh John. Dave’s Dad is an Ashleigh and my Dad is John so it will please both of them. Everything’s going to be different now we’ve become a family. It’s the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. 

Aug 1998

“It’s my birthday today, forty-eight. I’m getting old. Ashleigh makes me feel old because he‘s ten, going on sixteen! Things have been a bit dicey, Dave made redundant from his job in the insurance company and it’s been really hard. At the moment he’s a housefather and I’m working all hours as deputy head.

 Sometimes I’m jealous that Ashleigh comes home to Dave, shares his day at school and gets help with his homework. By the time I get home he’s got his head in his computer and can scarcely spare me a smile. I can’t even read him a bedtime story now because he’s an avid reader himself. 

Feel a bit redundant.

But, Dave’s got an interview tomorrow and if he gets the job we’ll be moving. Keep your fingers crossed because this could be a new beginning! ……He got it. I’m hugging myself with joy.”

2008

“Another birthday, fifty-eight, Ashleigh’s twenty!  He ‘s been working to raise enough money to go around the world, done loads of different jobs but now the tickets have arrived, his rucksack is packed and he leaves tomorrow. I know that he’ll never live here, with us, again. Will I have empty nest syndrome or will I feel a sense of freedom? (Probably a bit of each.) The good news is that Dave has done really well since we moved to Cumbria. I gave my job up and worked as a part time guide in a National Trust property. It really suited me and I took up painting in watercolour. I often pick up my gear and walk no further than down the lane and the view is stunning. I’ve painted it many times, in different seasons, and in different light.

I’m not sure what the next ten years will hold but I’m a glass half full sort of person so I shall look forward to our comfortable old age.

Aug 2011

“I am sixty one today and feel much younger than that. When I look in the mirror I see wrinkles and my hands are more speckled every day, but I’m healthy and fit. I’m also incredibly happy. You’ve guessed it is not just my birthday that’s exciting me. I’ve just become a grandparent! Ashleigh, and his partner Shona have a beautiful baby girl, Amelia Rose. They gave her my name and I was too moved to speak, just cried. 

I’ve cried a lot just lately. I cried when I heard she’d arrived safely, (mum and baby doing well); I cried when I saw her for the first time yesterday; I cried again when Ashleigh called me Grandma. 

I cried that Dave wasn’t able to see her and because I still miss him so much.

What an emotional time it is. I’m looking forward to baby sitting and pushing her in her pram. 

Dear God please let me stay healthy so I can enjoy watching her take her first steps in life.

August 2018

I’m sixty-eight and have decided this entry is my goodbye to my diary. (I might not make it to seventy-eight so I want to end on a positive note)

 Just when I thought I was going to slip quietly into old age I met an old friend. We contacted through Facebook and after considerable correspondence, via e-mail and texts we agreed to meet. You might remember him, Josh?  He’s still a lovely, gentle, man and his life, like mine, has been full but now he too is alone. We’re becoming friends all over again. Can you have a romance at my age? I don’t see why not. To be perfectly honest I’m really looking forward to seeing him again. It makes me feel like a teenager!

Whatever happens, after all this experience I’m ready for anything. 

I’ve had the best of times so let the rest of my life begin.