A steady hand to hold on to

The Joyes of Life

Yvonne Joye

There is no denying that at 49 years of age I can still be hurt like a child and there is no denying that my parents can still take the hurt away.

I am in the fortunate position of my parents not needing me or my siblings for their life to work. They are independent go-getters who know their limitations but who seize their horizons. I am conscious that not everyone at my stage has that freedom or indeed not everyone at my stage has the luxury of having even one parent. I am told I am lucky and I am.

Growing up I had a mother who was always on my side and a father who, whilst firm when called for, was the streak of mischief that doubled us up in laughter. As much as they have shared my life triumphs, they have shared my life blows too. When we lost our little boy, they entered the alien territory of a neonatal unit to act as godparents to a child they would outlive. When I got sick, they insisted on coming to radiotherapy with me. On both occasions I remember looking at them looking at the convoluted equipment inherent to hospitals and I felt an awful guilt for bringing them to this place. But they would not be anywhere else; with me for the fun and with me for the serious.

They have rarely seen a day in hospital themselves and this is down to their embracement of life. My mother would say her 70s were their best decade yet. And I'm delighted.

But to be honest, I don't live out my life constantly thanking the gods for my parents' health and resilience. I don't congratulate my parents and pat them on the back for living because I don't see them as elderly people surviving life well. I see them as two ageless individuals contributing to life in a way that goes beyond my world; my parents are relevant, needed and important.

But absolutely I am grateful to have them in my world, not just for the big stuff but for the small stuff too.

Recently sitting next to my father in a crowded room feeling wounded by an unintended slight, I hid my hurt well. No one would have noticed that I was reeling inside. Yet with the gentlest of movements, I felt my father clasp my hand in his, a wordless but purposeful gesture to soak the hurt away.

Yes I am grateful for the health of my parents, yes I am grateful for their independence but more than that I am grateful for their wisdom, their intelligence, their love and for a hand to hold onto at 49 years of age.

Happy 58th wedding anniversary Mum & Dad.