Today is Alfie's first birthday - he is Mark's youngest and my 5th grandchild. That's him with Reagan who will be 10 in November. Their brother Lewis is just out of the shot and he's 2. I will post a picture of him soon and I will come back to the story of grandchildren after I have shared some wonderful news with you.
Here in Yorkshire our local BBC news programme is called Look North and for almost a month the big story has been the disappearance of a 9 year old girl called Shannon Matthews. The Police have maintained a massive presence on the case and the local community in Dewsbury have really come together to ensure that she has remained in the forefront of every one's thoughts. Imagine the delight to hear today that she has been found alive. A man has been arrested for her abduction and goodness knows what this child has endured but thank God she is now in safe and loving hands and the family can start to put their lives back together again.
Our family has connections with Dewsbury which go way back to the 17th century. On the 40th anniversary of my mam's passing I felt I had to do something in her honour and so began tracing the family tree, with the focus on my mam's family name of Hutchinson. My grandad, Harry Hutchinson, had always maintained that we had Scottish roots and despite being a Yorkshire man through and through, when the First World War broke out he made his way to Perth to enlist in the Black Watch. He served until 1915 when he was shot in the leg and on recovery was sent home.
Me ,my brother Mick and my sister Julie always used to play what we call "Can you remember when?" and I recall talking to Mick once about Grandad's injury , as I only knew about it when I saw a copy of his discharge papers.
"But Chris, you must remember " he said, "He used to roll up his trousers leg and show us where the bullet went in and the bullet came out" . Now I have a truly amazing memory and I know for certain he never showed me his war wound so we concluded that Grandad must have felt such things were not for lasses to witness. How times have changed haha.
My Grandad was the kindest, sweetest soul and my greatest fear when I was "exiled" in Morecambe was that I would come to visit him and he would have been taken over by an imposter. I could never resist checking to see if he still had the mole on his neck - just in case . I don't remember many conversations with him. For me it was enough just to be in his presence. As a tot I would sit and watch him working in the outhouse, which was his workshop. He could turn his hand to anything and he always smelled of a mixture of sawdust and Coal Tar soap. When we went to the Post Office to collect his pension he would buy me Cherry Lips. I always felt my Mam was closer when I was around him. He lived to be 82 which for his generation was a good innings. His brother Arnold perished on the Somme and his name is on the Cenotaph in Dodworth.
As I stripped back the years unearthing our family history I became so acutely aware of how important that bullet had been - as it gave life to so many of us. But I digress and need to get back to the Dewsbury connection. My trail of the tree came to a halt in 1763 with the birth of George Hutchinson, allegedly the son of George and Mary. Despite every search there appears to be no such couple but there is Henry and Mary who went on to have numerous more children. I have to conclude that the record is wrong and that George's father was indeed Henry, who I can trace back to Dewsbury. And this leads us also to conclude how strong our oral history is, given that we still cannot find when or how we left Scotland. Interestingly, a distant cousin I met in Lancashire also adds evidence towards our Scottish roots. Her branch of the family left Yorkshire for Lancashire, when the Linen trade was overtaken by mining. Ruth was in her 80s when I met her and she had always been told we were driven out of Glencoe for sheep stealing.
So, time to get back to the subject of grandchildren. Olivia, my daughter's elder child is 13 in August. She was supposed to be my 40th birthday present but she was a little late arriving. The day I saw her in the hospital was an extremely spiritual experience for me. Now at the time I wouldn't have used that term as I only seriously began to take notice of my mediumship abilities several years after. In fact if anyone had said to me back then that I am a medium I would have laughed my proverbial socks off.
To explain my experience I do need to talk a little about mediumship too so that you can grasp what I am trying to say. Now, if you have ever seen a Medium working they say things like " I see your grandmother by your side" or "She is telling me that you need a holiday" and when I started to sit in Circle I would sit there expecting someone (ie spirit) to come up to me and say "Hi, I'm John and I am Sandra's dad" etc etc, so when this didn't happen I felt I was unable to communicate. What I began to realise though is that the language they use is not really the reality of how they feel spirit. Very few mediums see spirit like we see living people. The majority see in flashes within the mind. Ok that's enough of the technical stuff.
So this day in the hospital Laura stood there and handed me Olivia and I had an experience which was dream like. Have you ever looked at a painting and within the painting there is a mirror - so the scene is reflected in the mirror? This is the kind of thing I experienced but within the mirror in my mind I saw my Mam , my Gramma (pronounced like Grammar) her mam and a whole line of women stretching back through the years.
I have always written poetry and wanted to capture that feeling in verse and it took me 6 years to finally write down how it was for me that day. So today , rather than end on a quote I share with you my poem.
She stands before me in her tartan dressing gown
The image of me at 19
She hands me the tiny bundle
The image of her when newborn
I look in awe at her perfection
And see within the scene the mirror behind us
And there they line up looking beyond
To the scene of their own creations
To an outsider it would seem like something was amiss
A time anomaly between the image and the reflection
But the reflection is as it should be
And her reflection goes back to her mother
And her mother’s mother
And her grandmother’s mother
And on and on and back and forth
Separate and separated
but never apart
united by love