Benign banter

It has been a time of renewal, a time of shifts and loss and mourning, a time of giving and holding others, a time of allowing self to be swept aside. My father in law passed away on Dec 1st, one short week earlier we had finally moved house, the nights were long and cold, I packed and unpacked, we haemorraghed money- my husband was a selfless soul endlessly on the road caring for his father and mother, answering endless telephone calls- moments lost, tablets forgotten, repeated conversations, fragments of life recurring then receding, we collected groceries, cooked meals, later we watched as he listlessly slept and shouted and screamed in some other life, some other world crying through pain for help and searching for security and struggling for each long laboured breath until he was gone.

Each day I have gone to work, in my new job, loving the company of my new colleagues, welcoming the benign banter of everyday life, desperate for a smidging of something that resembled a slower pace, a calmer moment, welcoming the newfound calm of our homely little house, genuinely craving the solitude that I know will energise and bring renewal. The moments where the sky in all its splendour is the most treasured and important thing, when the cold chill biting at my fingers and toes reminds me of the joy of life, longing for the frozen earth to yield to spirited snowdrops and there to be enough space for me to savour the solitude that I love so much.

January brings snow

and frozen slivers of ice

Witch Hazel shivers.

© Alison Jean Hankinson.

 

 

This is for D’verse. Love to all and Happy New Year.

Photos Hank Kendal 068

Brave new world.

Ecclesiastes 3.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

I am full of hope that this new year will see us enter into a new phase of life. For me it is a brave new world. I hope that our expectations are less, that we can live off what we have without desiring things that are uneccessary. I hope that we can judge both others and ourselves less and learn to be tolerant, compassionate and kind. That we begin to appreciate that success is not measured by the amount of money or belongings that we possess and that our status is ascribed by our actions and words and not by our “job” or our “qualifications” or our “bank balance”.

I love my family unconditionally. There are times in the last few years where we have all faced adversity and unexpected challenges. I hope that my girls continue to walk forward in their lives secure in the knowledge that they are loved and that it is what they give, what they contribute and what they make of their lives that counts. I hope that they have many moments of joy and they have the heart and soul to recognise those moments for what they are. I am already proud of them beyond measure and they have already given me more love joy and pleasure than it is possible to describe.

For me it is a time to express my gratitude for all that is, and has been, and will be.

In this moment we are infinite. (Perks of Being A Wall Flower)

© Alison Jean Hankinson.

 

The Ghost of Christmas Past.

The ghost of Christmas past

Came knocking at my door,

He took me to the time

When my little girls were four.

 

We knelt before the Christmas tree

Presents crudely wrapped but there,

A plate by the fireside

With Santa’s festive fayre.

 

We walked into their bedroom

As quietly as you can,

My two small girls were sleeping there

In Ramsey, Isle of Man.

 

In the muted light they seemed peaceful

Asleep and safe and warm

In a home filled with love and family

To keep them safe from harm.

 

The stockings on the bedposts

Were filled with treats and toys

Hung there by their Daddy

To bring them hope and joy.

 

Christmas was extra special

In that one particular year

As Daddy had come home safely

From military conflict fuelled by fear.

 

I thanked the kindly ghost

For reminding me that night

That despite the hours of darkness

Christmas is about recognising the light.

 

May your Christmas time be peaceful

Filled with memories that shine,

To keep your heart warm through the cold

And lonely times.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

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In these moments where we live and breathe.

It has been a complex year and all I know is that many of you out there will have faced your own tough challenges, some that have been overcome with grit and determination and others that have almost broken you with the weight and depth of their difficulty.

There were days this year where I genuinely thought that there would be no resolution, that the interminable darkness and despair would swallow me whole, that my worthiness had been buried never to resurface under some massive cumbersome rock that could not be shifted.

I learned that it is important to feel wanted and needed and worthy and that for me these things come from the work that I do and the relationships I build with the people around me.

I learned that I need to feel connected and secure and that for me comes from having a home and a place to be in the world.

I learned that heartache and heartbreak are cruel masters that spare no-one and that all around me there are people whose stories would make my own look like a walk in the park, that we all need kindness and compassion. That a smile and a hug are the simplest gifts that can give someone a brighter moment in their darkened day.

I learned that many of us fear death, and that at the end it is not dignity that matters but the holding of the hand, the soothing of the brow, and just knowing that someone sits beside you.

It is this moment that matters, not the money, or the glamour, or the furnishings, the shadow of our former life or the lure of future success, but this very moment.

It is the simplest action of human understanding that matters, listening carefully to those around us, sharing their journey holding their hand as well as hoping they will hold ours, not the politics, the rhetoric, the arrogance of selfishness but the humility that is born from suffering, enduring and surviving.

I learned that it is important to be kind and compassionate to oneself and that every moment is a taonga to be treasured.

Namaste as the year draws to a close.

May there be moments of peace in our life.

© Alison Jean Hankinson

Homecoming

In the pleurisy of a winter’s morn

My love for you skitters down the cobblestones

Glides past the children sliding in the snow

Seeks to guide you home-

It knows no borderline.

 

So take the silver latch-key

from deep inside your pocket

Kick the snow off your dubbined boots

and step inside to me.

Your war is over.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

I wrote this a long long time ago. I wrote this long before Dave went to Basrah. I wrote this before I spent the long lonely nights sat on the kitchen doorstep with a glass of wine in hand- wondering if he would ever come home and if my girls would ever see their dad again.

My biggest fear was that he would die and would be alone in that moment of death in a foreign and hostile landscape.

He and those he served with must have had similar concerns and I know that sometimes when he went out on dangerous missions he would leave notes for us under his pillow in case he didn’t return.

In the words of Wilfred Owen:

“The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori.”

The best birthday present ever..the forgotten soldiers.

You came home.

In May 2003 a large number of men who served with Lancashire and Cumbria Volunteers, formerly known as reservists of 4KOBR received compulsory call-out notices to serve in Optelic 2 in Basrah as part of the deployment of Queens Lancashire Regiment. They were a jolly bunch of souls from across Cumbria and Lancaster and this was the first time any of them had faced a compulsory call-out to serve in an actively hostile environment. They were given 21 days to sort out their families, their jobs and their affairs before departing from Alexandra Barracks, Lancaster at the end of May.

They served in gruelling heat in and around Basrah Palace and were on duty for a six month active tour. During that time they saw at least one of their officers Captain Dai Jones killed. It was supposed to be a peacekeeping mission but they faced hostilities on a daily basis and there was the constant threat of exploding IED’s. They were “butchers bakers and candlestick makers” and part-time soldiers, and yet they served admirably alongside full-time fully trained army personnel.

Their families back home also survived admirably with little in the way of active support and no garrison to back them up.

There were 2314 reservists called up for Optelic 2, made up of both volunteer reserve forces like LCV and regular reserve forces.

My husband was one of them. He was 41 years old and an HGV driver. We had just moved to the Isle of Man with our two small children.

He missed his children’s first day of school but he came home safe.

For years afterwards, he demonstrated hyper-vigilance but at least he was alive.

He still won’t talk about many of the things he witnessed.

But he came home.

Not everyone did.

They landed safely on Nov 7th (my birthday), and whilst it was another week before we got him home at least we knew he was safe and sound.

Fifteen years ago tomorrow.

He got four days leave- shown in the top photo and saying goodbye again at Ronaldsway Airport.

 

 

On the temple steps at Nan Tien.

Once upon a heartbeat

Your small hand held on to mine

Once upon a full moon

When the midnight stars did shine.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

My child I gave to you,

Everything my heart held dearly

My dreams and wishes too.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

You walked with head held high

You were brave enough to stand up tall

Your wings were strong enough to fly.

 

Once upon a heartbeat

I watched you stride away

Grown up, confident and brave

To make it your own way.

 

© Alison Jean Hankinson

for d’Verse.

For Ellen.