I wrote this poem in one go as part of the Tell Me Something project led by Lemn Sissay which asks for words from people about their families.
There are so many things in this poem which have needed to get out of my head; some happy, some traumatic, some which people will want to read, some which they won't. But in the end to what matters is that I needed to write this and it's been cathartic for me.
Tell you about my family? Ok, but where to start Do you want happy memories? Or enter painful territory? Because my family Like most families Is a hod podge A spectrum A mixed up reality I remember great grandparents Ancient people we visited once a year Smelling of old age and cigarettes They looked like they might break So I stood slightly away Observing Listening Before going to Blackpool pleasure beach And relaxing My grandparents Couldn't have been more different from each other Two halves of a family Never to mix together We visited mum's parents Mum insisted Every time she hated it Yet she persisted Snide comments So many put downs Constant comparisons Such a negative situation Generational pain Passed down yet again I know there was love But it was hidden Couldn't be given Couldn't be shown Instead harsh words were thrown I watched my mum be less Hurt, yet again And then cry or rant In pain she couldn't express A duty to be performed To attend and find contempt.... Those expectations were passed on But I couldn't take it on And that caused rifts So many family shifts Which wider family judged I was pushed and shoved But I stood my ground To protect myself and my family I had to care for them and me The endless negativity Could break me That's the reality In separation I still loved And I hurt Just as she hurt I don't think anyone can Ever understand the pain Of separation even when you've made the right decision Of knowing you are hated Vilified Unknown and yet judged They don't know I never felt loved Because my mum never felt loved by her mum That's the generational reality My mum is now gone Her pain at an end We eventually found Healing ground Beyond the pain we shared There was love Which we learned to express That healed us both Though I'm healing still In therapy Doing the work to break The chain of heartache And breathe..... My dad's side were older Yet somehow younger There was dementia And love I remember bouncing on grandad's knee Before he was cared for behind locked doors Click bang Click bang Does he even know me? I hope that he knows me So much love And faith My gran loved him constantly That was clear to me So wonderful to see And when he died I cried And I remember her telling me About heaven With no more pain No more confusion A place of endless love A belief so strong that it's never gone And gran lived old Not quite old enough for a telegram But very nearly I'll never forget the call To say she'd died Not unexpected And yet And end of an era Yet somehow she was nearer She's still near me Her words ring in my ears Her faith resonates in my heart When asked to name a hero It's her name I whisper Gran Of course there's more family People I love intensely Husband Father Brother Nephews Sons.... Sons who never took a breath Their story a hurt so deep It would take too many words To share here Their story has been written Their place in my heart eternal And then there's my daughter Who I love immensely Perhaps too intensely Because love matters More than anything She will NEVER think I don't love her Nothing she could ever do Could break that love I pray each morning That the generational pain Is healed Not buried But resolved That love flows openly Without hesitation So that's my family Or at least a glimpse from me
I hope it tells you something About loving