Sunday 5th April 2020

Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Letter to 20 year old Me. #LifeThisWeek. 40/52. 2017.115.

Prefacing my letter with this photograph. My eldest granddaughter is the age I am writing about. In fact she will be 21 before year’s end as I was too around this time of year. Thanks J for the inspiration and the LOVE you share with me and many. In fact, by co-incidence, J has posted her Sunday night vid on You Tube about her at 20! Neither of us knew what the other was up to. Love this.

 

Dear Denyse,

I remember you being 20 so well. It was the last year of teachers’ college. You were acing the pracs at the schools you were sent to and in fact those schools were great but you had something else on your mind. You were ready to flee Sydney weren’t you as your boyfriend of almost 3 years was going to a regional area for his first job after graduating Uni?  No longer a Northern Beaches girl like your friends from school, you were about to go BUSH…in fact to Barraba NSW that January 1970 but wait. There is a little more to remember before you became loaded with class teaching responsibilities and being ‘dropped’ by the long-term boyfriend….and not being sure of what was ahead after that.

Graduation as a teacher aged 20. End of 1969.

Social life aged 20. Uni balls were the best!

Teacher’s College mates and yes, pigtails on me.

So, in 1970 you had some highs and lows. However, you also had one of the best times socially as in the country back then teachers tended to group together and have dinners and parties and it was good. On October 17 1970 something VERY important to you then and now happened. You met the man who would become your life’s partner. He was a young 21 year old in his 3rd year of teaching in a small school beyond the mountains where you were teaching. But once the love grew and GREW, you no longer wanted to be apart. In fact, after becoming engaged just before your 21st birthday something else grew. A wee baby was on her way – we did not know that yet – and even though that was a surprise, we both knew…we are together for life!!

Wedding Day 1971. Dad, Mum, Bro, Gran, B & Me, Poppy, Papa

It was not an ideal beginning to our marriage but you know what, Miss 20, you chose well as did your B. Despite some criticism from your parents, in particular your mother, you shone. Marriage is a hard road and you learned that early. B was and is always a great life partner and you know what? In all the ups and downs, health scares, financial matters, relationship changes with our kids, welcoming grandkids into our lives, having to retire early, and more, we have shown that OUR decision to be together for the rest of our lives was the BEST. Coming up to 47 years since we met this very week!!

So, a little bit of what was ahead for you in some snapshots. Gosh look at you. You have always been self-conscious of your weight. Do you remember in teachers’ college PE class you rated yourself fat? I know, a bit of something wrong there. I think though, that you also thought you were NOT a fashion plate like your Mum and that you actually enjoyed learning and education whereas your mum was the true home-maker mum who never worked once she had kids. Your dad supported you there but both parents often made you feel a little less than OK by veiled and actual comments about your weight. Yep. Always there and even now, as you have been diagnosed with cancer and lost a lot of weight I can tell that you ‘worry’ about putting it back on. Many women, in case you did not know, have similar battles in their hearts and minds, so take comfort and be kind. As your B would say “treat yourself like a friend”. I didn’t know how to do that properly until I was 67 so sorry, Miss 20 and beyond, you have had a rather torrid time with self-talk.

Let’s go with the show!

I would love to add some photos of our children, Miss 20,  but for privacy reasons I cannot.  We had two children in the end. Ironically after falling pregnant with our daughter it took another 7.5 years for our son to come along. I had a lot of medical and then surgical intervention for that to occur. I would add too, that as a young mother about to turn 30 you had another significant challenge in life occur when the severe and chronic illness of your B meant he was medically retired from teaching. The next 4 years, until he steered himself towards better health and recovery, were exhausting and busy to say the least. In fact, your parents stepped in to help out in  ways which supported  you so you are grateful for those times even though it is still hard to let the ‘judgy’ times heal and let go. But this time saw you embark upon more self-education and career path moves and you completed two degrees, B.Ed and M.Ed, along with raising two kids (by now B was at home helping majorly both in a physical sense as he managed the house and started a tutoring business) and going for a 3 work promotions where you eventually became a school principal.

Then came retirement for you. I know. In this day and age retirement is nothing like you saw for your dad. In fact, you retired a few times. Once in 2003 after having a health breakdown at work and not being allowed by your doctor to return, second when you had gone to a teaching role in 2004 and then by age 60 in 2010 had decided enough was enough…and thirdly in 2015 when you surrendered your part-time roles at University teaching pre-service students, closed your business as an education consultant and ceased working for NSW  BOSTES.

I know that at 20 I would have had no idea of what a blog might be or of course social media. But what I did know, into my late 50s is that I am an early adopter. I like technologies that work for me and do not need too much technical prowess from me. I also know that at 20 I loved photography but not nearly as much as I do now.

So, this next and current life stage Miss 20, is getting a little bit easier but also a little bit scarier as I approach 70. OK, not for 2 more years but hey, it happens. Life. And of course, death. You’ve experienced the deaths of 4 of the people who loved you from the photo at your wedding. Dad remains well and in fact praises you now. Yes. He has written you some healing letters and often shows his appreciation for you as his daughter and is proud of you. He tells you that! So, remember it. And in terms of new life…Miss 20 GD above might have been first, but since then you have become Grandma (Miss 20, I love that name!) to 8 children. 6 girls and 2 boys.

Of course, no-one ever wants to get sick, Miss 20 do they? You have always been fearful of that. The past few years saw your anxiety levels skyrocket as you made 3 major life transitions and your well-known IBS decided to return. It all helped you lose weight but that was not the point. Then, knowing your teeth were always trouble some you had gum problems. These were found to be cancer and you had major surgery. I am delighted to say it is highly likely the cancer has gone. But you will continue to need check ups just as you need more surgeries soon.

It is hard to decide where to end this letter so for now, it will be open-ended. I am hopeful that my recollections can soothe my 67 year old self as I recount some of the stand-outs told to my 20 year old self…and that you remember you are LOVED by many so it’s time to add you to that list too.

All my love,

Denyse xx

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and here with Kell for Mummy Mondays.

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