This winter has been difficult for all sorts of reasons: the editing process on my book grinding to an inexplicable halt just before it was completed, a child getting cold feet about university at the last minute and deciding to take it easy at home instead, the usual idleness of some of her siblings, a nasty bout of flu, a sprained back muscle, the spring that refused to spring. Add to that the perennial cash shortage, the daily grind that gets more grinding, the list of house repair jobs that gets longer, the prospect of yet another year without a holiday, and you’re looking at a depression in the making.
But the weather is changing, the buds are opening despite the overcast skies and the air is really quite warm. It’s time to take stock. My grandmother would have called it counting my blessings. I prefer to call it dreams achieved.
My dreams started small. When I was little it was to have a cat. The farm next door was crawling with cats and kittens. By dint of encouraging them into our yard, two kittens were forever on the doorstep, looking in through the kitchen door. It wasn’t long before my mother’s heart softened and they were both officially adopted.
When I was twenty, my future husband and I talked about how we imagined our life as a couple. We took our first holiday together in Paris and decided that was where we would live. Our first apartment together was slap bang in the shadow of the Pompidou Centre.
While we were fixing on Paris, we also planned how many children we would have. We decided then that we would have five. My husband is a great one for organisation, making lists and crossing items off as they get done. We had four children crossed off the to do list when I was diagnosed with something funny. The doctors weren’t sure what it was, but I was told I must absolutely not have any more children, as they had no idea how my system would react to a pregnancy. We honestly did our best to follow medical advice, but child number five managed to sneak in anyway. The pregnancy was fine and despite a panic at the end, she was fine too.
Although Paris had been the first dream destination, I hankered after a warmer climate, so we moved south.
Next thing to hanker after was a dog. Not just any dog. I had always wanted a Lurcher, but the tradition of hunting with Lurchers doesn’t exist here. Then I read about the atrocious way Galgos are treated just over the border in Spain, and I knew I wanted to adopt one of them. It became an obsession, maybe because I had resigned myself, after a miscarriage, to the sad reality that the baby-raising era was over. I needed to baby something else that needed a lot of affection to get over a rough start in life. So we got Finbar.
With the affective problem sorted out, I began to think tentatively about my old dream of really becoming a writer. I started to write on a regular basis, rather than in the fits and starts that had been the only way to fit it in over the years of bringing up children. Last summer my first book was accepted by a publisher. I have plenty more in the pipeline, so I have started to think of myself as a writer, not a wannabe writer.
Apart from going to live in Moomin Valley in a house like Moomintroll’s, with stabling for a talking horse, I can’t think of many dreams that haven’t come true. In terms of economic success, I’m afraid we are a couple of losers. There are lots of things that many people would consider necessities that we haven’t got, but I suppose they were never on the dream list. We never dreamed in terms of how much cash we would have, how many bathrooms, or what we would do with the five children if they refused to ever grow up and leave home.
There is at least one dream left. It would be too sad of there weren’t. We would both love to have a small stone house in the countryside, with an orchard and plenty of space for big dogs to play in. By the time we are in a position to realise that particular dream, we will both be so decrepit that we might well decide that it would be more sensible to stay in town close to the shops and the hospitals! But the important thing is that the dream is there.
In the words of the song, you gotta have a dream, or how you gonna have a dream come true?