I am sure everyone has that special memory, when the heart swells with such overwhelming emotion, you are at a loss for words. It may seem unremarkable to many, but for you, it’s perfect.
For some, it could be the minute a new mother or father holds their baby for the first time, or a cancer patient being told they are in remission or all signs of the disease have disappeared. Those are just some of life’s miracles, though neither apply to me.
I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve had some extremely happy days in my life. Finding half a crown in the sand on the beach in 1963 allowed me to buy ice creams for us all and still have change. I remember too the day my building society account finally showed a balance of £100. It was 1975 and had taken me over a year to save it, but it felt oh, so good!
I had a wonderful wedding with all the trimmings in 1977, made even more special by an aunt who had originally declined the invitation due to poor health turning up unexpectedly to surprise me. Sadly though, that marriage didn’t last, but I did get custody of the photos and the dog!
Passing my driving test first time was also another landmark, but this went unnoticed as someone else in the family had something to report. In fact, anything ‘significant’ I did at home was usually overshadowed, so I became quite used to blending in with the wallpaper so-to-speak.
Getting the keys to our first house was another good day, but not a patch on the day the mortgage was paid off completely. It took all our savings, but was worth it.
Buying my first car, a twenty third hand mini, gave me independence. I can remember all my vehicles, but still recall the day I bought my first brand new one. Top Gear had described it as driving a wardrobe, but we nicknamed it the PPV because it was red and reminded us of Postman Pat’s van. A dear friend, sadly now departed, bought me a tiny figurine of Postman Pat and Jess, his black and white cat, to put on my dashboard. I used blu-tac to keep it in place and still have it, but not the car. That was exchanged long ago, and several cars on, I drive a nine year old Peugeot now, though that was also bought new (and red!).
One of the best things I did was answer an advert in the local paper for a ‘Soul Mate’. You can laugh if you want, but that’s how I met my husband. Even though I insulted his car the first time we met, we got on and have never looked back. Our backgrounds were totally different, but he saw things he’d taken for granted through my eyes, which he says gave him a lot of pleasure as many were firsts for me. We had a very quiet wedding, not telling anyone apart from our witnesses and parents. Confetti was rice crispies and sugar puffs, so even the birds had a feast on our special day, and our wedding night was spent on the overnight ferry in an inside cabin which had bunk beds, thus resulting in an awful lot of laughter!
My first trip in an aeroplane was in 1993, and he made a point of telling the stewardess. I was invited up into the cockpit to meet the captain and co-pilot. All those knobs, gauges and dials, but I wasn’t allowed to drive! I was given a kiddie pack of crayons, 2 badges and postcards of the aircraft as a memento. I also pilfered the plastic cutlery and napkins for one of our scrapbooks!
I had a helicopter ride the weekend before my 40th birthday and this was special for another reason, as it was the last thing I shared with my Dad. As it flew over the hospital, I took a photo of it and gave it to him when I visited the following Tuesday. Sadly he died the day after my birthday.
Years later, I went to New Zealand on my own to see my brother. That was so exciting. I asked if I could see the cockpit (hubby’s interest as he wasn’t with me), and when we landed in Hong Kong, I was allowed to sit in the captain’s seat. They put his hat on my head and took a picture, which I emailed to my husband from my sister-in-law’s computer 2 days later. I had a wonderful time with them, but was in contact with home every day, be it by email, text message (I kept forgetting the time difference), or skype. My sister-in-law took me on outings to show me the sights and I paid for the fuel and any overnight lodgings. I had a coach trip which took in a drive on the 90 mile beach, visited a friend in Napier for a week, climbed a volcano, walked round a mountain, took in a traditional Maori concert, and spent another week away travelling by train and ferry from North Island to South Island, visiting Wellington, Picton and Christchurch, and including a Whale Watch trip in Kaikora. I took over 1000 photographs and video clips during my visit, which are all on a set of discs and memory cards with my diary and souvenirs of the trip. Thank heavens for digital, I could never have afforded to have that many developed.
Such wonderful moments and memories, but I’ve saved the best for last.
It was Saturday, May 11th 1991 and we were on our honeymoon. I had never been out of the UK apart from a couple of trips to the Isle of Wight (I hadn’t even been to the Channel Islands), so I was very excited at finally owning a passport. We took a British Rail package to Amsterdam (I already mentioned the overnight ferry earlier) and from the docks, we caught a train into Central Station. As we came out of the gates, the barrel organs started up. It was just like a fanfare to announce our arrival, and made me feel so very, very special. My husband says he hadn’t pre-arranged it, but the timing could not have been better. It was totally magical and wonderful. I’ve had many lovely days since and hopefully many more are to come, but this was by far
The Best Day of My life.