Such a lovely day, my elderly parents flew down from Scotland to London to spend this weekend with my partner and me, the first time they have done so since I ended my marriage. Yes there was the gift of giving them time to meet them at the airport, including a three hour delay, and to help Dad sort out his hire car. But I can't really count that; just having time with them is a gift to me, especially in my new home. And the kindness of my partner to my mother (who gets confused) was really a far greater gift than anything I gave.
My gift 4 was therefore the photo album of 300+ photos of my son's first 16 years which I gave my Mum and Dad. Wonderful to see Mum pour over those baby photos and cute happy toddler days, to remember family celebrations and simple day trips that we took together, particularly when she remembers less and less of her daily life. I so enjoyed her pride in measuring her grandson's progress through later childhood into teenage years and now as an emerging young adult (he's 6ft 5inches at 16!). But perhaps the greatest gift we all received - Mum, Dad, and me - was the ability to look nostalgically at the marriage that supported that young boy, to remember that there were good and happy times before it broke down and to understand that it is possible to close that chapter and start another without demeaning that which was. I guess the three of us are finally moving towards that place of forgiveness, the release of hope that the past could have been any different.