I have been thinking a lot about family, lately. Everyone in my life has markedly different relationships with their own, and without fail, that relationship shapes who they are. Katie, aka Katielase, has a remarkable relationship with her family. And she knows it. This is her tribute.
I expect her parents to receive a number of adoption requests from the AOW community. As well as that failsafe crumble recipe. Over to you, Katie:
I have been thinking for a while about a FTMMM post, and about who I would choose. I don’t have one single best friend who I have known my entire life who has shaped the person I am, I have some amazing friends, who have taught me huge amounts and helped me develop into the woman I am. They’re awesome, but there is another group of people who I consider to be amongst my greatest friends, who I socialise with regularly and who have shaped me very definitely into the person I am. They are my crazy, lovely, loud, loony and wonderful family.
I am lucky, I have an incredibly close family. I live less than 20 minutes away from my childhood home (13 minutes if the lights are all green and you’re prepared to be ruthless about letting people pull out from suburban roads, which I totally am). I’m back ‘home’ at least once every week, for dinner or a cup of tea, for chats and laughs and watching Poirot. For games nights and quizzes, theatre trips and picnics. My husband and I go on holiday with my family every year. It sounds weird to say they are my friends, but for me, they truly are. I choose to spend time with them because they are some of my favourite people in the world. And boy, have they ever shaped me as a person.
First and final photographs by Andrew Dobell. No-one can remember what is going on here, but I’m certain we are being silly. I prefer this picture to the posed photo that followed, it’s more ‘us’.
It’s obvious to say that your parents made you, you, of course they did. My Mum and Dad raised me, they gave me my values and they sent me off into the world with such a huge amount of love, support and belief that I couldn’t possibly have failed. But this is about my Mum as a person, Sarah, and what she’s taught me as a friend and as a woman. My Mum is one of my best friends and she is, simply, the strongest woman I will ever know. If she’s reading this, she’s thinking “but I don’t feel strong”, which is in fact, the entire point. She teaches me every day how to be strong; that the strongest, bravest people aren’t the ones who think they can cope, but the ones that carry on, even when they’re in pain, or they feel like they’re crumbling inside. They’re the ones who never give up. Mum also taught me many other invaluable life lessons, including how to make perfect pastry, how to ‘knock up’ a crumble in moments, and how to empathise. All equally important, clearly.
Like my Mum, my Dad obviously raised me and gave me my values. In addition though, I am more confident because of my Dad, because of the way he sees me, because of his unfailing, unflinching belief in me all the time. It is best illustrated by his role as my Running Buddy, Dad is the Pollyanna of long distance running, he is so relentlessly positive. When I’m barely breathing, almost crying, red-faced and sweaty and overcome with the knowledge that I just cannot do this, I haven’t got anything left… he has faith that I won’t give up. And because he believes that I will keep going, I find that I can, it gives me strength. I ran 13.1 miles recently, and the last 5 miles were run almost exclusively on stubborn persistent belief. And that carries over to all areas of my life, I know I am stronger than I think I am, and my Dad will always be there, making sure I remember. As well as this, my Dad has given me my geekiness, an innate sense of daftness, my lifelong obsession with the Oxford comma, and a deep love of waves crashing onto rocks.
Dad and I at mile 6 of the Windsor Half Marathon. I’m still smiling at this stage; later photos may be more illustrative of my Dad’s ability to keep me going through blind faith, but I’m just not letting my ‘jogging aubergine’ look loose on the internet.
I don’t remember a time before Nicky was born, I was 21 months old so as far as I can recall he has always been there; a totally constant presence in my life. I’ve learnt so much from my brother, he probably doesn’t realise how much he has shaped the person I am, or how brilliant I think he is. This is partly because if I told him, I’d never hear the end of it. Nonetheless, and I brace myself for years of him going on about this, it is true. I am better at taking risks because I grew up with him, he was fearless. He’d throw himself off 20 ft high rocks into the sea, and I’d jump in after him, screaming the whole way down, because he was my little brother and I might have been terrified but I was also very stubborn and rather competitive and I mentioned how he’d never let me forget stuff, right? Through mimicking his fearlessness, I learnt that taking a risk can be so very worth it. I’m better at letting go and being brave because of him. And I’m much better educated about history, socialism, liberal politics, Family Guy and lash banter because of him.
My very first clear memory is of holding baby Emma, aged 6, when she was born. It was magical, she changed my life. She’s an awesome woman, my sister; 20 years old, wiser than many women twice her age, ridiculously talented, and completely batshit loopy about Harry Potter. As an older sister, you don’t expect to learn from your baby sibling, you’re supposed to show them the way, and know what you’re doing and stuff. I always wanted to be better so that tiny perfect girl could look up to me. And then she went and taught me about being a woman, about how everyone feels scared inside sometimes, which I never truly appreciated until I saw how lacking in confidence someone as incredible as Emma could be. I would be seriously lucky if someone as amazing as her looked up to me. She showed me how to apply make-up so you don’t look like a clown, how to look stylish (still working on that), she’s the main reason I had the Best Hen Weekend Ever, the best person ever to randomly sing Westlife in a public place with, and the best person to call when you’re crying in a public place, too.
Finally, the newest addition. One of the things I am most grateful for in my life is how well my husband gets on with my family. It makes me happy every day. I could list a million things he’s taught me, but I’ll go with these things… 1) sometimes it is not necessary to worry about every little thing, 2) real love can be full of silliness and laughter and conversational nonsense and it doesn’t make it any less real, 3) loving someone doesn’t mean being perfect for them, and 4) you are NEVER too old for Lego.