BY Amanda

04/01 Direct Link
My childhood memories are quite sketchy and it's impressions rather than memories that have left their mark. Growing up in a middle class English home meant that appearances were everything. I dont' remember specifics, but I remember feeling restricted. Being a lady was exceptionally important and I was taught to sit, walk and talk properly at a very early age.  Apparently, I was eloquent even as a small child and was the perfect little lady. They smiled indulgently and I was their trophy. If they had only known how I longed to be carefree.
04/02 Direct Link
There were few places that I could drop the fascade, but my cousins house was one of them. How I loved being "one of the gang". My wonderfully wise aunt would dress me in the boys clothes and send me outside to run and play without a care in the world. Here, clothes were meant to get dirty. No one got upset if they got caught on a tree branch or a sharp stone. Trees were meant to be climbed, mud to be made into pies and  children were meant to just play and be themselves.
04/03 Direct Link
Growing up with 3 male cousins certainly had its advantages. We were all quite close in ages and it was like growing up with 3 big brothers. As I was an only child until I was six my cousins became the siblings I so desperately wanted, and my aunt and uncle became like second parents. Everyone on mum's side of the family are tall. I'm nearly 5'8" (I still don't do centimeters) and all of my cousins were well over 6' by the time we were in our teens. They were great protectors, which came in very handy as teenagers.
04/04 Direct Link
Unfortunately, protection and dominance are usually bedfellows. But the strong will I had been born with certainly didn't dissipate as a teenager and if there was a battle of wills, I usually won. I rarely won any battles with my parents, in fact my mother demanded total obedience, and I knew through harsh experiences better than to try to challenge her. So, these few victories with my cousins were doubly sweet. There were occasions when I lost the fight, usually because they were bigger and stronger, and those instances cost me dearly, but putting those aside I did okay.
04/05 Direct Link
Being at my aunt's house also had other benefits. I was allowed to eat what I pleased, which was a wonderful reprieve. At home there were rules about what you ate, in which order and when you ate them. For instance, dessert was always tinned fruit, actually tinned peaches, and evaporated milk, which I loved. Unfortunately, it was mandatory to accompany it with bread and butter, which I loathed. I resorted to dipping it in the fruit juice to help it go down until my parents found out. Then the practise was quickly abolished to ensure ladylike compliance. 
04/06 Direct Link
My grandparents house was another place that I loved to be. I adored my grandparents, in fact, I think I was closer to them than my real parents. I remember long hours sitting at my grandmother's feet, watching horse jumping on the telly, as she unravelled the wool from the suit she knitted last season and reknitted it into a more fashionable version for the current season. Strangely, it never looked very different to my inexperienced eye, but my grandmother was an expert at thrift and now that I understand the work involved more clearly I marvel at her ingenuity.
04/07 Direct Link
My grandparents moved into their little house in the suburbs when they were first married and lived there until they died. The constancy that was associated with their house for me, was one of the most comforting things in my turbulent adolescence. During  times of scarcity during the second world war, redecorating the house was an inaccessible luxury. My mother was in her early twenties and an accomplished artist. I am told that she painted murals on the internal walls of the house as a substitute for the wallpaper that was so prevalent in England at the time.
04/08 Direct Link
By the time I was told the stories of the murals my mother had painted, my grandparent's house had been redecorated several times, and they were covered by many layers of wall paper and paint applied in more prosperous times. I have often found it quite sad that I didn't get the opportunity to see them. For many years, I promised myself that once my grandparents passed away I would buy the house and carefully restore the murals, however the house was sold after I moved to Australia and I never did get to fulfill that dream. 
04/09 Direct Link

My grandparents house was symbolic of constancy, dependability and love. There were many symbolic things that I now look back on with fondness. My brothers and sister were allowed to walk to the second lamp post with my grandad when he went to work in the morning before running back to my grandmother's welcoming arms. The tiny kitchen which only allowed for a single occupant at any given time was a testament to my grandmother's culinary prowess. English food was never particularly adventurous, but her meals were tasty and nourishing, if predictable. In fact, the predictability was also strangely comforting.

04/10 Direct Link
We moved to Australia when I was ten years old and those early days are not pleasant to remember. I returned to live with my grandparents when I was fifteen, following the death of my mother, and once again felt the familiar sense of constancy and home. The front dining room became my domain, My grandfather loved music and had a record player, which was the very best he could afford. I spent countless hours, lying on the floor, listening to David Cassidy, the Jackson Five and the Osmonds, and trying to convince my grandfather that Jim Reeves wasn't cool. 
04/11 Direct Link
I spent my early teenage years going between Australia and England. We moved to Australia when I was 10 and I returned to England twice from 15 to 19. In some ways I had the very best of both worlds. I had the stability and love that was predominant in England and the adventure that came from life in Australia. Although some of those days in Australia were really tough, including the death of my mother, they were also character building and have significantly contributed to the person I am today. Adversity invariably brings growth, even if initially unpleasant.
04/12 Direct Link
My grandad was by far the coolest man I have ever met! He was awesome!!! He drove lorries during WW2 because he was considered unfit for duty due to a perforated ulcer. From that time on driving became his profession. Even when most men would have retired he was still chauffeuring celebrities. The day he drove Rod Stewart and forgot to get his autograph for me is one I don't think I'll ever forget. He was in trouble for a long time over that! But then can you expect more from someone who idolized Jim Reeves! 
04/13 Direct Link
It's pretty obvious by now that the time I spent with my grandparents were some of my happiest ever. In fact, with the exception of time spent with my children they were the very happiest. They were just amazing people and as I believe that life does not end when we die, I am convinced that they are still amazing people. Sadly, I didn't tell them that when we were together, but, I believe I will have the opportunity to not only see them again but to continue our relationship and watch it blossom and grow. That is good news.
04/14 Direct Link
My time in Australia was a period of uncomfortable growth. In fact there were moments that were completely horrid. But, having said that, it was also a time when I learned the true value of friends. I've never been a socialite. I prefer to have one or two true friends and am uncomfortable in crowds. Perhaps being an only child for a long time contributed to that. Never the less the friendships that I made had a profound impact on me. I still keep in touch with a few special friends and have just renewed contact with someone very special.
04/15 Direct Link

Truly special people bring out the best in us. They inspire and encourage us to be more than we thought we could be. They raise our vision, our hopes and our enthusiasm for life. At least that has been my experience. When I make friendships I do so with my whole heart. I've never been very light-hearted, although I laugh a lot, but its not at all the same thing. Relationships, for me, have a deep meaning that penetrates my very soul. Although its resulted in me being hurt a few times I still feel very blessed.

04/16 Direct Link

As a young woman my mother was talented to the point of being gifted. She was something of a perfectionist and strived for excellence in all she did. She is still the voice in my head urging me to the same high standard. Unfortunately her mental health deteriorated through my teenage years and when I was 14 she committed suicide. The years leading up to her death are some of my most painful memories as I watched helplessly as the mother I loved turned into a drug addicted, vengeful monster one moment and an insatiable hypochndriac the next.

04/17 Direct Link
My mother's life ended when she took an overdose of sleeping tablets and fell asleep while smoking. Unfortunately, although my father was working, my siblings and I were in the house. Neighbours assisted as I raised the alarm. I watched in horror as the house became a raging inferno knowing my mother was still trapped inside. Looking back now I take consolation that having taken an extremely large overdose I doubt she would have felt anything, but I didn't know that at the time. For years to come, the smell of smoke provoked panic.
04/18 Direct Link

Living with a delusional drug addict is a horrible experience; as was seeing her die. My emotions were mixed once she had gone. A large part of me was just relieved that the nightmare was finally over. However, this feeling was peppered with guilt for not feeling more grief, fear of a future filled with responsibility for my siblings, and grief at the knowledge that the mum I hoped would return one day - not the one messed up by drugs - would never be able to return now. Singing at her funeral, which fulfilled her final, wish brought some comfort.

04/19 Direct Link
My father and I have had a stormy relationship ever since the death of my mother and I  concede that my interpretation of events may neither be his, or entirely accurate. To me, he appeared to approach her death with predictable selfishness. "What can I get out of this?" appeared to be his overriding motivation as I endured interviews with reporters and photographers to publicize our plight. To be fair we were homeless, and left with only the nightclothes we were wearing, but the loss of anonymity was almost unbearable and I felt I had become public property.
04/20 Direct Link
The limelight faded and I began my new life devoid of further childhood pursuits due to my newly acquired responsibilities. It was a role I was ill-prepared for, and we all paid the price. Those were black days. I struggled with the trauma, depression, guilt and helplessness. The "if only's" and "I should have's" plagued my life. I promised my mother I'd take care of everyone and I was failing miserably. My father began seeking new relationships and I felt betrayed. No more a child, but not an adult. Confusion and rebellion reigned painfully together.
04/21 Direct Link

The best thing that happened to me during that incredibly painful time was that my father met someone special. The relationship didn't last, but I met a wonderful friend as a result. There are very few people who have had a profound effect on my life, but this friend did, and as a result of us recently being reunited, he is again. He was my confidante, best friend and a soul mate through stormy times. Although our lives have taken very different paths he is once again a cherished friend that lights up my life today. 

04/22 Direct Link
His sister is my step-sisters mother. Yes that's a mouthful, but I don't know how else to explain it. I dont' remember meeting my step-sister, although they tell me that I saw her when she was a baby. I thought that her mum had been awful to me. But recently when we resumed contact, I understood more clearly some issues, heard some truths, and I now count her as a special friend. What was cannot be changed, but it is passed. The future is ours to mould as we will and I hope we will meet again soon.
04/23 Direct Link
Life has flown by since those teenage days. The days and months have blurred into years and I now look back some thirty or more years later in amazement. There have been many wonderful memories since then. The feeling of knowing that you are carrying a child, and in partnership with God are creating life is something that I struggle to put into words. However, I remember with unique clarity the feeling of deep reverence and joy that this knowledge brought. It was equalled only by the feeling of holding that new born child in my arms.
04/24 Direct Link
Another memory that has unique clarity in the haze of years past are the events that led me to join my church. It was the culmination of about 3 years of searching. I have always been an inquisitive person, and believe that God gave me a brain hoping I would use it. I visited many churches during that time. Things would be well until I would question doctrine. Then I would get disapproving responses such as "God moves in mysterious way" or "You just have to have faith" and dissatisfied I would move on to continue my search. 
04/25 Direct Link
I continued my search when I returned to live with my grandparents in England. One day as I was looking through a phone book I came across the number of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I knew nothing of this church and yet its name almost leapt from the page. A force that I did not understand compelled me to ring and explain to the somewhat bemused person on the other end that I needed to know about his church. It was arranged that I would meet two representatives of the church that very night.
04/26 Direct Link
I expected to find the same pattern as I had with the other churches; an initial period of enjoyment followed by disappointment and dismay when I was asked to replace logic with faith. However, this time things were different. In the 30+ years I have been a member of this church I have never been discouraged from using all of intellect that I possess. While some of the doctrine is unique in comparison to that taught in other churches, it has a sound biblical base, is logical and I have never regretted my decision to join. 
04/27 Direct Link
So what makes my church unique? What really resonated with me? Well for a start, if I'm created in God's image why doesn't he have a body? I do. Well - guess what - He does! If God spoke to men through prophets anciently then why not today? Again - He does! There is a living prophet on the earth and He is in direct contact with God. The other thing that I always felt was completely illogical was the notion of the Godhead. So, God is 3 persons in 1? How does that work? Well, it doesn't. They are 3 separate beings!
04/28 Direct Link
There are many other things that are wonderful about the church I belong to. Families can be together forever and marriage goes beyond 'till death us do part'. Everyone is given the same opportunity to access salvation and little children have no sin and are not accountable until they're eight. The doctrine is quite different to other churches in many ways and yet, we still worship the same God, He is my Father and yours. Because we are His children that makes us family and that inspires me to treat others with the love and respect He has for them.
04/29 Direct Link
My marriage was not a healthy one, but it gave me the opportunity to have two amazing, beautiful sons. They would cringe if anyone else called them beautiful, but I claim a mother's privilege and even now they have children of their own, they are still beautiful to me. I am extremely proud of them. I think they are awesome. We had no other family around us when they were growing up so we were very close. It wasn't always that way, their teenage years were turbulent, but we are now and once again they bring me inexpressable joy. 
04/30 Direct Link
So, another month completed and I have had the opportunity to reflect on an incredibly full life. I've certainly had my challenges and it can hardly be described so far as smooth sailing, but as I look back I am so fortunate to have had the blessings I've had. I've seen the world go from manual typewriters, to golf-ball's, to computers. I've worked in jobs where I was paid differently because I was a woman and now see equality, and can re-educate myself without prejudice. I'm a mum and a grandma and have amazing friends. I am blessed.