One of the things that has struck me most during my whole illness and rehabilitation, is the lengths my family, friends and loved ones have gone to for me, it has really made me feel special and loved. Everyone has been incredible. Not only driving the two to three hours it takes to get to Cheltenham from Leicester, for my family, or similarly for Amy's family from Poole.
The actual meeting of the two families; your own and your girlfriends is always a nervous experience, but the story of how mine and Amy's families first crossed paths is unusual. As the boyfriend in this piece, you always worry about how it will go down, and what each side will think of one other, especially under, shall we say, the far-from-normal circumstances or conditions with me laid out in bed in a coma.
Myself and Amy know we are both incredibly lucky; the two of us are from amazing, and extremely similar, families. What helps, first off, is both our mothers have spent their entire careers in education, moulding the young minds of tomorrow; it is no surprise then that both eldest daughters want, or have, careers also in education. My sister Laura works in a school, and of course Amy has great ambitions to be a primary school teacher one day, when I am well enough and back to work myself.
As I have said before, she has had to park those ambitions, temporarily, to help be my carer, something I feel tremendously guilty over, mainly because I know she will be incredible at the job one day. It is only a matter of time. This amazing selfless sacrifice blows me away every time I think about it. Could anyone imagine their partner/spouse being so selfless? This, of course, sums Amy up, and is one of the many reasons why I love her so much, sorry to get all soppy.
Back to reality, as I was saying, we are lucky our mothers are so similar, both are great at their jobs, and both enjoy the odd glass of wine, now and again, which they will kill me for saying, so it was no surprise they got on like a house on fire. Anyway, while I was in Frenchay hospital, which was the serious time, Amy's parents brought her up to see me from Poole and finally met my mum and dad in the waiting room at the hospital. Normally, I don't think anyone would really choose these circumstances for a first introduction, but as we have seen throughout this experience, sometimes the bad times can help bond you closer together; this, thankfully, is exactly what happened, and everyone just, well, clicked. I guess it helps when you have so much in common.
The two things that stood out to my family is what so many people have said before; firstly, how laid back Amy's dad, Steve, is. Everyone, especially my brother-in-law Dave, always marvelled at how this doctor, could be so chilled out; regularly going surfing, or playing acoustic guitar at folk clubs. The main difference is, of course, the Woods are Midlanders, whereas the Perrings are true south coasters, as Steve's tattoo of a wave on his arm will testify to. I can't see my dad getting one somehow. The one word which springs to mind is juxtaposition, which of course means the bringing together of two opposites to make something seem similar. This whole grand meeting, had to happen some time as me and Amy had been together for just over a year, when I had my bleed. So maybe it helped break the ice in many ways.
Today we spent the day with Amy's mum and dad, who travelled all the way up from Poole. We had a lovely lunch, followed by a sunny walk and ended with watching the FA Cup final! Of course! One thing I did want to make sure I covered in this week of blogs is how important it is to look after the people who care for someone with a brain injury.
So I want to do a few thank you's. Thank you to Amy's family for supporting her in supporting me, especially her mum, Jude, who I know through the many stories my mum has told me about the pair of them, she was a pillar of support those first four weeks spent in Frenchay. Also a special thank you must go to my uncle Jim and auntie Mandy who had to rifle through some intimate draws to get more clean supplies for my family. They also came to visit me and offered so much love and support to my family and Amy. Next, Maria, my sister's mother-in-law, who provided much-needed food, to fuel hours of visiting times. Both of our extended families, who prayed for me plus rang and text at all times of the day and night. My friends who were so full of hope, always. There are so many other people I could thank but we would be here a while!
Caring for carers is so important, I cannot stress this enough. An event like this does not change the life of one, it changes the lives of many.
Thanks for reading