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Truth - Be Honest

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
Truth - Be Honest
I overheard something at my mother’s funeral. Fifty years have passed and the words still hurt.
“Poor Sheila, so young. Still, she lasted longer than we thought.”
My auntie, dabbing her eyes, was holding court with other relatives outside Carleton Crematorium Chapel. I can’t remember if it was before or after the service, not that it matters. Nothing mattered, except the deep deception that cut through my very soul. All these people, family and friends of the family had known that my mother was terminally ill, yet they had spent the last however many months speaking to me along the lines of, “When Mummy’s better…”, “When your mom is better…”, “When Sheila gets over this…”.At nearly fourteen years of age I was old enough to ‘be grown up about all this’, but not considered to be old enough to be included in what was happening or given a chance to say goodbye. I was shattered. I had believed I was secure in a close-knit family. Everybody was hiding the truth.
Well, not quite everybody. My nanna was honest without actually coming out with the words. She was looking after us, my sister and me. Our family ran pubs and we were staying out of town at their pub, rather than ours. I adored my nanna, she was my rock. I wouldn’t usually have stepped out of line with her for the world. There was much love, respect but also a tiny bit of fear because I expected she could be even angrier than my mum if she was cross with me. I don’t know where it came from, but for the one and only time in my life, I gave her a glimpse of my 'stroppy madam' mood and I answered her back. I don’t remember what was said between us or why but I regretted it immediately and braced myself for a slap. It didn’t come. Instead, she hugged me tight and I cried. Tears for being rude to my lovely nanna and tears for worrying about my mom.
“Where there’s life, there’s hope.” Nanna’s words spoke volumes. Sheila, my mom was her daughter. Nanna had already suffered the loss of a daughter, a child, before my mom was born. I wish I had half of her northern grit.
What I overheard at my mum’s funeral taught me about truth and about compassion. My relatives wanted to protect me, though deceiving me into false security was the outcome. It was with the best of intention, I can understand that. My importance of honesty in life-threatening situations is borne of that experience.
My husband was very ill when our son was about twelve, maybe thirteen. The illness seemed never ending. He was in hospital for months, no diagnosis, no improvement. I’m sure our son thought long and hard before asking me if Dad was going to die. The situation was on his mind more than I realised.I told him with total honesty, that until it was discovered what was wrong, we didn’t know what would happen, but we hoped Dad would pull through and I promised, I would always tell him the truth. My husband recovered, eventually, thank goodness. My children appreciated the truth.   A poem from Muhammad Ali,   The face of truth is open. The eyes of truth are bright, The lips of truth are ever closed, The head of truth is upright.   The breast of truth stands forward, The gaze of truth is straight, Truth has neither fear nor doubt Truth has patience to wait.   The words of truth are touching, The voice of truth is deep, The law of truth is simple: All that you sow you reap.   The soul of truth is flaming, The heart of truth is warm, The mind of truth is clear, And firm through rain or storm.   Facts are but its shadows, Truth stands above all sin, Great be the battle in life, Truth in the end shall win.   The image of truth is Christ, Wisdom's message its rod; Sign of truth is the cross, Soul of truth is God/   Life of truth is eternal, Immortal is its past. Power of truth will endure, Truth shall hold to the last.   Muhammad Ali  (1942 - 2016)     Thanks for reading, Pam x
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