Sunday, 14 August 2011

Clive Gott's Birthday BBQ (and mine!)

On Friday Dom and I had quiet a relaxed start to the day. I did some admin and by mid afternoon we went into Leeds. Dom was looking for some specific 'bits' for his photography and had noticed 'proper' camera shops there when we popped in the day before. As his required items were 'specialist' we were directed up to Dale Photographic, which was somewhat off the beaten track.

I entered a world of gobble-de-gook as Dom and a couple of extremely knowledgeable staff discussed the items  he wanted. How did my 15 year old learn so much? When as parents do you realise your child has knowledge about something that far exceeds your own? I think technology-wise he left me behind years ago! I was impressed by both the shop and my son! We will be back!

Many of you have been impressed by his photography taken on our recent holiday at Flamborough and Clive's golf day last week.

However, my favourite one was taken a few hours later. We went along to Headingley to watch Leeds Rhinos play against Castleford Tigers - the team they just beat last Sunday to got to Wembley! Ooch! The Rhinos shop was packed with fans getting regalia for Wembley in 2 weeks time. As the season is coming to its end some of the clothing was reduced. I stopped in my tracks as I spotted a certain pale blue polo shirt on the reduced rail. It was the last one. My eyes filled with tears as my thought of this one holds mixed memories. It was Clive's favourite that I had dressed him in his coffin. In a flash I could see him lying there. I could feel the coldness of his face, hands and lips. I half smiled as I remembered my mascara tears had stained it as I held his body for the last time. Dom came over and I explained the significance. He offered to get it for me. I thought for a moment and decided against it. It would just hurt too much. Better to focus on happy things.

In an instance I did, as Dom had chosen a T-shirt for Wembley. His first ever team clothing. I was so pleased and I know Clive would have been too.

We had our usual corporate table and shared it with Pete Evans of Altum V and some of his guests. What a chore - me at a table with 8 men! One was my son so I had to behave!

Last season I had been at a game with Clive and as we were waiting for our meal I flicked through the programme. I read that one of my favourite players, Keith Senior, had been the first to score a try the last time they had played the team that night. Clive often placed a small bet at the matches ('I'll have a dabble', he'd say), and I rarely did. I surprised him that night by saying 'put my £5 on Keith for first try scorer'. Guess what? Keith scored! I was chuffed to bits! The outcome was a new dress. So every match after that I'd follow Keith closely. I kept telling Clive to introduce me but he told me to be patient. All I wanted was a photo with him.

Not long into this season Keith wrecked his knee and hasn't played since. I was gutted. Often injured players come into the corporate dining suite and will add their comments about the game. Due to Keith's amazing injury-free career this has never happened - until Friday night! He was there! poor Dom - he must shake his head in dismay at me sometimes. I was like an excited toddler! Clive often admired my determination to get something I wanted ...

Keith Senior and me!
Keith was charming as I asked if I may have my photo with him, which Dom took.  I thanked him for my dress and explained who I was. I felt quite choked but also very proud when he said he was very sorry to hear about Clive - he'd done a lot for the club.

I floated to our seats after that. The atmosphere was fantastic - rugby league at its best. There was such a buzz and several 'Wem-ber-ley' chants - surely not to wind up the Cas fans?!

I sat in the seats Clive and I always had for home games. The whole match I didn't feel tearful - instead a HUGE feeling of love and gratitude for Clive. Why? For sharing his love of Leeds Rhinos with me and enabling me to then share it with my son. I feel so appreciative that Clive opened my eyes to many new experiences that previously I would have dismissed as 'not my scene'. What are you saying 'no' to that you might actually enjoy, if you just open your mind to it? It is another part of his legacy. Clive always wanted a son. It was one of the only things he actually envied others for. For me now to share this pleasure with my son is brilliant and I know how delighted he would be. Thank you to those at Headingley too for letting me keep Clive's place. This seat in the North Stand at Leeds Headingley will always have Clive's spirit there.

Dom was as enthralled as I was as bit by bit Leeds stormed their way to a 56-0 victory.  The Rhino fans were in fine voice. The players on great form. Makes me think of this song ..

After cheese and biscuits back upstairs we wandered to the car park with Pete and one of his guests. Dom chatted to him and discovered that he had been a Major. 'Wow!' said Dom, 'I have huge respect for guys like that'.

I drove away with a smile on my face but with sadness that the season is drawing to a close! Me! Blimey, this is a strange emotion for me! Now I understand how Clive felt.

Clive and me last year

The next day we were having a BBQ at home - intended as one to celebrate our joint birthdays, like we did last year.  I had debated if still to go ahead but on our plans for the year printed out and on the wall 'Have a brilliant birthday barbeque' was there.

Mainly I thought it would be just a good idea to have family together for a happy reason. So far this year such gatherings have been to mourn. So the plan went ahead.

At midnight Dom and I were in a 24 hour Tesco in Leeds - with Dom wearing his new Rhinos t-shirt! Now Clive would have been pleased!

Saturday passed in a blur of 'getting BBQ ready', 'Enjoying company and BBQ' then 'Clearing up after BBQ'!

Twice I could have cried - when 'Truly, Madly, Deeply' by Savage Garden played. I paused for a moment looking at our back garden full of people smiling, chatting, drinking, children playing. I had put a photo of Clive at the top of the garden to watch over us - but I felt he was there in spirit. I thought  how he would have been in his element now. He had adored our BBQ last year and loved the way we hosted it together. Dom did a sterling job helping me throughout this year, with a maturity not usually associated with a 15 year old. Everyone helped with food, cooking, etc and the day just flowed. I smiled and enjoyed the day feeling surrounded by people who love us both.

Mind you, I did throw into conversation that in my previous blog I had requested people to send me 10 words which they feel best describe me (to help with my re-branding and marketing). I have received some gorgeous ones - thank you! However, in my back garden yesterday there were ones thrown around like 'bossy', buxom', 'unstable'!!!! Cheers guys - and these coming from those who claim to like me??!

Later on as a few of us sat around the warmth of the chimenea, just as we had last year, as people left the circle of chairs grew smaller. As banter went on around 'Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus' - comparing the gender differences, I felt the massive hole at my side. There was one empty chair next to me. I had put one of Clive's big coats on so I felt he was hugging me. As people chatted I actually had my hand out over the arm of the chair imagining his leg there. He would have been so very excited to be part of this - some of our closet friends, my parents and my son. I managed to curb the tears and chose to smile and feel proud that I had not only put on a wonderful evening to celebrate our birthdays but that everyone had enjoyed it.

I know other people had their own 'moments' (or hours) of missing Clive here last night. It didn't need me to give a speech to acknowledge the loss we all feel in our own ways. We all have to grieve in our own ways - there is no right or wrong one.

Clive has left behind a very supportive and loving family and my gratitude for that being passed onto me is more than words can say. I know Clive and I were only together for a few short years but to have been embraced by his closest family in this way means an incredible amount to me. Having some of my family there too was also special - just so sad that we weren't together to celebrate Clive and I getting married, which would have been happening.

My parents, Dom and I cleared up later on and I finally slid into bed feeling as content as I can. I was pleased and proud of everyone for enabling me to be able to tick off the line on the list on the kitchen wall -
'have a brilliant birthday barbeque'.

I was touched when Clive's brother said it was good to see me smiling - and to keep on doing so.
My heart continues to be broken. The pain of Clive dying remains. I am able to smile more in spite of this, as I begin to recognise and value the people I have around me. This song sums it up ..

So my ideas for you today:-

  • What are you saying 'no' to that perhaps means you ultimately are denying yourself pleasure?
  • Smile!

Elaine x

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