It is with huge pride that I announce the arrival on Wednesday 3 March 2020 of my fifth grandchild, a son Lonan to my eldest son Peter and his wonderful wife Katie. My wife Jo and I visited the new family on Friday, the little fellow was less than 48 hours old. I was overwhelmed by the strength of my emotions as I held Lonan in my arms and looked down at this brand-new, tiny bundle of love and hope, the first-born son of my first-born son.
I have five kids, Jo has two, a not insignificant clan by anyone’s standards. Rarely, we were all together last summer for Will’s (my youngest) wedding. It was a joyous day, one of those occasions when it’s so important to remember to remember.
From the left: Jo, Joseph, Peter, me & Doris, Will, Thomas, Madeleine, Grace-Marie and Zoe
They’re spread around the world, they and their partners and children are all well and thriving, and we get together all too infrequently. I suspect our model is duplicated across most modern families. The simple, nuclear family of my youth is most uncommon nowadays. Modern lifestyles place huge strains on parents that weren’t there in my childhood or when my children were young. Everyone is now so busy, careers for both mums and dads are so demanding, finances are always tight and expectations for each of us on all fronts (at home, school and work) are sky high. I know from watching others, especially in the workplace, that time for the family too often gets squeezed to the back of the queue. We can so easily lose sight of what really matters.
I’m oft-minded of the fridge magnet motto that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children – roots to give them confidence and wings to help them fly. Children are our greatest investment in the future, the only one that really matters, the only legacy worth anything to leave.
We are entering a very strange and difficult period as the Coronavirus spreads. We can debate the whys and wherefores of what’s happening and how Governments are dealing with it, but this is a new phenomenon and none of us really know from day to day where events are heading. Truth is, there’s nothing we can do to stop it, we can each only do our part in reducing the spread of the virus and responding responsibly if we get it. To most of us it will prove no more than an inconvenience; to some, sadly, it will mean more than this. But world events will impact all of us in ways we’ve yet to define.
But please let’s all keep our senses of perspective. Remember – all things must pass, both good and bad. Hopefully in just a few weeks’ time we’ll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about. In the meantime, I’ve no doubt that increasing numbers of us will be required to work from home. Schools will close. Travel will be restricted. Sports events will be abandoned. Holidays will be cancelled. It’s almost like we’ll all be placed under house arrest! Let us use this time to reconsider our values, and to reconnect with our loved ones. Let us embrace this enforced passivity and social curfew to remember exactly why it is that we rush around all the rest of the time.
We’re all in this boat together now and there’s nothing much to be done except to weather out the storm. Be patient. Follow “the science”, the Government’s line so far to me seems entirely sensible. Look out for your family, especially the older ones. Remember – all things must pass, both good and bad.
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Thank you for reading my blogs. I’m getting quite old now, and hopefully I’m a little wiser than I once was. I have enjoyed a fascinating career full of fascinating people, and made many great friendships. I’ve made huge errors in my lifetime, and enjoyed great success too – it’s been the ultimate game of snakes and ladders - up and down, round and round. It is my privilege to share some of my stories with you, and describe some of the lessons I’ve learned in the hope that it may both save you from falling into the same holes, and help you in your careers and lives. Good luck and good fortune.