#TeamDuke It’s a family affair


👁❤️2 …………………… keeping loving #TeamDuke

“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” – John Wooden

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox

“In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” – Alex Haley

3 quotes for the price of 1. You’re very welcome.

Here we are skipping towards the summer, and here I am, reflecting – AGAIN – on life from my rather grounded view of the world.

I consider myself lucky to be able to observe from this grounded position, as I try and look at what is in front of me. I guess it’s what makes me the person that I am.

Today, I want to celebrate the family. Simple as that. Family again, I hear you ask? Yes, my dear friend, family.

I am lucky when I look out at my family. I was extremely lucky to have been raised by a wonderful mum and dad. They are the reason for me being who I am today. Beyond that, I am grateful to have 2 brothers, who are great friends, and then there are my wonderful sisters in law and nephews, aunt and cousin. And then, there are the great brothers and sisters in law and nephews and nieces on my ex wife’s side of this awesome family. And then, her aunts, uncles, cousins etc etc. And then, my incredible friends, who are as much family as friends.

But, of course, I then look at the family who provide the shield of love at home. Ben, Liv, Ringo, Zeekee, and now Audrey. The unconditional love that they bring can never be under estimated.

And, I guess, that’s where this blog kicks in.

As any discerning reader will know, Ben and Liv’s mum walked out of the family home nearly a year ago. Yes, she walked away from her family – including all of the above wonderful souls. I understand that she believes that she followed her path. No, she walked out and now suggests that her husband, son, and daughter did not support her on her quest. I’ll leave it there, as the purpose of the blog is not to throw mud. However, I think a little humanistic honesty is required. Clearly, I am happy to debate this point – off-line.

So, the last year has been a hell of a ride for #TeamDuke, but the above is where the story started.

As those who have followed the story of #TeamDuke through this year’s blogs, I have looked to celebrate. Yes, celebrate. You can never under estimate the lowest of the low point from where we started. Ben was away at Camp America when he heard what had happened. Liv was suffering from her own challenges. Me? This isn’t about me. This, as I’ve said is a celebration. Of course there has been bitterness. I’m human. I believe I’m loving, caring and loyal. So, the starting point was low.

But, in the last year, the power of the family has been immense. However, for the purpose of this blog, I am going to focus on the wonderment of who I am honoured to call my son and daughter. I want to raise a glass to them, and celebrate our life together.

Ben – for so many years, we have been close. We share a love of music and rugby league. But, it’s so much more than that. He described me as being more like a brother. How awesome is that! I always thought I would get to the point where I would be fading out pottering along behind him at the Leeds Festival. Well, how wrong could I be! This year, Ben will be 23 and HE’S paying for me to go with him. Words fail me.

Ben is such a steadying influence on his sister. Obviously they have spats. But they are so close and, at times of frustration about their absent mother, they support each other.

I don’t think Ben truly understands what a wonderful, loving, funny, charming young man he is. Sorry if I’m being a tad gushing but, it is a family affair and as #TeamDuke we want to inspire others to realise all hope has not gone. Hope is really as long as there is love.

Liv – well, where do I start. A more beautiful, understated soul I am yet to meet. Liv constantly talks about lacking confidence, but when the going gets tough, Liv rises above all others and defeats whatever is placed in front of her.

The last year has been tough for Liv, perhaps longer. It has been suggested Liv is dramatic. No, she’s honest!

Liv was there for me in the early days of ‘well, I didn’t see that coming’; days of feeling rejected.

Liv has some much love in her heart and has grown with such strength.

As a collective, I didn’t think #TeamDuke could be any closer. Through the sharing of love, support, laughter, and a few tears, we have and will continue to do so.

Ben and Liv know I’m there for them 24 / 7, but I know they are for me – although I’m not sure how Liv would react if I woke her at 4 am to tell her there was a moth in my room. Or how Ben would react if I woke him up at 4 am to tell him I’m home from a night out clubbing, and then lay with him for 15 minutes for a chat.

I love it!

And, let’s not forget Ringo (dog) and Zeekee (cat). The positive energy, the unconditional love, and the fun that they bring to our home. 18 months ago I would not have wanted another animal in the house – the latest hamster going to the great wheel in the sky some months before. However, I was so wrong. We are very lucky and I am grateful for the day I woke up.

It would be remiss not to say a few words about Audrey. For so long, friends with a common interest in music and the regular chat around mindfulness, basic spiritual stuff, books on positive thinking, and a bit of psychology. However, here we are, a few months in and going strong. Apart from the happiness that Audrey has ignited within me, she has also provided incredible support and companionship already that Ben and Liv.

Finally, I know I refer to how lucky I am to have such incredible friends. In this blog, I want to name check the phenomenal Ramsdens. I have been close to Steve and Susan for many years, but the support that they have given me / #TeamDuke has been beyond words. I could never find the words to express my gratitude to them. At those darker times, they would appear with a bottle of wine, a home made cake, a smile, and plenty of hugs. Thank you ❤️.

In essence, it is a family affair. Be that blood family or members who have joined along the way.

Sorry if the blog has been a bit indulgent. Also, sorry if I have embarrassed anyone through being overly emotional.

And sorry if I have offended my ex-wife.

Vivienne – this is not the intention. I know you won’t be reading this but I am just saying it as it is – let’s say in the 3rd dimension. In fact, I have so much to be grateful to you for, and for that I thank you. #TeamDuke are strong; we are alive and kicking. Ben and Liv have some of your positive characteristics from when you were there for them, as their mum. We do not judge. We observe. We do not carry self pity. We carry emotions and, thankfully, those emotions are intact. Ben and Liv love you from their hearts. I’ll leave it there. I hope as your 50th birthday passes, you can reach inside and remember what role a mum has to play in their children’s lives. You had one of the best role models I can think of.

God bless. It is a family affair.





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