The best of times, the worst of times…

2012 has been a somewhat mixed year. Not one that I’ll look back on with great affection, but one that has been at times very challenging, sometimes even depressing, whilst on rare occasions showing glimpses of real joy.

Back in January our focus was all on the courts and trying to resolve the long-running saga of getting proper parental input to the lives of Tracy’s boys. Over Christmas, Konnor had expressed a very strong desire to stay with us rather than return to live with his Dad, and so the battle lines were drawn and we went to war. Finally common sense won the day, with his Dad relenting and giving in to his wishes. During February and March we tried our best to get him settled in to his new home, which was also his school until we finally managed to get him into the one we wanted, whilst his brother went to live with Tracy’s parents so he could finish his GCSEs before moving Up North.

April saw a brief holiday in Buxton in our motorhome, which turned into a battle for survival when the snow came down and almost buried us. May saw me split my time between motorcycle instructing and travelling to Edinburgh to work on Tesco Bank’s IT Strategy, but also saw me spend a week in the sunshine in St Helens taking my RoSPA Diploma in Advanced Motorcycle Instruction qualification which I was delighted to pass with flying colours.

June brought the first of the year’s real shocks, when I discovered I’d had a mild heart attack whilst paintballing the day before Konnor’s birthday. I’d realised something wasn’t right when I nearly passed out, but to discover I had a severely narrowed coronary artery that needed a “stent” putting in was quite disturbing. July and August were therefore somewhat subdued, as I attended cardiac rehab, Tracy and I went on a proper diet (cutting out fats and reducing sugar intake) and we focused our attentions on our health for once. I did manage to continue instructing, though, and started to increase the number of days I was working as it proved great therapy!

We had a short holiday in Devon whilst the boys enjoyed more adventurous activities at PJH in Lincolnshire, driving karts, buggies, abseiling and generally having the sort of holiday I’d had loved at their age (and still would!).

But the biggest event of August, and the highlight of the year, was on Tracy’s birthday, when she got back on the bike for the first time since the accident in 2007. That was the story of the last blog entry – it proving such a hard act to follow that it’s been over 4 months since I last wrote anything!

By September I was back to full health albeit with the aid of a set of daily tablets that rivalled Tracy’s own collection of meds, and we settled back into the routine of working and keeping house. Tracy enjoyed her role as Grandma and babysitter for Niamh, who by now had become almost a permanent fixture in the Beattie household, her collection of toys occupying half the front room. I also think Grandpa developed more than a little soft spot for her too, given how much time they spent together!

September also brought about the year’s saddest moment, when we finally lost Paul’s mum, who had been battling against a chest infection since being admitted to hospital in June. When she was first admitted we didn’t really expect her to come out again, so it was great that she did, even if it meant she couldn’t return to the care home she’d called home for the past year. The nursing home we eventually found for her made her feel at home, but sadly she relapsed and passed away at the hospital – whilst Tracy was in hospital herself having yet another operation.

October saw a family gathering on what would have been Paul’s mum’s 83rd birthday, a sad occasion made happier by the usual round of family-style mickey-taking and reminiscing about old times. November saw Paul’s busiest working month of instructing, despite the inclement weather, whilst Tracy also got herself some part-time work as a data researcher, a job she can do at home in short bursts so it doesn’t cause her too much discomfort.

And so to December and the run-up to Christmas and the end of the year. Whilst we were all looking forward to a big family Christmas, the hand-of-fate that seems to have slapped us more than once in 2012 struck again, with Paul catching a stomach bug on Christmas Eve, ruling him out of Christmas Dinner duties (a job he loves!). Boxing Day had to be postponed as a result, and even the family trip to Haverhill at the weekend to see Tracy’s family was impacted as despite Paul recovering, Sean contracted the bug and had to stay home.

And so to New Year’s Eve.

Now we can say “Goodbye” to 2012. A year that saw our lives change as we became a family again with the boys moving in with us, saw Tracy get back on the bike, Paul complete his qualifications as a motorcycle instructor and begin to earn his living from his passion; a year that also saw low points with Paul having a serious health scare, yet more operations for Tracy and the sad passing of Paul’s mum.

2013 starts tomorrow, and we are determined to ensure that we make a better job of it than we did 2012.