It is something that only becomes apparent as time passes, but having children is not about bringing up babies. It's about the people that they become. Now that mine are all adults, I appreciate them all the more and love who they are - what they have made themselves.
But then, we've all been lucky. Not everyone is. We had two phone calls yesterday, with bad news.
The first one was the Sage's sister, who rang to tell us that her daughter Sarah's husband had died suddenly of a heart attack. Their 5 year old son was with him when he collapsed and they have a 9 year old daughter too. Jonathan was 68, considerably older than Sarah and had not been too well for some time, largely with circulatory problems caused, they were told, by his lifetime of heavy smoking, but this was completely unexpected.
Later, the Sage rang a family friend to tell her, but the information was overshadowed by her own family problem and he didn't say anything. She was almost too upset to speak, but it seems that her son is in prison. We don't know what for, and we don't know if he's been charged, whether bail was refused or even what he's supposed to have done - the Sage said he simply couldn't ask her questions as she wasn't fit to answer them. I'll ring her in a little while, she might be able to talk to me. Although he is, in many ways, a likable young man, he has been the reason for anxiety and grief to his mother and late father since they adopted him at the age of 3. He had been badly treated and it wasn't surprising that he found it hard to trust and be trustworthy but, again, this is right out of the blue.