Baptised Three Robust Catholic Names
But everyone calls me Sylvia. In April of 1946, I was two months old, and my parents had nowhere to live. Father Cannon sent us to a couple who were happy to rent a room, but on one condition. Change my name.
They’d lost their baby a few weeks earlier, and her name was Catherine. My parents agreed to call me Sylvia named after my maternal grandmother for a couple of weeks. It might well have been Mary, my third name. But two weeks went into two months and then five months. And my name never reverted.
When I was six months old,
We moved into ramshackle stables. Converted for the homeless by the Coventry City council. And according to my parents, infested with rats and fleas. So my mother sold her piano for Key money (deposit), for a two bedroomed house further down Little Park Street. Number 95 towards the city.
We stayed until I was almost seven years old. But I never used the shred toilet, choosing to scale the wall and use the pub toilet next door. My sister died in the kitchen of 94 Little Park Street, of cot death, and my brother was born in the upstairs bedroom. Life was tough, rationing was still on, and some food was scarce right up to 1952. I never noticed until my brother arrived.
In 1953 we moved to the suburbs, we went to various Catholic schools, I loved. I felt at home at all but one, which was hell on earth. But we were only there a few months as my parents heard we were moving to the suburbs. “School’s out,” said dad. You’re going to a better school, and it was. Like all good Catholics, I made my Holy Communion at 7-years old. Quick to learn, I fast-tracked my Confirmation at 8-years old. The bishop insisted I did. As he said, I answered all the questions with wisdom, clarity and understanding. I loved history, philosophy, people watching, religion and art. I left two oil paintings in the corridors, I was proud of them.
I left school at fifteen.
I wanted to earn money for my place. Then I met my husband on a blind date; I was almost sixteen. Old souls destined to meet said, my grandmother. Gordon bought a house in 1963. He signed the papers on his 21st birthday. It was a Saturday the solicitor opened up for us. The big freeze of 1963 had the rain freezing as soon as it hit the streets. The roads and were like rivers of ice. But we got there somehow.
We were looking forward to a new life, and so were the people we bought the house off. They were white South Africans going back home. We spent almost 7- months renovating the house. We married on April 4, 1964, and I was eighteen. Nine months later, our first son was born. In 1967 we moved to the country when our son was eighteen months old. A week after moving, redundancy hit us.
But we survived.
My early training in my parent’s house had been an apprenticeship to my future as a homemaker. I came into my own, the hunter-gatherer, picking fruit from hedgerows with my new friend Merlyn.
Budgeting and working in part-time jobs while Gordon worked in low paid jobs we survived. We pulled together and thrived in those eighteen months. Our second son was born in 1967. In 1970 Gordon went into business, and I worked as a supervisor in the local preschool. Seven years later, I was working in a high profile voluntary organisation. I loved managing people, and training volunteers became my life. In the 90s I had a small retail shop.
A fifteen-year-olds dream fulfilled. Then one day, Philomena spoke of my previous counselling, indicating I needed to go back to that. But, I wanted something more dynamic, like hypnotherapy and psychotherapy. And bless her, she sourced all the information, placing it on my shop counter a week later.
A Blessing in Disguise
I finally found a course approved by Complementary Association. After a great deal of hard studying and running the shop, I qualified in 1995. Now I had two businesses: my shop that was doing well and fledgeling therapy practice. I intended running both sides by the side. But life never works out that way, and my landlord went bankrupt. I did have an offer, a good one and prophesied by a gipsy, but I never went down that route.
To me, the closure was a blessing in disguise because I could focus on the therapy practice. By 1999 I’d added, Reiki, for myself. Then I did NLP, and an NVQ3 Training and Development. A Diploma in Nutrition and Eating Disorders as I had many clients with food issues.. I had a series of recordings done on tapes, and then later CDs. And are still used today because they’re timeless.
You can download these for free on this website.
I was also running workshops. I worked with a local doctor on the NHS quit smoking programme. Work gathered pace, and for 23-years, I worked full-on and loved every minute. By 2015, I’d semi-retired taking fewer clients and running training groups instead.
By 2016, my husband had PMR. A few months later, he had two cancer markers for myeloma and pancreatic cancer. We changed his diet, even though we were organic, we did the Gerson protocol. He had CBD oil. He did meditation. He took Organic Turmeric, Curcumin (1380 mg) with Organic Black Pepper and Ginger. We stopped all sugar as cancer thrives on sugar. I did Reiki on him.
After a year his PMR burnt itself out. The oncologist diagnosed MGUS, a dormant blood cancer that can stay that way for twenty years. We ceased worrying. He’d be ninety-six by then. In late 2017 his Pancreatic markers went back to normal, and he had the all-clear. We had a future again.
Normal Life Resumed
But in this period of reflection, I came to realise that death and dying had become me. I was living proof of the Five Stages. Since 2009 when my closest friend died, many others I’ve loved did. I was living through the five stages every two years. In 2015 Gordon’s brother died and so did mine in the same month. In 2018 I decided not to retire but do other work. I needed to keep my mind alert.
I wanted a Free Information Site.
I decided to subsidise a free information site on the work I used to do. But technology had moved at a rapid pace, and I hadn’t kept up. And while the websites (all five of them) had been better each time I produced them. Even I recognised I needed more than the one I was creating then. I found someone. But something else happened. In my reflective period between Gordon retiring and then dying, I realised I wanted to write. You read right, Gordon died.
Not of cancer, not as a result of any illness,
He didn’t have a freak accident, and the PMR never returned. He died of Arteriovenous Malformation, (AVM). A tangle of abnormal blood vessels that have a higher rate of bleeding than healthy arteries. And it happens in less than 1% of the general population. The Cause is Unknown, but an abnormal development in utero is usual and may be present since birth. And this was the case with Gordon.
An AVM usually erupts between the ages of 20 to 40-years old. He died May 6, 2019, aged 76-years old. But we had thirty-six-years longer than the norm, and I’m grateful for that time together. He could have left me a widow when the children were tiny or teenagers. And I’d have been penniless. We had time to save into a pension and build savings. It’s almost a year since Gordon died, and I’m no longer a writer. Writers write columns, articles, and blogs; students write assignments, essays and a thesis. I’ve done all that since 1995.
I’m now an author.
I’m an avid letter writer. I write to everyone and anyone. As a child I wrote short stories, quotes and poems. I found a poem I wrote when I was 11 years old and had 100% for this. I was so proud, but I still felt it wasn’t good enough.
Page on page resembles years; the writing stands for love and fears. The cover is the shell, but inside you’ll find the fears and tears.
Sylvia Curran (11years old)
I have all those 50 thousand word stories ready for editing? Those tucked away in files on the computer for resurrection. I intend keeping my promise to my friend to write her story. She died in 2009 so long overdue. I notice she’s stopped nagging me since Gordon’s death. And I thank her for that, as my mind has struggled to focus for months. I want to write my autobiography. I regret not asking my grandparents and parents more questions.
I’d like to leave a legacy.
And it’s never too late to do that. As Captain Tom More who at 99 years old has raised to date 22 million pounds and still growing. He’s put the shambolic government to shame. And highlighted the vast discrepancies between the working classes and the elite. But I also want my grandchildren to know more about us. And speak about the signs and messages I had from Gordon after he died. What he told me about heaven and my visits there.
And that PhD editor of twenty years ago, who said: ‘See you in print one day.’ I have to keep my promise to her as well. I thought I was running out of time. And time is something you can never get back. Once gone, it’s gone forever.
A Legacy
But Captain Tom Moore at 99-years old has shown me and everyone, that age is no barrier to leaving a legacy. So thank you, Captain More. And all those his age that has survived so much and yet still gives us all such hope. A message for those who consider oldies need culling, think again. In old age, there’s courage, resistance and determination in some who reaches that age.
Look around open your eyes.
We have examples everywhere, the Queen, grandparents, aunts, uncles or neighbours. But also those in shops, and streets, stop and talk. You might learn something as I did one day when I met a young man James, he was 15-years old. I learnt a lot from him. Don’t let age stop you communicating or learning. I like all ages I live on the fringe looking in, and I people-watch.
I’m a realist and idealist.
I’ve worked with mandatory services, and I’ve found that many civil servants and governments are ponderous. Unless its money lining their pockets. Most Aquarian women will show up at protests; carted off to prison for their beliefs. I wouldn’t. I break the rules, especially those outdated. I’d sign petitions. Activate leadership and delegate. I’d organise meetings to educate groups to unite by a common cause. I care about humanity. But you won’t find me in the cold protesting.
I’m not keen on the cold. I often ask myself what on earth possessed me to have a dog who loves exercise and in all weathers? A teacup dog would have been better. But he gets me out for a daily walk. I straddle the old with the new. I’m a progressive thinker, I love new ideas and technology, can’t say I’m brilliant, but my grandson says I’m a techie. I’m motivated by social injustice and justice. I like to contribute to the cultural shift in society. Particularly in issues of poverty. World health, equal rights and building confidence and boldness.
My Values
I work inside out, rather than outside in as many therapists do. People’s potential matters to me. And why I retrained in dynamic approaches. As my first concern was how long most traditional therapy took. I felt that many people were being taken advantage of. I knew with the right tools and techniques, people can be self- sufficient in months, not years.
My Interests
I’m interested in politics, religion, philosophy, psychology. I’m curious about different cultures and eastern beliefs and values. My work as a manager and trainer in the voluntary sector had taught me that much. That’s why I wanted something that worked inside out first. Because this is subtle but powerful as it by- passes the frenetic ego.
I believe the heart has an intelligence
One we often ignore and devalue. We need to focus on this rather than the mind. The mind paralyses with self-doubts and fear; the heart listens with the ear of the soul, heart and spirit. I’ll continue to offer free information on my site until I die. But from 2021 any new additions and revamps will be subject to a small fee to pay for the courses I ran. Life, for me, is better with music.
It would have been better with Gordon.
We planned and hoped to be old together. Like the 90-year-old couple, we saw in 2000. They were walking down hand in hand down Regents Parade in Leamington-Spa. Gordon promised me he’d live to be 120 and I would say, heaven help me, but secretly I hoped we’d at least be together at a 100 years old. But not to be. Although twenty years earlier, a clairvoyant told me he would die before me. I’m not alone; I have Eddy for company, my friends and family and God.
My friend Pat sent me a text:
A special bond with a dog and its owner.
It does not mend a broken heart,
But it glues little bits together and makes you smile again.

And Eddy does that. He sits and watches TV with me. Named after my husbands favourite singers Eddy Cochran and Duane Eddy. He gets me up early and I don’t go to bed until midnight, but I should have some time to do my writing. He’s part of my new beginnings. Someone once said. “Yesterday is history; Tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why we call it the Present.”
And Oscar Wilde said:
“To love yourself is the start of a lifelong romance.” And I agree.
I believed he meant this in a self-reliant way.
Unless you like yourself, you’ll never love yourself.
Unless you respect yourself, then others won’t respect you.
And if you don’t work on yourself, the results will be the same 10, 20, 30, Or forty years down the line.
Is that what you want? Thought not?
Sometimes it takes time to master stopping, stepping back, and reflecting. It takes an effort to step back and empty the mind of distractions.
Or reflect and feel the gentle summers on our face,
And stop and listen to the birds.
But it’s worth it when we do.

Sylvia Lerigo

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