HAPPY HAPPY 95th Birthday Mum!!!
Nine and a half decades- what a great deal of life – my mother- truly a living history. Her 90th was to be celebrated by us all but life, the stem cell transplants and the resulting loss of Chris negated that celebration of life lived well.
And now 5 years later another milestone.
The loss of her only grandson
was as she said the worst part of her life even losing just about every family member – brothers, sisters, mother, father, nieces and nephew could not compare. But through all these years my mum has kept her optimism, she forgives easily harms done to her and is a kind and gentle soul, never wishes ill of anyone.Her sense of family is to be envied!
What a remarkable story she has lived, the hundreds and hundreds of people all over the world that have been touched by knowing her , eaten her special cakes, pies and shared her home when they had none.
She says it is lonely getting to this age as all your peers ( bar one Uncle John who is 102)
are no longer around to share the memories of youth, of weddings, births, war and peace. My mum still makes me smile, holds my hand when I am crippled with my own grief, makes a brilliant cup of tea and knows when a smile and a touch of compassion is needed.
She wrote memories of her life for her granddaughter when she was just a wee bairn and more when Christopher was born-
What indeed is the truth about any of us? A question most difficult to answer. The world will never know our innermost life and thoughts even if someone were to write and read one hundred biographies. The main facts of our lives are known and are likely only to be known to ourselves alone. Not only are there facts we do not tell but some that we ourselves do not know.
At best some small facet of the truth will catch the light and that I suppose, is what we must seize for there is much virtue in truth. Truth has almost a mystical power, like radium, it seems to give off its own energy and light that goes on forever
The memories of life, people and times of her years of “living history” there for the generations to come:
So where is the Beginning of it all? Upon reflection and trying to summon up the very first picture, there is a faint imprint there in my mind. Can a child of three really retain, retell the event so many years on? Could I really see six or seven human forms lying on a mattress of black and white ticking strung between wooden frames? The box like shapes, the harsh sound of human retching the pungent smell of oil and vomit that unpleasant fragrance still is in my nostrils.
Some photo of that time with its sights and smells must have embedded itself forever in my mind. I can feel still the roll and the steady beat of a noise below. I was huddled, warmed and comforted by another little body next to mine. I can see my mother lying stretched out a short distance away from us; her long dark hair was damp and lying untidily on the pillow. I knew somehow that she was ill too. My father was on his feet; I see his arms with dark shapes and lines on them holding a cup to my mouth. He was telling me “drink this, you will feel better” then oblivion and I remember no more.
Many years afterwards I made the discovery that my first recollection was that I was in a cabin of a troop ship traveling home to England. The ship was bringing soldiers and their families, who had been serving in southern Ireland where the troubles had broken out after the close of the Great War.
We used to walk or skip our way from Devonshire Road, it was quite a distance, and no bus passes in those days. If for any reason we were fortunate enough to ride on the little red single-decker bus Renee and I used to try to sit behind the Nuns from St. Vincent’s. St Vincent’s was a Catholic school further down the road. We were fascinated with their dark somber garments, topped with this huge white-starched headgear, domed in the middle with great wide bat like wings framing their faces. Bus tickets, bits of string, chewed up pieces of rubber, paper clips, anything that could be found in a child’s pockets found their way into the folds of these hats. I have a suspicion that these paragons of virtue from the convent used to know exactly what we were up to. They never ever chastised us or even by the slightest flicker of their eyes acquainted us with the knowledge that they knew what we were doing.
Love and War –
On that dreadful Sunday Sept 3rd, 1939 when war was declared and we heard at 11:00 a.m. the first air raid siren, the whole road seemed to appear at their doorways quivering with the unreality and fear of the unknown. We had been told at the exchange to report to the nearest exchange in the event of an air raid warning. I recall running all the way up Hendon Lane to Finchley thinking I was going to have to help out the war, only to be told I wasn’t required!
We were at war and ahead of us we knew not “what! The first few months were unbelievably quiet. We were waiting with uncertainty and a touch of excitement as well. Everyone was holding his or her breath, I volunteered for a situation, not knowing what it would mean. In a few days I found out. I was to go to the Ministry of Information, which was temporarily housed at Senate House, University of London, near Goodge St. We had triple forms to fill out, swearing us to secrecy, never to divulge or talk about anything we might hear there. We reported to an ordinary looking switchboard. but what a difference when the sirens were sounded . Three of us would be required to man the emergency switchboard, which was housed in the basement of the building; this was called the war room. A big square room, around the walls were telephone boxes which were connect with a direct line to all the important ministries for example, the Admiralty, War Office, Air Ministry, Foreign Office, Ministry of Supply etc. etc. In each telephone box sat a high-ranking official who would be in communication with his respective Ministry. The censors and press officials were they’re sorting and sifting through thousands of reports coming in from all areas of Britain and the world. These people were tremendous and treated the operators extremely well.
Lord Reith had taken on the job of Minister of Information; he had been head of the BBC. Winston Churchill, who was then 1st Lord of the Admiralty, used to come through on his direct line “ Good Morning, give me the Minister please” short polite and always to the point. The town clerks and mayors of today in local council could well take a lesson from those gentlemen of yesteryear. Sir Walter Monkton was there; he was a good friend of the Duke of Windsor who was in France at the time. The Duke would call quite frequently to have a chat with his friend. I enjoyed my work immensely it was extremely busy especially if any kind of action, naval air or army was taking place.
A few years after the war along came me and her troubles ( according to some really started) As our lives unfolded moving to Canada – the friends an relatives grew- back to England and more and more people my mum gathered to her heart. Finally retirement and back across the pond to Lorain, Ohio. These years have seen some of her happiest and saddest.
She has seen the abdication of a King, experienced the Blitz and the rebuild, the death of another King and the crowning of a Queen. Mum watched a wall go up and a wall come down- results of the atomic bomb, gone from only having a battery operated radio to having the first television on the street, private telephones, airplanes and jets, computers and Ipads – governments that come and go, countries whose names have changed, the rise and fall of Russia/ Soviet Union. More than one war
and she has kept true to herself and to her family through it all. My mother has written “birthday poems” for special birthdays for all her family- she doesn’t forget –
HAPPY BIRTHDAY – FROM THE IST , 2ND AND 3RD GENERATION OF THOSE THAT LOVE YOU!!!!! AND JUST SO YOU KNOW – GAVIN AND BRAEDYN DECIDED YOUR PRESENT – WE ARE ALL GOING TO MUSICAL DISNEY!!!!