On the edge

At first, I didn’t know what to do about it, well, what do you do, when your mother who hasn’t spoken to you for three years, suddenly sends you a birthday card. Almost since the day I was born, my mother and I have had what I can only call, as a fractious relationship. The first time I realised that I wasn’t the same as the rest of the family was when I was still in primary school. I don’t know what it was that woke me up to it, but it was as clear as the nose on my face, I was treated differently. None of it made any sense, I couldn’t work it out at all, but I was told off all the time for things that the rest of the family got away with. I was the middle child, if, you can have a middle out of four children. My elder brother and sister were separated by only two years, five years later, there was me, and five years after that, my little brother. He was the apple of her eye, not at first, but when it was found out that he had received brain damage from the forceps when he was born, he became the special one. No, I wasn’t a jealous child, I wasn’t even aware of him being special until years later, at the time, he was just different.

My older sibling, they had freedom, everything new, and everything they asked for. Me, I was the hand me down child, and not just from my sister, from my two older cousins as well. I never felt as though I mattered, that anything I said was listened to. A lot of the time, I felt in the way, a nuisance who was always too young or too old, the inbetweener who never belonged. I didn’t find out why, until, Mum and I were having a huge row about nothing. We were in the garden and whatever she said really got to me, I screamed at her “I hated you”. Then it came out, I was totally unwanted. I was 10 years old and my mother told me she never wanted me, but her doctor wouldn’t giver her an abortion. A couple of years later, that argument was elaborated on, I had snuck into the world through a whole in a condom. In the early 60’s family planning wasn’t quite the science it is today, and abortions, well there had to be a real reason, and she didn’t have one. My little brother too was an accident, but his problems made him special, I was just an annoyance. The child that stopped her from having the career she wanted, and the life she wanted.

Knowing you were born unwanted, isn’t the best information a child needs, to make them obedient and compliant to their parents desires. Yes, I admit, I turned into a rebel, who wouldn’t under those circumstances. When my parents divorced, I was sent with my father. Mum yet again didn’t want me, and during the next 18 months, I discovered neither did my Father. I was in my early 30’s before I confronted her on that one. I lived through a year of abuse, that no child should have to and I thought she always knew. She says she didn’t, but there was something about the way she said it, that left me still not believing her. From the day my father took me out the back door of our house, into his care, to today, my relationship with my Mother has been totally off and on. She was delighted when I married my first husband. A Royal Navy officer, at last I was doing something she approved of, after all, even though I was 16, he was a very respectable match and meant I was at the other end of the country. Throughout the 10 years we were together, she was the model Mother, Mother-in-law and grandmother. Then I left him. She didn’t speak to me for a year and when she did eventually speak to me when I phoned, rather than her hanging up, it was as though nothing had happened. Which, was more than bizarre, but that’s my Mother.

Our relationship slowly did become one of equals. I proved that I was more than capable of supporting myself, even if she didn’t understand why I wanted to be a DJ, or my tattoos, black & bright red hair extensions and my individual style of clothes, but we actually got on, again. She even met each partner as they appeared, she disliked and liked all the wrong ones, but she put up with their existence, that was, until I met Adam. Even though my sisters husband is 17 years older than her, my marrying someone 17 years younger than me was once more totally unacceptable. She refused to come to our wedding and didn’t even want to meet him, until a year after. Almost every time we spoke, she told me it wouldn’t last, that he would leave me. When he didn’t, even after I got ill, she still had few good words to say about our relationship. Slowly, she accepted him, as she now had bigger fish to fry, telling me just how badly I was handling my health. How she knew people with MS and they weren’t anything like I was, and no matter how many times I explained it, she wouldn’t accept it as it was me who was telling her. Slowly, we spoke less and less, it dropped from every couple of weeks, down to maybe once a month. I had so little to say once I was housebound, and she didn’t like being upstaged, by someone who was iller than her. After all, I had listened to her telling me for 40 years, about how little time she had left. She has always been the family hypochondriac, convinced from her 50’s that she wouldn’t live long. She’s now nearly 90.

Just over 3 years ago, our calls had dwindled right off. I don’t think I had heard from her for about 4 maybe 5 months, so I decided that I was clearly the one, who was supposed to call. The phone wasn’t answered, not once, but for 3 or 4 weeks in a row. I hadn’t been calling daily, but I felt it was odd, even odder when I left messages and I still heard nothing. I had no choice, but to call my little brother, mummies boy, always mirrored whatever she thought or did, so never hearing from him, wasn’t a surprise. She was in the hospital, she had had a fall and broken her hip, six months before. The decision had been taken that there was no point in telling me, after all, I was housebound, what was the point. He kept me updated with a couple of calls over the for next couple of months, as she was shifted from one hospital to another. Calling him and actually having the phone answered, was rare, he worked shifts, and no one else in the family, ever answered the phone. Then the decision was made, she was to go into a home, as she was unable to go home again. The last time we spoke was when I was fed up of hearing nothing and my calls not being answered, so we tricked him. Adam called and left a message, asking him to call. I knew he would think that I was either dead or extremely ill, but it made him call. Mum was now in her second care home, she had only been there a week and they were waiting to see if she settled. He promised he would call, she was to have a phone in her room and he would give me her number. He never called, nor did she.

This Christmas, I sent her card to his address, just as I did the year before. No card came in response from her, but there was one from him. Still there was no phone number or even an address, but he did name the care home where she is and a note saying she was well, but that was it. Then out of the blue, a birthday card arrives, with a note inside, saying how happy she was and how she enjoyed her weekends surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Once again, no phone number, or even the address of where she was. Because I had the name of the care home, the internet has supplied me with what I think is the address. I guess, she want’s me to write to her now. Part of me feels it’s too late, that there is nothing to be gained from it. Part of me feels once more out of the duty of a child, that I have to respond. Why do parents have this horrid hold over us, even when they have failed as a parent? I have never felt anything from her that I would call close to love, just duty. Despite what I shouted as a child, I have never hated her, but I have never hated anyone. So what do I do now?

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – Plasma itch 

Snore day number one…..otherwise know as Saturday, the first day of two snore days where Adams snoring from the settee is once more blocking out the TV! How does he do it? I honestly would have thought that not……

 

 

How could she?

I opened an envelope yesterday that shattered something I have held onto for over 30 years, a promise I made to my son. I sat here with tears flowing down my face and an anger like none I have felt for years. Yet again, my Mother has screwed up my life, and I haven’t even seen her for 15 years. That woman has spent her entire life either judging me by rules no one would understand, or by doing things that make no sense. I had asked Adam to fetch from the chest by the TV, all my papers, which have all been stored in one large brown envelope. It contains everything about me, from my birth certificate, my scattered qualifications, right through to my divorce papers from my first marriage. Amongst them, I knew there was an envelope that contained the deeds to my son, Jefferys’ grave. I needed all the details so that I could finalise my plans for my own funeral. When Jeffery died, my Mother bought the plot for us, as we quite simply couldn’t afford to, when she did, she handed the papers to me and said that it was in my name, for our future use. I had no reason to ever look at it from then, until now. In fact, the only time I gave any thought to it was when I got divorced. My ex and I discussed it and as my Mother had paid for it, and I intended to be buried in Aberdeen with Jeffery, unlike my ex who had no other connection to the city, and with our joint belief that the grave was in my name, no we didn’t open the envelope and read them, well I logically took the deeds with me. When I opened the envelope yesterday, I couldn’t believe my eyes, what I saw there wasn’t my name, but my ex-husbands. There it was in black and white, the end to my promise, and my choice.

It took me several minutes to compose myself and to start thinking logically about it all. There had to be an answer, and I simply had to think it through rather than react. I phoned Aberdeen City Council, the people who issue the deeds. They confirmed what I thought, either he has to sign them over to me, or if he won’t, them to give me permission to have my ashes interned there and a small stone erected. Either way, he has to sign one of two forms, which are in the post to me now. I haven’t spoken to my ex since I tracked him and my daughter, who he had taken without my permission to Auckland in New Zealand to live. Clearly, we aren’t on the best of terms. By chance, they are now both back here in the UK, through very different routes. Despite what he did to Teressa over the years, she chose a few years ago to rebuild their relationship. I have done the only thing I can, I have asked her to talk to her Dad and hopefully get the papers signed over to me. On one level, I can see no reason why he shouldn’t, but on an another, I fear he will simply demand that I send the deeds to him. He knows very well how to be mentally cruel and although Teressa seems positive about the outcome, I can’t be so sure.

It is amazing how one small action, so many years ago could have such an impact. The more I stopped and really thought about it, the more I realised that my Mother, although divorced herself, put his name on it, not out of any misplaced trust, more out of traditional values. One that said, he was my husband for life. When she did it, she couldn’t see what the truth of our relationship was, or how it would end. It just annoys me that once again, she is managing to tear away at my life. Since I married Adam, she more or less cut me out of her life. We had some contact by phone for a few years, then when I became ill, it slowly tailed off. When she became ill, my brother never even told me, it was after months of hearing nothing, that I eventually made contact with him, to hear she was in the hospital, about to moved to a care home. Despite promising to keep me in the loop, it took until this Christmas, 2 years on, for me to even find out where she is. Clearly, I am not wanted as part of anything now, any more than I have been for the bulk of my life. I am fed up of being seen as her “duty”, rather than her daughter.

So now my plans are in the hands of Teressa, it will be up to her skills of persuasion for me to be able to carry out what I always believed was a foregone conclusion. It just shows you how one tiny action, taken many years before, can screw up your future. Oddly, I remember when I left my first husband, my Mother actually asked me if I had the deeds in my possession. Surely, that would have been the perfect opportunity to tell me what she had done. Just having something in your possession, isn’t enough in the eyes of the law, it’s down to true ownership, not possession, despite the nine tenth theory.

I could really have done without all of this. I was feeling bad enough before I opened that damned envelope. It is yet more proof that stress isn’t something that does anyone any good. On the good side, I also opened another envelope yesterday, well rather Adam did. I now have in my possession, my DNR papers, and these papers, do have my name on then and are signed and ratified by my doctor. Just as the old one that I had, it has a time limit of five years. The only thing that the law change has brought about, as far as I can see, is a standardised form, and the fact that it doesn’t need an outside witness, and that the form stays with me. I don’t know if it is normal, but Adam has agreed with me that it might be an idea when I am next at the hospital for an appointment with one of my consultants, that we ask about it being added to my hospital records. I know it’s a belt and braces approach, but I really have no desire for anyone to be bouncing up and down on my chest, or having high voltage electricity coursing through me, I’d rather go peacefully.

I think I had been awake today for less than ten minutes when I was again aware of being exhausted. This morning was the first time ever, that I actually struggled to pull myself round enough, to be able to switch off the alarm clock. I have been struggling all day long. Today, the worst pain is in my lungs. I don’t know what is going on, or why they are so painful, but I am aware of every breath. To be fair, it’s more of a constant ache, rather than what most would call true pain. My diaphragm, though, well that’s another story. I am more than aware of what all my muscles can do, when under the control of my PRMS, they really don’t have to show off. I guess this afternoon will find me back in bed, not that it does much good, but somehow, it’s hard to fight the theory that going to bed, makes you feel better. Where did that stupid idea come from in the first place, probably something else I owe to my Mother. It’s amazing how what we are taught as kids, stays with us.

 

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 06/02/2014 – A girls best friend

This week is disappearing at a speed I haven’t felt for quite a while and totally without any reason that I can think of. I always thought that time flew when you were busier than usual, but I’m not, just ticking……

 

 

 

 

 

Happily living abnormally

I was reading through some posts today and I kept coming across one of those pet hate phrases, one that has always annoyed me ‘a normal life’, I wish someone would tell me exactly what ‘a normal life’ is. When I look back on mine I think I have had several different lives and none that I would describe a normal or abnormal. I always seem to somehow be living lives that others find odd a little odd. Through out my life I have unconsciously tried to cram in as much that was different as I could. Yesterday I showed the dark-side of my teen years but like everyone else had a good side as well. I think many would have said I was a bit of a wild child and like all kids I thought I was right, I was safe and I knew better than any adult.

My daughter in her teen years lived with her father in New Zealand so I was saved the parenting role of teenage monster. I have always found it strange how like me Teressa is, she sees it as well and it is freaky. When her father and I split, I made the decision that I thought would be best for her, she was just six year old. Jim was an officer in the Royal Navy and the Navy supplied and paid for child care and schooling. The plan was that she would be cared for by a Nanny and when old enough she would go to boarding school and get a really good education. I wanted but couldn’t take her with me, I couldn’t offer her anything, I had a job as a barmaid living in at the hotel I worked in. I couldn’t afford a flat or child care and as for an education equal to what she had ahead of her, was way out of me reach.

We saw each other as much as possible but when her father married an ex-friend of mine things got difficult. When they took her to New Zealand without telling me it was impossible. It took me nearly two years to find her. Her father thought I must have used a PI but it was easier than that. I knew which country she was in, the new owners of their house in Scotland told me when I phoned to make arrangements for her to come and see me. I just had to play the waiting game. Her father was a computer geek and he eventually put a big sticker on the map in the shape of an online profile. I now knew which city and who his employers were. Next to the library and the Auckland telephone directory, bingo I had his address and phone number. Luck was on my side as the person who answered the phone was Teressa.

Despite all the time we spent apart there is no doubt that she is her mothers daughter. We talk alike, we like the same things and we laugh at the same things. She told me it used to drive her step mother mad, because I was there all the time. The other freaky thing is we have talked a lot about our lives in detail and the things we have done are so similar, they are scarey, it is almost as if we have lived the same life at times. Neither of which would be described as normal, but neither were ever planned that way.

I sometimes wonder if I knew that I was going to eventually not be able to get out and about as looking back I seem to have crammed in as much as I could at every turn. I tried, followed, involved and experienced every and anything that came my way, the stranger the places you go, the stranger the things you do and I truly recommend living the abnormal life.

Number 42

Adam and I spent part of the weekend sorting through old photos that I don’t think I have looked at in the past 10 years. At some point in the past I had collected them together and formed montage boards with them. We carefully relieved them from the sellotape and spray mount that held them behind their glass panels, then Adam took them to his sisters to scan them for me. I have never had a printer or scanner, simply because there is a fact that many of us miss, why do we keep printing things that can be seen on screen without wasting ink, paper, power and money. Apart from a very resent need for a scanner, my opinion on that hasn’t changed.

I sat this morning going through the results and cropping where needed. I know that my mother has no pictures of me as a child, so I can only assume that this means that the few I found are all there is left now. Is it my age or theirs that has caused my past to now be turning sepia?

Just a few months old

I could only be a few months old in this picture and I know nothing about it at all. I can only guess that as I did when my daughter was born that my parents took picture to send to everyone. The invention of photography really changed the way we mark events in our lives.

 A couple of years on

Yet chubby toddlers go on forever. Well these days they seem to go on forever, I remember it being called puppy fat, luckily for me it was but I remember always feeling on the large size, something that could have been caused more because I was 5ft 8ins by the age of 11 and all my school friends were smaller than me.

Aged 11 and stroppy aleady

We had assembly every morning before lessons began. The whole school would be there, from what they now call primary 1 through to six form. On several occasions I was told off by the headmistress for talking or eating a sweet. I always felt very picked on, I knew I wasn’t the only one but I was always the one that was caught, then came the day of enlightenment, I noticed something that had escaped me until then. Everyone in front of me were smaller, just as they should have been, they were all younger than me, I already knew I was the tallest in my class, but for some reason that day I looked behind me. They were also all smaller than me, including most of the sixth form!

That day was quickly followed with another fact that had escaped my childish mind, I was taller than most of my teachers as well and if I just stood-up properly and didn’t slouch it turned the table of power. I could walk away, not only with my head held high, but without being told off for what ever petty school rule I had infringed. I found my height and rapidly over the next few months grew into it, racing from child to adult with no breathing space for understanding.

For many years I thought that I had missed out on something, that there had been an important step in life, that if I could only go back to I would be able to make more sense of life. I missed nothing, we all get there, we all do it differently and we all keep looking for the answer to questions that really don’t matter.