Blethers and blahs

Random ramblings from a chaotic life

Family matters 2

on February 12, 2007

First of thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blog, especially those of you who have left comments.  I know that not everyone does, I don't when reading blogs of people I don't know.  The comments that are left are appreciated.

I found yesterday's blog prompt and my response to it very therapeutic so I have decided to continue the family theme for a few days.  It is so much less painful than therapy, and cheaper too! 

Today's entry is about my mum.  This Lo was done as part of a UKS cybercrop and is the first page of a work in progress album about her which will be left for my kids.  It will probably be a work in progress for some time as I can only do so much before I need a break from the memories.

My mum was the middle child of nine, though only five survived to adulthood.   She was one of those people who found life very difficult and escaped from reality into a world of fiction.  She was an avid reader, as am I, and yearned for the life of the heroines she read about where good triumphed over evil and everyone lived happily in the end.  Sadly her life was very far removed from that.

My mother joined the army at age 19, mainly because no one in her family thought she would do it or, if she did, she wouldn't stick it out.  Sadly this stubborness is one of the traits I inherited from her.  In the army she met my father and although she remained terrified of him till the day she died, she also remained in love with him till the day she died.

Shortly after arriving back in Scotland as a newly single parent to three children my mother started work and she continued to work till retiring at 58 on grounds of ill health.  This work ethic has also been passed on.  We were housed in a large scheme in the east end of Glasgow and my mother was terriffied of everything!  She had never lived on her own, in fact she had never slept in a bed on her own except when my father was away on army exercises.  Suddenly she had to budget for bills and run a house and work and look after children and she found it all way too scary.

My stepfather soon arrived, a soldier who we knew from Germany who had left his wife and children to be with us.  He was a nice man but he was also a heavy drinker.  Within a year they were both alcoholics.  My mother found that drink took some of the terror of life away and she remained an alcoholic the rest of her days.  She had spells where she was sober but they were infrequent and short lived.  We went from being in a very controlled environment to being in one of complete chaos.  She would say things when drunk but have no memory of them when sober, or vice versa.  It was like running on quicksand but with huge amounts  of guilt attached.  I was sure that if I did things differently she would not drink.

I became the cook, cleaner, babysitter to my 2 younger brothers, errand girl and whipping boy.  My mother reaslied that violence got people's attention and if we were scared enough of the consequences we would not misbehave so the beatings continued.  Sadly she was not as physically strong as my dad so she used wooden spoons and belts to help her.  Life was far from fun.  My step dad didn't hit us but he was unable to stop my mum from doing so.  I became an expert liar because I was too ashamed to tell anyone what was going on.  I never had friends in the house in case they knew she drank, I was embarrased by it and by her.  Money was always in short supply and this was reflected in our lifestyle. 

My mum and step dad moved to Livingston from Glasgow and life changed for the better a wee bit.  The beatings stopped, mainly because we were older and refused to take it.  Her relationship with my step dad deteriorated and one day he went to work leaving her a note to say he wasn't coming back.  After 15 years together he simply vanished and we never saw him again. 

Don't get me wrong, I adored my mother and visited/phoned her daily, but the guilt never left me.  For the last 4 years of her life she was virtually housebound and I was her carer, though I did not live with her.  The years of drinking had taken their toll and her health was very poor.  She died in July 2002 while I was on holiday abroad with my youngest son.  The ironic thing was I had put off going on holiday for several years because of her ill health but she had rallied and seemed to be better than she had been for years.  Eventually the guilt left me and I have made a good life for myself. 

My mother was one of life's victims from almost the day she was born.  I never will be, nor will my children.  Life and the reality of it is scary but I will deal with what comes to the best of my ability and I don't care about other people's opinions enough to change my life or my beliefs as a result.  If you have taken the time to read this then thank you.  All I would ask is that you do not judge.  Take care x x x x 

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