My last post was about my mum’s comical Christmas drinking session (Or the aftermath) at my best friends house. Mum never drank anything remotely alcoholic as a rule and only ever had one other drinking session to my knowledge before and after my father died. She had lived a hard, harsh life that would have broken many people, but bless her, she just carried on.
I’ve never written about my mother properly, I don’t know why because she really was an old school character. Forged during her traumatic upbringing and the Second World War, she was born after the First World War in 1926, she was a twin. She also had twin brothers and 4 older sisters, but her twin brothers died before they were five years old due to Spanish flu. Her mother, my grandmother, became pregnant with her 9th child when my mum was barely 4. However, her mum was afraid to tell her husband, my grand-dad, because she knew he was already working himself into an early grave trying to earn enough money to feed and cloth his already huge family. Also, I presume grandma didn’t feel like she had the strength to give birth to another child because she went to an illegal backstreet abortionist without mentioning her pregnancy to my Grand-dad. Her mum arrived back home after going through the abortion a few hours before my Grand-dad finished work, Grandmother’s next door neighbour Rose looked after my mum and her siblings whilst the deed was done!
My mum recalled what happened after her dad came home from work on many occasions to me. He asked Rose where his wife was and she told him she was feeling unwell so had gone to bed for a lay down for a while. He went upstairs to discover his wife was laying in a pool of blood and had passed away. My mum always cried when she remembered seeing her father cradling his wife’s head in his arms and sobbing.
So Grand-dad was left with 8 children to bring-up in the best way he could whilst continuing to work as a miner, managing his inconsolable children and coping with his own grief. I never knew my Grand-dad but i have always kept a part of him inside of me because he must have been such a strong, courageous man. God rest him. I never got to see any photographs of either of my Grandparents but one afternoon, whilst I was still living at home, my mother said to me “John, this is your Grand-dad”. She had bought the local paper and they were running stories and reprinting black and white photographs from yesteryear about the mining strikes. My Grand father was standing at the front of a line of miners holding a protesting banner up with a very stern look on his face.
My mum’s face was a picture of pride as she looked at the photograph with tears running down her face.
Not a year after my Grandmothers death and my mum’s twin brothers died within the space of a week through the Spanish flu. After that, my Grand father started to drink heavily and he relied more and more on Rose, the next-door neighbour, who eventually moved into the house to look after all the children along with my Grand dad Earnest. Rose must have developed a soft spot for Earnest, but when I suggested this once to my mum, she became very defensive, so I left it alone.
I’ll carry the rest of my mum’s story on in another post.