I planned to write the next instalment of my schooldays. But today is Mothering Sunday so my children are very much on my mind, all three of them. Two will be with me later today, with my grandchild. One will only be here in spirit.
In the Spring of 1980, I was expecting my second child and my first daughter was approaching her third birthday in the summer. We spent a lovely spring day at my parents’ house and I have two photos of my daughter in her yellow wellies helping my father dig up potatoes. Two days later my husband answered the phone and told me my father was dead. He was still in his fifties but an alcohol addiction had destroyed his liver. A gentle, loving family man who, I believe, never recovered from his time flying Lancaster bombers in the war and having to recognise this meant people – men, women and children – had died as a result of his actionS. Just a few weeks later, his mother died after a short illness. In her 90s, she was mother to 6 children, grandmother to 15 & great grandchildren were beginning to arrive. One was my son, born on September 23rd that same year.
i had opted to have my second child at home. The labour was long but not painful. After a day of unproductive contractions my midwife said she thought I should go to hospital. At that thought, my body started to do its job and an hour later my son, Benjamin David (for my father) was born. He spent two days at home with me but had trouble feeding and seemed listless and floppy. He went in to our local children’s hospital and a couple of days later we were told he had Downs Syndrome and an inoperable duodenal stenosis – the reason for the feeding problems. A few days later, Ben died in my arms. 33 years later, he still has his place in my heart and his ashes are with those of my father and grandparents in a beautiful rosé garden. On Mother’s Day, his memory is powerfully with me.