Patracat's Memories

This blog is my story. I have created it for posterity, as some of my early memories are of a way of life that many of my peers have forgotten, and the younger generations will never experience. I hope the reader enjoys it, and will be encouraged to write their own story. Once you have gone, your memories go with you and can never be recaptured unless you write them down.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Chapter 5: More about Mum.

My mother was a victim of stress. She worried about my older brothers, about me, about her grandchildren, and from 1966 until her death in 1969 she worried about how she would cope with decimal currency. We had no idea of this until after she died, when one of our neighbours told us that Mum would go in there in tears, saying that she couldn’t understand dollars and cents. The neighbour tried to encourage Mum to tell us of her fears, but she refused because “they would think I’m stupid”. Dad always said the two saddest words in the English language are “if only”, and how right he was in this case. If only we had known, we would have sat with her patiently until she was confident about the new currency.

When stress got too much, her blood pressure would skyrocket and she would have a stroke. As far as I know, she had her first one when she was in her late thirties, not long after I was born. I remember being taken into a hospital with Dad to see Mum, and seeing her crying and reaching out to Dad, sobbing “I want to go home, I don’t want to stay here”, and Dad trying to reassure her. She was paralysed all down her right side by that stroke, but in time the only signs that were obvious were a slight limp and the shrivelled right hand. She had quite a few good years, as she was determined to lead a normal life where possible, but she spent many months in hospitals and nursing homes over the ensuing years.
She suffered terribly with headaches, and in retrospect in the light of today’s medical knowledge, I believe they were migraines. I would come home from school to find Mum prostrate on her bed, moaning with pain. When Dad arrived home from work, he and I would prepare dinner, as Mum was incapable of lifting her head. She took Bex tablets almost daily, to cope with anything out of the ordinary. If she and Dad were going out somewhere, she would take two Bex, “just in case”. They didn’t do anything for her headaches.

The kids at school would ask me “Haven’t you got a Mum?” and I would reply “Of course I have!” The questioner would persist. “But you never talk about her. You only ever talk about your Dad”. When I thought about this, it made sense. For much of the time, Dad did everything for our family, especially if Mum was in hospital. He did the cooking, shopping, washing, ironing, cleaning, gardening, and even painted the house inside and out. Many years later I confessed to feeling guilty that I hadn’t done enough, but Dad reassured me. “You were a big help. I don’t know what I would have done without you and the boys pitching in to help”. He still found time to help us with homework, play games, and spend time sitting with Mum. Throughout all this, Dad never threw in the proverbial towel. He didn’t smoke or drink, and certainly didn’t take drugs. He rarely raised his voice, and I don’t recall hearing him swear. Am I making him out to be an angel? Maybe he was. Angels are said to exist on earth in human form. He certainly had the patience of a saint.

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