They Hung Him Out to Dry

Moving back home after my Father died, was extremely difficult for me.

I lived in fear before he died and now I was afraid he would appear as a ghost and having worked with children for many years, I now know and understand, that it really wasn’t necessary to be told that he died in my bed.

Some details are better left unsaid until a vulnerable mind is able to process it.

I was unable to enter the bedroom alone and refused to sleep in there too, so continued to share my Mother’s room for a further year.

Feelings of anxiety was rife and I can not say that anybody really understood how I felt-how could they? We are all individuals and make sense of our world differently and all those years ago, access to grief counselling or therapeutic help, wasn’t readily available.

Thank goodness things have advanced somewhat today.

There are three things in particular(apart from the obvious) that stand out for me that happened over the weeks that passed after his death.

At night my Mother would take me up to bed and say goodnight. She would then go downstairs to watch television. I’m sure, it was a much needed escape from the situation she found herself in and from a grieving teenager. I laid in what would have been my father’s bed and for as long as I possible, I managed the overwhelming fear that engulfed me.

All of a sudden the panic would take over and I’d rush down the stairs sobbing.

It felt impossible to contain the fear and anxiety.

My brothers were never really home at this point and my mother was trying to bring some normality back into our live’s. Bedtime for me, mean’t time out for her etc… I know that I would have felt safe, if the boys were upstairs nearby but instead I was alone in a room that was jammed packed with trauma, next to a room that felt full of loss and ultimately death.

My running downstairs went on for sometime and in the end my mother lost her patients with me and began to offer punishments as a threat if I didn’t stay in bed.

I just couldn’t do it.

She just couldn’t handle it… or me.

I remember clearly getting to the point where I would grab my bed pillow, creep down the staircase quietly and sit on the bottom step of the stairwell. I sat awkwardly on the step so that I could continuously turn my head upwards, in the direction of the landing, where my father may show himself.

I felt sure he would.

I was consumed with fear.

Eventually as I recall, one of my brothers found me sat upright, with my head in my lap on my pillow, asleep. On waking me, I cried telling him how afraid I was and that I was being told off for not staying in bed to which he reprimanded our Mother for not understanding.

Put simply, she didn’t have the energy or emotional understanding and was wrapped up in her own grief.

The second memory that is poignant, is when my big brother surprised me with a kitten one evening. Something of my own to love and nurture. He was living and working at a holiday camp at the time and a stray cat had given birth to a litter of kittens. My brother and his then girlfriend whose nickname was Tiggy, placed this tiny little tabby bundle of joy, into my arms whilst I was laying in bed, unable to sleep. My Mother knew nothing about it but my brother knew only too well, that she wouldn’t have the heart to take the kitten away from me.

I fell in love instantly and named the kitten Tiggy too.

My brother knew and understood how much I was struggling and I wanted so badly to go and live with him.

I hated it every time he left me.

At some stage I had to return to school and this is where the third most significant memory comes from. The day I went back, I remember walking up the main school pathway with my friend and people were staring at me. There was one particular group of girls stood to the side and one said very loudly;

“That’s the girl whose Dad just hung himself on the gas pipe out side of her house!”

The story that was spreading quickly around the school was that my father had hung himself on the gas pipe that lead from above the back door, to the shed, as a result of my mother failing to pay the bills.

©All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019/2020

Author: Michelle Denness

Wife, mother to three incredible kids and aspiring writer/poet. I am passionate about sharing personal stories to empower others and this space is for me to be open and free with my thoughts. This is my journey...

One thought on “They Hung Him Out to Dry”

  1. Oh I want the girl who spread false information, and loudly, to be haunted by what she did. So thankful for your brother’s wisdom and for little Tiggy. What compelling pictures of your father.

    Like

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