Broken Man

It didn’t take much for my Father to find out where we were staying and I am surprised that he didn’t come to the house and smash the front door down.

He wasn’t the kind of man to follows rules and I think he had finally broken.

Going to school that Monday morning wasn’t really an option because of the severity of our situation and I remember quite distinctly, what I was given for breakfast;

Scrambled egg with ketchup.

“Go on eat it up, it’ll do you good to get something in your stomach and stop all that worrying, worrying won’t get you anywhere.”

Said the friend!

I had never tasted it before and I really didn’t like it-so I didn’t eat it.

The phone rang. It was my Father asking to speak to my Mother and that look upon her face returned… the one that she momentarily, had a reprieve from.

I can see clearly in my minds eye, her standing there holding the phone up to her ear. Words are coming out of her mouth and I can not hear what she is saying… but I do know that she denied his begging for us to go home.

He asked to speak to me and she handed the phone over and this time, was the very last time I heard his voice.

Hello darling, it’s me Dad.

Please come home I can’t live without you and Mum.

Please Shellie, please… it won’t happen again!

I’ll get help.

I don’t want to hurt you or Mum, she won’t listen to me just come home.

He was sobbing.

I was sobbing.

I didn’t know what to say, I had no words, just tears, uncontrollable tears, I could have drowned in them.

I couldn’t breathe… my father was pleading with me to come home and I could hear his desperation.

I could feel it…

His words were clear,

not slurred,

he was coherent,

he was present.

I told him that I was scared and sorry but I couldn’t come home.

There was silence-even though we were crying together and then he told me that he loved me and followed with, “I will always love you, you are my everything.”

He said he was sorry.

He hung up…

Ian Douglas Sinclair – Malaysia 1934
What a beautiful baby he was.
It could have all been so different.

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

My Mother and the Orange Lady.

My Mother 2019

I hear her sleeping, gasping at the air and check her several times through the night; mouth wide open, face matured, skin anemic.

My Mother is 84 and desperately wants to stay alive and for someone who has such a strong Catholic faith, she is also so afraid to die.

Four weeks ago she had a hip replacement and what a trial it was/is and I have been caring for her in my home, whilst she is convalescing-hence no time to write.

Exhausted

I pick up the pieces of other people’s lives so well normally, but right now I want to run a mile (yet again) and I know that must sound very selfish of me!

After all, how many years was she at my beck and call during my childhood.

It is my duty.

I haven’t really introduced my Mother properly throughout my writing and I wonder why? It just feels difficult to write about her, like I’m pushing against something rather than allowing the words to flow so this is going to be a very short post and maybe in time my words with regards to her, will become easier to write.

Our relationship has always been somewhat tumultuous and as a teenager, I longed for the day that I could leave home at 18 and be free of her parental constraints and pretty much feel the same way now as life has become overwhelming.

She would be devastated if she knew that I felt this way.

For me, there has always been an under current feeling of resentment that I felt, she had for me with regards to the love I shared with my Father. Once, during my teenage years and after his passing, I was trying hard to defend him in an argument and she told me that he was ‘obsessed’ with me and that I really didn’t know what kind of man he truly was…

The hurling of angry remarks about him were both painful and confusing.

My mother was born in Bedford and is the eldest of three siblings whom she practically raised until she turned 16 and life was very hard for them all. The relationship she had with my Grandmother was flawed to say the very least and I can only ever remember meeting her twice before her death in 1995/96 (can’t actually remember the year to be precise). What I do remember though, is seeing her lifeless body in the Chapel of Rest on the morning of her funeral. My Grandmother was a tiny lady and her skin looked very orange due to the fact it was late to view the body and also the undertakers, trying their best to make my Grandmother look more presentable for my Mother and I.

I looked very closely, trying to feel some emotion for a lady that I knew I should feel something for, but there was nothing-just compassion for a woman that once had lived.

My Mother cried.

My Grandmother.

There have been many recollections that she has shared with me over the years that have painted a childhood full of anguish, shame and poverty.

Mum still washes her whites by hand today having been humiliated at school by the Nuns for bringing in a dirty, grey looking hand towel for cookery.

How our past experiences effect our present life?

My parents met on a blind date in Somerset arranged by a mutual friend. At the end of the evening my father declared that he would marry my mother to which she replied, ‘Your mad!’ and sure enough, 6 months later, they were married.

My Beautiful Mum – with all her hopes and dreams in front of her.

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

My Wall

I stare at this wall 
with crumbling stone
the hard texture stares back at me
I can not see a way through
it seems impossible

A crack appears
a tiny space of light and
if I pull each side
the stone may fall
or at least loosen
It seems a mammoth task
albeit the strength
I think I have
my arms are weak
my body is tired
my mind consumed
I close my eyes

and imagine
a mighty gust
a powerful force
rising up from the earth
and with one fair bash

the wall is loosened

if I dare to dream

the wall may fall

© Al Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

The Safe House

My Father remained in and out of a slumber.

I don’t recall the small moments of time that Sunday morning but I do remember that something finally snapped mentally for my Mother as she couldn’t take it anymore.

It was time to leave...

Years of her life had been spent nursing a mentally ill husband and saving him from the brink of life, time and time again.

Years of aggression, physical abuse and living in fear had ruptured her own heart and mind and she was at the point of no return.

I can’t say exactly what happened during the course of the morning, I just remember my Mother’s friend arriving at some stage, to take us away.

I so want to tell you that I went into my sleeping father and kissed him once more, whispered I love you in his ear, told him I was sorry for leaving him like that but I don’t think I did!

I can’t remember…

I want to remember…

I just recall feeling sick and frightened, with my stomach in knots as we drove away.

She left our dog behind.

The lady that came to rescue us seemed to be quite harsh in her approach towards us fleeing without looking back. I never warmed to her coldness throughout my younger years and I remember her disliking my father. She too had broken away from an abusive marriage and her response to my mothers anxious and somewhat guilt ridden demeanour for leaving him, was both matter of fact and resolute.

She was a survivor and layer upon layer of personal pain was striving her forward to get us out whilst the sick man was drugged.

She called the police.

The safe house was about a ten minute car drive away from where we lived and I felt completely out of sorts being there. It was uncomfortable and felt awkward.

After all it was her house not mine.

I wanted to go home and sleep in my own bed.

I wanted it all to stop and not to feel afraid anymore.

I wanted my Dad to be okay and not be sick.

I wanted my brothers to come and be with me.

I felt so afraid and so alone.

The police came and my mother gave her statement, her friend, driving home the fact that my father was dangerous.

I am beginning to realise now, how angry I still feel about ‘the friend’ and the role she played. I know she came to my mother’s rescue and yes, it was the right thing to do.

Of course it was…

I am grateful even if you think I’m not, they just never protected me from hearing their cruel yet honest words.

I was taking it all in deeply and damagingly.

My father was served notice of an injunction, restraining him from coming anywhere near us.

How sad

and necessary.

You did belong…

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

If I Could Be

If I could be
anything but me
I’d be a butterfly
and welcome
the nakedness
of my chrysalis


honoring
re-birth


I crave the gentleness
and serenity
of such an exquisite
creature
so beautifully
enchanting


delighting
my soul


The joyous dance
the fluttering
of life
gracefully

seeking the
silence

a butterfly
I'd be

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

20.10.1981

Today, grief washes over me like a vicious ocean.

I have been running from this sadness for so long now and have felt too paralysed to work on my writing this past week. Some days I just wander in my mind looking for a safe place to rest but seemingly, it’s proving more difficult

I have to keep writing through it.

On the anniversary of my fathers passing I desperately want to acknowledge him and give meaning to his life as no other person ever does.

Nobody… and I feel very sad about that.

Was he that insignificant? Did he really matter to anyone? Was his life that unimportant?

If you were to ask my brothers to tell you the date of their father’s death, they wouldn’t have a clue and my Mother always needs reminding.

The date goes unnoticed.

Most years I remember him in silence but this year I wrote a Facebook status which came completely out of the blue.

If there was a direct telephone line that could reach him now, I would choose to hear him speaking softly to me and listen carefully to the sound of his voice, savouring every moment. I would ask him how his day has been and tell him about mine. I would spend the time laughing with him and sharing the simple things I know he’d love to hear… and I’d love him just that little bit more.

We must never underestimate the power of un-resolved grief. Its a burden to carry for sure and one that is so heavy for me to this very day.

Even though I was very afraid of my father, my love for him is evident.

Our healing is unfolding

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

The Naked Man

“The prisoner, having reached the depth of his depression, gradually reawakens to the life around him. He licks himself and his wounded pride, opens his eyes, and finds that far away on the horizon there is still a ray of sunlight left.” – P. H. Newman

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/prisoner-of-war

There was no ray of sunshine left for my father, in-fact his mind was far, far away and damaged beyond all comprehensibility.

I stood staring at the door.

Fight or flight at its finest…

I looked towards my Mother for some sort of reassurance, but she had none to give. How could she? She was going out of her mind with fear. Those few seconds felt like pandemonium in my frightened little mind, not knowing what to do next. It was the ultimate of dilemas;

Open the door and she might die?

Stay where I was, relatively safe and he might die!

There was still no sound at all from the outside of our room and it was eerily quiet. With every ounce of courage I could muster up, I pulled the door open.

My father was lying naked and completely out of it, having collapsed on the bathroom floor.

I don’t know why he was naked!

I thought he was dead and my mother’s natural nursing instincts kicked in ready to save his life and she checked for his breathing.

Once again…

Not this time.

He was still breathing.

It was my first experience of seeing the male anatomy and I had no time to feel shock or embarrassment.

It seemed insignificant.

And yet it was significant for the 13 year old, who was too young to witness that.

The drugs were taking there toll on my fathers body and he was an absolute mess. His head was floppy and rolling from one side to the other and his face looked blown up with being so swollen. His hair was grey and looked frantic and his belly was solid with bloated-ness.

This was my Dad.

This was the poor, fractured little boy with his ravaged mind living in the sick body of a grown up man.

A husband.

A father.

A brother.

A son.

All these things and yet none of them too.

He never ever left the prison camp.

His mind became his own prison.

My mother said his name loudly several times trying to rouse him into standing up and together we hauled his massive body upwards and he would slump back down again.

He was a big, heavy man.

Eventually he began muttering a slurry of nonsense words in his heavily confused state and we managed to get him up on his feet. He was able to take some of his own weight and we walked him to my bedroom.

My Father laid down on my bed and my Mother covered him up.

I kissed his cheek and left him to sleep.

That was the last time I saw him alive.

How I wish with all my heart that I held him tight that early Sunday morning and whispered ‘I love you Dad’ in his ear.

To love a person
is to see all of their magic
and to remind them
of it when they have
forgotten.


Author unknown

©All Rights Reserved -The boy in the chip shop 2019