His Deliverance Home

I love waking up to the sound of birdsong.

A gentle and courteous re-awakening for the coming day.

It is quite possible that the very last person to see my Father alive was my school friend Allie, whom had returned my roller boots home after borrowing them. They were also the last gift that my father had given me for my 13th birthday, 3 months previous to his passing.

Retro Mayfair roller boots

https://picclick.co.uk/Pair-of-Vintage-Retro-MAYFAIR-1970s-ROLLER-SKATES-391931986773.html

Allie told me sometime after he died, that she was worried about me because I hadn’t been attending school and decided to take my roller boots back to my house to see where I was. After several attempts of knocking on the door and as she turned around to leave, my father opened the door only very slightly and she asked;

“Is Michelle in please?” and my father told her I wasn’t there.

Allie passed the boots to him and he quickly shut the door without another word.

She said he looked unshaven and terrible.

As I have said before in my previous posts, I can not be exact about the timings of what happened but I do know that the boots were taken back, the day before my father died.

So right now I find myself back at the evening when I prayed for God to take him back to Heaven…

and the prayer was answered…

My Mother’s belief is that my father would have been cold because she left the house that Sunday morning, without lighting the fire. For years, the guilt about leaving him like that, has eaten away at her.

A neighbour had felt concerned because she hadn’t seen him for some time and as the gossip had hit the street so effortlessly, she contacted the police.

And she was right to do so because my father was found dead, lying on my bed wearing his Snorkel Parka coat zipped all the way up to the top, as if to keep warm.

Retro Snorkel Parka coat 1980’s
https://www.ebay.co.uk
What I Imagine

His mind weary
wretched and confused
He laid down

Covered in a shroud of grief
cold and alone
to live no more

Once a handsome young boy
with jet black 
locks

A melancholy heart
so permanent
so prevalent

His eyes fell closed
his prayer unheard
by us

He gently whispered 
I'm sorry
forgive me

A thwarted Soul
A Ruptured life
A weeping child

Let this be his Deliverance

My eldest brother was asked to identify his body as my Mother was unable to do it and he told me many years later that he wanted to make sure that,

“The old man was definitely dead.”

He was only 21 years old.

My father was only 47 when he died.

There was no money to pay for a funeral and it must have been a nightmare for my Mother to arrange. I know that my Grandmother sent money from Australia to help with the costs and I believe my mother sold my father’s car too. My Godparents were a great help, organising the wake at there house.

The day of his cremation, seemed surreal and a bit of a blur really. I recall us having one black car for my Mother, my two brothers and myself. The neighbours were standing out in the street watching on, as we drove off down the road and I also remember my brothers laughing in the car at some point.

I felt terribly sad about that and the sadness turned into numbness.

At this point, I still hadn’t cried at all.

I don’t remember the service but I do remember sitting on the stairs of my Godmothers house during the wake, feeling angry at all the people who had come to eat and drink when my father had just left this world.

It felt very wrong…

A few years back, when having a conversation with my mother about my father, I asked her why she would allow my father’s coffin to be left open at the front of the Crematorium for people to pay their last respects? I told her that I felt it was a terrible thing to do, to allow a 13 year old child to see her father dead and that it had caused nightmares for several years. My Mother was mortified to say the very least, telling me that she didn’t know what I was talking about-that it had never happened.

Up until that point, I completely believed that my father’s coffin was left open during the service and he was wearing a blue hospital gown. His arms were crossed, resting upon his chest and he had a blue complexion. I had even shared this with friends during conversations about loss and grief etc…

My 13 year old mind made that part up.

I never got to say goodbye.

The trauma that settled in that day, had such an lasting impact that went on to effect my whole entire adult life.


https://www.google.com/search?q=when+death+is+welcome

 

The Post-Mortem determined that the cause of death was Ventricular Heart Failure.

He literally died of a broken heart…

A rare moment with my Dad.

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

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

Within The Stillness

there is a space in between
a quiet place
serene
so still
the stillness is laden with sorrow
and remembering 
what was
the sadness of
what could have been 
and the reality of
what is
who am I now
is a question that I ask
on this merry go round of
a fragmented life
love and
accountability
am I lost in the stillness
can the sorrow be released
am I bold enough to own my beauty 
and serve the sorrow 
with endearment

oh how my playing with words
can free this weary mind
for a while
and breathe life 
on to my plain paper

A tenacious Spirit
A reckoning
A joyous moment

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

The Warrior Child

I feel compelled to write about a little girl I know who lost her Daddy suddenly, nearly a year ago.

This morning, she is unable to access the outside world because grief is her opponent and grief is winning.

She sits on the sofa with her pet dog, wrapped in soft blankets. To the left of her, close by are her Dad’s ashes – which, she says with slight confusion, are much smaller than the ashes of Fidget! Her recently deceased, much loved pussy cat.

She is 12 years old.

Her strength has the capacity to withstand the mightiest of storms. Her wit can enthrall an audience of listeners and her smile lights up the darkest of rooms and yet…

her heart is fractured.

Over the years, her survival techniques have pushed the closet of people away, often hurting them to release some of the burden that she carried. At times she unacceptably played the role of scapegoat when other children could do no wrong.

Trying to find a way back from the self destruction was so terribly difficult for her and although she longed to be accepted and forgiven, the path was somewhat difficult.

She really didn’t want to hurt others… just to show them how much she was hurting.

The pattern became familiar until it was a safe pattern of knowing and by that I mean she knew how to fill up other people’s convincer strategies of who she was and what she was about.

It really wasn’t true.

This child with her fractured heart is hurting and there aren’t enough words to describe the pain that she is in.

I feel the depth of an unforgiving, relentless and unbearable grief that she is carrying and trying to make sense of. I know that there are questions that she will be asking internally that can not be answered now, but still she carries them. There are days when the world forgets about this little girl and her struggles and I guess that is just a part of life.

Life carries on.

Grief carries on.

When a child loses a parent their whole experience of the world changes. When the death is sudden, no time to say goodbye, no time for a last hug, cuddle, giggle, sharing of stories, anything.

Just left with an ocean of overwhelming loss.

A nothingness.

Gone.

To the education system who lack the knowledge of how to help these children emotionally, day to day within their school life, please take the time to train your staff appropriately. Give them the tools that are so desperately needed to assist these kids.

To the education system who refuses to understand that there are days when these children cannot and will not be able to access the school day because grief will take over.

Let them be children who need time to grieve not an attendance statistic.

To all you Mums and Dads out there that are struggling with loss, please please know that you are doing an amazing job and ask for help if you need it. The earlier the intervention, the more a child can begin to work through and begin to process the trauma.

https://www.winstonswish.org/

And to the Warrier Child

I feel your pain.

I really do see you.

I know.

I understand.

I am so very proud to know you and I am grateful to be able to walk alongside you and your Mum throughout your journey. Thank you for re-connecting with me and allowing a certain trust to begin to build between us. You are the most resilient child that I know and one day you too will rise up and show the world who you truly are.

Summer 2019

I love you both.

Author unknown

© All Rights Reserved – The boy in the Chip Shop 2019

26

My big brothers looking very little.

We lived at number 26 Jellicoe Road until I was 4 years old.

My recollections of that house are small in comparison to what I remember of number 13 which was situated opposite.

26, had a large front room which housed an old gas fire. The kind with the off yellow tiled herth and brass coloured, extendable fire screen. In later years, I would use that screen along with an old sheet and pillows to make a house.

The kitchen sink was white and seemed huge. Nowadays, a sink that people would pay good money for. The significance of it being huge could be connected to a memory of my eldest brother having his mouth washed out with soap by my father. I have a movie in motion – in my mind of Paul being dragged kicking and screaming towards that huge sink by a huge and scary Daddy.

Paul is 7 years older than me.

Poor, poor little boy. What pain he must have endured.

In the hallway by the kitchen was an understairs cupboard and Paul told me some years back that the old man used to lock him in there after a beating.

Mum said she knew nothing about it!

A REJECTION on both counts – parents are supposed to love and protect you.

Upstairs, the floor boards were dark in colour with a few rugs scattered here and there and I remember at some point a large train set being laid out on my brothers floor.

Another vivid memory of living in number 26 is of me having a bath with another little girl who was wailing loudly in utter protest. Our Mother’s were the best of friends and we attended ballet lessons together. The girl had an adopted brother who lived, detatched from their house in a kind of shed-like room and as I grew older when we visited, I knew that was very wrong. He was left out in the cold (literally) and always presented with ill health. Both mother and daughter communicated abruptly to the boy and his obvious exclusion was heartbreaking to watch. I felt sad about the boy who lived outside and I remember asking my Mother why?

There was never a definitive answer.

Even at such a young age, I felt a deep connection for other’s and the natural desire to help them.

Maybe our parents belonged to the, ‘it’s acceptable to abuse children club’ or even, ‘it’s okay to turn a blind eye club’- maybe it was fashionable in the 70’s?

I am choosing to be human in this present moment as I write using sarcasim and a certain defiance. As a therapist I have the skills to look beyond their collective behaviour and begin to understand the reasons why so much abuse was delivered. Of course there is always more to a story and every person that I write about here has their own past that shaped who they became and how they behaved.

For now – just for now, I am tired of being the one that understands, the one that justify’s the one that clarify’s…

It was moving day. I was riding my blue and yellow, hard wheeled little bicycle along the pavement dinging my Magic Roundabout bell. I remember my father hollering at me to STOP because I was heading straight for the road.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Or else!

My daughter was invited last minute, to a sleepover last night.

Driving home after drop off, I could feel the anxiety slowly building inside. Just the thought of staying on my own in the house all night long was enough to set an old, out of date, pattern off – Full swing.

I pulled the blinds and shut the curtains in the whole house; the evening was still so bright.

I shut the doors to the bedrooms, dining room and kitchen leaving a space that felt enclosed and safe.

I live in a bungalow.

I turned the light’s on in the hallway, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, lounge and my bedroom.

They remained on all night.

Unable to open the windows for air, the heat from the summer evening was unbearable so I stripped off naked and stayed that way until 2.55 am having watched 6 parts of “Thirteen Reasons Why.”

Sleep was not an option until I could no longer keep my eyes open.

When I was a child I can remember going through a stage of being very frightened to go to sleep in the dark. My father was strict and there was a ‘no nonsense rule at bedtime “or else!” – after saying our prayers I would wrap myself up in my thick yellow eiderdown, leaving a tiny whole to breathe.

Then I would pray some more.

Dear Lord

please forgive me for the sins that I have committed
please keep
Mummy Daddy Paul and Ashley safe
don't let anything happen to them
please take this itching down below away
thank you

Amen


I had the most horrendous internal irritation when I was small. It seems like I endured it for a very long time. I tried with every effort to describe it to my Mother and the Doctor and being so little, neither seemed to understand it or me.

That prayer was recited for many years, well into adulthood. I literally could not; not say it, just incase!

My Mother worked at a local factory five nights a week for 10 years.

I was 3 years old when she started.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

The Door

My parents bedroom door – 2019

The Door.

This Door.

This ugly old stained Door.

The significance of this Door, throughout my life has been heartbreakingly, paralysing and as I sit here writing with tears streaming down my face, the powerful erratic emotions are stil very evident.

There is always choice.

The next part of my story is about a 13 year old little girl called Shellie, a nickname given to her when she was tiny and a little girl that I know oh so very well.

The enormity of that night which my younger self experienced, led to living a life very much unprocessed and coming from a place of fear;

A life of struggle.

A life of inner turmoil.

A life of self abandonment.

A life of self punishment.

A life of resisitance.

A life of feeling a failure.

A life of feeling ashamed.

A life of rescuing and…

An incredible awareness of other people’s pain.

An openess to meet people where they are at.

Authenticity.

Unbelievable insight and knowledge.

Deep connection.

Overwhelming love for others.

Forgiveness.

Gratitude and…

Grace.

For her… this is all for her to honour her strength, resilience and bravery for against all odds and alone, she saved her Mother’s life that night.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019

The black cat

In 1981 we didn’t have a home telephone. My mother used to walk to the nearest telephone box if ever she needed to make a call and quite often on a Sunday evening, she would call her younger brother who lived in Bedford.

Uncle Kevin (christened Kavin) will always hold a very special place in my heart. I only got to see him twice a year; once when we would travel up to Bedford for a week and then the other was in the Summer when he would bring my two cousins down to the Island for a holiday.

Those times were some of my happiest of childhood memories.

Kevin was virtually blind in one eye, walked with a limp and always smelled of the most delicious, expensive aftershave. Bedtime, was just the most fun with him telling us silly stories and ryhmes. He seemed to have an abundance of material to use and improvised effortlessly.

I can still hear him now, singing one in particular that always made my cousins and I giggle collectively and knowing full well that ‘wetted’ should have been a rude word, made it all the more fun.

Oh the black cat wetted 
on the white cats eye
the white cat said
Cor blimey

Oh I'm sorry my dear
the black cat said
You shouldn't have sat
behind me


I remember so clearly that often times I had wished Uncle Kevin was my father and feeling so, so sad when it was time for them all to leave to go home.

I wanted time to stop.

I wanted to leave with them.

I felt safe when he was there.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019

Two little dicky birds

Ryde Carnival is one of the oldest and biggest carnival’s in the UK and when I was a child, the parade used to walk right past the old hospital so that the patients could watch it too. I have always loved that idea and even more so, the children’s ward was situated in the round building with the big windows, right at the front of the hospital. As the parade walked past, the sick children along with the nurses would wave and the carnival participants would wave back. Such a lovely sharing of joy.

The hospital isn’t there anymore. It was knocked down in order to provide more housing for more people moving to the Island.

https://iowhospitals.org.uk/ryde.php

Mum and I had been warned about what we would see on entering the ward and told not to worry as it would look kind of scary buy it was okay. He was okay…

Of course he wasn’t okay.

My father laid there in his hospital bed covered in what seemed like a hundred wires stuck to his hairy, grey chest. I remember staring at his massive, bloated stomach. He looked like a mad man, with his hair all wild and stuck up and knowing how particular he was about combing his hair back neatly with brylcream every day, he would have hated me seeing him like that.

I think it was Old Spice! Can you get Old Spice brylcreem?

He was furious with Mum for letting me see him in the hospital and the aggression, in front of another male patient, was evident.

His stomach had been pumped.

I felt scared of what I saw. I couldn’t hug him. I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t do anything but endure this situation that we were in, seemingly alone without any support from anyone.

I don’t know where my older brothers were and I desperately needed them.

Why didn’t anybody pick up on the dysfunction of our family?

An elderly gentleman in the bed opposite my fathers, beckoned me over towards him, wanting to show me a trick. He took a cirgarette paper out of it’s packet and wripped two tiny pieces off. Then licking his index and middle fingers, he stuck a piece of paper on each one. Next came his rendition of the rhyme ‘Two Little Dicky Birds’, with the cigarette paper disappearing as Peter and Paul flew away and miraculously reappearing on their return.

I am grateful for the magic in that moment and the gift he brought to me during a very difficult situation.

My father wanted to leave with us and come home and he was told that it was safer for him to stay another night. So we left, believing he was in safe hands and thinking we could rest easy, just for one night.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Not this time

1978

I fear the dark
the dark fears me
we fight at night
won’t set me free.
Shadows creep
they terror my eyes
slow to sleep
how hard I try.

I’ve been struggling to write the next part of my story. Its been weeks since I have managed to even get this far, deleting my words over and over again. I guess I didn’t realise the magnitude of the emotional backlash I would feel just by revisiting my past in such detail, hence my breaking the story down in to manageable excerpts.

“Hey! I’m a therapist… I can sort my own shit out…”

It was the morning after the disco and Saturday morning’s were devoted to gymnastics, a place where he never came to watch me, a place where I found respite from my ‘torrid’ home life, a place of freedom (momentarily).

He remained in such a drugged up state that my mother couldn’t wake him and she had no choice but to call an ambulance. My father was slipping into a dangerous place of not-living, close to leaving his body, close to death. He hated hospitals and any form of institution after being contained as a child in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

Poor man.

I remember walking home from gym feeling that sense of dread in the pit of my stomach yet again, what would I find when I got there? Taking the familiar short cut through the garages, from a distance I could see an ambulance parked outside my gate and I started running…

I ran so fast with absolute urgency as if I was being chased and the desperation to get to my father, my dad-before it was too late, was heartbreaking.

I thought that I had lost him, that he had gone, that he was dead.

Not this time.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Truth

“If you don’t transform your suffering, I will always say, with 100 percent certitude, you will transmit your suffering to your family, your neighbours, even to your country”

Father Richard Rohr

He suffered…

We suffered…

My children have suffered.

Its a long chain reaction that is passed on down through the generations until the pattern is broken. Will my children pass on to their children the pain that they may have learn’t to carry from me? At times I wish for silence in my thinking this way, as an abundance of knowledge has lead to punishing thoughts/feelings and I really can’t deny my truth in all of this.

I have created suffering too.

Growing up in such an aggressive, volatile environment gives way to certain learn’t behaviour’s that often show up in my life. Different parts of my being are still angry, frustrated and sad-I struggle to accept these parts and also know and understand that the unaccepted self, can create even more of an unbalanced life.

The truth is I can change as we all can, choice exists for you and for me. So with knowing that… what stops us changing?

Returning to a place that is so uncomfortable… is comfortable. Its a place that we know, a place to reconnect with ourselves, a safe place, uncomfortably safe. It can be painful, yet in the midst of that pain, a deeper sense of knowing our truth, can reveal itself if we allow it. It is when that line is crossed and the need to control takes over that more suffering can occur.

I have crossed this line many times and the truth is, I have inflicted my own overwhelming pain on to my beautiful babies.

I have tried to control just as my parents tried to control me.

My children have rebelled against my inability to let go of the repetetive patterns that I so brutally learn’t and have stood up for their rights to be independent of my wrath. They, as their own people truly deserve better from me as their teacher, confidente, Mother.

What I know for sure as Oprah would say –

I would give my life in exchange to save my children.

The Love for my children is insurmountable, they are my absolute everything.

I am honoured and so very grateful to have been given the chance to share in their journey in this life as their Mother.

I am sorry for the pain that I have inflicted and… I am still learning.

This was my victory and my battle. All my demons, all my monsters that I’d been carrying around forever, the light came through and I realised; Oh, your not demons. They’re not monsters. They’re not dragons. I’ve been making them more grandiose than they are. They’re just the orphaned parts of me. They’re just the fearful-est, most terrified parts of me. They are scared to death. And they are throwing temper tantrums because of their fear. And now I have to tell them that it’s going to be okay. And they will all go to sleep. I am the mother of all of these parts of me. At one point I remember in my ascending above them all and saying,

I love you, fear and now go to sleep. I love you anger, you’re part of me. Go to sleep. you’re safe. I love you. I’m not leaving you. You’re part of me, you’re part of the family. You’re never going to be away from me. I love you failure. Come into my heart. Rest. You’re so tired. You’re so scared. You’re just children. You don’t know how the world works. I love you all. I have space for all of you. And together, we’re going to go forward now. – Elizabeth Gilbert

The door is open.

Its raining.

I am the rain.

© All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019

The Beginning of The End

It was Friday the 15th of October 1981. My Father had attended his hospital appointment for a Myelogram; a diagnostic imaging test to look for any problems in the spinal cord, nerve roots and other tissues. A coloured dye is injected into the spinal column before the procedure and then an xray is taken which enables the radiologist to see more clearly, if there is any damage. When the dye is injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which also surrounds the brain, there can be side effects – risk of a seizure, severe headaches, risk of infection, short term numbness in the legs and a risk of bleeding in the spinal colum.

In the 37 years since his death, I have never researched what a Myelogram is, only now in order to write this.

I just remember the coloured dye bit of the story and the violent aggression.

The local Community Centre held a kids disco every Friday evening and it was a great place to hang out. My Father used to drop me off and pick me up every week, much to the amusement of my friends who were allowed to walk home. He was very strict and often told me that I may be taken away by a stranger, if he didn’t keep me safe.

This Friday felt different…

My father was subdued to begin with after his treatment and I remember him complaining of a headache that was getting worse. I can picture him now, standing in the hallway by the front door. He gave me £1.50 for the disco, put his arms around me and squeezed me tight, told me he loved me and let me walk with my friends.

I can still feel the intense feeling of worry just by thinking about that evening.

The disco came and went and the entire time I was there, the anxiety was growing within me; what I would find on my return home?

He was in bed having taken as many drugs as he could take without killing himself, just to relieve the pain and was in and out of a drugged up state. I sat next to him, feeling so heavy, strained and tired. Why couldn’t he be normal like my friend’s Dad’s. I HATED him being like this, it scared me… The smell of Old Holborn soaked the atmosphere and I swear he could have burnt the house down on many occasion, leaving his rolled up cigarettes smoldering in the ashtray. His wedding ring was on his bedside table and I picked it up and held it in front of him. In a slow and slurred manner he said;

“Your Mother doesn’t love me anymore, you have it – take it!”

Closing his eyes, my father passed out and was snoring in seconds.

That was the beginning of the end.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip shop 2019

Death

It can be difficult for a child to find the words to describe what it feels like to lose a parent and for me, there was such a sense of nothingness, not really understanding what happened, not believing, confusion – just strange and surreal. When a traumatic event  precedes the loss of a loved one it can exacerbate the emotions and personally, I can liken it to having a pile of breeze blocks lying on my chest, squeezing the breath out of my lungs and then being thrown into an abyss of anxiety…

I didn’t share my grief, I wasn’t able to as the words wouldn’t come out of my mouth and I shed no tears for some weeks afterwards. What I know and understand now is that I was in shock and a part of my sweet 13 year old self, shut down and went into survival mode.

She began using food to stuff down the pain.

I don’t remember being consoled by my Mother… I really don’t but I guess I must have been, thats what Mum’s do right? What I do remember is that everything changed about my whole exisitance within a few seconds of being told about my father’s death. I would never ever be the same again…

“I do not believe that grief changes who you are, if you let it… it will reveal who you are” – HRH Prince William

img_0815

My Parents passport photo (approximately 1960) taken for their passage to Australia on the Ten Pound Ticket Scheme - I wish I knew them then, before all of the difficulties that consumed their lives.

All Rights Reserved – The boy in the chip 2019