My Mum: Part 2

I have two stand out memories involving my brother and I with regard to my mum. We both attended Penlan Comprehensive and initially we came home for lunch. Well one Monday lunch time my mum served up bubble and squeak which comprised left overs from Sunday’s roast dinner. My brother and I refused to eat it, and we were sent packing with no food in our bellies. My mum was mortified, but it didn’t dawn on me until later that she had no other food in the house and no money to pay for it.

One summer we were getting on my mum’s nerves. Something was said and she chased us out of the house, but she continued to come after us. Now the prefab was single storey and had a flat roof. It also had a trellis which we used to climb onto the roof to avoid capture, unbeknown to my mum. She continued to make several laps of the prefab until one of the neighbors cried out: “Vi, the boys are on the roof!!!” Thank goodness she saw the funny side of the situation.

I’ve touched a little on her stubborn streak, and the next tale merely emphasizes the point. It was during the Swansea Blitz back in 1941. My mum hated going down to air raid shelters because they were “grimy, smelly and generally full of people.” My mum had recently purchased a new red overcoat, and she was going out for the evening with my Dad. However an air raid siren pierced proceedings  and she decided they would shelter in a door way on the way up the street. Unfortunately the Luftwaffe proceeded to drop a bomb on the other side of the street and my mum’s brand new coat was covered in dust. She screamed out in indignation: “Jack, look at my coat, look at my coat!” My Dad replied: “Never mind your bloody coat, we could have been killed!!!!”

One summer my mum and dad boarded the paddle steamer which left Swansea and headed towards Ilfracombe North Devon for the day. At the end of the day they missed the boat returning to Swansea, and were forced to take the milk train (red eye?) back to Swansea arriving home in the early hours of the morning. We had no telephone and had no idea what happened. I asked my Dad how did they manage to miss the boat and he told me to ask my mum. So I did and she said: “I don’t want to talk about it!!!”

In the last twenty years of her life she showed great courage and resilience in fighting a crippling illness, rheumatoid arthritis, which grew steadily worse over time. This debilitating illness was exacerbated by a nasty ulcer on her leg. She eventually required plastic surgery on her leg which was performed at Chepstow Hospital’s Burns Unit. She never complained, but was worried about my Dad who had succumbed to another dreadful disease, Alzheimer’s.

It was not long after she left hospital that my Dad had to be admitted to Cefn Coed Hospital where he would spend the rest of his days. I believe I only witnessed my mum cry twice, the first time was when my nana passed away in 1960 and secondly when we drove my Dad to hospital. Ironically my Dad was admitted around about their 50th Anniversary, which was a hollow feeling for my mum considering the circumstances. Three months later my mum suffered a heart  attack and passed away. Now this may sound clichéd, but there is no doubt in my mind she died of a broken heart. She couldn’t bear the thought of my dad cooped up in a mental institution, and it was truly the last straw.

She gave me so much support and encouragement during my life particularly when I was going through a nasty divorce. She made a telling comment when I told her not to worry about me because I was a middle aged man capable of looking after myself. She replied: “You are my son and I will always worry about you regardless of your age.” I didn’t  think much of the comment at the time, but she was absolutely right. I find myself worrying about my own kids who are in their late thirties, and I only wish my mum was still around  to ask her advice or seek guidance now and again.

She was cremated and we scattered her ashes at Pennard Castle, and  she had own distinctive way of saying goodbye. I grabbed a handful of ashes and cast them into the wind only for the ashes to blow back into my face. What an exit!!!

Rest in Peace Mum (1920-1992.)

This blog is dedicated to my grand daughter Alice Violet who was given her second name by my son in memory of my mum and his Nana, Vi (Violet.)

 

 

 

 

 

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