Infancy

Although as  a baby I did not  know it ,I was born into a family with a lot of people around us.My father’s  two sisters still lived with him and my mother.Next door was his brother. My mother’s family lived nearby.That was normal.People came in and out.The door was never locked
But what do I remember apart from the  rain ? My mother went back to work when I was 5 months old.She had breast fed  me for 3 months.As my two brothers were only 14 months and 25 months old when I was born I grew up in a noisy, aggressive  yet playful atmosphere.
I can remember sitting looking at the window longing for my mother to come home  and feeling I was close to breaking  point  although we loved our auntie who cared for us.
Alas she was stone deaf so if my brothers hurt me she did not  my screams
My brother who was 14 months older than I was cried all day long until my mother stopped work when she became pregnant again..Unfortunately for him, he was then sent to nursery full time to join our older brother.I was  not  quite two when my sister came along.I am told I had severe  tantrums and was possibly beaten but I have no memory of that.
I also caused my mother grief by being underweight after birth causing the district nurse to call daily.That must have  made my mother feel inadequate and  I suspect she was depressed as she did not plan these frequent pregnancies.I never was able to eat her food and was very underweight for many years
Life in the post-war years was hard,with rationing still in place.We had an outside toilet in the backyard and a bath in the kitchen but usually we used a tin bath until I was 10.Then we had a  very small bathroom put in when my mother bought the house.
I was afraid of my brothers fighting and teasing me ,but also longed to go with them exploring locally ,but  they did not want me.That is my main memory.. of being unwanted.I also liked boys’ toys better than girls’
I remember  being in the pram when I was under a year old and my mother met a friend who nearly fainted when I answered i n sentences  a question i  she asked my mother.I also learned to read before my brothers which may explain some of their aggression.One of them said they kept being told  how proficient I  was which hurt them.
I remember my father taking us for walks and how he put up  lovely Xmas decorations and a tree with  lights on it.He was brilliant, artistic and uneducated except by evening classes.He was a right wing Catholic too.
My mother was a wonderful pianist and I remember her playing Chopin beautifully.They seemed happy.But when I was 4 the structure began to crumble.My father was ill but labelled ” work shy”… it was  2.5 years before advanced cancer was diagnosed.He was given  3 months  to live but lasted  18.The night before we went back to school after the summer break he died.We were told he hated the loneliness with only his deaf sister and my youngest sister who was born after he  became  ill.She was 3 when he died.The last year he was in bed all the time so it was more boring.We used to go  the library every day to get books for him , thrillers etc
I think I was very attached to him but he beat me.He beat me because I refused to apologise for something I had not  done.I had not got the sense  ro rell a white lie.For most of my life since then I believed I had caused his death by refusing his  orders.I find it very hard to tell lies.I don’t want to.
What was very important was our Catholic religion which was severe,Jansenist but  had lovely rituals.We used to  kneel round the fire at night  and pray before we went to bed,?I can remember it clearly.
After he died we were all afraid. for years .Nobody knew children grieve.We never had a proper Xmas again.My mother was devastated and I know how she felt to some extent… five children to raise and no one in her family could help financially though they did visit.
But as time went on, I saw my mother manage.She still did all the washing and made our clothes after working all day. She took us on holiday every year  mainly in  the UK but twice to Dublin.She taught me  to read music and I was so good at piano I got free lessons for 10 years plus later cello lessons.Her father was  very supportive.He had also  brought up his family alone.He nevr complained.

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