Friday, November 14, 2014

OUT OF THE PAST - 4

"All I can say is that she was beautiful."

Jill with our mother
Me with my mother
I cried for a long time after reading those words that my birth mother had written about me in her last letter to my sister, Jill. Then I looked through the photos again and, although in some of them there were unmistakeable signs of sadness in my birth mother's face, there were also photos of her with Jill in which she looked radiant. After the unimaginable pain of the sacrifice she had made for me, and later for our brother, I was so glad that she had known the joy not only of a lovely daughter in Jill, but of grandchildren.

This knowledge made me feel calmer and now I needed to gather my thoughts and reply to the kind letter I had received from Jill.  As I began to do so, I suddenly realised that there was a problem and it was a linguistic one: what should I call my birth mum when writing to Jill? It seemed disloyal to call her "my mum", though she undoubtedly was, because the mother who had brought me up was undoubtedly "my mum" too. I couldn't betray her now with a possessive adjective. I decided that I had to be honest with Jill and said, in that first reply, that I hoped she would understand if I referred to my adoptive mum as "my mum" and my birth mum as "our mother". I needn't have worried; Jill immediately understood and I already loved her.

As I started to tell friends, both here and back in Britain, what had happened, all were pleased for me, particularly here. I was aware, however, that there were some who were judging my birth mother, though only one said anything to my face. To that person and others like her I can only quote the Bible:

"Judge not and ye shall not be judged."

My birth mother had had three children out of wedlock with three different fathers but she had loved us all and had done what she thought was best for each of us.  I would also say that, if you have the comfort and security of a life partner, you have no business judging those of us who do not. I was, and am, glad that my birth mum found happiness, however fleeting, in the arms of three men for whom she obviously cared very much, for I know what it is like to be without such solace. Secondly, we should remember that we are talking about a very different era, a cold and still censorious culture, men who were away from home and a woman who had survived wartime Britain.

When a second letter from Jill came, I learned that my birth mum had played her part in that war, for she had been in the ATS. I felt so proud of her! Then, as the letters began to flow between us, I found out more about my birth mum and was delighted to learn that she had been a great reader and that, like me, she was fond of all kinds of music.

There were things that Jill and I had in common, too, although we had had very different lives:  we both knew what it was like to live "behind the shop", for instance, as my parents had run a newsagent's in Bristol for the first nine years of my life and Jill and her husband had run three newagent's shops. We seemed to share the same kind of humour, too, had been rebellious at school and we both write easily.

But the most important thing that we have in common is that we had loving childhoods and, although I haven't found the kind of love that we all seek, I have been very lucky, for I was deeply loved by my parents, not once, but twice and now I have the love of a sister.

To be continued.


12 comments:

rosaria williams said...

Ohhhhhhh.......

Laruchka said...

A wonderful story! And let's not judge the judgers too much either - I think these people often simply lack the powers of imagination.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Rosaria. You're probably right, Laruchka.

CherryPie said...

This is a lovely journey you are going through. Becoming to know who your birth mother was and meeting your kith and kin :-)

Nicholas Temple said...

Wow. I must read more of the story.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you, Cherie and Nick.

Lee said...

Who is anyone to judge? One must always step back and look at one's own life first...and then, keep their mouth shut and mind their own business.

We can only live our own lives...the best way we can...no one else can live it for us.

When I found my half-brother (I never knew my father)...I refer to my father, his father as "Dad"...I refer to him as "Joe". That was his name...he was never my father...he never played that role in my life.

I love your story, Pat. Thank you for sharing it. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Thank you, Lee. You are very kind. x

Lee said...

I meant to write - "I don't refer to my father, his father as "Dad"...

I apologise for my typo. :)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I understand, Lee.

RNSANE said...

How beautiful...this brought tears to my eyes. So you have a sister!!!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I still can't quite believe it myself, Carmen!

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