Todays guest blog is by a woman who spends her days making sure that no child goes hungry in our local area. I have had the privilege of working along side her when we fed the families of Thanet from her Summer Kitchen. I took all my children with me to b part of it too. To show them that life is hard, and we should be grateful for what we have.
The women who wrote this, they don’t make many like her I can tell you that. She fights for the ones that people have given up on or don’t have the strength to fight for themselves. She is constently dropping food to families, making meals or raising awareness for the families in the community who are on their knees. If you would like to know more about what she does you can check her out Here
I give you my friend, Sharon Goodyer
Bread and Jam
Both of them were sobbing now. I comforted them and gradually they shut their eyes and went to sleep. I went straight downstairs and told my elderly widowed mother that although we had just arrived I would be taking her to the railway station tomorrow so she could go back home. The next day I shoved her out of the car and reached over and just about managed to shut the door and drive off as she pulled herself up out of the gutter and onto the pavement.
I never want to be that angry again. My behaviour was appalling towards an old lady. You might understand if not forgive when I tell you a little more.
The children and I had picked Alison up and we were travelling down to Dorset to stay at her holiday cottage. Alison , she never wanted to be called Nana or granny, was clearly annoyed by the children’s chatter so they quietened and we drove in silence. I was doing this out of duty. I was doing it because I had promised my father I would. I tried to chat but her replies were arrogant put downs so I stopped trying. I pulled in for petrol. I grabbed my purse and got out of the car. She spotted her opportunity . I just did not think. I had never , ever left her alone with my children. I was just getting petrol, I should have realised but I didn’t.
As I walked back after paying I looked up and saw her face turned talking to my children. My face went cold and I dropped my purse. I suddenly realised what was happening, what I had let happen. But in our family you pretend. So I pretended. I got in the car and drove off. It was not until I put the children to bed that night that I found out what she had done.
‘ Children, I am a very important person. People want to know what I am doing so they follow me and sometimes they try to kill me. Look, see over there the 2 men on motorbikes with shiny black mirrors on their faces well they are following me. Now they know who you are and they will follow you too.. They will follow you wherever you go’.
My children trusted Alison, they had never noticed that they had never been alone with her. I had drawn a line . a line that was never to be crossed between my mother’s madness and my children. But they knew nothing about that. I was trying to hold back generation after generation of schizophrenia and chronic mental illness.
This woman had denied she was pregnant with me to one and all. This woman who loved to tell me about the cape that completely hid her pregnancy. The story I remember most was about how she had fallen off a ladder and she ought to have lost me then but somehow I clung on. I remember the story about how they had to move house because I was so loud on my rocking horse. I remember being told I had fallen off a bed and had just lain there. I remember an argument and dad shouting ‘you cannot just feed the child bread and jam’ I remember her digging her nails into the soft under bit of my wrists. I can still feel the sheer cold fear of being pushed off a bus into traffic but I never tasted the dilute herbicide in my food. I remember raving with a temperature whilst still in my cot……. The bars kept waving and bending. Years later I was told I had food poisoning. She tried every way to get rid of me.
So, if you ask me what my greatest achievement is , It is survival.
I wonder how many children are surviving in nuclear families. I chose to try to bring my own children up as much as I could in the community. That Nigerian proverb ‘ it takes a whole village to raise a child’ makes sense to me.
It was not easy for women at home with children in the 1950s. My father knew she was dangerously mentally ill but the treatment was experimental and crude. Dad chose to try to cope but then he could not cope and went away for months at a time leaving my sister and I with her.
I was glad when she died. My Parkinsons disease is probably because of the weak herbicide she fed me.
Children are safer if the whole village has a part to play in their upbringing.