In My Father’s Words



In My Father’s Words


03/07/1938 – 18/10/2018


The Coming of Twilight


She had been christened Agnes, but was often called Patsy by her husband.  I don’t know why, but it was Patsy as often as it was Agnes.  Agnes was of average height, but seemed to grow smaller as she grew older, and was dwarfed by her two adult sons.  She was thin, almost to the point of being skinny, and was seen as a bit angular and bony.  She had pale blue eyes and her grey hair was kept short and frequently ‘permed’ as was the fashion of the day.

She had married, at the age of 23, a couple of years before the War and had four children, one born before the War, two during and one after peace had returned.  Like so many of her generation, life had never been easy, and money often difficult to find.  As a result, she had worked as a waitress most of her life, an occupation which had not much benefited her legs.  Having once waited on the pre war Arsenal team, she became a lifelong supporter.  Pat, her husband, was a Manchester United man, but they never came to blows about football.  Nor anything else to the best of my knowledge.

Agnes was the smart one in the marriage and ran most aspects of her life with Pat.  This easy going, simple man was content to hand over his wages to his wife, and receive his pocket money for the week.  It worked and this determined lady, with positive views of her own on many subjects, was married for almost fifty years.  Agnes enjoyed a whiskey and her cigarettes; Pat was tee total and a pipe smoker.  Their four children all liked a drink but eventually all became non smokers.

Sometime in the early 1980’s Agnes started to forget things, little things mostly at the start, like the names of people and places or where she had put her keys.  This was attributed to getting older and was regarded as harmless and amusingly eccentric.  Eventually, unfortunately and perhaps inevitably, the occasional swirling mists of forgetfulness were overwhelmed as a great fog of disorder and confusion filled her troubled mind.

The proud and dignified woman, who had raised her family to successful adulthood, became someone who could no longer hold meaningful discussion with that family.  She lived in a twilight world that others could not enter and from which she emerged less and less often.  On one occasion while walking in the garden of her older son, she said, “People think I’m mad, you know, but I am just ill.”

Even in this alternative existence, she was capable of causing little cameos of comedy.  Walking around her daughter’s house she remarked, “This isn’t a very good hotel.”  Her daughter replied, “This is not a hotel, Mum.”  This produced the classic reply, “You’re telling me.”

There was a black side to her condition as when she accused her husband, aged 77 of having an affair.  Pat, already in pain was hurt by this, even knowing, as he did, his wife’s condition.  In her ramblings she talked about a child who had died in 1942.  None of the children had any previous knowledge of this event.

At last Agnes no longer recognised anyone, not even Pat.  It is a cliché to say that death was a happy release.  It was preceded by a stroke and the cause of death was pneumonia.  A happy release indeed for this dignified lady.  Agnes died in October 1985.

She was my mother.

Written By BM

12 thoughts on “In My Father’s Words

    1. But that was their relationship in many respects. The piece l feel lacked lots of things, some might say imagination, l would say ‘sentiment’ it was factual. He tried to write it as an impassioned piece, and didn’t quite make it. Yet can l be that critical? Am l too not writing at times of my Father in the same approach?

        1. Maybe, but Dad and l were/are on the spectrum and that is a trait that we have. Dad of course would never agree he was on the spectrum, but l think to deny it just made him more the devious bastard. So maybe he was only the latter, instead of the former, l will never know now.

      1. I guess it was a little on the factual side.
        Is that what your Dad was intending on this occasion?
        I find it hard not to write about my parents without becoming gushy and sentimental.

        1. I have to be honest and maybe brutal here. I don’t write about my parents in any kind of emotional stance. perhaps a little more sentimentality than my father. I do know that l hate to say it that many of us on the spectrum do come across many a time as clinical/objective/unemotional. I write about my Father in a very similiar vein.

          I loved my Dad, but l didn’t always like him. I love my Mum more because if anything she is more emotional, and l take after her quite a bit thankfully, l say that as l think we all need to achieve balance in this world and emotion helps us to achieve that. My Father despite what he would say was not an emotional man, my Sister is very much the same.

          But gushy on either of my parents? nope, could never be that.

          Suze and Scrappy yes, but then they have never betrayed me whereas my parents have.

    2. My Father was somewhere on the spectrum of autism …somewhere – his Mother used to beat him because of his quirky behaviour and then lock him in the coal shed under the stairs all night with no dinner, sometimes she would do this several times a week.

      His relationship with her was at best strained.

      I found it unusual in his collection of stories because he has very rarely written about her, or his Father. So it was unusual to find these pieces.

      He wasn’t present for bother of their deaths, didn’t really care for them that much, didn’t really want anything to do with them for most of their living life and so to find these odd pieces trying to express emotional sentiment l find quite bizarre …

        1. I don’t know Sadje, the more l read and the more l come to learn of his inner complexity, one hand would agree with that, whilst the other would say no.

          I am slowly and surely coming to the end of his stories and l am glad as some can be brain taxing and damning at the same time, but will look forwards to not having the obligation to read them all soon.

        2. You’re doing a wonderful job. Not only reading them but sharing them with us. It’s a way to acknowledge his talent and also cathartic for you.

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