Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Childhood Memories - Dedicated to Those who Think they know Better but were Not there

My Paternal Great Grandmother, Shane, Joy & I 
There has been so much wara-wara about me writing the truth about my childhood and living with a father who was a street angel and a home devil, let me put you in the picture why it is that there are friends of my siblings that say that he was never anything but charming to them.  These people who are phoning my sister Joy, are creating a furore about nothing but I understand.
I was the first child born, my poor mother did not know what was happening and she had her head buried in the pillow with her bum in the air, screaming and flailing her legs up and down from the knees.  She was in a nursing home run by nuns and in those days, fathers were not allowed in the delivery room.  Well, out came this pink baby with red hair and it was a girl.  I do think that my father was a little disappointed that I was not a boy, although when I asked him about it when I was in my 30’s, he just looked at me and did not answer.
We were Roman Catholics so there was no such thing as contraception and even the reverse method was frowned upon by the church.  So the babies came.
The next child was Joy.  My mother had tuberculosis and spend her second and third trimester in an isolation hospital with few visitors other than the Catholic priest who would often come and play cards with her in the afternoon.  Little did she know that her husband, with the full knowledge of his mother, was carrying on with other young and loose women.  My father could charm the panties off of any woman, married or not.  I once witnessed my father pick up a young hitchhiker when I was around 10 years old and take her to the Lounge Tearoom, the only place in Umtata where women could also go and be with their men and have a meal or a coffee.  Pubs in those days were for men only, although there were ladies lounges where women would sit and drink on their own, with the husband bringing out a drink for them every now and again.   The Lounge Tearoom had a juke box.   Holding this young girls hand (She could not have been a day over 19), he put money into the juke box, chose a song and danced with her around the tearoom in the middle of the afternoon.  She was smitten.  I could never have told my mother that story.  She was already hurting too much from his infidelity.
While my mom was in the Isolation Hospital, I was being taken care of by my grandmother, who I called Mom.  It kind of made sense; because everyone else called her Mom.  My grandfather I called Pa, because everyone else called him Pa.   I was the apple of Mom and Pa’s eye.  They showered me with clothing, with everything to match, from frocks to shoes.  Mom kind of took me over from my mom and when Joy was born, Mom ignored her most of the time.  Joy was born at home with my father in attendance.  Because my mom had been so ill during her pregnancy, Joy was a small blue baby who the doctor did not think would live, so she was christened at a day old.  My father tells the story of how he promised God that he would always take care of Joy if she lived.  He says he gave the breath of life to Joy.   My mom says that is hogwash, but I was not there.  Joy was always my father’s favourite child.  She never smiled until she was over a year old and her first words were “Mommy, I think you are a bloody fool”, and spat her food out.  My mom could never get Joy to stop swearing.  She broke a wooden spoon on her but still she swore.  It was just who she was.   My father would never have acted out anything bad when in the company of Joy, so it makes sense that her friends know nothing about the home devil he was.  Look at the picture on the blog where I speak about my father beating my mother and my inability to sleep ….he did not take photographs of Joy.  Joy was left in her bedroom to sleep, while he made us watch him beat my mom up and then take photos of us.   So to those friends of hers that do not believe my story, I know why you don’t.  BUT, this is my story so don’t deny me the right to my own truth as I would never doubt your story of your own truth.  My mother had four children under the age of five; all born at home with my father playing midwife.  He was a very good medical person for someone without any medical training.  I believe that if he had had the chance to channel his brilliance into something like medicine, it would have over-shadowed his dark side.  Shane came after Joy, Yolanda after Shane (and my father denied his paternity to her until she was an adult, saying that she did not look like his other children.  She was beautiful (still is) with the same olive skin as my mother.  She too is a brilliant person who could have been anything she wanted in life, but sadly, that did not happen so her dark side comes out every now and again.   Because Shane was 11 when my mom left, he missed out on the mothering that would have made him a well-rounded person.  He had a terrible time with my father even when my mother was still at home.  I have a lot of empathy for that boy.  When I was 11 my mom had her last child and her name was Gizelle and she was born in the same nursing home as I was in Umtata.   Gizelle is a story for another day.  This story is about Joy and why her friends are involving themselves in my story and not believing that what I am saying is the truth.  I think that since they are my friends too they should have asked me before going mouthing off to Joy.  I have been doing a blog for the last 8 years and not one of my siblings have read a thing I have written, but now it is all wara-wara and big deal stuff.  Well, let them wara-wara if that is what is making their little worlds go round.  Like Shane’s wife, Mary-Ann, the friends have taken things out of context from my blogs, while Mary-Ann took things out of context from Shattered.  
I started school at 5 and because Joy was adamant she also wanted to go to school, my mother let her go to school at the age of 4, bluffing that she was older.  Joy was brilliant at school, top of the class all the way through until matric when she fell of the school band wagon.  My earliest memories of Joy are those where she is playing teacher/teacher to the flowers, with a ruler in her hands and admonishing the flowers for not listening to her by chopping their heads off with the ruler.
Memories are made from being there, from the age it happened and the connection between the people.  This is something that Joy’s friends have not taken into account.
Naturally, Joy is upset with me, but if she had taken notice of what I wrote about or even read my books, she would not now be shocked by the ‘out of context’ remarks that are being made to her by her so-called friends.
But another amazing phenomenon has also occurred.  Since writing the blogs of my childhood, other people my age have been calling me and telling me things that they witnessed, things they had done to them, some things I know about and others that I don’t.  I am going to be writing a book called A Love Story, and these snippets are the beginnings of that story.  It would make the book far too long if I were to include these blogs I am doing.  It would end up a trilogy and I do not have the time afforded to me on a scale of probability.
I will repeat again what I have always held true is that family is not defined by the DNA we share, but by shared values of others.


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