Case 009 - Family

Nylon not cashmere

It's taken me all this time
To write my biography all in rhyme
For this is a tale you won't forget
A very sad story full of regret
I was 21 when I picked up the phone
And spoke to the National Children's Home

I made an appointment but I had to wait
And on my calendar I marked the date
We were met by a Mrs Lawn
Who told the tale of how I was born
She explained to me what lay ahead
As through my adoption papers I read
Learning of my rejection at birth
Now questioning my place on earth

The Start of My Journey

Off I went with papers galore
Exhausted by now to absorb anymore
I felt as though the world had lied
And for days and days I cried and cried
I was given the address of where her parents last lived
And so through the phone book I sat and sieved
Until at last I found their name
Could it really be the same
My partner went out and said "don't phone"
But he had left me all alone
The sheer curiosity I couldn't bear
I picked up the phone "Is Sandra there"?
A voice replied "I'm afraid she's not in"
Had I spoken to her next of kin
"I'll phone back later" then said goodbye
And yet again I began to cry

Had I really found my mum
Surely I couldn't possibly have done
I phoned back later, "Is Sandra there?
"Speaking" she said as if not to care
Please don't hang up, I've something to say
I promise not to get in your way
But there's something that you need to know
Let me explain before you go

The name you know is Anthea Jane Wright
I'm aware this must be quite a fright
I hope you don't mind what I've done
But Sandra you are my real mum

Rejection

Give me that phone came a voice
She handed it over having no choice
You've made a huge mistake ringing here
I felt her voice was full of fear
For she was my Grandma, unaware to me
As the story unfolds you'll begin to see
She simply slammed down the phone
And here was me all alone
This moment I'd waited for all my life
I remember now still cuts like a knife
But I couldn't' rest there so I phoned again
And this time told Grandma of my new name
She told me Sandra hadn't coped with the call
And she'd prefer it if I didn't call at all
She said that Sandra didn't know of me
And that my existence could never be
But the more we spoke the more I knew
That what she was saying couldn't be true

Meeting My Grandma

Eventually the Grandma agreed to meet me
But assured me that Sandra I'd never see
She sent me material from what she would wear
I didn't even know the colour of her hair
Victoria Station was where we would meet
Under the clock where there was a seat
Totally confused I just had to agree
For I was unknown, she didn't know me
We set a date when we would meet
Neither of us knowing who we would greet
My partner was following in case it went wrong
Like a private detective he came along
Following me closely with no one knowing
But watching each step of where I was going
I held the material in my hand
What if this meeting was not as I planned
All of a sudden a lady appeared
Wearing material she'd sent - how weird
There were no cuddles and kisses just a simple hello
She wasn't outspoken in fact quite mellow
We sat in a restaurant and drank cups of tea
As so she explained all about me
I was born in sixty-four
And Sandra left through the back door
She was sent to London where baby was born
The birth of this baby was treated with scorn
Convinced of no baby she soon returned home
And there she remained all alone
"So you see why Sandra can't meet you
You can't believe the damage it'd do
So it's best you go and carry on
And return to the family where you're from"
To say I cried would be telling a lie
I only wanted to know why
The person all my life I'd missed
Doesn't know that I exist
But then I thought this cannot be
If she gave birth she knows of me
I don't care what her mother may say
I'm going to find another way
So I wrote a note, she didn't reply
But now I had no strength to cry

The Letter

And then months later I received a letter
Saying she thought it best I met her
She said she'd explained that she'd met me
And felt her baby she should see
I felt this person had been brainwashed
Her parents were certainly not to be crossed
She had fallen pregnant and caused great shame
And all her life she'd taken the blame
She may have been simple, she may have been plain
But she knew of her baby Anthea Jane
What will she look like, is she like me
What if she didn't like what she was too see
Did I have brothers or sisters, who knows
What if we argued and then came to blows
Will she remember what age I am
She never even saw me in a pram
For I am the daughter that she's had to hide
To people around her she must have lied
But now is the moment I've been waiting for
Secrets and lies are to be no more
As she walked towards me I became quite cold
And so my story will now unfold

Meeting My Mum

She stubbed out her cigarette on the floor
Her mother told her she could have no more
Who was she being so controlled by
Again in my life I wanted to cry
She didn't look like me, although she was small
I guess on this basis my father's not tall
My father, no I just daren't ask
Another day, another task
We talked, about what, I do not know
I was certainly glad when it was time to go
For this was a stranger she was not my mum
I was beginning to wonder just what I'd done
I couldn't ask what I wanted to
I didn't know how much she knew
She told me she remembered the day
The day that she gave me away
We parted company, I said goodbye
And yet again I started to cry
I'd been warned of what could be
But I never expected to feel lonely
Months went by my curiosity grew
There was so much I never knew
I wanted to ask so many things
But I know the pain to her it brings
When I was born she still lived at home
Her parents said she'd never roam
But if that really was to be
How come the arrival of little me?

We kept in touch by Christmas Card
But even this became quite hard
I felt I'd lost her as a friend
My broken heart I'd have to mend

The Wedding

Until one day out of the blue
Came some news which couldn't be true
Sandra had met the man of her dreams
To me complete loss is what this means
She was all I had for my very own
And even then she was only on loan
And just as I'd met her she's taken away
She wanted me there on her special day
She was 40 years old when she was wed
A day I was shocked by what she said
Should we sit on the left or sit on the right
For I am the daughter of the lady in white
My uncle Terry was the first man I met
For I was a face he would never forget
For he held me in his arms that day
The day my mother gave me away
And to the reception we all went
Presents given and cards were sent
And still I sat there unknown to all
At my mother's wedding in a village hall
But the wedding day doesn't stop there
For Sandra had something she wanted to share
But this was something that no one had taught her
To announce in public that she had a daughter
She continued then to parade me around
I was like a lost toy that a child had found
For this was a day when she felt proud
For I was no longer just one of the crowd

Terry and I had a special bond
He was protective of me and very fond
For I was his one and only niece
In his missing jigsaw, I was the piece
We spent lots of time with Terry and Sue
For these were people I never knew
And again we drifted each our own ways
Never forgetting the good old days
For these were my family who mattered to me
But deep down I knew that this couldn't be

My Other Life

So I spent my life with another mum and dad
Unfortunately most of this was sad
They seemed to lack any love for me
Money and image was all they could see
My father worked hard and earned lots of money
But he had no humour, hence nothing was funny
My mother never worked a day in her life
The job that she did was being his life
They couldn't have children which wasn't the norm
So they adopted a baby so that they'd conform
For they had a standard they had to live
It didn't include any love to give
Material objects then I had the lot
But as for a cuddle, they simply forgot
In order to be like all the rest
They adopted a child to take second best
I was never all they hoped I would be
I never made Uni, so had no degree
I suffered depression in earlier years
Another occasion for many tears
They sent me to college, private of course
A status in life they had to endorse
This child they'd chosen had gone badly wrong
In their gentry life I didn't belong
I certainly wasn't well thought of
They never showed signs of love
When they wrote a card it said "from mum and dad"
And this was something that made me so sad

Life Without Love

I longed for a cuddle, I longed for a kiss
And these are something that I'll always miss
I used to shout "you're not my real mum"
I'll look for her when I'm twenty-one
They had no feelings, so there was nothing to hurt
They treated me like a piece of dirt
I started courting and met many men
But I wanted to be married, it was a question of when
I wanted to be loved my each man I met
And if I failed I became upset
I searched for some years to find the right man
And when I succeeded, my life began
When my father walked me down the aisle
It was the only thing I'd done worthwhile
I wanted to hear that they loved me
But I guess I knew this would never be
It must be like buying an unopened flower
You watch it grow hour by hour
But the picture on the packet is not the same
It's not as you hoped and you are to blame
For I was that flower not as expected
They didn't think that when I was collected
If a refund was possible I wouldn't be here
For I was nylon and not cashmere
But I was something they couldn't take back
I was of no value, just pure bric-à-brac

My Wedding

And so life went on, their existence still there
I felt that really they didn't care
By now I'd come to terms with life
Until my partner wanted a wife
For I knew at my wedding she couldn't be there
And she was the person I wanted to care
My father said I looked OK
He could have said more on my wedding day
I looked round the church just in case
The tears in my eyes were hidden by lace
Oh mum I wish that you were here
As I took my vows as I wiped a tear

My Children

Two years later and my first son is born
Which takes me back to Mrs Lawn
Who told me all about the day
The day my mother gave me away
I looked at my baby in cute knitted boots
And I whispered to him these were his roots
And I wondered if he was taken away
How I'd feel and what I'd say
He had a smell I'll never forget
We started bonding the day we met
But I was still looking to bond with someone
I cannot admit that they have gone

I tried to imagine saying goodbye
A time in my life again to cry
This tiny baby who relies on me
For kisses and cuddles, for lunch and for tea
How would I know how he got on
How would I know where he had gone
For this my son was here to stay
I could never give this child away

Five years later and I had my second son
I sometimes questioned just what I'd done
I now had two fine sons to love
I looked to Jesus up above
Dear Lord I ask you please help me
For things were happening I couldn't see
I felt a distance I can't explain
I felt that now it was me to blame

Time To Think

I lacked ability to love as I should
I even questioned if I could
My mother and father had never loved me
The damage they've done, I'm beginning to see
The effect it is having is quite immense
The pain I'm suffering is at their expense
I need to learn how to love again
For now I have my own three men
And yet as time passed me by
There were many other occasions to cry
My love for my children didn't seem right
Life for me was one long fight
Something was missing and I didn't know what
But whatever it was meant an awful lot
My children weren't getting the love they deserved
When it came to loving I was reserved

I haven't mentioned my father, have I?
Well this is a time when I didn't cry
For he was someone that I could love
This time I needed no help from above
A white Jamaican, believe it or not
He knew my existence, he never forgot
For he was a sailor who stopped one day
He planted a seed whilst on his way
And to him I'd grown into a beautiful flower
And one that he would always devour

Time To Reflect

I was born alone, I will die alone
But one thing that all this has shown
Is life without love is a life not to live
To project no love I can never forgive
But love can be found in other ways
But you need to establish a route round the maze
For years I struggled to find my way out
I conquered it now without a doubt
It's 15 years since my mum and I met
So I think it is time for me to forget
She's given me a reason to live
But to give me away I can never forgive

Thank You

I thank you for reading my short story
I hope it's one of hope and glory
For through my struggle it's made me strong
It's opened my eyes to where I've gone wrong
I hope when you've read this that you'll stop and think
That you'll never find that missing link
I still have a sense of being incomplete
I searched all my life for my parents to meet
And sometimes things aren't quite as you planned
I hope that now you understand
Please don't take for granted the love you receive
For this is something that you can't retrieve
"The grass is always greener" it was once said to me
And I went searching to see if it could be
If you're a parent and to this you relate
And you've love to give then please don't wait
For a child that has no love in it's life
Is a child who will suffer trouble and strife

© Copyright Stella Dunstan 2001

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