How It Began, We Battled On Together!
It all began at the age of six, my mother and father divorced and it left just my mother and me within the family home. It was a fun, yet unusual time growing up as I began to take on tasks that I didn’t see other children or friends undertake.
I would of course do the usual chores, but these began to extend further, for example attending appointments, having to answer questions medical professionals often asked about my observations regarding my mother, who at the time had sickle cell (a haematology blood disorder) and schizophrenia. Of course only being young I answered best I could, with a kind of inner knowing that dynamics between my mother and I were on a change and reversal.
More and more, that knowing of role reversal made me more diligent at home, made me on high alert with mental check marks as to the check marks of my mother’s behaviours, etc., preparing me for the next set of appointments I had to accompany my mother to.
I guess you could say I took on a lot seriously the role of my mother’s carer (caregiver), although these terms had not been coined yet. That didn’t come till later.
My mother was always sick as a child, she attended special boarding schools specifically for the disabled, which took her away throughout many times of the year, from her able-bodied siblings.
From what she told me, she enjoyed that time, made friends and it was like going a respite camp with added extra education, life skills, lady etiquette training, and one of her favourites (bed-making) hospital/hotel bed style and dinner table decorum, as well as nature and birdwatching adventures, in a nice environment out in a mansion in the UK country, a rich person donated especially, that got converted and utilised.
My mother also loved the orchards, her and her other disabled friends would be a bit rebellious and pick an apple or two when none of the dorm (den) mothers were around. This makes to chuckle to picture it. It’s nice to know that although disabled my mother and her friends still had that childlike quality.
Although my mother enjoyed her time going to the boarding school, there was another side more heartbreaking to this boarding school life: That side was suffering much loss. You see many of my mother’s friends had really serious health conditions as children and over the school term holidays a lot of the friends she made would sadly pass away while at home, for one reason or another, never returning to the school for the next term.
This broke her (my dear mother’s) heart and really shaped who she was in later life and certain choices she made, as well as a whole chain of events healthwise. Fast forword to late teens early 20s and some brief remission, granting her some normalcy.
She dated (had one serious boyfriend, mother was taught earlier on how to act like a lady), even got herself a job with Avon or Mary Kay, this was the 80s. She even went to college, studied art and design, upholstery among other things.
She even formed a little side business of knitting famous mohair sweaters. Things were looking promising until after she married my father and got pregnant with me. I often suffer guilt, even until this day, feeling like I caused my mother’s health to decline somehow.
She was warned not to have kids for fears of passing anything on, but I was a stuborn little tyke deciding to make an appearance anyway, following my birth, we battled on together.
I miss her so dearly, I know somewhere she can hear me.
The author is a freelance writer and was formerly a full-time carer (caregiver) for her recently late mother; for more than 20 years up until 2014. She is now growing her small business, using her experiences to empathize, which also drives her determination to make things BETTER in the world.