Friday, 14 August 2009

If only....

My mother must be the only member of my family left for me to introduce.
This is one of the few 'old' photos I have of her. She's sitting on the steps of the cottage in Wavendon where she lived when newly married. My older sister Maureen is sitting on her knee. I don't know the exact date. Perhaps it was 1954 when Maureen was two years old.
Why don't I have any early photos of Mum? Because there are none.
She was born in Jarrow, County Durham. Her family was poor and apparently her father took part in the Hunger Marches from Jarrow to London in the late 20's and early 30's. Mum was orphaned when she was four by the death of both her parents; her Dad from alcohol-induced liver disease and her Mum from cancer. She was put into a childrens' home and was eventually adopted by a miner and his wife who didn't have children of their own.
After the war, Mum joined the Land Army and was sent to Woburn in Bedfordshire where she met my father who worked in an Ironmonger's Shop. One day she asked him to mend her bicycle and the rest, as they say, is history. I do have later photos of Mum, from her wedding day onwards.
Mum never talked about her past. I didn't even know she had a brother and sister until I was 10 years old! Everything I know about her younger days has been told me by my father. My own childhood memories of her are her quick temper (she chased my sister and I around the dining table with a leather belt if we were naughty) and the way she said whatever came into her head before thinking it through. The one piece of advice I remember her giving us children was, 'If you can't hit 'em, kick 'em!'- a legacy from her upbringing I guess.
Mum is 79 now and has Alzheimers Disease. She is deteriorating rapidly and cannot remember the names of family members who are alive, let alone those who have passed away. All her childhood memories are gone forever.
That's the main reason I scrapbook: to pass on the story of my family before it is forgotten, for my children to know where they came from, for them to have a record of their early years, and for them to know what makes me 'Me'.
If only I had asked Mum years ago all the questions I would dearly love to ask her now.
If only someone had recorded her family's story too.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. Though I am rubbish at scrapping details as I feel daft & embarrassed writing 'personal' stuff so I am doing a journal for my girls to find when I'm gone. It was a revelation reading some parts of my Mums diaries - like finding out about the woman as well as Mum.

    Have you seen Angies blog? She is great at doing the old bygone photos - it's a really interesting read too.

  2. Oh, the best reason to scrapbook. Your mother's story is certainly one of strength and a reminder that times were so much less comfortable only recently. It's a lovely photo - at least you'll be able to record the little things you do know.

  3. How sad for your Mum to be orphaned and then seperated from her siblings, Maybe there are records somewhere. Maybe that is your quest ...there are people who specialize in this sort of hunt.
    I also know how had it is when their memory is detroyed... my nana suffered like that but I was lucky that my mums memory was as sharp as a knife til she died ...although she was house bound for 5 years.

    I enjoyed reading your mums story ... maybe there are clues somewhere.Maybe you could find her birth cert starting with dob and place ...maybe her first name wasn't changed etc ....Good Luck



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