Where do i begin to tell this tragic event of my dads last hours and the aftermath following his death?
Maybe i should start the weekend leading up to dads suicide which was devastation on its own and is still vividly etched on my mind as if it were today.
The following days and months should have been healing time for mum and myself, but there was more devastation to come which drove mum and I apart that i did not expect in a million years and lasted right up to the day she died early hours Easter Sunday 1973.
Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays was market day. Mum ran a stall in Romford Market selling remnant's of materials and dresses and dad and I helped her on Saturdays and Bank Holidays.
One Saturday October 1962 was no different from any other Saturday market day. and everything was going well in the market.
Dad always teased mum and she was laughing with dad and dad always joked with other stall holders in the market place and the customers, everyone were all happy laughing with and at dad and everything was great. After the market had finished for the day, we packed everything up around 5pm, then mum, dad and I went home.
Once we got home, we all unpacked the car and stored the materials and dresses in the front parlour, then mum and I got the dinner on the go. It was steak, mashed potatoes and fried onions for dinner. The evening was great. Dad and I laughed and joked all the time, we both got a telling off from mum because we were laughing so load. Dad and I both looked at each other and burst out laughing all the more, then we all ended up laughing and forgot what we were laughing at..haha! The evening was great, then we all sat and watched TV and had a few more laughs before i went up to bed with the giggles around 11pm which was late for me, weekends i stayed up an extra hour.
Sunday Morning, We had our breakfast as normal egg and bacon fry up. All was still ok.
We had sandwiches for dinner and I washed up the dishes while mum and dad got ready as we had company coming in the afternoon, mums friends Rena and Dave Davis from the market and they were coming to Tea. A bit later, mum got the table ready for when we had our tea, i helped mum prepare the sea foods and salad. Mum had laid on a lovely spread for tea, and it looked real posh.
I don't know what it was about, but there seemed to be some tension between mum and dad about Rena and Dave coming. Dad didn't seem to like the idea of Rena and Dave being here, mostly Rena.
Rena and Dave ran a stall at the end of Romford market and sold spectacle frames.
Mum and dad went out a few times to the cinema or the pub with them. Not sure how long , but i think it was just a few months they had been doing this.
Mum asked dad not to start and be civil towards Rena and Dave.
Late afternoon Rena and Dave arrived, not sure of the time. They had bought me a silver neckless.
There seemed to be some tension between dad and Rena. They clearly didn't like each other for some reason. Rena kept throwing out snide remarks and referring to my dad as a fat little man and telling him to shut up, Dave kept trying to keep her quite and dad kept quite, he held his tongue and kept his self respect, but i could see how hurt and angry he was and how he kept his mouth shut, i don't know, but he did for mums sake. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Later after some chatting and a few more snide remarks from Rena. Rena said, they were going into London to see a film, i think the film was The Room At The Top and said to mum come on get your coat, your going with us. Rena said to dad, and your not coming. Dad said mum couldn't go without him. Thats when it all kicked off. Rena said, mum is going and she don't care what he said, shes going with them. Rena seemed to have some kind of hold over mum, i don't know what it was.
A row started and Rena hit and kicked dad and scratched and spat in his face and said so many evil things to him and he hit her, Dave hit dad and Rena screamed at dad that mum is going with her and Dave and dad tried to pull mum back from the front door, they all argued, then the fighting started again and Dad got hold of me and pushed me out into the kitchen. I opened the kitchen door and i was pushed back into the kitchen. There was such a scuffle, shouting, screaming and hollering going on and then the front door slammed shut, then it was quite.
I opened the kitchen door and dad was holding his head and crying so bad, i had never seen him like this before. Mum had gone with Rena and Dave.
Dad walked in the living room and i followed him, he sat down in the chair and just cried and cried. I thought what do i do? I cuddled dad for quite a while, when he stopped crying he just sat and stared and said just leave him be. I made him a cup of tea, he drank the tea and i tried to talk to him, but he asked me to leave him alone, so i just sat there with him keeping watch so to speak. I made a couple of more cups of tea and sat there.
It was about 9.30pm when dad said i'm going to bed. I said i'll make him another cup of tea,
he had another cup of tea, then said hes going to bed, It was about 10pm when i tried to persuade dad to have another cup of tea again, but he said no he didn't want any more and he held my face in his hands and said, look after your mum and cuddled me for a long time...Now this should have rang alarm bells, but me being very naive in those days at 15 years of age.
I knew something wasn't right and i felt on edge, but didn't know what to do. Should i have gone next door for help? help for what? that was what i was thinking at the time. Mum and dad had many rows, so what was different about this one that i should feel worried about? The neighbours always knew mum and dad had rows and fights, they couldn't help but hear them. What was so very different this time?
This has never happened before, mum has never gone out like this before either. After a row or fight, it was dad who always left the house to everything blew over.
I used to think everything was nice and everyone around me was good. I had a sheltered life and everything bad was hidden from me. To me everything and everyone was good.
Yes! I did have a sheltered life literally. I know that sounds corny, but thats how i was looked after all my life due to illness.
I went up stairs to the loo and could hear dad crying, i knocked on the door and asked if he was ok, he said he was alright and to leave him alone, so i went back downstairs.
I felt so uncomfortable and nervous about this and i paced the floor, i didn't know what to do. It was roughly around 11pm when i went up to bed, as i passed mum and dads room i could hear this strange breathing noise. I called out to dad, no answer and put my hand on the door handle, but i didn't go in, i went to my room and to bed...If only i had opened that b****y door and gone in to see him, maybe i could have gone next door to call an ambulance and got help for him.
The next thing i heard was mum shouting and screaming hysterically, i rushed to my bedroom door and mum screamed don't go in her bedroom, then ran downstairs and out the front door to next door as they were the only ones who had a phone.
I went into mum and dads bedroom and walked round to dads side of the bed. I could hear this deep horrible strange breathing. I looked at dad, he looked like he was sleeping. I looked at the note and a tablet bottle by his bed. I can't remember what the note said, all i could remember was he had taken 56 barbiturates. I held dads hand and prayed to God to save my dad. Then the paramedics came to take him away. That was the last i saw of him.
Mum was absolutely devastated and didn't know what to do, she was frantic. This all felt like a dream and i couldn't feel nothing, i couldn't even cry, my feelings were numb!
I have a tear in my eye while writing this and i can still see my dad laying there with me holding his hand. My God, i didn't think i would feel so upset while writing this as it was such a long time ago, but the vision is so strong.
I often wonder could i have done more to stop him from doing what he did...Why was i so flippin' naive not to know what was happening. This has been on my mind all my life. And most of all, why did he go to these lengths to end his life? Why? Why?
Why couldn't he just have left home and forget us and live his life and be happy elsewhere, then he would still have been alive...Oh, why couldn't he have done that???
Dad had been manic depressed since he came back from ww11. Dad must have been so low in himself to have committed suicide. Manic depression is now called Bipolar.
The police seemed to be around a lot asking mum and me lots of questions. Mum answered their questions and i told them all what i knew several times. It was so upsetting and embarrassing. Mum was taken to the police station a couple of times and i was asked more questions at home, i don't remember going to the police station at all to be questioned, i don't think i did anyway.
Then there was the inquest. Mum and I was asked more questions. I can't remember how many people were in this small room, but it felt like a thousand eyes were on us. I felt so guilty and i hadn't done anything wrong.
My only massive guilt was not going into see if dad was alright when i went to bed that night which played heavily on my mind and even now it torments me to think i might have been able to help my dad.
Life changed dramatically after dads suicide.
Mum went out on dates with 2 of the police officers who came round our house and i was left at home most evenings on my own.
My dads brother uncle L helped mum with sorting stuff out and dads funeral which mum had to borrow the money elsewhere, because no insurance was paid out for suicide.
Mum and i went back and forth to uncle L house for a while and we spent time with him and aunt A and my cousins. We spent Christmas at uncle L and his family.
Sometime after New Year mum went back and forth to uncle L house and i was told i couldn't go round there any more and i've to stay away from my cousins which i was upset about because we got on so well and once again was stuck indoors on my own every time mum and uncle L went round his house.
Then one day, mum said what do i think about moving house. Well, i was pleased to get away from the house as it had bad memories.
Uncle L helped us move house and we settled in the new house ok or i should say prefab.
I had no more bad thoughts going through my mind when i was alone in the new house.
One day, my mum said she was going on holiday with her friend from the market, i said are you going with Rena, she said no another friend. i asked if i could go, she said no, we're going on our own. Then she said i could go and stay with her cousin D for a week, so thats what i did, which was nice, but i missed being at home in my own surroundings.
Mums cousin D was married to a man from Jamaica J, he was lovely. J's sister was living with them too M, she was being trained as a nurse.
At the end of the week, mum came to pick me up and took me home. No sooner had we got indoors there was a bang at the door. Mum opened the door and she was attacked by my aunt and cousins. Uncle L got hold of me and made me go in my bedroom. I was confused as to what was going on. Why was everyone attacking my mum? I could see uncle L trying to stop everyone hitting my mum. I could see my cousin pulling on my mums hair and shouting and hollering. I was still unaware and confused of what was going on. Uncle L got everyone outside and he left too.
Mum was crying uncontrollably in the hallway, her hair had been pulled from the roots,her clothes had been torn, she was in a right state. I sat her down in the living room and made her a cup of tea.
After a while, i asked mum what was all that about and what was going on. It was awhile before she started telling me she was having an affair with uncle L , I was so shocked and fuming with her, i just couldn't talk to her...
Again, how naive and so flippin' stupid could i have been to not have seen this coming. They had hidden it so well from me. I never dreamt anything like this would happen to my mum. I felt so ashamed of her and found it very difficult to talk to her.
I seemed go within myself and didn't talk to mum or anyone for a long time and stayed in my room. I felt betrayed by my mum and my fathers death still hung heavy with no-one to turn to and mum was devastated too.I just couldn't comfort her over this. I thought at the time, how do we come back from all of this devastation? What can i do to make things right.
They say time heals. Well, i think so too. I was keeping an eye on mum even though we were not talking. We should be comforting each other, i couldn't show any feelings of comfort and mum didn't show feelings to comfort me either.
All dads family had turned against mum and me and everyone thought i knew about what went on with uncle L and mum, which i did not.
Even mums sisters asked me, do i know why my dad committed suicide and what went on with uncle L and mum. I told them the same as what i have written here, but i don't think anyone believed me.
One day i decided to go and visit my aunt D. My nan was living there at the time. Nan was talking to me ok one minute and the next she had called me a liar and that i must have known what had happened concerning dads death..again i had told her what i have writen here. And, i must have known about mum and uncle L and that again i was called a liar. All this had pulled mum and I further apart, because i blamed her for all that had happened.
All i got was from everyone was, i must have known something. Truth was, i knew nothing.
All my childhood i was always told speak when your spoken too and be seen and not heard and that was how my life was, even at this time.
Mum got a job working for her friend from the market working from home making dresses to sell in the market. Mums original trade was dressmaking.
Mum had Diabetes Type1 all her life and used to go into Diabetic comas quite a lot. Dad used to always be with her when this happened.
Mum had a couple of comas during the 2 years following dads death and i called the ambulance for her and she spent a couple of days in the hospital.
When dad died i didn't go back to work. I stayed at home. I know this was wrong, but i had no interest in anything or anyone at the time, but saying that, mum and i came to an agreement that i helped mum by cleaning the house, gardening, shopping ect...while she worked. We still wasn't talking properly, i felt distant from her and still felt hurt over dad and the afair mum had with uncle L.
Mum kept breaking down crying and i could hear her crying at night too.
Then one day mum said shes going out to work and thats what she did. She worked as a petrol pump attendant close by and i still carried on with what i was doing looking after the house ect...
Mum was much better working away from home, she had pulled herself out and back to a normal way of life.
I used to go to the garage where mum worked and got talking to people again and i introduced mum to Brian, he was a coach sprayer who worked around the back of the garage and they became good friends and eventually became my step-dad.
Brian was originally from Ontario, Canada. He was rugged looking and he had a lovely personality.
I think it was September 1964. I woke up one morning and thought i would look for work. When i went shopping for groceries, i bought the local news paper and found a job, i phoned for an interview and i went along the same day and got the job as an Usherette at Chadwell Heath Gaumont cinema and i was to start work the following day.
When mum came in from work that evening, i told her about the job i had got. She was pleased for me, but also worried about how everything would pan out, how would we cope with this new change of life style.
Our lives worked out ok in the end. Mum remarried as i said, i'm not sure whether she was as happy this time around, but she was better off financially
Me, i married in 1966 and Divorced December 1972 and i remarried March 1973.
Mum and i were talking properly now. Mum had booked a holiday for just the 2 of us in May '73. Hubby and i were invited round for dinner Easter Sunday. There was a knock at the door early hours Sunday morning 22/4/73. It was a policeman came to tell us mum had had a heart attack and passed away.
I am glad we were talking before mum passed away.
I would like to add here. Mum, dad and i always had fun and laughter throughout my childhood, but i think mum had some rough times with dad with his Manic Depression/Bipolar. Since dads tragic unexpected death, there was no fun, no laughter, not for me anyway. I seemed to go within myself, which i still do today. I still find it hard to laugh at times and to some people i seem to look miserable or worried all the time, then again, i do have a lot on my plate these days too and i have up and down days. Hubby who i refer to as "?" ( the man with no name..haha)has got Bipolar, so no change there, i am used to that way of life, but its not all bad, "?" and have had a few laughs here and there in between his mood swings and hes never been violent towards me either.