When my mum was 16, she left her home in Ireland and came here to the middle of England to visit her father who was working here, and sending money home. A beautiful, innocent, non smoking, non drinking, young girl. To hear her tell the story which unfolded, she met my father, a city boy, and at a dance one night, her juice was spiked with alcohol (she is still to this day a non drinker) and she 'fell' from grace and became pregnant.....they married and my elder sister was born. We sat alone and talked at one point yesterday about my sisters birth, 60 years ago, and the things she told me made me understand a little more why their relationship has been such a rocky road. The labour was long and painful...her baby was breech, manhandled by the midwife into delivery, blue and with her features 'flattened' at birth.......these are my mums words. Never an easy child, always crying, with calipers on her legs, one funny eye, a speech impediment....and always a reminder to my mother that 'she had fallen and God was punishing her..' Three years later my brother was born, who was and is to this day, my mothers
joy....tall, successful...and spoilt rotten by her. My sister would possibly be described as 'special needs' although it is very difficult to say in exactly which way...my younger sister and I have spoken often of how 'different' she is...........when she was 8 or 9 my Dad took her to Lourdes. Maybe the waters or the wishing made a difference, her limbs straightened a little. My parents relationship has been a grim 60 years of blame, and guilt, and regret and emotional turmoil that has coloured the lives of us their children. ........one little act...all those repercussions...all those people affected. I love my mother, but she has never treated my elder sister the way she has treated the rest of us....there was always an underlying resentment and harshness. The same with my Dad. My sister can drive you mad..she is clumsy, talks non stop to everyone and has no idea of what is and what isn't appropriate for common knowledge, she walks behind you all the time, and when you slow down to try and be in step she slows down too...she eats the wrong food, laughs at the wrong things, wears the wrong clothes, reads the wrong newspapers, is too loud, looks a bit funny, is vulnerable........so many 'wrongs'.......but she is strong as an ox, has no guile, is known by everyone in town, loves life and is happy with her 'things'.....her many teddy bears, her keyrings, her blue eyeshadow and cheap scents. But there is a sea change...mum is beginning to be softer with her now, there is an understanding and a gentleness and a sort of 'giving in' that is making their relationship closer.....I never thought I would see them this way, and it is, after all this time, hopeful and beautiful...for all of us.....and yesterday, as she blew out her candles and we sang happy birthday, mom smiled.....'God is good' she said.