Image. A word I use in my daily blog to explain my memories from childhood to man. They are stored away just like folders on my one Terabyte hard drive, ready to click on, open and remember.
Am I lucky to have a brain that has so many good, sad, happy, hurtful images captured just like the Sony camera that I capture beautiful wildlife with?
The image is so important to me.
When I joined the Army in 1978, I didn’t own a camera and wasn’t allowed to use one in training. My images then were drawn in a scrap book; simple drawings with one line sentences explaining the image.
My eyes were my Camera.
No need for any SD cards. No flash needed.
I could see and capture anything moving slow, fast, miles away. No need for a big zoom Lens costing thousands of pounds.
My editing didn’t need over complicated software programs we pay for monthly; a pen, pencil, chalk – whatever I had at the time to write with. The images I saw could be transferred and stored when they happened.
Images are captured in film and video; the ones I filmed of my family over 22 years, all with a few words on saying Family, Xmas, birthdays, holidays. All put away safely for reminiscing in years to come, not knowing that a part of that footage would walk out on you.
All the images recorded over such a long time from dedication and love are now in a painful folder named ….??
One image is out of focus.
Just visible, it is a lady with a long dull coat on. Long, wavy, jet black hair. Red shoes poking under the iron gate of my Infant School in Cheadle Cheshire.
School. Where I was made to drink a bottle of milk daily. Great in the Winter – nice and cold. But on a hot summer’s day, the plastic crate would sit in the sun and slowly warm the milk up. The straw was a ‘push in’ and you drank it knowing if you didn’t that you would be punished.
Standing in the playground in my oversized grey shorts, I look down at my shoes, scuffed from kicking a stone from home to the school gate. Legs still red from the smack I got daily. The shoes had half the laces in one snapped as I had pulled them so tight, crying before I left the house.
I catch the sad, hurting eyes of the lady and hesitate. Shall I go over and see her or will I get punished for doing so? One more telling off won’t hurt me anymore.
I reach the gate as the lady smiles.
The image is clear now.
It’s my Mum, just wanting to see her Son – the only time she can because should doesn’t live with us anymore.
The image of a sad Mum, hurting with pain from a separation, telling me “It wasn’t your fault, it was your Dad”.
She crouches down and says “I’m so sorry Ron. I know you don’t understand but remember I do love you, whatever happens”.
32 years later.
I see through my now grown up eyes the lady who stood at the gates.
What do I say?
So much time has passed. So many things have happened.
We meet in my Granddad’s living room.
I walk through the door and the lady I met at the gates all those years ago sits crying on the sofa.
I look across to the coffin where my beautiful Auntie Reenie lies, 32 years and taken by Cancer. The image of me riding on the back of her Vespa Scooter laughing, and her soft brown hair, smelling of Silvikrin hair spray, brushing against my face is a happy one.
Then there are the images of sadness as I looked across to her hospital bed; as I walked down the corridor of Stockport Royal Hospital. The once beautiful Auntie was old and thin with jaundice.
The last words she said to me were “That’s lovely aftershave you have on Ronnie.”
I sit next to her in my best uniform. We talk for a while and then we part, spending little time together even after such a long time.
Another 17 years pass.
I’m stood in a bar on my 40th birthday when a soldier walks up to me and says “Sir, you have a phone call”.
It’s my sister. “Your step-brother has committed suicide. Mum needs you.”
Driving 300 miles through the night, my mind thinking of what to say to her.
Is it so hard to say I love you?
Do I blame her for a childhood with no love?
We meet again.
The once young looking mum tall and beautiful is now a small old lady, still with sadness in her eyes just like all those years ago outside the gates.
That’s the image that will stay stored, and it hurts me as I write this.
We sit together not knowing what to say to each other.
Why can’t the words just roll off my tongue with no effort?
I find the situation so hard. I need my brandy.
As the alcohol hits my brain cells, my words get easier and I begin to get emotional.
I wake up not remembering what I said to my mum. So sad after all those years – I sat next to her but can’t recall anything.
Good Old Drink.
We drive to the morgue and walk through into to Chapel of Rest. The Coffin is there again but this time it’s not my Auntie.
It’s John. He is 28 and it’s our first ever meeting.
He is handsome and without thinking I lean forward and kiss him on his lips.
“Hello John. I am sorry we never got to meet each other in your short, abusive life.”
I find out that when my Mum couldn’t make ends meet she worked nights and took a lodger in, not knowing the lodger would sexually abuse my brother over a long period of time.
She would come home from work, finding him under his bed curled up like a ball, crying and shaking.
I left that day confused and sad, wondering what life was about.
2010. Mum is now 80 plus.
John sits above the fireplace and will stay there until cancer comes for my Mum.
Images of me sitting in India drinking and smoking. Trying to work out why someone would walk away from me, my son and daughter. We were a happy family for so long. Why was there no chance to rectify it? It still doesn’t make sense.
Yes, I was in a dark place.
And then the phone call came to me in India telling me my Mum had passed away.
I could not make the funeral. It just said it all.
Images of My Mum.
The School Gate.
My Auntie Reenie’s Funeral.
My Step Brother and Meeting him in his Coffin for the First Time.
I now have a truly amazing wife called Ruth. My Family is beautiful. The love I feel from them is amazing.
I am the happiest I have ever been.
Alcohol doesn’t cloud my images with sadness and make me cry anymore.
I write my feelings down with honesty. The images of my past that I want to share. Maybe by sharing they will fade and not haunt me so much.
Mum. If you’re watching me, I hope you are proud of the little boy you talked to at the gates all those years ago. And I hope you’re with John, giving him the love you couldn’t give me.